Our grandson Riley is as busy as a 12 year-old boy can be. He plays soccer and baseball. He rarely gets to visit with us with all his practices, games, and tournaments. When we picked up his younger sister a few weeks earliwer we reviewed up-coming dates for him to join us. The Labor Day weekend fit perfectly. It gave us a little time to plan some fun things to do. As soon as he was in our car he wanted to know where we were going. His father had made up the possibility of pig riding. Although we eventually would have bacon, pigs didn't enter into the equation, but bulls did.
Our first stop was Bull's Eye (downtown Tacoma), the shooting range and gun shop made famous by the D.C. Sniper a few years back. Since then a good friend took his young nephew there to shoot a semi-automatic weapon. We signed in and rented a rifle, a shooting lane, bought some ammo, put on eye protection, ear muffs and shot the heck out of some paper targers. Riley and I had such a great time, Peg says I should take our two sons (Riley's dad and uncle) there. I think she is right on target.
Next we visited Macy's at the Tacoma Mall for some new clothes for Peg. Then we checked into the Paradise Chateau, perhaps the only Bed and Breakfast in Unversity Place. (Unfortunately this B&B closed in 2014) What fantastic views! We had two bedrooms "en suite" sharing a bathroom. Peg and I have stayed in Paradise twice before by ourselves and with granddaughters. The owners have sold their old homestead and are moving into a smaller place, which is really unfortunate. Paradise would have been the closest place to stay for the 2015 U.S. Open Championship, held at Chambers Bay Golf Course.
After checking in and dropping off our bags we continued on to Edgeworks, an indoor rock gym a few miles away. Riley had been there once before so was fairly familiar with how it worked. We rented some shoes and secured his harness and he quickly scampered up a twenty-five foot wall. He loves rappelling down. I helped him with connections as he moved around the gym climbing and having fun. Later that evening I had to laugh as his muscles were screaming at him. He was moving like I sometimes do on rainy mornings. After a night's sleep, however he was ready for more. Maybe next time.
There are some great restaurants in the Tacoma area. Not so many around University Place (UP). Boathouse 19 is a popular waterfront restaurant between UP and Tacoma. It's owned by the Lobster Shop, which is one of our favorite places to eat (and less than a mile from our home). Boathouse 19 is no Lobster Shop, but the food is decent. Regardless, on Friday night there was a line to get in. We settled on the chain restaurant Shari's after Riley got excited where he heard that they had a prime rib special on Fridays.
Peg had an outstanding chicken fried steak, while I had the prime rib with scampi. Riley opted out and had breakfast. Go figure. My prime rib had a great taste, but there was no crust. There was more than I could eat. Peg enjoyed several pieces.
Saturday morning, after an excellent breakfast of sausage, French toast with raspberry jam & butter syrup, cantaloupe and raspberries, and orange juice we drove to our home so Peg could hang up her newly bought clothes from the day before. Then while I checked emails and took a nap, Peg and Riley drove to Lakewood to watch Despicable Me 2. Peg loved the first film as well as the second. This was her third time to see the film. Both previous viewings involved grandchildren as well. Once was enough for me. Peg said she and Riley were laughing more than anyone else in the theater. I certainly believe that. Smart, creative people love to laugh.
Peg and Riley returned home after the movie AND after some frozen yogurt. We gathered art supplies, visited the Dollar Tree in UP for some additional giftwrap and made our way back to Paradise. Other than shooting and rock climbing, I had three other events I had planned. One was mini-golf at a near-by driving range, and football games (2) on television. There was a four o'clock game with the Washington State University Cougars playing the Auburn Tigers.
One of the things I adored at the Paradise was their entertainment room with a large screen TV and satelite TV. I closed the blinds, turned on the TV and the satelite feed and found that neither the WSU game nor the University of Washington game following it was to be found on the satelite. Ah, yes . . . I always have a Plan B. I hopped in out Buick Century and within a few minutes was on Sixth Avenue and turning into The Cloverleaf, home of the World's Best Pizza. It's true! I found an empty seat and asked requested the WSU game. There was only one TV connected for that game and I was the only viewer. I ordered a salad, which broke my heart. I was only staying for part of the first half and then returning to pick up Peg and Riley and take us all to dinner, so I couldn't eat a pizza. I should have gone ahead and eaten one.
After watching the Cougs score on their first possession I was happy. The defense was playing well, but even though the papers gave accolades the following day, I saw a lot of blown receptions.
Our little group was a little scattered on dinner, so I chose to drive across the Narrows Brige into Gig Harbor about five minutes from the Tacoma Industrial Airport. Peg and I had a business meeting at the Sunset Grill some months before and the food was good. This time I was disappointed. I asked for hashbrowns "burnt, burnt, burnt . . . with an onion cut up in them." I hate flabby hashbrowns. I like them crispy, which is why I over-state what I want. The cook should have been shot . . . or at least fired. Afterwards we drove back to Paradise with me listening for the score. I stayed in the car while Peg and Riley attacked the breakfast table with presents and gift cards. The Cougars were seven down with minutes to play and got to the eight yard line before their final interception. My hopes were crushed. Downtrodden, I went bed. It would have been too much if I had listened to my Huskies being crushed, next. I had great hopes, but they've been dashed, before.
Sunday morning I slept in, but still was up well before Peg and Riley. I drove a few hundred yards to the north end of the Chambers Bay property. There is a parking lot with restrooms. Many people leave their cars and walk or jog along and around the beautiful golf course that over looks Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains, and the islands of McNeil and Fox. Fog still covered parts of the links, the water, the nearby community of Steilacoom, and the surrounding hills and mounds that make up the challenging field of play.
I've only played the course once. It's an absolutely beautiful layout . . . now, if they only allowed electric carts.
I walked around a little bit and then drove to a convenience store for the Sunday paper, so I could read about the Cougar game where they came close to winning and the Huskie game that I should have returned to The Cloverleaf and watched. I used to travel to the furthest away game every year and cheer on the "Dawgs." I learned decades ago that for an away football game it's best to have fun outside of the game. I like to find interesting places to visit that I can remember and laugh about years later.
I returned to Paradise for some excellent sticky buns, and another excellent breakfast. We chatted with a young couple who had been married the day before in Laci. They wanted some place special for their wedding night. How much more special can you make it than starting off your marriage in Paradise?
One other guest came out for breakfast. Peg had met her the night before. She was Japanese and didn't speak much English. Riley and Peg encouraged her to come to the breakfast table. We were all through, but we made sure she knew where everything was, so she could enjoy the morning by herself.
Back in our suite, we all packed and then loaded up the car. We still had quite a few things to do. It was going to be a long day. Much of it concerned Riley's birthday party and Laci, his sister's also.
We had driven past a sign inviting anyone to pick apples for free. Riley remarked on this each time we drove by. This time I stopped and then drove around the block a few times, giving Riley and Peg time to select a few. From there we drove two blocks to our daughter's home, but there was no one awake, yet, or they were ignoring us, so we stopped beating on the door and left.
We drove home and unloaded the car and put clothes in the washer. We finished in time to drive to our favorite pawn shop on Sixth Avenue. Actually, I think it's the only pawn shop on Sixth Avenue. We arrived just as they opened the door.
While Peg and Riley went in to shop, I walked over to The Cloverleaf to order a pizza to go. Not for me, but for our oldest son. We would be seeing him and his wife, Johanna, when we picked up their two youngest daughters to take them to the aftenoon birthday party.
The reason this particular pawn shop is our favorite is because they have hundreds of DVDs and the price is only a dollar per movie on Sundays. Our daughter first told us about the pawn shop several months ago and since then we've purchased dozens and dozens of movies there. I think our daugher, Andrea may have purchased hundreds, but don't tell her husband, Rich. We thought perhaps Riley would be able to find some movies for him and Laci. He turned up his nose at their used computer games, but looked longingly at a guitar and an iPod. We would have bought the guitar, but he changed his mind.
We left the pawn shop and drove back over to The Cloverleaf where Peg went in and paid. She handed the pizza box to Riley in the back seat who placed in on his sweatshirt. We hadn't driven more than a mile or two when we realized that the pizza was not going to make it out to our son Del's place. We not only saw the writing on the wall, we smelled it. When we reached home we would have a little picnic and then order another pizza for Del, which we could pick up on our way out of town.
I've loved Cloverleaf pizza before The Cloverleaf had the best pizza. My parents had a motel in Ponders Corner (near JBLM) when I was a teenager. The Roma Cafe had the best pizza in the world and when the owner bought The Cloverleaf and moved the opperation to Sixth Avenue, the center of the pizza world shifted ten miles north from Ponders.
Riley wasn't too concerned about DVDs and used computer games because he probably already figured out that his grandpa would buy him what he wanted at GameStop, a computer gaming supply shop. We've done this little dance before. Riley looked over virtually every computer game, controler, headset, and more, while Peggy shopped next door at Big Lots. I sat in the car and waited. Eventually, Riley came out with a big smile on his face. I had to return to the store to give my approval for the M for "mature" game. He was smiling from ear to ear. We pre-ordered it. The game won't hit the shelf until mid-November. Just in time for his father's birthday. They both will be playing it. My wife knows the routine. I tell her often enough, "Basically, I'm eight years old." The same goes for 12 year-old Riley and his forty-something father. Men are always about eight years-old.
Besides fifteen DVDs we purchased at the pawn shop, we also bought eight year-old Peggy her life's dream, a Kithchen Aid mixer. I've attemped to purchase one for her before, but she has always said something like, "No, I don't know when I would use it." I think seeing a bargain, complete with a set of gadgets in a stainless steel mixing bowl, finally pushed her over the edge. When we returned home, I placed the mixer on the breakfast table, and photographed a delighted Peg along with her plate of Cloverleaf pizza. I can hardly wait for a loaf of homemade bread. She used to make a great French bread and sourdough bread. She's a great cook (and baker).
The second Cloverleaf pizza made it to our son Del's home and some BBQ ribs and corn made it home from the party. Two ribs and fresh corn was the basis of a great breakfast the next morning for me. Peg slept in . . . probably dreaming of her Kitchen Aid mixer . . .