In planning, it looked like this adventure would be a reprise of a previous trip to Bellevue and Seattle. In reality, it was completely different. We started in almost the same place, traveled the same hotel on the same route, visited the same restaurant, and went to one of the same theaters. The results, were completely different. I guess that's what make travels and adventures so much fun, so exciting, and so unique.
This begins with grandchildren. We picked up three (Daron, Caitlin, and Bailee) and took them to dinner at the Western Washington Fair Grounds for the annual Puyallup Rotary Crab Feed. Peg and I had joined our friends there in 2010 for the all-you-can-eat feast. One of the great things about living in the Pacific Northwest is being close to fresh seafood. Dungeness Crab is a wild delicacy from Northern California to Alaska and is named for the town of Dungeness, Washington, where Peg's family lived at the time of her birth. I'm glad her parents didn't name her after the small town nor the crab.
The crab feed is always a great community fundraiser. There are hundreds of people to talk with, music to enjoy, and great food to savor. Caitlin was the only one of our group who did not want crab. She opted for a hot dog. Bailee went for crab and a hot dog, while Daron just went for the crab. Peg and Daron had purchased scissors just for the occasion. The crab is served cracked, but scissors allow the eater to easily get the succulent meat out of the legs and claws easily.
We didn't learn much from dining at the crab feed last year, however. Next year we need to bring along lemon juice, bibs, and handy-wipes. This year we brought along dessert. To celebrate friend Jan Runbeck's birthday, which got lost in the St. Patrick's Day Dinner at Donn and Debbie Irwin's, we brought along a birthday cake. The cake went well with the ice cream provided by Puyallup Rotary. We left full and completely satisfied. What an excellent event.
We drove through the valley and up to Bellevue and I-90. We checked into the Bellevue Silver Cloud (Eastgate). Peg and I reserved a King Suite for us and a double queen room for our granddaughters. The girls were surprised, "I didn't know we were staying at a hotel!" I think the room made them feel grown up . . . or at least growing up. After we all got settled in, the girls joined us in our room for a game of Pictionary. "You've got two TVs," exclaimed Caitlin. It was Peg and me against the three teenagers. What a great reveal this was. We learned about their ability to think on their feet and communicate.
Of course, Peg and I won, but we are hard to beat at most games of skill and creativity. I was really surprised by Daron's "rapid fire" aggressive guesses, "Bird, chicken, turkey, eagle . . ." She seems so quiet at times. In looking over Bailee's and Caitlin's quick sketches I usually had the correct answers. I would take any of them for team members . . . in addition to Peg, of course.
Our rooms were just across the hall from each other. We were a little worried about not having an adjoining room, but the second night there were no concerns. Caitlin watched over the two younger girls like a mother hen. I learned much about our granddaughters in our two days together. I learned by direct conversation as well as just listening to the girls chat. As baseball's Yogi Berra once said, "You can observe a lot, just by watching."
Caitlin voiced her opinion on the final height of her sisters: Daron would be tall, Izzie will be petite like Caitlin and Vanessa, and Sophia, the youngest will be perhaps the tallest.
Bailee had many things to say on many different subjects . . . quite the chatterbox.
Daron listed her favorite cookies, which mostly lined up with mine.
Saturday morning saw us at the Silver Cloud Buffet breakfast. Vanessa, Caitlin's older sister, joined us. Unfortunately, she had things to do as she prepares for the final run of academics at Seattle Pacific University. She'll be graduating in June. We are so proud. She's cute, bright, and a hard worker.
Earlier in the week our hot water heater leaked all over our basement. My friend Bob Larson of Bob Larson Plumbing had the old one out and a new one in within hours, but it was Vanessa and her saint of a mother, Johanna who cleaned up all the water and soggy papers (the I.R.S. didn't need all those receipts, anyway).
All four girls enjoyed the breakfast buffet. Daron had a waffle and a little raspberry muffin that she really enjoyed, while Bailee toasted herself a blueberry bagel. Caitlin and Vanessa had yogurt and bananas as did Peg.
After breakfast Vanessa went back off to work, while our three charges went swimming. The Bellevue Silver Cloud doesn't have a pool, but they do have an agreement with Bally Total Fitness, which is just next door. The four of us walked to Bally's and I (with my room key) signed them in as guests. The girls changed into swimsuits and had cavorted in the water for well over an hour. They played the game of Marco Polo trying to find each other with eyes closed. Bailee pounced on Caitlin, but Caitlin turned out to be a elderly Japanese man. He just laughed.
As the girls enjoyed the water I struck up a conversation with another swimmer. Well, actually he started it, "Just here as a spectator?" I laughed and mentioned that I was watching the three teenagers. When I told him granddaughters he did a double take. "I started young," I explained. We talked about programing and marketing until the girls were ready for a ride back to the hotel. I walked back to the hotel room and picked up my keys and returned with my Durango. I didn't want them walking in the cold rain with wet hair.
Back in our hotel room we figured out a schedule for the day. The girls were hungry after burning up calories in the pool, so we stopped in at the Nine Oh for lunch. The Nine Oh is the hotel restaurant, which was just opened last month. The granddaughters and I went to the restaurant took seats that looked out on the courtyard and gray skys.
Evidently the Nine Oh turns into a bar and restaurant at lunchtime. We were asked (very nicely) to move about twenty feet towards the registration desk. This would bring us into the restaurant side of things. We began looking over the menu and ordering pop and water for the four of us. Soon Peg joined us for lunch.
The first time we ate there Peg and I had the Parmesan Fries and Meatloaf Sliders. We wanted something a little bit different this time and besides we weren't that hungry. We decided to share an order of Sweet Potato Fries, which were perfectly cooked. Caitlin had coconut prawns and Daron and Bailee each had an order of pot stickers.
The pot stickers were brown and crispy. They all disappeared. Caitlin shared one or two of her prawns although she enjoyed them. Peg and I shared our fries, but had leftovers. We didn't ask for a doggie bag, however. On our adventures we usually have more food than we can eat and we rarely take any home or back to our room. We never go hungry, but we try not to overeat. We're always looking for balance. We like to try new things, but enough is enough.
We found new things at the Frye Art Museum after leaving the Silver Cloud. We traveled to Seattle and look at the current exhibit: Degenerate Art Ensemble. "An array of warrior princesses, ninjas waging epic battles, hungry ghosts, birds and beasts—shape shifters all—will greet visitors at the Frye Art Museum in Degenerate Art Ensemble, the first art exhibition showcasing the groundbreaking performance company of the same name."
When I read about the exhibit, I didn't know what to expect. It was a combination of performance and kinetic art. Performance art involves people acting out everything from the non-representational to specific acts and motions. Kinetic art encompasses a wide variety of overlapping techniques and styles. Degenerate Art Ensemble (DAE) used video, projections, sound, photographs, crocheting, shadows and surreal images.
As anyone who's attended a DAE performance knows, the action onstage closely resembles a headlong dive into realms of the unconscious. The "stories," far from being linear, follow a dream logic, with the costumes, makeup, movement, musical interludes and video effects sometimes taking priority over any overt narrative momentum.
For that reason, DAE's world translates well to a museum setting. The Frye show lets you set your own pace as you stroll from room to room and shape your own narrative from the materials at hand. Brief video excerpts from past DAE productions provide a context for the outlandish objects on display. In the Frye's black-box theater, a longer video program highlights recurring DAE images and obsessions.
Personality transformations and physical metamorphoses abound. Creatures repeatedly emerge from cocoons and stumble their way into existence. Fond nuzzlings take a cannibalistic turn. Playful artifice becomes primal savagery.
There's a constant sense of being drawn into rituals that could turn on themselves at any instant. Here's a world of demons, ghosts and shape-shifters that, while it can be as beguiling as a fairy tale, can also be as menacing as a nightmare.
-- Michael Upchurch writing in the Seattle Times
As the girls and I left the museum I asked their opinions of what we had seen. Daron hesitantly said, "Interesting." Bailee was more to the point, "Scary." I gave my opinion, "Art should evoke an emotional response." The DAE display certainly did that. Some of it was disturbing. Personally, I thought the exhibit presented a feeling of being off-kilter or unbalanced. Thinking the displays over, I enjoyed the displays more in retrospect than in person.
After we discussed DAE Peg joined us from the museum. She had purchased postcards of the Frye Collection to give to the kids. The museum had rehung 150 of their paintings in one room to accommodate the large DAE pieces. While I enjoyed seeing some of my favorites, by hanging that many painting in one room, there were many that were too high to really enjoy. Plus, they needed more white space to help focus the eye on individual pieces. As the girls and I had looked over the works of art I pointed out my favorites and those that I knew were Peg's. The Frye doesn't have all their collection available as postcards, but they did have some of Peg's favorites, which is what she presented to each granddaughter.
Peg loves the Childe Hassam the museum has as part of their collection. I think it is their most important painting. I have many others that I prefer over the Hassam. The ones that I prefer always make me hesitate and look at them anew. One of my absolute favorites is by Daniel Somogyi, which was painted in 1878. The painting reminds me of some of the great paintings done of the American west. However, this majestic view is in Bavaria and is entitled, View of Koenigsee. Caitlin said she liked it best of the exhibited works, also.
Leaving the museum parking lot, but not the discussion we drove towards the University of Washington Bookstore. As we passed our dinner destination Peg pointed it out and then we finished the drive with another five or six blocks. We parked in the bookstore parking lot and I never saw Peg nor the granddaughters for just over two hours. While they shopped for books and art supplies, I read The Big Burn and napped. With only a minute to spare for a parking violation, they joined me with bags of treasure. As we returned to Bilbao, everyone talked at once about what they had purchased. I overheard comments like, "That is the best bookstore I've ever been in." All three granddaughters are avid readers and Peg is the queen of my heart and a royal . . . reader. Books came on the trip originally, and then we augmented the supply first at the UDub Bookstore and then after dinner on the way to the Seattle Musical Theatre, we made a second stop: Barnes and Noble. As we drove home on Sunday I think the books kept the girls quiet . . . except for Caitlin who was plugged into her iPod.
Peg and I had already explained about tapas and how we were going to order and eat at the Bilbao Spanish Restaurant & Tapas Bar. As with most people, the girls were under the misconception that Spanish food is just like Mexican food. Mostly there is no comparison. Everyone had to pick something to order. Caitlin enjoyed her chicken, Bailee enjoyed her meatballs, and Daron enjoyed her prawns. Peg had a seafood soup that was delicately flavored. We almost had to twist arms to get two of the girls to try the oxtails, "It does taste like roast beef." None wanted rabbit. Lamb was tried, however.
The big hits were the bread and olive oil, which none had ever eaten in combination before and dessert. We ordered a creme brulee and the chocolate cake. Caitlin really liked the lemony creme brulee as did Peg. There were almost dueling spoons over the cake, though. The chocolate drizzles across the plate had silverware tracks through them. I think we could get all three young women to return for another dinner or two.
Although, I had read a glowing review of The King's Proposal or the Marriage of Princess Guido by a teenage reviewer, our teenagers were not amused. I was not only not amused, I was vastly disappointed in this production by Seattle Musical Theatre. I understand the author was also the director. They both should have been shot. Evidently, the play was only turned into a musical when it was brought to Seattle. It was supposed to be a farce. The production was, the play wasn't. In comedy timing is king, but in The King's Proposal it was a lackey . . . or simply just lacking.
The voices were good as was the acting. There were even some funny bits of business. My favorite had the "prospective" husband performing the Heimlich Maneuver on the "prospective" bride. She spits out a lozenge on which she was choking and Guido, the dogsbody, picks it up and . . . well, you get the idea.
Actually, the girls weren't as critical I am. They stated the show was "okay" and better than ZooZoo, which we took them to at the Broadway Center. Faint praise, indeed. ZooZoo had no dialog. However, okay is not what I expect from a quality theatrical production house and surely not Seattle Musical Theatre. I loved The Drowsy Chaperone, their last production.
What made the play even worse was the faux laughter from fellow actors in the audience. Word must already be out. The nearly empty house only numbered about fifty people and half of them must have been actors or theatrical production people. False laugher, long applause by a select group, and a dismal charge for a standing ovation just finished off a sad, sad evening at Sandpoint.
Back at the hotel everyone opted for bed. Peg and I ordered an in-room movie, Made in Dagenham, which concerns a union strike at a Ford manufacturing plant in the U.K. (1968). I really enjoyed it until I dropped off and out about fifteen minutes into it. Peg watched it all and enjoyed it.
Sunday morning, the girls and I went down for breakfast. I made a waffle (I love 'em), which I ate with too many pats of butter, syrup and four wonderful sausages. Bailee made herself another blueberry bagel and Daron had another raspberry muffin. Caitlin had yogurt as did Peg (delivered with banana and coffee to our room by me). After dining, we packed up and drove to Auburn where Bailee had a play practice at her church and then drove Caitlin home followed by Daron to her home (both in the Southend of Tacoma).
Peg and I stopped off at Safeway (Westend/Northend of Tacoma) for some groceries, only to be interrupted by a call from Donn Irwin, who was on his way to Carr's Restaurant in Lakewood. Food calls and we must respond. Peg and I drove to Lakewood for "second" breakfast.