This weekend get-a-way was all about kids and local entertainment. We started out tired and ended even more tired, but we had a wonderful time. Isn't that what adventures are all about?
As always we got a late start, which meant traveling in rush hour traffic. Just getting out of Tacoma was a hassle. I-5 was blocked by the City Center Exit. We certainly know the area, but decided not to cross the Narrows Bridge and head for the back roads to Shelton, Olympia, and Yelm in an effort to simply drive transport our selves the 12 miles to Puyallup. We ended up by-passing I-5 for Portland Avenue and heading east over the hills behind the Emerald Queen to Pioneer.
Instead of checking into the hotel, we went directly to Don's Drive-In on Meridian by the Blue Gate of the Puyallup Fairgrounds for a late lunch and early dinner.
Both Peg and I bought a cup of soup and a piece of pie, which we then took to the hotel. We sat in the empty dining area, just off the lobby and relaxed. Peg had navy bean soup and I had cabbage chowder. The bean soup was good, but didn't compare to Peg's. The chowder, however was absolutely wonderful. Evidently cabbage chowder is a southern specialty with Bavarian roots. It would be a great winter weather dinner, but it certainly hit the spot on a lovely spring afternoon.
We checked into the hotel deciding that both of us would take in an elementary school concert involving granddaughter Sophia. We had originally planned that I would see grandson Riley's baseball game and Peg would attend the concert. We change plans as needed. While we were changing for the concert, we had a phone call from daughter-in-law Johanna telling us that the concert was the following Thursday night. We had already missed the ball game, so we ate our pies and had an early night to bed. We needed it.
Friday Peg slept in while I spent some time on the net working on marketing for our website clients. In the late afternoon, after school, we picked up granddaughter Laci from North Puyallup and then headed south to pick up Bella and Sophia.
We went to an early dinner at the Original Pancake House. Bella and Sophia were especially excited. Their family had tried to eat there twice. It was closed one time and so packed they couldn't get in the second time. OPH is located on 161st and Meridian. The girls poured over the menu and then settled down to drawing and talking after placing their order.
We had lots of food to eat. Peg had pecan and bacon pancakes, while I had Swedish Pancakes (crepes) with lingonberry jam. I couldn't eat all of my crepes. I ran out of lingonberry jam. If I had asked for more I might have been able to finish off the crepes, but I was full anyway.
Sophia had eggs and sausage, but didn't like the sausage. Bella speared the sausage and tried it out, "Oh, this is good." I thought so, also. There was a little sharing going on back and forth. I think everyone was happy with our choice of restaurants for dinner . . . even though we all had breakfast. We had a couple slices of bacon and sausage leftover, so we took those back to the room before our night's entertainment began.
The entertainment was a "musical" of the Emperor's New Clothes. That was pretty much all our son Patrick knew about the production. He and daughter-in-law Wendy balance their jobs, and the activities of the kids and other family events. Some pressure should be taken off soon. Granddaughter Bailee, now has a car, so she can help running here and there.
The "musical" turned out to be an English pantomime, which features non-sense songs, bad puns, and audience participation. The other grandkids were very familiar with this type of live production. Pantomimes are featured each December at the CenterStage Theatre at Dumas Bay in Federal Way and we've taken them there several times over the last few years. Laci had seen this production the day before. The school district picked classes to see the play from local elementary schools. Ticket prices were only $6 ($4 for seniors and children).
Bailee was in the chorus and had a fantastic time being in the cast. The theater at Puyallup High School is quite familiar to me. While I was acting on stage at Clover Park High, my cousin Lindy (Lavinia Moyer-Hart) was performing on this stage in Puyallup.
Bailee and her friends did a great job. She has been acting for some time at her church along with her mom, her aunt Kristy, her cousin Marin, and her grandmother Nancy. Her uncle Scott and grandfather Brent run the lights and audio for Messiah Lutheran Church in Auburn. Our son Patrick has helped on occasion as well.
After the play, the cast gathered in the cafeteria with well-wishers. They were all excited. The cast party would wait until after the final performance on Saturday.
Our granddaughters had all brought their swim suits and were ready to hit the pool as soon as we returned to the hotel from the play. The pool is open until 11:00, but I knew I couldn't stay up that late. I can't stand the heat and the humidity of the pool, but luckily the weight room is next door. The exercise room or weight room features a glass wall that looks directly into the pool area. While the kids swam, jumped, yelled, and splashed I enjoyed the cooler room as I stood guard. I brought along my sketchbook/notebook and wrote notes to myself. I also tried out the exercise equipment. I kept the TV off, but lifted weights and tried out the elliptical trainer. I liked the elliptical because it had no impact on my knees or ankles. I liked it but didn't love it and my affair lasted less than two minutes each time.
Our room was a queen suite with two queen beds and a small living room featuring a sofa bed. There is a TV in both the bedroom and the living room. The living room TV also has a DVD player connected to it. The girls were able to make DVD selections at the front desk and take them back to the room.
Housekeeping delivered clean and dry towels every day for showers and the pool. They provided excellent service.
Although we enjoyed our room, we would have preferred two king beds and a larger living room. What we did love was the sixth floor location, which gave us a very secluded view of Puyallup.
The girls enjoyed the breakfast buffet both mornings. Each found items they liked. Peg usually just gets fruit and yogurt. I like the waffles and sausage links.
Saturday morning featured a musical competition by middle school and junior high school bands. It was the Valley Region Band Contest. The event took place at Kalles Junior High, which was about a mile away from the hotel. Grandson Riley was participating with Edgemont Junior High. He plays the euphonium. Like his sister Bailee before him who played clarinet, they were in the hands of Mr. Burch, who has never ceased to amaze me with the quality of music his kids play.
Andy Burch is the Valley Music Educators Association Contest Coordinator. We were surprised to see Curtis Junior High performing in the contest as well. The music was fantastic.
You can tell the difficulty of a piece by the amount of movement in the percussion section. From kettle drums to chimes, members of the percussion section are in constant motion not only from selection to selection, but often from movement to movement.
There were three judges. After each band played one judge addressed the band. Edgemont drew Ed Powell from Pacific Lutheran University. After telling the band how well they did, he then led them in a short exercise to help them improve. I like that, and the competition was one of the highlights of our trip. And it was free! It's tough to beat those prices.
While Patrick wanted to go car shopping (in the blink of an eye Riley will be driving), we asked Riley if he would like to join our little group for a movie. We drove him home to change clothes and then we headed to the Southhill Mall and the cinema.
We chose Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 because we thought it would be funny. I enjoyed the first one. We were wrong. It was mostly a sad movie. It's even been banned in Russia, which has only banned two other films in recent years. How bad do you have to be to get banned in Russia? I love Kevin James, but I think the problem is that the film was an Adam Sandler production.
I had not thought of walking out, although I've certainly done that before. We had made too much of an investment. With tickets and snacks we were into the movie to the tune of about $120. For over an hour and a half I watched Kevin James mug and then there was about half an hour of mayhem and fun, which mostly redeemed the film.
The Kevin James character was in Las Vegas for a mall cop conference. Vincent, a crazy gangster-bad-guy played by Neal McDonough was there to steal priceless art. As soon as I saw McDonough I said, "It's Buck Compton from Band of Brothers." The humor began with a confrontation between Vincent and Paul to see who was the craziest. Vincent said, "I'm so crazy I have one brown eye and one blue eye." Paul eventually counters with "I'm so crazy I bring a folk guitar to a pumpkin fight." Vincent replies by shaking his head and saying, "I don't get it." It didn't matter. We finally were on a roll.
After the movie everyone was starving. There hadn't been time for lunch before the movie, so we headed back to Don's Drive-In because we thought the kids would like it, too.
We all sat at a small counter along the south wall. There were six of us there and I swear I counted six mobile devices on the counter between the burger wrappers, condiments, French fries and milk shakes. The kids had a great time dipping fries into their chocolate and strawberry shakes. I swear I'd seen their parents do the same thing years before.
Peg enjoyed her mushroom burger while I enjoyed my deluxe cheeseburger with three slices of bacon and a chocolate malt.
At one time in Tacoma, you could tell the best places to eat by the number of police cars parked outside Bimbo's, Frisco Freeze, and Brown's Star Grill. I think there is something similar going on in Puyallup. While we were there two cop cars arrived . . . and they were real cops, not mall cops.
Although, we only had the one piece of pie each on this trip and one cup of soup each, we know what we like and the visitors who constantly file into Don's know good food when they taste it.
Peg did regret not ordering the chicken and rice soup that Saturday afternoon. If they had cabbage chowder I would have ordered that as well. Great place, good people . . . the tip jar is locked and proceeds go back to the community. How can you argue with that.
Later I took the girls with me to a baseball tournament where Riley was playing. I saw him lay down a sacrifice bunt and still make it to first AND then he eventually scored the run, too. The game was at Heritage Park, next to Rogers High School. There was not charge for admission.
Back at the room it was interesting to see who slept where. Here Laci is sacked out on the floor, but when the sofa bed was pulled out there was no one set of sleepers. Friday night two people slept on the sofa and one in the queen and Saturday night one slept on the sofa and two in the bed. As long as they were all happy that was all I cared about. Thank god they all slept in, also.
I think the girls went to the pool three times, once each day. If we had stayed a week I think they would still have gone at least once a day to the pool. They had to pool to themselves each time they went, too.
Peg took the girls shopping for art supplies and then had a special art session. We used the dining room for reading, dining, and art. The kids drew, painted, cut, folded, and constructed. Art is such a creative activity. What I like about art is that one creative idea follows another. I have been using my sketch book as a note book with sketches that help me clarify ideas. Sometimes a sketch leads to another sketch and sometimes a sketch leads to a new idea. Art and the time we had with the kids is something to be cherished.
After we checked out on Sunday we took Bella and Sofia home, after stopping for lunch at Burger King (fast food seemed to work well for our divers tastes). Then Peg and Laci and I headed to Lakewood and Steilacoom. Across from Western State Hospital, where I worked while attending the University Puget Sound, is a fantastic park designed for sports activities. Riley was playing in the same baseball tournament as the day before. Back home I think we took a nap before unpacking. The afternoon was a blur.