If you were going to choose the weather to go along with your weekend activities, then our weekend to Lynnwood was a fantastic brew of weatherman promises and delivery.
Our first stop on our trip was to visit Moni Chaudry at his storefront, Computer Sonics on 200th, just off 44th. I had only met Moni once in our office in Tacoma, but had communicated well with him via email ever since.
It was nice seeing his operation. Moni's service people remove viruses and repair desktop, laptop, tables, and phones. Most people don't even realize they can have dead-to-world tablet repaired. I saw piles of tablets and slim-line laptops on his shelves and wondered if perhaps these were "Shelfies."
Computer Sonics not only repairs desktop and mobile devices, but also re-conditions many and has them for sale. People don't need to jump into each new devices when they hit the market, but can save money by keeping what they have and then choosing the right time to update. We had a nice time talking with Moni and then it was time for a late lunch.
We had never stayed or even noticed Lynnwood much before, so were completely surprised by the traffic and the proliferation of malls, shops, hotels, and restaurants. Spying a Red Lobster nearby, we decided to eat "lite" and then choose either a snack or dinner later.
We had great service. I like wait staff that offers opinions and suggestions. It means they know the menu. I like helpful people. I ordered the street tacos with lobster meat and slaw. With a squeeze of lime drizzled over the tacos and the rice pilaf I was please. I broke my cardinal rule and had three and a half cheesy biscuits. I love those things.
Peg had the trout with green beans and broccoli. Everything tasted so fresh. I helped myself to a number of forkfuls of her green beans and broccoli. The trout was a bit over-done, but Peg had not requested for it to be just under-done. It suffered from not being prepared by trout-master Peg as well. When Peg cooks trout I usually alert the media. Of course when she cooks she also chooses the trout . . . thick and meaty . . . fried in her cast iron frying pan with cornmeal.
We were in time for the lunch prices, so we saved some money there, but usually you can depend on Red Lobster to deliver good food and decent prices. This was no exception.
We had stayed at the Hampton Inn in DuPont before, but were still unprepared for out King Suite at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Lynnwood (Seattle-North). Peg opened the door and said, "Wow." The living room was huge. Including the kitchen it was about fifteen feet wide by around thirty feet long. There was a comfortable easy chair, a love seat, a desk, a cabinet of drawers for the 48 inch TV. There were lamps everywhere. To us there is nothing worse than to sit in a comfortable chair or at the desk and not have a decent light to read by. The bedroom also featured reading lamps on both sides of the bed.
The kitchen was small, but well laid out with a table, and three comfortable chairs. A tall refrigerator, a dishwasher, and a two burner stove top joined the drawers and cabinets of dishes and utensils.
We just wanted to move in and live there.
The hotel is right in the thick of mall heaven, being less than a block from Barnes and Nobel's and about fifty other well known stores. It turned out to be a great location. When we travel to downtown Seattle or Portland, we love being able to be right in the thick of things. The hotel just feels comfortable.
Separating the entry from the dining room area is a small waterfall. You can sit at a curved bar behind the waterfall and watch the latest news/entertainment show on a large screen TV or choose the very comfortable chairs and small tables to relax with a cookie and hot coffee at almost any time of the day or night.
There is just something peaceful about goldfish. The small pond at the base of the waterfall had more than a dozen goldfish constantly in motion. No matter how many times I walked by, I always looked into the pool to see how there were doing.
The Hampton Inn and Suites have very friendly people working there. The dining area was always clean and the attendants and check-in staff were always smiling and ready to do our bidding. I like that. When I was asking about the shuttle service, I went up to the check-in desk. I saw a business card for "Janie," so I asked the African-American with his modified Afro, "Are you Janie?" He laughed, shook his head and said, "Gabriel."
After we settled in, I wandered around while Peg took an afternoon nap. At the desk I inquired about their shuttle service. We were actually in town because each year Peg like to attend Letters of Joy, a calligraphic conference at Edmonds Community College, which is actually in Lynnwood. Before we had always stayed in Edmonds, branched out this time to Lynnwood. What a good choice. The Hampton Inn offers a shuttle service, which will run guests as far away as ten miles. There were a number of guests that were also attending the conference, so I made a reservation for Peg to leave at six with some other lettering people.
Flanking the hotel parking lot is a green belt, which helps remove the feeling of busy streets and highways, while leaving the I-5 just blocks away.
Peg loved John, the shuttle driver. She learned the short cut that we took many times over the next few days.
The green belt with loads of alders, Japanese Knotweed, and blackberries has a bridge across a small hidden stream. You avoid the traffic, and just skirt the trees, duck behind the department stores, go past the dumpsters, turn across the bridge, go through the parking lot of Staples, and come out onto a service road next to Stay America and then turn right onto 196th, which got us through town and straight away to downtown Edmonds, the Kingston Ferry, and the waterfront.
Peg shuttled to the opening night of the conference, bought papers, and books and then decided to not attend the Saturday classes. She slept in for some needed rest. Once we were up and running we visited Trader Joe's for picnic supplies and then drove to the waterfront.
As soon as we parked, a snazzy three-wheel vehicle parked next to us - a Polaris Slingshot!. The driver and his friend carried chamois cloth to wipe away the drool from a crowd of lookie-loos. The Slingshot will do zero to sixty in around five seconds. The cost is around $24,000. Saturday was the perfect day for tooling around in a Slingshot . . . most, however . . . maybe not. Great looking, though.
On the way to Trader Joe's, Peg and I had took a side trip to Everett (six miles north . . . with the last mile on the freeway taking sixteen minutes). In Everett we purchased a hard cheese grinder, and a slicing knife. As we sat in the car enjoying the water view of Puget Sound, the Olympics, and Widbey Island, I sliced into my sketch book, which did not make a great bread board. We had a small boule of sourdough, some spreadable feta cheese, a Cubano wrap, a tangerine juice, a tart cherry juice, some hummus with pita chips, and some Meyer Lemon crisp cookies.
We were mostly content to sit in the car and enjoy the food and the view.
The ferry in Edmonds will take you across Puget Sound to Bremerton and connect to various places further south or north to the San Juan Islands and British Columbia. It's fun watching the ferries as well as pleasure craft come and go.
Saturday was not only perfect for watching boats, but people as well. Just below the crests of small hills with waving stalks of wild grasses and the sidewalk, people spread blankets and soaked up the sun on the warm sands just below the gentle breezes.
Most people were content to just sit and watch, while some hurried by trying to squeeze the last joy out of every second.
Between Edmonds and Lynnwood there is a winding road through a cool ravine. It's a joy to drive through, but for the first time, we stopped. I walked a short distance on one of the trails crossing muddy hollows. Although I couldn't see the bottom of the ravine, my guess is that a creek probably runs through it and then on to the Sound.
Just a few feet away from the road, you can feel the coolness of nature. I didn't see that any houses populate the edges, so next time I may consider hiking boots and . . . no, what am I talking about. It's beautiful, but I'm not a hiker.
After our picnic we drove back to the hotel stopping at Barnes and Noble first, where Peg bought a local map, while I listened to KPLU and Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me on NPR.
Later that afternoon we drove through the ravine again on our way to Edmonds (about a fifteen minute trip). We had reservations for dinner at The Chanterelle. This is one of our favorite restaurants in the Pacific Northwest, so it is a treat to dine there. For last year's adventure to Edmonds, our granddaughter joined us and we took her to breakfast there. This year we wanted to dine with our clients from Chinook Services, but the times didn't work for us. We hadn't eaten dinner at The Chanterelle for two years. We had forgotten what we loved.
We arrived during Happy Hour. What luck. Normally, I don't drink during dinner, but the Blood Orange Mimosa was calling to me. It also called to Peg. The mixture was a blood orange liqueur, orange juice, and Champagne. If someone else had been driving, I might have had two. One was enough for me to relax and enjoy the evening, however. Two would have meant a nap during dinner.
While sipping our drinks we looked over the menu for our options. We finally took advantage of the early Happy Hour prices for dinner as well.
Peg and I shared the Seafood Passion Salad. It had excellent tasting prawns, lox with toasted sourdough wedges, red onions, and plenty of capers. The apple-horseradish vinaigrette dressing brought the taste and freshness all together. I kicked myself, for not ordering the salad just for myself. Accompanying dinner was soup. Peg had the turkey broth and orzo, which I had the tomato bisque.
The tomato bisque was amazing. At the Lobster Shop in Tacoma, along Ruston Way, the Lobster Bisque is a favorite. The tomato bisque from The Chanterelle tastes as rich and is probably better for me, but just in taste I think I would prefer the tomato bisque from The Chanterelle. That is a generous statement.
The Chanterelle is right in the middle of downtown Edmonds. The interior features a beautiful bar, and paintings on the wall. It's easy to enjoy the decor and the food. The staff is very helpful and makes suggestions and accommodates your wishes if they know them.
Peg ordered the meatloaf for her entrée, while I ordered the a pork loin. The meatloaf had red potatoes, which were perfect with the rich gravy covering the meatloaf. The pork had a roux with cranberries and apricots. What was disappointing was the done ness of the dishes. Both tasted over-cooked. Like the trout at the Red Lobster, it didn't occur to us re request something nearer rare. The meatloaf felt mealy, while the port was almost tough. This almost broke the spell.
We recovered from the dinner dismay. We ordered a Key Lime Tartlet for dessert and two lemon bars to go.
I announced after dinner that next time around, I would have the Blood Orange Mimosa, the Seafood Passion Salad, the lobster bisque, and we could share a Key Lime Tartlet. Peg said, "Uh, huh. Next time I want my own Key Lime ." I guess I would be okay with eating a whole tartlet on my own . . . if I have to . . . I guess.
As a midnight snack the lemon bars, were okay, but nothing spectacular, which was almost as surprising as our entrée.
I took advantage of the free breakfast buffet at the Hampton Inn. I loved the fresh fruit with the canned pink grapefruit, the golden pineapple, orange segments, AND the sweet pink mango.
Each morning I would take my sketch book and pens to breakfast, which I would write notes to myself and sketch out ideas and images. It was very relaxing. When I was through I would take a bowl of fruit, a bowl of yogurt (with slivered almonds and granola) and a banana up to Peg for her breakfast. In the room we used the coffee maker to brew individual cups of decaf.
Sunday evening we had reservations for dinner with Jay Bjorn and his wife Kendra. They had left their toddler, Gretchen, in a fresh diaper with grandparents. It's been quite a while, but we certainly had many days early in our marriage when a night on the town was often impossible, so we thought dinner at Anthony's in Edmonds would be a treat for the young couple.
Like most of the Anthony's restaurants, which dot the shores of Puget Sound, the views are extraordinary. Like this one in Edmonds, the Tacoma Port of Call is located near the ferry landing, just a little more than a mile from our home in North Tacoma.
Jay's parents own the local franchise for The Maids, which provides house cleaning services in the Greater Seattle area. Headquarters for both The Maids and Chinook Services are in Everett. Jay and Kendra live in Everett also. They both are active in the family business, Chinook Services, which provides handyman services.
Jay and Kendra love the outdoors and met while snowboarding. We had a great time at dinner. The two of them and I have been communicating via email since last fall. This was our first time meeting.
Rhubarb was the flavor of the month. Kendra started us off with a rhubarb mixed drink, which she enjoyed. We all shared asparagus appetizer. It was huge . . . not each asparagus spear, but the totals spears. Jay and Peg both had Weather vane Scallops. I had the ahi with pineapple chutney. For dessert, Kendra and Jay shared a rhubarb slump, while Peg had one of her own. I had the rhubarb sorbet. What seemed strange was the size of the portions. The scallops, while good, paled in comparison to most fine dining establishments offerings. They looked more like large bay scallops instead of Weather vane, which should be over twice the size. The slumps were served is good sized ramekins. which were about twice the size of what we see at our local Anthony's. My sorbet was like silk. So smooooooooth! There was a beautiful sliced strawberry on top.
We had a nice time with these energetic and hard working entrepreneurs. We help market Chinook Services for them.
Peg and I got back to the hotel just before nine. It was too early for bed and we didn't want to go back out to cineplex, so we looked through the on-demand movie selection of the hotel and picked the movie McFarland. What a great film. We curled up on the love seat with pillows and enjoyed the movie of determination and hard work . . . and triumph. Kevin Costner played a high school coach who took the only job he could find at a poor high school in McFarland, California. Most of the citizens of McFarland are poor produce pickers of Mexican descent who see no future for their children other than picking early before school, picking after school, and picking on the weekend. And all of this just to survive. Kevin shows them a glimmer of new possibilities by starting a new cross country team to compete with the elite public and private schools. The kids slowly respond and then their parents join in and finally the whole community stands behind them.
Over the weekend I kept up with the football draft for the Seattle Seahawks. There were some interesting commentaries on ESPN along with some documentaries about football greats. I enjoyed learning about Bo Jackson.
As a child Bo Jackson was bullied by the neighborhood kids, but he learned to protect himself by throwing crab apples at them. Soon he developed his arm for throwing. As he learned to throw accurately and more powerfully, the kids would run from him and duck inside their homes behind their screen doors. He threw through the screen doors. In high school he excelled in baseball and football. I liked the video because it had him telling his story about his past. One of my prized possessions is a Bo Jackson trading card autographed not by Bo Jackson, but by rock and roll hall of famer Bo Diddley.
After checking out of the hotel we drove to Bothell (about fifteen minutes toward Bellevue on 405 from Lynnwood) and the Chrystal Creek Café. We actually missed the exit and had to take the last Bothell exit and return. We drove all around the area where the Café looked to be on the Google map before finding it in the third or fourth parking lot we visited.
The food was over-cooked mid-America food. The best thing served was a fruit cup that came with Peg's cheeseburger. I wouldn't want to dine there again, and yet. This Café was one of our highlights of our Lynnwood Adventure.
Joining us at the restaurant were long-time friends Robin and Lannie Jaquish. They live ten minutes away from the Café. In the seventies we used to live just blocks apart. We would go dancing, go to the movies and play pool with other friends.
Lannie and I were corporate members of the Department of Defense, which gave us golfing privileges at Fort Lewis Golf Course. We were partners creating a work shift scheduling program. Lannie wrote the program and I was head of marketing.
Locally, my mom found a Chickering square grand piano that Liberace was once interested in. We bought the piano and moved it into three homes. Finally, we sold it . . . to Robin and Lannie. They moved it first to Kent and then to Bothell where they still have it.
We hadn't really seen each other for thirty years, but time just fell away. We laughed at each other, our predicaments, and life in general. What fun!
We finished a long weekend. The best food we had was the Blood Orange Mimosa, the Seafood Passion Salad, the tomato bisque, the key lime tartlet, and the rhubarb sorbet. We enjoyed visiting with our clients, relaxing in our room at the lovely Hampton Inn and chatting with our old friends. We'd do it again, in a heartbeat! Who would have thought Lynnwood would be so lovely . . . and so much fun?