Island Time Kayaking

Casey’s view of the world

April 1998

April5

Lets go back…back to 1998.  It is April and I have been waiting to hear from one of three dealerships I had deposits with that a Black New Beetle with Tan interior had come in and it was mine.  April 1st started with a message on my phone at work that I knew right away was an April Fool's prank from a co-worker saying that my car had come in. Robert you didn't fool me.  But Friday (4/3) of that week my phone did ring and Auburn VW told me that my car had come in!  Hooray!  I picked up my loan check and went down to the dealership to get my car.  I signed all my paperwork, took lots of pictures of me with my car, and then…bastards, the general manager came to tell me that I couldn't take MY car, the one I had just signed for and paid for because VW had a policy that they must keep one of the New Beetles in the showroom for potential customers to see.  I called bullshit.  Regardless they said I couldn't have it, and who do you argue with when the General Manager tells you you can't have the car you just paid for.

So back to work I went…and I called VW USA.  I was on a mission.  I talked to several people, had several people call me, I talked to some pretty high up people and complained about Auburn VW, and at one point contemplated calling the police.  They had in a way stolen my car!  MY CAR.  THE ONE I PAID FOR.  Well on Sunday (4/5) I got a phone call again from the General Manager saying that my car would be ready to be picked up on Monday morning, so sorry for the inconvenience, blah, blah, blah.  I couldn't pick it up on Sunday because they were going to make sure it got detailed, etc.

One thing most people know about me.  I go after what I want and I don't stop until I get it, and if I feel I have been wronged you will know about it.  I was not going to let them screw me over, I would get my car, and I did.  My new bug, the one that I told my dad long long ago that I would have, and when he said they didn't make them anymore my response was, "They will for me."  Yes even as a child I knew what I wanted.

Monday (4/6) came and on my lunch break I waltzed in and drove out in my first brand new car.  The GM again came and apologized profusely and said that he hoped it wouldn't keep me from bringing it to them for services, blah, blah, blah.  The smell of the smoke he was trying to blow was strong in that office.  Later the VP of VW USA called me (I still have a folder with notes in it with all the people I talked to and their names) to make sure I got my car and there were no further issues with the dealership.

I brought my car back to work and it was like a flood of people exiting the building to see it.  It was the 13th one in the state, and it looked sharp.  A daisy in the bud vase and the radio playing, the sun was shining and the reflection of the blue sky on the hood of the car.

Now I don't know what happened to the GM, but he is no longer at that dealership.  I was really pushing for them to lose the VW selling rights, but they didn't.   So for service I took my car with his personal plates DRM BUG to the one dealership that everyone I talked to said to take it to, Campbell Nelson VW in Edmonds.  FANTASTIC people there.  I called and told the receptionist, whose name I think was Jane, what happened when I purchased my car and she had Bob Campbell call me and they extended me the same deal they extended to customers who purchased cars from them, complimentary oil changes for life.  So even though I had to drive to Edmonds to do it, I did, until we moved to Olympia.  Then it just became a bit too far to justify.

I have driven that car everywhere, it has never let me down, I put 137,000 miles on it since that day in April 1998 when I picked it up from the dealership.  I've hauled beds, kayaks, people, animals, plywood, 2x4s, and even moved from my condo into the Inn using it .  Where does that bring us…2008.  Ten years later.  Lauren is born and her infant seat fits, but barely.  We decide to stick with the bug until Lauren outgrows her infant seat, which we were hoping was near her 1st birthday so we can put her in her next seat forward facing.  But then…a glitch, the recommendation changed from 1 year to AT LEAST two years rear facing.  So we had to abandon the bug for the Eurovan as the larger seat just didn't fit in the bug.  I still drove him occasionally but not nearly as much as I used to.  Then in 2009 cash for clunkers happened and we sold the Eurovan (instead of having her crushed) and bough Sandy our Prius, which the car seat fits in, and is an amazing car.  So for about a year there sat the car with its insurance suspended.

A few weeks ago I started our online garage sale selling off our unused items that needed a good home.  One of the first items was three working toilets (as of this date we still have one), that were from our guest rooms, we replaced them with dual flush toilets to conserve more water.  We had one guy that said he was interested in one and came out to look and ended up buying two.  Nathan, jokingly said, "Anything else I can sell you?  We have two cars here we are looking to sell."  And as luck would have it, he was looking for a car for his daughter, a Junior in HS.  Just a little car to get her to and from school and to soccer practice and hopefully a job this summer.  The bug was perfect.  He came back with his daughter and wife and looked over the car, we looked at the service records, and with no dickering on the price he emailed last week and said he wanted it.  So…Twelve years from the date that I picked up my car, April 6th, I will be driving it, and dropping it off at his new home.  Although the daughter might have to fight mom for him!  She made a comment to her husband that they could give their old Honda to the daughter and she could drive the Bug, it reminds her of the one she used to have in '76.

Portland, OR Bust

December21

Had to do it, bad joke.

Nathan, Lauren and I were invited down to Portland by fellow innkeepers for a few days, so we decided since we were slow for a few days to take them up on it.

We had a great time.  We walked the first day to the Rose Test Garden and the Japanese Garden, but as it was only 30 minutes to closing we decided not to go into the gardens and to come back another day.

The first night we had an amazing pizza at Ken's Artesian bakery.  We were all drenched and it wasn't quite time that they started taking orders but we ordered a steamed milk for Lauren and a cappuccino for Nathan and a ceasar salad for myself and we put in our pizza order for when they started taking those orders.  We ordered the Soppressata pizza, it was really tasty, slightly spicy, crispy crust, perfect amount of cheese, and nice fresh basil.  They only make pizza at the bakery on a Monday night although they do have another location that does pizzas all the time.  I am glad the innkeepers suggested it.  The bakery gives away the bread that hasn't sold that day during the pizza time so we got a complementary baguette that was still fresh and crusty and yummy, we stopped on our way back to the inn and bought some goat cheese to go with it.

The next day we went to the Chinese Gardens, Powell's Books, Sur la Table, and general tourist stuff.  I found a little teapot cookie cutter for the tea cookies in the day spa. at Sur la Table and it was $1, perfect price.  At Powell's we finally found another journal for the Columbia room as the one that was in there has been full for some time.  I haven't checked to see if we have had any entries yet.

The Chinese Gardens were very beautiful, the koi were still pretty much frozen from the extreme cold weather even though it was pouring with rain, at some point someone had gone out on the ice and chopped holes through it.  There were some huge chunks of ice sitting on top, very impressive for the PNW.  We had a flight of white teas at the tea house, it was very interesting how much they varied in flavor and intensity.  Lauren enjoyed some of the tea as well.  She preferred the first one, as did I.  Nathan preferred the second and none of us really cared for the third.  Not that we could tell you what they were now.  I think the first one was White Peony, the second Jingmai White and the third, White dragon.  All from the Tao of Tea company.  We asked the hostess if there was anything else we shouldn't miss while we were in Chinatown and she said that we should head back to "the Pearl" before dark.  So we did. 

We went back to the inn to warm up and dry off and research dinner.  From Yelp reviews we decided on the Red Onion on 23rd.  Overall it was very good.  There were a few disappointing things.  We ordered their stuffed calamari appetizer because so many people had raved about in on Yelp.  We got calamari, but it wasn't stuffed.  It was good though, really tasty, and it was cooked well.  Lauren even liked it.  The chicken satay skewers were very tender and flavorful.  Our main dishes we ordered a beef curry stir fry and a chicken noodle dish, I wish I could remember what it was called.  We ordered them both between mild and medium because we knew we would be sharing with Lauren as well, otherwise I probably would have ordered a bit spicier.  Well our chicken noodle dish came out, but not our rice or our beef dish.  So we were eating the chicken which was very tasty, until the very last bites, which were so hot, my eyes were watering, I could barely swallow, and I couldn't taste anything…AND NO RICE.  And I am not a spice wimp.  When the rice finally came I had a bunch of that, and was trying to enjoy the beef dish but couldn't really taste it until I was so full I couldn't eat anymore, but I could say that the last bite I had was very flavorful, the beef very well cooked and tender.  Lauren was especially grumpy after not having a nap and the service wasn't too on top of things so we missed out on dessert and they even had the fried bananas that Nathan loves so much. 

Lauren went to bed earlier, but still not as well as she does at home. At least she didn't cry as long this time.  Nathan and I finished the loaf of bread and more of the goat cheese, and Nathan watched A Christmas Story for the first time.  It was a very casual night.

The next day we drove to the Japanese Garden.  What a beautiful and magical place.  Even in the cold wet weather of winter it was full of life and movement.  Speaking of wet, saying that it was raining was an understatement, it was dumping sheets of water. It was crazy.  We ducked into the Pavilion for a steaming cup of green tea and to look at the wares they had for sale for the Holidays.  After warming up and slightly drying off, we headed, dashed really, to the car.  We decided to drive around and see if we could find something to eat.  We really wanted to eat at the Frying Scotsman Fish and Chips.  They got really great reviews and who can pass up on authentic fish and chips!?  The only downside is that is a cart which means we would have eaten in the car or outside.  With the amount of water being poured from the sky and the fact that our car has dark tan cloth interior, we decided we would pass this time around.  We ended up just heading north on I-5.  We decided that instead of Fish and Chips we would settle for a good burger and fries.  I head read an article about Burgerville so that sounded like a good choice and we would of course see one right?  Um…wrong.  We didn't want to head into WA because we thought we wouldn't see one so we took the last exit the Jantzen Beach exit.  After driving around looking for something that sounded slightly appealing we decided we would go the Home Depot, buy the grout float we needed tax free, and head to the mall.  Surely we could find something at the food court right?  Wrong!  The choices were Taco Time, Chinese, and Pasta & Pizza.  We decided Taco Time was the best bet.  It wasn't great, but there was a carousel to distract Lauren and the mexifries were pretty good.  There was a Burlington Coat Factory so we went to look for a coat for Lauren. We ended up finding a coat, scarf, and snow bibs in a 3T at a great price.  Of course it is a little big, but we can easily roll up the pants and sleeves, and this way she can wear it next winter too.

We continued on our drive northward and what do we see a few exits up?  Burgerville.  Sigh.  Oh well.  All in all we had a very wet trip, but really enjoyed our time in Portland and can't wait to go back.

WBBG Meeting, Volunteer Park & Olivar

November3

Yesterday we went to Seattle for the Annual WBBG meeting.  Since Nathan is the President he pretty much doesn’t have a choice, so as is par for our course we all went.  In the future though we should remember that   I don’t really get to sit in on much of the meeting as Lauren is far too vocal and mobile at this point in her life.  She isn’t by any means out of control, she is just one and prefers not to listen but to be listened to.  So after trying to placate her with grapes, animal crackers, silicone baking cups (these work for an extremely long time, fyi), I decided to leave the meeting in peace and take Lauren for a walk.

The meeting was being held at the Shafer Baillie Mansion.  This place is HUMONGOUS!  Yes that big.  All caps are in order.  We could fit two and probably close to three of our house inside this true mansion.  The owners have done a great job of restoring the grandeur of this historic home, the woodwork is breathtakingly beautiful.  The meeting was being held in the basement (downstairs) speakeasy.  Yes really!  Complete with the bar and everything.  It is very cool.  You can just imagine the neighborhood millionaires gathering there imbibing on illegal liquids with a cloud of cigar smoke lingering above.

Anyhow back to the walk.  It was a beautiful fall day.  A little crisp but not freezing.  The sun was shining and lighting up the fall foliage like a light behind a stained glass window.  Magic.  As Lauren and I strolled along the street I kept pausing the admire the beautiful homes.  Each one had such great architecture.  They are all large homes on Millionaire’s row, each one with something different to offer.  This one had fantastic eaves, they extended further out, great for a NW home, that one had interesting trimwork around the windows really making each one a piece of art.  One’s paint scheme, another one’s landscaping, or hardscaping, or stairs, or fence, or porch, or columns.  Really each one was individual and unique, giving me ideas and inspiration for  lots of projects.  At the end of the street was a sign for Volunteer Park.  I had no idea it was so close.  Just behind the sign on a hill was a large brick tower.  I assumed it was a water tower (I assumed correctly).  I decided to continue walking into the park to explore.  The water tower was open.  There is a steep winding staircase that leads to a observation deck at or near the top of the tower with a display on the Olmsteads who were responsible for many of Seattle’s parks and boulevards.  The view was spectacular.  Clear view of the Space Needle with a ferry leaving the terminal, downtown Seattle, the 520 floating bridge, Bellevue, and everything in between.  It wasn’t a perfectly clear day, there was still a bit of marine layer otherwise I bet the Cascades, Olympics, and Mt Rainier would have been out in all their glory too!

After leaving the tower I continued along the path into the park, Lauren babbling to me, and saying, "Hi!" to every man, woman, child, dog, squirrel,  bird or other living creature she saw and getting annoyed if they didn’t say,  "Hi!" back.  We came upon another building, it looked older and Art Deco in nature and I was surprised to find it was the Asian Art Museum.  Unfortunately I decided against bringing the diaper bag with my wallet in it.  I was already carrying Lauren and the camera and didn’t want the extra weight of the diaper bag as well.  Shoot!  Oh well.  Perhaps we will have to come another time.  Truth be told it was much too nice a day to go inside.  Lauren and I continued past the museum and I spotted what at first appeared to be a rose garden in the distance full of blooms.  I turned and started down a narrow path across the lawn in that direction.

What appeared in the distance to be roses was actually dahlias.  A small dahlia garden planted and maintained by the Seattle Dahlia Society.  The were beautiful.  I know some people think roses are high maintenance plants, but anything I have to dig up and store properly and then replant the next year is a bit too much maintenance for me.  I don’t have to do much to my roses but trim them back.  That is pretty good for me.  The dahlias though were like multi-hued jewels.  Large ones, small ones, variegated ones, solid ones, dense petals, loose petals, even one I thought at first glance was a rose.  So much variation in one plant species.

Continuing on from the dahlia garden we headed toward the conservatory.  A beautiful structure, again looks historic, more Victorian, all the glass glistening in the sun, and it was packed full of plants.  Only flaw?  Not open on a Monday.  We weren’t having much luck with things today.  I really enjoyed admiring the building though.  Again it gave me ideas, a nice light but protected area outdoors so you could see the surrounding gardens, what a lovely spot for a wedding…hmmmm.  Well I don’t see that happening until our apple trees fall over and I sincerely hope they don’t.

At this point I heard church bells (not sure from where) signaling it was noon.  At least I assumed it was noon.  Since lunch was being served at 12:30, or most likely 1:00pm because the meetings never seem to run on time, I decided I should head back.  I walked back along another path and went past two koi ponds, those were some big carp in there!  And beautiful.  One of them was nearly leopard spotted, scales alternating gold and black, with long flowing fins.  Lauren at this point is singing the sleeping song.  Yes she sings herself to sleep in the stroller or hip carrier, a monotonous chanting sort of sound, like a car that just doesn’t quite start. Ahhh ahhh ahhh ahhh.  So in a matter of moments she is sound asleep snuggling into my armpit.  I stroll back along the leaf covered sidewalks and decide to look at the houses on the other side of Aloha, especially since one is for sale.  You never know when you might come into a spare 4.5 million!  It is another mansion, brick with a stunning front window.  Actually the house that stopped me on that section was a Tudor style house with a large turret out the front.  Not sure what it was exactly but I stopped to admire it both on the way down and the way back up the street.  The front sidewalk stairs leading to the front porch with the looming turret overhead, it was a perfect photo, but I didn’t want to take a photo of a stranger’s house.  Especially since it bothers me when random people stop their cars out the front of our house to take photos.  But those people also ignore us when we wave or ask them if they want to see the inside, I would have said, "Hi, beautiful house.  Why, yes I would love to see the inside.  Do you mind that I took a photo?  I just couldn’t help myself"

After tearing myself away from the house, I made my way back to the meeting, lunch, and then decided that since Lauren only napped for about 10 minutes she really really should have a nap or dinner tonight was going to be really noisy and unpleasant.  Since I knew she wouldn’t fall asleep with me holding her (unless I was walking again and I would have to keep walking for two hours), I went out to the car, strapped her into her carseat and I sat in the car listening to the radio and watching the traffic (both foot and vehicle) go by.  The more I watched the more I realized that city life is not for me.  There were so many people.  I really enjoy our neighborhood.  It is close enough that I can walk just about anywhere, I know many of our neighbors and wouldn’t hesitate to knock on a door if I needed help, but the traffic isn’t bad either that I could ride my bike or drive and not stress out about it.

Lauren slept in her carseat for a solid two hours, although she did talk in her sleep, she was yelling at the dog.  "Bad dog, out out, blah blah blah, dog woof."  I thought she was waking up and commenting on the dog that was walking past, but when I leaned back to look at her she was still fast asleep.  It was pretty cute.  My guess is she was dreaming the dog was barking at the back door to get let back in.

The meeting ended shortly after Lauren woke up and after saying good-byes to several innkeepers we headed off to dinner at Olivar, just down the hill on E Roy.  I looked at the directions and saw it was about half a mile away and thought that perhaps we should just walk, but since we didn’t think we would need our coats (Lauren had one, but neither Nathan or I did) and it was now spitting with rain, we drove.  And drove, and drove and drove in circles looking for a parking spot.  Finally we found one, it was adjacent to a no parking red curb, but Sandy was short enough to JUST fit.  Our other innkeepers driving larger vehicles drove even more than we did.  Upon entering the restaurant I really was struck with the feeling I had been in the restaurant before.  I think I had coffee there with an old friend from high school many years ago, the murals were very familiar.  According to one of the waitresses they were hand painted in the 30’s, it is a story about a Russian Czar.  I love stuff like that.  She said another restauranteur wanted to occupy the space but wanted to paint over the murals, but there was an outcry and the city protected the murals.  I assumed that meant they are on the historical registry in some fashion  but I am not sure.

The chef had created a family style menu for our group.  All the food was very well done.  How many ways can you say it?  Amazing, flavorful, expertly done.  We started off with an arugula salad with blue cheese, roasted beets and balsamic vinegar.  Crisp greens with the slightly peppery flavor arugula is known for, the beets a touch of sweetness, the cheese a nice earthy flavor with cream and the vinegar was just enough to bring it all together.  Next was a portabello mushroom tart  with a PX vinegar reduction.  Now I could have eaten about three of those.  Crispy, flaky, buttery, rich flavorful mushroom flavor with the vinegar adding a touch of sweetness.  The tart was followed by sea scallops atop a parsnip puree and an herb salad.  The scallops were cooked to perfection, they were sweet and tender, flavorful, and creamy.  The salad, I am not sure exactly what herbs were in it but it was wonderful.  Out of the kitchen next was Nathan’s favorite, potato gnocchi with roasted red peppers and crispy Parmesan topping.   The gnocchi was fresh, melt in your mouth tender and buttery.  Yum.  And no dinner didn’t stop there.  Following the gnocchi was my favorite which surprised me.  Seared duck breast with pickled green tomatoes and grilled polenta.  The duck had such a great flavor, I am not sure what I expected but between the flavor of the duck, the tomatoes and the awesome polenta, I would have had two of these following the three mushroom tarts.  The last main dish to come out was ground lamb meatballs with Nicoise olive and artichoke puree.  They were a lovely red color inside from a Moroccan spice (similar to paprika the waitress told us).  So flavorful, and still moist even though they were lamb and well done. 

Of course no meal is complete without dessert.  After all the food we had enjoyed so far we still had one more to finish our meal,  an apple tart tatin with a cinnamon creme brulee.  I honestly didn’t get much between Nathan and Lauren.  Lauren’s comments upon devouring the creme brulee were "Yummm, yumm, yumm."  And then she reached over and stole the apple out of the tart.  I did have a couple of tastes of the creme brulee and it was rich and creamy, the sugar crust on the top was a lovely crispy caramel but no trace of burnt flavor some have.  The tart had that lovely flaky buttery crust.  The combination of the two were like an upscale version of apple pie with ice cream.

After all the time being restrained, contained and reigned in, Lauren had had enough, she wanted out, down and away.  She was really good for the majority of the day, but at the end of the day she just wanted to crawl and explore and be heard.  As the restaurant got busier our group started to disperse and Lauren was more entertained by the burst of movement and conversation.  By the time we left, and got on I-5 headed south and home she was fast asleep.  So yet another great meal at a fantastic restaurant made even better with conversation with friends and fellow innkeepers.  What a long but lovely day.

Oh and thank you to the chef who sent out a special slice of pumpkin bread for Lauren!  She wasn’t as patient as the rest of us for each flight to come out of the kitchen.  I would like to say it was just as wonderful as the rest of the food, but she didn’t share a single crumb with anyone.

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