It feels like I've been gone for a long time. Oh, wait . . . I have! Ten days on the road this time, so I was very happy to get back home Friday night.
My apologies for not posting on the road. Please feel free to fill in the excuse of your choice here. But now I'm back, so here is the recap version of the trip, condensed for your reading ease:
Thursday, November 2 - Redmond, Washington: It was raining when we awoke. I gave Gary some cards and a titanium bracelet for his birthday. He had already gotten his "big" birthday present: a new titanium triathlon bike. We now have NINE bicycles between the two of us. Professor Stephani wrote, "Let me know when he gets to ten bicycles and we'll do an intervention."
We checked emails, got dressed and went to the restaurant next door for breakfast. Jeff and Lucia picked us up at the hotel mid-morning and we headed to Bellevue to return the rental car. From there we drove to downtown Seattle and wandered around Pike's Market, with a special stop to see the first Starbuck's. Now how sad is that? The first Starbuck's is now something for tourists to take a picture of. Of course, we did.
[Factoid: Another large chain we see is one called Seattle's Best Coffee, which we viewed as a competitor to Starbucks. Err . . . maybe not. It's owned by Starbucks.]
We had lunch at Elliott's Oyster House, right on the water. What a great location! We had a nice lunch, then went south to the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field. This is the original headquarters of Boeing, and they have a great museum of both old and new aircraft, even a Concorde aircraft and a retired Air Force One. Gary was in hog heaven.
We went back to Bellevue to stop at an anime shop where Gary bought some new figures for his anime robot collection. Then home to Trilogy to Jeff and Lucia's house. It is a beautiful area and their house is amazing! It is much larger than it appears on the outside and they have it decorated so nicely. There is lots of space and light - they look out onto the seventh hole of the Trilogy golf course.
They installed us in the guest room upstairs and surprised me with a wrapped box on the bed: corks! After getting settled in, we all relaxed for a while before dinner. Lucia created a marvelous dinner - without accepting any help for either of us - and Jeff grilled flank steaks. We brought a few bottles of wine and we had a vertical tasting of a 1998 and a 1993 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon. The 1998 was very nice, but the 1993 had gone to raisins. Luckily, Lucia had a terrific cheese course for dessert, so the over-the-hill wine could participate in the dinner. We went to bed well sated.
Friday, November 3: We woke early and went downstairs, trying to be quiet so that Jeff and Lucia could sleep. Jeff joined us and made coffee and we read the paper. It was raining off and on (mostly on), so we decided to go up to Everett to tour the Boeing aircraft factory. Jeff had called and made reservations for the tour, and after we stowed our bags, cameras, phones, etc in a locker [no belongings of any kind on the tour], we went into a small theater. They showed us a couple of movies, one that highlighted all the various products that Boeing makes, and two showing speeded up film of the construction of the 777 and 737 aircraft. After that we boarded a bus and drove to the big factory, passing several aircraft on the ground in various stages of check-out. The factory has six enormous bays in which they assemble the 747, 777 and are preparing to assemble the new 787 "Dreamliner" aircraft.
We saw the 61st 777 that Boeing has built for Singapore Airlines, as well as several others at various points of assembly. We also saw where they are installing the new Toyota moving assembly line for the 787. By bringing in most of the aircraft in pre-assembled pieces, they will be able to complete final build of a 787 in three days. Wow.
After the tour, we stopped by the gift shop and museum. We agreed to be part of a survey determining customer preferences for an unnamed Boeing aircraft [*cough* 787 *cough*]. They issued "boarding passes" and we sat in our assigned seats and answered questions about space, comfort, leg room, lighting, etc. When we were done, they gave each of us a Boeing pen as a gift.
We went to The Keg restaurant for lunch - one of Jeff's favorites. Very tasty. After that, it was back to the house for naps and I took full advantage of it. We got ready for dinner and drove to the Marriott in Bellevue. Jeff and Lucia had made reservations for all of us for a wine dinner featuring Rosemont winery in Australia. After some initial confusion, we found the restaurant and discovered that we were the only ones signed up for the wine dinner! We had terrific service, and lots of wine tastes, along with visits from the chef to see how we liked it. We had antipasto, beet and arugula salad, smoked duck consumme, lobster risotto [wow!], a trio of chicken, lamb and salmon, and cappuccino creme brulee for dessert, all matched with wines. It was really a tremendous dinner.
Saturday, November 4: Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! Fifty-two years - wow! I phoned them and everyone got a chance to chat and wish them a happy anniversary. Jeff had to go to the clubhouse to pick up a number so that he could stand in line later in the morning to pick up tickets to a wine tasting course. Gary went with him and worked out at the gym. Around 10:00 we all went back to the clubhouse and Lucia gave us a tour while Jeff got their wine tickets. What a great facility - it feels like they live at a resort!
Next it was off to the local wineries. We visited Columbia Crest, Chateau St. Michelle, and Silverlake, bought some wines and acquired some new corks. We stopped at Jen and Selso's house on the way home and saw Davis and Isa (Raphael was sleeping). They gave us a bag of corks they had been saving - thank you! Lucia made toasted sandwiches for lunch and we just relaxed a bit before the evening's festivities. And what festivities they were! Jen/Selso and kids, Paul, Jim/Jacque/Zoe came over around 5:00, and we ordered several pizzas. Davis played "Happy Birthday" on the piano and they brought out an ice cream cake for Gary. It was a great evening and good to see everyone. Gary said that this was his best birthday ever and that he really feels a part of our family.
Sunday, November 5: We awoke early and were in the car at 5:30 on the way to the airport. At that hour, there was really no traffic, so it only took us half an hour. We dropped Gary off at US Airways and then Jeff drove me back downtown to the Fairmont hotel. I had reserved the room for the night before so it was ready when I checked in. I took a shower and got changed, then went across the street to one of the fifty-something Starbucks in downtown Seattle. I met a client for lunch and we went down to the Market again and found a nice little French bistro. After wandering around for a while we headed back to freshen up before our meetings began. I spoke to Gary, who arrived home, much to the delight of Suki.
From here on out, it was business meetings and meals, broken up by the occasional Starbucks visit, and a trip to Scottsdale. I flew home on Friday, dropped my stuff at home and went to the hospital - Gary was on call. The weekend has been spent running errands and cleaning, organizing, etc. And petting the cat, of course.
[It's good to be home.]
SAVE YOUR CORKS!!
[Only 5,116 more needed for our Wine Cellar Wall. Thanks to the Haganders, Luanavas, and their local wineries, we added 471 corks to the total!]
Quote du jour:
"Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”
Jane Howard (1935 - 1996) US journalist, writer
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