That was a gourmet weekend in every sense of the word.
We arose ridiculously early on Saturday morning, fetched Josh and Shan (this was much easier when they lived 20 feet from us), and were off: it was time to go to Seattle. We made excellent time over the border thanks to Ed’s sneaky sneaking, and arrived at our destination within 3 minutes of my estimate (I am gooooood): River’s 4th birthday party.
A suburban house stuffed to the gills with well-to-do parents and excited children dressed like princesses: I was totally in my element. My sarcasm is in jest though; Doug and Ali threw an awesome party for River and as she is my favourite small human, I was honoured to be a fellow princess for her. We all donned the appropriate head wear and settled in for an afternoon of royalty:
Getting a flying hug from a random small child the instant I walked in the door probably helped a little, though. She was very cute, even if I have no idea who she was.
River’s birthday cake was amazing, and one of the best I’ve tasted:
Not to be outdone, we gave River some additional cakes for her birthday:
We hung out with the birthday girl and her family for the afternoon, then departed for our next adventure. We didn’t want to impose on Ali’s weekend what with the party and other family in town, so we opted to get a couple hotel rooms. I was perfectly willing to settle for near-squalor, but Ed instead found a great deal at a swanky-ass hotel in Bellevue: a king-sized deluxe room, free parking, and $100 gift certificate to the equally swanky-ass mall next door. Pretending to be far fancier than we really are, we checked into the hotel and enjoyed the things that rich people enjoy on a regular basis: valets, concierge service, confusing high-tech elevators and berry water:
We enjoyed our fancy rooms for a few minutes, and then we were off: we had gift certificates to spend! $100 doesn’t go very far in a mall where all the stores are named after people, but we managed to find a few things to buy. An iPad 2 wasn’t in the cards – I visited three Apple stores in one day, and struck out each time – but I did get a cover for my eventual iPad2 and a new case for my phone. We also visited an awesome store that had fancy oils and vinegars on TAP, and tasted almost everything in the store – Shan came away with a bottle of white truffle oil, whereas I fell in love with the strawberry balsamic. I couldn’t pass up a stop in the Sanrio store for some ridiculousness, and many Gold Toe Socks were purchased. Our favourite thing in the mall was a bit of a surprise, though:
A Microsoft store! What the hell? It seems as though Microsoft got tired of Apple being the darling in their back yard, so they set up a store front of their own. It was HUGE, and jam-packed with people. The similarities to an Apple Store were immediately apparent: big tables with products laid out for you to try, a counter offering technical assistance, hip people in colourful t-shirts working the floor. We laughed at the whole thing the entire time we were in the store, thinking that Microsoft was being pretty sad with their try-hard copycat store .. until we ended up in the Apple store, three doors down.
IT WAS SO DRAB! After being in the Microsoft store, the Apple store looked awful – it looked like a washed out relic from another era that no one had taken pity on and brought into the 21st century. There was nothing different or remarkable about the store; it was the typical Apple white and silver and equally busy with people mobbing the blue-shirted employees – but after the vibrant and fun atmosphere of Microsoft, Apple just didn’t measure up. Suddenly, the first store didn’t look so sad after all – it was downright warm and inviting when next to the sterile aloof coolness of Apple. It’s absolutely worth a look if you’re ever in Bellevue.
I still want an iPad 2, though.
By this time the birthday cake and fancy cheeses had worn off, and we were hungry. I wanted to take Josh and Shan to Lunchbox Laboratory, home of the ridiculously good burgers. We met Mike and Michelle (Doug’s brother and his incredibly awesome girlfriend) there for a late night dinner, which was delicious and enjoyed by all.
From there, it was off to the Ookla House, where Mike and Michelle were staying while their place underwent repairs. The house is in West Vancouver, and has an unbelievable view of downtown Seattle:
We got a tour of the beautiful house, including the secrets – it was built in the 30s, and retains all the old school awesomeness with the necessities upgraded for our futuristic times. Also, there was a lot of booze:
Mike is somewhat of a connoisseur, and showed us his collection of fancy alcohols that I cannot drink at all. The others could and did, so I once again wore the chauffeur hat to be the designated driver of the stars. I don’t mind; I love showing off my ability to navigate Seattle based on nothing but vague memories of places I might have been before and it was a really nice night out; perfect for a drive over floating bridges.
Pleasantly pickled and/or sober, we settled into the living room to check out Mike and Michelle’s 3D TV. We’d never seen one in action before, so we all donned the glasses (which sadly are not red and blue anymore) and watched IMAX Deep Sea 3D; getting eaten by sharks and watching coral reef jizz into the ocean. It was really cool, but I don’t think I could watch a lot of 3D TV – the film was 40 minutes long and my eyes were bugging out by the end of it, and while 3D porn sounds hilarious in theory, I’m likely the only one who would get anything out of it (pure hilarity). It was awesome hanging out with Mike and Michelle, as we don’t see them often enough – they’re both a lot of fun, so hopefully we can hang with them more this summer.
It was after midnight by the time we left, and we were exhausted from our incredibly full day. I drove us safely back to Bellevue, and we crashed out in the luxury of fancy hotel times with plans to reconvene in the lobby at 11 am. We had a wonderful sleep – I want a king sized bed; diagonal sleeping is the best – and were mostly refreshed for Day 2 of our Seattle Weekend. We loaded up the the car and made another quick trip to the mall (they get iPad2 stock daily, but I missed out again – they only had 32GB Verizon units available) before heading downtown: it was time to visit Built Burger!
Ed and I have been enamored with Built Burger since Doug and Ali introduced us last year, but this was our first time visiting the restaurant for brunch. We’d been talking them up to Josh and Shan for the better part of a year, so I was really excited to go. We had some pretty high expectations from the place, and they didn’t disappoint at all – our meal just reaffirmed our love for BB, and I was delighted that Josh and Shan enjoyed it as well. I was a little worried that my plan would be shot down when I suggested we visit two burger joints in 14 hours, but my insistence that they were very different proved to be the key – the meals we had at both places were amazing and very different, and we will definitely be back to get our meat on.
We spent some time walking off our meal around Pioneer Square, marveling at the beauty of Seattle’s old buildings and bemoaning the Vancouver style of “destroy the old, build something new” – I love, love, love old brick buildings and really appreciate the fact that a lot of cities know how spectacular they are:
Shan really wanted to see more of Seattle, so we headed to the University District to drive through the campus. We hadn’t intended to stop, until we spied a field lined with cherry blossoms in full bloom and really had no choice in the matter:
Josh, Shan and I all cursed our lack of real cameras; having decided to travel light and only use our iPhones. It’s probably for the best, as we’d likely still be there if we had our DSLRs on us. Our hearts full of spring and fanciful thoughts, we needed to pee pretty badly and went down to the University Village for smoothies and a bathroom break. From there, it was off to an REI for Josh (he bought things that went beep), and a “quick” stop at the Seattle Outlets. I didn’t really do much shopping; my feet were in a lot of pain at that point and I barely limped my way to pretzels, but we managed to find a few things and hit the road back to Canada at almost 7pm. Unfortunately, so did everyone else – when we arrived at the Pacific Crossing, the wait was over 2 hours to get back home. In the name of desperate urination, we skipped many cars to go to the Duty Free store where they had bathrooms, cheap alcohol, and dozens of people looking for a bargain. It was insane in there, but we stuck it out and got some booze to bring back to Canada. We made it through the border with no problems and drove home; dropping Josh and Shan off and arriving at SPARTA a hair before 11pm. We had been gone for only 39 hours in total, but we crammed a hell of a lot of fun into that time – excellent company, beautiful scenery, impossibly delicious food and new shoes – it was a good, good weekend.