Thursday, October 22, 2009

At long last...

Black Butte, Oregon, from which Deschutes derives the name for its "Black Butte Porter," one of my favorite beers!

...the report from our trip to Tacoma, to see AC/DC! I figured I'd better get this puppy posted before diving into my recent island trip -- I just couldn't bring myself to post them out of order. I'm also rather useless in the studio for a good week after a trip of the scale of the island excursion, so I figured this would be a better use of my time than lounging around in a daze.

I've uploaded lots of photos to my Photobucket account, and I'll refer you to the respective links to peek at them (if you wish) throughout this post (the links to my images will be identified with a "*" so you can tell them apart from the other links). Almost all the photos come with commentary to add detail to this report, otherwise this post would be outrageously massive! And feel free to download any images for your own reference or enjoyment, too. spent nearly three days in Bend to visit with my brother, Alex, and his wife, Megan, and their two craaaaaazy dogs, Noah and Laker. Here is a typical "Noah-stance" (who is now a bazillion years old, but still kickin')....

You can see some images of our adventures in Bend *here. We love Bend, Oregon -- very outdoorsey and down-to-earth, but still rich with community. Also, there are ten super breweries in little Bend! Hazzah! We intend to try them all eventually. Anyhoo, we took in an art show in the park, which was similar to Boise's Art in the Park, only much smaller. But though it was small, the quality was off the charts. Amazing work! Here are some links to some of the artists there:
Then we walked around the Old Mill District -- I love it when cities refurbish their old buildings rather than demolish them -- and along the river on the greenbelt pathway for awhile. We then walked to Deschutes Brewery (one of our fave brewers -- they have a Black Butte Porter XXI that will blow your socks off, but cha gotta love super dark beers, like me!) for one of their *tours. The tasting room is free (YES), so we indulged in some libations before the tour. It was terrific -- we got there early, so it was just the two of us, and the (charming and funny) tour guide -- our own private tour! After that, we walked to downtown Bend for lunch at the Deschutes restaurant for a wholly amazing foodfest. After hearing on the tour that they use the spent barley for veggie burgers in their restaurant, I had to order one. It was a.m.a.z.i.n.g. Even Hubby -- who's a diehard carnivore -- loved it. We walked around downtown some more, and ended up at Mirror Pond in the park right next to downtown to relax. So beautiful!

The next day, we ventured over to the High Desert Museum -- an excellent place to spend the day. If you're in this neck of the woods, I highly recommend it! So many *beautiful artifacts, art and animals. The animal shows are terrific and educational.

This Barn Owl was particularly hypnotizing (Aunt Christine, there are more images of the owls in the link to my photos! I thought of you while I was snapping them). All the animals in the educational shows are either too socialized or were injured, and so cannot live in the wild.

Suffice to say, my inspiration bubbled out of my head after the Museum! That night we saw "District 9," which created a bit of amusing controversy. Alex and Megan didn't like it, but Hubby and I kinda did, despite the problems and the violence. To be honest, though, I was actually rather traumatized -- I was horrified over the treatment of the aliens. Deplorable! I wanted to save them! It's not a movie I'll watch again (or even recommend) -- it's too upsetting, at least to me. But we had a good time just being together and being silly, nonetheless. If you think I'm goofy, little bro is even quirkier, though in a more controlled, "dry" way than me (wink). I kept telling Hubby, "SEE - it IS genetic!"

The next day, we had breakfast at an awesome organic place (I had a very filling banana-peanut butter sandwich -- I swear, I wasn't hungry the rest of the day!) and Hubby had a terrific homemade breakfast burrito. We said our good-byes and we began our *journey to Tacoma. We were destined for Seaside, Oregon to stay the night there before we hit the final leg to Tacoma. Along the way, we'd stop in
Mcminnville, Oregon to visit with one of Hubby's friends, and another stop to visit with another friend. However -- note to self -- never use Google Maps! UGH! At key points, Google Maps was horribly wrong and we got horribly lost. And when riding a bike, mileage and gasoline are a big deal, and to make matters worse, they also make using atlas maps impossible. We lost so much time trying to find our way, that we had to cut our visit short in Mcminnville, and cancel the other one altogether -- poop! Oh well -- it's a good excuse to return later! Plus, we want to go to that famous air museum there. We need to get a Garmin or Tom Tom or sumpthin'.

On our way to Seaside, Google Maps again got us lost, and we finally pitched those directions altogether and simply went by instinct. We knew the ocean was to the west, so we just headed that direction. Phew -- we made it! Once we were on the coast highway, it was smooth sailing into Seaside. But by that time it was dark...and rainy...and cold. Oh my gosh it was cold. When we rolled into our Seaside hotel (which was on the beach -- score!), we were exhausted, freezing, stiff and hungry. While this would seem awful, it's to be expected on a bike. We always seem to have a "testing one's mettle" part of any bike journey, and this portion of the trip certainly was that. There can be no light without dark! So we scarfed down a dinner in the hotel restaurant (which was surprisingly really good!), and took a bottle of wine up to our room. We thawed out in the jacuzzi tub, then sat out on the balcony, sipping our wine and enjoying the sound of the waves until the moon was high in the night sky. Boy -- did we crash that night! Out like lights. Here's the view that greeted us the next morning:

So after breakfast, off we were again. It was a thrill going over the Astoria Bridge into Washington. You go up this wild corkscrew spiral road to get up to the entrance, then gazing over the expanse of the seascape from the bridge is stunning. Then the bridge does a biiiig dip down into Washington -- it was like a carnival ride!

Hello Washington! Along the way, we took
a detour to ride up the "Longest Beach in the World," Long Beach, Washington. Originally, we wanted to ride out to the tip of the peninsula, but gads -- it's a long beach! So half-way there, we just ran out of time and had to turn around. Next time! The ride was gorgeous and we got to our hotel before dark -- phew! We certainly didn't want to head into Tacoma, and do city riding in an unfamiliar city -- in the dark! We stayed at the Silver Cloud Inn, which was marvelous, not only because it was on the water, and within walking distance of a few good restaurants, and the room was really nice and reasonably priced, and the hotel was within a couple of miles of the Tacoma Dome (where AC/DC was to play that night)...but the staff were really terrific and their free shuttle took us everywhere in Tacoma! We only had to get a taxi twice while there cuz we needed transport after shuttle hours.

Apparently the hotel was full of fellow AC/DC concert-goers, which as a hoot. The hotel offered several shuttles to the Tacoma Dome, and we hopped onto one to fulfill the primary reason for this journey! I hadn't been to a stadium concert in years --- gosh, easily eight years, at least. The whole place was sold out and there was definitely electricity in the air!
The band formed back in 1973, and became one of the most significant influences in rock music. Living legends. So seeing AC/DC in concert was one of those things we both wanted to do before they stopped touring, and before we checked out of this life, and it was such a thrill to finally be there, experiencing it -- together!

The opening band, The Answer (an Irish band), was super (I kept thinking -- man, can you imagine being the opening act for AC/DC?! Holy cow! That must've been a thrill for them!), but we didn't really get to see them (though we could hear them!) while we waited in line for our obligatory tour t-shirts. You know a band has you wrapped around their little finger when you wait in line, standing for an hour, crammed with a bunch of other people waiting in line. But that's part of the concert experience! We finally got our t-shirts (with great rejoicing) and went back to our seats, just in time to catch some songs from The Answer and catch AC/DC as they opened up.


If I had half the energy these aging rockers had, I'd get way more done in half the time. GEEZ. They played for a good two hours, giving it 100%. They played all their old hits, and some new ones, too. The place went absolutely crazy nuts. Angus played like a man possessed and Brian belted his heart out. AC/DC blew the top off the Dome and the crowd was lovin' it. It was just full-bore rock and roll. We were all going wild!

Here's a (bad) shot taken with my cell phone of the famous bell coming down to open "Hells Bells." Brian swung from that thing like a crazy man, and it went, "BONG BONG BONG" in a deafening cry.

What was really cool was the diverse demographic of the crowd. One would think that this kind of music would appeal only to young white males -- nope! I guess a band with this history has a broader scope. Everyone was there! Even all ages! Even Grandfathers bringing their grandsons, or great grandsons! That was truly cool. Here's a good review of the concert in the Seattle Weekly. What an amazing time. Wow.

But it didn't end there!

We got up the next day to go to the famous Museum of Glass! Oh. My. Gosh. What a brilliant experience! What a treat! I adore art glass. I have a great passion for it. So this visit was a smorgasbord
for my visual sensibilities -- in short, I went ape-crazy bananas. I was almost in tears, it was so amazing. And you had to cross the famous Chihuly Bridge to get to it.


An entire ceiling and wall and towers of Chihuly works -- out there to oogle shamelessly! I couldn't believe my eyes!...

Here's one portion of the entire wall of Chihuly works.

Here's just one panel from the ceiling of the Chihuly Bridge.

Here's one of the outside installations, with the roof of The Hot Shop in the background.

Here's another outside installation, created in The Hot Shop during the visiting artist's residence there.

Now I couldn't snap photos inside the museum, but take it from me -- unbelievable exhibits. Breath-taking. Everything about the place was astonishing! The Hot Shop was particularly fascinating, since it's an actual working glass blowing studio for the visiting artist, and you get to watch him or her work their magic and ask questions (which are answered by a knowledgeable docent). When were were there, an art
ist was creating lovely, sublime penguin sculptures, but shame on me -- I lost the piece of paper on which I scribbled his name! ARGH. Anyway, here are some *photos I was able to take, and explore the web site -- lots of great stuff there! We also were advised to return and see the outdoor exhibits at night (since they're lit up!), which we did (after dinner at Stanley and Seaforts), and luckily my camera was able to get some nice shots, which you can see in my photos. If you're in Tacoma -- go to the Museum of Glass!

Then after that, we shuttled off to the Tacoma Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium! Hubby loves aquariums, and we were lucky since this is the only combined zoo and aquarium in the Northwest! And it's a nice one! Wow!

They had a Leafy Sea Dragon! WOW!

A dainty, cross-legged camel! I don't think a horse could do this -- at least not intentionally! He was just chillin' like that, in between the camel rides.

Sorry Joan - I couldn't resist. It was just too funny.

Ham gets inspected by a curious 3,000+ lbs. male walrus.

These Chinese Clawed Otters were hysterical, playing and gadding about!

To see more photos I took, go *here. There was a particular exhibit in the children's section, that featured a big red button. I wondered if it should be pressed (me being a born red button pusher), and Ham said, "Go ahead -- It's a big red button. Kid's height. I think it's meant to be pressed!" So I did. After seeing what the big red button illuminated inside the habitat, I advised Ham, "DO NOT PUSH THE RED BUTTON -- EVER." See, he has a decided aversion to spiders. And what was lurking in that habitat was something eight-legged, hairy and UNNATURALLY LARGE. And staring straight at you with all its eight, glistening eyes. UP CLOSE. HUGE. Now I understood why kids came screaming out of that exhibit.

Anyway, on our way out, I discovered one more priceless gem this zoo had to offer -- a *wooden carousel, the Paul Titus Antique Carousel! I kid you not -- I got verklempt and teary-eyed. I almost started balling.

A jaunty walrus

A beautiful outside armored jumper

A splendid Sumatran tiger

I adore carousels -- real carousels, not the fiberglass knock-offs. There are so few of them left! As a very young kid, I remember watching a short movie on certain mornings on TV -- I've never forgotten it. It showed a carousel early in the morning, quiet and still. Then it starts to move by itself, whirling faster and faster. Then the picture fades out to white horses (maybe Camarque horses) running on a beach, galloping through the sea spray in slow motion. Then they fade out back to the carousel, as it slows down and comes to a stop. This movie left me spellbound every time, and in tears. Since then, I've had a fascination for carousel horses (and animals) and I've always wanted to carve a full-scale one out of wood (so a wood-carving class is on my horizon soon!). I've also been meaning to design some carousel animals for ceramic casting, as Christmas ornaments -- one of my projects for 2010! The whimsy and "narrative" of the carousel animal is similar to medallic work, which is one of the reasons it appeals to me, too. I am so thankful that there are collectors and restorers out there who are rescuing the antique carousels! And carousels are making a comeback -- check these out!
Then the next day we took an express bus to *Seattle!

What a glorious day! We lucked out!

For $12 we got two round-trip tickets -- you can't beat that with a stick! I also got a bus schedule, so we'd be flexible in our stops and our times -- we intended to eek out the very last minute out of Seattle. Luckily, downtown Seattle is unusually easy to navigate, so right off the bus, we bee-lined for the wharf-front to visit the Seattle Aquarium. It's a nicely put together *aquarium, and a good complement to the Tacoma Aquarium.

Then we hit Pike Place Market for lunch and to take in some sights, and pop so
me money into Rachel. I'm crazy about big markets like this -- like the one Kay took me to when in Philadelphia. Too fun!

Rachel says, "Oink!" (translation: "Hello!")

Then we walked to Pioneer Square, and took the hilarious (and educational) Underground Tour of Seattle. Oh my gosh -- you have to take this tour! Not only is it funny as heck, but a very eye-opening educational experience. Let's just say that Seattle's beginnings were very interesting. Afterwards, we wandered around Pioneer Square and downtown, and meandered back to Pike Place Market for dinner at the Athenian where I had the most amazing seafood "bowl" and Ham had a scrumptious salmon gyro. After we were sated, we skipped off to the Can Can to catch the show and for me to get my desired absinthe (it's the only place in Seattle to get it)!

I was enjoying my rare Absinthe!

Poor Hubby though -- he was expecting Can Can girls, but what he got was an interesting array of risque modern and interpretive dance. He'll tell you about it sometime -- his confusion over the whole thing is quite a funny story. I'll tell you this though -- it's an experience he won't forget! I really enjoyed it, Ham's befuddlement over the whole thing, and I enjoyed my absinthe even more! Yay! It was very late at that point, so we set off for our bus stop to catch the 11pm bus back to Tacoma (it's about an hour bus trip back).

At 11pm, we walked passed this street musician -- a harpist! How cool is that?

We got up early the next morning, checked out and began our day-long 8-hour trip back home. We where beat when we stumbled through our front door, but boy -- what an amazing trip! We were glad to be home -- ready to be home, but wow. From beginning to end, our time together on this adventure was a wonderland of sights and experiences! A wad of wonderful new memories!

"Life is uncharted territory. It reveals its story one moment at a time." ~ Leo F. Buscaglia

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