This past weekend I completed my cross country journey. I know that technically I already made it to the west coast and have actually been here for a couple of weeks. For me the journey wasn’t finished till I saw the pacific ocean for the first time. While I was in Newport, the further east on my journey, I saw the Atlantic from Fort Adams. This past weekend we headed to Cannon Beach along the Pacific over the Labor Day weekend.
This was just a day trip but a really cool beach town. We along with a ton of other people got of of town for the holiday. Traffic getting there was pretty bad but honestly it was expected. The town itself is a typical beach town in my opinion. It was packed with tourists, had little available parking, small hotels all over the place and typical beach shops. What I found to be different was the beach itself. Out here they are super wide and really cold. The only people I saw in the water had full wet suites, everyone else was ankle deep. The sand was also very different. Very fine and didn’t stick to anything if it wasn’t wet. The beach also didn’t have a lot of “junk” in it, just grains of sand which was refreshing.
I spent all afternoon on the beach which was nice. I was so exhausted and just happy to be there I just sat and watched the people. When the sun was shinning the temps and breeze off the water was nice. It wasn’t till late in the afternoon when the sun started to set that it got really hot which I am still getting use to. Everyone keep saying it was not your typical Oregon beach weather so I feel I lucked out on the weather. I didn’t leave my seat but there are tide pools and Haystack Rock to explore. This beach was also used in The Goonies movie so there is that little bit of nostalgia for me.
I have seen the Pacific, mission accomplished, move complete.
After my cross country journey I arrived in Vancouver to my step-sisters house on Thursday. The next day we packed up the car and headed to Walton Lake in the Ochoco National Forest for three nights of camping and to catch the total eclipse of the sun. Central Oregon was suppose to have some of the best watching as it is higher elevation with clear skies. With all the forest fires going on in the area I was surprised that besides Friday afternoon the entire weekend was clear of clouds and smoke.
Tracy and I arrived on Friday and the rest of the family arrived on Saturday. Bobby and the kids had been on a three week journey coming up from southern California seeing the sites and camping all the way to Walton Lake. It was great just spending the weekend hanging out and not doing much. After my 12 day adventure across the country relaxing in nature was exactly what the doctor order. I hiked up Round Mountain with Tracy and that had some spectacular 360 degree panoramic of the surrounding area. Very impress. We could actually see the music festival from the top of the mountain. I heard that 30,000 people attended the electronic festival and witnessed the eclipse. The rest of the time I spent sleeping, smoking cigar, cooking food, or down by the lake. Really great time there with everyone.
Come Monday it was time for the show we all came to witness. We secured a spot on the docks for our group and I spent all morning down there in anticipation. The eclipse started around 9:20am and totality didn’t happen till around 10:20. It was crazy seeing the entire area get darker as the sun was covered up. The temperature dropped noticeably during this time as well. You could feel the wind shift as the shadow tracked across the state.
I must say that during totality I had goose bumps for the entire 2:30 which was awesome. it got so dark and so cold during totality. We could finally take the glasses off and look directly at the sun which was awesome. We could clearly see the corona jetting out from the sun. I was impressed with how large it actually was. It was probably switch the size of the sun. As totality waned we got the see the diamond ring which another awesome aspect of totality. I wouldn’t say this was a life changing event by any means but it was so cool seeing totality in all its glory. Really made me appreciate nature and how wonderful it really is.
After the long weekend and 2:30 of totality it was all over. We hung out at the campsite for the rest of the afternoon thinking traffic would be horrible as everyone tried to leave at the same time. Thankfully there was no traffic so it just turned into a long drive getting home that night. After four hours and stop for dinner we where home. We all brought some stuff into the house and then I showered to clean three days of grim off me. That showered was amazing, almost as amazing as totality I have to say. Really an amazing experience and I was so glad I made it out to the west in time to see it.
Having a total eclipse cross the entire country is a rare event. I believe they are often in the middle of the ocean or only in very limited populated areas. Having it track across the entire country was a once in a few hundred years even from my understanding. Not sure if I will ever get to see one again but if the opportunity arises I will certainly make the effort. If you haven’t seen totality in person I would highly recommend making it at least once in your life. Really amazing stuff and makes you appreciate nature even more.
So I arrived on the west coast on Thursday. That Friday we packed up the cars and headed to Walton Lake in central Oregon to camp for the eclipse. We had a groups site with some other people which was really cool. Spent a lot of time just relaxing and not doing much. I did hike up around Mountain with Tracy. The view from the top is a true 360 panorama which was cool. In the prairie below we could see the 30k music festival which was huge.
As for the eclipse totality was amazing. I know it was only 2.5 minutes but I had goose bumps the whole time. It got so dark and cold. You could clearly see the corona and the stars even came out for a brief minutes. Truly Amazon site to be seen.
If you want a Bette picture go somewhere else. I was to in the moment to worry much about taking pictures.
Late in fall bands tend to announce their winter tour schedule. Winter is a good time to see some kick ass bands in small indoor venues. When Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe posted their winter tour they had a tone of dates on the west coast, including a stop in Portland on a Friday. Checking my calendar this was a perfect opportunity to see a show and spend the weekend with the family in Vancouver. I remember booking my flight for this trip while driving down to Asheville to see The New Mastersounds and drink some awesome beer.
While I realize my time was short with the family I certainly made the most of that limited time. It took a lot longer to get to PDX then I wanted. My flight to SFO wasn’t a problem, other than being six hours, it was the connection to PDX that got delayed. The show didn’t start till 9 so there was still plenty of time to see the family and catch the start of the show even with my flight delay. Our plans for Friday kept evolving as my flight status was updated but we managed to make it to Associated. Some really good brick oven pizza and surprisingly tacos as well. The crust was crispy and the flavor combos very unique. After this Bobby dropped Tracy and I off at the Aladdin Theater for the show.
The Aladdin Theater is old, no way around it. Rather small and hasn’t been updated in many many years. The venue certainly shows its age at this point. Late in the show Karl even made a comment about the venue. They took a bunch of promo photos and he didn’t seem particularly happy with the theater as the backdrop. I believe he said they were “to cheap” about finding a more appropriate photo location. I would agree with all the reviews in that the seats suck. When we got in we immediately headed to the small bar to the left which was nuts to butts. The show hadn’t even started and the bar was crowed. Tracy muscled her way to the bar and got a drink while I chatted with some fellow patrons. We eventually grabbed a seat down front and waited for the show to start.
The Main Squeeze was the opening act and I honestly didn’t have much hope for them. I know you shouldn’t go in with preconceived ideas but still. When they finished I was totally a fan. They had a good selection of songs and really got the place going. They were in the same vain as KDTU so it really fit the night in term of energy. Eventually KDTU took the stage and I was shocked to see Alan Evans on drums. I just saw him less then a month ago playing with The New Mastersounds. It was so cool seeing him playing with Karl. It is usually Karl that is always sitting in with other bands so it was nice seeing Alan sitting in with Karl for a change. One thing that we quickly noticed was the band was all very dapper. Everyone was in a suite and honestly I don’t know how they did it. It was just to damn hot to be sweating in a three piece on stage all while performing. KDTU was on fire that night and really had a groove going. Its been years since I have seen KDTU and I was disappointed at all. I have kept up with Karl’s many other side projects but there is just something about seeing his band that is so satisfying. His 2002 album The Bridge is still one of my all time favorite albums. What a great performance.
Saturday thankfully was a full day with the family which was exactly what I wanted. It was a lazy morning with everyone sleeping in but slowly the house awoke and was a hive of activity. Bobby got some work done, Tracy good some breakfast and the kids and I watched the new Ghostbusters. A true highlight of the trip was sitting at the breakfast table that morning eating with the family. I remember at one point just starring at the kids. I have been lucky to see them grow up and cant wait to see who they are as adults.
After a hearty breakfast we started the days activities. Fist up was Powell’s Books which is the largest independent book store. They say it is an entire city block but not really. Even without being a full city block the sheer size of the place is impressive and worth a visit. While not much of a book worm I found some good station and the rare book collection was cool to see. I have never seen one of these in any book stores so it was cool seeing some books that are well over 100 years old. They even have a printing machine to print any book you want to create and for on demand printing for independent authors.
After this Tracy and I started a brewery tour of Vancouver. They knew I was coming out before Christmas so this was my gift from them to me which was cool. Fist stop and what ended up the best in my opinion, was Loowit Brewing Company. They are a small shop in the old section of Vancouver. Not an extremely deep selection but some real quality stuff including several GABF award winners. I particularly liked their Tiger Squadron Pale Ale.
Next up was Old Ivy Brewery. This place really reminded me of Cheers or something from the 80’s. The place was pretty dead, granted it was around 3pm but it was a Saturday. We only stayed for one beer here before moving on. We thought about some food but the next place had much better food Tracy said. There are a lot of breweries in the area, especially Portland. Just skip this one and move on to something else.
Last stop of the night was Heathen Brewing Feral Public House which is the brewpub for Heathen. Washington alcohol laws are different from Virginia but what I gather this means is kids are allowed in the place during all business hours. Here the place was hoping in the early evening hours. We bellied up to the bar and started right in with several apps and a few beers. With all the choices I was tempted to do a sampler but stuck to my guns on avoiding them and got a full glass of Kunkle’s Dunkle. Maybe it was the weather but I have been drinking more porters, stouts, dunkles, anything really dark the last few months. The apps we got where also very good.
And just like that it was time to head back to the house for dinner. Tracy was doing a brisket in the crock pot for tacos which was awesome! She did a really good job with the meat and all the fixing. I stuffed my face full. From all the drinking that afternoon I had a slight buzz and was starving. The appetizers from Heathen where good but this really hit the stop. After dinner Bobby and I spent some time in the garage catching up. When you get him alone and really sit down with him, he is really kind thoughtful and has some good insight on life. With the kids to bed it was time for some adult fun with Bobby this time.
He and I headed out to play some classic arcade games. We first tried Ground Kontrol but as we pulled up there was a line out the door waiting to get in. The weather was cold and drizzly, we were not about to wait in a line to play some video games. Google to the rescue we found QuarterWorld across town. Unfortunately there was a small cover to get in but totally worth it. We played classics like Joust, Fix-It Felix Jr., Space Invaders, TMNT, and Galaga to name but a few of the offerings. Oh and did I mention pinball up the wazoo. We played so much we actually closed the place down at 1am. After a long night of gaming you work up an appetite so we headed down the block to Zack’s Shack for some awesome hotdogs. They actually don’t close till 3am on the weekend so it worked out perfectly before heading back to the house.
The next morning came way to early. Three nights straight of non-stop activity was finally starting to catch up to me. The kids had a church function they couldn’t miss so Bobby took the kids and Tracy dropped me off. My flight left PDX at 1:30pm unfortunately with a 6 hour layover in SFO. When I booked my ticket I didn’t realize I would be flying during the Super Bowl. Thankfully I landed with plenty of time before the start and enough after to enjoy the entire game in the United Lounge. While the audio was hard to hear it was easy to follow the action. At the half I really thought Atlanta was going to have a blow out so to see the Patriots come back and win it was pretty amazing. I am not a football fan by any means but that was a great game to watch.
My free ticket almost wasn’t worth it. My flight didn’t leave SFO till 9:30 or something like that. I arrived early actually just before 6am. A quick Uber ride home and I actually had time for a quick nap before getting ready for work. I was surprisingly awake all day despite my whirlwind weekend on the west coast.
I think in the future I will take more of this shorter style of vacation. It saves on vacation time and costs less. This will allow me to visit more places and see more things then if I stayed a week in one or two places. The hardest part of the trip was not being able to spend more time with the family. I think keeping it busy with everyone and doing individual things was a good way to do it. I hope to go back sooner rather then later and of course Bobby and Tracy encouraged me to stay longer next time.
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
Friday, February 3rd 2017
Aladdin Theater – Portland, OR
Nancy and I took a trip out west to visit family, this trip just happened to coincide with the start of Phish’s fall tour. While Nancy was not thrilled, she said I could go, she knows how much of a fan I am. I took a few hours out of our trip to head down to the Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene to see the show. Like always there was traffic getting to the venue and this turned what should have been a 3 hour trip into 4. I was pissed but there wasn’t much I could do about it. Once I finally got to the venue it took forever to find my seat but let me tell you, once I sat down it felt good to see Phish again.
I am not even sure how much of the first set I missed but once I was sitting down it didn’t much matter. The place was not sold out but it certainly was packed. I purchased my seat rather late so it was on the back of the stage which was perfect for me. I moved to a more center position and settled in for the remainder of the show. At pavilions you can only sit directly in front of the stage but at arena’s there is a little more freedom. I like the change of perspective that comes with sitting directly behind the stage. I feel like a part of the band, gazing out towards the grow getting the same view as the band. The lights dance around the arena, its just a totally different experience.
Pretty standard fair would be my opinion of the show. The one thing that did stick out with this show was the crowd. While there are usually a lot of hippies, here in Oregon there seemed to be a crap ton more than usually. In fact I have never seen so many dreadlocks on white people in my life. Song highlights included Reba and The Squirming Coil from set one. Coil ended the set and it was again perfect, all the band members leave the stage except for Page who finishes off the song with some great solo piano work. Before he leaves he thanks the crowd and mentions they love this place but don’t get out here enough. Living on the east coast I don’t have this problem, I am able to see a ton of shows every year.
Second set was better than the first, standard fair again. Plasma was a debut for the band so that was cool, traditional a Trey song Phish played it for the first time that night. Crosseyed and Painless > Harry Hood was a good one. This Talking Heads cover has certainly been played in the past but not with any regularity. When it does make its appearance it is a treat. The lead into Hood Hood which was certainly an above average jam. Not sure what sparked the band but the jam was great. For the encore they played Sleeping Monkey along with two others. Trey remarked that this is Page’s most requested song when they do encores but rarely gets played. This night it was dedicated to Page with Trey and Page singing duet on the song. Even the crowd go into the fun and sang a verse.
First west coast Phish and I was not disappointed. Honestly I think the worst Phish show still beats any day not seeing them. Yes the show was pretty much the same with only the crowd being a little more hippie then usually. I can at least check the box for seeing a Phish show on the west coast. Now they just have to tour Europe again so I can see them play there and check that box as well.
01. Waiting All Night
02. Free >
03. Poor Heart >
04. Sample in a Jar
05. Strange Design
07. Bouncing Around the Room >
10. Simple >
12. The Squirming Coil
Set over at 9:34pm
Starts at 10:04pm
01. Carini >
04. Halfway to the Moon >
06. Crosseyed and Painless >
07. Harry Hood >
08. Rocky Top
Set over at 11:22pm
Starts at 11:25pm
10. Sleeping Monkey >
11. Quinn the Eskimo
House lights at 11:44pm