Tag Archives: Washington

Hoh Rain Forest Tom’s Creek May 2018

With the weather finally changing there are less excuses for not getting out. This month I have some free nights at Marriott that will expire so this weekend I booked a trip up to Olympia to burn through one of my nights. Years ago I saw a story on CBS Sunday Morning that talked about the quietest place in the continental US and since then I have made it a point to check out the spot. Now they didn’t say exactly where it was but I think its in the Hoh Rain Forest some where in Olympic National Park.

Lots of drift wood has washed up on this section of beach.

I would have much rather camped in the forest but the hotel worked out. Its only a couple hours from home but much closer then my house to the hike. The first real hike of the year and I knew I would be exhausted afterwards so closer was better. On the trail I ran into many people that where out for the weekend hiking. From the Hoh Rain Forest visitor center you can head deep into Olympic National Park. There are really only foot trails into the interior so if you want to go exploring, you better start walking.

From my house I got an early start and left just before 7am. The park is pretty deep in the interior but you are still only barely in the park. Its amazing how much of this park is not accessible by road. You really must hike if you want to get anywhere. There was certainly no shortage of 20+ mile hikes starting from here.

From the visitor center I headed down the Hoh River Trail. My time was limited and in the end I only got two hours to hike into the forest but I managed to make it to Tom’s Creek and hung out there for a while before turning back for my car. Next time I am planning on an overnight stay to really enjoy the park. It was still early afternoon when I had to head back with plenty of daylight left.

So the whole reason to come out to this park was to find some peace and quite. It was a beautiful day so I expected the trail to be busy with hikers. Despite being so hard to reach, the weather was to perfect to pass up. First off in the lower section of the trail you are walking right along the river for the most part. This provides a huge amount of noise as the water rushes over the stones and debris. This isn’t that bad but what I kept noticing was the air planes. At least this part of the park is right over a flight path which is super annoying. Even when I found a nice quite spot near Tom’s Creek to get some writing done I could hear the planes over head.

The hike itself is great. Now and again you get a cutout in the trees so you can see the river below and in the back ground are snow capped mountains. It was so crazy seeing the snow topped mountains.  Coming from the mid-Atlantic you never see anything like this. I have hiked in the Shenandoah when it has snowed but that disappears just as quickly as everywhere else in Virginia. The forest was also just starting to come to life. The ferns and other leafy trees are starting to bloom. Not many flowers were blooming so not sure if I missed them all or just early. The temps on the mountains are probably in the mid 60’s so might be a little early still?

Along the trail there are also two small waterfalls. One you has a pretty good view from a small foot bridge. The second is approximately 200′ further down the trail and is much harder to see. You can hear it and that was the only reason I noticed it. The first has a pretty well defined trail to it. The second, not so much.

One thing you notice walking in the forest is the size of the trees. There are many huge trees in the forest and pictures don’t do them justice when you have no scale for reference. They really are amazing and it’s one of those things you just have to see and experience for yourself.

I had a free night at Marriott that was about to expire and I didn’t want it to go to waste. Olympia had the closest. Who knew that I would have difficulty finding a place to eat after my hike. By the time I got to the hotel and cleaned up it was almost 9pm. Not to worry, its a Saturday night in the capital city of the state of Washington. Surely something must be open. Boy I couldn’t have been more wrong. The entire city shutdown at 9pm it seems. I ended up with fast food because I couldn’t find anything else open.

Originally I planned to hit Three Magnets Brewing Co. close to the hotel but wasn’t feeling it that night. Thankfully nothing to worry about because on Sunday at 8am and start serving breakfast and beer which is awesome. I got their BLT Benedict and their Robust Porter. The place was really busy for a Sunday morning which was nice to see. I took the opportunity to sample a few beers and get some writing done. Olympia isn’t that far from home so there was no hurry to leave.

After breakfast I explored some of the city. I found some great chocolate at Encore Chocolates & Tea. They reminded me Ranger Chocolate is just down from my house. The small art supply shop Olyphant Art & Media was tiny but I found a pen case here so another score. They even had a decent record shop. Rainy Day Records didn’t have anything to deep but certainly a well rounded collection of music. They have a movie club which I thought was cool. A bunch of cheesy 70-90’s cult classics. What a good idea.

Last thing on my list was stationary. What I found was more of a gift shop but Compass Rose had a good selection of cards. I bought a bunch of post cards and a couple note cards and got to work writing at a local coffee shop. The shop overlooked a small park. With such a beautiful day the park was alive with activity.

I really want to go back to Olympic National Park and camp next time. I loved the huge trees and the weather is pretty good for hiking out that way. With such a large park there is a lot to explore so I have a feeling it will keep me busy for a while. As for Olympia I thought that was a great little town. Sunday morning and the place was busy with activity in downtown. I have one more free night that’s about to expire……where to next?

 

SEA to DEN to PDX All for the Love of Music

The New Mastersounds 11/9 at 9pm

I regularly get emails from bands with their concert schedules and will often plan trips around these tour schedules.  Things started to align when I got emails from The New Mastersounds and LCD Soundsystem.  The New Mastersounds where planning on hitting the pacific northwest with a show in Portland and another in Seattle.  LCD Soundsystem got back together after a few years of being on hesitates and did a pretty long tour over summer and fall of 2017.  For a while I have been trying to see them but my last best shot was them coming to DC after I was gone.  Then I saw a show in Denver on a Saturday that wasn’t yet sold out.  I compared that date to the New Mastersounds schedule and said fuck it, I’m going on vacation.

LCD Soundsystem was playing in Denver on a Saturday which is a totally doable show from Portland.  A quick and cheap flight over for the weekend and back home for work on Monday.  I then thought I could see the New Mastersounds mid week in Portland, travel to Seattle to see them on Friday and catch LCD on Saturday.  Because I was afraid LCD would sell out I got that ticket first and then the New Mastersounds.  It was at this point when I realized New Mastersounds was playing Thursday in Seattle, not Friday.  Oh well that just meant an extra day off and a full day in Seattle.

My trip started coming together and this was going to be a doozy, even for me so follow along. Thursday I decided to the take Amtrak from Vancouver to Seattle.  Unfortunately my train was a little late but once we got going things where great.  I took an Uber to the station so I didn’t even have to worry about getting there.  I splurged for a first class seat since I was only going one way.  I had a nice leather seat with plenty of room.  So much I could cross my legs.  There was even a power outlet and decent wi-fi access as a bonus.  It was a little over 3 hours to get to Seattle.  Unless time is of the essence I would rather take the train to Seattle then fly.  Just a better experience all around.

Thursday I didn’t have much of a plan besides seeing the show.  I was hungry so started making my way towards downtown to find some food.  It was pretty late in the afternoon so the city was quite.  I found Blueacre Seafood.  Good stuff but I thought overpriced for what I got.  Good selection of beer and seafood.  I found several kick ass stationary stores and even a spot to grab a cupcake.  Cupcakes Royale not nearly as good as Cupcakes Actually.  Sometimes I miss the things from home.  I found myself down by the water and stopped by Pike’s Place Market.

That evening I wanted something good to eat near the Neptune Theatre and found Big Time Brewing Co. for some local craft beer and food.  I had a craving for tacos that night and ordered some pretty good ones.  They where simple and filling and the perfect thing to fill my belly before rocking out to another night of The New Mastersounds.  The beer was pretty good as well.  I had the Coal Creek Porter and Skosh, both above average beers for me.

The band kicked ass again that night.  Even though I just saw them two nights before in Portland it was another great show by the band.  The crowd was energetic and the theater is rather spectacular.  A converted single screen movie theater the place looks really good with all the art deco and classic turn of the century theater styling.  Less then a thousand people can be seated in the place.  No dance floor, all seat.  Really nice place I would certainly see another show here.

Friday was a full day in the city so I was excited to get started.  I got a decent start to the day with breakfast at the hotel before heading downtown to the Seattle Art Museum.  This place was amazing.  A truly great museum with all sorts of stuff in their collection.  New, old, lots of western, sculptures and plenty of open spaces to get lost looking at art on the wall or in front of you.  After walking around the museum I worked up an appetite and found Shawn O’Donnell’s which was pretty good.  It was late afternoon and the place was dead.  I was just happy they where still serving food as several other places I found where closed.

With no real plan I just kept walking around the city and getting further and further into south Seattle, a new place to explorer for me.  Its mostly a warehouse district that appears to be going through a transition at the moment.  Seapine Brewing Co. was an awesome find out here in the hinter lands.  A huge traditional brewing operation in my opinion.  Lots of tables and high tops in the front with the bar covering the brewing operations in the back of the warehouse.  The Hefeweizen and Mosaic Pale both received above average ratings.  A great selection and I would definitely come back here to try their other offerings.  No food but I can live with that.  After a great day in Seattle it was time to make the long walk back to the hotel for a good nights rest.  Saturday was going to be a rather busy day for me.

Seapine Brewing Co.

I had a late morning flight from SEA to DEN which would get me to Denver with plenty of time to check into the hotel, bum around for a bit and then head to the show in Broomfield.  That was the only problem was the show was in Broomfield and it ended up being a nightmare getting to and from on public transit.  Everyone is trying to be green and it just overloaded the system that night around the venue.  I eventually gave up taking the bus and got an Uber instead.  Coming back I almost didn’t make it onto the bus.  Another thing that ticked me off was my room wasn’t ready in time.  I got to the hotel and dropped by stuff off but I had to come back later to actually check in.

Denver has no lack of breweries but because of time constraints I ended up going back to Wynkoop Brewing Co.  I knew they had food and good beer from one of my other visits to Denver.  They didn’t disappoint then and not this time either.  I had some wonderfully filling food and good beer to get me ready for the LCD show.  They was some weird DJ that opened and he sucked.  My ticket was in the general admission seating at the back of the venue.  The place didn’t sell out and while the floor was sell out it was pretty empty all night.  I felt disconnected from the show I was so far way from the stage, honestly it was kind weird sitting there watching the show.  The ticket was already expensive but I should have upgraded for a closer view.

The mirror ball was amazing when lite up.

Two hours after they took the state I was out the door trying to make it back to downtown.  There where so many people and so few buses.  I almost didn’t make it and really didn’t want to pay $60 for an Uber if I didn’t have to.  Eventually I got back to the hotel after a long day and crashed.  My adventure wasn’t over just yet, I still had to get home.  I had a late afternoon flight combined with a late check out which was perfect.  I got some breakfast and then wrote letters while watching Sunday Morning.  Next I headed to Commons Park for one last cigar before my flight.

In the end I used cars, bus, train, plain, metro, light rail and walked a ridiculous amount of miles.  Even for me this was one for the books.  That night when I got home I didn’t do anything but grab some food and go to bed.  Monday was going to come early and I wasn’t prepared.  I forgot to take my mandatory vacation after my vacation.

 

The New Mastersounds
Thursday, November 9th 2017
Neptune Theatre – Seattle, WA

Kung Fu opened

Set 1 starts at 10:21pm
1. .
2. .
3. .
4. .
Set over at 11:47pm house lights

Encore at 11:48pm
1. .
2. .
House lights at 11:59pm

 

LCD Soundsystem
Saturday, November 11th 2017
1STBANK Center – Denver, CO

Set 1 starts at 9:16pm
1. Oh Baby
2. Daft Punk is Playing at My House
3. I Can Chang
4. Call the Police
5. Get Innocuous!
6. You Wanted a Hit >
7. Tribulations
8. Movement
9. Someone Great
10. Change Yr Mind
11. Tonight >
12. Home >
13. I Want Your Love
14. New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down
Set over at 10:41pm

Literally a piss break.

Set 2 starts at 10:47pm
1. Yr City’s a Sucker
2. Dance Yourself Clean
3. All My Friends
House lights at 11:11pm

 

Wheeling in Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Before I start my new job I have been taking the opportunity to do some cool stuff when I am not putting my apartment together. On Thursday I had an opportunity to do some four wheeling with Bobby in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. He and a buddy are doing a memorial hike Saturday and wanted to run up the trail in their trucks to make sure it was clear. If any maintenance needed to be done they wanted to do it Thursday and not on Saturday with a bunch of people in their cars. Some of the hikers were starting at the bottom of the trail but others were going to be ferried to the top in Bobby’s truck. With nothing else to do I tagged along for the ride.

Mount St. Helens, Mount Baker, and Mount Adams

First time this far north in Washington and it was something else. It took about an hour to get to the trail head and then what seemed like thirty minutes to the top of the road. Bobby kept saying I could get my car up it but at a certain point you really needed four wheel drive. I haven’t been wheeling in years and it was fun. Let me tell you I utilized the oh shit bar often, trying not to bump my head.

Once at the top we putzed around for a few minutes and did part of the hike to get a better view. The weather was really good and from the parking lot we could see the top of Mount St. Helens. We went further up the trail and eventually we could see Mount St. Helens, Mount Baker, and Mount Adams which was really cool. None of us were ready to finish the hike but it was great getting out before the weather turns real crappy.

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe February 3rd 2017 Aladdin Theater

This is where my plan should have been. I was delayed 2.5 hours in SFO waiting on the plane to arrive from Denver.

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.

Get down with the get down.

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.

The sign and entrance to Loowit Brewing.

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.

Heathen Kunkle’s Dunkle

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

Set start at 10:21pm

  1. etc

Set over at 12:04am
House lights at 12:28am