grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Thursday, July 31, 2008

21-31JUL08 - Everett, WA (and boston & tulsa)

On 21JUL, Monday, Dan departed for Boston, MA, for a five day consulting job for a company called CRA. Unfortunately he was trapped on the campus of MIT without a rental car. It wasn’t that bad, but after ten hour work days he didn’t feel like walking anywhere in the heat & humidity of Boston (not to mention two days of rain). He was able to join up with our friend Barbara & Steve Garrity for dinner and a short walk about Harvard Square. Check out our BLOG link for a picture of the Garritys.

Dan then flew back to the Northwest for the weekend before his next consulting job. That Saturday we visited Dan’s niece Marisa, her husband Dave Greenwell and son Jackson, in Arlington, WA. Turns out Dave is a recreational scuba diver, and he and his buddies had just caught a cooler of Dungeness crabs, and a few fish. So we were treated to a large and excellent crab boil with steaks, followed by roasting marshmallows over a fire. A most excellent time!

Then on Monday, 28Jul, Dan departed for Tulsa, OK, and a consulting job for branch of Louisiana State University called NCBRT. At the end of the work day there is not much going on in Tulsa, and it appears that everyone leaves the city for other places. Dan did check a number of road food establishments recommended by one of his favorite websites –

During his time in Tulsa he tried: Hanks for hamburgers (very good); Coney I-Lander for hotdogs (so so); Wilson’s BBQ (very good); and White River Fish for fresh fish and gumbo (excellent).
Thankfully, Corrie was in the good company of the Peters' clan; and it looks like Dan will be around for the entire month of August.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

11-20JUL08 - Everett, WA

On Friday the 11th, we moved from the fair grounds in Monroe, to Dan’s cousin Paul Peters’ in Everett, WA. We did this because Dan has two “jobs” coming up toward the end of July, and this would allow Corrie “company” rather than leaving her alone in a RV park. And it saves us money! Not wanting to be complete freeloaders, we try to help out around the Peters “spread”. Since they have over two acres that Paul is continually landscaping and changing, and are painting the main house, the attached three car garage, and the “mother-in-law” apartment, there is stuff to do. Corrie continued to help with the painting, while Dan installed cedar lattice work around the Aunt Jan’s back deck. (Blatant Advertisement --- So if you have any project around the house/yard that you haven’t got done lately, let us park our RV in your yard with water & electricity, and we will lend a hand.)

On Saturday, 12JUL, we headed into Dan’s old home town of Redmond, WA. Redmond, currently the home of Microsoft and its minions, used to be the proverbial blinking red light and the biggest thing (figuratively) in town was Dodd’s horse farm. In fact when Dan Sr moved and built on Union Hill Rd outside of Redmond, everyone thought he was out of his mind because it took over an hour to get there without a direct road. Well now the highway shoots straight from Seattle to the heart of Redmond and it usually takes you two hours. How’s that for progress?!? Now Redmond is just another generic suburb of Seattle. This was immediately evident when we drove into town and Dan noted that the Workshop Tavern, home of one of the best burgers, was being leveled to make way for another strip mall.

The first stop in Redmond was the Redmond Town Center. This is kinda like an outdoor Mall, intended to have major stores and small “boutique” stores found in a typical Mall located downtown. The belief being that it is better to have shoppers coming into town, rather than have shoppers taking their money elsewhere. Seems like a pretty good idea, wonder how it works when the raining season hits?

Turns out Redmond was celebrating Derby Days. For some reason Redmond believes it is the “Bicycle Capital of the Northwest”? So for over fifty years it has celebrated Derby Days, centered around the bicycle and bicycle races. Back in Dan’s day this was the big event of the year and everyone in town knew about it and usually attended. In Dan’s opinion now that Redmond is “just another” suburb that lives there but works elsewhere, Derby Days is no different than any other generic festival in any Suburb, USA. There were the usual carnival rides, food booths, and a stage for music. To show how the event has lost its significance, when we asked at the Town Center Information Office about the festival, the attendant had to “google” the computer to find out what was going on. In fact, the information booth didn’t even have brochures for the festival.

On Sunday, 20JUL, Paul’s brothers (ie more of Dan’s cousins) John Peters with wife Michelle & kids, and Jim Peters came over to help with the painting and subsequent BBQ. Dan prepared his world famous slow cooked/smoked pulled pork, and Paul cooked up some country ribs. Not sure much work was accomplished but a lot of great food was eaten!

06-10JUL08 - Monroe, WA

Spent the last four days just relaxing and doing little or nothing and just enjoy the fantastic weather the area has been experiencing. On some days we would continue to ride the Centennial Trail by driving to a different trail head parking area and biking eight to twelve miles on this beautiful trail. And on occasion we would head over to Paul & Shannon Peters’ house to help in the ongoing painting.

One morning we headed to the Maltby Café for breakfast. This café is known for their enormous cinnamon rolls, and has won several awards for Best Breakfast in Seattle. We are talking a roll the size of a dinner dish, drowning in a sea of frosting. Knowing this in advance, we only ordered one, ate half, and took the other half home.

Friday, July 11, 2008

01-05JUL08 - Monroe, WA (happy birthday USA)

In the days leading up to the 4th of July we had a couple days of slightly bad weather. One of them had the threat of thunderstorms with the possibilities of dime sized hail. You would have thought that tornadoes were eminent with the reaction of the local media (ie Seattle TV) and the people. In fact, the fairground supervisor was telling the staff to take cover in buildings and park vehicles under trees! Having lived in Louisiana where this is not uncommon, we just shook our heads at the panic.

When the good weather returned we loaded up our Tadpoles (ie bikes) on the Toad and headed to the Centennial Bike Trail along the Pilchuck River. This trail is a “rails to trails” initiative that has taken an abandoned rail line and turned it into beautiful paved trail between Snohomish and Arlington, WA. The views of the Cascade Mountains and Mt Baker in particular were great! And this being near Seattle, there usually was a coffee shack every couple of miles for refueling.

On the morning of the 4th of July we headed into Everett for their annual parade. It was a very nice parade, except for the politicians trying to get elected. That was a nice thing about Mardi Gras parades in Louisiana – no political endorsements or commercial advertising allowed. One group caught Dan’s attention, it was the Cossack motorcycle stunt team. This is a group Dan remembers from other Seattle area parades of his youth (in fact the age of some of these guys makes Dan suspect they were the same ones he saw over forty years ago). This group rides vintage Harley’s and performs some amazing stunts.

After the parade we headed to Dan’s cousin Paul Peters & his wife Shannon, their boys Ryan & Spencer, and aunt Jan (Paul’s mom). Check out last year’s BLOG for more details ( We had called earlier and were told that they would be home because they were painting the house. When we got there nobody was home even though painting equipment was everywhere. Seems that they had decided at last minute to check out the parade in Everett! Eventually they made it home and we did a little painting, before BBQ’ing some great steaks.

We decided to leave the Peters’ before nightfall because Gumbo was becoming a basket case from all the neighborhood kids firing off fire crackers. We returned in time for the big racing event at the Evergreen Speedway! We’re talking demolition derby, super figure 8 racing, school bus figure 8 racing, boat racing (cars pulling boats on trailers around racetrack at full speed), Mr Dizzy jumping school busses, and a jet car burning 300 gallons of fuel in 30 seconds (take that OPEC!)! What could be more American on the 4th than hot dogs, hamburgers, soda, beer, kettle corn, burning rubber, the smell of jet fuel & gasoline, the sound of colliding cars, all followed by fireworks?!? Unfortunately Corrie didn’t have the same patriotic feeling that Dan did about this spectacular event, but we did get a front row seat for the fireworks since they exploded right over the RV park; much to Gumbo’s delight.

On the morning of 05JUL we headed to Alki Beach in West Seattle. Once there we found Spud Fish & Chips (that’s right SPUD not SPUD’s). This is a local Seattle favorite that has been making fish and chips for over 70 years out of the same tiny location. After splitting a small order of fried clams and a fresh blackberry shake we walked across the street to the beach to await the landing of the Seafair Pirates. Before we discuss the Pirates, we’ll explain Seafair. Seafair is a month long summer festival starting with the landing of the Pirates and ending with the unlimited hydroplane races on Lake Washington. This has been going on for 58 years and has four big events that Dan remembers from his younger days – landing of the Pirates, torch light parade, Blue Angels, and the races. Check the below link.

The Seafair Pirates were created at the same time as Seafair to promote the event(s) all year round. Dan doesn’t know when they started storming the beach at Alki but it is now the official kick off of the month long Seafair festival. Needless to say there was a very big crowd on Alki Beach waiting for the Pirates. Many people were dressed as pirates (and some as wenches) in the spirit of the day. There were also many booths selling food and providing activities for the kids. In fact at one booth we got free paper pirate hats, even one for Gumbo, and at another we got free eye patches (ARRRGH!). The University of Washington pole-vaulters were even doing demonstrations, we’re not sure how pole vaulting relates to pirates?

Meanwhile offshore several sailing yachts were flying the Jolly Roger and firing cannons, again much to Gumbo’s delight. The Pirates were late. Dan thinks they were always late; in fact he heard a rumor that one year they missed one of their events because they were enjoying their rum ration a little too much? Eventually we sighted the Army landing craft they were on approaching the beach. Before describe the landing, let’s detail how Dan remembers it from his youth. He remembers them coming in on some sort of boat that barely floated; the landing ramp came down with a mighty splash; the pirates, who appeared to be under the influence, came screaming up the beach; they would only stop to either get a drink from someone or kiss a pretty young girl sometimes against their will; and then they would board a very rickety looking float and head to various watering holes. Now they come ashore in very seaworthy Army landing craft; there are numerous safety personnel wearing bright orange safety vests; the ramp comes down very slowly; a moving line of security personnel holding ropes to keep the crowd back escort the pirates up the beach; the pirates look sober and no one on the beach is drinking; the pirates pass out candy and stickers to the kids; when the pirates are safely on the beach the ropes come down so they can mingle with the crowd; some pirates get on a stage and sing sea shanties and they declare Seafair officially started; and the only females that get kissed are those that ask to for photos. Then once their official duties are done, the pirates climb into their very nice looking WWII DUKW called the Moby Duck (get it?) and quietly ride off.

After the landing of the pirates we took the scenic route through West Seattle before going to the Seattle waterfront. We did this so Dan could check out the first house he ever owned back in late 70s BC (Before Corrie). This was a 1200 square foot rambler that was brand new. The house was perfect in Dan’s eyes because it was 20 minutes from work (and the bars of Seattle), was new and in his opinion needed no work, the yard was dirt so no grass to mow, was behind a 7-11 so running out of food or drink was never an issue, the neighbors didn’t care how loud the music got, and a fire station was one block away if things really went wrong. Dan’s possessions at the time consisted of a 50s vintage refrigerator, 60s vintage table with six vinyl chairs (most were ripped & repaired with duck tape), couch with no legs & no cushions, one bamboo end table, two lamps, one nice chair, one mattress, and three hundred albums and a killer stereo system to play them. With two empty bedrooms it soon resembled a mini version of Animal House. Sad to say it looks like the succeeding owners over the last 30 years have put as little into the house as Dan did.

From there it was down to the Seattle waterfront so that Corrie could get her steamed clam fix at Ivars (or as Corrie calls it McIvars). Ivar Haglund was a true Seattle institution and character. He started the first aquarium on the waterfront in the late 30s. He soon realized he could sell food to customers waiting to get in the aquarium. Eventually he closed the aquarium and concentrated on various Ivar Seafood restaurants in and around Seattle. For decades he endlessly promoted his business and the city first in the paper, then radio and TV. When a truck spilled syrup on the street in front of one of his restaurants, he immediately called the papers, cooked pancakes and had his picture on the front page ladling spilled syrup on a plate of pancakes. He was constantly on the radio singing sea shanties he wrote like “Chowder Tune” “All Hail the Halibut” “Run Clam, Run”. His most famous saying was “Keep Clam”. Even after his passing, the unique Ivar’s advertising continues on You Tube with videos entitled “Dances with Clams” “Chariots of Clams” “Back to the Clams”; check it out at the below internet link.

But most importantly, Ivar realized what an unique city Seattle was and fought to preserve it long before it was fashionable to be called a preservationist. Especially in the early 70s when Seattle was almost broke (remember the bill board that said – would the last person please turn out the lights). Ivar was instrumental in saving the Pike Place Market, starting renovation of the waterfront, and even used his own money to buy the Smith Tower (tallest skyscraper west of the Mississippi for 50 yrs) to save it and its beautiful Chinese Room from the wrecking ball. So if you are ever in Seattle stop by Ivars (or McIvars) get some fried clams and chowder, please feed the seagulls, and remember Keep Clam!

Last stop was Pioneer Square & Occidental Square to people watch. The buildings surrounding both these squares are the largest concentration of buildings that survived the Great Fire of 1889. In the 60s and 70s this was a pretty rough area of town. But like Times Square in NYC, the area has been cleaned up and gentrified. The area is now a beautiful tree lined, park like setting with original art work. The J&M, the Central Tavern, and the Merchant Café previously known for cheap drinks and barely edible food, are now upscale establishments with outdoor tables and menus reflecting the freshest local items. We agree the change is definitely for the better, except for one thing. Parking which used to be free or two dollars for all day, now is three dollars for an half hour or $27 for all day!

Trivia: Where did the term Skid Row come from?