Today was a good day. Daddy/daughter day. Sometimes these are a few hours, sometimes these are spend with far too little quality time and far too much driving time. Today was probably one of the best D3s yet.
I woke up at 8 when I heard Rachel running to her bathroom. When I came out, she was already back in her room playing quietly. As soon as I came in, she started picking up all her Littlest Pet Shop characters off her bed and putting them back in her bin. She had said she was coloring before that but had put all of her crayons and coloring books away when she was done. Score one for the new art storage bin Lori got her yesterday.
So we went downstairs and I got her breakfast started and then went down to feed the cats and do my morning Wii Fit stuff. She came down and I made a list for her of responsibilities she needed to take care of, which she quickly did, from bringing down the laundry (she said she skipped our room so as not to wake up mommy), made her bed, a few other things. When I came up, I had to help her clean up her breakfast dishes and Lori did help her get her clothes picked out and on and everything, but she did a lot and let Lori sleep in which was cool.
Typically we start these days with a trip to Starbucks. She gets a steamed milk with vanilla, I get a drink and we split a piece of coffee cake. She found out that we would be going some place different today and was ok with that. Although she did bring up Starbucks a few times, even pointing one out, but every time, speaking in a low whisper. I learned later that she had also whispered to Lori before we left that we weren't going to Starbucks but going somewhere else.
We got started later than I wanted to, and then had to stop and get gas, and then cross town a little bit and drop off some library books. And then, getting close to the freeway, she announced she needed to use the restroom. So stopped at Target to get that taken care of, and then we were finally off.
Our first destination, 15th. Avenue Coffee and Tea was a little harder to find than I had expected. I was relying on a general idea of where it was and the directions to get there, but in retrospect, I probably should have used the GPS. We did finally find it, but it took another two-to-three blocks to find parking. We walked back, eating bananas Lori had sent along with us. We had to stop at a public garbage can to toss out parts that had started to get mushy, but hopefully we didn't look like we had just pulled the bananas out of the trash.
Got to the coffee shop and I have to admit, I was a little lost. Could I call what I wanted a Caramel Macciato(sp?) or did I have to call it something else? And for size... should I say grande or just medium? (I decided on medium and I decided on calling it a Macciato with Caramel and White Chocolate. Turns out they didn't have white chocolate. And their mediums felt a little small.) Anyhow, yeah, I felt a little out of my element. Also, no coffee cake. What? A coffee shop with no coffee cake? Ok, a cherry and chocolate muffin that didn't seem to have any chocolate, but was still quite tasty none-the-less.
We sat and ate. It was a very nice time. I had tried to sit on around the corner from her so there'd be eye-contact when we talked, but she wanted to sit next to me. I made it work anyhow, I guess. But we talked about school and stuff, but she didn't have a lot to say. We took our time, she really had to work hard at savoring and at patience. But we ate and drank slowly and it was pretty nice.
And then the walk back to the car. The day was interspersed with really nice beautiful blue sun and cold overcast clouds and wind. At one point later in the day Rachel would be struggling to walk against the wind and I think it even snowed a little bit on us.
Next, down towards the Pike Place Market. Again, the GPS might have been a smart choice, but I wasn't in any hurry. We ended up parking on the street near some lots that would have given us more time for like a dollar more or so, but that's fine, the time we had was enough. We did end up parking further away than I realized. After I got home and looked at it, we were like seven blocks away. Anyhow, a nice walk to the market. We saw fish thrown, we saw flowers, art, jewelry. We saw the first (or second?) Starbucks ever (a fact she would excitedly later relate.) We bought Bugles in a hidden little grocery store I never knew existed inside the market. We bought gummi bears and chocolate-covered gummi bears (which I also never knew existed) and just generally walked probably the entire market. She decided after one that she didn't like chocolate gummi bears, so I was happy to eat them while she ate the plain ones. We didn't stop in too many shops because she didn't ask to, but she was really enjoying herself despite the crush of the crowds, and even used the restroom twice by herself, even standing in line with all the other women.
Ok, so this was weird. You know how your picture of someone doesn't change, and then you see them after a long time and you're surprised that they've actually changed? Because for people you're around all the time, the changes are so subtle and different that you don't notice it. But when there's a big gap of time, it can be surprising. Well, I was starting to think that this one shop must be gone and then I turned the corner and there it was, just like I remembered it. It was a place where a woman paints watercolors every day. We have a small framed three-panel that I bought back in 1996 before leaving for Los Angeles. Well, the shop had not changed one bit. But the woman, well, she was 14 years older as would be expected. So it was weird to see that she looked different and even now as I think back... how long has she been going there nearly every day of her life? Wow.
Anyhow, yeah, so a fun time at the market. Walking back to the car I saw a Seattle shop and so we went in. I figured Rachel and her mother share the love language of gifts so I might as well get Rachel something she could remember the day by. We settled on a pink zip-up hooded sweatshirt that said "Seattle" on it. I would later ask her what her favorite part of the day was and she said it was getting that sweatshirt. So apparently I bought her a sweatshirt that every time she wears she can think back of the fond memories of the time I bought her that sweatshirt,
We had shells last night with a cheese sauce and shredded chicken and shredded carrots in them. Between the color of the carrots and the shredded nature of the chicken, you could have told me it was crab and I would have believed you, if not for the fact that Lori doesn't like seafood except the occasional fish and chips liberally doused in vinegar. So now I've been wanting some crab meat. Or even some krab meat. I'm not too picky. So figured I'd find us a seafood place for a late lunch.
So we got back to the car (in the wind and rain/snow) and since we were above the Battery Street tunnel, just followed that until we ended up rejoining it on Aurora to cross Lake Washington, taking the very first exit on the other side. Then I tried to quickly get as close to the water as possible and stumbled upon Ivar's Salmon House and Fish Bar. We went to the Fish Bar which turned out not to sell crab, but we had some nice fish and chips nonetheless. Afterwards, we went into the Salmon House, designed like a Native American Longhouse (and dedicated as a historical treasure within a year of its opening in 1970). It had great views of the lake and a lot of neat photos and Native America and Native American-inspired art. And then we wandered outside and found a dock where we were right out on the lake with just us and the ducks. (Look it up on Google Maps, you can see what it looks like in the summer when there are lots of boats docked.)
And then finally back in the car for a drive through Eastlake and Southlake. Rachel was already asleep by then. I was just able to marvel at the wonderful buildings and all the restaurants and I started to really resent Federal Way. Well, I mean, more than usual. At one point I was even driving alongside the poorly acronymed South Lake Union Trolley which is actually enclosed and very sleek and very orange. So cool. (The Link also passed overhead just in front of us both ways on the 5. Cool.) I love driving in big city traffic. I think people are less stupid. Or they're diluted by the fact that you just have to calm down and go with the flow. The lanes are narrow, there are bikes in the road, trucks stopping to make deliveries or busses to pick people up. Roads randomly lose a lane for parking or construction. You just have to be more fluid, more aware and more "whatever" - I really learned this from Patrick Lee riding with him in Pasadena and realizing he never honked. Now, Pasadena's still not a huge city, but I just realized that so many times, you don't need to honk. You just change lanes, you just fall back, you just wait patiently. The "I'm the only one on the road" mentality you see in smaller towns and even on the freeway just doesn't fly on the surface streets of a major city.
What a really nice day.