Sunday, September 11, 2011


Lori and I were able to get away for a short vacation, in no small part to Lori's mom. We wanted to spend some time alone for our anniversary, but that can be difficult with two little ones, both with, to some degree, difficulties that require extraordinary care. Lori's mom had agreed to watch the little ones for us but then also surprised us with a gift certificate to Ruth's Chris Steak House in Seattle that allow us to order whatever we wanted without worrying about the cost. (Minus the tip, but still, if all you're doing is tipping, that's a much less expensive meal.) So we ended up booking at room at the Grand Hyatt Seattle for two reasons - all the Hilton Hotels in town were booked solid (at least for points stays) and that's where the restaurant was.

So we left about 1 pm yesterday and headed first to Pike Place Market where we were able to have a leisurely stroll, look at a lot of stuff. It was really nice, but there's lots more we didn't see, including the climb down to the water and the original (sort of) Starbucks location. (There was a line out the door, tourists, I guess.) Anyhow, yeah, it was a beautiful day and we had a nice walk. No strollers, no children being carried or having to watch for in big crowds. We had a few samples, bought a few gifts (some of which melted, so we'll have to eat them and buy new gifts on a return trip) and then it was off to the hotel. There's definitely something wrong with my car -- too much play in the steering. Not looking forward to taking it in.

We got upgraded at the hotel to the 29th. floor (out of 30). We were placed next to a family with small children who were crying and fussing when we checked in. And the view, while much of Seattle, was facing away from the water. They called it an executive suite, and while it had some nice touches and a really large bathroom seemed like it was ready for an upgrade. Also at one point during the night I heard what sounded like little bits of plaster or rock falling down inside the wall. I don't know what it really was, but it was an odd sound, especially after watching a little bit of "It Could Happen Tomorrow" on the Weather Channel about what would happen in an earthquake in Seattle. There was also a caked on sliver of soap in the shower that housekeeping missed from a past guest. I slept ok.

The meal was amazing. If all beef tasted like that, I would eat a lot more beef. I added the bleu cheese crust to the top of my filet along with the shrimp, but the shrimp was unnecessary overkill. The bleu cheese crust, however - they should make you eat some and then sign something if you're really sure you don't want it. I also had the gazpacho soup with crab meat. Not sure if I'd ever had it before (had flashbacks to Red Dwarf) but it was amazing. We had three sides: the asparagus with hollandaise sauce (ok), fingerlings with bacon and some kind of sauce I don't remember now (that is, potato wedges) - (very tasty) and sweet potato pie - might as well be a dessert. Oh, and when we first showed up, they immediately showed us to our table. There was colored confetti on the table including some that said "happy anniversary" in cut-out letters. They offered us complimentary champagne but we declined. And at the end they let us choose any desert we wanted from the menu, so we went with the chocolate explosion - a rather large cake to share with a gooey melty chocolate center and really exquisite vanilla ice cream on top. They had scripted "Happy Anniversary" with chocolate on the plate. And our waiter Troy kept us situated with diet cokes with grenadine all night long.

This morning we went to Starbucks for breakfast - she tried the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate and Vanilla Bean Scones and I tried the Salted Caramel Mocha with a Pumpkin Scone. The drink smelled really cool but I think I prefer the Caramel Macchiato. We sat in our room to eat because that Starbucks is unattractive and weirdly laid out and our room had lots of view.

Then it was off to Mars Hill for church. I was blown away. There's no mistaking that as a church after God's heart. Worship was led by a rock band named Ghostship which made us immediately think of Andy Dwyer and MouseRat. The music was really rocking, but they put the words up at the top of the screen so it was easy to follow along, though some of it was words that my parents and their parents would also know by heart, complete with "Thees" and "Thys" They had a back-projection system for the worship parts that was cool and they took communion (complete with dipping cups clearly labeled "wine" and "juice") and took offering and even had a few baptisms. The message itself was delivered on video as they usually are and was really emotional. Amazingly, it was message #89 on their study of the book of Luke. People were friendly and afterwards we bought a book from their bookstore that caught Lori's eye. I know that the Warehouse folks were talking about this church way back in 2004 when I was at Lake Avenue Church. I've wondered about the church because of some of the things we've heard about it. But as we prepared and pondered whether to attend it or not, I thought of the people I knew who attend the Federal Way branch and I thought of what happens when something is successful for Jesus - people try to tear it down and discredit it. So either we were heading into a cult or we were heading into something that was really successful at introducing people to Jesus and I'm fully convinced it's the latter. Lori did wonder if anyone had seen the movie "Ghost Ship" - apparently it's gruesome and has nudity. Perhaps that was a silly name for their band and they hadn't seen the movie.

Then we decided to get into the car and drive until we found a restaurant with a water view. We ended up at Ray's Boathouse in Ballard - reminds me of the Boatshed in Bremerton. I liked it. My salmon burger was a little boring, but that can often be the salmon's fault. Good service, great weather.

And then it was on back home. Well, with one last stop at Menchies.

And then home to our children.

And then after they went to bed, I ran five miles and took apart and reassembled (where'd those two extra screws come from?) the exercise bike - Lori says it works now and then did 30 minutes of freestep and that concludes our weekend.
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