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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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Friday

Our flight out to Seattle was mostly uneventful; we flew Jet Blue and got in early Friday morning. Sarah was sitting next to a piece of trash who kept knocking her headphones out of her armrest, which is sucky.

On the downside, as I’d mentioned, I was sick, and woke the morning of our flight with a stuffy left ear. This didn’t clear in-flight, and during the descent I experienced pain like I can’t describe. Before I started using a sinus medication, I would get a lot of frontal sinus pain, which I would describe as somebody trying to pick out your sinus using your ice pick. I thought this incredibly painful, and would describe it at somewhere around a 7.5 out of 10 on the “this hurts like hell” scale. However, the pain from my blocked ear made it feel like a gentle itch. The entire front and back of my skull were covered in pain I can’t even describe, and I wanted to tear my head off at the neck. At times it was bad enough that my vision started going black.

The Hertz booth at Sea-Tac was run by Teamsters, and it showed. Took us a good half hour to get a car, despite there only being three people in front of us. Our faithful steed was a white Pontiac G6 (sorry, no pictures of that), which was large and sucky, continuing my hatred of American low-end automobiles.

From the airport, we drove straight to Espresso Vivace. Sarah’s espresso and American were ok, my latte was pretty good. Had some vegan sweet nutty bread too, it sucked. Thew shop itself was nice, open, airy, and had a nice view of the park, but it just wasn’t the coffee panacea I dreamt of; everything but the milk texture and latte art was easily in my reach, and the espresso was at the “yeah, I could do that” quality (oh, if I only had $10,000 to blow on a single group machine…).

We headed towards a Rite-Aid so I could pick up some Sudafed. See, you can’t buy Sudafed in airports anymore, because it’s a controlled substance. Let my single serving package of Sudafed be used to start a meth lab.

But before reaching the Rite-Aid, I god sidetracked by a piroshki bakery called Piroshki on Broadway. I think this page of comments describes it well -“I never know exactly what I’m eating here. I just let the person behind the counter grab whatever is closest to the oven and I’m off in baked Russian bliss!” My piroshki was made with spinach and garlic and was amazing. I also had a bowl of beef barley soup, which was decent, and some Ketha (a nutty cookie), which was alright, though nothing amazing.

Anyhow, Rite-Aid to get some Sudafed. This took a good ten minutes by the time I filled out all the paperwork, had my license copied, and so forth. FFS, this whole meth lab bullshit is out of hand. It is completely ridiculous the hoops I need to go through to get some Sudafed. I am not pleased.

But alas, we were on a quest. We drove towards one of the Victrola shops, in specific the “Coffee and Art” shop rather than the roastery. The shop was nice and worn, cozy, open, and inviting. While Vivace was nice, this was the sort of place I’d feel comfortable hanging out at and reading the day away.

Sarah’s espresso was good and my latte excellent. The espresso is still within my reach, but it’s such that their “ordinary” shots are roughly where my best-case shots are. Very nice. I think we went back to this shop two other times on the trip.

For dinner, Sarah remembered that Seattle is full of breweries, and we went to Elysian Brewing Company. I had a sampler, Sarah a porter, and I had some BBQ and fries. The food was ok, and the beer ok as well. Having been spoiled by the Dogfish Head restaurant and ale house recently, I wouldn’t say it was anything amazing, but it was a fun way to spend the evening.

We watched Sofia Copola’s Marie Antoinette. It was a pretty awesome music video … but after Lost in Translation, I expected better. No point, no plot, no coherence, only a few good actors; don’t waste your time. 4/10.

Saturday

My ear was clear in the morning, which was a very good thing. It stuffed up a few times during the day, but nothing like before.

We started the day at the Pike St. Victrola (where we’d visited after dinner the previous evening). In contrast to the other location, the roastery is quite sparse and clean, with high ceilings, new wood, and a polished feel. I enjoyed the decor as much, but it didn’t have the same “comfort” of the other location. Espresso and latte were still fantastic, however. I’d be a very poor man if I lived near either location. We tried the organic “Triborough Blend” instead of the Streamline this time, and both of us agreed it was inferior, though not bad.

We drove down towards the pier and visited the Seattle Aquarium. It was, to be frank, one of the worst aquariums I’ve ever visited. This was partially due to the massive amount of children storming the place, but in general the exhibits were uninteresting and had zero information about what was even in the tanks. They’re building a new expansion though, so maybe things will improve.

Far better was Pike’s Market, which was incredible. The place was jam-packed with people, though this may be in part that there was a celebratory street festival going on coincident with our visit that didn’t help things. The shops were full of various foodstuffs mostly, with the produce and seafood most impressive, though seeing both blue and multicolor roses in person was pretty neat.

We stood in a huge line for about 15 minutes at the fresh donut place; the fresh donuts themselves were very very good, though the cold donuts in my 12-pack were just average. Fresh donuts though … damn. Take my advice and stick to the plain or cinnamon donuts, ask for them fresh from the fryer, and don’t mess with the powder/chocolate/sprinkles/powder. Good fun.

Alright, have a lot more pictures from the market, but I’ll try to keep it to the good ones:

For dinner, we went to the Elliott Bay Brewery Pub. I had their sampler, which was a bit better than the previous night. Sarah ordered a glass of their stout, which was watery and unimpressive. She switched it for a cask-drawn stout that was excellent in its place. Dinner was a burger with bacon, cheese, bbq sauce, 1000-island dressing, with some fries, and a cup of northwest seafood chowder (Sarah guessed it correctly: “it has salmon”). The meal was overkill, but tasty. Not something I need to do too often.

Despite being stuffed, we stopped across the street at a store that made their own “Husky” ice cream, I tried the raspberry ribbon, and it was fantastic, not too sweet, with the berries actually berries, tangy, and intact. They had a black licorice ice cream that I didn’t try but should have. I wanted to, but I wasn’t able to finish my small scoop.

Of course, that didn’t stop us from another stop for espresso at Victrola on the way back. Yum.

Sunday

The line at the port was pretty insane to get on the boat; last legal boarding time was 16:00; I think we got there just after noon after dropping the car off and hitching a taxi. First we got in a line to drop our luggage off, compounded by tons of people that didn’t have their labels filled out clumsily meandering in line rather than entering after they’d finished. Dropping off our bags probably took about 20 minutes. Then we got in line to get in line (yes, I wrote that correctly) to go to a counter, check in, get our keycards, forked over a credit card, and then got our number, which would tell us when our group would be allowed to board.

Allowed to get in another line, more like it. Group 27 was called about 20 minutes later, and we got in the security line. While it didn’t require us to remove our shoes, it still had the typical nonsense that comes with civilians who either don’t know how to travel, or don’t understand the concept of “metal detector detects metal.”

Next it was through security into the boarding line, where we scanned our cards to get on board and had our hands sanitized.

Lines. More lines. Still more lines. But we made it to our stateroom, and all was well.