Monthly Archives: March 2017

04 & 05-Feb, Visit to San Francisco

04 & 05-Feb, Visit to San Francisco

Visit to San Francisco… Because why not, right?

Saturday and Sunday, 04 & 05 Feb, 2017

Sometimes, you have to just get out of town. Especially when “town” is defined as “a frozen wasteland full of ice and snow and cold and ice”. Sarah and I needed to get out of town. Hood River had gotten old, and the constant snow storms were getting a bit ridiculous.

Where to go, though? We didn’t want to pay a lot for a flight, or have a long flight to sit through. And we didn’t want to have to plan something big and in-depth out. San Francisco ticked all of those boxes – doubly so, since we’d been talking about going for ages.

We booked tickets, booked a few days at doggy camp for Ollie, and drove to the airport.

One night, two days. Flying out of Portland on a Saturday morning, and flying home on a Sunday evening. Staying at a random hotel that my Mom recommended… mostly because it was easy to book, but definitely also because it was cheap.

Plans? Meh. No real plans. Hang out with my cousin and her newborn baby. Eat at a cool restaurant that Sarah’s family loves. Aside from that… nothing, except for enjoy the weather and lay low for a weekend.

And we ticked off all our goals!

Saturday, we landed, dropped our bags at the hotel, and immediately started walking. Lunch was imperative, and Sarah hadn’t ever been to Kiki’s, so we started our adventures there. Fuel is important, don’t you know.

Walks, the De Young museum, and Golden Gate Park were a good follow up for us… It’s strange, but I’ve been to the observation tower at the De Young a few times, but I’d never been inside before. I think fate was having me save that experience for a time I could go with Sarah, because having her with me made the whole experience so much better than it ever would have been if I was alone…

It’s something I’ve learned, but I just miss like 70% of the content of an art gallery. Nothing against me, it’s just that I’ve never made art like that, so I don’t know to look for certain things. Sarah points them out to me, and the context generally sheds a whole new dimension to the piece in question. And at a museum like the De Young, that’s a huge component!

So we walked. I enjoyed, and Sarah explained. I learned, and asked questions that made her question more, which gave us an even cooler understanding of the space and pieces. It was awesome.

Visiting Emma and Matt can be described pretty handily as “Meeting the baby!”… but we did get more time with them than I’d expected, which was really awesome. I always want more time though, and we didn’t get to spend nearly as much time catching up with them and my Mom as we could have. But it just means Sarah and I will have to fly back to Boston again soon, so we can spend some more time hanging out and chatting, right?

And I’ll be honest – meeting the Baby was really cool. His stare… I’ve never (as far as I remember) played with a baby as young as he was, so I don’t really have anything to compare it to. But the stare was draining! I loved playing and making him laugh, but I felt so intensely tired afterward, it was really surprising.

What else… not that much, really. We visited. Caught up, Emma and Matt met Sarah. Sarah met Emma and Matt. We ate tacos. Drank wine. Had to leave far too early. But that wasn’t a bad thing, because I think we were passed out within 20min of getting back to the hotel.

I mean, we did go to a dessert place first though. We’re not barbarians.

Sunday was our food day. I mean, the whole trip would probably have been categorized as a food trip by anyone listening to our conversations… Thinking about it, I know exactly why our dog is food focused. It’s because we’re food focused, and basically plan our whole lives around what we’re going to eat. You think we climb Mt. Hood to summit? No way… we climb it so that our dinner tastes that much better.

Anyways, we walked. We walked to a place called Henry’s Hunan – a restaurant that Sarah had grown up eating at, and that was called “the best Chinese in the world” by some guy back a really long time ago. At least according to the menu.

I’d agree with that menu; it was delicious. I can totally see why it was so imperative that we go there (and it wasn’t easy… we had to walk 3.5 miles, then an extra .6 miles when the one we were aiming for was closed). Everything was solid, and the food was just spicy enough that you could notice it.

Then more walking, this time toward Pier 39, mini donuts, and (unexpectedly) a new engineering notebook, when we stopped into a random Moleskin shop. We did look at jewelry for a little bit too (Valentine’s day, remember, is coming up!), but didn’t find anything that caught Sarah’s eye enough to shell out San Francisco prices for it.

What else… really, not that much. Our Sunday was spent walking, chatting, and enjoying the architecture of the city. It was extremely nice – Just Sarah and myself, no goals, no real timetables, and nothing pulling at our minds. A good mini vacation.

Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017: Flying back home

Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017: Flying back home

Flying back home to the States – The tail of the adventure

Wednesday, 04-Jan-2017


Flying home from an adventure is bittersweet. Home is calling, but the road is calling too… In this case, the plethora of Scottish roads that hadn’t been explored were calling pretty loud.

Oregon also has roads and mountains that need to be explored too though. Our own bed and Ollie were also calling pretty loudly… or at least barking and wagging at the thought of seeing us. Whether Ollie or us were the ones barking and wagging is still a point of debate.

Flights! Metal birds carrying us home!

Bill and Greta dropped us off at Aberdeen airport mid-morning for our short hop to London. This was our only non-fancy flight of the trip, though honestly it didn’t feel like it. European airlines still beat the pants of US airlines, in terms of comfort and service. That first picture, of the awesome breakfast? Yep. That’s what coach gets in the UK.

London was quick, nothing really of note. We landed, got on a new plane, and then took off again. London airport did have a pretty cool lounge, though. Very excellent butter chicken. Seriously. Everywhere. Everywhere in the UK serves butter chicken. If it’s not the official dish yet, it should be.

Then – a long flight. Like… you don’t understand how long this flight was. London to San Francisco. 13 hours, or something like that.

But we had comfy chairs! And movies! And booze! So much booze! I think we got up to 8 or 10 glasses, by the end of it… and that wasn’t even trying too hard. It reminded me of when I flew back to the States from New Zealand, and they had free drinks. Make the most of it, right?

We did make the most of it. They didn’t have the lobster mac and cheese that I was hoping for (that’s only East Coast to UK, it turns out), but they did have some amazing grilled cheese and tomato soup that I made great use of. And dinner? Ohh man… appetizers, main courses, desserts, wine… yeah. We enjoyed our flight.

An excellent end to an excellent vacation.

Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017: Last day in Scotland

Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017: Last day in Scotland

Our last full day in Scotland – a sad time, but a good chance to relax, see the river Dawn, and learn to cook all fancy-like

Tuesday, 03-Jan-2017

Turns out, a full day of hiking in the Scottish mountains tires a Ben out. I slept in late today… felt kind of bad about it, to be honest… but everyone was pleasant and happy, so I didn’t feel too bad for too long.

The goal for today: See the North Sea again, at the mouth of the river Dawn. It’s an excellent place for bird watching, from what Bill said, but also an excellent little beach to stroll along, and see some of the interesting ruins along the water. I even found some gloriously well polished sea glass, some of which got taken back with us to Oregon as captured prizes from the old world.

Lessons were learned as well, when Henry decided to make his fancy salmon dish and needed some assistance in julienning the veggies. I honestly didn’t even know what that meant at first… now I know it means “spend a ton of time, and get bored trying to cut things really super small”.

I have to admit though, the results were excellent. We all sat down in the main dining room, and partook of an excellent array of food, drink, and conversation. I really enjoyed this aspect of the whole trip… I’d never met Henry or Leah before, and had only really spent one or two days at a time with Bill and Greta. Being able to regularly share dinners was a treat, and something that I very much look forward to doing again in the future.

We ate, we drank, we talked all about what everyone was up to in the new year, and tried our best to ignore the fact that we were all (with the exception of our hosts, of course) flying out the next day.