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The beginning of 2019 – Visiting Seattle with my Mom and Steve!

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Sunday and Monday, 03-Feb and 04-Feb-2019

 

Well, 2019 is turning out to be a pretty family-centric year, isn’t it?  We started out with Sarah’s family in Australia, and now my Mom and Steve are coming to visit!  Out plan was pretty ambitious, I’ll be the first to admit… but ambitious plans are the most exciting, right?

Our plan was to rest in Portland for a day, and then take the car up to Seattle for a few days, before heading back in Portland for a bit of rest and downtime before they had to fly back home.  Busy, but it’d be a chance for my Mom to finally see Seattle, and was a good way to make sure that we didn’t stagnate in one place too long.  And I’m happy to report that it went quite well!

 

Episode 1: Portlandian Adventures

Sunday and Monday, 03-Feb & 04-Feb-2019

 

The adventure began, as if often does, in the airport with a furry Wonder Woman walking at our heels.

Ollie doesn’t know that the airport is where people get on metal machines to thunder through the sky – all she knows is that the airport is a friend store.  We go there, and either pick up a friend who we haven’t seen in a while, or return a friend who’s been staying with us.  Either way, it’s a trip in the magic adventure box (the car), so she’s excited.  She’s less excited about the Wonder Woman costume that she has to wear… but I think she’s become accustomed to it by now.

 

My Mom and Steve landed in the evening on Sunday, so there honestly wasn’t that much for us to do that evening – aside from picking them up from the airport, the biggest excitement was making a quick dinner… which wasn’t that huge of an excitement, since they’d already had a snack before getting on the plane in San Francisco, but still.  Home cooked meals by Ben and Sarah!

 

The main game plan for the week was to relax, unwind, and go to Seattle!  My Mom and Steve hadn’t ever been there, so we were all super excited to spend some time exploring and seeing the sights.  Unfortunately Sarah had to stay home, in order to catch up on some work projects, but we still found a way to enjoy Seattle while staying out of too much trouble…

 

What’d we do in Seattle, you may ask?

  • Chihuly Museum!  This was our main target for the trip – The famous Chihuly museum!  I’ll be honest and admit that I hadn’t heard of Chihuly before planning the trip, but once I looked into him I realized that I’ve seen his work everywhere!  Getting to see a full museum dedicated to his work, and specifically designed to showcase it, was an amazing experience.
  • Space Needle!  We didn’t go up it, thanks to a slightly-ridiculous ticket price, but we wandered around the gardens at the base of the needle, and enjoyed the views that we got.
  • The Seattle underground tour!  Bill Speidel, the probably-famous tour owner, puts on a great tour.  Or, I should say, his tour guides put on a great tour.  Our tour guide was amazing, is what I’m getting at.  The underground tour goes over Seattle’s history, including how the ground level was raised after a huge fire, and a tour of the secret tunnels underneath the city!  Though, there wasn’t a single necromancer, Chaos cult, or rum-running operation, so it was a bit of a bummer.
    Our tour guide rapped for us though, so that makes up for the lack of treasure I’ll say.
  • Pike Place!  We explored Pike Place, and I learned that I was DECEIVED!  When Sarah, David and I went there I was lead to believe that it was only one level… conveniently the level with the flower vendors that Sarah wanted to see.  What I didn’t know was that there’s multiple levels underground!  With a comic book shop!
  • So much food!  We ate a lot, and we ate well.  From diners to German breakfasts, from fancy coffee to awesome fancy dinners, we ate good food.
  • I also got to play on the playground that Sarah and I played on when we were there – it was excellent, and I loved swinging around and climbing all over everything.  Obviously.  Because I’m me, and I have an inescapable need to climb everything all the time forever.

Christmas in Italy – The Ancient sites: The Pantheon, The Colosseum, and the Roman Forum.

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Christmas in Italy – The Ancient sites: The Pantheon, The Colosseum, and the Roman Forum.

In keeping with the tradition of adventure, Sarah and I went on a big trip for Christmas and New Years!

This year, we met up with Sarah’s family in Italy, traveling to Rome and Florence; not quite a perfect midpoint for everyone, but it was close enough. And, also, you know. Rome. Florence. Amazing!

Please forgive me for some of these being a bit out of order… the posts are organized somewhat chronologically… but also organized by theme and location.  Some may not be exactly in chronological order, so for reference please see the initial summary post, which has a complete day-by-day, blow-by-blow account of the adventure.

 

Friday, 22-Dec & Tuesday, 26-Dec

 

How can words describe the remnants of the majesty of Rome?

I’ve been to England and France. I’ve seen huge monuments, both lively cultural centerpieces and ancient ruins. They don’t compare.

 

The Pantheon was massive. Its soaring ceiling and gorgeous statues were humbling in their beauty – even before learning that the Pantheon was a landmark of civil engineering and material science.

The Forum was massive. The three arches were so tall that they defied understanding while we stood underneath them; their real scale only became obvious when we stood back on a hill, and saw how tiny people were standing next to them.

Neither compared to the Colosseum though. Dark ages explorers thought that the Colosseum was the ruin of the biblical Tower of Babel… and seeing it in person doesn’t dissuade the idea. I mean, seriously. Romans did not do things by halves. The seating, the arches, the labyrinth of passages not only under the main stage, but below the seating. I just… It was huge, okay. It was really, really, beautifully, magnificently, other-adjectives-here, amazing.

 

We didn’t see them all in the same day, of course. Waxing poetic aside, we saw these three ruins over the course of two full days; One day wandering around the city and exploring the Pantheon, and one day seeing the Colosseum and Forum. To be frank, there wasn’t a huge amount to see, aside from the afforementioned broken-brain syndrome – the Pantheon was huge, but fairly fast to see… I think we spent a grand total of an hour inside. The others were longer, of course, but not a “full day museum” level of long.

That’s something of note, I think: The structures themselves stand as their own testament. In the United States, a tiny museum can take an entire day to plod through, thanks to all of the placards and notes… but here, the monuments are left as they are: There were definitely notes and research points… but so much has been lost to time that those notes were fairly few and far between. Instead, we simply looked. We saw the majesty and creation that once had been.

Now, for what we’ve all been waiting for… the photos.

The Colosseum:

The Forums:

The Pantheon:

Triumphal Arches:

 

Let’s see… other specifics.

  • Don’t listen to “official ticket sales people” when you’re at famous landmarks in Rome. They all work for paid guide tours: they told us that the line into the Colosseum was over six hours long… when it took us a grand total of 20min to walk in, buy tickets, and start a self-tour.
  • The Colosseum is awesome… but the Forum was honestly a bit more interesting. Less grand, I’ll admit, but it was more of a “walking museum”, where you could explore the ruins as you felt, by various paths and winding routes. It was amazing, and super pleasant after the crowd of the city.
  • Stray a bit far from the monuments when looking for food. We did both… and found that the places a few streets away were generally a bit better and cheaper. Not that the places on the big squares were bad! But remember: this is Rome. Food in Rome isn’t classified on the same scale as the rest of the world. It’s seriously that much better.

If you give an engineer a garage…

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If you give an engineer…

 

If you give an engineer a Garage, they’ll ask for some power tools.

And if you give your engineer power tools, they’ll ask for a project to work on.

If you give an engineer a project, they’ll finish it up and ask for another project.

If you give that engineer another project, they’ll finish those projects and get bored.

If an engineer get’s bored, they’ll start working on their own projects.

And if an engineer works on their own projects, you’ll end up with a high pressure sink and an automated security system.

But if you end up with a high pressure sink and an automated security system, you’ll get a visit from the CIA.

If you get visited by the CIA, you’ll have to move to a new house.

And if you move to a new house…

The engineer will ask for a house with a garage.