I'm done! Done, done, done!
I survived the field trip and the Speech banquet this week, which means next week I have nothing, NOTHING, after school! I'm only teaching! That's it! Can you imagine?
I spent this, my first Saturday off, doing light work - I washed and vacuumed my car, scrubbed down my bathroom, went grocery shopping (at Sunflower so I could get some good produce), made a home-version of Chipotle's steak salad (with this dressing), and now I'm watching Inception while finally getting around to blogging about my spring break (yes, I've seen it before. But I've been on a Joseph Gordon-Levitt kick after watching a lot of 3rd Rock from the Sun on Netflix lately as well as this video about how they filmed the hotel hallway fight scene).
So! Spring Break.
I flew to Seattle Thursday night. The flight was smooth and, thanks to a certain app I got for the trip, it passed quickly.
Emily met me at the airport and began what was to be a string of surprises for the weekend - she had booked us a room at a lovely hotel downtown! I tell you what, her husband is pretty spiffy. Ben was taking the kids for the day on Friday so Emily and I could play in the city. And sleep in. We mustn't forget the sleeping in.
We first went to a Cheesecake Factory near the airport so Emily could get some dinner and I could get some cheesecake. After we checked into the hotel, we ate cheesecake in bed while flipping between HGTV and the Food Network. Most excellent. I fell asleep sometime around 1:30 AM, thus setting the precedent for the trip.
We woke up around 10:00 the next morning to a gorgeous day outside. Behold:
We discussed options like going to see Jane Eyre or hitting the art museum again, but ultimately decided that we didn't want to be pinned down by a schedule. Instead we headed for Pike Place Market for our favorite breakfast:
Gyros from Mr. D's!
Delicious. Also, please note the daffodils on the roof of the market. As I told Emily, I wanted to go to the market specifically to be jealous of the flowers. And I was. Sigh.
We browsed and wandered and ate the most delicious cheese curds which we artistically arranged in a photo for you in front of pussy willow branches:
until it was time to head up to Mt. Vernon. We relived Ben of the kiddos and went to Bellingham to wander along the coast. Caitlyn and Logan climbed rocks and hunted for crabs and provided all kinds of entertainment.
We got dinner, frozen yogurt, and even had time to swing by Trader Joe's before they closed. Man, I wish we could have Trader Joe's in Colorado!
After we put the kids to bed, Emily and I stayed up late again talking despite Emily's tantalizing reminders that we were heading off on our next adventure early the next morning.
And, in fact, we did! Ben and the kids dropped us off at the train station where Emily and I took the Amtrak to Vancouver!
Emily had booked us into yet another fantastic hotel and, to add to her duplicity, she had already exchanged money so we wouldn't need to go to a bank. (Really, the weekend could be tallied by the battle over who got to pay for what. Emily was both devious ((pre-paid hotel rooms, train tickets, etc)) and downright aggressive ((such as when she threatened to knock me down, tell the cashier my credit card was a fraud, and cause a scene when I tried to pay for both of our purchases at H&M)). I managed to pay for a few meals, mostly by making arrangements with the waitresses while Emily was in the bathroom. It was extraordinarily generous of her and also made for some fun arguments.)
We dropped off our luggage at the hotel and headed out on the town. Our first stop was lunch, which we got at a Greek place in a mall.
(Are you sensing a theme here?)
We visited a most excellent bookstore called Chapters (the Canadian version of Borders, I assume?) and a chocolate cafe that Ben had discovered on a previous trip called Mink. Oh, it was delicious. Emily and I shared two fondue sets - one with fruit:
and one with s'mores:
(The oranges dipped in dark chocolate were my favorite.)
We then went back to the hotel and changed for a play. Emily had gotten tickets to a production of Shaw's The Philanderer! After an erroneous cab ride we got to the theater about an hour before the show. We walked around a bit before finding a pan-Asian restaurant to eat at. We just ordered a bunch of appetizers, including a green papaya salad like the one I learned to make in Thailand. Yum!
The show was very well done. The set and costumes were excellent and the script was quite interesting. A lot of talk about the point and purpose of marriage and Ibsen. The director's notes in the program described how there is actually an unpublished fourth act that she used in cutting this production's script together. I looked up the original script when we got back to the hotel and found with a cursory read that her cutting changed the ending and the characterizations significantly. I've got it on my iPad for future reading - there are many quotable lines and I'm curious to reread it to see what else she changed.
Congratulating ourselves on staying awake through the whole thing (thanks, in part, to the reviving powers of gummy bears), we left the theater to discover not a taxi cab in sight. Hmm. While we were wondering how to get back to the hotel, a bus pulled up to a nearby stop. Noting that it's destination was listed as "Downtown", I pulled Emily aboard. Adventure!
Actually, it wasn't that adventurous. The bus' normal route was altered due to a movie filming, so we followed the driver's instructions and changed buses a few stops in. The second bus took us within a few blocks of the hotel. The sad part about when everything works out smoothly is that I lack exciting travel stories. Hoping on an unknown bus in the outskirts of a foreign city late at night really should have produced more excitement, don't you think?
We went to a CVS-type of store to get some of the food items Ben had requested as well as nail polish remover so we could use the nail polish we got at H&M ealier. We stopped by the side of the hotel where the movie was being filmed and watched a taxi cab race up and down the street. Then we went back to our hotel room and painted our toenails blue while watching The Two Towers in bed. We fell asleep sometime around 2:00 AM and slept well into the next morning.
Since our train didn't leave until late afternoon, we still had a few hours in Canada despite our late rising. We talked about doing some of the touristy things, but decided ultimately we just wanted to wander around the city. After a stop at Urbanfare for a European-style breakfast (bread, fruit, yogurt, cheese, and a lot of reminiscing of the breakfasts we ate when we backpacked it), we walked to Gastown and Chinatown. Here are some pictures of the day:
A quote at Urbanfare that reminded me of my dad
The excellent weather holds
The steam-powered clock in Gastown
The maple leaf is everywhere!
And then in Chinatown we found the prize of the trip:
A Japanese dollar store!
Oh, man. We spent a long time in there. They had bento-box tools:
weird candy (but not the instant-sushi, Andy and Ben. I looked for it, I promise!),
and a whole wall of chopsticks!
We took the Skytrain back to the center of the business district in search of poutine. Although many of the restaurants we passed advertised it, we had been told that the best poutine in Vancouver was to be found here:
The interior was quite promising with a long list of possible dips and rings for holding your cone of fries:
but we were there on a mission. Poutine, I learned, is French fries topped with cheese curds covered in gravy. Behold:
It is a food that could only come from a country that is a) cold and b) alcohol-friendly. As gross as it sounds, though, poutine is pretty dang good. Behold:
although it does make you feel like this:
Keeping up our healthy dining, we walked back to Mink and got ourselves one last chocolate treat before getting back on the train to the States.
The train follows the coast and, since we were traveling at sunset, it was a stellar view (including three bald eagle sightings! And a spring factory!):
Ben and the kids met us at the train station and we grownups stayed up very late again talking.
After Caitlyn got off to school and Logan got back from pre-school, Emily, Logan, and I drove to LaConner.
We saw the fields of daffodils:
Got a healthy lunch from a cute bakery:
Went to a fun bookstore and tried to stay out of the cold ocean wind:
Monday night we all ate pizza and watched Despicable Me together (I hadn't seen it so Logan and Caitlyn were very nice about not quoting the whole thing until after it was over). Since it was my last night, Emily and I went to bed at the very reasonable hour of 3:00 AM.
Caitlyn and Logan came along with us to the airport the next day, so we got lunch at a Rainforest Cafe. Well, Emily and I had lunch. The kids spent the time more like this:
Which was fun. Really, the whole weekend was fantastic and I couldn't be more lucky to have a friends like the Walls. Thank you, Emily, for a delightful (and delicious!) start to Spring Break!