Catherine and I just got back last night from a long weekend over in Seattle visiting my mother’s family for Thanksgiving. I hadn’t been to a gathering of that side of the family in nearly eight years, and Catherine had never met most of them. Still, it was a lot of fun, there was a ton of food, lots of beer, wine, and liquor. Overall, we spent the latter half of the week having a really good time with everyone.
The drive over last Wednesday was fantastic, we took Highway 28 from Colfax to Vantage, and then I-90 into Seattle to meet a friend in the U-District for dinner at a restaurant named Costas (University and 27th). The food was Mediterranean (Greek and Italian), and the food was very good, but frankly, Niko’s in Spokane is far superior. Back to the drive, we made it from Pullman to Seattle in just under five hours, which included some of the most amazing fog I’d ever had to drive through. From about 55 miles to Vantage for 20 miles or so on Highway 28 we were ensconced by fog that didn’t allow us to see more than a hundred yards or so in any direction. We hit the same kind of fog around Ellensburg, which was a lot more nerve-wracking because traffic dictated that we continue driving at 70 miles per hour with limited visibility. It was kind of strange driving along the highway with limited visibility, usually only to see the rest of the traffic based on their lights in the distance. It was the kind of fog you tell horror stories about, that you half expect some strange monster to come flying out of, aside from the raptors that live and hunt throughout Eastern Washington.
This was my first trip to Seattle that required me to drive those streets myself, and I’m exceedingly glad that I don’t have to do it on a regular basis. The roads have more lanes of traffic than they’re wide enough to properly support, people are parked next to curbs within what appears to be a travel lane based on the lines painted on the road, people are consistently speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, maybe it’s just because I’ve never lived in a truly urban environment (even in Spokane, I mostly stuck to the Valley), but I can’t even imagine driving through Seattle on a daily basis. If I were to live there, I’d have to live near where I worked.
Once we got up to my Aunt and Uncle’s in Mill Creek, we didn’t have to deal with the Seattle traffic directly. We stayed in Mill Creek for Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday, where we’d roasted this enormous turkey, probably almost 30 pounds, had some amazing garlic mashed-potatoes, sugared carrots, fried green-beans, sweet-potatoes, ham, pie, and so on. It was an enormous feast, and between the food and the wine, everyone was stuffed by the end of it, and there was still plenty left over.
Friday we sat out on the Black Friday shopping, and instead met my Great Aunt for lunch at a restaurant called Bahama Breeze. The place had great atmosphere, but the food was somewhat disappointing. I had a pocket-bread chicken salad sandwich, which lacked much flavor in the chicken salad, instead depending on flavor coming from the Apple-Mango salsa which adorned it. This would have worked out better if the salsa had been mixed in with the chicken salad, instead of simply having a little bit set on top. Not a restaurant I’d hurry back to, despite the cool atmosphere.
Saturday, we made our way to the UW campus to watch the 100th Apple Cup between WSU and UW. This was fun because the family is split between Huskies and Cougars, so we had some playful ribbing to go along with the tailgating. Once again, we all ate until we could eat no more, and drank ourselves silly. The game was fun to watch because it spent a lot of time going back and forth, and the game was defined by big plays. It was mildly depressing at the beginning of the game the Cougars (my almost alma-mater and current employer) gave up 10 points in the first seven minutes, but the pulled back and tied things up by the half keeping the game neck and neck throughout. And as big plays defined the game, big plays ended it, with the Cougars scoring on a 33-yard touchdown pass with thirty seconds on the clock, and an interception in the Huskies end-zone in the final seconds of the game.
Of course, not being much of a football fan, I thought the most entertaining part of the game was the incredibly poor reception Washington’s Governor, Christine Gregoire, received as she prepared to award the Apple Cup. I was a tiny bit surprised, as politically, I expected her to be more popular in Seattle, but apparently, she’s done about as much to please people over there as she has for us Eastern Washington residents.
After the game, my father and one of my uncles had to settle a bet, by buying dinner for the entire group, so we made out way to this fantastic restaurant not too far from the U. La Piazza, located at 55th St and 35th Ave, is a traditional rustic Italian restaurant, offering plenty of pasta, fish, meat, and even some traditional Italian pizza (there wasn’t any pepperoni in the place). As excellently prepared as Catherine’s veal was, and my father was raving over his Spaghetti and Salmon, everyone seemed to feel that the sauce that the Tortellini con Gorgonzola came with was the best food in the house. It was a nice, thick, creamy cheese sauce with tasty tortellini and plenty of basil on top. All in all, everything you could get there was fantastic, and I’m almost thinking it’s worth going to Seattle solely to visit this restaurant. Plus, my sister’s boyfriend was our waiter, which was kind of fun for everyone.
Sunday we got out of town by noon, after breakfast with my parents, so that we could drive through Spokane so that Catherine could see her folks. It was great to see everyone, and the trip was a lot of fun, even if we didn’t really get any work done while we were out. The driving wasn’t bad, and for what we got out of the trip, we really didn’t spend very much. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone again in June.