Our Latest Vacation Synopsis

Shelley and I recently came back from our last summer vacation week.  We traveled to Seattle with the dogs and hit all our favorite spots to store up for the long winter before we get another opportunity to go back to Seattle.

We got into Seattle on Thursday evening and after unpacking the truck and the dogs went straight down to the XBox Pitch to see the Sounders FC.  We attended a Sounders FC game and two Mariner games this trip and didn’t get to see any of them win.  The Sounders FC played to a 0-0 draw (that sucked) and the Mariners got clobbered twice by Boston.  Go figure.  At least the weather was great for the Sounders FC game, being outdoors and all.  On all three trips down to SoDo (south of the dome) we drank up as much Elysian Night Owl as we could get our hands on.  We’ll never see that here in Boise and it’s easily one of the best seasonal ales out there.

On Friday, after the Sounders FC game, we also had a nice BBQ over at my sister’s (Barbara) house with family.  Another of my sisters (Jolene) happened to be in town the same weekend so I got to visit with her again but this time her husband Jim was also with her.  That’s twice in just a couple of weeks that I’ve seen Jolene after not getting to see her for a year.  Funny how that works out sometimes.  Here are some of us hanging out on Barbara’s deck before dinner.

Here are two Jims.  Jim B on the left is enjoying one of Barbara’s homemade Gingersnap cookies made just for him.  Not sure what Jim B on the right is doing.

On Saturday morning we left Seattle and traveled down to Ashford, near Mt Rainier, for the 9th annual Rainier Mountain Festival.  This is an event put on by Rainier Mountain Guides (RMI), Lou Whittaker and Jim Whittaker’s mountain guide company they founded about 40 years ago.  This was a chance for Shelley and I to talk with some outfitters about some gear we still needed for Denali and listen to various lectures / slide shows put on by some of RMI’s guides.  RMI has some of the most experienced and accomplished guides in the world working for them.  Below is a photo I took of all the Everest summitters from RMI.  They held a Q & A session on Saturday.  Some of these climbers have summitted Everest multiple times.

From left to right, the guy in the yellow shirt third from the left is Brent Okita.  He summitted Rainier for his 400th time this past summer; he has two summits of Everest and 18 on Denali, just to name a few.  Moving right a few more is a woman in a red top sitting on the stage this is Melissa Arnot.  She is the only American woman to have summitted Everest three times.  Her most recent trip was just this past summer when she did it without the aid of supplement oxygen.  Jake Norton is somewhere on the stage, maybe just off camera.  He gave a great lecture on his expedition to Everest to look for George Mallory and Andrew Irvine in 1999.  I wish I could remember everyone on that stage.  But that gives you a taste of who was there.  Pretty impressive to say the least.

I also got to meet Ed Viesturs on Sunday.  He was doing a book signing and gave a lecture on his expeditions to climb all 14 8,000 meter peaks without the aid of supplemental oxygen.  Only one of six people to have accomplished that.  That was really good.  I wish I could have taped it!

There was other stuff going on during the weekend event.  They had various contests for prizes, a big gear sale where they were selling some of their used gear as well as new gear, food, music, demonstrations and activities.  They had a big climbing wall in the middle of the field.  On one side of the tower was a rock climbing side and on the other was a simulated ice wall.

Here’s a short video I took of the festival grounds.  It is pretty short.  You can barely hear it, but there’s a little kid climbing the rock wall as I pan by.  When he turns and looks down he’s calling to his parents, “I’m scared….can I come down?”  The parents are down below, just off camera, saying, “No, you’re not gonna get hurt.”  He does that a couple times before his dad tells him to come down.  A few hours later, the kid was back on the rock wall and went all the way to the top.  It was pretty funny.

I ended up speaking at length with an outfitter and buying my climbing boots for Denali.  They didn’t have Shelley’s size, but she was able to try them on in Seattle after we got back.  After comparing a couple different brands, she ended up settling on her boots as well.  So, that’s a big purchase that is out of the way.  We wanted to have our boots for Mexico so we would have time to wear them around the house and have them on our climb in Mexico this December.  We had hoped to get a pack as well, but it wasn’t on sale and they didn’t have any used ones.  We did get to try some on, but we wouldn’t buy one during this trip.

We also ran into Ben, the guide we have had on two of our Mt Rainier trips.  If you’ve been a reader of this blog you should know who I’m referring to.  He was off the mountain for a few days and stopped by the festival.  It was good to run into him and chat for a while.  It was a really fun weekend.  Good lectures / slide shows, decent food at real good prices, great weather and just a pretty laid back, relaxing time.  We left on Sunday to head back to Seattle.

The rest of the vacation was spent hanging out in Seattle and hitting our restaurants (Chutney’s, The Pike, the 74th St Ale House), going to the M’s games and having dinner and lunches with friends.  We also spent some time working on the yard at the house.  I had some areas that I wanted to overseed.  The weather changed for the worse the last three or four days we were in Seattle. Beginning on Wednesday it rained quite a bit.  Luckily I got a long enough window on Friday to get the seed down, mow and fertilize.

Our last night was spent at my brother’s house where he had a cigar-dinner night.  He BBQ’d some Tri-tip steak and had some of his buddies over.

Shelley enjoyed the evening as well.

All in all it was a good trip.  No dogs nearly died and none of their stomachs had to get pumped.  It was a good send off for the summer in Seattle.  We probably won’t be back till next April.

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