josh (joshc) wrote,

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o.pen -- day one

On Saturday morning, I woke up earlier than I wanted to because my bedroom's curtains don't fully block out the now powerful February sun and I can't really bear to think about needing to wake up to an alarm clock. The early morning wake up annoyance is better than this, I think. But maybe the call is getting closer than it used to be.

Anyway, this gave me time to run some laundry through the machines before our little caravan convened for the great Washington's Birthday Weekend Expedition -- Planless Edition 2005. By the time my clothes were cleaned, my duffle bag was packed, and my bowl of Whole-grain Cheerios with Three Berries was half-empty, people started calling to announce their late starts and arrivals outside my apartment.

But why would we care about timelines? We had a long weekend and miles of highway and cloudless skies ahead of us with no specific plans beyond driving west to weigh down our adventurous spirits?

Everyone arrived and baggage was reconfigured and then we were off. Driving in two cars for increased modularity (Brandon and Stina had kayaking ambitions) and out of a suspicion that traveler #6, Jeff (who had called to be several hours late), would get caught up in his weekend errands and not follow us to the yet unspecified rendezvous point. In Edmonds, we joined the line of vehicles crossing Main Street USA to board a ferry to bring us across the sound to the Olympic Peninsula.

For me, most trips are enhanced by the opportunity to drive cars onto a boat and across the open water (just think of the Great Okracoke Adventure of 2004!). Perhaps the newness wears off when one requires this form of transit for commuting purposes. But for us, on this blue sky day, riding on the big green and white ferry and being able to see the tops of Seattle buildings & the Space Needle dwarfed by gigantic Mount Rainier was a pretty darn good start to the weekend.

On the other side of the boat ride, we drove through the model railroadest town ever before trying to stop at a place that is rumored to make the best burgers in the state. For obvious reasons [the love of meat prevents any real change], this was not my priority, but I was willing to indulge my companions' hunger for well-prepared meat. That said, I was not at all sad when we arrived to find the restaurant inexplicably closed. Not because of the dietary reasons, but because it was a roadside diner in the middle of nowhere that was adorned with a huge Bush-Cheney 2004 (stop gloating, already!) sign as well as certifications of lifetime RNC membership on the door. I really don't know why I didn't take any pictures, but I apologize for not doing so.

Our pursuit of food took us further west, to Sequim, the sunniest retirement village this side of the Cascades. We passed up all of the non-cute places to have lunch at the Sunshine Cafe, which featured sweet potato fries and not very good garden burgers. The word on the street suggested that their tuna melts were good, and Carolyn verified this rumor. Jeff's ability to take care of errand and to drive at high-speeds while avoiding Washington State Ferries allowed him to meet up with us for lunch.

Since it was "red wine and chocolate" weekend at the Olympic Peninsula wineries, we couldn't resist making a few visits to experience a non-midlife crisis version of the Oscar-nominated Sideways. Which means, a non-re-creation. Winery #1 was very girl-power themed, with a "wine chick" pouring samples and wines named things like "Rosé the Riveter," "You Go Girl, Red," and other empowering titles. Here, we started the custom of toasting at every possible opportunity.

With minutes to spare, we raced to Port Angeles to taste more wine and ended up following a winding road inhabited by some sort of crazy yak-like beasts (long white hair and curly horns) and trees with garbage bags as ornamentation to find a winery that served beverages in the style of Boon's Farm. The elderly pourer kept getting confused about the order of beverages, but we were just happy to have arrived before closing time.

With our winery timeline exhausted, we finally began to think about the important matter of where we would sleep for the evening. Eschewing the charms of Port Angeles, we continued our westward migration. This decision caused our drive to include a trip past Lake Crescent, which is my favorite lake to drive past. Along the way, Betsy called pages of lodgings only to find that every place on the peninsula was either booked or closed.

The exception was the Forks Motel. When we left on our excursion, visions of cute log cabins with fireplaces danced in our heads. By nightfall and after a string of rejections and a car nearly tipping over (underestimated turning radius), we were willing to let these dreams be crushed by a discount local motel. To preserve the frontier camping mentality, we elected to crowd into a single room for the evening.

Moments after taking up residence, we noticed a glowing "NO" joining it's "VACANCY" sibling on the buzzy neon sign. Alas, our decision to settle was a good one.

Because we are cool like that and didn't realize that cold arrives with nightfall, we walked to the Forks Thriftway to stock up on supplies. Apparently unable to decide on a single brand of quality beer, we returned with PBR and Ranier along with a lime to complement Betsy's tequila and some snackfoods. These remained untouched until after dinner.

Faced with the prospects of bad family restaurant fare, bad Chinese, and bad Mexican, we somehow arrived at the selection of the Plaza Jalisco (option 3). This time, even though the distance was shorter, we drove. There, we encountered a waitress with frighteningly long hair, wild viney plants, and locals who saw through our fleece, recognizing us as outsiders. The highlight of dinner was when Carolyn and Jeff ordered "the Cadillac" margaritas and received a regular margarita with the addition of a lime and shots of Jose and Grand Marnier on the side. The lowlights included the waitress using her fingernail to inspect the contents of one of the meals, and the refried beans being the scariest ever. Whiteish-purple in color, resistant to the effects of gravity, and covered with cheese, they were not a popular selection. Somehow, I think these aspects of the meal reduced our guilt about borrowing a shaker of salt for the evening.

Back at the motel party suite, we played some games like Scattergories and Hoopla. Hoopla is a Cranium-like non-competitive game. I'm not a Cranium fan and everyone else is competitive; so you can imagine how that went over. We then moved on to card games, with Carolyn and I teaching Jeff and Stina how to play Euchre. Though Stina and I were well on our way to crushing defeat (0-8), Jeff's drunkenness eventually took over and we erased the deficit to eke out a last minute victory. This compelled the already tequila-overdosed losers (via their "Cadillacs") to drink more of the agave nectar. Later, after Jeff was banned from future games and Brandon was recruited to take his place, Stina tried to teach us a complicated game, but we gave up and played "Go Fish." My creative interpretation of the rules was not appreciated.

An hour after our neighbor visited to complain of the paper thin walls and share stories of his party-loving youth, we called it a night. I slept in a sleeping bag in the closet. Everyone thought this was crazy, but at least I avoided being stepped on during the night.

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