Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Long Beach and Longer Nights

It was our Anniversary get away. Oh thank you, you're so kind... yes, it's been 6 years, can you imagine it? Just a year, before the supposed itch kicks in. 

Anyway, so we decided we needed a vacation, from the daily cooking - my husband more than me - he was the one who always had to make approving sounds even if what I served him was burnt beyond repair. So this get-away was something he had earned - for marrying me - six years ago. 

This was also our first road trip. I hadn't gotten my license yet - yes, yet. So it was upon him to take us to this haven that was so hyped. 

We decided the best time to leave was after Driti's swimming lesson - that way, she would fall asleep and we would get sometime by ourselves. It was perfect planning, and we got time for ourselves to talk - about the various HR interventions to aid a growing organization. Yes, we're that romantic! By the time we reached Long Beach, we could've written an entire paper on career and succession planning and earned big bucks. But we're not that ambitious and are super lazy, so we let the opportunity pass, as we did with the first Gas station, when we realized we were running real low. We panicked before we reached the next station, to ensure we have enough fuel for the long drive. 

We stopped for refueling and Driti stopped for hers - cakes, chips and sandwiches. 'It's a vacation, after all', I reasoned and let her have some of the forbidden treats.

The route from our place is such that we need to touch Oregon, to reenter Long Beach in WA. So we filled in fuel in Oregon and it was tax free! Yay, so glad we didn't stop at the first gas station!

There is this beautiful bridge, the  Astoria–Megler Bridge that spans the Columbia River between Astoria, Oregon and Point Ellice near Megler, Washington. It is A.MA.ZING! If it is of interest to you, it is also the longest continuous truss bridge in North America. We did not have to ask Driti to keep silent while we could take the beauty of it all in, she just naturally did - a nature lover that one.

It takes about four hours to travel from Seattle to Long Beach and you cannot but notice the stark contrast between the city that Seattle is and the countryside feeling you get in Long Beach. We haven't seen any town quite like that in India. It was so small and so warm (not from a deg F or deg C point of view, but from a feeling stand point). It was just a cozy little place where everybody seemed to know everybody else - It was straight out of 'Cheers' where 'Everybody knows your name' Not ours - we just visited, but the rest. 

We reached around 6 in the evening, to our hotel, and decided the only thing we could do now was to find a place to eat. I wanted to get a hair cut but considering not many salons had a Yelp rating, I kept my urge for a 'new look' under wraps. We checked out reviews for the various restaurants and one particular Thai restaurant had the best reviews, so we decided to give it a try. It was called - "Long Beach Thai Cuisine" (Surprise!!) and the place itself is not too much to write about - small square room with tables and chairs set, for dining - yes the basics. The upholstery reminded me of India - Elephants embroidered on silk - but guess Thailand also has elephants. 

We had to wait to be seated. For a small place, it was quite full, which was a good sign - people liked dining here or they were all tourists who had read reviews and come to test it like us. But the owner seemed to know most of them, so well, maybe they were regulars - which was  a good sign. 

I am usually averse to Thai food - allergic to peanuts and coconuts, so I was looking for every possible excuse to get out - but hubby insisted on this one because this claimed to be 'Authentic' and besides he hadn't really seen me throw up. 

To be honest, when we sat down for our food, we waited close to an eternity (15 mins). But the wait was worth it. The food was simply awesome - unlike any Thai food I've ever tasted. I finished almost the entire plate - that says something. I loved the food and so did hubby. I should've taken some yogurt for Driti for to eat her yogurt rice. She did not like anything, because the food was nutritious - it had vegetables or Chicken. So if you're going with a picky eater, go prepared.  Driti came back to the hotel and ate some 'cool fruits'. We really liked the owner/waitress/ cook. She was very friendly, and talked a lot to us. This is definitely a recommended place when you go to Long Beach. Whether you catch clams or not, get the Thai food. 

After that, we went to the Museum of Kites, and there were so many different varieties from Indonesia, China, India, Japan, Afghanistan and so on.. and they also had various videos on how kites were used for rescue and transportation. Driti made a pink kite for herself and with that, we moved out of the place. 

We then went to Benson's for lunch. The owner, the senior lady is so good with kids. She can keep any kid engaged and do her job at the same time. Our little daughter could just keep talking to her.

Just across the street is Marsh's free museum, which is a tourist trap. You cannot just go in there and come out empty handed. And Marsh is also the home for Jake the Alligator Man. We didn't believe it at first, but with so many signs everywhere and after some research, we got a shot glass of the half human, half legend. 

Coming back to the hotel, Ady and Driti went for a little swim in the hotel where they met a nice family of 10. The dad insisted on a clam digger to Ady so our daughter will have a great experience. Ady politely accepted, but we didn't eat clams and it just felt mean to get them for fun - so we skipped it. 

We then explored the town a little more and celebrated our Anniversary at ' The Depot' which is supposed to be the fine dining hub of LB. But if you're a vegetarian, your options are limited. I had artichoke hearts for dinner!

The next day, we checked out and went to the North Point Light House. It was straight out of the movies - the weather I mean - too windy, almost blowing your skirt away, if you were wearing one. But the light house as such isn't such a great experience. Maybe if we had braved the wind and gone up , but it was only for kids 7 and up and we decided to re explore in 4 years. But Ady loved the guest house there and the ambiance is just great. You should check it out.

One thing you will notice is the place seems to be made for RVs. There are so many parking spots in so many places! One thing we didn't try is the Cape Disappointment Park. We had heard it may be a little low key for our hyper energetic kid, so we visited Mc D's play place instead, before heading back home at rush hour on Monday. 

All in all, a relaxing trip. Good fun, great beach. It was worth it even in January!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sleeping Beauty and the Pea

If you want culture shock to high- five you, this is the show you should go to. 

Performed by the Fremont players, the write up to Sleeping Beauty and the Pea says, "You'll see large colorful characters, men dressed as women, women dressed as men. You'll be encouraged to boo at the villain, cheer for the hero, and applaud the Magical Cow!" 

And that's just the beginning. When we planned for the show, it was because the adults get to have beers while the kids are watching the act. Rarely do you find shows like this - this was our first, anywhere we've been to and hence this gets a special mention in the travelogue.

The show was at Hale's Paladium and surely, there was lots of ale. It was an old workshop converted into a theater. My daughter liked the stage so much, she even went up to the orchestra to let her up. Pity, she wasn't a part of the 'Fremont Players'.

The show started off with Simon Neale setting the 'ground rules',  "When somebody says, 'Oh no it doesn't', you say, 'Oh yes it does'", and there was no more explanation needed. He made us stand up and sit down everytime we heard the sound 'ba', in 'Bring back my bonnie to me'. So that was quite the calorie burner, and a good warm up exercise (sorry, HR in me).

Every time the evil fairy, (Debbie Tully) came up, we were to hiss and boo - and soon we just loved to boo at her.

And then when Esmerelda came on stage, the beautiful fairy godmother, in her pink tutu, long red hair and untrimmed mustache - yes it was Simon again - (s)he made us hold our tummies and laugh uncontrollably. 

I am not going to write too much on the story, you know it only too well from listening to it so many times since you were two. So...here are the highlights.

After she lost the Godmother contest, the evil godmother cursed Sleeping beauty  that she'd be accosted by a prick. And when our beloved Esmerelda eases it by making her only sleep, we heave a sigh of relief! What drama!

At 21, Sleeping beauty has a deep moment and asks rhetorically, "What do I do?" and someone from the audience cried out, "Get a prenup!"

The king's helper, the dim-wit Nigel was especially clear, with his punctuated English accent, every-time the King needed help bringing up his beloved Beauty.

In the 'Pea' part of the play, the super blond 'wannabe pageant- queen', queen who's all boom-boom up and down, seeks the help of a fairy Godmother, yes the evil one - (yikes, what was she thinking?) to get her son married.The short prince (played by a woman), is not so dim-witted as his mother and leaves home from the cruel clutches of the evil godmother to search for his bride. 

On his sojourn, he finds Sleeping Beauty and - kiss- slap- kiss-love. 

And with all the booing, the jeers, the hisses, a wonderful memory is made. No, I did not giving the ending away!

It was truly an entertaining and engaging experience.  We'll be sure to go to the play next year - this holiday tradition shall continue.

#SleepingBeautyandthePea  #Theater #Seattle #kids #entertainment   #review

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The White Blanket

Born in the southern part of India and raised entirely there, it was but naural for me to adapt to the pleasant weather there. Classic example of Charles Darwin's theory. Hey, c'mon I'm talking Hyderabad. So it is pleasant. Not the drippy Chennai weather, where you take a bath  only to find yourself completely drenched in your own sweat. No, this is different. You can walk out in the winter in your summer clothing, or use the pullover to make a fashion statement. Either ways the weather is not extreme. We've never had to walk out of our comfort zone. Well, we've graduated from the cooler to the AC, but still... not a giant leap of mankind.

And since we have only three seasons (Summer, Rainy and Winter), I had no idea what spring and fall felt like. My husband had a faint idea, but then again with all the global warming, his part of the country - the northern part- only has two seasons. Hot and Cold. So when we moved to Seattle and saw the first colors of fall - boy were we awestruck. Now,  I know Seattle is not necessarily known for the colors - it's mostly green. But what little we saw was breathtaking. 
The yellows, reds, orange, brown, green - it was a visual treat and a great opportunity to recap Driti's knowledge of colors. We were finally in some Bollywood movie.

And then it got better. It's winter here! I know, it sounds unbelievable that I am excited about winter. I mean, really, I could freeze if I scanned through the refrigerator for more than thirty seconds. That's why I always plan what I need from there and pick it up before I count to ten. But with the central heating system, the electric blanket, the additional space heater I am warm enough - infact it actually feels like summer at home. And when we step out, it's only from home to the car - so that's ok too. I usually have four layers on me to keep me warm.

And this is the first time we're driving through an ice cream cone. We went up Mt Rainier with Bhai, Bhabhi and Shiv who visited us over new years. And boy is the snow an experience! It wasn't new to the brood from Canada, but for us, it was sheer joy! Driti wanted to figure out where Santa stayed and I wanted to make snowballs and throw at everybody - which ofcourse I did. I loved. We loved it!

Paradise, is a must see. It's better in Spring, but you can have so much fun in the snow too. Just remember to bring your equipment. We didn't and so the kids 'tubed' in their own clothes and came out soaking wet. Just make sure you're on time and have access to the little cafeteria at Paradise. Hot coffee or chai latte ( I hate it, but that's Ady's choicest drink in Seattle.. so I have to mention it here), is a must have after your experience in the white. And don't forget to just pick the snow and eat it.. just like that.. it is amazing.. and I didn't even stop Driti this time.. if she did catch cold, I could handle it later!

We drove from Seattle to Mt Rainier, Ady's first experience driving in the snow. We rented out chains as it is illegal to drive without them. If you can, get those cool magnets and T-shirts from the local shop. I just wish our driver had a little patience and we could shop a little more to fondly remember our trip. But there are pictures, oh so many pictures - and we will  come around to uploading them, before Driti turns thirty. Else she will do so herself.

But - walk through snow, and throw snowball on a total stranger - check.