Stump does PDX

The last time I took days off was in April so it was definitely time to take a few days off and get out of town. I decided it was time to finally fully explore the wonders of Seattle’s little brother, Portland. I have to say I’m thoroughly impressed.

I met a bunch of new people, hung out with some current friends, and, oddly enough, re-connected with an old friend from college. Kate and I actually went to our dorm’s semi-formal together at the ripe old age of 19. The pictures are terrifying.

Looks like Garren and I will be making it down for the beer festival on the water this weekend as well. Now, rounding out the post is Kate singing karaoke.

Mt. Baker

Over a few pints at a pub in Ballard on Friday night with Garren, Julia and Sanna Garren and I had the bright idea to head up to Bellingham on Saturday night and then go skiing/snowboarding on Mt. Baker all day Sunday for one last day on the slopes.

As it turns out the stars were perfectly aligned to not only make this trip happen, but to make it one of the best trips in recent memory. One of those trips where everything falls into place perfectly.

Garren and I headed out of Seattle around 7PM. About 15 miles outside of Bellingham is the Skagit Casino which, after some discussion and a quick turnaround, we went to in search of cheap Craps. Cheap craps we found with $3 tables and 10x odds. Something you won’t find in even the cheapest Vegas casinos. It was here that Garren quite possibly had one of his luckiest runs at the table. The luck appeared to spread as multiple shooters scored multiple points over the next four hours. Always nice when you walk out with more money than you walked in with at a Casino.

The next day the stars again aligned in our favor as we wound up in about 2 feet of fresh snow and very little competition for fresh tracks. I readily admit I was doing things I had absolutely no business doing on the mountain. Finding myself in the trees up to my waist in powder on multiple occasions giggling like a school girl.

Vegas or Bust (Mostly Bust)

Let me first say that Vegas pretty much rules. Where else can you go and eat all the shrimp and New York steak you can handle for $10.99? Where else can you play 25 cent hands of video poker and get fed free drinks all night? I had a great time playing craps with Julia and Garren and video poker with Keith. However, travel to and from on this trip has stunk.

On the flight out here I was delayed two hours. Not a big deal since it was a direct fligh. However, on the way back it has been a totally different story. I sit here writing this post in the D terminal while waiting for a flight back to Seattle. If this story had happened to anyone else I’d be laughing, so feel free.

1:30PM – Having a 5:00 fligh and having heard that security and lines at Las Vegas can be a horrific experience, I decide to leave the Monte Carlo early for the airport.

1:45PM – I arrive at the airport to find out that my cab does not, for some reason, accept credit cards. After a frantic search for an ATM I get some cash and find my cabby, thankfully, waiting for his fare.

1:55PM – After a few failed attempts at the automated check-in station I am forced to wait in a long line for a real person to check me into my flight.

2:20PM – Arrive in security line and manage to get through security without any difficulties. I’ve learned to: a.) not wear a belt to the airport, b.) wear flip-flops and c.) stow my cell phone, wallet, watch, etc. in my carry one BEFORE getting in the security line.

2:40PM – Sit down to read my magazines, check email and call my Mom to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day.

4:40PM – On the way back from the bathroom I notice my plane is delayed an hour, which means I’ll be missing my connection flight from Phoenix to Seattle.

4:50PM – Stand in line at the courtesy desk and find out that I’ve been booked on an Alaskan Airlines direct flight (yay!) that leaves from Las Vegas at 11:10PM (boo!). It gets better, I’m only “booked” and have yet to get a “seat assignment”, which means I must leave the secured area to go to Alaskan Airlines’ ticket counter to get a seat assignment. This, of course, means I have to go BACK through security.

5:00PM – Make my way to the Alaskan Airlines ticket counter and get a seating assignment. As I’m grabbing the ticket from the counter person’s hand, her manager comes over and announces “Do NOT sell any more to America West.” Thankfully, I had already gotten my ticket, but if I had shown up 2 minutes later I’d have been out of luck.

5:10PM – Get back into the security line and find out that I’ve been marked for “special screening” and directed to another line. Am I fuming at this point? You bet. I get in the “special screening” line and check out my fellow terrorists: two small girls and their mom, a middle aged couple and me. Damn, and I left my turbin at home.

5:40PM – After going through not one, but two different scanners and having my bags completely searched, I finally start making my way to my gate. Oh joy, I get to take a tram over to the other side of the airport.

6:00PM – Hunker down for what will be about a five hour delay. The only bright spot being that there is free WiFi at my gate.

9:00PM – Find out my 11:10PM flight has been delayed until 1:15AM.

5:21AM – Finally arrive home and promptly pass out.

I wouldn’t be so pissed if America West had made some token gesture. Maybe a food coupon for a free dinner? Anything to at least attempt to make up for having me go through the security line twice, barely get a ticket on the next flight and then wait six hours in all to get back home. The best part? You guessed it, I have to pay a cab to get home as my wife will be sound asleep by the time I get home, which I’m hoping will be around 3:00AM Monday morning.

Whistler, British Columbia 2004

whistler On Wednesday we packed up with Josh and Alysin we headed up to Whistler for a weekend of hot tubs and snowboarding.

The long weekend was great. We had a great time on the slopes and took some amazing photos. The snow was a dream compared to the shitty snow I was used to in the midwest. Josh was complaining the whole time, but I told him he had it better than he’d ever know. The picture to your left was taken overlooking a cliff. Behind me are mountains and below is a valley with a lake. Needless to say the views and the slopes were enough to take my breath away.

Whistler is amazing and I definitely recommend checking it out. We were able to hit up shopping, hot tubs, bars, great resturants, etc. all within a few minutes walk. Many thanks to Josh and Aly for hooking it all up. And, we met another couple from Michigan who were foolish enough to take Lauren and I on in euchre. Let the games begin!

Greetings from San Diego

I’m currently hanging out in San Diego with Dana. I’ve been here a few days and will be heading back to Detroit, MI on the 6th of August. The time spent here has mostly been spent on the beach, throwing back California Burritos and hitting up the various bars in the area with dana.

Today we went to check out the USS Midway, which you can see to your left. I’m a huge History Channel buff, so it was great to finally check one of these beasts out in real life. This thing was massive! The audio tour was full of all sorts of interesting tidbits, most of which I can’t remember now. I definitely have a whole new understanding of what it’s like to live on one and I don’t envy my cousins much (though Gino does get to fly a figher jet and blow stuff up, which is, to say the very least, incredibly cool).

Tomorrow Dana and I are most likely going to hook up some surfing. I’m pretty “stoked”, as they say out here, to try surfing out. After surfing we are going to check out Balboa Park and play a few rounds of Disc Golf. Not sure what else we have planned for the rest of the week, but rest assured we’ll be drinking and being merry; possibly doing so while at the beach (nah, nah, nah Lauren!).

Greetings from Seattle

I’m currently hanging out in Brad’s condo. I’ve been in Seattle since Monday and have been having a great time. I’ve been running around looking for condos with three (yes three) realtors and it’s been insane. Lauren and I have our eyes on two units right now and plan on making an offer tomorrow on one of them. The picture to the right is the view from Brad’s new condo.

Seattle, from my point of view, is basically a miniature version of San Francisco. Same terrain (very hilly), same kind of people/vibe (hippies/liberal) and a decent tech area with Amazon, Real Networks, F5 and Microsoft all calling the area home. The best part is that the area has extremely reasonable prices. I’ve found large two bedrooms close to downtown for $180k, which would be impossible to do in San Francisco.

Brad and I have been working on some stuff for his August 1st rollout of a bunch of enotes.com related material in between me running around looking at condos. Nights have been spent, of course, in the company of Brad and his friends at various bars in the area. The scene is very much up my alley: laid back. Not a booty shaking nightclub in sight, which suits me just fine. If you are interested at the massive array of condos I’ve looked at check out this link.

New York City: Part 2

Things I would do if I ever went to New York City:

  1. Ride the subway
  2. Visit Central Park
  3. Go to a Yankees game and root for the opposite team
  4. Visit Wall St. during trading hours
  5. Check out Times Square, possibly say “hi” to Al Roker
  6. Go shopping in shops I can’t afford to shop in on 5th Avenue
  7. Stop by the location of the WTC
  8. Go to one of the many museums and art galleries
  9. Go bar hopping in a trendy “village” in Manhattan
  10. Eat somewhere with small portions and large bills
  11. Visit the Empire State Building
  12. Visit the Statue of Liberty
  13. Buy fake designer goods from a street vendor
  14. Throw risk to the wind and eat a hot dog from a street vendor

Things I didn’t do in New York City and neither should you:

  1. Take pictures of the poor bums on the street, while attempting to appear concerned
  2. Pose for pictures in front of Ground Zero with smiles on your face

Things I did in New York City that I would not recommend doing:

  1. Walking 2.9 miles in downtown Manhattan when the 2 train would drop you off a block from where you need to be
  2. Visit Queens, even if it saves you $30 on a cab ride to the airport
  3. Staying on Wall St. on a weekend, it’s lifeless and boring
  4. Go to Central Park with a.) no plan of attack and b.) no blanket

Things that surprised me about New York City:

  1. It wasn’t nearly as dirty as I thought it would be
  2. The people were, for the most part, nice and helpful
  3. The NYPD does an amazing job of keeping bums and rif raft out of Manhattan. I counted about 5 bumbs total, which is about 300 less than I counted the last time I visited Fisherman’s Warf in San Francisco.
  4. Wall St. is a complete ghost town on the weekends
  5. The subway system, despite its legendary status, is largely a pile of crap

Overall, I had a good time in New York City. I can honestly say, though, that I don’t understand what draws people to the city. It smells, and wasn’t extremely exciting. Though it doesn’t smell as bad as New Orleans and is infinitely more exciting than Ypsilanti.

New York City: Part 1


Lauren’s mother bought Lauren a trip to NYC for her graduation present. Because Lauren’s mom is cool like that she also paid for me to go as well. I have been so busy at work lately that I haven’t really had a chance to think about the trip. Friday we left for NYC at around 9:00pm on the wonderful Spirit Airlines from the equally sparkling airport DTW.

We didn’t end up getting to the hotel until about midnight and decided to get some sleep in preparation for the long day ahead of us. I had a meeting with some friends who I have been working on a project with at 11:00am at The Tomato, which was about 2.9 miles away. We decided to hoof it, which was a big mistake. 2.9 miles in the country is nothing, but 2.9 miles in lower Downtown Manhattan is a WHOLE different story. On the way we walked through the few blocks in the world that literally makes and breaks entire countries, otherwise known as Wall Street. We also walked past the location of the former World Trade Center, which is currently being, at least partially, rebuilt. We walked through SOHO and, I think, a portion of the East Villiage. Luckily, when we arrived there was a street fair to keep Lauren occupied while I went to my meeting.


After the meeting we decided to go back to the hotel and then ride the subway up to Times Square and Fifth Avenue for some shopping and general site seeing. Times Square was what I envisioned it to be; a mecca for tourists in NYC. Fifth Avenue was, in my opinion, somewhat of a let down. I was expecting to be blown away by outrageous prices on clothes I was both too poor and not cool enough to wear. In reality, I found that Kenneth Cole was having it’s “SUMMER BLOWOUT SALE!”, which has a certain irony to it, and more than a few stores resembled Old Navy.

After we had finished shopping we went back to the hotel to regroup and find a bar to hit up later that night. We decided to go to the Central Bar in the East Villiage. City Search says it’s “A cavernous Irish bar, more popular than authentic.”, which I would agree with. In fact it felt like a glorified college bar complete with retired fraternity boys and sorority girls, which normally puts me right into my element, but this was NYC and I wasn’t about to spend the night hanging out in this place. On the bright side it did make for some amusing people watching, especially the guy who would walk up to girls and do the robot and then brush his shoulder off. Yup, time to change venues. We ended up at some martini bar in the East Villiage sucking down Vodka and Espresso Martinis. As you can imagine we ended the night eating some crappy Mexican food.

The next morning we woke up early, and slightly hungover, to go on a ferry ride around NYC. It was a great way to get some steller pictures of the skyline and views of Lady Liberty herself. Once we were done with the ferry we headed out to the River Cafe, which was an upscale join Cameron recommended to us. To put it lightly, the food and service was amazing, as it should be at $35/plate. The resturant is actually a boat that sits across the bridge in Brooklyn with spectacular views of Manhattan. If you happen to be in NYC I highly recommend it, though dinner reservations have a month-long waiting list (which explains why we had brunch).

After lunch we took the subway back up past Times Square to Central Park, which was described by one of our cab drivers as “the best thing that ever happened to NYC” and I would have to agree with him. The place was, not surprisingly, packed with people. The park is HUGE and made for a great mid-afternoon walk in the sun. After leaving the park we went back down to 5th Avenue and Times Square, which was crawling with people. We picked up a few more tourist gifts and then headed back home on the 3 train.

Being Piston fans, we ended up at the hotel watching game five in our hotel room. The reality is that our feet hurt so bad we couldn’t have found and walked to a decent sports bar even if we tried.

Depressing

Today is the first time I’ve flown since 9/11. I must say it’s a depressing scene. The people at the ticket counters are unfriendly drones, the searching of bags is borderline rediculous, and the atmosphere of fun in air travel is in the toilet. I’m sitting here on my way to New Orleans with one of my fraternity brothers, Brian Dye.

Pleasant Surprise

This last weekend I attended an APICS conference in Milwaukee. I thought the city was going to be rather lame, but as it turns out I was pleasantly surprised. The downtown area was clean with tons of fun stuff to do. Good resturants, plenty of microbrews, and a decent bar scene. Overall a good weekend.