Thursday, August 18, 2011

Scenic View (Part Deux)

As I said (I think) we spent Friday and Saturday of our trip to Seattle in George, Washington at a famous venue called The Gorge. It's literally on the precipice of a gorge, overlooking the Columbia river. The music starts while it's still daylight, but quickly the sun approaches the horizon and the entire view is painted in reds. It's an amazing way to see live music.

Thursday, to prepare for the trip we went grocery shopping and bought enough to feed the whole band crew. Our selections included, but were not limited to: gourmet cheeses, beer, summer sausage, grilled cheese ingredients, pb&j (always a camping staple) and hummus and pita chips. We basically spent the next few days basking in the beauty of nature, jamming to great music, and stuffing our faces.
Our assortment of regional beers

The car was stocked full and packed.

We arrived early on Friday after a short drive from Ellensburg. We made a quick stop at a little spot called "The Feathers" right near the venue, so named for the way the rocks look:

Gorge-ous views!

It felt like a scenic view of the world. 

Excited to see some Phish!

When we pulled into the lot, we were parked beside some serious vets. They were really hospitable and offered to let us tie up our tarp onto their giant tailgate tent.

It was nice and cozy in our tent

Our neighbor was a cool guy from Montana who makes AMAZING chocolate.
Check it out here: Posh Chocolat
I would highly recommend the Tipu's Chai and Smoked Almond Milk Chocolate bar (which he gave us a free sample of). It was incredible. 

After set up, we began drinking and grubbing. 
No, I don't think it was after noon yet, why do you ask?

We had a pretty bomb setup. 

Once full, we embarked on a journey to see the sights and sounds of the venue gatherers. 
Two little explorers emerged from a shrouded path to see: THE GORGE
Don't you love their little hats?

We heart pop up vans. I not-so-secretly want one. 

The collection of people is always an interesting mix at Phish concerts. 
The area where all the fun happens is pretty eclectic, but there's always good food to be found. 

We spent most of Friday exploring the area, eating, drinking, and napping. We emerged, fully rested, in time to walk up to the venue (which was a good 20 minute hike) before show time with tickets in hand. But first, we had grilled cheese.

With tomatoes! Yum!

It's hard to contain my energy, I know. 

We crested the peak of a hill and saw this view. 

Such a cool venue.

This was a view from a side railing, beyond the stage. 

Night 1 setlist included:

EncoreLoving Cup
[1] Page on theremin.
[2] Japanese lyrics.
The first night we stood in the pit area in front of the stage. Behind us, a hill rose up sharply with a "lawn" area that seemed a little steep to stand on all night. It was a good night to be close to the band as the jams flowed freely. 
After the show, we stumbled back to our tent and passed out relatively quickly, despite fireworks being shot off nearby. The next morning we got up and dusted ourselves off for another day of festivities. 
We were lucky enough to have borrowed a french press from EMC's friend, so we were able to start off the day with coffee!!

We had the fortunate positioning of being near a cluster of "Honey Buckets"
which were surprisingly, pleasantly clean (earning a song in homage from MW to the tune of "Rubber Ducky, you're the one")

Afterwards, we started with a search for breakfast. EMC and I found some delicious chicken tacos that we devoured so fast I couldn't take a picture of. MW found a breakfast burrito and bloody mary to start his day. We spent some time looking around at the knick knacks and food being sold before returning to our campsite, where we spent the day in the same way: eating, drinking, napping. 
Taco Stand (out of a large, painted school bus)
Somehow I missed taking a picture of it. (famine will do that)

He's ready to explore!

What night is this? Oh, thanks EMC, night 2.

::Fish face::

As we were packing up to head over a drum circle formed up in the tent beside us. It was a sign that we should get going. Although the singer had quite experimental vocals going on...

Again the walk and cresting the hill and the view, still as glorious as night 1:

If only we could average the two of these pictures. 
Sad town. 

Night two we sat a little to the left on a terrace style ledge
It provided a beautiful view behind the stage as the sun went down. 
And the breeze blowing up the hill was a nice sensation.

Night 2:
[1] Heartbreaker teases.
[2] Reba whistling, Tweezer, Tweezer Reprise, Nellie Kane, Sand, and Golden Age teases. Lyric changed to "Mike-O Esquandolas."

*stay tuned for part 3!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Jet Setters (Part 1)

MW and I took a long, much needed vacation last week and had a blast! It was something that he had planned for us and we enjoyed every last detail immensely. Since we were gone  A WHOLE WEEK I'll break up the pictures and storytelling into three Parts: Arrival/Ellensburg/Leavenworth, The Gorge, and Seattle.

We left early last Wednesday and thanks to the benefit of time travel change, we landed in Seattle around 10am. Our friend EMC lives in Ellensburg, WA where she is finishing her Master's degree and living in a cute little apartment. EMC picked us up and took us deep into the heart of Seattle for a few hours, where we had our first glimpse of the famous Pike Place Market.
This was my first picture of the market. 
It was unexpectedly sunny.

I'm in love. Yes, with a market. If you've ever been, you would understand my amorous feelings. It's bustling with life from early morning through evening. It smells glorious. Every few feet you encounter a new item for sale and a new smell: fish, flowers, cherries, teas. I was in pure childish delight. 

Tasting the goods at an Olive Oil Shop

We were famished and snuck down Post Alley, a side street near the market full of restaurants and shops to find some grub. EMC recommended Sister's, a delightfully European cafe with foccacia paninis. 

Stormin' Norman, a Post Alley Singer

Sister's European Snacks

Outrageously Good. 

MW had some Chowder as well. 
Surprisingly, this is the only time we had Chowder

After lunch, we meandered a bit more but mainly went back into the market to get ingredients for our next meal.

We then made the 2 hour drive to Ellensburg, with a quick stop at Snoqualmie Falls to take in the beauty and splendor of nature. 

That night, we consumed lots of regional beer and enjoyed a delightful patio meal cooked by EMC.

I love the hat and mittens here

Confession: I had never had salmon before. Same goes for MW. But this made me wish I had been eating it all my life. EMC slathered these delicious little morsels with a rub consisting mainly of brown sugar and some red pepper flakes. A rub we ultimately bought 3 cans of before departing Washington. We picked up the asparagus fresh at Pike Market. Eating this on EMC's patio was one of my favorite moments of the trip. Even though we were consequently harassed by a trio of 9 year old neighbors who were crushing hard on MW...

The next day we took a trip out to Leavenworth: a little slice of Bavaria in the middle of Washington. As a student of German (in high school) I was very excited to get a little taste of Germany.  Along the way we encountered beautiful windmills that generate energy that is even used by the University (according to EMC). They were everywhere and really quite awe-inspiring to see nature providing energy in such a simple but efficient way. My inner eco nerd was thrilled. 

This is a sight I would love to see daily. 

EMC feels tropical

Bowler hat? Yes please!

Pharaohs don't smile. 

Sign inside candy store: Children must be accompanied by an
 ATTENTIVE adult at all times. 

Walls of Wonderful Taffy!

Nutcracker store was a little out of control

These guys worked a gourmet cheese shop. 
It was MW's favorite stop in the town. They provided ample samples and were quite kooky. 

The cheese shop was, admittedly, my favorite as well. We tried a large number of the cheeses they had to offer and it took some discussion, but we decided on splitting three types: English Cheddar with Caramelized Onion, Cave Aged Swiss Gruyere, and a Boxing Cheddar from Australia. 

To stave off the hunger that was welling, we ate lunch in town at Munchen Haus, a Bavarian Grill and Beer Garden. We each got a "Big BOB Brat" on a perfectly toasted bun. 
The Beer Garden

We liked this glass we procured one for our home as a souvenir

I'm not one for hotdogs, but this brat was BOMB

EMC and I were happy ladies once our bellies were filled. 

Munchen Haus outside

The best way to finish off a meal of bratwurst?

And teeny tiny espresso cups.

Upon leaving Leavenworth (Auf Wiedersehen!) we stopped at a fish hatchery. Fish hatcheries help the environment by ensuring that US demands for fish are met without depopulating the areas of popular fish (such as trout). We got there just in time to visit the small museum and feed some fish. 

Already I was in love with the scenery and enjoyed taking in the mountains every chance I could. But our time in Ellensburg came to an end and we happily loaded up our gear, bought groceries to feed a small army, and hit the road the following day for George, WA in anticipation of The Gorge. (Part II to come soon!)