Return to Washington #4: The Underground City and Fun in Fremont

Vye and I rushed back to the hotel after our “Twin Peaks” excursion. We had planned to take a tour of the Underground City. Everyone wanted to go, but Shookie’s knees were flaring up and she didn’t think she would be able to make it. So the four of us, Vye, Ricki, Erich and I, headed downtown for the tour. Erich and I had taken the same tour together some 10+ years earlier. It had been interesting, so we didn’t mind the repeated activity.

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The organizers had us wait for the 4 p.m. tour to start in a bar. Ha! How fun. We had just enough time for a cocktail, which we sipped during our orientation to the Underground City.

Soon we were making our way through some of the oldest parts of Seattle to visit even old sections beneath our feet.

One the way to the underground entrance, we passed the former State Hotel building. A neon sign for the place was still attached and working. it advertised rooms at 75 cents a night. Sooooo much cheaper than our Travelodge.

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And then down into the underground we went…

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Although there are many different underground tours available and many miles of underground city beneath the streets, the tour we took was the same, exact one we took before — with the same Steam Baths sign and same old toilet as seen below.

The history of the Underground City is interesting. It has something to do with the city being built below high tide level, which caused the sewer system of the to flow backwards…causing many “geysers” to shoot out of toilets. Charming. to solve this problem, they just built the road up a level. The first floors of all of the buildings became basements. the 2nd floors were now street level.

For years, the businesses below street level flourished, but getting to and from them proved difficult and required very tall ladders.

In 1907, the lower levels were closed off for fear of bubonic plague (Rats had taken over the underground for the most part) and by and large forgotten. According to the internet, the homeless would squat down there and there were a few gambling halls, opium dens and also speakeasies during prohibition.

In 1965, Bill Speidel, a citizen of Seattle, opened the very first (and most popular) underground tour…the tour we were on that day.

 

There are several sections of the tour, requiring you to emerge into one area, walk a ways and the descend back down into the underground gloom. There don’t seem to be that many artifacts or recognizable store fronts though.

Towards the end of the tour, there are more and more things on display. True finds found in the tunnels and walkways of the Underground City…or things placed their by the tour officials? One has to wonder, especially since the last time you ascend from the depths of the city, you emerge in gift shop for the tour that also serves as a mini-museum of sorts about the early days of Seattle’s history.

The photo below was of one of Seattle’s first and most notorious madames (in the black dress). The photo was reproduced on flyers and postcards as advertisement, showing off the brothel’s latest “merchandise”

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T-shirts galore… The gift shop facet of the tour seemed like a new addition since we first visited a decade ago.

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After the tour, we went across the street to visit the merchant Cafe, which is Seattle’s oldest saloon (established in 1890).

Not only was it the oldest saloon, it also featured an underground bar (part of the underground city) with a haunted underground lounge!  Ooooo ! I had to go!

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The bar at street level did not seem all that fab. It certainly seemed too modern. But down the stairs we went to the spooky, atmospheric lower level…

The lounge area was sparsely populated…

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But the actual underground bar was CLOSED! Waaagh! The bar was actually gated and locked, but I took these shots through the bars.

Following our trek underground, we returned to the hotel and met up with Shookie. We were discussing where to go for dinner. I suggested the nearby (and quirky cool) Fremont area, that I had visited on my previous trip and fell in love with (You can read about it HERE). However, it was Shookie and Vye who found the place we ended up dining at….and, O’ what a fab-o-rama find it turned out to be. Off we went to The Back Door!

When we arrived in Fremont, we parked near this cool street art of various planets.

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The Back Door (aka the Back Door at Roxy’s) fancies itself a speakeasy of sorts. Situated in the rear end of a building that houses a “New Jersey-style” cafe (Roxy’s), The Back Door is retro-swank with modern-glam all rolled into one cool cat drinkatorium/restaurant.

The inside of the place was fun. It was garish and glamorous and totally groovy. I loved all of the cheesy chandeliers hanging all over the place. There was even a mirrored disco ball. What was missing was one of those funky old oil lamps. You remember, those lamps with teardrops of oil dripping from this spiral line with a small plastic copy of a classic sculpture (Venus de Milo?) in the center. Oh well. Oil lamp or not, the place was just packed with charisma and spinning awesome 80’s tunes.

Instead of full on meals, the menu was filled with tapas. Of course, the bar menu was the center attraction and we all tried different things.

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We all had quite the delightful time. The Back Door was eclectic and cool and totally fit into the quirky Fremont vibe.

Afterwards, we hung out on the small patio area for a bit, and had a few laughs.

Afterwards, Vye couldn’t believe there was a 16 ft statue of Communist leader Vladimir Lenin in the center of Fremont…and that it is for sale. She had to get a photo of it.

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As we were leaving, I was trying to point out some of the sites…such as the High Dive girl, Saturn on a building, the Fremont Rocket and the Waiting for the Interurban sculpture. By and large, my attempts at playing tour guide were ignored. Ricki was drunkenly going on and on, saying things like “Oh God, I hope you are not taking us to see another stupid Gum Wall.” (And she had never even seen the Gum Wall! How dare she call it stupid?) Too bad. They all missed the signpost that marker for the Center of the Universe.

One of the things I had missed on my previous visit was the neon Rupunzel on the Fremont Bridge. I got the quickest, bad shot of it. Her hair was down—meaning the bridge was down. Thank goodness, because we sped across it. I pointed out Rupunzel, most everyone missed it. But I got to see her—and since this is my blog–that’s all that matters.

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But everyone seemed to enjoy Fremont. I think it is my favorite part of Seattle. (And I still have not seen the dinosaur topiary there or the “Harry and the Hendersons” house.)

When we got back to the hotel, Ricki headed off to her room to play Candy Crush and pass out. However, Shookie, Vye, Erich and I sat out on the front steps of the Travelodge and talked and laughed for a good, long while (I’m sure those inside were annoyed, but we had a good time).

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While sitting on the steps, Shookie, who had been spotting Space Needles all over Seattle (and not just THE Space Needle, either), spotted another one with her very keen eye. Oh my stars!

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And then we all headed for bed. It was our last night in Seattle. The next morning we would be saying goodbye to the Travelodge and its taco truck…and we’d be off on to new adventures.

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Stay tuned…

CHEERS!

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Return to Washington #3: Twin Peaks Revisited–AGAIN!

When Vye found out that the “TWIN PEAKS” filming locations were nearby, she about flipped. WHAT!?! She, of course, wanted to go see them.  Even though I had just did the whole “Twin Peaks” thing a mere 6 months earlier (you can read about it HERE), I didn’t mind playing tour guide and seeing it all once again. Although it looked like one big rerun for me, there turned out to be several fun and unexpected surprises for me along the way…

Our first stop was Twede’s Cafe, which is REALLY the Double R Diner. We reasoned that we had to eat breakfast somewhere. It might as well be there. And it also made our plan to leave early in the morning tolerable. A “damn fine cup of coffee” would be in our future. Or not.

When we arrived, I was pleased to see that the “RR2GO” sign on the top of the building was still there. That was leftover from the recent 3rd season (made 25 years after the show ended). I was amazed to see the same old men sitting at the same table (just to the left as you enter) as had been there 6 months earlier. Ha!

I was pleased to note that the menu had a little bit of the fictional “history” of the “Twin Peaks” Double R Diner in it.

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I don’t recall what Vye had, but — having had a “just okay” omelet the last time I had visited — I opted for pancakes and eggs. That should be okay, right? Clearly the Double R’s owner, Norma Jennings was off AGAIN. Breakfast was “just okay” again…and the coffee was not all that great either. I guess this place survives on “Twin Peaks” tourism. The place does not have bad food—it’s just not particularly good. It’s serviceable. Hmm.

I did spy a “Twin Peaks” cherry pie on the counter next to a cool crayon drawing of an owl that was captioned “The owls are not what they seem.” We skipped on the pie (I had tried it on my very first visit… whoopie.), but we did pose at the “Welcome to Twin Peaks” mural on the back of the restaurant.

 

After breakfast, we drove out to where the sign had originally stood in the series. Although the sign is gone now, Vye did her best to re-create it. That is her bidding you welcome below.

Just a short distance down the road from the sign’s former location is the old train trestle (now a walking bridge) Ronette Pulaski was found walking down in the series pilot episode.

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The tracks are gone and it no longer extends this far out, but it is still the same bridge.

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And here is our own Ronette Pulaski for a day, Vye, re-creating Ronette’s dazed trek across  the bridge.

Just up the road and around the corner is the remains of the saw mill and the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station.

Here is where I encountered my first real surprise of the day. In the parking lot, next to the “Sheriff’s Station” (which is really a dirt bike racing school), was an actual TWIN PEAKS SHERIFF DEPARTMENT vehicle that was used in the new 3rd season! OH MY STARS!

How incredibly cool it was to see that!

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Just before leaving, Vye spied a window into the Sheriff’s station, so we took pictures. Was this, by chance, used in the series? Hmm…

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We also saw the one-lane bridge that James Hurley sped away over after Laura Palmer jumped off his bike, That scene was used in the last episode of Season 3.

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The second surprise of the day was discovering TWIN PEAKS HIGH SCHOOL. Zowie!

Of course, Vye wanted to see everything “Twin Peaks”-ish. Who could blame her? Even though it only appeared in the opening credits (and is now behind a fence and under a shelter), we stopped and saw the giant log.

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We also visited the old train graveyard where Laura Palmer’s body was discovered. Her train car has long since been demolished, but it had been here at one time.

After the log and the trains, I wanted to show Vye the Great Northern Hotel (–or, in boring real life, the Salish Lodge) and the Twin Peaks Falls (er, Snoqualmie Falls). It was a mad house. There was NO WHERE to park. People were everywhere. Vye said it was no big deal…but the Great Northern and the falls are so iconic. She had to see them. I suggested we venture on and see The Bookhouse and the Roadhouse (named The Bang Bang Bar on the series, but everyone just called it “The Roadhouse”) and then double back to the falls later. That sounded okay to her and off we went to Fall City just a short ways away.

The Roadhouse is now called…The Roadhouse. It was originally called something else when the original series was being filmed. The front of The roadhouse was never shown. Instead the side doubled as the front with “The Bang Bang Bar” sign hanging from the upper railing (see the shot of the place during production below).

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I had been to the Roadhouse before—but Vye hadn’t. It’s just the facade. Nothing was filmed inside of it. This time though, another surprise awaited me. we decided to actually go in the place and have a drink. Ha! This T-shirt (that we did NOT buy) greeted us in the entry area.

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The inside looks NOTHING like the Roadhouse/Bang Bang Bar on the series. In the series, it is this huge, cavernous space (seemingly BIGGER in the new 3rd season, at least to me). Here, it was was made up of booths and seating areas.

We hit the bar…of course…and had these ginormous (and delightfully spicy) Bloody Marys. Mmm!

Before leaving we took a peek at The Bookhouse. It is a small house (that is now fenced off and looks deserted) directly behind The Roadhouse. Below is a shot of it in the original series and as it looks today.

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We headed back to the falls and Great Northern Hotel. It was still insanely crowded there, but we amazingly found a parking space. We took a bridge over the highway and could see how bad the traffic was below.

We never made it in to the Salish/Great Northern (did we? Maybe we did…? I don’t recall…), but the inside looks nothing like it did on the series. But the viewing area for the falls was just a zoo.

At last, after wading through the throngs of people, we had our own moment at the viewing area railing. At last, Special Agent Vye got to experience “Twin Peaks” in its entirety. Hooray!

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But we had spent much too much time away from our friends back in Seattle. We needed to get back quickly as we were booked for a tour of…. Oh, but that would be telling. You’ll just have to stay tuned and see what happened next.

Thanks for joining us on our journey.

CHEERS!

 

 

 

Return to Washington #2: Biscuit Bitch, Gum Wall, The Wall of Death and MORE!

After picking up Ricki, who had been loitering around the terminal for several hours waiting for us, we took the shuttle to get our rental car. We had to get an SUV to accommodate the five of us. Our luggage barely fit.

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We got to our ultra-luxurious accommodations, the Travelodge at the University. Checking in was okay–except for poor Ricki, who barely came up to the counter.

What a dump, though. There was a turquoise taco truck sitting abandoned in the parking lot for the entire extent of our stay. The rooms were serviceable but the prices were ridiculous…but it was the cheapest place in town (unless we wanted to hit the Marco Polo, which I had been to my previous visit. What a mistake that had been. You can read about it HERE.) Erich and I shared a glamorous view of the pool (which looked like it had been covered over for the season—for the last decade or so). Ha!

After getting settled in, we went across the street to the University Center shopping center and had dinner at a place called JOEYS Kitchen.

The next day was really when our adventures started. Everyone wanted to go to Pike’s Place Market. I had been there before, but they hadn’t. I was playing host/tour guide, so going back, while repetitive to me, was no big deal. But first we needed breakfast.

I remembered my friend Janet telling me about a place called Biscuit Bitch not long after my trip to Seattle in March. As it turned out, I had stayed at a hotel right next door to one of the Biscuit Bitch locations and had not known it. ARGH!  But this is where I led my friends that second morning…and we were greeted with a long line. Ha!

And the line took forever to move… Slowly we crept forward…

The place was fun. Although it may look like I got myself one, I totally REGRET not getting myself a BISCUIT BITCH coffee mug. ARGH! (Oh well, all the more reason to go-go b-a-c-k someday.)

The food came and it was good–for what it was. I had a biscuit breakfast sandwich. Shookie had grits.

After breakfast, we headed down to Pike’s Place. Although I didn’t get to visit any tiki bars on this trip, I snapped a photo of one as we passed by. This is The Lava Lounge, one of the tiki joints I visited on the last trip…only this one turned out to be a gay bar. Ha! (You can read about it HERE.)

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We had dropped the ladies off and then drove quite a ways away to park. Erich stayed with and we walked back. As we got closer, we could see that–oh my stars!–it was very crowded.

As we got closer, we passed Post Alley–a small alleyway with lots of unique shops and businesses. Once post crosses the street, it does this little jig-jag curve and starts to head down hill, right next to the main entrance to Pike’s Place Market. Follow it down to reach the amazing Gum Wall. That was going to be my destination as soon as we met up with everyone. I had meant to go last time on my last trip and take pictures for my co-worker friend Jerry. I had totally forgotten.

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We found Shookie and Vye sitting, overlooking the bay towards the back of the place. Ricki was off watching fish mongers throwing their fish about. Once we were all together, I sent them off exploring the overcrowded market–while I headed for the Gum Wall, just around the corner.

The Gum Wall opened in 1993 and had grown since then. Similar (but better) to Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo, colorful used gum is all over creating a fascinating and ever-changing art piece.

I quickly made it back to my friends and discovered them marveling at the amazing GIANT SHOE MUSEUM. (You can read more about it and see videos of the various attractions in it by clicking HERE.) I love the Giant Shoe Museum. It is my favorite thing in all of Pike’s Place. You can compare the shoes to Ricki’s head (bottom left photo). Ha!

Although they had already visited it, I had to stick my head in to the magic shop just across from the Giant Shoe Museum. It is another cool place I don’t mind revisiting.

The crowds were overwhelming. Even though we had not been there long, we were “done” with Pike’s Place Market. We headed away from the place, towards the car. I snapped a shot of the original Starbucks, which also insanely crowded.

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The car was parked rather far away. However, we were not so far away from something Vye and I were both interested in seeing, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. The plan was that Vye and I would check that out, then Uber or Lyft it back to the car and then go pick everyone up. On the way to the Curiosity Shop, we had to go through the alley featuring the Gum Wall. Vye hadn’t seen it before and it was a great place for a photo op.

Along the way, we spied the Seattle Great Wheel, a polar bear and Bigfoot!

Finally, we were close. There was a sign for Ye Olde Curiosity Shop and another advertising…Mexican Jumping Beans? Ha! No way!

Before we could fully get inside, Vye caught the sound of a calliope nearby and we went to investigate. We found it right around the corner from the entrance. (Click the short video to hear it.)

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop certainly was a curiosity. Part museum, part retail….part Ripley’s Believe It or Not and part souvenir stand. I loved it.

The Ripley’s-like aspect of the place pertained to the amazing collection of natural “freaks” like the Siamese cow, two-headed calf, chicken with four-legs, a double-horned narwhal, etc.

There were a few vintage amusement machines, like fortune tellers, a player piano, and the Jolly Jack figure (which you can watch below).

There was also a bizarre museum aspect that would fit in at Ripley’s. There are two “mummies” (one named “Sylvester”. The other is “Sylvia”. Although who they really were in life is anyone’s guess.), a collection of shrunken heads and even a shrunken torso! Yikes!

Here is Sylvester:

This is Sylvia:

Assorted shrunken heads and the shrunken torso:

 

I discovered the Mexican Jumping Beans tucked away in a corner, next to the fudge. I hadn’t seen those since I was a kid. Who knew they still made them? Weird. (See them actually jump in the 4 second video below.)

The founder, Joseph Edward “Daddy” Standley may have NOT been R.L. Ripley, but he did have quite the interesting store.

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After the store, we caught our Lyft—but were delayed getting back to the car when we encountered a very long train. UGH!

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Eventually, we got the car, picked everyone up and made it back to our glamorous hotel with its glamorous taco truck. Joy…

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Everyone seemed to want to take a nap. Not me. I only had a little bit of time in Seattle and I wanted to explore some more. I knew from reading that we were near some art instillation called THE WALL OF DEATH. I wanted to go. Erich went with me. We drove to the University of Seattle’s campus and parked. (Thank goodness it was a weekend.) We had to walk a ways. It was under a bridge (like the Fremont Troll).

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I’m not really sure why it is called THE WALL OF DEATH, other than there are those huge spikes (some of which poke through the sign). Eh. We saw it. Whoopie…

After THE WALL OF DEATH, Erich went in search of a suitable bread for dinner. We would be meeting up with Shookie’s longtime best pal, Peter, his boyfriend and his employers for dinner at their house later that evening. We looked and looked, but nothing seemed good enough to Erich. I did spy a cool old donut shop in our travels, though. Top Pot Doughnuts with a giant donut serving as the sign. Fabulous! I snapped a picture.

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We gathered up the ladies and headed over to Peter’s place. Peter is a full-time gardener for this amazing couple, Susan and Eric Benson, who have a g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s house. The house and yard all look right out of a magazine. Peter lives in a guest house on the property. I had never heard of a full-time, live-in gardener before. However, when I saw the magnificent yard, I totally understood.

It is also rare for employers and employees to be so close. But Peter’s employers are. The Bensons not only acted as gracious hosts, they served us dinner and drinks before escorting us downstairs to their amazing, ultra-high tech projection television. The screen was as big as a movie theater’s. Zowie!

I had known Pete (as everyone seemed to call him at the time) back in the 80’s somewhat. We traveled in many of the same circles then. Coincidentally, his brother became my best friend for a time. It was wonderful to see him again and meet his boyfriend Gary.

Incredible as it may seem, I did NOT get any pictures. This is the only photo of anyone taken that evening.

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Thank you Eric, Susan, Peter and Gary. After spending time in such an incredible home with such wonderful people, it was hard to schlep it back to the Travelodge. But schlep away we did. It was late and the next day would lead to new adventures.

CHEERS!

Return to Washington #1: Where’s my Xanax!?!

In September, I made a return trip to Washington. This time I had friends with me; Erich, Shookie, and Vye. Our friend Ricki would be joining us once we reached Seattle — but we had to actually get there first. Erich was at my house. We would be taking Uber to the airport and would be meeting Shookie and Vye there. Erich was still frantically packing, but I was done. I was terrified about flying, but felt more confident. The Xanax I’d had for my last trip (coupled with several cocktails) had really helped. I just needed to grab my bottle out of the medicine cabinet and I’d be ready to go-go. But—my Xanax wasn’t there!

Where was it? I flew into a panic and started tearing everything up. Where was it? Where was it? Time was ticking by. We’d have to leave in just minutes to get to the airport on time. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I called the pharmacy to see if i could get my prescription renewed. Nope. The prescription had expired earlier in the year. Dang!

I then called my doctor’s office to see if I could get an emergency refill…and I got the answering service? UGH! That’s right. It was Saturday. The office was closed. I was doomed.

My Xanax was no where to be found. I think it must have fallen out of the carry on bag I use to carry my laptop in. I noticed a small hole in the side—large enough for a small prescription bottle to fall out of. Drat!

The only thing I had found was my prescription for Ativan that I had used for flying in 2015 when I’d gone to New Orleans. That had NOT worked on me at all. But without my Xanax and no way to get more, it would have to do. To make matters worse, it was expired! Ha!

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We put in the call for the Uber driver. I wanted to get to the airport as soon as possible. I was worried about crowds and I needed at least one cocktail before the flight. Our Uber request was picked up and we waited….and waited…and waited. Finally, the world’s oldest Uber drive showed up to take us to the airport. Argh! Could he go any slower?

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Shookie and Vye were already at the airport. Amazingly, the airport was almost empty. Shookie’s parents had come to see her off. We said our goodbyes and then headed into the security checkpoint area.

As usual, with all of my crap, I had difficulty getting everything back together after the TSA thing. And where were Shookie, Vye and Erich? When I spied them again, they had gone all of the way down the long terminal hall and had left me behind. Waaaagh!

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At the end of the hall, there is an escalator that takes you up to the main departure gate hub. There is a restaurant/bar in the center of it and it is there where I found the gang again, looking at the drink menu. I ordered a double Bloody Mary…and everyone else got the same. I took some of my Ativan and sucked down the cocktail…and ordered a second one.

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I picked up the tab. It was our first tab of the trip and I thought it would be nice if I, the “host” more or less, picked up that first one. Besides, I had needed TWO drinks, so most of the expense had been mine. But the bill…hokey smokes! $133!?! OUCH!

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It was time to board…. YIKES! The Ativan and cocktails had not kicked in…not that I really expected much from the Ativan, based on my earlier experience with it.

Of COURSE I looked through the emergency procedures pamphlet when the flight attendant discussed it…and scouted out all of the exits. I wanted to be ready in case I suddenly found myself in a real-life version of “AIRPORT 2018”.

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With Erich in the window seat and Shookie and Vye across the aisle, we took off on our journey.

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Not long after take off, I dared to look out the window a couple of times to see some of the landmarks that were visible from the air. We spotted Friant Dam and Millerton Lake first. Soon after, we saw Yosemite, which was barely recognizable from the air. Half Dome was the landmark that gave it away as being the park.

It took awhile, but the flight attendant came around for drinks and snacks. Erich and I split a snack box with cheese, crackers and fruit in it. I, of course, also had another Bloody Mary.

Before long, we were coming up on Sea-Tac, the airport that serves Seattle and Tacoma. Sea-Tac is a ways southeast of Seattle, so I was amazed when downtown Seattle was visible below us. You can even just make out the Space Needle to the far right of the photo.

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Soon after, we landed. We had survived. I had survived…barely (and without my Xanax)! Thank goodness. We departed the plane, made our way into the airport, found our friend Ricki and were ready to begin our amazing adventure.

A Spooky Night at Hobb’s Grove

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Halloween is just around the corner. A few days back, Vye and I decided to check out the area’s biggest annual haunt, Hobb’s Grove in Sanger, California. We went on a Thursday early in the month, hoping to beat the crowds. We didn’t—but we had a spookiliciously fun time anyway.

We started off the evening with dinner, For a lark, we decided to try Richard’s Prime Rib & Steakhouse. It is an old school steakhouse in a less-than-great area of town near downtown. We thought it would be campy and probably bad. Boy, were we pleasantly surprised and delighted. It was wonderfully old school swanky. We had a ball.

Instead of photos of dinner (it doesn’t really fit in with a Halloween blog post), I made a super short video of the evening at Richard’s. Watch it or don’t. CHEERS!

And then we drove out to Hobb’s Grove, off in the eerie dark farmlands far from the city’s lights….

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We had arrived a little later than I planned (my fault) and there were already lines forming at the ticket counter. Fortunately I bought the tickets online and our line was much shorter. However, we still had to deal with the horror of going through security. EEK!

The place didn’t look that busy. But looks can be deceiving (and closer to Halloween, I’m sure it will be awful). We walked toward the first attraction, the haunted “HOUSE” (as the sign simply reads.

While we waited in line, a few of the wandering characters approached us and we got some photos with them.

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The line for the HOUSE was made longer, because they insisted every visitor going through get their picture taken for a souvenir photo. Grrr. But we bought ours despite being irritated. Here it is:

Hobb's Grove with Vye

Yes, Vye did get a little out of control… She calmed down, though. Ha!

On the line went for the HOUSE. There was not much to see, but I took photos anyway.

And then we came to a really scary sign that sank my heart… Waaagh! Cell phones were NOT allowed. How was I going to film it all and share it with you? Drat!

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So I took a few more shots while we waited in line, creeping ever closer to the front.

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I really wanted to film the haunted house, so I placed my phone on video mode and stuck it in my shirt pocket with the lens facing out. The results were awful and it shut off when we were barely in the place, but if you’d like to take a gander, here it is for better or worse:

I had not been to Hobb’s for several years. The last time I had been was 2014, I think. And I was disappointed in the HOUSE. Instead of being a traditional haunted house, they had a fairy tale theme. There were scenes and vignettes from various fairy tales (“The Wizard of Oz”, “Hansel & Gretel”, “Alice in Wonderland”) but they were supposed to be scary. Hmm.

Following the HOUSE, I had to venture into the scary forest of creepy port-o-potties… It was dark and somber…and strange, unmentionable-yet-terrifying sounds could be heard from within them. YIKES!!!

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After surviving the horror of the port-o-potties, we then meandered over to the HAUNTED FOREST — and another incredibly l-o-n-g line.

We did encounter another character in the forest line. This guy had a creepy doll attached to him. Was it supposed to be a Siamese twin or something? I’m not quite sure, but he was rather creepy.

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On we waited, until we finally got to the entrance to the forest.

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I tried the phone trick again, but it shut off right away. Hmm.

The forest was always my favorite. But not this year. The theming was all over the place and a most of it was kind of lame (are they trying to make the haunt more family friendly?). Maybe my problem was just my legs–which have been getting worse and worse–trying to traverse the uneven ground? There was one really neat effect with fog and lasers…but, again, no photos of that either. Waaagh.

After the forest, it was off to the line for the HAYRIDE. Oh the joy… While waiting, we encountered more characters.

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The line for the HAYRIDE was not too awful. Traditionally the HAYRIDE is my least favorite attraction, but this year it was my…favorite of the three? Maybe because I got to sit? Getting onto the flatbed trailer covered with hay was difficult. I couldn’t make myself sit, so I just leaned over, grabbed the side rail and let my legs go sliding out in front of me—nearly crashing into a girl sitting across from me. Oops.

The tractors had been improved. No longer did you end up sucking down a ton of exhaust. Hooray. Once we reached the end of the ride, getting up and out of the back was difficult, but I only stumbled a little.

And there was just time to visit The Curiosity Shop!

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The Curiosity Shop is just a glorified gift shop with lots of Halloween items mixed in. Masks and strange accessories were mixed in with T-shirts and other items.

The coolest this was the coffin…dare you look in?

Here, take a closer look:

From The Curiosity Shop, we took a last gander around…

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And then the scariest thing of all happened. It was time to leave.

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Oh well, we had a swell evening. Thank you Vye for escorting me to the Grove….

Have a groovy Halloween!

BOO!

Game Night 2: Escape Your Nightmare

It was a Friday evening. Erich was just about to leave town.  Shookie and Vye have weekends off. And I was off that day–amazingly. Since our return from Washington (More on that later), I had been wanting to book us a “surprise” game night. Instead of a typical board game, I thought it might be fun to try an escape room.

I had been wanting to try one for several years now, ever since visiting an attraction called “Lock & Key” at Knott’s Scary Farm. While not a true escape room, there were aspects of an escape room woven in. That had been such a fun experience, I thought it might be fun to try with Shookie, Vye and Erich.

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Looking up escape rooms in the area, I was stunned to see that there were three of them here in Clovis, with others in the greater Fresno area. I ventured to the different websites of the three businesses here and read what their rooms offered. There was one about zombies that sounded interesting, but Shookie doesn’t like scary things. I looked and looked and I finally settled on “Escape Your Nightmare” at a place called Mind Games. Here is the description:

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Erich knew what the plan was (I had tried to get him to go with me to an escape room in Victoria, BC), but the girls were clueless. Once Shookie and Vye arrived, we had a few snacks and cocktails to get us in the mood. And then, without saying where we were going, we headed out. Shookie spotted the sign for the place before I did, and squealed with excitement. She had wanted to try an escape room, too.

 

 

 

 

Once inside, we were greeted by one of the owners (It is run by a family). Our phones were locked away (Drat!). I did manage to get a shot of a sign for the room we’d be visiting that was displaying the best times for past escapes. (Jinkies! Less than 30 minutes? I would be happy if we made it through in the hour we were being granted to do it in—but I almost doubted we would make it.)

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I also got a shot of the doorway to our room. If you read the description, you’ll remember that our suspected serial killer John Alvan lives at 4530 Hall Street. Well, that’s just where we were (4530 Hall Street…as in hallway. Ha!):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a good time. There were a few surprises here and there, but we did make it out (phew!) with 9 minutes and 47 seconds to spare. (And the suspect, “John Alvan”, was already back home and in the house before we made our escape. EEEK!)

Although I could NOT take me phone (i.e. camera) inside, I had paid to have a DVD made of our adventure. I am not supposed to share it on social media (so no one watching will have the experience ruined should they go there), but I don’t Facebook and although it is on YouTube, it is “unlisted”. No one can see it without the link. And almost no one will see it on here.

The video has not been edited at all. It’s the entire 50 minute odyssey through the escape room(s). I’m sure it would be dull to watch–but if you’ve got a spare 50 minutes and nothing else better to do, take a look. It is broken into three sections, with the first two being 20 minutes each.

Part 1:

 

Part 2:

 

Part 3:

We made it out ALIVE. Phew! Shookie says she wants to try another one…only she is going to pick the place and adventure this time.

As we were leaving, we had our photo taken—but I don’t have access to it. It has not been posted on their website or their Facebook page yet. When it is posted, I’ll repost it here.

Like I said, we had a great time. We all worked together to find clues and to get ourselves out before the killer caught us. However, this was our first escape room and we had to rely on clues provided to us on the TV in the first room to really get going. Some of the clues were crazy hard. You would never have gotten them alone and you really needed, at the very least, three people to trigger some of the things simultaneously to proceed. At least next time, we’ll have some idea of how to tackle the room. It really was fun.

CHEERS!

 

Game Night: Injury or Illness?

Our friends, the Kerner Family (Beth, Steve, Louis, Isaac, Ricki, and Sheila) recently created a board game and had it published. It is called “INJURY OR ILLNESS?” I had played it a few times on their make-shift prototype while it was still in development, but was looking forward to finally playing it on the shiny and new printed version that they had graciously sent me.


Injury-Ilness-board-game-boxMy friend Erich was in town, and we decided to get together with our friends Shookie and Vye (last seen in our coastal road trip seen HERE) for a game night. “INJURY OR ILLNESS?” was going to be the game du jour. Erich and I had both played the prototype at the Kerner’s home in Florence, Oregon before, but this would be the first time for the ladies. This would end up being a fun evening.

The game is funny and definitely not for children. (There is an “Ages 18 and up” advisory on the cover.) Each card tells a short zany story of wacky injury or bizarre illness. There may or may not also be some action required by the player who draws the card and there’s always the possibility of ending up in quarantine or with dementia! (Huh? Just play the game and you’ll understand.)

For this particular game night, I decided to film the evening’s festivities and the hilarious “INJURY OR ILLNESS?” action as it unfolded. I created a video, which you can view below. I do have to warn you that there is some “language” in it though. Watch or don’t:

We had a great time. The Kerner’s have really created an amazingly fun and interactive game. (Bravo, you guys! Whoo hoo! And thank you for the game!) You can check out the game yourself at it’s website: www.injuryorillness.com or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/injuryorillness/ .  You can even buy it directly from Amazon if you’d like: https://www.amazon.com/Injury-or-Illness-Board-Game/dp/B078J2CJH1 .

Look for future posts about Game Nights as we have some fun ones scheduled on the horizon.

Thanks for visiting.

CHEERS!