Our Trip to Seattle (except for PAX) and Other Stories

This entry is going to be rather long because we were without internet for most of the month and I was sick before our Seattle trip for PAX.

Things have been done since I last wrote. My wife takes a good account of our calendar and keeps it in a note on her Facebook, so I can remember what to write about.

08/18 California Academy of Sciences Nightlife with Adam Savage and Chris Hardwick

I was excited for a geeky night of science jokes and an “80’s theme” when I texted my wife at the beginning of August and asked her to buy tickets for this event. What I didn’t account for is the Pre-PAX plague that I had been stricken with last year returning in full force this year.

I called off from work on the 17th and 18th but had a small amount of energy for this event. We got there early enough for Planetarium tickets and I was hoping for an awesome “all-digital” look at the night sky.

Instead, we got a very lame trip through the universe that I’ve seen much better from the Discovery Channel. I was disappointed in the Planetarium, but this didn’t stop me from still having a somewhat good time watching the pendulum keep time, listening to the DJ spinning 80’s music and sharing a good fried chicken sandwich and turkey sandwich half with my wife.

We saw that the water fountain encouraged the use of drinking tap water versus bottled water in a sign directly above it.

I had thought that the SF Sketchfest portion of the night was all going to be held in the middle glassed in room. I was wrong and we missed Chris Hardwick and Veronica Belmont’s Nerdist Podcast live recording, which was in the African room. Instead, we got to see some cool local comics open for Adam Savage. I liked Edwin Lee. He was funny and brought the 80’s video game and pop culture references. Adam Savage unfortunately did the same stand-up routine he’s done since the first w00tstock: how he handled his kids seeing porn on the internet for the first time.

I’m very bored with that story by this point, as I’d heard it at least four times since 2009. Oh well.

After Adam’s boring stand-up routine, we explored the museum and saw the coolest animals there, the African penguins and the Leafy Seadragon. The aquarium was cool and we hung out until the museum closed.

I was well enough to go to work the next day, but barely, so I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with our huge day of concerts on Saturday.

08/20 Stone Temple Pilots, Cheap Trick, The Hooks, Fuel

Saturday started with the Bonehead Barbecue at the Great Meadow at Fort Mason. I don’t listen to The Bone but a concert with Stone Temple Pilots and Fuel for $30 each was a deal too good to pass up. We bought those tickets the same day as the Cal Academy Nightlife tickets, when I still wasn’t sick.

We missed the first few songs of The Hooks but caught a lot of their set. We had seen them once before at Bottom of the Hill opening for The Toadies. I like their brand of Irish Rock a lot.

Fuel have changed lineups over the years, leaving only the lead singer as an original member. They sounded like a tolerable Fuel cover band. I think the lead singer may have had a cold because he sounded pretty different from how he sounds on decade old CDs. It was still good to see them live.

Cheap Trick rocked the house. They brought out their trademark five necked guitar to close out their set and sent the majority of significantly older than us crowd home happy, I hope.

After many of those previously mentioned old people left, Stone Temple Pilots were in great form for their set to close out the afternoon. I was very happy that we got to hear many classic Stone Temple Pilots tracks. They did a good mix of their top hits with newer material and a few deep tracks thrown in as well. Some stupid woman was whining afterward that “they should have billed the show as Cheap Trick and others” because Stone Temple Pilots’ set wasn’t long enough for her. WAAAH! They played for 70 minutes, which was plenty good enough for a festival act in my book.

I’m glad we spent a second weekend in the park. It was a good show.

08/20 David Berkeley

I won tickets for this Cafe Du Nord show at the Amber Rubarth KC Turner House Concert a few weeks back, again, before I got sick. I felt well enough to push myself to go, mainly because David was playing his first show with a new trio that included Rob Reich on accordion and Alisa Rose on violin. Alisa is from Real Vocal String Quartet and we just saw Rob in late July twice with the Circus Bella All Star Band and with Carla Kihlstedt’s Necessary Monsters. They are both talented local musicians and I was right that they added a lot to David’s set. With the trio, I was glad we made the trip. Never can pass up good local music.

08/21 Ramon and Jessica

My wife’s birthday and Ramon and Jessica were playing a show at Yoshi’s in San Francisco! It was going to be awesome… except I’d overextended myself on Saturday and my wife ended up celebrating her birthday alone. Dammit.

She said it was a good show and that Ramon and Jessica got to play three sets. I wish I could have been there but I really did need the rest. Else I wouldn’t have made it to work on Monday and Tuesday and may have had to cancel our trip to Seattle.

Unfortunately my wife got pretty sick on Sunday too. So Monday and Tuesday at work were pure torture for both of us. I considered cancelling the hotel and trying to sell our PAX passes but we didn’t.

08/24 Brandi Carlile, Katie Herzig

Another concert in a park. This one coming after a torturous to me flight to Seattle. The air pressure at 36,000 feet and also on the descent into SEATAC was very painful due to my chest congestion. I’m very glad we were able to fly standby on the earlier in the day flight though. It saved us from having to rent a car, we got to rest for a couple of hours at our hotel and take public bus to Woodland Park Zoo for yet another great show.

We had lunch at Pike Place Public Market’s De Laurenti Food & Wine, grinders and cannoli. Good stuff! I love me some Italian sandwiches and desserts. We also saw an amazing deli case full of sausages that I’d love to have bought and devoured.

The bus to the zoo was surprisingly convenient. I wish our public transit system in the Bay Area worked as well as Seattle’s.

Katie Herzig brought her trio with her from Tennessee just to open for Brandi in Brandi’s hometown. She said onstage that her booking manager described the venue as being much smaller than it actually was. The crowd was pretty big but there was still a lot of space to walk around and the small amount of rain we got between sets and near the end of Brandi Carlile’s show was not at all an annoyance.

I liked two of the three new songs that Katie’s trio performed. Her one “non-hit” Hey Na Na was flubbed a couple of times but it made it unique for the show. I think new song Midnight Serenade was my favorite from their set. Probably because we’d heard the majority of the rest of the songs several times on Vienna Teng’s Inland Territory tour.

Brandi’s set had the crowd response we never can get in San Francisco. Still not anything like you’d see at a European festival, but a bunch of happy people there enjoying great music in a beautiful setting.

One thing I really liked seeing was that they had an American Sign Language interpreter positioned near the front of the stage, so even those with hearing impairment could enjoy the show.

The highlight of Brandi Carlile’s show for me was the encore, which included the twins’ rendition of Sound of Silence, and covers by the band of Forever Young and Hallelujah.

After the zoo show, we headed back to our hotel and got a good night’s sleep, expecting Thursday to be a rest day before PAX. That’s not exactly what happened.

08/25 Exploring Seattle Center and Chittenden Locks

Thursday started early with a walk down 5th Avenue to Top Pot Doughnuts for breakfast. Their doughnuts were big and fresh and I was pleaseed with the experience, except for the pure sugar cane water lemonade. Too sweet with the sweet pastries and a bad choice on my part.

After breakfast, we walked further down 5th Avenue to Seattle Center and took the first elevator up the Space Needle for the morning. I’d never been up the Space Needle and it was cool to see the views on such a clear day. The sun was a bit bright over the city view but looking out at the Puget Sound and the famous Sound Garden was great.

After our Space Needle trip, the heat and everything else caught up with me and I nearly passed out. I needed a drink so we stopped off at the Center House and drank some liquids and got a quick lunch at the burger place there.

We looked into things to do and had almost settled on the Pacific Science Center, but instead took a trip to Ballard after another walk to a bus stop that could get us there. We went to Chittenden Locks, where salmon were migrating up the fish ladder and we figured we’d have a cool experience.

We got there just in time for the 1:00 guided tour and spend around two hours enjoying the history of the locks, seeing a couple of fish and a hungry sea lion and walking amongst the trees in the botanical garden. We saw a nice tame squirrel enjoying lunch being fed to him by a woman on a bench and had a great time just being away on vacation for a while.

When we got home we had dinner at Piroshky Piroshky eating, you probably guessed it a ham, spinach and cheese piroshky. My wife supplemented hers with a small macaroni and cheese from Beecher’s and I added a sweet white nectarine to mine.

Then we headed back to our hotel, where I discovered that Gameworks was $10 for all-we-could-play for the evening. Tank! Tank! Tank! was in our future, thus beginning our PAX adventure that will appear in my next entry.

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