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Evil, but cute & gay about it
...ramblings of the imperfectly innocent
Returned home 
2nd-Jan-2011 02:18 pm
I've arrived back in Seattle, safe and sound.

The travel itself was some of the longest and most tedious I've experienced. Certainly more stressful than fun. The train ride down to Portland, OR was awesome, right up until the next-to-last stop, where a woman decided to drive her car onto the tracks, delaying us for 90 minutes. Portland itself was fantastic, as always, although the guy I was supposed to meet for coffee flaked out on me. The flight back up to Seatac was fine; PDX's security had a bunch of little details to make the process as painless as possible, and of course they don't (yet) have the Privacy Stealer 3000's installed. I was standby on the red-eye from SEA to EWR, but did not make it on the plane (as didn't many other people), so it was spending the night in SeaTac for me. It wasn't so bad; I found a nice corner of the terminal (relatively dark and quiet) against a support column, and moved the row of seats so that I had a corner for my luggage between me and the wall. Used my sweatshirts for a pillow and padding, and my coat for a blanket, had a decent nap, and left on my 6am flight. Had a massive layover at EWR, followed by an equipment change which required a sudden run to the freaking other end of the airport.

The way back was only marginally better, and arguably more stressful. Although I wasn't caught in the weather, many others were, leading to massive demand for seats. So when I went to check in around 1am for my 6am flight out, it turned out that the plane which was supposed to be that flight hadn't made it in on time, so my flight was now going to be delayed 5 hours. Which means I wouldn't make my connection in ORD. And the next itinerary they could give me out of that airport was on Jan 2. Fuck no! So after quite a lot of negotiation on the phone, we found a 6am flight out of a nearby airport (only 90 min away) that could get me to ORD on time, except that... my seat assignment on the ORD->SEA trip had magically vanished! So even if I got to ORD on time, there'd be no guarantee I'd get back here! I decided to go for it, and since it was almost 2am at this point, I just had to stay up (no point in trying to sleep for only 60-90 minutes). So, fine, mad dash to the airport (no Porno Scanners at ABE either, thankfully), got to ORD OK, and went right to the gate. Fortunately, it all worked out, and I was even able to get an exit row seat! Whee! And I was able to get a little bit of sleep on the flight. So it all worked out, though it was hugely stressful.

Christmas itself was pretty good, although there was a rough spot or two. Family is never going to be perfect, I suppose. Still, I got a lot of neat presents (both expansions to Smallworld that I didn't already have, and binoculars! for my awesome new view), and my brother Joe went as crazy over his present as I hoped he would! Many months back, he mentioned he was interested in a game from our childhood called Fireball Island. In September, I went to the Blue Highway Games used game auction. While looking over their games listing, I happened to notice... Fireball Island! It was actually hilarious bidding on it, because it was in the family games section, and tons of little kids would see the massive box and their eyes would become like saucers ("Dad! How about this one!"). The starting bid of $20 put the parents off, though, so I won! :D :D :D Did I mention that this game goes for $175-$350 online, and this copy was in nearly perfect condition? Anyway, he was over the moon when he opened it. We played 3 times with my siblings (oh, the fighting and yelling and jumping around over the rules! It was like we were 10 again! :D ), and he played a bunch more with his friends.

Since I got back, I got caught up on my work email (1300 messages!), and have slept a lot. Had a surprisingly wonderful New Year's, as I was able to take a few friends (including snowboardjoe) along for my usual low-key celebration: walk up to the Space Needle for the fireworks, and walk home for some champagne. It was great! Sure, Seattle, was its usual Amateur Hour with hilarious drunk/high people everywhere, but seeing them on my way to/from the event is all the party I really need. It is always fun for me, but having my friends along made it that much more enjoyable. We had a great time at my place talking, hanging out, and trying a bunch of different sparking wines. I still haven't found anything to directly replace my White Star champagne (which seems to be not made anymore; Imperial just isn't as good), but the surprise winner of the night was Mountain Dome's Cuvee. They're a local (well, Spokane) winery, and I'd thoroughly enjoyed their NV sparkler (at $12, it was a huge value), and the Cuvee was so much better! More minerally, but still fruity, and very, very smooth; only a short body, but a clean (not acid/crisp) finish. Thumbs up! Especially for $27!

Wow, I'd been planning a short "Hi, LJ, I'm OK", but that was way longer than I'd planned. Woo! Well, I have an errand to run, then I have to continue working on my massive todo list, and dinner with ctseawa. Have fun everyone! Hope you are all well!
2nd-Jan-2011 11:16 pm (UTC)
Glad the trip went mostly well. Happy New Year! :D
3rd-Jan-2011 12:26 am (UTC)
Thanks! And you too!
2nd-Jan-2011 11:45 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a nice trip overall. I once got stuck in my home airport, too (SFO when I lived in Sunnyvale)...I think it was on a trip to Seattle, funnily enough.

K&L seems to confirm there's no more White Star (I ran into that mention by accident in my "why did the Piper-Heidsieck not taste like barf to me, and what other options in non-barf-tasting champagnes might I have?" window-shopping yesterday).
3rd-Jan-2011 12:33 am (UTC)
Yes, I saw your post, and was hoping to be able to give you suggestions on that front, except that Piper-Heidsieck is... not my favorite, so I wasn't sure where to go. If you don't mind a local wine, my personal favorites from your neck of the woods are the Mumm Napa Cuvee M and Domaine Carneros. They're the most similar I've had to White Star. The former should only be $15-20, and readily available, so it's not a crazy amount to just try.
3rd-Jan-2011 01:10 am (UTC)
I went on the Mumm tour with my parents a few years ago and I remembered liking something there OK, but then a few weeks ago Tim and I bought a bottle and neither of us particularly liked it...I don't think I got halfway through a glass. I think it was maybe the rose rather than Cuvee M. I should probably just go back up there some weekend and sort it out.
3rd-Jan-2011 04:40 am (UTC)
You should definitely go and try them. Being so close to Napa is great, because you can do exactly that. While you're there, head over to Chandon and Carneros and give them a try as well. If you can get in at Schramsberg (you need reservations), do so as well. They make extremely high quality wines, but they're all too dry for my tastes.
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