Alcalde’s final birthday weekend before succumbing to venomous snakes and parasites and various tropical diseases seemed to demand another visit to CFP. He locked the door this time, but I got in anyway.
Birthday Eve got the party rolling as we drove thither and yon without any clear destination. Alcalde failed at finding Duncan, but we found Mt. Hope, which I’m willing to bet was just as good.
Back in Spokane, we stopped in the newly opened Lumberbeard brewery for lunch, and I presented Alcalde with his birthday gift: an officially licensed pair of Donkey Kong socks, direct from the Nintendo store in Redmond! He was pretty overwhelmed, I think.
Lumberbeard’s lack of food made for a pretty limited lunch, so we went to Iron Goat brewpub and got food and more beer. We bought shirts in both places.
Back at CFP, we had limoncello shots, and then everything went black.
But I got better, and the next day, after breakfast and second breakfast, we went for a grand tour of Post Falls, Idaho. We wandered around in the cold and looked at hydroelectic things dating to 1906, but also there was beer.
The only black mark on the day was Alcalde’s failure to arrange delivery for his Tres Comas tequila, which he’ll have to pick up tomorrow, thus denying him the pleasure of sharing it with me on his birthday. That and the Duncan fiasco kept the weekend from being the Platonic ideal of a Birthday Weekend.
On the plus side, some random guy at the Selkirk Abbey brewery gave us these Idaho Spud candy bars, and Alcalde didn’t want his, so I got two. It’s the candy bar that makes Idaho famous.
Yesterday I went a-driving in a big loop through Bainbridge Island, the Kitsap Peninsula, and the Olympic Peninsula to Port Townsend, then back via Whidbey Island.
Port Townsend is a “Victorian Seaport and Arts Community,” it says on the sign, and that seems about right. This busker managed to sing Hey Bulldog, Hand in My Pocket, Heartache Tonight, and Aqualung, all with exactly the same rhythm and tempo, and if that doesn’t qualify as Arts, I don’t know what does. There was also a fortune teller in a small box.
Port Townsend’s late 19th century architecture is the result of a building boom, followed by a rapid economic decline in the 1890s when the railroads bypassed it. Now they function as a draw to ambling tourist types like me.
Historical Mystery: Port Townsend was originally named Port Townshend, but at some point it lost its H, which remains missing to this day.
I went to Sonoma for the 4th of July again this year, as is my custom whenever I’m not in rehab.
The parade lived up to expectations, with a wine trolley, various cars, a hot-air balloon with no balloon, people dressed as blueberries, and an assortment of rocket and moon themes in an apparent nod to the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.
Later, there was food, genealogy, miniature golf, and chickens. The tri-tip caught on fire, but it was still good. I remain unconvinced of the value of diaper rash ointment as a treatment for sunburns.
Sinclair gas station, Arbuckle CA.
At 6:00 AM on Saturday I voyaged east in the sport jalopy to grace Alcalde with my presence over Memorial Day weekend. The trip was uneventful until I got to Ritzville, where I was stopped by a local law enforcement professional for doing 28 in a 20 zone. Apparently there was some sort of big flashing light with the speed limit on it. Whatever. He also had me sign my registration, which I guess is a thing you’re supposed to do, although I don’t think I ever have. But then he let me go! No ticket or anything. Weird.
Anyhow, I spent several intriguing minutes touring downtown Ritzville.
When I arrived at CFP, I got through the gate by drafting behind someone else, then just walked in Alcalde’s front door, which was inexplicably unlocked. All his weapons and electronics are no match for my wily ways.
Alcalde had spent most of the previous week hauling his gun safe up from Riverside, and I arrived just in time to help him unload it from the truck. It was an impressive display of teamwork, similar to our team efforts finding Al in Seborga or putting up monkey bunting. However, when we got it in place and he opened the safe, it was full of styrofoam packing peanuts! No guns at all! Seems like a lot of trouble for a safe full of packing peanuts.
Sunday we made a pilgrimage to Daft Badger Brewery in Coeur d’Alene and then wandered around downtown Coeur d’Alene a little, where we saw many wonders. There was a steampunk salmon robot, a woman carrying a rabbit, the Dingle Building, a place selling monster sushi, a bug in a giant flower, and a moose statue. The Lucky Monkey had t-shirts, but none of them had monkeys on them.
My main goal this weekend, other than mooching off Alcalde, was to set up my new GoPro and Karma drone and complete a test flight. It took longer than expected, because I had to download several firmware upgrades to make the 2016 drone work with the 2018 camera, but I eventually got it all sorted out. It was pretty windy out, so I took it on a simple maiden flight in the sun room that is so popular with local turkeys. It was just a simple take-off and landing, which I accomplished in a quick ten-second flight. Mission accomplished!
And so what if I broke two of the propellers. I had spares, so no big deal. I’m sure SpaceX and Blue Origin have similar setbacks with their test flights.
You might notice the turkey doots in front of the crashed copter. Turkeys have made the sun room their own, to the point where it really makes more sense to call it the Turkey Room.
Throughout the weekend, a good quantity of barbacoa, spicy jerk chicken, and Alcalde’s private stash of Pere Ubu Ale from the wilds of New York nearly made up for the lack of bunting or IceJJFish soundtrack.
All in all it was a smashing success, and another worthy contribution to the grand tradition of invading Alcalde’s home.
The inaugural visitation of Alcalde’s new mansion-chateau (aka Casa Fancy Pants) was a smashing success, as measured by total calorie count and whatever the opposite of cinematic artistry is.
Al, of course, had failed to show up, and sent a hogshead of popcorn as penance. The ricin made the flavor a little odd, but we got used to it.
Lobo arrived Thursday, and he and Alcalde sat around all day. But when I got there on Friday the party really got rolling as Lobo and Alcalde shoved me into the back seat of the Taco and we crossed the state line into exotic Idaho. We had lunch at the Daft Badger in Coeur d’Alene, where Lobo got a half order of pulled-pork nachos which seemed to constitute at least 20% of world nacho output and allowed Lobo to eat increasingly congealed breakfasts for the rest of the weekend.
While in the Coeur d’Alene area, we investigated the mysterious happenings in the erstwhile town of Dudley. Alcalde claims that there was no collusion regarding either Dudley or nearby Cataldo, but we haven’t been watching him the whole time, so who knows what he gets up to. And we didn’t find Dudley, exactly, but we did find Dudley Heights, which is either a real place or a sign that someone put up as a joke.
As a housewarming gift, I brought a package of brightly colored cocktail monkeys, a beloved memory for anyone who had anything approaching a normal childhood in the ’60s or ’70s. They were put to good use as bunting, as well as flair for what were apparently pharmaceutical-grade mojitos. Memories of the rest of that evening are a little fuzzy.
But up and at ’em the next day! Alcalde made us some excellent frittatas, although Lobo just chipped away at his nacho clump. After that, a little “hair of the limón” by way of limoncino shots, followed by panther cookie chasers, and we were off to get a mediocre lunch at the English Setter Brewery.
A drive up Mt. Spokane got us not quite to the top, as the road was closed due to inclement weather. We stopped in a nearby parking area to walk around and saw a group of people training rescue dogs. One of the trainers would hide under some camouflage netting, sitting out in an open area and looking absurdly obvious. Then one of the dogs would run around while some of the other trainers would shout encouragement. If the dog found the camouflaged lump that was right in front of it, everyone would cheer and congratulate the dog. If the dog appeared to be having trouble, an arm would reach out from under the netting and squeeze a squeaky toy. Sometimes the dog would still have trouble. The dogs all appeared to be having a good time, but I don’t like the chances of anyone who needs to be rescued by one.
That evening Alcalde provided some excellent steak, grilled to perfection by Lobo on the ostensibly indoor grill. However, we had to open the door to let the smoke out, which really makes it sort of an indoor/outdoor grill.
Things were a bit touch-and-go, moviewise, as Alcalde couldn’t figure out his own audio/video equipment. Luckily, he was able to kludge together a workaround that allowed us to continue with what after all is the central feature of any mash.
Over the course of three evenings we watched Birdemic, Zoltan: Hound of Dracula, Wild Guitar, and The Choppers, the last two featuring Arch Hall Jr. Alcalde fell asleep for all four of them.
On the last full day, after Lobo finally finished his nachos, we went patrolling on Alcalde’s estate grounds. Much of it consists of scrub and deer doots, but it’s still well worth visiting, especially after the taxidermy animatronic show and boat ride goes in.
After a warm-up like that, there was only one thing left to do: Visit downtown Spokane. This centered around the Riverfront, which is, it turns out, along the river. We saw a tower, and a big wagon, and a trash-eating goat, and–as the pièce de résistance–the Riverfront SkyRide, which is like the Disneyland Skyway except that it doesn’t go to Tomorrowland. (Technically, neither does the Skyway, because Disneyland removed it years ago. The SkyRide has the advantage of still existing.)
Then we had a quick lunch at a downtown brewpub that had TVs on every available surface, all showing football games. There were even three TVs in the restroom.
For reasons that are not clear, Lobo scheduled his return flight for 6:30 in the morning, so he got up before 5:00 and spent some time stumbling around and singing songs from Wild Guitar. Then Alcalde and I dumped him at the airport and had a leisurely coffee and pastry at Rocket Bakery on the way back.
On the drive over on Friday I had hit a pothole on the 90 and damaged my tire, so driving back was a little iffy. My sport jalopy has run-flat tires, which means that it can run for about 50 miles at 0 psi, but also has no spare. That’s probably useful if I’m fleeing foreign agents or random ladrones who have shot my tires out, but the trip from Spokane Valley to Redmond would be a little far in the event of a blowout. Fortunately, I made it back without incident and I can get the tire replaced for only $362.
The one disappointment of the weekend was the lack of fossils in the floor slate. They’re supposed to be there, but Lobo and I did a thorough investigation of the slate and found no fossils at all. That’s undoubtedly going to reduce CFP’s Zestimate.
Fourth of July in Sonoma. I received a warm welcome.
Some family members explored new fashion frontiers.
Others preferred a more traditional form of celebration.
In the evening, some of us watched the fireworks from a field adjacent to a cow pasture. A nearby group of people sang such holiday favorites as the national anthem, God Bless America, one or two Irish folk songs, and Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid. There may have been some wine involved. There was also a dog with a glow-stick collar who barked at the fireworks.