Kayaking on Lake Union
While everyone else slept off long days of travel, I got up early the next morning to get in a hike before the events of the day[i]. A few blocks down the street was the Washington Park Arboretum, which seemed like a nice easy morning jaunt. I had the place practically to myself at 6:30 in the morning, so I spent an enjoyable couple hours exploring its patches of dense Pacific forest[ii] and cultivated gardens. Seattle has some pretty incredible public spaces and wildlife; so much so that what I had intended as a quick hike turned into a 5 mile round trip. However, I made it back in time to join the rest of the crew for breakfast before we got started with the events of the day.
Washington Park Arboretum, Awesome Arboretum Grafitti, House in the Woods, Wildflower, Flowering Plant, Garden flowers, Pond Reflection, Song Sparrow, Anna’s Hummingbird, Northern Flicrk, Bewick’s Wren, Cooper’s Hawk Fledgling, Capitol Hill neighborhood, Capitol Hill Neighborhood.
The plan was for everyone to go kayaking together during the day, and then split by gender for the night’s bachelor/bachelorette festivities[iii]. We met everyone at Lake Union, rented some kayaks and took off. Lake Union is pretty busy, traffic wise, so there was some dodging of seaplanes, power craft, and the like, but it is broad and flat, and has some fantastic views of Seattle. We paddled past Gasworks Park[iv], saw some outstandingly fancified houseboats, skirted through a straight channel at the University of Washington[v], and finally made our way over to the northern reaches of the same arboretum/park I’d been to earlier that morning. We got off the main bay, and meandered through the park greenery by water. While I didn’t dare bring my big camera, I was able to slip my phone camera out once in a while to get some pictures of the day. Pretty famished after a decently long paddle, we stopped for a sandwich[vi] and ate an outdoor park along the water before heading back to the homestead[vii] for the evening revelries.
Waterfront Scene, Kayaking on Lake Union, Kayaking on Lake Union (II), Lake Union Shipyard, Fancy-ass Houseboat, The Justin!, Kate Kayaking, Kayaking on Lake Union, Water Lily, Dave and his Kayak.
We got ready for the evening, which for the gentlemen consisted primarily of naps and showers. The ladies, however, began elaborate dressing and bride hazing preparations involving a wide array of food (no small portion of which was penis-themed).
From the snippets I’ve heard, the ladies’ evening was nonstop revelry and risqué shenanigans, but I do believe I am sworn to secrecy on that account. I can only report that the gentlemen did it up classy style[viii]. We started out with a trip to casino in Snoqualmie. I brought a new fedora specifically for this[ix]… because in my head, casino still equals Frank Sinatra in the original Oceans 11. Those days are, alas, gone. While the place was really quite nice, these are no longer the days of sharp suits and fancy cocktails. It was a little more Walmart up in there than it was The Sands. But hey, it’s all a state of mind, and it was a good time regardless[x]. The evening[xi] continued on through such gentlemanly endeavors as a fantastic dinner at a nice Tapas restaurant (served by a Japanese-speaking Caucasian waitress) and a couple nightcaps after that[xii].
[i] This is pretty standard for me. I’m not one for sleeping in in general, and especially not on vacations. Combine that with a penchant for wildlife chasing and photography in general, and it doesn’t take much to get me out in the morning. Good light plus active animals plus a feeling of getting to see more of a place is reason enough for me. Also, as much as I love hiking with other people, hiking by myself afford me the opportunity to take as much time as I want to take a picture, or check out a toad, or to go whatever wandering, ambling route I feel like. I am prone to wandering.
[ii] Including some huge Sequoias. Or maybe they were Redwoods? The thing to take out of this is that they were huge ^*&^%^& trees. The juxtaposition of dainty Victorian gardenscaping and massive coastal trees was pretty cool. Like putting a Bichon Frise next to a Great Dane.
[iii] When I started to compute the number of hours we’d be out and about and active that day, I started to realize that maybe a 3.5 hour hike at 6:30 in the morning hadn’t been the smartest idea…
[iv] An old gasworks site converted to public park. We’d been there previously. Between gasworks, underground tunnels of vice (Seattle has an underground below grade level, of which we took a tour. Seamy history + abandoned places = awesome), and trolleys, half of Seattle seems to be an unintentional love letter to steampunkish affectations.
[v] The traversing of which was somewhat harrowing…two boat traffic lanes in a narrow channel left little room for kayaks; massive wakes didn’t help.
[vi] The food was great except for the beet salad I ordered as a side. I thought it would be a salad with beets. Turns out, it was just beets. In sauce. A very large, very purple mass of beets. No one likes beets that much, guys. Other people also ordered, and were surprised by, the beets. There was a concerted effort to get some of the beets pawned off on the other people in attendance. It didn’t work very well.
[vii] One of my uncles was in town that week, and I had hoped to meet up with him after getting a surprise message from them while hiking that morning. Unfortunately, the timing just didn’t work out.
[viii] Except for a groom shirt-signing by an unfortunate group of middle-aged ladies at the casino, who hadn’t yet become acquainted with subtlety.
[ix] Yes I know that’s dorky. Yes I know that if this was the Hangover, I’d be Zak Galifinakis’ character. I don’t get out much. If I want to wear a Sinatra-esque fedora to class up an evening, I’m going to.
[x] I actually did pretty well at Blackjack, winning 50 or 60 bucks. My luck was less pronounced at the slots. I remember slots from childhood trip to Vegas, and like, every movie ever, as being the old style, with three cherries and such. No such thing anymore, apparently. Try as I might I could completely not make out any logical combination of the flashing noises, images, and panoply of moving parts on the video screens. There were multiple columns, with lines writhing among them, and indecipherably fast video blips and seemingly uncoordinated sounds. Some of the regulars in our party were doing just fine. I sat down at one, put in $5, and on my first pull, all the buzzers went off. Woohoo! I won…….$1.36? Ok, well let’s give it another pull. What’s that? I used up all my credits on one pull, and need to insert another $5 dollars on this “ five cent” machine? I was very very confused. I asked one of the attendants if they had any of the old style variety. He just laughed and shook his head at me. Even the fedora couldn’t make me good at slots. Some people in my party tried to explain it, but naivete and bourbon confounded the learning experience for me.
[xi] While the evening continued, the picture taking did not. Or at least, the picture taking pursuant to blog posting did not.
[xii] Though, at some point we ended up at a gay bar that was the sparsest thing I’ve ever seen. If memory serves me (admitting this was several shot of tequila into the evening of a very very long day), it was primarily a large white cube of a room with a very large, unadorned bar on one side. It was like an Apple store, but with less hipsters and more booze. In other words, a marked improvement on an Apple store. However, the place was packed, mostly with gentlemen who were pretty serious about getting their collective dance on. There was a large cube (or more?) in the middle of the room on which one fellow was dancing. The one thought that was going through my head was, “I wonder how it’s decided who gets to dance on the little platform”.