August 2023 Part I

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Another summer Kettleworks mini-camp: “Broadway’s Best.” This time, our friend HB’s kids participated (not sure if they were influenced by our kids). I think they enjoyed it. We got to go out to dinner with HB and the girls afterwards at local German place Berliner Pub, with maß and schnitzel and all that. We went to the nearby video game bar 8-Bit Arcade afterward, too.

KrisDi had a week-long work trip to Utah, leaving me as solo dad. Kids and I survived. We had a trucknic in her absence, of course.

KrisDi had some adventures in Utah, too. They got a flat tire with their rental car. I think it was on base, where getting a tow truck would not be so easily. Luckily, locals saw damsels in distress and came to the rescue. Her hotel also had a pretty nifty looking pancake machine.

Then there was another Kettleworks mini-camp production, this one was called “Tell Me A Tale.” In KrisDi’s absence, I got to try and figure out how to help with props, which is what this was all about.

Probably the biggest thing for this half of the month was the kids’ first international trip. We drove up to Vancouver BC for the night. Here’s their first international photo. It has been years since either KrisDi or I has visited Vancouver. They basically confirmed my worst fears about traveling internationally with them: They don’t want to try anything new, they complain about anything unexpected, and they bicker all the fucking time. I will argue against any major adventure trips with them. I don’t mind taking them to visit my brother in Italy, since I’d be perfectly happy to sit at his house and eat mac ‘n cheese for a week in order to hang out with him, but if the purpose is to go and experience a new place…fuck ’em. They can do it when they grow up.

The one “big” thing we did was visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge. It was like a semi-rainforest national park bedecked with treehouses and awesome rope bridges. I think the kids enjoyed it, though they still bickered and complained the whole time. There was also a bird thing with owls and falcons/hawks.

We got to attend my work’s summer picnic this year. There was a petting zoo again. My kids appreciated it, although I’m not egg-zactly sure how this expresses the sentiment.

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July 2023 Part II

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Our little man turned 10. Which means we’ve been successfully (well, at least not catastrophically unsuccessfully) parenting for a decade. Go us! Chilkoot “big” birthday party was actually on his birthday this time. Lego themed (as you see above), and he wanted deep dish pizza.

A very large butterfly that appeared to have some wing damage got soaked in our sprinkler and either refused or couldn’t fly away. Chilkat saved him, stuck him on a bush in the back yard to dry out, and fretted over him as he stayed there for the next couple days. Eventually, she fed him some Powerade, and he was gone one morning.

We had dinner at Haidilao, the hot pot place with robot cat servers and met a bunch of the Kettleworks families to see the musical Six, which is about Henry VIII’s wives. The kids really enjoyed it. I thought portions of it were funny and the dancing was really impressive, but didn’t like it overall.

That ended up conflicting with family camp night for Scouts, so Chilkoot had to get up early to join his troop for their advancement ceremony. There were lots of kids running around, and I think half of the kids Chilkoot’s age tripped and hurt themselves on the wood pile.

KrisDi was working from home, like normal, and either helping the kids or prepping something in the kitchen, and she realized she was going to be late to call in for a safety meeting. So she ran back to her computer in the dining room, and jammed her pinky toe on the liquor cabinet. She said it was sticking out at a weird angle until she popped it back into place. It turned purple and hurt for a couple months. At a minimum, she dislocated it; possibly she broke it. She never went in to see the doctor, just taped it up and tried to stay off it. Of course, she and the kids kept bumping it.

Kettleworks had one of their one-week summer mini-camp productions: As You Like It. I don’t remember which characters Chilkoot and Chilkat were, but I think this was the one where they had a scene where they bickered, and it was way too realistic. KrisDi helped the kids make a neat tumbleweed prop.

Random stuff:

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July 2023 Part I

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Traveling back in time from the last post…

We went out for a big dinner with friends (the Popes and the Monoculars). We had paella and tapas. I don’t really remember what the occasion was. Maybe Mrs. Pope’s birthday? Afterward, we went to the Popes’ church’s Independence Day fireworks show, which was fun. I met and talked to lots of nice people, and have forgotten all of them.

We had Daddy-son day and Mommy-daughter day. Chilkoot wanted to go to iFly (indoor skydiving) primarily. I think he really enjoyed it. We also went bowling and had breakfast. No photos, but I’m pretty sure we went to the indoor swimming place in Snohomish as well. We did take a photo at the ice cream place. KrisDi and Chilkat went to a paint-your-own-ceramics place.

Again, no photos, John and Heather visited with their kids. We got to hang out with them for dinner and beer after. Their oldest, who now calls theirself (?) Fox, was out here to check out UW as a possible school. It was super nice to see them again, it has been years.

Some time ago, in my efforts to find new-to-me music, I found a band called Remember Sports. I correctly guessed that at least Chilkat would like it. Apparently she started looking up their music on Spotify. Spotify, like all web services, monitors this stuff, and sent her an email saying, “Hey, Remember Sports is going to be playing in your town!” Chilkat never checks her email, but I had some reason to do it to set up some account or something, and I saw this email, and realized, “Hey, we could actually go to that show!” So we did. They played at a tiny little youth-run venue with no food or alcohol (not even a vending machine, though I think they had a working water fountain). I think the kids enjoyed it. The band is the most regular-people-looking band I’ve ever seen. I think KrisDi said something like, “They look like people you would see at the mall on a Tuesday!”

Chilkat’s Girl Scout troop actually spent some of their troop money, after years of accumulating without spending. They went to local hotel/waterpark Great Wolf Lodge.

Chilkoot had to cook dinner for Scouts. He made grilled ham and cheese.

The kids had a summer week-camp of Kettleworks called “Once Upon a Time“.

Chilkoot had one of his birthday parties. This was the “friends” party. He had it at Defy, a local chain of indoor trampouline-parks. He had a Lego themed party. He got some crazy nails. We had a post-party-party which was also a going away party for some Kettleworks kids who were moving to Pennsylvania the next day or something similar. Chilkoot got cornrows and I got to try some of the fancy Japanese whiskey I got the director, which was quite good.

In other news, KrisDi is weak and the kids sleep in our room now.

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 2 comments

Europe 2023: Flying home, 24 September

Not a whole lot of pictures, since we spent the day in planes and airports. But, lots of words!

Checking in to our flights the night before was weird; seems like that’s always the case when flying internationally on one airline (KLM, in this case), but booked through another airline (Delta). But, we were able to check in and pay for checked bags.

Our host stayed in the room adjacent to ours so he could easily meet us at like 4 AM so we could get to the airport for our 6:35 AM flight. We had a Bolt driver take us to the airport. The line to check in was long, and we had to wait through it because we had bags to check. I think there was a whole soccer team in line in front of us. Not exaggerating; I think there was a soccer team traveling together on our flight.

Our itinerary was pretty simple: Fly on KLM to Amsterdam, spend sixish hours there, then fly on Delta directly to Seattle. We had time to grab a sandwich to go for breakfast. The Budapest-Amsterdam flight was uneventful. When we landed, we were greeted with text messages saying something close to, “Your Amsterdam-Seattle flight has been cancelled. We couldn’t rebook you on another flight. Would you like to cancel your trip?” We couldn’t manually rebook through the app, it would also just tell us that no other flights were available. Fantastic.

Similar to the way out, the connection in Amsterdam required passport control. It was a fucking mess again. Apparently Amsterdam is terrible at both passport control and line management. The “line” was just a mob that leaked out blocks into the airport, with staff just yelling at people. We tried to split our forces — KrisDi went to the line to try and find a way home, I got in the passport control line. The hope was KrisDi could get us rebooked, and then join me close to the front of the passport control line.

I proceeded a bit too fast, and started letting people go past me so I would still be in a spot where she could join me. I had to leave anyway, since rebooking required my passport, so I had to leave the line and bolt for her counter. KrisDi’s story in my absence (roughly):

First, the lady told me she couldn’t do anything until the next day. Then I pressed her, she talked to another woman, and asked me if I was willing to take a downgrade. Yes, if that would get us home today. They found us a KLM flight to Washington Dulles (IAD), a roughly two hour layover, and a Delta flight from there to Seattle.

They gave us a couple vouchers for food or drinks in the airport. We got through passport control (I don’t remember how fast or slow it was at this point). You can probably imagine we were in a great mood. We wandered around looking for someplace to get good beer, and couldn’t really find anything. So we went to a Heineken bar and used the vouchers for some beer and nachos (they were bad, but the bartender was nice, possibly because I wasn’t berating him like the customer next to me).

Before our flight, we went back to the same Irish bar I had had breakfast at on the way out, and we each had a Murphy’s Irish Stout and a double Jameson’s.

We got on our flight. My entertainment thing was non-functional. The only thing I really use it for is to watch flight progress, though, so it wasn’t a huge issue for me. Aside from feeling nauseous and eventually vomiting in the bathroom (first time vomiting in a plane bathroom! As far as I know, I didn’t get any on my clothes!), the flight was not very notable.

The trip from the plane to the terminal at IAD was notable, though. The shuttle was wacky. I thought it looked like they turned a section of jetway into a vehicle.

Not my photo, hosted it on my site in case the location I found it dies or moves

Unsurprisingly, on entering the US at IAD, we had to retrieve our checked bags and go through customs and passport control. My memory on the west coast coming from Japan into San Francisco or LA is that there’s always a way to re-check your bag, though sometimes you have to leave and re-enter through security. This always sucks. IAD is even worse, because they didn’t have a way for Delta/KLM customers to re-check bags, we had to take them with us to leave security, find our way to the Delta counter, and check our bags there, go back through security, and find our gate. Now our two hour layover is starting to seem pretty fucking tight.

Even better than that…we took our checked bags with us to the Delta counter, saw that there was not much line and felt lucky, only to spend 15 minutes arguing with the attendant about whether or not we had to pay to check our bags, which we had already paid for from Budapest to Seattle. We tried to make the point, “How did they get here if we didn’t pay to have them checked?” She had taken the tags off our bags and thrown them away. She wanted to see a receipt. If she’d looked at the tags, she could have seen that they were booked to Seattle. I couldn’t find the receipt in my email (I think KLM failed to send one, but it’s also possible that email search sucks on a phone). At some point, she caved and just took the bags (I tend to think she realized she was being a dickish moron and tried to backpedal without looking like she knew was being a dickish moron). So, on to security, a long trip to our gate, and then boarding. We made it to our gate roughly five minutes before boarding.

Again, nothing particularly notable about the flight itself. If I remember correctly, there was a 6′ 8″ guy on the flight, and a small young lady who had a seat with a huge amount of legroom let him trade spots with her.

Our bags made it, and none of our stuff broke in transit! The kids were a little excited to see us. Probably more excited for the souvenirs we bought them. I think had we been gone much longer, either the grandparents would have sold them to the gypsies, or the kids would have attempted to frame the grandparents for kidnapping or something.

Observations in summary:

  • Vienna seemed the most similar to Seattle, the most like a place that would be nice to live.
  • Eastern Europe has this crazy “seat of the pants” feel. Bratislava was super cheap. Budapest was a crazy mixture of modern and ancient and classy and trashy.
  • Munich was kind of boring (for us). I love biergartens, sure, but…I don’t need 100 of them, and it would be nice for there to be something else, too.
  • Salzburg was small and interesting, and has real history, but gives a “small, themed tourist destination” feel similar to Leavenworth or Solvang. At least to me.
  • KrisDi got tired of schnitzel after a while (but it was real good). It was easy to find “meat and potatoes” cuisine that’s right up our alley.
  • The craft beer scene was most interesting in Budapest, I think, though Bratislava and Vienna were pretty good, too. Salzburg didn’t have a lot, but Alchimiste was definitely one of the better places we went. 1000%, Ammutson (Vienna) was the best individual bar for me, and Gravity (Budapest) was my favorite brewery.
  • Magnificent, ancient architecture everywhere with so much history that predates the USA entirely.
  • Not speaking any of the local languages was a mild annoyance at times, but generally not problematic. Ignorant Americans are spoiled.
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Europe 2023: Budapest, 23 September

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Saturday, our last day of actual vacation. We met Weesh in the morning and took a Bolt car to Central Market Hall. It’s a really big building filled with little shops (and an Aldi). We got there early, and most of the stuff was still closed, except produce and meat places. More and more souvenir shops opened up, plus other stuff (including a number of places selling these adorable pickles), as we wandered around. KrisDi and Weesh shopped for souvenirs. Eventually, I sat and waited for them.

We walked (quickly, in a light rain) to a place called Besczka for breakfast. They sat us at a table with a couch, which made me look tiny. Miraculously, they provided my second real Americano of the trip. KrisDi and I ordered Bloody Marys, which seemed to surprise our server — he seemed excited, like no one had ever ordered them before.

I had their version of French toast, with fruit and nuts and a crispy prosciutto tent. It was almost excellent — there was an unavoidable mayo-heavy sauce at the bottom that overwhelmed the rest of the flavors.

Again, a brisk walk in a light rain, with debates about whether to go the direct and obvious route overground or see if we could figure out how to get part of the way there through subway stations. We stayed above ground and didn’t get to wet.

The Hungarian National Museum opened just after we arrived. They wouldn’t let me in with my backpack, so I took it down to baggage check. The old lady working there asked (“gestured insistently”) for me to come behind the counter and put my own bag somewhere because it was too heavy for her.

The museum is bigger than it looks, and it’s organized in a very confusing way. Our tickets didn’t get us into all of the exhibits (only the permanent ones, I think). I went down and got my bag, and when I came back up, KrisDi and Weesh had realized we had missed half the exhibits. My old lady friend at baggage check was mystified about why I came back immediately.

Again, I’m not going to try and describe all the interesting things we saw in the museum and I will directly link to a small subset of the photos, so if you care, just go page through it. If I start picking out highlights, I’ll end up listing like thirty things.

We got museumed out, and headed off to see another magnificent building: The Museum of Applied Arts. This was both disappointing and amusing — the entire exterior was being renovated or something, so there was scaffolding and tarps completely wrapping the building. But, they had taken the time to print life-sized images of the exterior of the building on the tarps, so you could kind of get an idea what the building looked like anyway.

Our next stop was a Peruvian restaurant right next door to a delicious looking dessert crepe place. The food was good. I had some weird yellow substance that was thick and almost gummy. Kind of a mild chicken curry. The lemonade was also quite good.

The Peruvian place was chosen mostly because it was on the way to Gravity Brewing. This was a fun stop for me the beer nerd, and the girls were beat enough to endure me sitting there and ordering every beer on the menu (they helped).

First, about the place: It seems like a relatively new and modern brewery stuck inside the basement of a very old building. According to the tour, the have lots of small, custom-built brewing equipment and nothing really large because the ceilings are low and they only have one door to enter and leave. The owner/brewer was an American who was rumored to be either extremely wealthy or extremely well-connected. The custom built brewing equipment was built, shipped, and installed by an American company in San Diego, which was mysteriously cheaper than any local European company could offer. They mill their own grain. They don’t have room for a barrel aging program, so they fake it with a system where they circulate beer around wood blocks soaked in bourbon (or whatever other barreled substance they want to simulate). They package and sell their kegged beer in these recyclable bag-in-a-plastic-container things that I’ve seen elsewhere in Europe (notably, Cantillon uses them).

Second, about our visit: We sat and drank beer and charged our phones for a couple hours. Our first server knew very little about beer, or Gravity’s beer, but he was friendly. As it happened, they were having an English brewery tour while we were still there, so I joined in on that (and that’s where I got some of the information in the preceding paragraph). The tour guide was hungover from some company event the night before. She was a foulmouthed young lady that cracked me up. “Fucking expensive” and “a shit-ton of…” I got to watch I got to watch one of their beers fermenting happily and taste a Black Peppercorn Lemon Gose that was still being brewed.

We really enjoyed this visit. Both the girls bought hoodies, I bought a fancy bottle to go. We went back to the creperie afterward.

Mixat was another beer place that was on my list. We headed there for dinner, but were turned away because of some closed private event. So, we had dinner next door at some Italian place. I wanted a Coke, but they sheepishly told me they were out, and offered a “sweet and sour” Italian soda as “basically the same thing.” It was a surprisingly dark citrus-based soda, which was perfectly fine, but had almost nothing in common with Coke. There was nothing special about the food. KrisDi had pizza and I had osso buca.

Bolt took us to another tiny brewery named In Vitro. The driver showed up in front of the Italian restaurant within seconds of our requesting one, and he drove like he was evading the cops.

In Vitro‘s owner/brewer Tommy was working. I talked with him most of the time we were there, although I stepped away a lot so he could help customers. He’s a “gypsy brewer” — meaning he brews with or at other breweries, and doesn’t have his own. He seemed really humble about his beer, and was generally quite knowledgeable. He was one of the very few people I talked to who were even vaguely aware of fresh hops. He knew a bit about the US brewing scene, particularly about East Coast breweries.

Then we went back to the room to pack and go to bed.

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