My jetlag is gone and my appetite has improved since last week. I'm relieved it's returning as we're in Southampton this weekend visiting Max's parents and they have a load of cheese, wine, port, and chorizo from Portugal and Spain for us.
Anyway, here's the second part of our American adventures..
September 16th-18th - Port Townsend
We left Anacortes early Tuesday morning and drove to Port Townsend, arriving in time to meet Gael for lunch at the Tyler St. Coffee House. We gave her some Thorntons chocolate bars: ginger and dark chocolate, marzipan, and turkish delight. We ate with her at our usual table outside and were joined by Alycia and a new friend, John, who is in a band called The Crown Hillbillies. John was hilarious and after several hours of talking with him my throat was sore from laughing so hard. In fact we were all laughing so much that we could probably be heard from blocks away. John especially liked our stories about the crazy nutters we've encountered in London and he vowed to put characters like them in a film.
I ran into a bunch of acquaintances and chatted with them for awhile and after lunch we drove out to Gael's new house which she shares with her boyfriend, Danny. The first and last time Danny and I met was before they were together and we didn't get on very well, so I felt apprehensive about meeting him again. This time around was much better and I think he was quite nervous himself to begin with. Their house was built in the 70s and seemed like the ultimate family dream house of the time with wood parque floors, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 fireplaces, a huge deck, a sauna house, horse stable, apple trees, and even a bar with a waterfall in the basement. As it's been a rental for many years parts of it have suffered from disuse, but with some fixing up it could be an incredible pad. According to stories from previous tenants it's haunted by a ghost that everyone calls "The Goat Lady" who used to make goat cheese. :)
Gael cooked dinner and we watched 75% of Frida with Danny's brother, before we were all too tired to finish it. He had already returned it when we woke up the next morning, so we never did find out how it finished.
The next morning Max and I ate fish tacos for breakfast. It was disgusting, but good in a guilty trashy kind of way.
We took a walk up and down Water St. and checked out the used bookstore and music shop. Of course we had lunch at the Tyler again with Gael, Alycia, and John, ran some errands, and that eve Gael, Alycia, Danny, Max and I went to The Wild Coho for dinner. It was fantastic, as usual. I had the Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter, Sage and Crème Fraiche, the Salad of Escarole with Gorgonzola Dolce, Caramelized Pears, Spiced Walnuts and Pear Vinaigrette, and my main course was the Roasted Breast and Confit Leg of Sonoma Pekin Duck with Rhubarb Glaze, Spoon Bread and Mustard. We were all really full so we shared a Warm Chocolate Cake with Crème Fraiche Ice Cream which was nearly orgasmic. It still goes down as one of the best desserts ever. Max later told me that his main course was badly made, as though a sou chef had fucked up the head chef's careful balance of flavours. It's a shame as usually the quality is very high.
The next morning we checked out Sweet Laurette's new breakfast/lunch restaurant (Lolo, who runs Sweet Laurette, made our wedding cake). We arrived slightly too late for breakfast so we bought two pastries and then ran into John and his Crown Hillbilly bandmember, Dave. They had narrowly missed breakfast too, so we all sulked together (those pumpkin pancakes looked damn good) while we ate our pastries and they ordered lunch. It was fun hanging out with them that morning
The vintage/consignment clothes shop I used to work for, Weathered Friends, is no more. My boss Heather and her boyfriend Stig opened a new shop on Washington St. called Dolce la Belle that only sells lingere and new clothing lines. We stopped in to see Heather and the new shop, which looked beautiful and strangely almost exactly as I had imagined/dreamed it. Heather herself looked much happier and we talked for over an hour about our lives, her shop, Europe, fashion, etc. She asked if I could mail her fashion magazines from around Europe once in awhile, so I think I'll pick up a copy of Dan's magazine, FAD, from Selfridges (I think that's my closest distributor) and send it to her soon. I forgot to ask her if the clothes I consigned with her before I moved to London ever made any money, but it's not important.
We also took a look at the charred pit that used to be Aldrich's grocery, which they've already begun rebuilding.
Predictably we ate lunch at the Tyler and I was able to chat to our friend Kirsten briefly. She really wanted to get together when we returned the next week, but sadly we didn't have time. She looked happy and healthy, with a new boyfriend and her artwork receiving a good reception in Port Townsend and beyond. She also has a comic running in the local independant newspaper, Vigilance, called "Icky the Cat".
Danny joined us for lunch and after we all went to Siren's for beer and apple martinis.
September 19th-22nd - Spokane
Max and I left early Tuesday morning to visit my mother and family in Spokane. We drove by Seattle and had an enjoyable 5 hour drive through the mountains and desert, watching the little fluffy clouds float by.
Spokane is David Lynch country. He spent several years growing up there and much of his inspiration for creepy suburban neighborhoods and disturbing characters came from Spokane and the other small towns he lived in. That should give you a general idea what it is like there.
Despite it's reputation, Spokane has given us a few gems of creativity such as Lynch, Alexie, Chuck Jones, Bing Crosby, my dad, and even Penny-Arcade. And then there's me, born in Spokane in Sacred Heart Hospital, so it can't be too evil, can it?
(Another bit of trivia while I'm at it: Frank Herbert wrote Dune while living in Port Townsend, which was later directed -- some say disastrously -- by Lynch.)
We arrived at my mom's early that evening. She bought my grandparents' old house with her friend Steve which she has fixed up. We all caught up on each other's news and then tried to figure out where to eat dinner. Mom and Steve said they heard there was an okay-ish Mexican restaurant we could try. When we walked in we were greeted by a bunch of rough drunk men at the bar, being very loud and giving off a general vibe that made us not want to make eye contact with them. The whole place was a bit run down, dirty, fitted with flourescent lighting and tinny pop music loudly piped throughout. I decided not to order any meat, lest I should die an early death, so I stuck with the bean burrito. Mom and Steve both ordered the veggie option and Max was the only one who braved the "meat". All things considered the food actually ended up being decent and we all lived, but I sure as hell didn't want to see the kitchen.
We attempted to watch some news on tv that evening, but Spokane news is a pretty good example of how poor most local news stations are throughout America. The first half was mainly local events and a few national items and absolutely no world news. The second half is sports, 20 minutes of which is dedicated entirely to high school football. In fact college and high school football is on Spokane television constantly, you can't escape from it. The radio stations aren't any better, being mostly sports, right wing talk show hosts, and country music.
Saturday afternoon we took a long walk through the forest near an old abandoned homestead where we surprisingly saw a moose.
That evening my grandfather and a bunch of other family came over to my mother's for dinner and we all had a few beers and chilled out for awhile. My aunt Cindy couldn't make it because she was at a horse show with her husband, Doug, whom some of you might remember. They're basically back together again sadly, although he has been behaving himself, for the most part. I don't know for how long he can keep up the good man appearance -- I just hope for her safety.
Sunday Max and I took a drive through Spokane, in part to see how its changed and in part to search for Señor Froggy's, which used to be my favorite Mexican fast food chain as a child. The roads in Spokane have been deemed some of the worst in America and they seem to have deteriorated even more every time I visit. The old Señor Froggy's was gone, replaced by some strange Hawaiian fast food restaurant.
Because I've been living in Europe I was starting to see America through Max's eyes. All it's creepy eccentricities seemed glaringly obvious and Spokane was no exception. The backdrop to a David Lynch film was definately all around us, from boarded up 50's diners, gun shops, the dilapidated "Tire Shack" shop, obscure fast food chains, homeless drug addicts, to the giant Ryder wagon in Riverfront Park. The only building that appeared to have had any love in recent years was the beautiful Davenport Hotel which was just saved from demolition and renovated, but it seemed to be out of place.
I promised myself that next time I return to Spokane I'm going to take a photo series of these buildings with the SLR or a new digital camera when I get one. I need to, they're begging to be photographed.
Giving up on Señor Froggy's and without any decent alternatives we decided to grab a bite to eat at Taco Time. I can't remember the last time I had eaten any fast food and I felt well, dirty, after eating it. Max said he felt violated.
That evening we went to Hastings where they sell off ex-rental dvds. They had a deal to buy two ex-rental dvds and get the 3rd for 1 cent. We ended up buying six dvds: Spirited Away, Frida, A Beautiful Mind, Gangs of New York, One Hour Photo, and The Royal Tenenbaums. All that came out to only $50 ( £30 for us with the exchange rate. ;) So far we've watched all of them except A Beautiful Mind and they've all worked perfectly.
Monday morning we watched mom's Minority Report dvd and when the movie finished we turned over to the tv. On the news was what at first appeared to be a live school shooting at Lewis & Clark high school, where my 16-year-old cousin Dan goes to school. The reporter said a junior had taken hostages in the science room with a semi-automatic handgun and shot into the wall once. The high school was surrounded by policemen and a SWAT team and 30 minutes later we heard a loud shot and they brought the kid, Sean Fitzpatrick, out on a stretcher. He had pointed the gun at a policeman so the SWAT team shot him three times. My cousin Dan was interviewed on the news with other students, asking what Sean was like and of course it was the typical, "He was quiet, he didn't have many friends.." comments. The police later found a suicide note at Sean's house, stating that he decided to commit suicide by police, but he was taken to a hospital and ended up living. I'm relieved Dan or anyone else were unharmed (welcome to America).
Tuesday morning Cindy, my Grandpa and his girlfriend, Lois all came over for coffee. It was wonderful finally seeing Cindy, as she was busy for most of our visit. It was all too brief, but I encouraged her to make a trip to London to see us sometime which she sounded excited about.
We said our goodbyes to everyone. My mother was particularly upset, I held in the tears until we were already on the road when I completely broke down. Max pulled the car over to the side of the road and gave me a long hug until I calmed down. It's difficult having such a short period of time with family. There's always things that we meant to do and say, but there's never enough time.
"Gabe's heading out of town, going back over to Spokane to work on an article for Penny Arcade. He also wanted me to mention that he'll be hanging out at Merlyn's on Saturday, in case you were bored, which seems all too likely there. Spokane is a test market for eight or ten varieties of misery at any given time, the more potent depressions and existential crises that infect our nation and even the world start out in Spokane while they are tuned for maximum efficacy." - Penny Arcade
It's allll true. That said I have a wonderful family in Spokane so at least the majority of my time spent there over my lifetime has been positive. :)
I don't know whether they have any FADs left in Selfridges - it's a while since the last issue was out, and the next one's been held up - but email me your address and I'll send you a copy and one for Heather.
Those photos of Max - I thought there was a woman in a greatcoat with a wooden leg bending over the side behind him.
That would be wonderful, thank you very much! :) I just looked at the list on the site and I thought it would be my best bet of picking up a couple copies.
That's funny, I can see what you mean about the photos. That's my coat and scarf.. or maybe it's the ghost of the Goat Lady.
i'm glad to hear you had a great trip here. how far is anacortes from seattle? i just found out there is a ferry from sidney, bc to anacortes, and i thought that might be a great way to travel to seattle since i normally enjoy the ferry that goes from vancouver to victoria.
anyways, i'm rambling. love the photos, especially the one of the sky-filled rear-view mirrors :)
thanks! :) Anacortes is about a 1 1/2 hour drive from Seattle. I'm quite familiar with the Sidney/Anacortes ferry since I used to take it every weekend to visit my ex-bf. It takes about 3 hours so it's a bit of a slow journey, but still worth doing at least once. Although it is much smaller than the one that goes between Van and Vic.. Washington state ferries aren't known for luxury - or even convenience. ;)