Birth Week 2018, Days One and Two

Point Defiance Rhododendron Garden


I don't have a whole lot of time to write about the past couple of days kicking off this year's Birth Week; I haven't even started captioning any of the photos. Hopefully by the time anyone is bothering to look at individual photos, they will be captioned.

I left home yesterday at just after 11 a.m. so I could meet Gabriel and Tess at the Point Defiance Rhododendron Garden -- the first botanicaly garden of this year's Birth Week. Sherri had suggested over Easter when I told her about visiting botanical gardens, that I go to the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden in Federal Way. Up until yesterday morning, that's exactly where I thought I was going. I really thought I had never been there, but guess what? I was searching through my Flickr account today, when I thought I had created the Point Defiance Rhododendron Garden photo set already but I hadn't, and quite by accident I found a separate one for the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden -- which, as it happens, I have been to. That was in 2007; I went with Barbara on the way to Olympia to go to Procession of the Species at the beginning of my Birth Week that year. Admission back then was $3.50 and it's $8 now.

Gabriel had been confused and thought I was talking about the Point Defiance garden, which I didn't even know existed. He declared it better than the Federal Way garden, although now that I look at the 2007 photos, it seems pretty clear the Federal Way one is much prettier and features far more blooming flowers -- which was what I was looking for. But! Free is also good, and there is no charge for the Point Defiance Rhododendron Garden. It also worked better for Gabriel because he lives in Salmon Beach, which is right by Point Defiance. Also, he felt it was better because the whole park is a huge expanse of old-growth forest -- to such a degree that he is quite dismissive of, say, the old-growth forest in Seattle's Seward Park. (In his mind, no matter the context, everything about Tacoma is more impressive than Seattle. Whatever.)

I'm not complaining, for the record. I do like that this park is more focused on local species, as opposed to the international species featured in the Federal Way garden, and it was still pretty. I had a good time. When we were done there we went to get take-out from a place called Tatonka Take-Out, which is obsessed with buffalo meat, but also has an extensive vegetarian menu. I had a vegan BLT hat was all right. Anyway, we took the food and went down to Owen Beach and ate there, and huge out there for a while. So there are several photos from Own Beach as well.

Birth Week Overnight with Jennifer


I created a separate, dedicated photo set -- 23 photos -- for my stay overnight with Jennifer in Shelton last night. These overnights are always mostly about getting our drink on, and this year Jennifer did not disappoint: she made five Birthday Cake Martinis (all visible in the photo above), and I had two of them. Jennifer had one; her friend Amanda, who I met at one of their parties last fall and is a lot of fun, was also invited over, and she had the other two. These drinks were super sweet and very fattening -- frosting and sprinkle rims, filled with heavy whipping cream as the mixer. Jennifer also made Chocolate Cake Shots, only the first six of them with sugar rims (those are also visible in the above photo). She must have made another six of them over the course of the evening. I'm pretty sure I had at least four of them; Jennifer at least three; Amanda two or three; and later another friend named Jody came over and she had one.

I had budgeted $40 for drinks with Jennifer, in case we went out for dinner like we did last year. But, they had take-and-bake pizzas all ready to make for dinner, of which I had more than I should have, and Jennifer had all those drinks already made. There was no need to go out for breakfast this morning either; we had leftover pizza. Yay for saving money!

I did get pretty tipsy, which Jennifer was rather intent on making happen. She said I complained in the past about not getting drunk enough. I guess shots are the way to get the job done. At one point Hope said, about someone I can't remember now, "He's dumb and will probably die young." Maybe it was because I was drunk, but Jennifer and I laughed for a good couple of minutes over that; I was laughing so hard I was crying.

I was pretty good about staving off a hangover by taking two Aleve and drinking water before bed; I had a little more water when I woke up feeling pretty dehydrated. I just hung out for a while this morning, after having the leftover pizza, and then I left for Dad and Sherri's a little after 10:00 this morning.

Birth Week Bike Ride with Dad


And finally, you cam click here for the full photo set (34 shots) of this year's Birth Week Bike Ride with Dad. Last year our planned bike ride got postponed until the end of the year due to rain, and we went to MOHAI in Seattle instead. So this year is the fourth actual bike ride we've managed for Birth Week days with Dad: 2013, 2015, 2016, and now 2018. Dad almost suggested bagging it this year too, because there was a little rain in the forecast, but I told him I wanted to go through with it, since the forecast, the last time I looked, no longer had rain on Sunday. He agreed.

Only 24 of the shots are actually of the Puyallup Riverwalk Trail, the 4-mile trail we rode from one end and back, making it a full 8-mile ride. This was much smaller than many bike rides we've done, but good for us both this year; it was Dad's first time back on his bike since winter began, and I only recently began riding again myself.

Nine of the shots, though, were taken at Dad and Sherri's house -- five of them of flowers in the backyard, in keeping with this year's garden theme, at Sherri's suggestion. So, I also got a shot of the three of us in front of their large -- speak of the devil! -- rhododendron plant.

Anyway, I did a lot of driving this weekend. Firs from home to the Point Defiance Rhododendron Garden late yesterday morning. Then, three and a half hours later, I crossed the Tacoma Narrows Bridge before taking the highways on the Olympic Peninsula (on the other side of Puget Sound) down to Shelton, as my GPS said that was 5 minutes faster than going down through Olympia and then back up to Shelton. This morning I decided I would drive to Dad and Sherri's to visit for a bit just so I could then break up the drive from there to Puyallup. Dad and I ended up agreeing to leave a bit earlier than we might have otherwise, when I saw the forecast for rain showers to begin at 4:00 after all. All told, between yesterday and today, I drove 185 miles.

It was a little bit of a bummer that Dad and I couldn't visit on the drive to Puyallup, as we had to drive separate cars -- I took Shobhit's car for the weekend. And then, after spending the entire drive seeing he was right behind me, he took an inordinate amount of time to meet me behind the Safeway on Main St in Puyallup, where one of the trail entrances was at. Having seen him so close behind when I got off the highway, I started to get a little worried -- did he get lost? In an accident? I finally called his phone after probably more than ten minutes had passed, and there was no answer.

I'd had plenty of time, then, to take my bike out of the car trunk and reattach the front wheel; I was riding it around the parking lot when I finally saw Dad's car with his bike hanging off the back pull in and around the building to the back. Turns out, his GPS had taken him to the same street address -- in Sumner. He'd had trouble programming the GPS in the car before we left Olympia, and Sherri and I both helped him. Trouble was, we all forgot to make sure he had an E for 1405 E Main St. So he was taken to just plain 1405 Main St -- in Sumner -- instead. No wonder it took him so long.

After that, though, it was all good. We both used the bathroom in the Safeway, and since the sun surprised us by coming out and it was rather warm for a minute, I bought sunscreen. Finally we were off, and the full bike ride took us maybe ninety minutes.

It actually started to rain much earlie than forecast, but we were very nearly back to the cars by the time that happened. Had we started even half an hour later, we might have gotten soaked.

There was an Italian restaurant called Mama Stortini's near the end of the bike path, though, and Dad took me out to eat there. By the time we were eating, the sun was out again.

I got really full. I ordered mushroom and cheese risotto, but wound up bringing half of it home for Shobhit to finish, as Dad and I really filled up on bread and cheese sauce that came with the meals, and also the appetizer of mozzarella sticks we shared. I haven't eaten anything since. Between that and all the pizza I ate last night and this morning, I'm a little wary of the weight I'll ring it at tomorrow morning.

Anyway. I managed to get even more about the past two days written out here than I thought I would. Now I'm going to try to get some of the photos captioned.

[posted 7:28 pm]