Monday, February 2, 2009


This weekend Andy and I drove down to Portland.  Partially to celebrate the 4.0 I got on my Otis the Farmer assignment (go me!), partially to keep from going stir crazy, and partially because both of our laptops were on their way out and we wanted to get a MacBook.  Which I am now typing on, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Mini road trips are not unusual to me.  Every year my dad eventually gets the overwhelming urge to dip his feet in the ocean, and so there is a day trip out to the coastal beaches and much cold salt water, and I have accompanied on many occasion.  This sort of trip is scientifically proven to be good for you.  I know because I am a biologist.  So!  It turns out Andy and I are like this too.  Just pick up and drive somewhere for a day or so.  Take lots of pictures.  Come back ready for the work week again.  It clears out cobwebs and repetitive thought patterns from your head.

So Saturday morning we packed up our essentials, enough to fit in one bag.  We didn't even have to put the seat down in the Mini.  We were off!  On the way down we made a stop at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge, just outside of Olympia.  The day was beautiful, though it was rather windy, 
but it was great weather to look for birds.  There are very long trails there, which I've walked before, but we just took a shorter loop that went by a lot of the water there.  I didn't see anything new, but I did see some waterfowl I hadn't seen in a while.  Gadwalls, which look plain from a distance but actually have very fine striations in their feathers.  Northern Pintails, the males who have a striking black and white pattern, a blue U on their bills, and very long pointy tails.  Green Winged teals, who look like wannabe wood ducks with their green masks on red heads.  American Widgeon, who look like they have a bald patch on their otherwise red head.  There were also Mallards, Northern Shovelers, and plenty of Canadian geese.

In fact, after we left the refuge, we saw even more geese.  There was a huge formation of them flying over the highway.  And then all of a sudden the Mini was bombarded by high altitude poop.  Which was green.  Andy pressed the windshield washer faster than I could take a picture!
Anyhow!  We continued on our way, and the weather got darker and rainier, by the time we got to Portland it was dry, cold, and foggy.  We checked in at the beautiful downtown Hotel Lucia, which was very comfy and had lots and lots of famous photos gracing the walls.  And then we went out and walked to the Mac store and picked up this sweet sweet MacBook.  I'm still getting used to it, mostly because the keyboard shortcuts all involve the crazy little clover-shaped "command" button.  But everything is very intuitive, and holy hell everything is so fast.  Even turning on and off is lightning.  So we went out and got squash pizza from Ken's Artisan Pizza, stopped by a Safeway to get more snacks and drinks and came back to the hotel to veg out, which was awesome.

Sunday morning, after sleeping in, and after I'd started getting over a migraine, we checked out and drove out to find breakfast.  There was a little french bakery and cafe that we found called Petite Provence, and the food there was amazing.  I had berry french toast and Andy had this thing that was poached eggs on baked tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.  Everything was delicious, and the place was very crowded, which is good.  The last time we went down to Portland we had found a waffle place that was great, but by this trip it had gone out of business!  Sometimes finding hole-in-the-wall places is a curse.

Breakfast was followed by, of course, a trip to Powell's Books.  It is a must for us every time we're in Portland.  Not like we don't already have a stack of unread books that we need to catch up on, but you can never have enough books.  You can find books for your favorite authors that have been out of print for years and years, and all the hard to find things that you'd given up on years ago.  Andy and I love that place.  It would be hard not to.  Plus they have a wall where every author that visits signs it.

After that we were on our way home!  Except for a little detour at a little-known nature preserve called the Mima Mounds.  It is a weird geological oddity just south of Olympia that no scientist has really fully explained.  I'd been there in college with an ethnobiology class, talking about the Native American's who had used the mounds to grow camas flowers for their agriculture.  I'd told Andy about it before, but it's sort of difficult to describe, so we stopped by to see it!

We got home in the early evening, and I was very exhausted but happy about our trip.  Grunty was glad we were home too.