Workin’ Vacation

Last year we took a long weekend trip to Portland and returned the night of the Fourth of July. This year I suggested we turn it around, flying up on the Fourth so we could catch the fireworks in the evening, and then have a vacation in Portland with our friend Karen.

We flew in Wednesday afternoon. Karen threw a barbecue party in the late afternoon, with us, her mother, sister, and some friends coming by. I was elected grillmaster, and did my best with Karen’s charcoal grill. Well, okay, it wasn’t the grill’s fault, it was fine; I just have a gas grill at home, so when I do use charcoal I always have to remember just how it all works. This time around, I should have left the grill uncovered so the coals could breathe and heat up. Instead they just sort of smouldered for a while. I was actually able to get everything cooked through, it just took about twice as long as it should have. Go me!

But seriously, we all had a good time, and the food was good. Can’t ask any fairer than that.

Thursday we had a quiet day: Karen went to work for a bit, since she had an appointment, and Debbi and I hung around at home. When Karen came back, we worked to get her wi-fi set up.

So here’s the thing: I have this habit of visiting Karen shortly after she moves. I think this is the fourth time in seven years. Go figure. No, I don’t help her unpack, but I do help her with some projects around the house. It’s fun, really: I feel like I get some things done, and leave her house in better shape than when I arrived.

Back to her wi-fi: Last time I set it up she had DSL. This time she has Comcast cable. I figured: It’s a modem, it probably works just the same. And it almost does, except for one thing: The modem apparently records the MAC address (nothing to do with Apple, it’s the built-in identifier for the ethernet card) of the device it’s plugged into, and in order to plug it into a different device you have to power-cycle the modem. Which would be fine (if stupid) if Comcast actually told us this, but in fact it came with no documentation, and their help line wasn’t much help, either. So a 5-minute project turned into a 40-minute project. Sheesh.

Anyway, we did get the wi-fi set up, and I didn’t even have to reset the base station. Woo-hoo!

Friday we hit a couple of my favorite places in Portland: Fat Albert’s breakfast cafe (home of awesome biscuits and gravy), and of course Powell’s books.

In the evening we went to a baseball game, the Portland Beavers hosting the Tacoma Rainiers. Ah, minor league baseball, even of the AAA variety. The Beavers – the Padres’ affiliate – is a pretty weak team these days, staffed with some borderline prospects and some decent backup or former Major Leaguers. The Rainiers features some guys who look like real prospects, like Jeff Clement and this guy, Adam Jones:

(click to view full-sized)

The game was a laffer from early on and the Rainiers won 10-4. We did get to see some nuns watching the game from some good seats, but I’m sure you’re more interested in seeing us enjoying the game:


When I say this was a “working vacation”, I mean the projects I undertook around the house, and mostly those were Saturday and Sunday. We picked up some shelves which I installed in the bathroom:


And some flowers which I planted in pots on the front porch:


And tomato plants and herbs which went in the back yard:


The owner of the house had planted some heirloom tomatoes, some of which self-seeded, so Karen’s got some mystery tomato plants lurking around, and who knows what those will produce! But I caged several of them, so she’ll get a chance to find out.

In between it all I was able to make a run to Excalibur Comics, and Saturday evening we met my friend J.D. and his wife Kris for dinner and dessert. We had a great time, like we did last year. I got to ask J.D. what the size of a medium box is. Less flippantly, we talked comics (I’m scandalized that J.D. is going digital with his comics reading), Magic (he used to play, too – in fact, his period of playing almost exactly covers my time away from the game), and various other things. A nice, relaxing evening.

I even surprised everyone by eating a clam!

I think the vacation was about a day too short, as I would have enjoyed one day of just lying around or going to see some sights. But Sunday afternoon we headed to the airport (okay, after one more trip to Fat Albert’s) and came home. The cats were very happy to see us, although Roulette expressed her unhappiness by avoiding me all evening.

But she forgave me eventually!