Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Fourth of July Celebration

Truth be told, I have never celebrated the Fourth of July, considering that my sister has been living in the states for a number of years. Now that she lives closer to home, we decided to do another trip to Seattle, with a few new sights to see. This was a short vacation, but a well appreciated one.

Never seen anything quite like it

July 3, 2015

This was the beginning of the trip. We made sure all of our luggages, the dog's food, and everything was in the car before making a two-hour trip to Seattle. We left pretty late, after my brother and mother came home from work. My parents were in the back with the boy, while my brother and I were up in front, driving cross the border into America.

Although there was little to no wait at the border, it was an accident on the freeway that caused our late arrival to my sister's place. It was really slow, but still manageable, and hopefully those people are a-okay. My father, of course, had to take a nap:

Snoozing through the traffic

Excitement from all of the flashing lights

My dog can't really stand on his own, so I have to perch him up on my thigh so he can look into the glowing lights of the traffic. After passing through the accident, it was pretty much smooth sailing from there, and we arrived at my sister's place close to 10PM. We have not seen the place before other than photos, and I must say, it has incredible views, even at night (photos later into the post).

Their place is pretty new, a few years old, but still has a lot of furniture needing to be purchased... Can you guess what we did the next day? Well, that pretty much summed up the night of arrival.

July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July! There wasn't much planning for this day, which may have lead to a different plan than what I expected. I was ready with my patriotic outfit, but some plans have to be adjusted to do get certain tasks done.

I don't know about you, but one problem my family faces is making a decision. Whether it's a vacation plan or what to do today, no one is willing to put their foot down. It's mostly my father not caring and then heating up because everyone else doesn't want to decide... Yeah, logic. So I am the one who ends up getting the choice (yay me!) Not sure what it was, but I really wanted chicken wings that day, considering it tends to mostly be an American thing to go out and get some and hang around.

Located not too far from home is Buffalo Wild Wings, a franchise restaurant with a lot of variety. The interior surrounds a football landscape, with nice wide open space to seat just about any number sized party/

Never have I ever seen such variety of merchandise from a restaurant

The almighty buffalo

We were seated in what could be considered the patio area with wide open windows to create a brighter view compared to the rest of the restaurant. Not only were we the only ones there, but it was actually colder in the area where we sat.

The servers were really fast in terms of service, providing drinks in a matter of seconds. I decided for what I believe was root beer (I can't remember anymore what I got), but I really do enjoy their logo to snap shot my drink:


According to my sister, the drinks were endless, and they gave refills on the house - that's nice. My brother got some type of lemonade mix, but finding it to be a tad bit sweet to his liking, only to find out that your refill can be changed into another drink - double nice points.

With so many flavours to choose from, it was nearly impossible to pick a selection for wings. At Buffalo Wild Wings, they provide samplers where you can try out the sauces on french fries. So we chose five, most of them being spicy and one being cheese. This is what essentially comes out:


The one that I got (I think it was the top right) was not so good, a little too tangy. So we settled for some mild, some spicy, and some home-feeling selections. I don't know what it is about wings and pairing it with sweet chilli sauce, but it's always there, and I always find myself getting that one. Anyways, when the wings came out, they were quite a spectacle:

They're ginormous

If you ever had chicken wings in Canada, it would be about three of them to make one wing at this place. I didn't even know about dry sauces until my mother ordered one, and that was a bit salty, but still tasty. The fan favourite had to be cheese wings, that was the one everyone kept grabbing. In addition to ordering wings, we got ourselves an appetizer while my mother shared with my father a flat bread. I know that I chose the poppers, but there was bacon in them - I should have read the description:

Why must there be bacon in you?

Mmm, more chicken

Solid food as always, and I was satisfied just on those little drumsticks and wings. The mall may have been walking distance, but it was way too hot to walk outside. So we took the car closer to the entrance, and walked around for about an hour.

Their mall is quite big, and busy, considering it's the Fourth of July... I guess people need to get their errands done instead of celebrating? I managed to get myself some shorts, though most people who have seen me in them question why I got them.

After about an hour walking through the mall, we met back up at the centre where the most time would be spent: at Seafood City. Since we planned on having dinner at home, she needed to pick up a few items in store. My cousin told me about an ube (purple yam) cheesecake that was sold here, only to find out that it's a single serving size. Maybe another time I shall try it out, but I was okay. Instead, I was looking at these beauties:

French Macarons

When have supermarkets decided to sell such desserts? Really, I don't think this is even a selection you can find in a supermarket at home - does anyone know? They were quite expensive, roughly about the same price one would get them at a bakery. I think the colours are magnificent, but other than that, not willing to pay that price.

My mother wanted to look at the hot foods at Seafood City, and so I decided to go to Jollibee and get myself a Pearl Cooler (no trip is complete without the Jollibee). But before getting into the store, I encountered this site:

Like father, like son

When everyone was in the area, we headed into University Village to go shopping for... furniture. Well, when you live so close to family, these are the kind of outings one will do. But to be fair, my sister and brother-in-law just moved into their new house.

There were some interesting points about University Village, with one being the home to the Starbucks that began selling alcohol (who knows if that will expand worldwide). Another interesting feature of this place is how it reminded me of an outlet mall in Las Vegas, but if there was any difference, it would have to be the random water features surrounding the place:

Something peaceful about this

Although I don't think most homes would want a waterfall quite like this, it's still relaxing to see it overflowing, but not getting the surroundings wet. We went into Crate & Barrel, and looked a specific piece of furniture (one I shall not state). It took a while to figure out the dimensions, extensions, and considerations into getting said piece. While I wasn't too much interested in the specifics, I did find a few items that did catch my eye:

Wood on wood: the new classic

Pop-up art is definitely in

I could sleep on this all day

Despite spending some time in a Crate & Barrel on the Fourth of July, we eventually got to head home. The views were absolutely stunning, and you could tell people were partying in the water... I just wonder how many people in the area own a boat:

Preparing for them fireworks

Just before my sister's house is a strip where one can stop and take a view of the city, and let me tell you, it's something. And on such a beautiful day, there was the necessary advertisement plane:

15 minutes could save you 15%

Ain't it a beauty?

So much happy going on

By this point, we were pretty tired (from doing mostly nothing), but we still had to get dinner going. So my mother helped Jonathan (my brother-in-law), and he is quite the wiz in the kitchen. I have never seen so many utensils and pans in one setting, and their kitchen is quite small. Regardless of the size, they made one heck of a dinner, with steak and salad, with nachos for an appetizer.

Since we did not have a chance to celebrate Father's Day as a family, and it was my father's birthday coming up, we decided to do one celebration cake altogether to come up with a message like this:

Here's to the celebrant

Never smiles quite right

Family portrait

Needs some help with blowing the cake

You can see the effort in his face

Update family photo, with a lot of loving going on

We pretty much unwound at home, chilling by the TV and watching whatever was on. My brother is very good at lounging around, he is quite the expert:

In his natural environment

Me, on the other hand, had to take obligatory sunset photos what seemed to be every half hour. And look who decided to accompany me and my photo frenzy:

Boy Boy

This is the balcony - incredible, isn't it?

Jonathan pointed out that I had to take the sunset when there was a hint of red appearing behind the valleys. I just decided to set the camera on multi-filter mode, and this what spewed out of it:

Such a difference, but still captivating

Just enjoy the scenery

Could never get tired of this

The right moment


Originally, we wanted to go to a designated for perfect view of the fireworks - except, we didn't know which one to choose. Jonathan said not to go into the city, because it's impossible to leave afterwards, and the closest place would have been roughly about half an hour by driving. Instead, we just stayed home, hoping for something to come out on the balcony. Luckily, there were probably eight shows happening at once. I tried to take photos, but the main show was covered by trees. Here were my attempts:

Can you see it on the left?

I mean, the right?

It was hard to focus on one show, since they kept going after another, but I eventually focused on one show that seemed pretty close to home, probably just on the beach. For a free show, it was pretty decent. The view may be on point, but it's not really ideal for fireworks.

This pretty much summed up the day. Everyone was just dead by this point, and it can be summed up with these photos:

So tired that it makes you laugh

Day, just end

Even the poor boy needs to cool down

Has no idea what to do anymore

It wasn't exactly the Fourth of July I thought we would have, but it all came down to the important things: spending time with family, but just enough so we are not sick of each other. Who knows, this might be an annual event (minus the furniture shopping, and more exaggerated patriotism).

July 5, 2015

Morning came rather quickly, though I am a light sleeper. I didn't get a chance to go out on a run with my family last day, so I decided that I should go on one while everyone is just waking up. Before going out on a run, I had to take a shot of the view in the morning:

Would you look at that?

I had no clue where I was running, and I just wanted to go for a little run, a solid half hour would do. My sister lives on a hill, and I decided it would be a good idea to go uphill first, and then cool off with some downhill action. One street led to another, and before you knew it, I encountered a number of dead ends. Don't know who constructed the neighbourhoods, but it was confusing to navigate my way around.

There was a point where I thought I would be home soon until I found out, some streets don't go all the way. Yes, there are some streets that are cut off by a house, meaning that I have to go all the way around before getting home. Since I felt like I haven't done enough, I kept going down until I encountered this stairway:

Time to explore

Reaching the bottom of this point, I saw the most incredible structure on my left, it's something I've never seen:

Simply brilliant

Not even in Canada have I seen houses supported by bare wood. This is truly magnificent, I envy the people who live in a place with probably the best views of the fireworks last day. At the bottom, there is this rocky beach where a lot of children happen to play around. There were no children in the morning time, but I can assume that they play here based on the art work they have left behind:

It's rather artistic

Such creativity with nature

Enough of the incredible views, I had to find my way home! I was jogging along the street when I found some interesting engravings on the sidewalk. They were constellations, and they showed the shape for a bunch of them (none being the big dipper). Here were a few of them:



And what is this?

My astrological sign!

I somehow found myself getting into the actual beach, with restaurants on one side, and a number of people laying down, trying to get their tan on. The main feature of this beach had to be the miniature Statue of Liberty in the centre of the beach; not sure what was going on, but okay. After hitting another number of dead ends, getting help from a stranger, and getting onto a main street, I managed to get home. Everyone was looking for me, and they even sent text messages - it would have worked if I had data or something, you know?

Regardless of the adventures I've been while on my jog, I still had enough time to get ready for church. Oddly enough, we managed to get there a few minutes late, but still got some good seating. I don't know how my sister or Jonathan found this church, but it's quite nice. It may lack ventilation, but it's reminiscent to the church back at home. The main difference between churches in the States compared to home would be the structure. I mean, look at this place:

Very intricate

Such beauty for the Lord

My brother wanted to go to a sporting store, so he and Jonathan got into one car while the rest of my family and I checked out the street market. Not sure how often they hold this, but it's a nice change from the city.

Rhyme always gets to me

The official font of Seattle

Quirkiness all around

Them signs are something I haven't seen before

Look at the exquisiteness

Now that's my kind of place

The market mostly sold produce and specialty foods, such as flavoured vinegars and specialty beers from breweries I've never heard. But nonetheless, it was comforting to see this kind of change. If I have a weakness for anything, it would have to be consignment stores. So when I saw one walking back to the car, I had to enter. Unfortunately, the men's section was small in comparison to the women's. There was this boxed-cake recipe book that caught my attention, but the main attraction had to be this piece of art:

The perfect man

It's a masterpiece, alright. By this point, we needed food. Being the impatient man that my father is, we ended up eating Taco Del Mar - not exactly what my sister had in mind, but was a good fix. Close by was a drug store where my uncle wanted me to buy him a comb (he's specific about his brands). Although I did not find it, I did see a Coca-Cola with Jonathan's nickname which I had to buy, and these interesting line of paper towels:

No pun intended

Not sure what makes a person basic, but maybe this is a good start? Since there was a Marshalls in the area, we had to make a pit stop over there, where I found myself purchasing a number of articles that are happily part of my wardrobe. My sister got herself new bedding, while my mother got a few finds that she now wears in daily rotation.

But what day could be complete without another visit to Crate & Barrel? My sister was determined to get her furniture purchased this day - but no dice. So we ventured into a different furniture store, Room & Board, which offered a different variety of furniture. It's interesting how their pieces are made in locations around the states, and only a few stores have opened. I will admit the furniture we were focusing on were more relaxed and comfortable, but the other selections were the object of my desire. For example:

This desk (in the children's section, but still!)

Couch with adjustable back rest

Bed with a lot of storage space

Perhaps I should get into furniture design, the people behind these creations get creative on a level I can't even handle. In addition to the furniture, they also sell paint and miscellaneous items that I would never have thought of, such as a rolling cutting board - probably not the best description, but it's a stand that you can move around.

On a particular cutting board, I thought it would be a great moment to capture this photo:

Bug in fish-eye lenses

That's me trying to get artsy; that, or I was bored. My brother and I got restless with all of the commentary at Board & Room, and so we left and walked around the place. My mother suggested that we get ice cream, specifically at a shop my cousin suggested to me. When we got to the place, well, this is what get came to:

Damnlong line-up

It must be some good ice cream, especially when the logo is your dog. From the outside, it's really nostalgic, with milk bottles as light finishings - such nice detail.

Right beside the shop was a place that felt like home to me. Kumon is a Math and Reading Centre, and also the place where I learned Math when I was young. My brother and cousins use to take the program, but none of us managed to finish the entire program. So when I saw this little gem, I had to look into the place:

This is already making an impression

Too bad it was closed, but it's still amazing from the outside

Considering I took Kumon in a high school, it has really stepped up its game since I was there. My brother didn't purchase any sporting goods earlier, which naturally directed us to enter the Nike store, which sells some unique items I never knew Nike sold. For instance, they have some appealing apparel that matches from head to toe, and variations of the same article that makes you want to buy it all. We may have not gotten anything, but the designers of the store really know how to make it local:

I shall try these routes some day

We had to return to where it all started: Crate & Barrel. I guess when it comes to furniture, it's love at first sight. My sister had her heart on this piece, and so we returned to find out more about it. While they kept talking about it, my brother, father, and I were just on the sidelines, giving me the opportunity to capture this moment, only to have my sister join in the last minute:

We are highly amused at this point

After all of the talks and whatnot about getting furniture, we left the store empty handed. Oh well, keep in mind that furniture shopping is not as fun as it may seem. That pretty much concluded the trip. It's such a change to see where my sister was a few months ago to all of a sudden move into a new place with such open space; her and Jonathan keep upgrading.

Like I said, it may not have been such a celebration for the country, but it was still a joy to spend family time and have everyone together. And most importantly, we got to celebrate my father's... everything. So until we meet again Seattle (which I think is pretty soon). May there be no more furniture shopping and more exploring to see what this city has to offer.

The sun setting as we headed home

That's the end?

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