30 March 2007

One of your Oxen has died...Zeke has cholera...You lose the trail, 5 day delay...

So maybe some of you remember that game "The Oregon Trail" from the late 80's and early 90's that they made us play in school during the computer class. I attribute much of my computer skills and mouse-hand coordination to this game and others such as Fraction Cruncher and this other one where you have to mine for gold or something and then figure out the optimal force in the pulley system to hoist the gold with. Anyway, primative Macintosh games, I thank you.

Back to the Oregon trail, I was just reminded of it since I went on an underground tour today of Seattle and learned about how the whole city had been built on the mudflats at sea level back in the 1800's and how the streets were made out of saw dust and mud. The tour guide (Lucy), ran us around in these underground tunnels and talked about the eventual construction of walls which would eventually form the curbs of the new roads, which were between 10 to 30 feet taller than the pre-existing street level. So after these roads were completed, the first level of buildings were still at sea level, so people would have to climb up and down ladders to get across the street. Eventually, they built sidewalks between the street and the buildings, which effectively created a hollow tunnel beneath the new sidewalks. Strangely enough, the stores and businesses still used the first floor (now basement) spaces for storefronts. As you can imagine, the businesses underground didn't do very well since people couldn't see them from above, so many of them shut down and the tunnels were condemned in 1907 and were not seen again until the 60's when this famous historian (Speidel), saved this area of the neighborhood from being demolitioned (it's called Pioneer Square) and he started this underground tour to teach people about the history of Seattle. So that was one of the two interesting things I did today.

Before the tour, I walked down to Pike Place Market, which is America's longest operating open market. It was a little touristy, but there was a lot to see and do there and I could have probably spent all day there. The majority of the vendors sold flowers, which seemed really reasonably priced considering it was a major tourist place. I had a feeling a lot of locals went there too to buy groceries and produce and stuff. It was similar to Fisherman's Wharf in SF but not as dirty, less homeless, and a wider variety of vendors and food, and or course, a much better view, since Mt. Ranier and the Olympics were visible across the water. While I was there, I saw the famous fish throwing by this small portly guy who lifting this large fish which was probably about 30 or 40 pounds and threw it at this woman who let it hit her in the face.

I walked down to the market which was about a quarter mile or so. It was much colder today but at least it wasn't raining. This morning I just dawdled around the room until late, went to Rite Aid and got some flu and cold medicine because last night I had a horrible fever and was waking up every few hours. I took some robitussin and went back to sleep until 11. I probably shouldn't have gone out with Alan and had so many beers last night, since I was already feeling shitty by then. Alan (my freshman year room mate), met up with me at my hotel, which is apparently in one of the most overpriced neighborhoods of Seattle, called Belltown. So we meet up and he takes me around to parks and places around my neighborhood. They had just opened a new park by the water, which was really nice and clean. We walked that and then he drove me up to this look-out by his neighborhood which had an awesome view of the city. After that we went to forage for food and randomly ran into some people we both knew from Stanford, who we lived with in Terra. We end up at this bar'ish place that serves diner-like food and we order a couple pitchers of beer and I get a blue cheese burger with sweet potato french fries. A couple of his friends show up and we all are just talking and shat the shit for about an hour and a half. I'm feeling dead tired and sick by this point so I ask Alan to drive me back to my hotel where upon I crash with barely enough energy to pee before bed.

The drive down from Vancouver was pretty much boring, but short, so that was nice. It wasn't raining and I had a great view of the Cascades on the way down. I accidentally drove half way through the Express lane at the border and had to cut into the normal people line, so that saved me probably about 20 minutes on the way back to the US. The morning I left, I had breakfast/brunch with Kevin, at a crepery in downtown Vancouver. Ham, cheese and egg with Illy coffee. We hung out the night before after meeting at a bar randomly on Davie street, a little ways away from my hotel. We met in the smoking room because, naturally, I had wanted to buy a cuban cigar while I was in Canada since they are legal there, and I wanted to smoke it before crossing the border. So i'm in the smoking room of this bar and there are only a few people in there and Kevin is the only person around my age, so we're talking and I found out he lives on University Ave in Palo Alto. Small world. So we get to talking and he works for some solar power company in San Jose as an engineer and he's in Vancouver on business. So we talk about engineering the whole rest of the night, skip out of that bar (Numbers) and head over to a couple of others around the same area of town. We go into the save-mart for him to buy extremely overpriced cigarettes ($8.15 USD), which I made a big deal about to the cashier, who explains to me that $9 CAN is only $5.50 USD, and then I whip out my phone calculator and show him the conversion and he was very rude about not accepting the fact that he was wrong and I was right. But anyway, we end up at this random bar on Granville St. which happens to have a foam party. So we're just watching me have fun in the foam, but I don't go near since I'm wearing my fuck-off leather boots and a velvet sports coat, dress pants and my new dress shirt I had bought earlier that day.

Earlier in the day, I noticed I was starting to feel crappy, so I took a nap around 5pm and I think that was the start of my sickness. After, I went out to dinner at this random authentic Spanish restaurant by the Granville bridge, which was kind of in a seedy part of town, but the food was excellent and cheap. I had Paella and patatas bravas with half a pitcher of sangria. After that I headed out to the first bar, since I was in the area and already out.

During the day, I mainly just biked around and saw Vancouver by bike, which was very easy to do since the area I was is like it's own little island and I was able to bike from one end to the other in 20 minutes or so. I visited Vancouver Port, which had a nice view backwards of the city and into the mountains, which were still very snow capped. I saw a man painting the entire length of the port which was about a quarter mile long, and asked him if he was going to paint the entire length. He said yes and I asked him how long it was going to take him, weeks or months, and he answered months, but that it was a job. Yea, one fucking long ass monotonous boring job, but at least he could take people there and say that he's responsible for painting the entire wall the ugly orange-pink color. Prior to that, I went to this store called Le Chateau and bought a dress shirt for that night since I had brought nice clothes to go out in but forgot a dress shirt. If I was going to smoke my Cuban, I was going to have to do it very pretentiously.

So that spans about the entire trip from the last time I wrote to now, besides taking the free bus back to my hotel (there is a free zone for the Seattle bus in the downtown area between 8am and 7pm) for some reason. So after that, I took more medication and slept and then got up and tried to find cheap, close food. I went to this crappy diner/bar with bad service and had chicken fried steak which was the size of my face and some really watery mashed potatoes and gravy. I couldn't complain though since it was only 8.59. I walked home and got some water on the way and now I just had some theraflu and am on my way to bed. So I'm too tired to post pictures at this point but maybe tomorrow when I get into Redding, CA, which is about a 9 1/2 hour drive from here. There is a sundial bridge there, which I think should be the highlight of that city. Now I know what the people on the Oregon trail might have felt like. No wonder they all got sick and died and ate each other. The weather in this area is enough t0 make people get sick if they're outside long enough, although the scenery is really beautiful, so I can't really complain. I feel kind of like a modern day frontiersman, but let's hope I don't die from the plague and the oxen under the hood of my civic don't die before I get to stanford. Cheers.


Anonymous said...

Sr. Doolan,
Sorry to hear of your illness. Sounds like you were committed to your goal of having fun, adventure and weren't going to let anything stand in your way including getting sick. Are you sure that you didn't get some bad food? I left a message on your cell. Last night they had a show on Vancouver on PBS. What a coincidence. Totem poles, The Grande Island or something, the park and the rainforest which is a temporate one. J.D.

Anonymous said...

Sr. Doolan,
Thanks for the interesting step back into the history of Seattle. This is almost as good as a PBS Special. Maybe you should consider being a travel & history show host for a career. But then again why stop there, when you have so many undiscovered talents. J.D.

Anonymous said...

Sr. Doolan
Now that's the kind of pontification that I've been talking about. J.D.

Anonymous said...

There have already been many times when I've told the story of randomly running into two guys from Palo Alto who never met until they came to Vancouver, whereupon they began to travel together. And as i walked past these two guys, one of them asked me if I knew where the intersection of Broadway and Commercial was. I happened to be going to that exact intersection and I offered to show them to it, if they would give me a ride.
At this point in the story most people are pretty well amazed. How coincidental right?
Then last month my friend happened to be reading around in random blogs and found a picture of me which i had forgotten had been captured by one of these guys from that time. And that friend of mine told me about the blog while I happened to be hanging out with him for the first time in years, probably.
Then! I read a blog entry and this guy with the picture of me (who's name I remember, now that i know, is Sean) and HE PLAYED THAT WAGONEER COMPUTER GAME IN SCHOOL TOO!!

Rodney said...