Ben @ PDX, June 28-July 8, 2003

I’ve just returned from a trip to the Pacific Northwest to attend Mark and Robin’s reception and see the gang. Here’s a lil blow-by-blow:

6-28-03: Arrive (two hours late due to an unexpected plane switch in Cincinnati; luckily we switched on the ground) in PDX around 1. George picks me up in the World’s Jankiest Truck, which I am thankful for. We spirit off to Mark and Robin’s (M&R’s hereafter), and are put to work 15 seconds after arrival threading beads. Mark is the fastest bead-slinger. I am the slowest. Such is life. Acquire taquitos at Jack in the Box. We played some Epic Duels with M, G, Mark’s friend Grey, and George’s friend Claire. George suffers his only defeat for the whole week after a brutal tag-team in a 2vs3 match. Install my version of Rise of Nations that evening and eventually get it running right (thanks Mark n Grey!). Amazingly, George and I leave at a reasonable hour to crash at the Reed Christian Pad.

6-29-03: Awake at 8 to go see Colin in his first bike race, 4 laps on Mt. Tabor. Colin gets cocky and attacks early but still finishes an impressive 4th. G runs off to speak with God and I take the bus across town with Diana, meeting Colin at their place (C&D’s hereafter), which is quite swanky, including two full living rooms (but only one with Grand Theft Auto, which oddly is the one we ended up in). Ben begins learning how to jack foolz and pop caps in their asses immediately. Brandon arrives in town early evening in the Most Valuable Vehicle (MVV), da Durango. We should have filmed a commercial and sent it to Dodge this weekend, cause we really got a chance to use it’s tasty SUV-ness. We even had the racially-balanced group of young people which is so important these days (they could have air-brushed my ass out and replaced me with a golden retriever or something). We all went off to a tasty Chinese dinner at Legann (SP?) on 82nd with a bunch of Mark’s peoples. George ate roughly 6 times as much as the rest of us combined, impressive several of the ladies in the process. I’m so proud of him, having found the ability to woo women by gorging himself. He’s come so far! Then off to Avalon with G, C, and Brandon. Brandon whooped all our asses in air hockey, a fact he made sure to remind us of over the subsequent seven days. A good time was had by all. Then back to the comfy confines of C&D’s for some more GTA and bullshitting.

6-30-03: Day of the reception!! We wake up late, hit off some more RoN and venture to Tigard to have it our way. Then more gaming and off to the reception when Colin and Diana get home from work (you poor guys!). The day turned out colder than predicted, but the reception was big fun with great food (especially the Middle Eastern stuff). We catch up with a bunch of people and play some volleyball (mostly poorly, cept for G and Mark’s friend Jeff, who is roughly 11 feet tall). Mark and Robin played off the cake cutting, but I kinda felt myself a little choked up nonetheless. It’s crazy how life works sometimes; I guess it’s just nice to celebrate people and relationships sometimes, and our group doesn’t seem to do that too often. It was good to have a little party, no matter how laid back. Due to the overestimation of the turnout, there is a LOT of leftover food, which is distributed among a bunch of people. Then back to C&D’s where George commences demolishing the Chinese and the BBQ leftovers. More RoN and GTA as well.

7-1-03: Wake late and game a little, then we hit the road and had some Mexican food near M&R’s at La Carreta (which Brandon probably regrets, ask him why). Then over to gather George’s and my stuff and Brandon offers to drop George at the SKI CABIN, so we hit the road in a hurry to Mt. Hood. On the way we sample G’s favorite music (read: Milli Vanilli, Paula Abdul, Whitesnake heh heh). The sun was low in the sky and the scenery was gorgeous! Definitely worth the trip. After a few minutes shooting the bull with Johnny, who was subbing for G, we hit the road. Destination: Seattle. During the 3-hour ride, Brandon actually remembers each car (4 of em) which passed us on the drive. You figure out what it means! Stop of at Denny’s for midnight breakfast and then on to Brandon’s casa downtown, which was quite nice if small and within walking distance of EVERYTHING. A bit of PS2 gaming and we crash, having to get up early the next day. We also see the worst set of pictures I’ve ever witnessed of what happens when you get bit by a spider and get necrosis (hint: it’s bad).

7-2-03: We wake up early to make an appointment across some frickin body of water in Bellevue, to take in the trusty Durango. From there, a cab to see the first showing of Terminator 3 at a nearby theater. I thought it was amusing, more funny and less action than T2 but worth it. We made friends with a cabbie after Brandon laid on the charm (it’s the Harry Potter thing, good conversation starter). I guess if you are a cabbie long enough, you eventually have to deliver a baby and who knows what else. Turns out the car we took in had no problem, so that was a waste. Lunch at a fusion Cajun/Irish place. Good food, but I mean, I’m just sick of all the Cajun/Irish places out there. Don’t people have any imagination? I learn the benefits of the minigun in Vice City, and we have Chinese for dinner (there Brandon, are you happy now that I told everyone?). I love Brandon’s place, there’s like 50 restaurants within 2 minutes of walking. Maybe it’s not a good thing, as for the next roughly 48 hours we didn’t do anything but bullshit, game, and watch movies (I saw 4! all of them i’d seen before! how dumb is that?!)

7-3-03: More useless gaming! Lunch @ Mexican (another bad move, MR. Bond!) and dinner @ Italian.

7-4-03: We go to a July 4th BBQ at Brandon’s apartment complex. Full of interesting young people with cool talents (i.e. a ten-year-old who asked people to throw plastic forks at him all night so he could test our his shield fashioned from a plastic platter…I actually got good at lobbing the forks OVER the D). I heard some cool hip-hop from some guys who are up on underground stuff, and hopefully will get a copy of a CD compliling stuff produced by Kayne West (if Brandon hooks me up, come on dawg). Finally get back after another Jack in the Box run around 2:30 and we decide to play and not sleep.

7-5-03: Wake up at 6:30 after an hour of sleep (train left early) and haul our asses to the train station, where I say farewell to Brandon. Sleep most of the ride and get into PDX at 11 AM. Roll over to Dharma’s pad where we catch up for several hours, with one trip to 23rd in NW for food at the Cameo Cafe (hotcakes the size of a pizza, I shit you not). I also procured some tasty treats at a bakery up there but then left em at D’s place. Hope you enjoyed it, Dharma! Early evening, I roll back to M&R’s on the 19. We hit up Dairy Queen for dinner (my first DQ dinner, woo!) and then go down to Belmont for another Avalon trip. After shooting the breeze with Dylan and Doug, we think better of nickling it and return to the pad for some RoN.

7-6-03: We had dinner at Thanh Thao’s with C&D, which was quite good. It’s too bad I didn’t get into TT’s more until after I left PDX. Then back to M&R’s for some Cranium, where I drew a bad-ass tennis racket blind. Unfortunately, George wasn’t feeling me and M&R carried the day.

7-7-03: Wake up late (notice a pattern?) and finally make the Chang’s pilgrimage (TM) for lunch: G, Mark, Scott, and I. The soy seemed a little weak but otherwise, it was quite happening. Adhering strictly to the one-garlic-scoop rule, we improvised. Mark and I disgraced ourselves by eating like just over 2 bowls between us, but G was on the ball with a solid first run and a double-bowl on the second. We had leftovers for dinner and watched “Shaolin Soccer” as well, which was SUPER funny. I think I might have to rent or buy it to see it again. An instant classic. We ate some leftovers for dinner and George cooked some food for a late-night snack. Then Mark and I dominated in Pictionary, Mark won a quick round of the Great Khan Game, and we made the mistake of staying up later to play some DungeonQuest. Basically, DungeonQuest consists of the following steps: you all pick a character (they’re all the same) and one “magic ring” (also, all the same). Then you wander into a randomly-generated dungeon, where you get bitten by flies, fall into spiked pit traps, spun around by rotating rooms, and eventually flung into a bottomless pit. The person who dies last is the winner, I guess…

7-8-03: Lunch at the hotcake house. My poor GI system is ill-equipped for that kind of thing these days. Then we trekked back to the pad for some online 3-player RoN with Brandon; we seemed to be getting a lot better, easily beating even numbers at tough-tougher. Aside from the intermittent crashes, these were some fun games. Hooked up some Teriyaki for dinner. That evening, an epic game of Talisman, with M and G (Scott had to work so he left early, his Samurai sitting dutifully in wait for him for the remainder of the game). In the end, I beat George to the punch by a single turn (lucky, cause he had been whooping my ass for several turns) and rolled a lucky ending, whereupon the dragon king ate my enemies.

7-9-03: Take the MAX to the airport on two hours sleep…get stuck on the runway in Cincy (AGAIN) in a massive LOUD thunderstorm, arrive at home just after 11. I read the entirety of PKD’s “The Man in the High Castle” over the course of the day. I still have to think more before I can describe the book. Nevertheless, it was quite riveting.

Thanks everyone for big fun! If Mark has some pictorial depictions from his new camera of anything I talked about above, I welcome him to post em or send em to me so I can include them. I’m trying to become a blog-picture-whore like Melhus.

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