bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Wednesday, 9/20: Drove in to the office for the day, then made a stop at our other office in Redmond Town Center to deliver Greg his award before continuing on to Shari's for dinner with the Bears. Traffic was horrible: it took an hour and change to travel the 16 miles or so from RTC to the restaurant in Renton. We were six: Stan and John, Peter, Jim, Gary and me. Stan and John had news of our friend Gary from Federal Way, who had been involved in an accident in Brendan's truck and was rather seriously injured. [He's recovering nicely as I write, but still has a way to go before he's back on his feet.]

Saturday, 9/23: Had an all-day rehearsal. Decided to drive down so I could show Neil and Sam my new car. Rehearsal went rather well despite the fact it was way early in the concert cycle. Neil and I had lunch at Blue Water Taco Grill around the corner from the Washington Athletic Club.

Monday, 9/25: Bused it down to rehearsal. Had an early start so I went around the block the other way for a change and had dinner at Mod Pizza with Paul (the Episcopalian) and Rhane among others. Rehearsal went well, and toward the end Paul (our director) introduced the chorus to a really cute otter-pup who works with LGBT refugees settling in the area (either in the US or more likely in Canada). It looks as though Paul is going to work with him to tell these folks' stories in a larger musical work, not this year but maybe next.

Wednesday, 9/27: Parked at South Everett and bused it in to the office. A cute cubby dude sat across from me on the 106 bus between Canyon Park and my office. That bus ran way late so I wrapped up work around four.

Headed down to Capitol Hill for Bear Hump. Caught the 238 bus across from the Y and transferred to the 372 at UW Bothell/Cascadia. The connection was awfully tight and we had to shout at the 372 driver to stop because he didn't hear the other driver honk to let him know the three of us were coming. The big artic bus was practically empty, with maybe half a dozen people at first. A little bear about my age sat directly behind me. On the high bench was a kinda cute dude (but, alas, without face fur) wearing a windbreaker, cargo shorts, sneakers with half socks, and a Sounders scarf. His legs were intensely furry but the fur was blond so not as noticeable. I transferred to the light rail at Rainier Vista on the UW campus and topped up my ORCA card at the station; once I arrived at Capitol Hill, I walked in the usual arc down Olive and Summit (and felt just the slightest bit better about it this time). At the venue I ran into our friend from the Navigator Hotel and a mountain of ginger bear. I didn't stay long as I wanted to be back home in time for a late dinner.

I caught the bus down to Westlake Station, descended to platform level and noticed five security guards congregating at one end of the southbound platform, probably for the soccer match which was just getting underway. The first was a tall otter who reminded me of Wes (of Wes and Barry), balding with a thick black beard. In contrast, the second was far shorter and reminded me of Bob the TSO, except browner with more Hispanic features. A third resembled Jake Gyllenhall, the fourth Carlos from Chicago, and the last Stan Hill who commissioned and conducted NakedMan. On the train there was a smattering of Sounders fans still making their way to the stadium, and a cute cub in a curious tricycle wheelchair powered by a hand crank and bicycle chain attached to the front wheel.

When I left the train at ID/Chinatown and walked over to the bus stop the other side of Union Station, there was a camper sleeping on the stairs who I managed to pass without waking them up. At Washington Street a cub with long frizzy hair and a trim beard boarded. At 45th a tall dude with a dark scraggly beard and a receding hairline, wearing a polo shirt, thin basketball shorts with a loud printed pattern and sneakers, boarded and started reading a Carl Hiassen novel with obvious enjoyment. The dude to my right was Not Amused, judging by the expression on his face.

Saturday 9/30: We were scheduled for another night of Snohomo Bingo with ETHEL!! as Mistresses of Ceremonies. This time I'd prepaid for two seats at the Friends of ETHEL!! table. After a number of attempts, a couple other chorines and I managed to agree on a time and place for pre-bingo dinner, settling on Brooklyn Bros. Pizza on Hewitt Ave a couple blocks from the hall. Daren and Mitch joined us for pizza, salad, and good conversation. The theme was Superheroes: I wore the Superbear T-shirt I had received off Justin's back in trade for one of my Great Canadian Bear Hunt shirts at our first Bear Town, while Gary wore a new Flash T-shirt we just bought at Fred Meyer for the occasion. Bingo was quite fun, although as usual no one at the Friends of ETHEL!! table won. There was a touching moment when the family of Naughty Santa (who passed away earlier this year) sent a message to the Ethels to read.

Monday 10/2: I had to get to the rehearsal venue early for Membership Council elections and was running into the typical frustration of having everything go wrong precisely because I was in a hurry, but managed to make it to Subway for dinner and to the venue without further incident. Rehearsal went well and I met a new Upper Bass named Eli when he sat next to me. He's a cute otter-pup.

Wednesday 10/4: Parked at South Everett again. On the side bench "upstairs" there was a cute little otter with a trim dark beard with highlights and a half-bald head with the rest shaved to about a millimeter or two, wearing a North Face jacket, worn jeans and canvas deck shoes. He was seated beside a lady with long blonde-ish braided pigtails and an ample bosom, wearing an embroidered denim dress, who reminded me of a character in Cobalt by Nathan Aldyne (which has been described as a "gay Nick-and Nora mystery"). Beside me in the corner of the back bench was a skinny black kid in a hoodie alternately snoozing and working his phone.

Work went OK although I didn't get an opportunity to box up the leftover Pride shirts because Greg was out of the office and couldn't send me an interoffice shipping label. On the 535 bus to Canyon Park, a balding young bear with a thick red beard sat to my left directly behind the driver. Opposite me was a scruffy brown-haired otter-pup, who reminded me of the shorter of The Jims but for the fact his face was rather scarred; he left with me at Canyon Park.

That evening Gary and I headed for Buffalo Wild Wings in Smoky Point for dinner and to take in a hockey game. Unfortunately it seems this particular BWW location doesn't subscribe to Center Ice, so there was only one game on offer. However, the waitress handed me a tablet to redeem some of my points, and so once that was done we played trivia on the tablet and actually did rather well.

Yesterday, Friday 10/6: Had an incident with the Single Sign-On software on my laptop which resulted in getting locked out of Windows, so I finished my first conference call of the day from home and then drove in to the office. As I exited I-405 at 195th Street, I ended up following a big bear on a big motorcycle all the way to the office. The bike looked custom-made and he wore one of those helmets that looks like Sergeant Schultz from Hogan's Heroes.

The PC issues were fairly quickly cleared up by plugging in to the network and calling the Help Desk to reset my password. Once that was done I reserved my usual desk by the windows and sat down to work. Outside there was a window washing crew using a lift to get the upper-story windows, and I noticed both of the crew were big bears. I must have been smiling because I got a smile and a nod back from one of the window-washers.

After work I stopped by Safeway for milk and cereal, where I spotted a huge black bear in a hoodie and long basketball shorts coming in to the store while I waited in the cashier line; then I stopped at Ivar's to pick up our usual dinner (5-piece Cajun cod for me, salmon platter for Gary, and lots of chowder).
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Got up about 5:30 to use the bathroom and decided to reset my alarm to 6:30 rather than 6, since Gary was already awake and ready to hop in the shower himself. I got up for the day at 6:20 though.

We checked out of the hotel and caught an Uber to Love Field. It's a much smaller airport than DFW and there's a single drop-off zone. We checked in at the Virgin America kiosk, dropped off our bags and went through TSA Pre-Check in record time. We had breakfast at Whataburger, where the young dude in front of us reminded me very much of the cubbish photographer right in front of me during the parade. When we arrived at the gate, the sign still had the flight to Los Angeles from yesterday afternoon, and when our plane arrived, the gate agents had to repeatedly announce that the sign was broken, the airport had to fix it, and this was the right gate for Seattle. No one sat in the aisle seat beside me so I moved again, opposite a big young bear with a thick black beard. The flight was otherwise uneventful and I spent the whole time catching up on my blog.

When we got our bags at Sea-Tac, we caught the shuttle back to pick up the Vue. By the time we got back to Everett I was pretty hungry so we picked up subs from Jersey Mike's on the way home. As soon as I got unpacked, I was feeling a little under the weather so I decided to take a brief nap before rehearsal. As it turned out, I wasn't feeling any better so I sent email to inform people I wasn't coming to rehearsal, set my alarm for the next morning and went back to sleep for the rest of the night.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Sunday morning we had the breakfast buffet at the Terrace in Atrium I (the other end of the complex, past Media and Counter Offer). We were waited on by the same older gentleman who Gary remembered from our previous trip. I noticed two middle-aged dudes in matching black polo shirts waiting to be seated. At first I thought they might be with the Boy Scouts because of the fleur-de-lis logo, but on closer inspection the eagle was missing and the caption read "Saints". (I later learned the Saints lost badly that day so I suspect they were Not Happy.)

Our destination for the day was the Dallas Freedom Parade (aka Pride parade). We left the hotel around 11:30ish and walked over to a bus stop in front of the Renaissance Hotel across the freeway. This dude was set up across the street with a sign ranting about how badly his wife had been ripped off by an RV dealer, probably to discourage attendees of the RV show in the lot behind him from buying one from that dealer. We caught the bus to the Medical District station, then the Green Line train downtown to St. Paul station, and finally walked around the corner to catch the free M-line trolley to a stop directly across Turtle Creek from the end of the parade route.

There weren't a whole lot of people waiting to watch the parade just yet, so I suggested to Gary that we should stop in to Mattito's Tex-Mex for brunch, so we could sit in the cool bar and have some cold drinks before enduring the heat for a few hours. Brunch was nice; there was a big buffet with quite a variety of enchiladas, fajitas, chiles rellenos, rice and beans, and even a savory fish dish. We could have had Bloody Marys to wash it all down but I took Gary's lead and had Sprite instead. Gary was still quite full from breakfast and decided to skip the dessert buffet, while I grabbed a few churros and a little fudge brownie. I exchanged silent greetings with a table of four nice-looking bearish dudes with a variety of beard colors as I passed by.

Brunch ended at 2:30 and we proceeded across Oak Lawn Avenue to Walgreens for supplies. I got a large Powerade Zero and Gary a can of Arizona peach tea. As we reached the registers I found a fedora hat in burlap (intended to look like a straw hat) with a rainbow band around it, and picked it up to try to keep both sun and sweat out of my eyes. By then it was just after three, and the first units of the parade had made their way to Oak Lawn. We took up station just south of Mattito's for the first few units, and I took off my already soaking wet T-shirt and tucked it into the back of my suspenders. When it became clear there would be no shade there, we moved a little further south and stood at the base of a tree.

After most of the parade had come by, including the Turtle Creek Chorale and LEAGUE DFW floats, we returned to the block by Mattito's where there was a gap in the crowd at the barricades. On the way back, a nice, rather slight young dude of color in a blue-and-white checkered shirt stopped me to tell me he thought I was sexy. I thanked him and continued on my way. The metal barricade made a convenient drying rack for my shirt as well as a place to display the WOOF logo with the hairy dude on the front, just in time for the Dallas Bears contingent to pass by. One of the bears tossed us a dog tag from the Bearracks, which Gary ended up wearing the rest of the day.

Shortly after the Bears, a loud fire truck signaled the end of the parade. We made our way toward Lemmon Avenue intending to visit the Hidden Door, but along the way I asked if we could stop at the Starbucks on the intervening block for some cold beverages and air conditioning, and put my now-dry shirt back on. Gary had a grande mocha cold brew and I had a venti mocha Frappucino. I kept getting brain freeze because I was getting desperate for something cold in my system and drinking my Frappucino far too fast. There was a cute cub in a rainbow T-shirt with a female companion at the next table.

Once we finished our coffee drinks, we continued walking to Lemmon Avenue and checked the bus schedule. Since the next hourly bus was 40 minutes away, I called an Uber to take us the mile or two north to the Hidden Door. The lady who drove us to the Hidden Door ended up pulling into the parking lot, and after we got out of the car the security guard assisted her in getting back into traffic. As expected, the bar was rather full of bears and cubs, and we got into the lengthy but fast-moving line at the bar. I ordered a Coke for Gary and a cranberry and soda for myself, along with a bottle of water apiece. We sat on the little porch just outside the door leading from the pool room, and sipped our drinks and watched the people go by. I especially noticed one dude in a leather vest barely covering his intensely furry chest whose face reminded me of Tim (the Mermanator) from the Chorus and formerly of Captain Smartypants. Gary shared his philosophy about cruising bears: "They're always hot until they speak." There was a wide variety of people out on the patio but no one we knew from prior visits, and I was still feeling a bit overheated, so we finished our drinks and left.

Out of an abundance of optimism, we walked over to the southbound bus stop on Lemmon but found we faced yet another long wait, so I called for an Uber back to the hotel. The driver pulled into the nearby Audi dealership to get out of traffic. He had a sign on the back of the passenger seat identifying him as a Navy veteran, and Gary asked him about his former ship. As it happened, he also served on the USS Saratoga where Gary's brother Vince had served.

We weren't very hungry when we returned to the room, so I stripped down and put on gym shorts. I caught up with Dad by phone, and we surfed the net and bounced back and forth between the Emmy Awards and Sunday Night Football. About quarter to ten we headed down to Counter Offer to pick up a late light dinner to go. I had a shrimp and rice noodle salad and a fruit cup, while Gary had a chicken salad plate, fruit cup, and a cookie. Once we were done eating, we packed up most of our clothes, caught the parade coverage on the news, and went to sleep.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Saturday morning I got up about 5:30ish and got dressed for the Kaboom playground build at the Park South YMCA. I saw Patrick and Luis from Michigan in the lobby, and met a shortish dude named David. I boarded the bus and sat next to another, far taller gentleman also named David. We arrived around quarter to eight and were greeted by a drum corps performing in front of the building. I ran into Misael in the registration line. Once we were registered I headed inside for a couple of breakfast burritos, one with bacon and the other with chorizo.

At 8:30 we were herded into the construction area for another performance by the drum corps, some cheerleaders, and speeches by a couple of the AT&T folks, the Mayor of Dallas, the CEO of the Greater Dallas YMCA, the project leader from Kaboom, and a city councilman. During the speeches I was standing by Chavonne; Dominique, our young and muscular team lead; and a big black dude with a nametag that read "Toy", sort of like that giant friend of my brother Dave who was called "Tiny". After all of the speeches we posed for a picture taken from atop a ladder by Jonathan aka Buck, who with his scruffy beard and cameras around his neck, seemed the definition of "cub reporter". He wasn't the only one: there was also Shane, a little chunkier and dressed more casually in gray (Buck was all in black, collared shirt and slacks, and I can't imagine how he wasn't simply roasting).

We ended up following Dominique around the corner to put on work gloves (surprisingly, the one-size-fits-all stretch gloves actually fit me, although one dude even bigger than me had some difficulty) and pick up garden tools. I ended up grabbing a hoe instead of the rake I was expecting, but it came in handy for digging up the few remaining bricks and fragments from the demolition of the "drug houses" (in the Mayor's words) that previously occupied the property. Once those were largely cleared up, though, the hoe wasn't very much use in leveling the dirt so I switched to a rake someone else had finished using.

Soon enough the project leader came by and had us switch to our originally assigned task of hauling mulch. I gathered a bunch of rakes and delivered them to the end of the giant mulch pile, about a hundred feet long by maybe 15 or 20 wide by about 12 high. Then we started filling blue tarps with piles of mulch and carrying or dragging them from the pile to the base of the playground equipment under construction. I got pretty good at filling a tarp quickly with a rake instead of a shovel, but after carrying my first couple of tarp loads I felt like I was going to keel over if I kept up that pace. So mostly I kept on filling tarps and letting others take them away.

We were in the second shift for lunch, which was a box lunch from Panera with a small sub sandwich, chips, and a cookie, all washed down with sweet tea, unsweet tea, or lemonade. After lunch, Dominique and I chatted briefly over Popsicles before returning to work. At one point after carrying a tarp load I got so lightheaded I had to stop work and sit in the air-conditioned lobby of the Y to recover. At that point I began helping to knock down the top of the mulch pile, until I started sinking in a little too deep and returned to filling tarps and letting the kids get up there to do that.

Around two they came around and told us to stop with the mulch as it was too hot to work safely (plus they needed us out of the way of the concrete crew, I gathered later). This observation was borne out by the appearance and later departure of an ambulance from Dallas Fire and Rescue. By 2:30ish they were ready for a speech from U.S. Rep. Eddie Berniece Johnson, the ceremonial ribbon cutting, and another photo by Buck on the ladder. Then we all got back on the buses for the hotel, and I sat with Patrick on the way back.

Gary texted me he'd spent the day at the Dallas Zoo and was also returning to the hotel. He arrived just as I had stripped off my wet clothes and wood-filled shoes and was preparing to shower for the party in the park. Those plans went by the wayside fairly quickly. Afterwards I fell fast asleep for a good hour and a half, and by the time I was fully conscious again it was past seven.

We decided to skip the pricey Sēr (pronounced "sear") restaurant on the top floor, and went down to the atrium and had dinner at the Media Bar and Grill. We split an order of fried pickle spears, and each had a burger: mine was medium while Gary's was medium well. As we were eating, a blurb regarding the playground build came on the 10:00 news, and we ended up chatting briefly with two ladies who had participated and were passing by when we all saw ourselves (or at least our event) on TV. I texted Patrick to let him know not to expect us at the bars that night, and to enjoy them without us. After dinner we had a look at some of the artwork in the public hallways of the hotel before returning to our room and to bed.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
While Gary slept in, I went downstairs to breakfast. I sat with Alex, Mark C from Atlanta, Mark P formerly from Indy, Sean from Dallas, Robert from SF, Curtis from San Diego, Luis from PR, Stacey from Dallas, Darren from LA, and Doronta and Donayn who were from the Network.

At breakfast we were treated to a rousing performance by the Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and a speech from Corey Anthony who replaced Cynt Marshall as AT&T Chief Diversity Officer. He made two big points: "Get out of your echo chamber" and "Avoid binary thinking". (My take: Leave that to the computers.) Next were the Champions of Diversity awards, and an address by John Donovan, CEO, AT&T Communications. He was introduced as a native of "Silicone Valley" which, he remarked, has its own hurry-up culture. Remarking about his short tenure at AT&T relative to his longer career, he said "I am an outdoor cat". Following the breakfast speeches there was a panel discussion called "Transforming Across the Borders".

My first breakout session was a storytelling workshop. I sat behind Syam who works in Bothell. Met Erich from RGMC who I haven't seen since 1993. There was an audio cub with a dark goatee in a black uniform shirt and ball cap. I met up with Ginger after the session and she liked it very much: she said the handout cards represent hours of training.

Had lunch with Ryan from LEAGUE DFW who works in call centers and Christina from Women Of AT&T DFW who works in Moblity Advanced Technical Support. Ryan is quite the bear. At lunch the ERG Engagement Awards and Aspire Mentoring Award were presented, followed by an address from Thaddeus Arroyo, CEO, AT&T Business Solutions and another executive panel, this time from the Time Warner executive HR team.

The afternoon was occupied with two more breakout sessions: one on moving from tolerance to understanding with a majority of the ERG executive officers, and one on resolving conflict presented by an instructor from T University who led the previous iteration of the ERG Leadership Academy I attended.

Dinner with Sean, Kevin, Brad Clay, Russell (LEAGUE DFW), Robert McC., Patrick, Mary (friend of Brad), Bryce, Alexs (WOA Chicago), and Bruce (Chief Legal Officer, AT&T Communications - John Donovan's lawyer) Bruce graduated from That School Up North, and chatted with Kevin from Michigan (obvs); has worked in 5 locations.

After dinner we had a brief keynote speech from Randall Stephenson, during which he invited retired Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown to sit with him and chat about his experiences. He's written a book, which was given out to all attendees after the dinner presentations were done. Next the Tolerance to Understanding Spark Awards and the ERG in Action awards were presented.

The keynote speech, which was the final event of the evening, featured Steve Pemberton, CDO, Walgreens-Boots Alliance, relating stories from his autobiography, A Chance in the World. Steve is biracial and grew up in the foster care system. At one point he was told "We can't decide whether to place you in a white or a black home." His first thought: "I don't care what color the house is painted." His message was "Nobody in here is ugly, broken, or beyond repair."

After dinner, I made a brief appearance at the after party and claimed my book before heading upstairs to the hospitality suite. Had an extended conversation with Patrick, Erich, and Scott from Florence, SC. Erich left Rochester for New York city, lived there maybe five years, then on to Oklahoma before settling in Dallas. I decided not to make a big deal of meeting him on Facebook after discovering he was instrumental in awarding the Florence Foster Jenkins award to Dennis, which he found humiliating. But he seemed to be holding court much as I remember him. He's lost weight over the years. Scott pointed out Mary, his chapter VP, who hails from Wilmington, NC. On my way out I met Allison who, like Mark B, moved from western Washington to Dallas around the same time, and another Mary from Missoula. Back at the room I had a nice chat with Gary before we went to bed.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Left home at 4 AM with Gary driving the Vue. When we parked we were greeted by a bearish black parking attendant who ran Gary's credit card through the machine and called for the shuttle. Once we had our bags checked in, we were directed to the central checkpoint; on our way, a cubbish, probably Hispanic dude who was in a hurry ran past us with bag in tow. We had our IDs checked by a tall, dark, and handsome dude with a trim beard, and got through security without incident.

Breakfast was from the Japanese place in the food court: Gary had a breakfast sandwich and I had an omelet with a biscuit and home fries. I think next time I will stick with the udon soup I had last time. As we sat down to eat, I noticed an extraordinarily tall young dude (at least seven feet) with black hair and beard in a T-shirt and long, loose basketball shorts in line at Wendy's; he and his female companion sat off to my right and behind Gary. As we stood in the hall opposite the gate waiting to board, in the stream of passersby I noticed a shortish dude with both arms covered in colorful webs of ink and a stouter dude with a bushy beard in camo outerwear and a ball cap advertising a tree service. Gary said the latter bear could have been Jack (from Federal Way).

After we'd scanned our boarding passes and were waiting in the jetway, one of the gate agents squeezed by us on the left to deliver some paperwork, which completely halted the boarding process for a minute or two. When we reached our seats we were joined by a young and thin dude on the aisle whose girlfriend sat in front of me. As it turns out, the lady on the aisle next to her and in front of her boyfriend was separated from her husband across the aisle. In the re-shuffling of seats which followed, the dude next to me took the vacant middle seat beside the husband, who swapped seats with the girlfriend, leaving the aisle seat beside me vacant and leaving behind his cherry Coke, which I passed to his girlfriend. Once the aircraft door closed, I moved to the aisle seat, remarking to Gary that while flying squished against one another may be romantic, it isn't very comfortable. The flight was a bit bumpy and the fasten seat belt sign was lit up more than usual. About mid-flight, the line for the bathroom got a bit long and a cute balding bear with a trim black goatee had to do a little dance in the aisle right in front of me to allow an older turbaned dude to return to his seat.

Once we landed, we grabbed our bags and took the Terminal Link shuttle to the train station. We got off the train at Medical District station and I called for an Uber to the hotel. We got an upgrade to the Executive Level (26th floor) which was a nice anniversary gift. Once we'd unpacked, we had a late lunch at Counter Offer in the atrium: a Cobb salad for me, a croissant sandwich for Gary, and a fruit cup for each. Next I got my registration and my volunteer T-shirt, and we returned to our room for a little Netflix and chill (minus the Netflix).

After that there was just enough time to freshen up before the LAAD Awards dinner. Met Brad from the San Francisco Bay area, chatted with Ginger and Patrick, and generally schmoozed. I was surprised when Mark B. announced that Greg from my chapter had won Member of the Year - Management and asked me to come up to accept the award on his behalf. I mentioned the reason for Greg's absence: "He's too busy getting married", which was met with thunderous applause. After the awards I shared with Mark what Ginger and I have been up to with "I Thought You'd Never Ask", which he received enthusiastically.

We left the restaurant and shopped at the Walgreens across the street, then caught an Uber back to the hotel. After all, it would be an early morning and we aren't 22 anymore.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
FRIDAY

Left Everett just after noon. Stopped in to Freddie's in Monroe for supplies and decided to have lunch a bit later. On our way out of Monroe we were passed by about 8 or 10 bikers with Florida plates. We stopped for lunch at La Hacienda in Gold Bar. We sat in the bar where we were served by a nice-looking dude in a grey shirt. They had football on two screens, and fútbol on a third, far larger screen where I was reading the Spanish captions and translating aloud to Gary. I had a chile verde burrito and Gary had 2 ground beef tacos, both with beans and rice.

When we arrived at camp about three, no one was there so we sat by the river and took pictures and notes for a while before returning to our campsite to pitch the tent and set up. As soon as that was done and I had tuned in the Seahawks game on the radio, TJ stopped by and I followed him over to Mick's campsite, since he was headed home to Seattle and leaving for Mount Rainier in the morning. Mick is a baritone in SMC but is not singing the upcoming holiday show. His brown-and-white bull terrier Buster was hanging out at Stan and John's camper and winding up their rat terriers, Twister and Reggie, who were jumping at the windows.

We stopped by TJ's centrally located campsite and Jack was telling us the picnic table at his site (one of the walk-in sites by the river) had been ransacked, with his hamburgers and candy eaten and a mess everywhere. The topic of conversation had moved on to other things when suddenly we heard a scream from the other walk-in site where Adam was staying. Turned out to be a full-grown black bear, about 3-4 feet tall at the shoulder. Scott came over with his pickup truck and relocated Jack's tent and other gear to a spot in the main campsite. Adam chose to stay put. When I returned to our campsite, Gary told me he and TJ had seen the bear over in the common area and watched it turn to look at them and wander across the clearing and away.

Because of all the excitement, we didn't get to cooking dinner until after 7. Gary suggested I set up the grill in a vacant campsite across the road so there wouldn't be any smelly grease just outside our tent. I fixed the hamburgers we'd brought and we ate at our campsite, then as Scott suggested, I left the grill on high for another 15 minutes to burn off the grease. That done, we sat around the fire at TJ's campsite for a bit before Gary got tired and went to bed. Jack and I went down by the river to look at the stars with Peter and watch him take pictures with his camera rigged up to his laptop. After giving Jack a shoulder rub and Peter a quick hug, I headed to bed myself.

SATURDAY

I was rudely awakened about 3:30ish by the failure of the battery pack for my CPAP machine after about five hours. I'm going to have to have a word with Norco next week. About 4:30ish Gary needed to go water a tree and since I needed to go as well we went together. Once we got back to bed I slept fitfully until almost 7, then got up to take my morning medication and take pictures by the river. Gary got up around 8:15 and we fixed bacon and eggs for breakfast, and hung out at TJ's campsite for a bit, until most of the folks in camp left for the two-mile hike (each way) to the hot springs. I heated up some chili for our lunch, which we ate with the potato salad we'd bought on the way.

After lunch we walked around to the shower area above the river, where Gary sat at the picnic table while I climbed down into the river gorge and hung out with Harold, Scott and Kyle, drinking wine, skinny-dipping in the river, and discussing the future of the club and some more personal matters. When I climbed out, Gary had left the shower area and was reclining in the car and listening to music on his phone. I returned to the shower area to find everyone else climbing back out to freshen up before dinner. So I sat in the car with Gary for a while before heading across the road to cook some bratwurst for the club potluck dinner.

Dinner started around 7:15 at TJ's campsite. After dinner we had a lively discussion about the future of the club, followed by dessert of Drumsticks ice cream cones. While those were being handed out, a burning ember from the fire lodged between my shoe and my otherwise unprotected foot. A cold bottle of water applied directly to the burn helped reduce the damage, as did a little first aid spray and a clean pair of socks once Gary and I got back to camp. We walked over to the shower area for a little stargazing, and then he went to bed and I sat by the campfire until I started nodding off in my chair around 11 and headed for bed myself.

SUNDAY

I didn't sleep well at all without my CPAP machine. I got up about ten to four to water the tree and again at six to have a seat in the outhouse. When I got back to camp I decided to sleep in the car with my head elevated and Gary joined me later. We ended up sleeping till nine. After some minimal prep for the day and morning meds, we headed to TJ's campsite for a communal breakfast, and I brought all the bacon and sausage we had left over. We had those with some more bacon ends, scrambled eggs, and French toast. I had a nice chat with Jed, who was new to Kamp Kodiak this year and who I noticed spent a lot of time in his tent when we were in the central camp. He's based on Capitol Hill in Seattle. He's tall and scruffy, with a stubbly haircut and beard and a furry chest.

After breakfast we headed down to the shower area for its intended purpose for a change. Adam had just finished his shower, and while Stan took his, John assisted me in getting the second shower started. When I got done, I went over to the picnic bench to put clothes on and Jed ditched his shorts and leaned back on the bench beside me to sunbathe briefly in the nude. Gary finished his shower about then, so we headed back to the campsite to break camp and pack the car. We made the rounds in the car to bid folks farewell, stopping at central camp to chat with Jonathan, TJ and James before we left. By that time Jed was back in his tent so we decided not to disturb him.

On the way out of the campground we noticed the bridge that was being worked on Friday was complete with a new deck. It took a little while to make the left turn onto US 2 westbound but Gary was content to watch the woofy driver of the car turning right beside us. Around Index we hit what was described as a 45-minute construction backup, but it appeared to me that it was just sheer volume. We stopped in Gold Bar for ice and beverages, where we spotted a few bears including a young daddy bear with a man-bun. Once we got to Monroe we followed a detour around several blocks of fair traffic. (I asked if this wasn't poor traffic or even bad traffic instead; it occurred to me afterwards that I should have phrased it "If this is fair traffic, I'd hate to see what poor traffic looks like.") We got home about four, unpacked the car, checked in with our dads, and sat down to watch Sunday Night Football.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
[Editorial note: As I've been remiss in my posting, I'm just going to do highlights back-dated to when the events occurred.]

Parked at Everett Station south (B) lot for a change. A big youngish bear with a pointy dark goatee and matching crew cut, in Packers gear, jeans and beat-up work boots, was waiting at the stop on Broadway and 34th and having a coughing fit. He sat behind the turntable. On the 106 from Canyon Park I spotted a big brown bear.

On the way home on the 532, I sat across from a sleepy red cub in vintage Mariners cap and hoodie, jeans and sneakers. At one point the cap came off to reveal sleepy cub was almost if not completely bald. Sitting on the high bench in front of the turntable was a huge young bear with long brown hair and a shorter beard, in a grey T-shirt and workout shorts. He was idly playing with his hair, which was long enough to hide his nipples should that become necessary. On the back bench was an older bear with sugar-and-cinnamon hair and beard, the latter trimmed in an unusual style, like a reverse goatee, with sideburns and a mustache that flared out over his jawline but his chin was clean shaven.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Woke up around 2:30 for just shy of 3 hours' sleep. Showered and finished packing, and got an Uber to the airport about 10 after 3. We ended up waiting around 10 minutes for the Air Canada bag drop to open, and maybe 20 minutes for the CATSA (Canadian TSA) checkpoint to open. Once we got through security we made our way to the gate and settled in for the half hour or so until our Toronto flight boarded. Gary got us aisle seats in the same row; fortunately both our seatmates were more petite so we weren't taking up much of their space. I put on the chill music and nodded off.

When we arrived in Toronto we were directed by signs to the F gates upstairs. At several points along the way we were greeted by agents and asked to show our boarding passes. We exited the secure area and walked down a long corridor we had pretty much to ourselves. I suspect not many Americans connect from domestic flights that early in the morning. Finally we reached another CATSA checkpoint where I spotted a cute agent at a monitor with a dark complexion and a nice smile. For some reason the tub containing my CPAP machine required extra screening and was automatically kicked to a second conveyor belt. While they were dealing with that, I got as combobulated as I could with the contents of the other tub, which included my suspenders but not my shoes. By the time that was settled they were finished with the extra screening. I finished getting my bag reassembled and put my shoes back on.

The next stop was US Customs preclearance. We scanned our passports at an automated kiosk, had our pictures taken, and answered a few questions before getting receipts. Then we were directed to a waiting room until our initials appeared on the screen, and then got in line to speak with a US border officer before entering the US preclearance zone, or as I like to call it, YYZ, USA. We then headed for the gate for our Seattle flight. We figured we wouldn't have time for breakfast in Toronto before the flight boarded, even though boarding was delayed a few minutes waiting for a crew member who was probably stuck in traffic (on the road, in the air, or through security).

We boarded right behind a big curly-haired cub with heavy glasses, whose beard was much redder than his hair. We got settled in our seats as we waited for 6 passengers from a connecting flight from Quebec City to arrive. When boarding was complete, the aisle seat beside me was vacant so once we were airborne I switched seats to give us both some elbow room. Gary had already fallen asleep and didn't know I had moved until the food cart came by. We both had breakfast sandwiches with back bacon (Canadians don't call it Canadian bacon). After breakfast I slept off and on the rest of the flight, with the chill music, electronica, and classical tracks in turn.

When we got to Seattle we collected our bags and went to catch the light rail downtown; as we traversed the passage through the garage I noticed they were applying an epoxy finish to half of the concrete floor. Most of the way back we sat opposite a tall, nice-looking dude seated in the other half of the car with his petite lady companion. When we caught the 512 bus to Everett I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was a Double Tall, so we sat upstairs in the front. At Everett Station we decided to catch a taxi rather than wait 45 minutes for the Everett bus.

Once we got home and made sure nothing was out of kilter, I took Gary to Jersey Mike's to pick up lunch, which we ate at home. I had my usual club, while Gary had a hot meatball sub for a change. After lunch we took a brief nap before I had to turn around and go to rehearsal.

On the way to rehearsal I sat on the back bench. At the other end was a big red bear snoozing, who reminded me of Red Fred from Henrietta, except he was a little thicker around the middle and had a thicker beard. Traffic was horrible and I ended up leaving the bus at Stewart and 7th and taking the Convention Center escalators to Freeway Park, approaching the church via Seneca St. Apparently I wasn't the only one caught in traffic as both Evan and Eric arrived late. We got our seating assignments and I ended up in the next-to-last row between new bass Bill and the runway separating the basses from the tenors. Bill is fairly tall and bearish with white hair and a dark mustache and goatee. Rehearsal went well and I rode home with Neil and Sam as usual. I picked up dinner from Arby's as I'd missed the opportunity downtown because of the traffic. As soon as Gary got home from the grocery store, I went to bed.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Woke up around 5ish to go to the bathroom and found Gary awake and trying to check in for tomorrow's flight. Went back to sleep and finally got up in time to shut down the 8:30 alarm. I let Gary sleep in, so we ended up missing the hotel breakfast. Instead we had breakfast at Duff's diner where we had dinner the previous night. I had a smoked meat omelet with a bagel and Gary had a 3 cheese omelet with toast; both of us had a fruit cup as well.

After breakfast we walked through Confederation Park again but this time we followed the path by the canal under the bridges. When we arrived at the Rideau Street bridge we heard the drone of bagpipes suddenly stop, and then saw the piper among a military ceremonial guard descending the stairs to their waiting vehicles under the bridge. Just the other side of the bridge is the top of the Entrance Locks of the Rideau Canal. Gary picked up a refrigerator magnet at the Parks Canada store, and we made our way down the hill beside the locks, first by the stairs and later by the parallel walk and bike path. Just past the store was a display of a mock campsite to promote the campgrounds in Parks Canada, and at the top of the next lock down we saw a crew working the cranks and levers of the mechanism to raise a boat through the locks. We spent some time at the bottom of the locks admiring the view, then toured the Bytown Museum before returning to the top of the hill. Realizing we could not access the canal path on the other side by walking under the bridge, instead we climbed the stairs and crossed the street to take pictures from the bridge of the entire set of locks.

We then headed for the Rideau Centre food court. Neither of us was particularly hungry so we had gelato shakes (cookies and cream for Gary and hazelnut for me) in lieu of a heavy lunch. Afterwards we crossed the bridge to the Bay on the way to the bus stop so I could take a picture of the mannequin doing a handstand I saw the other day. We caught the 14 bus back to the hotel, where Gary checked us in for the flights and I nodded off watching the Canadian Grand Prix.

About three we walked over to Bank Street to catch the bus north for Bear Coffee at Swizzles, a cool basement bar on Queen Street. There we met Adam, a cute otter who is the current Mr. Ottawa Bear; Mo and his other half; as well as Alex who is a friend of Chaz from when he ran Multicom IV bulletin board. Alex, Gary and I chatted for quite some time about past experiences, current politics and long beards while Don who sat to my left kibitzed occasionally. Alex also knows Leith as they both have some connection to Prince Edward Island; he also has some impressive ink on both arms.

After 5 a group of us bears left for the 3 Brewers pub for dinner, where we met Bruce and Brian and chatted with Don. Bruce is a big curly-haired cub who hails from the Quebec side of the Ottawa River and had to catch a bus home that only runs hourly on Sundays. After dinner, we got a ride back to the hotel with Brian who is a cute pocket cub with salt-and-pepper hair and a trim goatee. Once we got back I took care of the rest of the laundry while we watched the Tony awards and packed our bags. We got to bed about 11:30.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Woke up around 8:30 and let the alarm go off this time. Gary had been up late (4 AM, he told me later) so I let him sleep while I showered and dressed for staying in the hotel and doing laundry (in tank top and shorts). However, despite the lack of sleep, Gary had other plans for the morning: a trip to Rideau Hall, the official residence of the Governor-General. So we went downstairs for breakfast, back upstairs so I could change into jeans and a T-shirt (as it happened, I needn't have bothered) and plot a route by bus.

We caught the 5 bus to Rideau Centre and the 9 through ByWard Market to a block away from the pedestrian gate of Rideau Hall. We walked around the grounds a bit and noticed a big bearish dude with dark hair and beard, in a grey T-shirt and shorts, with lots of ink on the exposed parts of his arms, legs and even his neck. He was accompanied by his wife, and the four of us spent some time viewing the rose garden, commemorative tree plantings, and the cricket game going on at the nearby pitch. We got tickets for the 11:30 tour and found that illustrated bear and his wife would be joining us, along with two tall young dudes in tank tops and shorts.

After our tour guide, Sarah, escorted us through security, she showed us the entrance hall full of pictures of the Canadian Governors-General (1952-present), then the Tent Room with pink and white candy-striped cloth padding on the walls simulating the tent which used to roll up into the ceiling. The Tent Room has portraits of the British Governors-General (prior to 1952), including Earl Grey who created the Grey Cup, who was the grandson of the Earl Grey who created the tea that bears his name. From there we visited the Long Gallery, with blue Chinese patterned carpets, comfy furniture, and Glenn Gould's piano. Gould was offered the Order of Canada but declined it, believing he was too young and too early in his career to accept the honor. Sadly, he died young and never did receive the honor, which cannot be awarded posthumously. He bequeathed the piano to Rideau Hall on the condition it be kept tuned, which they are most happy to do. The current Governor-General's grandchildren have been known to do cartwheels in the Long Gallery (presumably after some of the furniture is moved aside). Next were the two chambers which were part of the original Hall, the second of which is the Canadian Room full of art, furniture and books created by Canadians. One of the paintings is by Emily Carr whose statue (complete with dog and monkey) we saw in Victoria. Finally we visited the ballroom with its curious Artists' Nook, with a harp (not kept tuned), a sculpted bust, and two stained-glass windows. This led us back to the reception hall and we exited the building the same way we had come in.

We explored the grounds a bit more en route to the visitors centre in the Gardener's House. There was an amusing book on heraldry (Canada is the only Commonwealth country outside Great Britain with its own heraldic authority), a small replica of the Stanley Cup (Lord Stanley was also a Governor-General) and other displays. Eventually we returned to the pedestrian gate and the nearby corner to wait for the bus. An Asian family (adult daughter and aging parents) waited around the corner where there was some shade.

As we approached ByWard Market, an older fellow boarded the bus and asked how long I had been growing my beard. He then engaged a mother and two children in conversation. The mother didn't want to tell him her age, but one of the kids did it for her. When we arrived at Rideau Centre to change buses, this dude launched into a graphic description of two pigeons copulating on the sidewalk with the strong suggestion they should do that on the roof. Thankfully he didn't board the second bus with us.

We returned to the room briefly so I could change clothes again (back to the tank top and shorts) and stopped by MacLaren's on Elgin, attached to the hotel, for a late lunch. Gary had a club sandwich and Caesar salad and I had a French dip sandwich with curly fries. We sat by the one screen showing the Mets at Atlanta. After lunch we returned to the room once again so Gary could sleep and I could do laundry.

When the laundry was done, I changed again into a fresh polo shirt and slacks while Gary contacted Mike and arranged to meet him at the venue for the evening's concert by Tone Cluster, the First Baptist Church. As it happened, we ended up meeting a couple blocks away near City Hall where he'd parked. (There was a running joke that since the French for "city hall" is "hotel de ville", that someone might say "Oh, we're staying at the Hotel de Ville tonight.") The program was shared with the Nepean High School choir, whose director is big and tall. Met up with Gianluca at intermission and Gary introduced Mike to him. Show went well, especially the closing joint number where the adult basses gave the piece what may be lacking in a high-school choir alone. Gary and I had a nice chat with Dan as we waited for Gianluca to finish his production duties.

After the concert we walked to the nearby Duff's Diner for a late dinner. Mike and I ordered the huge smoked meat sandwich which is their specialty, and I was intrigued by the option on the menu to change from fries to a latke so I ordered that. Gary had veggie lasagna which he found very good. For dessert we split an order of cheesecake 3 ways, During the meal we saw 3 big dudes on big motorcycles with the lead one blaring "Let It Go" from Frozen.

After dinner we walked to Mike's car so he could give Gary a box of family memorabilia to take home, and ended up having to walk down the ramp. Mike dropped us off at the hotel and we sat up and watched TV briefly before bed.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Got up at 8:30ish and puttered around the room till about 9:15, then headed downstairs for breakfast. From there we checked out the laundry room and gym in the hotel, then walked a few blocks to a Sobey full-service grocery with a picnic area out front. On the way we passed an older, white-haired and muscular bear, followed by a darker-haired cub wearing a Clockwork Lemon T-shirt and chunky headphones. We picked up the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, some tea and lemon-limeade, and a tube of toothpaste. Then Gary and I returned to the room (passing Clockwork Lemon again on the way), wrote some postcards and set out to mail them en route to the National Gallery. It was a bit difficult to find the Canada Post office (which was co-located with a stationery and greeting-card store) because the front of the building where it resided was all torn up for construction and we had to find the side door.

We stopped for a break in Confederation Park, and decided to cross the Mackenzie King Bridge which has an entrance to the Rideau Centre for lunch at Michel's Bakery Cafe, of quiche and potato bacon soup. After that we headed down Sussex Drive past the Connaught Building (part of the Canadian Forces national headquarters) and sat and listened to the tail end of a performance of "Don't Worry, Be Happy" on a stage at the end of the ByWard Market Inspiration Village.

Passing the American embassy, we arrived at the National Gallery of Canada and spent a couple of hours exploring the exhibits. Most memorable were the Canadian photography exhibit, a series of drawings by a famous father and son, two skeletal whale sculptures made entirely from polypropylene lawn chairs, and full-body plaster casts of a female artist and two of her male friends.

We made our way back to the Rideau Centre to pick up a bus back to the hotel, where we chilled out for about an hour and a half before making our way to the Elgin Street Diner for dinner. Just before we got there, Mike got hold of Gary by phone and we saved him a spot at the table so he could meet us there. The waiter was a tall and nice-looking young black dude wearing a T-shirt with a poem of sorts on the back: "Roses are red/Poutine is delicious/Poems are hard/....Poutine!" Gary had a lemon-herb chicken dinner, I had a Montreal smoked meat Reuben (including the sauerkraut this time) with coleslaw and poutine (which the place is known for), and when Mike arrived he just ordered a plate of poutine with smoked meat on top. Over dinner we talked of many things. Also, a woman of a certain age, carrying a heavy bag in one hand, staggered into the street and wandered in the travel lanes for quite some time before finally making it across.

Afterwards Mike drove us out Sussex Drive and showed us an overlook at Rideau Falls and where the Prime Minister and the Governor-General live, then dropped us off in front of the hotel. We spent much of the rest of the evening watching Toronto at Seattle on the TV.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Woke up around 6:30 before the alarm and let Gary sleep in while I took care of some urgent business. We quickly dressed and had breakfast at the hotel. After a stop at the ATM, we caught the bus north to Parliament Hill, waiting with a cute young bear in a plaid shirt. We arrived at 90 Wellington at 8:40 and waited for the ticket office to open at nine, behind a nice couple who I later learned were conversing in Dutch. We got tickets for the 10:20 tour, and spent the hour exploring the war memorial and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the triangle in the middle of Elgin Street. Two soldiers in full dress uniform with rifles stood stiffly at attention, and Gary asked the Military Police officer how long they had to stand there. The MP replied they serve one-hour shifts during normal business hours. At half past, they executed a series of precision drills to ensure they didn't seize up from enforced immobility. More statuary around the corner.

Met our tour guide by the flagpole and entered Centre Block through the visitors entrance. Outside the metal detector the guard said I could keep my suspenders on but I knew they would beep and they did. The guard who gave me the once-over with the wand was cute and cubby though. It took Gary a bit longer to clear security probably because there were more people ahead of him. First stop was the Hall of Honour where two of our party held up a photo printed on cloth of the House of Commons chamber since we couldn't go in there. Next the Library of Parliament and then the Senate lobby, and surprise! the Senate chamber itself. Finally a brief gathering and then up the elevator to the top of the Peace Tower. As I left the elevator I overheard the tail end of the old joke about how Canada was named: "'C', eh? "N", eh? "D", eh?" as told to the cubbish constable. After spending some time taking pictures from the tower, we descended and visited the Hall of Remembrance before exiting the building.

Next we made arrangements to meet Gary's brother Mike at the Rogers TV studio where he works. We saw preparations for the live broadcast of "Daytime" including two cowboys from PBR (Professional bull Riding), and met many of Mike's colleagues including Ian who is a really cute father of new twins (awww...) The three of us had lunch at Clocktower Brew Pub across the street. Then Mike drove us to the Museum of Canadian History across the river in Gatineau/Hull, Quebec. Big First Peoples exhibit followed by a special exhibit on hockey. Had a nice moment watching Gary and Mike absorbed in a video of Peter Puck explaining the rules of the game, From there, walked around to a vantage point on top of the building next to the museum, overlooking FestiBiere (Beer Fest) and across the river to the locks and Parliament Hill. Then back to the hotel to change and charge phones.

Mike drove us out to Lansdowne Park for the Ottawa Redblacks vs. the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the first preseason CFL game of the year. We sat up in the nosebleed section on the south side. There's a big rivalry between the two grandstands. Two red cubs sat at the end of our row, one with an extra long beard and the other with some interesting ink peeking out of the sleeve of his T-shirt. Dude sitting in front of Mike accompanied by two ladies in front of Gary and me has a thick black beard and wears a black ball cap and Gott #63 jersey. Almost identical dude traveling back and forth past us on the steps (no number or name on his jersey though). Flag as in penalty in French sounds like "bourgeois" (update: the word is "mouchoir" and it translates to "hanky" or "Kleenex"). It got used a lot tonight. Big young bear in the next section with a vuvuzela noticed Mike's vintage Giants Super Bowl Champion T-shirt. All of a sudden the chant went up from the next section: "Shoe Beer!" Sure enough some dude hoisted a well-worn black loafer (presumably right off his own foot) and a can of beer, ceremoniously emptied the beer into the shoe, and then tipped the shoeful of beer into his mouth. Toward the end of the 3rd quarter vuvuzela bear started trash talking with an unseen Ti-Cats fan very loudly. The contingent of maybe 8 or 10 around vuvuzela bear left with him shortly thereafter, perhaps as a result of a call to security. Spotted a dude climbing a decorative grid or trellis to get into a nearby apartment where there was a game watching party via the balcony. Final 30-27, decided in the final 2 minutes of the game.

Mike dropped us off in front of the Zesty Mart, where we bought tea and snack mix. We stayed up till 1.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Woke up around 8 and headed down to breakfast around 9. Returned to the room briefly to change clothes and caught the bus to Parliament Hill. Stopped in to the ticket office and found the English language guided tour tickets were gone and the French ones were for after the ball game. Instead, we roamed the grounds of the Parliament buildings and took pictures of the statuary, the Library of Parliament, and the Ottawa River gorge at the foot of the hill.

From there we walked across the Rideau Canal bridge to Rideau Centre, spotting a thick-bearded dude with impressive ink on both arms and a jogger in a blue tank top with a more modestly decorated arm along the way. We took the bridge from the Hudson's Bay store, which had a mannequin in bright shorts and sneakers doing a handstand by the second floor landing on the escalator. We took a break in the rooftop garden, then stopped by the OC Transpo service centre to look into the Presto card. The man behind the counter suggested we continue using day passes if we're going to take 2 or 3 trips per day. That set, we explored the mall briefly and had lunch from Jimmy the Greek's in the dining hall. As we ate, a tall young dude with a long, thick blond beard passed by wearing a long-sleeved T-shirt that read "Raised by Wolves", which I think suits his overall appearance. After lunch we caught a bus back to the hotel, stopping by the corner store for iced tea on the way, and chiiled out in the room for a few hours.

Next stop was Parc RCGT Park (named after Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, an accounting firm) for a doubleheader between the Ottawa Champions and the Rockland Boulders (Pomona, NY) in Can-Am League baseball. The first game was to make up for a rain-out the previous night; per international rules, each game of the doubleheader is 7 innings instead of 9. We caught a commuter bus to the stadium, which is connected to the VIA Rail station by an enclosed pedestrian bridge. A nice lady asked if we were going to Vars, the final destination for the bus; obviously we must have looked a little out of place. A tall father with a medium-sized thick beard, accompanied by a wife and two kids, managed to retrieve a foul ball; another landed in a deserted section of the stands and the assembled crowd had to guide a kid in a bright red cap until he found it. Cute young bear beer vendor with trim brown hair and beard in a neon yellow, form-fitting T-shirt working the stands.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Left the house about 6:45 to catch the 8 bus to Everett Station. On the way we passed a young girl waiting for the school bus which arrived just as we reached the next corner. Reminded me of Good Morning Baltimore from Hairspray. Quick transfer to the 510. A big cub boarded at South Everett: wavy black hair, thin beard and 'stache, thick glasses, black shirt and jeans with ripped knees. Traffic was very heavy. Caught the train where I spotted another cute ginger cublet in a blue hoodie, olive shorts and flip flops. At Sodo Station we saw the lot where the Double Tall buses park between morning and evening rush hour. White-haired bear who reminds me of Armistead Maupin boarded at Rainier Beach. Sunny and the mountain is out today.

Made it to bag drop and TSA pre-check and then out to the end of the concourse, stopping for breakfast at the Mountain Room Bar. Diagonally opposite me were two ramp dudes in hi-vis vests; the one facing me was cute with a brown mop-top haircut and matching scruffy beard. He reminded me of the model in the DXL ads. We quickly ate our breakfast sandwiches, boarded the flight and made our way to the back of the aircraft. After a few moments getting situated with the lady in the aisle seat, we were greeted by a flight attendant who suggested we change seats, since the middle and window seats across the aisle were open. She thought at first the lady and I were together but her husband or at least traveling companion was sitting on the aisle across from her. So she took the window seat with him and I took the aisle. I turned on the chill channel on the in-flight entertainment system, brought up the map, charged my phone and settled in for the flight while Gary nodded off. For a 4 1/2 hour flight it was fairly uneventful.

We arrived at Pearson International Airport, navigated the maze through border security and customs in record time, and had enough time for a burger for Gary and a Montreal smoked meat sandwich which looked remarkably like a Reuben (but no sauerkraut) for me. We were assigned seats across the aircraft, a narrow Embraer with four seats across, in consecutive rows. The cute cubby dude sitting next to me, with salt-and-pepper hair and a trim goatee to match, discovered the other half of the row was empty and moved over. I asked him to get Gary's attention so he could sit next to me but Gary politely declined. The screen in the seat in front of me was broken so I used the one facing the now vacant seat to monitor the flight on the map. I got a few nice sunset above the clouds shots. Unfortunately due to the short flight and the weather, we didn't get any drinks on this flight, but that was OK.

We claimed our checked bags and I called for an Uber to the hotel. The driver greeted us but did not engage in conversation. We got checked in and I made a run to the corner store for iced tea and snacks. I was served by a tall brown dude with a thick black beard.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
This weekend [personal profile] gmjambear and I have been busy exhuming the pond in the backyard. The pond was constructed of a Rubbermaid 150-gallon stock tank, a length of drain pipe that goes we know not where, a whole lot of dirt (backfilled against the fence, which is why it all has to come out) and a retaining wall. We'd gotten most of the retaining wall removed over the year or so since we made the decision to replace the fence.

Yesterday we managed to get most of the remaining bricks from the base of the retaining wall moved, and the dried mud and gravel out of the tub itself. As we worked I noticed a tall and muscular young dude at the house behind us across the alley, who was wearing a pair of really tight, stretchy gray shorts and no shirt; and also a small poodle-mix dog (perhaps a cockapoo) who left us a present in the small patch of lawn between the temporary fence and the alley.

After sifting a few wheelbarrow loads of dirt and rocks, we were done for the day and decided to have dinner at Buzz Inn on Evergreen. We saw a number of cute daddybears and their kids passing by our table as they left. Cue Gary: "aw, hell no." After dinner we finished up some laundry and surfed the net a bit before I decided to call it a night.

I woke up about quarter to six to find Gary had made an excursion downtown. When I came downstairs for breakfast around nine-thirty, I saw Gary was back, but had been up all night, so I gently encouraged him to get some sleep. After breakfast I picked up the present the dog had left, and while doing so had a nice chat with Eric, the young dude with the tight shorts, who had come to retrieve the dog (his name is Puddles) as he'd wandered into our yard. They are busy building a new back porch to go with the addition on their house.

After that I swept up the tub and sifted another wheelbarrow load of dirt, then went inside and caught up with Dad by phone. My sister Sheila's youngest son was scheduled to graduate from high school this afternoon, and my sister Colleen's youngest is preparing to move to Boston in the next month so she is managing separate parties for his friends, for our side of the family and for her husband's side. She had to work this evening so I guess I'll have to call her later tomorrow.

Once I got off the phone with Dad, I decided to pick up a few more buckets from Home Depot, grab lunch, and pick up some groceries at Costco. At Home Depot I asked a cute ginger otter if he knew of anyone who deals in bulk dirt, as we'll probably have 4 or 5 cubic yards left over when all is said and done. He suggested Craig's List because if people are desperate enough for fill dirt they'll come over and dig it up. Another possibility he suggested is the sand and gravel place a couple doors north on the same side of Highway 99. I ended up picking up three 5-gallon buckets and two 18-gallon plastic planter tubs with rope handles. I checked out beside a cute daddy bear with a wife and two girls. He had some nice ink on one arm.

Lunch was at Heaven Sent Chicken on 112th Street. I had the three-piece special with corn and an extra side of collard greens. As I ate I texted Gary to relay the results of the morning so he could read them when he got up, and he suggested I pick up some fruit at Costco as well: grapes, blackberries, and bananas. I was surprised he was awake. At Costco there were at least two cute daddybears shopping; one I kept crossing paths with was tall and dark, perhaps Native American or Hispanic, with elaborate, somewhat faded ink on both arms.

After I got home and got the groceries put away, Gary and I watched part of the Memorial Cup (Canadian Hockey League) final between the Erie Otters and the host team, the Windsor Spitfires; then we started in on the sifting and sorting. Toward the end we traced the PVC drain pipe to an elbow in the middle of the back lawn well outside the perimeter of the retaining wall, and decided we should dig no further but rather get a plumber to trace the pipe so we don't ruin the lawn unnecessarily. Then I fixed dinner: bratwurst boiled in beer (a local microbrew called Scuttlebutt) and finished off under the broiler (unfortunately, we have construction debris piled up too close to the outdoor gas grill to use it at the moment), and fresh coleslaw. After dinner we sort of vegetated in front of the TV until Gary decided he'd better get to bed and catch up on sleep.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
I just downloaded my remaining Voice Posts and deleted my LiveJournal.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
I didn't need to be in the office until 8 AM so I left a bit later for the bus than I usually do, and found the parking lot at South Everett freeway station was full. So I drove to Ash Way and managed to find a spot in the back relatively close to where I usually park. The ride in was uneventful. At the office I saw Seshu, both Matts from Cricket (the tall bearded one and his shorter, bald manager, who sound much alike), Veronica (who had an interesting proposal for me which unfortunately I don't think we'll be able to pursue), and Mike the Republican from my old days as an SA. Outside the office there was a big bucket truck parked close to the building to trim the trees.

Having gotten an early start, and guessing (rightly) that [personal profile] gmjambear would be downtown, I wrapped up about 3:30 intending to catch the 522 downtown. Having missed it by a minute or so, I caught the 535 northbound to Lynnwood to connect with the 512 there. At Canyon Park a dude who can only be described as a giant (at least 6' 7" and 400 lbs, but with no facial fur) boarded and sat on the back bench. The artic bus was fairly full but no one was standing. There were a lot of Asian kids on the bus, of high school or college age. As we crossed I-5 I noticed the northbound lanes slammed with traffic. The kid sitting across from me looked like he has potential to be a panda bear in about 10 years. He left at Alderwood (my phone's predictive typing suggested Aldershot, which is a stop on the train from Rochester to Toronto, so I found that amusing) and the giant came and sat in his place.

On the 512 I sat across from John, a chorus member who commutes from the U district to Lynnwood; he was on our bus the previous Thursday as well. At Mountlake Terrace a tall bear with long curly brown hair, in a throwback Mariners jersey with Ken Griffey Jr.'s name and number on the back, grey shorts and flip-flops boarded and sat on the turntable on the opposite side of the bus. A young dude sitting just forward of John had a long red beard and a severe haircut. By the time we hit the bulk of traffic at Northgate, I saw John nodding off; obviously it had been a long day. Downtown traffic was awful, more so than usual but not the worst I've seen. As we crossed Seventh Avenue on Stewart, we had to run circles around a #7 bus sprawled across the intersection; it was a tight fit, and I thought surely we'd snap off a rear-view mirror or something. We also had to wait at least three light cycles before we could make the left turn onto Fifth. Once we arrived at the stop at Westlake I ducked into the mall and through the lower food court, meeting Gary at the top of the steps by Wells Fargo. Someone had scrawled graffiti on the entrance doors to the bank in what looked like blue greasepaint.

We went in to BWW and were seated toward the back of the bar area. I checked the menu and noticed they were offering two different sauces in the Sauce Lab, without dates specifying when each would be available (normally they have one flavor at a time), so I asked the waiter and he said both were available. The one had a bit of a kick to it, but the other, the Scorpion with Myers' Rum in it, was on a whole new level. It wasn't all heat though; like the Mango Habañero I often order, there's a lot of flavor in it. I noticed a bit late that the new sauce came with a warning sticker not to touch your eyes, and to wash with plenty of water afterwards. ;) Still, I managed to finish the meal with vision intact and no upset stomach. And it was good.

The ride home was uneventful. We got out at Ash Way and I drove Gary to pick up his car at the far side of Everett Station.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Due to the anticipated chaos in downtown Seattle for May Day, I agreed to pick up Bob rather early for rehearsal, about 3:30 PM. (The usual routine is that I drive to the home Bob is sharing with Neil and Don, pick up Bob and continue to South Everett freeway station, where we board the 512 together and walk to the rehearsal space, then Bob goes in and I go off to grab dinner before returning to rehearsal.) When I arrived, Don informed me that on Friday nights, the Fireplace bar in Everett has a Bear Night which he wanted to check out. The place is normally considered a biker bar, but the owner is cool with it.

We arrived at the church about 4:30 PM, two hours early for rehearsal, so Bob suggested we enter the church through the main doors and take the elevator upstairs to the rehearsal hall as the doors at the top of the hill would be locked. That accomplished, I left through those doors and went in search of dinner. Since I needed to top up my ORCA card anyway, I walked the three blocks down the steep hill on Seneca Street to University Street Station and took care of business at the machine, then returned to Third Avenue. Since I didn't feel like climbing the hill, I walked down Third and, not seeing anything to my liking, descended to the other end of University Street Station and caught the train one stop to Westlake Center. Unfortunately, again due to the anticipated chaos, not only was the mall closed early for the day (except for Zara which has its own entrances), but also BWW where I intended to have dinner. Westlake Park was still pretty chill then, but dozens of bike cops in armor were just waiting for someone to start something.

So I decided to walk to the Pacific Place mall a couple of blocks away, reasoning that they were far enough away from the commotion that they were still functioning. In the food court on the fourth floor I selected Johnny Rockets hamburger joint, where I was served by a cute, twinkish dude with red plugs in his earlobes and a rather flirtatious manner about him, as well as a cubbier dude with a goatee behind the counter. I had a nice dinner of onion rings (served with a lion head drawn in ketchup on the bottom of a paper "monkey dish" for dipping) and a big burger. There weren't a whole lot of customers but I suppose you take what you can get under the circumstances.

Satisfied, I returned to the rehearsal space via Sixth Avenue, taking my time ascending the hill (which is longer and therefore less steep than Seneca). I suppose I could have used the escalators at the Convention Center but I didn't want to risk going out of my way and finding them closed, adding to my walk. Rehearsal went well if a bit sparsely attended. We rode home with Neil as usual.

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