Thursday, August 14, 2008

Playing tourist

My Dad and my brother Brady were just out for a visit, and I got to do lots of great tourist things I never get around to doing on my own. They took a train cross-country from Maine, seeing the sites as they whizzed past. At Glacier, they rented a car and came out to Seattle Friday night.

Saturday we spent relaxing for the most part, though I took my Dad for a bike ride down to Golden Gardens while Michael abused Brady with weight lifting and going up and down the long stairs to Golden Gardens. We stopped in at Dusty Strings to oogle instruments and buy a few doodads and a CD. That night, after a dinner at the Hi-Life, we went to the Tractor Tavern. I had seen a bluegrass show advertised, but I knew nothing about the performers. What an awesome show! As my Dad said, one guitar solo alone was worth the $15 to get in. Danny Barnes of the Bad Livers opened the show on his banjo. He'd lay down a lick, record it, play it while laying down another lick, record it, etc., until he had about 5 tracks of himself playing while he played yet something else. Then six handsome young bucks got on the stage and proceeded to blow us away with totally amazing bluegrass. The Infamous Stringdusters. Wow. Each musician was top-notch. The guitar player blazed around the neck of his guitar like a classical guitarist, the mandolin player's hand was a blur, the other players were very fine, and the most beautiful vocals and harmonies came from them. To finish off their encore they came off the stage and stood in a tight circle in the middle of the stage picking like they do for themselves. Brady and I each picked up a CD at the end of the night.

It's hard to beat all that Saturday fun, so Sunday we just left town. We drove up to Paradise on Mt. Rainier and hiked around for a couple of hours. Although clouds covered the summit while we were there, Dad and Brady were suitably impressed by the views they got of the mountain and the tree strewn Nisqually river bed. We saw some pretty alpine flowers, a blue grouse and her chicks, lots of other birds, and a big fat marmot. On the way down the mountain, the clouds finally left the summit, and we got a nice view of the mountain up through Kautz Creek.

They had planned to leave Monday, but I convinced them to stay another day. Monday we strolled down to the Java Bean for coffee and goodies, then walked on to the Ballard Locks. We were able to see the Locks in action and get some salmon viewing in! The Chinook were heading up to spawn. We could see them waiting below the locks, in the glass viewing area we saw them hanging out resting in the fish ladder, and then we briefly saw a few jumping up through the locks. They were mighty big. Smolt were heading out of the locks, and a seagull and a great blue heron were monitoring it all. Some fish and chips from the Lockspot got us home, and then they came with me to my banjo lesson and a little thrift shopping. We topped the night off with square dancing at the tractor.

It was great visit!

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