Back to reality after a most-fantastic 10 day trek out west.

The impetus for the trip was my nephew, Bill’s, wedding. Christine, his new wife, is an absolutely fabulous young woman and a great addition to the family. She’s the perfect yin to his yang – something almost a bit unusual, nowadays. I see a long and loving life with these two. Sometimes you can just tell. They just seem totally right for one another.

And I do have to admit I shed a few tears. Okay, I shed a lot of tears. I saw hin walking down the aisle with his mom and that was it – they just came a-wooshing down. Without saying a word or turning his head, Victor handed me a handkerchief. Hell, I was there when the little bugger was born – and shed more than my share of tears, that night. Glad I’m not the emotional type.


They were married in Arcata – in the redwoods. The weather could not have been more perfect. The most glorious blue skies, high 70s… Arcata is tricky. It could have been 58° and foggy. But the weather-gods got together and gave them a great day.


The minister was also the best man – a dear friend who got his mail-order license, the bridesmaids and groomsmen were all family and friends, the venue was set up and decorated by family and friends…

Victor, my sister Phoebe, and I cooked the rehearsal dinner – in a beautiful building overlooking the Pacific ocean. With no cooking equipment. Of course, we didn’t know there was nothing to cook with until we got in and started to cook. We pulled it off using pots and pans from Bill and Christine’s house. Dinner for 40 on a dinky 4-burner stove. I think I may have said a few bad words when we started off, but we were laughing and joking soon enough! All in a days work.

They did some fun things at the reception – like set up a kids table to keep them occupied.


Tons of activities to keep the little blighters happy. Big family. Lots of little ones. It was genius.


No cake-in-the-face or any of that stuff. Just fun and good times. The family rented several houses – much better than hotel rooms – and we congregated at one after the reception to continue the party. It was the wee hours before my head saw my pillow.

The following morning saw us at The Golden Harvest Cafe in Arcata for an intimate breakfast for 30. Our waitress, Jeanette, was perfect! She took control, had fun, and served up some fantastic food.


I had a buckwheat crepe with sausage and eggs that was eye-watering-spicy. I loved it! It was so good to be back where people know how to use and are not afraid to use spices! I really do miss west coast food. Everything on the menu was unique.

And speaking of unique… How about a Dungeness crab melt?!?


Folks east rave about soft shell crab, and others rave about king crab legs, but the true crab is Dungeness. There really is nothing finer. It’s another thing I miss from home. And this was just so simple – Dungeness crab, swiss cheese, tomato, and avocado. The beauty of knowing how to use spices shares the plate with the beauty of knowing restraint – letting the food speak for itself. This rocked the Casbah!


We headed up to Seattle for a couple of days to see our friends Bonnie and Nancy. While Nancy worked, Bonnie took us on a locks cruise through Lake Union and Puget Sound. What a fun time! More glorious weather.


We started off down at the Seattle waterfront, eating hot dogs. Seafood, everywhere. We wanted hot dogs. And then we started the cruise.

It goes through Lake Union and all of the houseboat communities, maritime activity…


Somewhere in there may be the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat. I wouldn’t mind living on a houseboat, but I’d rather it not be right up against another.

The weather was just great but I did have to wear a hat to keep my already-burnt-bald-head from getting any crisper.


The locks themselves are pretty cool. All done with gravity – they fill or drain to bring the boat to the proper height or depth.


It’s just like the Panama canal – only smaller.


Puget Sound is simply gorgeous and the Seattle skyline is pretty spectacular. I’d like to see this view at night.


I’ve been to the top of the Space Needle a couple of times so we passed this trip. I remember when it was built.

Then there was more fabulous food and Bonnie and Nancy’s!


Their next door neighbors came over for a BBQ and we started off with salads and then to grilled salmon.


It was spectacular. We also had a tri-tip…


And beans, potato salad, luscious libations, and lots of good ol’ west coat liberal conversation. The finishing touch was grilled peaches with homemade vanilla bean ice cream!


Total decadence.

The food didn’t stop in Seattle. We had several totally fabulous meals in Portland! Phoebe came up with Dungeness Crab Cakes on Carrot Puree that was stupendous.


Totally spectacular. Crazy good. We ate well.

And then we decided we needed to cook for Phoebe and Nancy since they were taking such good care of us.

We started off with a big salad – because folks out west always eat big salads.


And then we did a shrimp risotto.


Ahhh… To live where one can eat shrimp risotto outside in July. Have I mentioned just how perfect the weather was every waking – and sleeping – moment?!? Perfect.

Dessert was a simple grilled peach with homemade ricotta, maple syrup, and pistachios.


Victor has the ricotta-making down to a science. It really is delicious. It’s not cheap to make and a container from the grocery store is pretty inexpensive by comparison, even for the good stuff, but what a difference it makes in something like this. Over-the-top good.

The flights, themselves, were pretty uneventful. We started off late from Philadelphia because of weather issues and didn’t get into Portland until almost midnight. The car rental couldn’t find our reservation and wanted to charge us almost double what the original cost was. I found the confirmation code, the woman made me an Executive Club member and we drove off in a 2013 Camry for the super-economy price. Comfy.

And now we’re home wishing we were Jake and living a dogs life…


One more flight west in October for my niece Julia’s wedding, and then we’re looking at Sicily in May 2014.

Can’t wait!