Monday, July 26, 2010

Jack and the Very Busy Weekend

A few weeks ago Mrs Elliott and I agreed that we were spending too little time with each other on weekends, and need to play together more. And since we'll be apart for over a week starting Wednesday (her to SoCal, me to Montana), we made this weekend into a three-day one and enjoyed being in Bend, where there is plenty to do in summer. 

So this is the tale of three days of activity.

The weekend started on Thursday at the Bend Brewing Company. I rode my little red town bike to meet with a friend and slake my dry, dry throat with a lager and a Pilsner. Neither was Best In Show, but they were both very nice and medically efficacious.

Mrs Elliott, in the meantime, found a nice spot to sit in the beer garden in Drake Park for the free Munch and Music event (Eric Tollefson opened, Paula Cole was the main event). There, we chatted with a visiting couple who had just ridden their bicycles up to Mount Bachelor and back (her first time), had some fine healthy kiosk food, and rode our bikes back home.

Friday dawned early but we didn't. It being Mrs Elliott's birthday, we slumbered in bed, arising only to drive to the King of the Mountains summit for Stage 3 of the Cascades Cycling Classic (CCC) and park our '84 VW camper van ("Mellow Yellow") along the highway to cheer the riders on.

Jack, apparently not having learned a damn thing from last month's getting stuck in the mud escapade, immediately got the van stuck in the loose cinders on the road's shoulder, but was able to pull the van out by himself by using a technique perfected by the white middle class: by calling AAA. We waited until after the racers rode by so as not to add obstacles in an already challenging ride.

Freed, Mellow Yellow carried us to Elk Lake where Jack plopped his brand new little red kayak into the water for its (and his) maiden voyage. Mrs Elliott rented a kayak.

We paddled about 2/3rds of the way to the south end, turned around, and paddled back. It was beautiful (my reader will recall that Friday's weather was perfect).

Back in Bend, we had lunch at Jackson's Corner. I had suggested Parrilla but Mrs Elliott played the birthday girl card and trumped me, asking for Jackson's Corner.

As previously said, Jackson's corner is not my fave restaurant. BUT, that was the best Caprese salad I've ever had ... and I've been to Capri.

I was told that it was the balsamic glaze that did the trick. Clearly I have to learn how to make a balsamic glaze!

A Brief Interjection of Obligations. (or, Wouldn't it be nice to just run off and play?)

We made a quick pit stop at the house where we each took care of the things that people who have their own small businesses must do, like paying the elves, checking the emails, making sure the bank accounts haven't gotten out of control, und so weiter, then drove to the movie theater to see Inception. Pretty good, a little stupid, takes itself a lot more seriously than warranted, but interesting nevertheless. It requires paying attention to avoid getting lost. Didn't help that Jack was totally baked on some good local vape, but he managed to hang in there, though I was distracted trying to figure out how Juno (Ellen Page) became a fancy architect.

After the film, we went to the 10 Barrel pub on Galveston for dinner, but didn't end up staying for dinner: the wait was long, and truth be told, as much as Jack admires the success of the place, the menu is slanted toward good--even quite good--but overpoweringly large servings of pub grub without a lot of inspiration. I had a couple beers (the blackboard said the Summer Ale [which I like] was on tap, but the bartender poured the glass out of a bottle). While sitting outside on the patio, waiting to be paged to our table, Mrs Elliott wandered over to Brother Jon's, which has a tastier menu, and put our name in.

Chilling on 10 Barrel's (or anyone's) patio on an high desert early summer afternoon, with the sunlight mellowing toward orange and the people mellowing toward contentment, is a deep pleasure for Jack. A couple of amateur cyclists here for the CCC, owners of a ski shop in Truckee, Calif., had noticed the posters for the weekend's musical acts, all the restaurants and pubs, how welcome cyclists were, the high level of just-being-happy-to-be-here overall joie de vivre around town, and asked if Bend was like this every summer.

Now Mrs Elliott and I have been here for merely two summers before this one, but based on our experience, the answer had to be "yeah."

They asked about the winters, but living in Truckee, did not find our paltry snowfall to be offputting.

We had dinner at Brother Jon's, and I had mac 'n' cheese, while Mrs Elliott had the more sensible but less critter-friendly salmon on a green salad. One of the TVs was showing the Tour de France. I love this town.

Saturday, for me, consisted of a 9am to 2pm kayak course at Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe. I figured that anyone who owns a kayak, plans to use it, but has no experience kayaking would benefit from a little how-to. The lesson was $65 and was worth every penny. By the time we were done, I was a much better paddler.

I rode my bike back home, stopping along the way at Newport Market to get an egg salad sandwich -- I was famished.

In preparation for the Great Big Trip to Flathead Lake, I needed to get some water noodles for cushioning between my new little red kayak and the lid of our little teardrop utility camping trailer. I ended up driving around town a lot to locate them. I tried (in this order): Big 5, Fred Meyers, and Rite-Aid with no luck. But Target had dozens.

During this time, Mrs Elliott was over at her studio on the SW side of town, working on glass art projects, making Saturday the only time we spent apart.

By the time I got home, there was only enough time for a quick shower then I had to head right back out to get in line for the Los Lonely Boys performance at the Bend Athletic Club ($16, a bargain).

Jack enjoys the "power trio" sound a la the Jimi Hendrix Experience or Cream or early Led Zeppelin and the Los Lonely Boys did it right with a Fender Strat run through a wah-wah pedal into a Marshall amp with a Leslie rotary speaker cab on the back for extra spaciness (that setup right there plus some serious chops on the guitar will get you a serious Hendrix-y and Stevie Ray Vaughn-y guitar sound). The bass player used an Ampeg SVT head with dual speaker cabs for a powerful and tight bottom end, and the drummer was tightly-miced and solid. It's amazing how much music three strong players can make. It's a huge fat sound. We liked it.

Even got Jack up to do the old white man boogie. Mrs Elliott started giggling.

Stupid girls.

Remember a few weeks ago when I commented that I had to see Mosely Watta after learning that they had won Last Band Standing? Well, they opened for the Los Lonely Boys. Mosely Watta (the band) was crisp and tight, with a very punchy drummer. Mosely Watta (the artist) gave a tight, polished performance, but here, again, we had a case of a high-energy artist trying to get a laid-back 99 and 44/100ths percent white audience to participate with call and response singing and dancing, but the day was still hot and the people in the audience weren't ready to get active. 

I see Mosely Watta as an indoors, after dark act. Unlike the Los Lonely boys, who benefited from careful close micing and careful mixing, the sound crew gave Mosely Watta only a couple overheads above the drums and one on the kick drum, and just a rough mix, so the sound was diffuse and less present than with the headliner.

Them's is the breaks when you're the opening act. 


Before the day heated up, I got up early to tinker with mounting the kayak atop the trailer . . . I'm not real happy with the setup, but will sort it out. Tinkering with trailers under a full sun on a hot day can permanently cripple a man's brain and cause him to vote Republican, so I made sure to get it over with as soon as I could. All it needed was a trip to Ace Hardware to obtain the needed strappage and hookage to effectively (but not elegantly) clamp the kayak to the trailer lid. After just a few minute's work, my official Work For The Weekend(TM) was done.

Around noon, we strapped my little red kayak atop Mrs Elliott's Subaru Outback (yeah, I know it's a stereotype, but I find that car to be perfectly sensible for Mrs Elliott to drive around here), stuffed a little inflatable caravelle into the back of the car, poured 2/3rds of a well-balanced Washington state dry riesling (a fine value at Fred Meyer) into a vacuum flask, and headed out to ride the river.

And it was lovely.

My reader may recall that I recently wrote that I have never been very comfortable on water, and that our trip of a couple weeks ago had been pretty stressful for me. By contrast, on this float I paddled across the river, explored some creepy old timbers with nasty horrible rusty coils of cable and pointy spikey shafts just under the water, poked around some reeds, drifted silently by bird nesting grounds,  paddled upstream, steered around the considerable crowd of floaters and rafters, avoiding ramming anyone, and found my way in and out of the crowd back to Mrs Elliott. It was easy, relaxing, and enjoyable.

The difference was, of course, Saturday's kayaking class. 

Mrs Elliott, on the other hand, totally gave up on the caravelle's crappy little oars for any control over the vessel and just raised her parasol and floated, trusting in me to keep her moving and safe.

"Kick back," I told her. Enjoy the day; 
I'm enjoying paddling, you just relax and watch the sky.
(Photo (c) 2010, Malia Ward)
At the Colorado Ave dam, I helped her to the put-out spot and managed to get out out the kayak with no assistance (getting out of a kayak is not trivial with an iron knee on one leg and a frozen ankle joint on the other!), did 70% of the hauling of the two watercraft around the dam (a-hem*), and then, after re-launching, had Mrs Elliott tie her boat to my kayak so I could tow her.

She watched the sky, I brought us down to Mirror Pond.

By the time we put out, the day was overcast, which confounded the National Weather Service's projection of a high of 95 (F). Probably no warmer than 85.

Mrs Elliott, not having partaken of the wine, caught the Ride the River bus back to Riverbend Park to fetch her car. While I was waiting a woman in a small pickup truck stopped to say, "I like your coolie hat!" (I wear a superbly-practical though dorky-looking sampan hat when floating or otherwise under sun because it's the best hat ever for keeping a head cool and sun off the face).

NB: My amazing daughter bought the hat for me at Comic-Con in San Diego a couple years ago: sending love out to you, Beth!

The woman said that she had noticed the hat when we were floating, and that we (Mrs Elliott and I) had a rickshaw thing going what with me towing her. It probably did look like that.

But when the woman pointedly pointed out that I had sent Mrs Elliott up for the car while I was lazing away the afternoon in the park, I felt the need to vigorously defend myself and explained that due to the half a bottle of wine I had consumed on the river I was, obviously and therefore, QED, if you will, the less-preferential motor vehicle operator, and besides, the missus has to do something more than just sprawl under a parasol.

Jack is not used to strangers initiating conversation with him. Wearing a coolie hat in SoCal doesn't cause people to say, awesome hat, where'd you get it? and otherwise find a hat a sufficient reason to speak to a stranger. Not in my experience, anyway. But It's Different In Oregon.

Mrs Elliott shortly arrived in the car, and once the kayak was lashed atop it I got a little sushi (and a Mirror Pond ale . . . okay, two Mirror Pond ales) at Five Fusion, while Mrs Elliott sought gifts for her sisters, whom she will be seeing in SoCal.

Well ... that was a lot of writing. The main point here is that we had a very busy and active weekend. We played together as planned, and I believe that in kayaking, I have found a second activity every bit as pleasant for me as bicycling.

I don't know if I'll be able to post anything until I return from Flathead Lake. The cabin only has dial-up access, and I've a lot still to do before my departure.

* A-hem indeed. Mrs Elliott pays a trainer to keep her fit. I'm going to have words with her. If Mrs Elliott cannot carry 30 lbs (1/2 the weight of the two vessels & our stuff) 120 meters then the trainer is not earning her keep. 


  1. Whew! That was a long (thoroughly enjoyable) read. I could not have passed up the fish tacos at Parrilla ... you won't find me in a kayak (terrified of deep water) ... I got stuck on Mt. Washington yesterday during the last few k's of the race and was concerned about hitting one of the racers, but could not find any place to actually pull over - without hitting a racer, got yelled at by someone in an orange vest at the Mt. Washington/Shevlin round-about, found a really good pair of shoes (drastically marked down) at Macy's, ordered online an obscenely expensive ski outfit for my soon to be 14-year old grandson, went for my two mile power walk and almost keeled over, .... AND didn't make it to Bend Brewing on Thursday evening due to a prior commitment.

    PS ... my daughter's name is Beth.

    Happy/safe traveling to both you and Mrs. Elliott!

    PPS ... I would have commented on your coolie hat too!

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Helen. Glad to hear that you, too, had a Very Busy Weekend. Or eventful, anyway!

    Here's hoping to see you soon at BBC!

  3. I hail from Truckee too (3.5 years in Bend)and I would have to say the winters here are much nicer to the average whereas the winters in Truckee are much nicer to the snow sports enthusiast. It is all about perspective.

  4. Helen: Mrs Elliott says, "Oooh -- shoes on sale a Macys?!?" That's all she got out of the post and comments.

  5. Dunc: In terms of spending time with each other, Mrs Elliott and I find that just going for a drive works, too.

  6. "the high level of just-being-happy-to-be-here overall joie de vivre around town, and asked if Bend was like this every summer."

    Hey Rickshaw Boy, that's because everybody is so glad the endless winter is FINALLY over! (And is trying to cram six months' worth of fun into six weeks.)

  7. Blackdog -- I'm sure that if I'd been able to pull you out from behind a poster, as Woody Allen did with Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall, you'd have set them straight. The resultant pall of discouragement would have spread though the pub, emptying the place in minutes as people realized that the glow of summer is but a transient illusion covering the deep agony of winter's endless night ...and life really isn't worth living anyway.

  8. You and Mellow Yellow, or both, seem to have a remarkable propensity for getting stuck.

    I propose that you start a separate blog entitled "Jack Gets Stuck," with a different adventure on that theme each week: "Jack Gets Stuck in the Mud," "Jack Gets Stuck in the Cinders," "Jack Gets Stuck in the Sand," "Jack Gets Stuck in the Snow," etc.

  9. I know, I know. I'm an idiot. Mrs Elliott reminds me of this fact quite dependably.

  10. "the glow of summer is but a transient illusion covering the deep agony of winter's endless night"

    Ah, so true, so true.

    "...and life really isn't worth living anyway."

    Reminds me of a story about Samuel Beckett.

    The Anglo-Irish playwright, noted for his gloomy view of life, was walking through a London park with a friend one day. It was one of those rare perfect English summer days -- sun shining, flowers blooming, birds singing, children playing ...

    "Beautiful day, isn't it?" Beckett's companion remarked.

    Beckett acknowledged that, yes, it was a rather pleasant day.

    "Makes you glad to be alive, doesn't it?" said the friend.

    "Well, I wouldn't go THAT far," said Beckett.

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