May 27th, 2006

full steam ahead

Summit and Snoqualmie

Conferences and meetings have been jam packed with information this trip; starrting at 8 or 9 and running till 6, often with evening events for talking shop. I'm still digesting a lot of the information and looking for themes. Today was shorter but just as crammed with content; three demos in one session, time to inhale lunch in the cafe and then I can't count how many in the next, including a tool for scrolling back through what you did when that I've been hoping for for years: my digital history is such a rich source and often the thing I want to find is something I've already seen. Automatically learning what was an important meeting or document, deriving what's a landmark photo and building a collage of the high points of memorable days. This is putting reasoning with uncertainty to work on the complexities of everyday life.

After that it was nice to downshift and drive off through the countryside: twisting green roads through forests, over arched angled bridges and wetlands. Past the Nestle headquarters in Carnation. We stopped to admire Snoqualmie Falls - much heavier spray than last time plummetting off the cliff and a brave paper aeroplane resting on the downslope. Past the rusting locomotives and the giant tree stumps and the steam saw and the restored trains and the diners selling cherry pie and damn fine coffee. We were tracking the mountains and the interstate turned out to drive right through them, splitting either side of the valley with crags and snow above and clouds below.

Summit is slow out of season but the coffee is still good - especially when it's down to 5 outside. The chairs and ski lifts march up bare slopes to the last snowpacks and the power leads to stop engines freezing dangle free. In under the trees the snow is still packed in deep drifts and down steep twisting roads the rivers run fast and frisky past campgrounds and firepits. The snowiest mountains are the ones that hide in the cloud: sbisson tells me about Bigfoot and the plane hijacker who parachuted out with the money and was never seen again.

Then back to Bellevue and Redmond, hunting which particular 24th and 156th marked the Malay Satay hut where we finally tracked down elimloth and spritimoving and friends and ordered far too much delicious food :) and 'home' via a drive around Mercer Island.
full steam ahead

Lake life, parklife and folklife

The house we're staying in now is minutes fron downtown Bellevue, two turnings from old Main Street and on a slope above Lake Washington. In fact it's right across from the sliproad where elimloth took me on my first ever trip to Seattle when I wanted to go look at the lake. It's lovely to look out at night and see the reflections of the marina lights or to look across the water on a sunny morning. We deduced that the open space across the lake was a park because somehow people just don't wander around like that in a garden and set off to find it.

Down a steep unmarked lane is a charming if steep park with a swimming hole. We didn't see the geese dogs in action (the sign promises they only scare the geese away). And sbisson does rather feel that the perfect park prequesitely posits a pond. We managed to find the road that runs over the park to drive into Seattle, heading for the Space Needle anmd the Northwest Folklife Festival at the Seattle Centre. Kind of a mix between Camden Lock, Cropredy and a worldcon with a smorgasbord of music, dance, craft stalls, food, buskers and people running around a fountain that occasionally belched steam as if it was about to take off. We indulged in glass jewellry from North Idaho, I'm now the girl with the pearl earrings from Chumil and we kept going back for mango lemonade. Morris is alive and well and bashing its stick on the ground when appropriate: we saw at least six morris sides, many of whom melded and mingled to make larger sets or dance against each other. I played peekaboo with the hobby dragon who later picked up a rubber duck. And we met and lost elimloth and spiritmoving several times in the crowds.

At this point we felt like a nice long sitdown, which we got in the car driving up to Mukilteo for a glimpse of Whidbey island (for anyone who follows Microsoft developer tools, it now makes perfect sense that you have to get past Whidbey before you can see Orcas). We watched the ferry shuttling back and forth over a feast of seafood at Ivar's. Clams and king crab are both enormous and wonderfully fiddly to eat. Chowder and slamon are more manageable. And the trio of chocolate decadence, creme brulee and carrot passion cake were so rich even with double espresso latte that we brought the cake home for breakfast.

Behind our table was a fake carp made from driftwood, with tin tack scales and fishlifter fins. In the porch is the carp mascot that used to stand out on the deck until a giant wave smashed into the restaurant in 2003 and washed it out to sea. I gave it a good rub, which is supposed to bring good luck for a safe return!

And now to pack; tomorrow we fly to New York for a day and then home the next evening.

Bruisewatch: my foot has many purple patches with much of the displaced blood running along the outer edge of the foot and turning several toes into pale purple sausages. I can put weight on it now but twisting, turning and walking at an angle up or down slopes is still painful. The opposite knee is much mess swollen (let's hear it for camphor and methyl salycilate patches) but brushing or bumping it is still scarily painful. Looks like I'll try out the new doctor's surgery as soon as I'm back.