Saturday, March 7, 2009

Seattle Underground

At the end of February 2009, I flew out to Vancouver and rented a car, a PT Cruiser, where I spent an evening watching Oilers then Canucks hockey at a golf course with the brother of my old friend from way, way back who have lived in North Vancouver since the mid-80's. We also headed out to a pub and then the casino in Burnaby, which was HUGE.

I then drove to Bellevue, Washington where my sister and her family live. They just moved to their new home about a year ago.

The wait at the border was a couple hours and when it was my turn with the border guard, and upon looking at my passport, wondered why my TN-Visa had expired and I stupidly said, "Yeah, I haven't worked in the U.S. for a while." At that point, he began barraging me with all sorts of questions, thinking I was coming down to work there. I kept saying that I was just visiting my sister for a few days. I searched my trunk, my laptop case and asked about my fraternity. I was very annoyed. He finally gave me my passport back and just said bye. Well, bye to you too. Jerk.

There was some rain on Interstate Hwy 5 but arriving at my sister's was like coming home, although I hadn't been to their new house yet, which is up a hill on a couple windy roads. Lots of evergreens around obviously. It was great to see her husband and the kids.

My nephew has massively improved his cello playing since last I saw him play 2.5 years before that. It was a real treat to have him play the Star Wars theme for me... especially being that Star Wars was the very first movie I saw at the ripe age of 5, and it was also the first popular song I learned to play on the piano. He then played some bass guitar for me and was mighty impressed, that as a bass player myself, he didn't use a pick and noted that he had the true groove inside. With his longer hair, he'd definitely do well on stage.

My sister and I went shopping at a local mall where I bought some CDs (The Flower Kings, Yes Drama extended version, and Lewis Black Live at Carnegie Hall). Then at the Nordstroms Outlet, I bought a lime green shirt with a funky pink/green paisley tie and some cool brown pointy shoes. While in line to pay, she grabbed the shoes from me and said, "Happy Birthday!" Aw.

When we got back, I showed the new cool shoes to my niece and said, "What do you think of your uncle's shoes?" And she said, "Whatever." (Jeez, shot down by a 9 year old. I just can't win with the Gawd, she's too cute to describe.

My niece took one of her free days off to be with her uncle, so my sister drove us to the Seattle Underground. What a cool adventure! Words don't describe it, so here are some pictures...

That night or the next night, I can't remember, my nephew got a Scouting award, so we went to his troop meeting and potluck. Apparently, he's the youngest Scout at his age to be at the level he's at. My sister noted that it's difficult for a tall, smart, well-adjusted boy to have advanced beyond kids his age and yet not fully socially accepted with older kids who are at the same maturity level. He's kind of stuck in-between, but give it a couple years and he'll be fine.

The next day, I then drove back to Vancouver, which in the mountains, there was quite a bit of snow, and listening to Lewis Black kept me going. I love it when he talks about border security. So lo and behold, after filling up on cheap gas, about 200 metres before the Canadian border, U.S. border guards in full black gear were standing next to their black SUV, so I stopped and they asked me all sorts of questions, and some on my sister when I told them, "Actually, they just got their green cards the other day." Whew. Upon stopping at the Canadian border, the guard scanned my passport, didn't ask any questions, and just say, "Thanks." O Canada!

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