October 20, 2008
It's amazing how far we can travel over land in a weekend and not feel awful when it's done. I guess after my recent trip to Hungary, it's also amazing to think how far I can go and still be in the same country.
Christina and I took a nice little vacation up to Altoona, PA, a town lost somewhere in the middle of Pennsylvania. It was a pleasant drive to a pleasant location for a very pleasant purpose. We were there to see my older brother get married to his e-Harmony fiancee (how cool is that? way to go web 2.0!). We didn't know we were also going there to see the hills covered in bright splashes of orange, red, and yellow as the trees displayed their finest Fall colors.
Christina's much better about posting pictures, so I'll defer to her post about our trip. From me, you'll only get these musings on the States we drove through...
Ohio was a giant field of corn crawling with combines circling around a large sentinel tree.
West Virginia was a town stretched out in a valley on a river forded by a green painted bridge.
Pennsylvania was a roadside stand selling apple cider and maple syrup on a hill splashed with color.
And now... we're back home.
April 9, 2008
Yesterday was an incredible day. The date was April 8th, and it consisted of an absolutely wonderful trip through northwest Oregon to the coast with two awesome pit stops. The country up here is sooo beautiful. I don't think I've been any place in the States that compares, though that's hard to say definitively since much of the country is gorgeous. Up here in Oregon, though, it's all so green if not a little soggy from the constant drizzle the helps keep up appearances. Hills rise up in every direction covered either by forests and grassland or nice houses. We even got to see some low, snow-capped mountains as we drove! The pit stops were just as exciting as the scenery...
Our destination on the coast was Lincoln City, but we first stopped off at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, OR. It's the final resting place of the Spruce Goose, arguably the largest plane ever constructed. Its tailspan is wider than the wingspan of a B-17 bomber! I'll post some pictures later that show just how much it dwarfs the other planes in the hangar, but even by looking at the link above you can get an idea. The 300,000 lb. behemoth was the brainchild of Howard Hughes, an early aviation pioneer, and it was constructed largely of wood! The metal was all going toward the war effort (World War II), and the plane was originally intended to be a troop and material transport to Europe. Unfortunately, it wasn't finished until 1947 (decidedly after the end of the war) and so was flown only once by Howard Hughes himself.
Here I also got to take a gander at a moon lander and a Russian capsule that brought some fortunate cosmonauts safely back to solid ground. I'll have to post a picture up of the moon lander, but it just amazes me how fake they look! It's like someone took a cardboard box, covered it in aluminum foil, and shot it into space with a hope and a prayer! Fun fact: the moon lander was constructed with the moon's gravity in mind which is 1/6th our gravity, so it is not actually capable of supporting its own weight here on Earth.
(I'll also plug the Evergreen Vineyards for those who like wine or even some excellent sparkling grape juice. All guests get to enjoy a nice tasting session... which also included some killer honey mustard!)
We left the museum around 4 PM to drive on to Lincoln City for dinner. We were headed to Andaman Thai Cuisine, the family restaurant of fellow Drupaller Ben Kaplan. He and I were supposed to room together for the Boston Drupalcon, but it fell through. We still got to meet and hang out a bit, and he extended the invitation to visit his restaurant if I was ever in the Portland area. Neither of us realized it would be so soon, but we were excited at the opportunity to hook up and cross the Drupal world with the family world. Very fun indeed.
First of all, you must believe me when I say that Ben and his family are incredible hosts. His mother sees herself as an ambassador for Thailand, bringing not just food but experience to folks who may never get to experience is directly. Her restaurant, presentation, and personality make her the perfect ambassador, and Ben and his father are more than supportive of her in this endeavor. It was a pleasure just to meet them and visit for the time we were there, so much so that we chatted away the final daylight hours and didn't make it to the beach. The trip to the coast really was worth the dinner alone, so we weren't disappointed.
(Disclaimer: We got some awesome pictures of the food I'm about to describe. We'll get them posted up as soon as we can, but just know that the presentation was every bit as good as the food, and it made the whole experience that much more incredible!)
They started us off with a couple of appetizers, though I can't remember the names. One was a fresh roll of tapioca paper filled with rice noodles, tofu, and some veggie/herb. We dipped that in some extra yummy peanut sauce and enjoyed. Next was some (green) chicken that was just as scrumptious and plenty covered in peanut sauce. I didn't know I'd love the stuff so much, but it's essentially a warm, super creamy peanut butter. Dad also had some pomegranate ginger iced tea that he really enjoyed.
Moving onto the meal, we all got something we liked. They brought out an incredible looking plate of pineapple fried rice for all to share. It was a pineapple cut in half and filled with fried rice, pineapple slices, and other veggies. This accompanied our entrees which included such yummies as Pad Thai, veggies in red curry, noodles and chicken, and chicken wraps (larb) for me. I opted for the "Wild" spice level and wasn't disappointed. While I wouldn't get it that spicy again, my hat goes off to those (like Ben) who can eat the stuff and not flinch. It was the most flavorful and spiciest chicken I've ever had... it brought tears to my eyes and evacuated my sinuses. But it was good. And I did have a choice... I just know from here on out that I'm not "Thai wild"...
Dessert was two yummy dishes. One was a coconut sticky rice with mango, and the other (my fav.) was a warm, pink tapioca pudding in coconut milk. Apparently I love anything in coconut milk. The desserts were super yummy and eaten with appropriate smiles and belly rubs. We conversed for a little while longer before heading out, every one of us sure that we'd just eaten one of the most incredible meals of our lives at a charming little Thai restaurant.
We wish the Andaman Thai Cuisine well and will most likely be visiting Lincoln City for some Thai food again in the future.