Stupid Guy Trip IV

This past weekend marked Stupid Guy Trip IV, the latest in an ongoing series of male bonding excursions started in 2001 with a trip to Las Vegas. This year’s destination: Seattle. In attendance were Mike Brack, [Chris->], [Daniel->], [Ben->], [Ross->] and me.

The trip was too full and fun to really do justice without writing more pages than the Internet has room for, but a few of the highlights for me included:

  • Architecture: Saw my first Frank Gehry in person (the Experience Music Project building), toured and adored the Seattle Public Library, and visited the beautiful Chapel of St. Ignatius at Seattle University, a beautiful sacred space for which the architecture firm that employs Mike was responsible.
  • Food: Since gluttony is my favorite deadly sin, I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to temporarily ignore my cardiologist’s dietary advice and sample a variety of interesting goodies. New things I like: borscht, pieroshkies, dried fruit logs, and salmon sausage. Old stuff I like even more: clam chowder, pistachios, fish & chips, hamburgers, and beer.
  • The Pacific Northwest: As we were flying into Seattle, I was awed to see Mt. Ranier, whose immense bulk actually loomed above our plane as we flew a couple of miles to its east. While in Seattle, it was always a bit startling to this flatlander to see mountains looming at the end of city streets and huge gulls wheeling among the skyscrapers. Our time in Deception Pass State Park was also super — a chilly ramble on the beach, some good photo opportunities, the world’s best sand, stickball with frequently broken driftwood bats, and repeatedly throwing our frisbee into the water combined to make that one of the highlights of the trip.
  • Reactions: People often aren’t quite sure what to make of our merry band of scruffy men. A few favorite moments: three blocks from our hotel was the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library. I thought that sounded intensely interesting, so dragged the mob by for a look. The attendant at the front took a suspicious look at me and asked “Can I help you?” making it clear from his tone of voice that he had serious doubts that he could. I explained that we had seen the place as we passed and were interesting in having a look around. His voice dripping scorn, he asked “You do know that this is a library for the blind?” I assured him that I did, and he eventually acquiesced to letting us look around two shelves he very specifically pointed out. “You do know that this is [insert noun] for the blind?” of course instantly became one of our catch phrases for the weekend.

    Another great bit was when we were visiting the Seattle library. Ross was pretty tired from all the unaccustomed walking around, and fell asleep leaning on one of the tables, only to be rousted a few minutes later by a security guard who, seeing his unshaven form gently snoozing, assumed he was a homeless guy who had wandered in to take shelter from the cold. “Come on, wake up!” she ordered in stentorian tones while slapping the table next to his head. “You have to get on out of here!” To groggy to argue, Ross staggered to his feet and spent the rest of the time in the library wandering about, staying manfully awake while steering clear of the security guards.

  • Geeky pleasures: Seattle seemed to be a bit of a mecca for old-school arcade games. I found working Defender, Joust and Burgertime machines in the course of our peregrinations, and we enjoyed a small Harley Davidson pinball tournament one evening. The best of the nerd fun, however, was had at the Science Fiction Museum, which housed an impressive (and impressively dense) collection of memorabilia, props, and other goodies from the world of Scifi. It was great fun to see so much great stuff laid out together, to add several volumes to my [Reading List->], and to act as tour guide for those not as immersed in the genre.
  • The guys: the combination of some of my favorite people in the world and the chance to have a break from one’s day-to-day life always make these trips a delight. It’s remarkable to be in the company of a group whose conversation veers wildly from art theory to The Simpsons to theology to sex to comic books to opera to counseling to mom jokes to science to poetry to hermeneutics to literature to video games to reality shows to effective relational communication to poker betting strategies. Better conversation and better friends are rare indeed.

Many, many thanks to my dear wife for holding the fort so that I could enjoy this expedition!