On Friday, Nutsinee took me to the airport to pick him up. He was understandable grumpy, his flight had been delayed, and he hadn’t had the easiest time navigating Seattle Airport. So after an 11:20pm pickup, Nutsinee dropped us off at home, and I took Joe straight to bed. He was way too tired.
But on Saturday, he woke up bright and early at about 6am. I, on the other hand, did not. After a slow morning, we walked down to Fred Meyer to pick up this and that, and then back. In the evening, we cooked a big meal, and chilled out in the apartment.
Sunday was the big fun day. We had to pick up a new fellow, C, from the airport, and Ross wanted to go buy some new shoes. A plan was forming! We took the morning nice and slow, cooking breakfast and waking up slowly. At about midday, we headed out to the mall in Kennewick to do some shopping.
Joe bought a game for his Vita, and Ross picked up some vans. I grabbed a new pair of sunglasses, then we were off to the airport. I had met C at the LVC a few weeks prior, so we knew who to look for there. Darkhan had told me that when he and Evan came to pick me up, they were just looking for ‘someone who looked lost’ – but C had been here before, and we had met. He knew what was going on. We took him straight home, and made plans to head down to Fred Meyer that afternoon.
Joe didn’t join us to Fred Meyer. He slept instead. C had to buy groceries, I think Ross and Tega had some bits and bobs to buy, and I was meeting a man about a bike. We met near the gas pumps, and he introduced himself as Angel. He showed me to the bike – it looked good. There was a flat tyre, but when I jumped on it, the gears worked, the full suspension was silky, and it pedaled – all checks. And a tire is easy to change. It even came with a lock and kickstand. The lock, however didn’t have a key. That was with Angel’s son. I bought the bike for $80, and emailed Angel’s son about the key. He told me it would come in the mail.
I put the bike next to the others’ car, and ran inside to pick up a pair of swimming shorts – Joe and I were planning to use the pool and hot tub while he was here. Then, I rode the bike back to the apartments, with a head start over the others. I beat them back.
The plan for the evening was to get to the cinema in West Richland to see Batman v Superman. I booked the tickets online for all 5 of us, and woke up Joe. We had opted for an early viewing, because of Joe’s jetlag. We ended up leaving late, and missing all the previews, and the first two minutes of the film. It was not a good film. It wasn’t as bad a film as all the reviews made out. Too much going on, no humour, and a bad Lex Luthor.
After than, we came home and almost straight to bed. It had been a long, hot day.
On Monday, it was my first day off at Hanford. I had taken the week off to spend with Joe. So naturally, we went into LIGO in the morning. Nutsinee was operating, and the detector was not planning to lock for the day, as they were preparing to vent HAM6 – one of the suspension chambers. It was a great chance to show Joe around.
We went first through the offices – not much to show, then the control room. From there into the EBAY and LVEA in the corner. We weren’t allowed to approach HAM6, but we crept around everything else. From there, we left for the roof. The wind was blowing really strong that day, and through the railings on the roof, it was making this spooky metallic wailing sound. It was kinda beautiful.
For there, we started a trek down the Y-arm. Walking into the wind, we were accosted by tumble weeds along the whole way. It was a fun game at first, trying to dodge the weeds, but it soon wore out. At Y-arm, I showed around for about fifteen minutes and explained this and that to him, before starting the walk back. The whole Y-arm excursion took about an hour and 45 minutes. After than, made our way back home. We just chilled out. Joe got on with some revision, and I tried to write some blog, but through a headache, I decided to nap instead. Monday evening was slow, we just cooked and ate.
On Tuesday, I had plans. II had to go and do some things in town, and it was a chance to show Joe the local wildlife. We left the apartment at about 10.30am, and headed straight towards AT&T. From there, we walked up the Columbia. It was busier there than I had expected, as this week was spring break, and all of the schools were out. From there, we went into the bike shop, and I bought a new hlemet for my bike. (Safety first), and went for lunch at the Porter’s Barbecue. They pretty much just serve meat there, but its tender, tasty and greasy. A nice treat.
After lunch, we made our way up George Washington Way towards Adventure Underground. It’s a bit of a long walk though. When we got there, Joe spent a long time looking through the graphic novels, and I had another look at the board games. From there, we went into the cafe next door, and introduced Alex to Joe, and picked up a cup of tea. My last task for the day was to go to a printing shop to print out the questions and answers for tomorrow’s pub quiz. Alex told me where to go, so we went.
Around the corner, at Eagle Printing, I popped into the back to go over the specifics of the printing. We ran into a hitch where I had set up the page on A4 paper, but the printers only had letter sized paper. I had to re-jig some stuff on the page, but it all got printed eventually. In the mean time, Joe was busy nattering away with the woman on the front desk, discussing what it’s like living in a radioactive town. It looked like they were getting along. After that, we began the long walk home. All in all, we walked about 9 miles that day, and got home at about 4.30pm.
On Tuesday evening, I had planned to run Mouse Guard. Joe had created a charsacter, and was going to jump in one time, but by the evening, he wasn’t feeling well. It had been a hot day, with a lot of time in the sun. So he went to bed early. Nevertheless, the others came around for mouse guard, and we played a good session for a few hours. And then, after that, to bed.
Wednesday was planned to be our slow day. We started out with a very slow morning, watching telly, and doing our own thing. By about midday, I knew that I needed to get out of the apartment, so Joe and I went to explore the path heading south along the Yakima river. When we got back in an hour later, we decided that we needed to go to the 7/11, to get some groceries.
In the evening, I had offered to start the pub quiz. Joe and I walked to McKays, and Ross joined us there. It turned out, though, that too few teams had showed up for the quiz, so the landlady there said not to do it. Instead, we stayed to eat our food. At about 7.30, C came in, with a whole load of others in sports gear. It turns out that he had joined a local Ultimate group, who, it turns out, come to the bar after each practice.
Ross, Joe and I joined in with them all, and got to meet and chat to a whole load of them. Some were scientists at the PNNL, and we got chatting about LIGO and the Hanford site, where much of Richland works. After a while though, it was time to go home.
And to bed.
On Thursday, we had big plans. I had bought 2 tickets to the Emerald City Comic Con, in Seattle. We were going in with Nutsinee, so we woke up and got ready for a long day out. Nutsinee told us that she would be over to pick us up at about 10am.
From Richland, we first went to Yakima, just over an hour down the road. There, we stopped in at a 50s themed diner, Mel’s Diner, for eggs, bacon, pancakes, and a lot of coffee. Afterwards, in the car park, Nutsinee dug in her car for some maps around Washington, declaring that “We’re taking the scenic route today”. And boy did we. Our first long-way-round was through the Yakima River Canyon.
The canyon runs, well, along the Yakima river, north from Yakima, right through to near Ellensburg, on Route 90. It was a really pretty route through the landscape. Along route 240, you end up following the Columbia river along, and pass by farmlands. On the way to Yakima, we got the farmlands, and through the valleys, we got beautiful slopes and rocky outcrops.
From there, we rejoined with Route 90, and followed through Snoqualmie Pass, through to Seattle. I think that this drive might be my favourite route, the scenery is great. The big difference this time, compared to my last trip through Snoqualmie pass, is that now there is very little snow. With it all being melted, the pass looks quite different.
When we arrived in Seattle at the convention centre at about 3pm (by this point, my phone’s battery was almost flat, too much sat-nav), we went straight through to grab our tickets, and onto the convention floor. It was decided almost immediately that Joe and I will do our thing, while Nutsinee does her own thing.
Here are some highlights from the con.
- Steven Universe’s Rose Quartz (wearing a Mr. Universe tee)
- Steven Universe Peridot and Lapis Lazuli
- Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)
- A few Kylo Rens
- A load of Jedi
- A heap of Storm Troopers
- Some Deadpools
- A few big t-shirt shops including this tower of tees
- A whole load of indy comic artists
- One RuPaul’s Drag Race art stall
- A LARPing armour shop
- Mouse Guard stall, selling artwork and books
- Star Trek stall, settling bags, badges and t-shirts and TOS-style short dresses.
- Person scanner and 3D printer
and for me, the highlights were:
- I got a signed copy of Tales from the Guard (Mouse Guard) volume 1, and spoke to the author
- Bought Joe a set of comics from Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Picked up a mystery bag including a tshirt, figuring and collectibles
- Bought a star trek t-shirt (Blue for Science and Medical), and a communicator badge.
- Joe picked up a few cool tshirts from Persona 4
After a few hours, we were just about done, and just then, the floor closed, and we were ushered out. We made our way back to Nutsinee’s car. Next stop: Dinner. Nutsinee wanted to take us to a Thai restaurant that she had found on Yelp.
The food there was good. Tasty Thai food, but I had ordered mine to be too spicy. It was nice though, and I was hungry. So I ate it all. For the rest of the day, though, my burps were quite painful. After food, we walked half a block to find a coffee shop. Seattle coffee is fantastic! It’s strong and rich, and smooth. I suspect that the worst Seattle coffee can contend with the average British coffee. Easily. I like Seattle.
With hot things in our hands, we were, once more, back into Nutsinee’s car, heading home. With the outside being dark, there was no nice scenery to keep Joe awake, and he fell into short naps along the route. As we were just into the Snowqualmie pass, I nnoticed that the petrol metre in the car was well into its lower half. With my phone out of action, and Nutsinee’s car not having enough fuel to get us back, we had to find a gas station sooner, rather than later. After about 30 miles, we did come across one. It was closed though. In the USA, pay at the pump is everywhere, so we got gas, but we couldn’t use the bathroom. Back to the car.
The rest of the drive was quite uneventful. The scenery was nice, but in the dark, there wasn’t much to see. Nutsinee doesn’t like to listen to the radio, so we only had conversation and the hum of the engine. When the conversation died, there was only so much that we could do to stay up. Poor Nutsinee had the task of driving the wholee way. We got back to the apartments in Richland at about 12.30am.
This evening was the last evening with Joe in America, and he’d be gone by 10am the next morning. So after he was packed up, and sorted his bags out, we slept.
On Friday morning, Evan had promised us a lift to the airport. He was off on a road trip with Miriam today, and he didn’t mind. After the busy day that was Thursday, I hadn’t made a concrete plan with Evan about the logistics of the morning. In the end, though, it worked out. He knocked on the apartment door a little later than I expected, but he had gone to get a rental car to take.
We put Joe’s bags into the car, and got to the airport. Evan gave us a moment to say goodbye, and he was gone. From there, Evan dropped me back home, and I spent the rest of the day there.