June & July Update – Trip to Ohio and Some Games

Hi again. I missed a month’s update. Oops. Well, here’s my update for the last 2 months then. 🙂

June and July, the summer months that see a lot of street festivals, food festivals, and all sorts of activity in the Bay Area. I’m still recuperating from long-term illness (at least I think I’m healing. Sometimes it’s hard to tell), so didn’t partake in the outdoor adventures of my area. Really, I was looking for something relaxing that I could share with people I love as the ideal summer experience. So, after booking an extended trip home to my family, I also started hunting for local adventures we could have in the area.

Ohio has fun things to do, but when you’ve lived there for years, the tourist attractions lose their appeal (I think I understand the New Yorkers who never visit Ellis Island now). And at least for me, it’s the little hidden gems that become the highlights of a town anyways. The biggest “gem” being right at home… mom’s cooking, warm sunny days on a patio with lush grass beneath and a vegetable garden starting to produce. It’s a picturesque American life in my eyes.
Banana Peppers
A patch of Banana Peppers growing in my mom’s scattered garden.
We went to Amish Country once, being very close to my family’s home and a common stop for the locals b/c of their traditional foods and crafts. Hartville Kitchen is always a good stop for “country cookin'”, though beware the butter and lard used in EVERYTHING. The portions are also quite huge for the prices too. Tasty, but you know… stomach issues.
And then as a new treat for both me and my mom, I booked a spa trip at the Spa Walden in Aurora. It’s… a bucket list item for me (if I could say I have a bucket list) to experience a resort spa. This wasn’t technically a resort per se but it was a full day of pampering at a quality venue and I figured, since I’m not booking any international flights or tours, let’s splurge on this one thing that not only benefits me, but also lets me pamper someone else (my mom deserved some relaxation). Spa Walden is a lovely venue in the middle of nowhere. I try to think of it like the spas in Napa, just with grass or corn fields nearby instead of vineyards. The spa room was decorated with real luxuries including a centered hot tub, a steam room (with the coolest shower ever!), areas to lounge, champaign, tea, snacks, and all the amenities you might possibly need during your stay. Most of it wouldn’t be used b/c of the time available in the room, but hey… it’s there to provide options for relaxation. 🙂
Spa Walden Room Interior
Where we spend our day in luxurious pampering.
In the end? I’m glad I did it! But … I will likely never do that again. Expensive (with some unexpected fees in the final bill that really should have been listed up front (if you say gratuity is included, the price on the site better show the gratuity on it!)) and really, after 1 hour of pampering, I was done and wanting it to be over. Lol. Pampering is nice, but after an hour I wanted to be up and active.
By far my greatest memory, and repeated daily experience of this trip, was the puppy. Parents got a puppy last year that I did get to see during the Christmas Holidays (hyper and fearless ball of fur). Really a dog now, he still has the playfulness of a puppy, but is becoming more aware of his strength (and sharp teeth and nails). He folds his feet in when sitting on your lap (so his nails don’t scratch. Let’s ignore the fact he’s really too big to be a lap dog) and immediately stops playing if he accidentally bites too hard. I will always be amused at how he handles misbehavior. You can see the progress of logic in his actions as he tests his limits…. No I can’t bite? Ok, well how about nibbling? No? Can I lick then? No? Nuzzle? Ok. Nuzzle.
He still tries to sit on people’s heads, though won’t try to climb up you to do it (just be careful if you’re laying on a bed that he’s allowed on). It’s not a dominance thing or anything like that. He just likes to cuddle heads. And be in high places. Otherwise he is very attached to people, eager to please, and incredibly intelligent.
I watched him learn the word “leash” in 2 days after we started using it to reference “walk”. I saw him also learn how to open latch doors on his own and follow people outside. Super intelligent and makes me wish I had one with me always.
Toby the border collie mix
Toby being ridiculously cute
But back home in the month of July, I suppose gaming has made itself the highlight of my month. Steam Sale happened and this is the first time I took advantage and bought a bunch of games. Here goes!

Continue reading “June & July Update – Trip to Ohio and Some Games”

April Update: Seattle Trip (and a little rant about PAMF)

A little late this time, but here’s my update for April.

April was a good month, I think. For the most part anyways. Aside from the usual Drawing Meats meetups and errands, I actually took a trip outside of California this time!

I went to Seattle for 4 days, an opportunity that I snatched up on short notice and then took advantage of by using the time to visit old friends and say hi to the people I miss.

I didn’t do much visiting of tourist sites since I’ve seen most of them multiple times from living there, which is one of the nice things for people living in Seattle. The tourist attractions aren’t just for tourists. Cultural festivals happen frequently by the Space Needle. Pike Place Market is an actual functioning marketplace frequented by locals for groceries, hip food stops, and random artsy finds in its lower floors (I’m personally a fan of Storyville Coffee. While not my favorite cup of brew in the whole of Seattle (that still goes to Caffe Ladro, and then that one special barista at Aura Bakery in Kirkland), I love the “secretiveness” of the shop itself, and the ambiance of the cafe’s interior. If you’re in Pike Place Market, a block outside of the main marketplace building, find the small circular sign of a boy playing with a toy airplane. The coffee shop is upstairs). You don’t need to drive or hike far to see those special natural scenic wonders (like waterfalls). Seattle is small enough that its tourist attractions are really just part of its daily life.

Now the downside to Seattle is its traffic. And perhaps its urban planning in general. If you ever do the underground tour, it helps to explain why the streets are so weird (urban planning seems to be summed up as a “oh… I guess we should have done it that way” afterthought and then a “let’s just build on top of it” solution). Seattle traffic is like LA traffic; What looks like a short distance on a map will take twice as long to get there due to street layout, road conditions, and backups. Seattle is a city that has grown far faster than its infrastructure can handle, and it seems its increase in population and urban planning needs still surprises its leadership every year. As a result, there’s always construction. Not to mention in spite of being in a climate that does see snow every year, they do not salt the roads, which leads to water expansion damage, so the roads are continuously in disrepair in spite of their heavy amount of construction zones (to be fair though, the non-salting of roads is due to their proximity to the large body of fresh water that is Lake Washington. Hey, at least Seattle is very conscious of its environmental impact). Construction plans seems random too, or uncoordinated. Random streets will be one-way or be split in two by a railway pillar, making it extremely dangerous to merge lanes. It’s a Seattle residential “thing” to have a circle with a tree planted in the middle of intersections, turning them in to mini round-abouts. Oh and the busses use the same tunnel as the light rail! Did I mention that their 2 busiest bridges actually have hours where they are down for boat crossing? And the 520 tends to be down for full weekends b/c they’ve spent the last 3+ years working on it to expand the bridge by 1 lane. The traffic in Seattle always reminds me why we pay income taxes in California. Highway 101 may be congested on most weekday commutes, but at least the culprit is singular (a lot of people) and the infrastructure tries to mitigate it.

Not that the Bay Area doesn’t have its commuting issues (like the Caltrain being above-ground and crosses roads in some pretty dangerous-looking intersections for a train system that’s so actively used), but I don’t know… perhaps it’s geography that colors my opinions of driving in these two different areas.

Anyways…

I stayed at the WAC this time (Washington Athletic Club). I didn’t know my hotel stay included access to the athletic club facilities… I think I would have liked to check out the women’s floor with the pool and hot tub (^_^!), but likely would not have had time. The hotel itself is very…. elitist? Not really my cup of tea. It felt like their luxury was based on a culture of exclusivity, not necessarily elegance. Oh well. Clean and quiet. That’s all I really need.

I did manage to visit the Starbucks Reserve, which has a convenient Serious Pie located inside! So good. 🙂 I didn’t drink any coffee (I can’t! The acid doesn’t play well with my stomach), but the aromas were awesome. And the atmosphere. And the pizza. 🙂

Otherwise, my entire time was visiting friends, grabbing food with them, and just catching up!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to really eat much in a lot of those cases. While in Seattle, my health problems jumped back up in intensity again, but with a pile of medications to dull the symptoms I was able to get through the weekend in relatively decent shape. So I bided my time and enjoyed the company until I got home to see my doctor. Which…

I feel like I could dedicate a whole post to the anger and hatred I feel for Palo Alto Medical Foundation, but I don’t want to turn this update in to a big rant. Just know that PAMF, in spite of its shiny buildings and centralized locations of doctors, labs, surgery centers, and specialists, is first and foremost… a business.

I found another facility that’s local to me with a relatively well-reviewed doctor. I’m going to be trying them soon.

In the meantime, recouping from the trip, getting back to my routine. Working. On to the next month!

Starbucks reserve exterior
Starbucks tasting room in Seattle. Very fancy inside.

Continue reading “April Update: Seattle Trip (and a little rant about PAMF)”