Katharine and I ventured south to the Portland area for the holiday. We drove down Thursday morning, left Bothell at 09:10, and ran into a few slowdowns south of Olympia and just before Chehalis. Didn’t cut much into our travel time, however, because we stuck to the slow lane and moved through the slow areas at 40-50 mph while the left-lane wonks repeatedly sped up and slammed on their brakes.
And we were fortunate with weather. A little fog at the start but otherwise only clouds and maybe 25 drops of rain.
We arrived at Michelle and Shannae’s townhouse at 12:45, a little earlier than I expected after the slowdowns. They pressed intoxicants on us immediately—I hadn’t had a mimosa in, what, I don’t even know how long, but years anyway—and we watched the Broncos-Cowboys game while we played Go Fish with Shannae’s son Austin, who at 7 years old has that absolute adoration of simple card games which we can all remember from our own childhoods but which annoys us a bit as adults. I hadn’t played Go Fish in long enough that I had to get a rules refresher from Austin, and it was delivered in the typically breathlessly excited way of all kids when they tell a story faster than their minds can track their tongues.
We’d been there about an hour when it occurred to me that I’d seen absolutely no signs of cooking when we arrived. There were no scents wafting about and the kitchen was immaculate, no dishes or pots and pans scattered everywhere, everything was absolutely in order. I knew we were having the holiday meal around 16:00, or so Katharine had said Michelle told her, but in that moment I wondered if perhaps we were in the right time zone.
Turns out Shannae had started the turkey roasting at 08:30 or thereabouts and everything was well under control, and my nose just doesn’t work, because they were all saying how good everything smelled and I was sniffing the air like a woodchuck, wondering WTF was going on.
That’s when Shannae opened the oven to baste the turkey and BAM there was the wave of smells that’s so comforting around the holiday season.
So shortly after the Cowboys lost in overtime and the fitful rain had begun, the dinner hour approached, and we took our seats around a fully decked-out table. I had my camera with me and didn’t take on photos, stupidly, so I can only describe the perfectly arranged table and the flavors and sights we were to enjoy.
The turkey was delicious, moist and flavorful and done just so, and it was accompanied by the usual spread: Mashed potatoes (delish!), stuffing (yum!), gravy, white and yellow corn, rolls, cranberry sauce with the correct ridges. Michelle’s uncle Donald spoke a brief prayer of thanks and off we went.
I’d chosen a Pinot Gris for the wine drinkers (me, Michelle, Shannae). Of course I don’t remember the vineyard right now, and I can’t find the receipt from the grocery store a few days ago, so I’ll have to recall it later. It was a Northwest wine, however, and went well with the vast mixture of flavors of the day.
But anyway. After dinner came Poker Night, with a lot of Texas Hold’em and a little five-card draw and a lot more wine consumption. The imbibing was pretty slow, in fact; it was the fact that from 13:00 onward I only had alcohol that left me thinking I was going to wake up deathly hungover Friday.
I dodged that bullet, however. I was so pleased. I was absolutely dehydrated, of course, and the cup of coffee certainly didn’t help that, nor did the hot shower. But the pancakes and sausage were absolutely the best meal to assuage what mild symptoms I was experiencing.
We spent the day in Full Relaxation Mode. Katharine’s still getting over a chest cold, so when we headed home at about 16:30, it was mainly so she could rest for the weekend before a new work week. Of course as soon as I stood up to gather my stuff, the rain started coming down by buckets. We drove home in significantly worse weather but the roads were dry again by the time we got to Chehalis.
All in all, an uneventful drive, just the way I like them. A great way to close out a relaxing and fun trip to visit friends for the holiday.