Belgium

Click on this text or on the photo above for the best of our photos from Belgium. Or click here for all of them.

We had a connection in Copenhagen in between Reykjavik and Brussels. There was a Brewdog location in the airport, that had Dark Lord 2014 and 2015 — that would have been a pretty epic airport beer, but we weren’t willing to spend $100 on a bottle. We had boring food and beer instead.

When we got to Brussels, it was confusing as hell to get on the train. We had this experience with the trains there before, and I don’t really have a good explanation for it.

We walked with our bag to our room (“Olives“), walked by the door about seven times before figuring out it was our door. Scaled the incredibly steep and narrow spiral stairs. The room was fine, but it didn’t have a bedroom — the couch was a hide-a-bed. Kitty corner to our room was a church — “Church of Notre-Dame de Bon Secours”.

After we were settled, we went for beer at Moeder, and then walked to dinner at Peï and Meï. I wanted the eels in green sauce, but they said no. Instead, I enjoyed a baby lobster. KrisDi had a pork chop with stoemp. It was very near a church — “Église Notre-Dame de la Chapelle“.

We then wandered for a while (encountering a notable giant lobster) before going back to Moeder for a little more beer. We found Westvleteren 12 for 13.95, 11.50, and 17.95 euros. We bought a half dozen at the 11.50 price. We went and walked around Grand Place in the evening.


We started with breakfast at Charli. Before we left, we bought extra bread for lunch. We found a little deli and bought cured meats and some cheeses to enhance our lunch. We were also smart enough to buy some bottled water.

On our way back to the room, we stopped at a place called “Coffee” (you’ll never guess what I was looking for). The proprietor spoke no English, but she understood that I wanted an Americano. Then I realized that if she didn’t speak English, she might not be used to foreign customers, and therefore might not take credit cards — which was correct. And I had no cash. I tried to explain across the language barrier. She appeared to get fed up with me, and just give me the coffee to make me leave. I felt bad about it, but we had not gotten any cash at all.

Our walk to Cantillon was wet. It poured on us for the 3/4 of a mile walk. We were the second people there, at about 10:01 AM. We did the self tour, and I saw three exciting sights: A barrel actively bubbling over with fermentation, a label suggesting they were aging some beer in cognac barrels, and a label suggesting they were aging some beer with vanilla. This is another of those cases where we took a lot of pictures and it was fun and interesting, but there’s not a lot to say about it.

After the tour, we went to their serving area to drink our two included samples, and then started to buy bottles. Nate and Natalie were the first people to arrive; they were from Colorado, and Natalie was pregnant with their first kid. They approached us to start sharing with them, which we happily did.

Later we were joined by Todd & Karen, from Tennessee, who were in the process of adopting their first child and starting Bad Idea Brewing. Then Matt joined us — not sure what he was doing, but he’d been living in Antwerp for about 10 years after marrying someone in the wine industry who had connections with the Cantillon family. Nate and Natalie left at some point to go rest (they had come straight to Cantillon after landing).

We assembled and ate our sandwiches — superbly satisfying. We drank every beer they had available at the bar (sharing with our temporary friends, of course), including a bottle of the Rose de Gambrinus that was on its way into the labeling machine, which was very nice that Matt had convinced them to sell us. Of the several thousand beers I’ve had in my life, I think Lou Pepe Kriek and Fou Foune are in the top five. We stayed until they closed and kicked us out, about 4 PM.

We bought 750ml bottles of Gueueze (1x), Rose de Gambrinus (raspberry, 2x), and Kriek (cherry, 2x), as well as a 1.5 liter monstrosity of the Gueueze. They didn’t have anything else that we could buy to take home (at least, to drink — they had shirts and swag). We walked back to the room to drop off our beer, and then we went to Noordzee for dinner. Smoked salmon and cod ceviche. Then we drank some beer at Monk, where it was crowded and hard to get attention from the staff. We walked, failing to find frites for a long time (at least frites that we could buy with a credit card). Eventually we succeeded.

We got a liege waffle and a bruxelles waffle — both with dulce de leche and whipped cream. Then we picked up a beer at a convenience stored name Alimentations, and walked to look at St. Michael’s Cathedral. On to Poechenellekelder for more beer, and then back to the room. We practiced packing — our suitcases were very heavy, although we didn’t have a way to measure them.

Then we went to bed.


We got up at 5:30, ate some leftover bread from Charli and drank some Nescafe in the room, and walked to the train station to go to Bruges.
The train was much easier to navigate, having gotten Google directions beforehand telling us which track to go to, and already knowing that we couldn’t use KrisDi’s credit card to buy tickets.

We walked to a pretty corner called Rozenhoedkaai for photos. The water in the canals was beautifully calm when we first got there. Then we went to Sanseveria Bagelsalon for breakfast. Strange little place — very eclectic decor, only one very slow employee. She liked to go to a table, take their order, make it, deliver it, and then go to the next table to get their order. The food was very good.

We went back to the same corner, and wandered around to see whatever we saw. We found a pretty interesting map of Bruges, implemented in lace.

Then we visited a the Church or Our Lady, the nearby museum, and Sint-Salvatorkathedral. All three were filled with interesting and/or beautiful art and artifacts. The church had a Michaelangelo sculpture (although it was framed attractively in modern scaffolding). We took many, many pictures, and describing them would be dumb. If you care, look through the uncut photos.

Halve Maan was the place we went for lunch. Their beer was pretty good, their food was a little better. We had Stouvflees beef stew, a cheese plate, and of course beer.

Afterward, we went to Minnewater to chill a bit. Then we went to Grotemarkt to get chocolate at Dominique Personne’s Chocolate Line. They were delicious and pretty. We tried to go to de Garre (a bar that Matt at Cantillon had recommended for their specific house beer). We learned they only took cash, so we walked to find an ATM. Their house beer, a tripel, was definitely the best beer we had (served to us) in Bruges. Although they had a crowd of loud Irish firefighters downstairs.

We tried to go see Jesus blood, but we got yelled at for whispering and didn’t want to pay to see a vial of something any Catholic priest could make out of cheap wine.

So we went to another brewery, Bourgogne des Flandres, where we got one of each of the beers on tap. None were very good. None was bad. Some were in between. The location is really cool, right on the canal. We had a Ukrainian douche sitting next to us playing shitty Ukrainian pop music loudly on his phone, because you know, that brightens everyone’s day. We ate a couple of the Chocolate Line truffles and were visited by a duck.

Then we wandered to Poules Moules for dinner. KrisDi had mussels and I had rack of lamb. After we ordered, KrisDi sent me running for more chocolates from the Chocolate Line, and then I sent myself running to a beer store for some Drie Fonteinen (and a glass) to drink on the train ride back to Brussels (Framboos and Geuze). Dinner was good.

We successfully drank the two beers on the way back to Brussels, and they were really good. When we got back to the room, we packed some more and drank Westvleteren 12 and Rodenbach Alexander and chilled out.

Overall, Bruges was pretty, but it probably wouldn’t draw me back.


We got up at four and walked with our bags to the train station. The walk was not pleasant. There was a surprising number of people still up and drinking / drunk from partying the Tuesday night before. Some made us uncomfortable — a pair of females that were right in the gray area where I’m not sure if I see “friends being intense but not dangerous when they’re drunk” or “one woman getting ready to assault another woman.”

At the airport, the British Air lady was really nice. Patient while we tried to rebalance our luggage, and then just let a couple kilograms pass.

Posted by snaotheus in Photo updates, 0 comments

Iceland

Click on the picture or this text for the best of our photos from Iceland. Or click here for the unfiltered collection.

We left Seattle after work on Friday, leaving the kids with Les and D, and flew to Reykjavik. Icelandair boarded late and slowly for no visible reason. We arrived in Reykjavik at around 9 in the morning. Looked around in the duty free shop while waiting for our bags, and found sheep dung smoked whisky. Got our bags and went to Alamo to pick up our rental car, a Nissan Micra (tiny!).

We drove to the Blue Lagoon, a touristy-resorty-not-exactly-natural hot spring (as I understand it, the water is natural, but piped into an artificial ‘lagoon’). We ate lunch at their fancy restaurant, Lava, where I had lamb and KrisDi had a delicious langoustine soup.

Then we actually went into the lagoon, and almost immediately got a beer from the wade-up bar (Gull). We waded around, and after a while we went to have floating massages. KrisDi apparently didn’t talk much with her masseuse (her face got covered with a towel), but mine and I chattered throughout. She likes to go to car shows in Florida for her vacations because she’s into American muscle cars (she was excited about my car — or at least professed excitement). After the massages, we went and did a couple facemasks — silica and algae.

Afterward, KrisDi spent the next five days or so complaining that her hair felt weird and crunchy from the minerals in the water. Please tell her that her hair looks awesome in all the photos.

Then we drove into Reykjavik, checked into our room (Aska Apartment), and walked from there. We walked to Hallgrimskirkja, then headed to the Fish Company for dinner (we were distracted on the way by a liquor store where we bought a few Icelandic beers).

Kristen ordered Mexico Tomato with Sear Ahi Tuna and Soft Shell Crab. I had Iceland Fish — fried wolffish, sous vide arctic char, and broiled ling. They gave us a little interested appetizer — smoked haddock with herb foam. We had some kind of milk chocolate confection for dessert.

After that, we went to a nearby beer spot — the Micro Bar. It was a cool place. I was surprised to find some fancy Belgian beers in small bottle format in a cooler there, and asked I could buy them to go. “No, that’s not allowed.” “Oh, OK. That’s too bad.” “Well…it’s not allowed the same way jaywalking is not allowed. Everyone does it and no one cares.” “OK then…I would like to jaywalk.” “OK!”

Then we went to the Mikkeller bar and had some more beer. This place was busier and appear to be trendier, I would say, but I probably would have preferred hanging out in the Micro Bar.

After a couple beers there, we went to the Lebowski Bar, where we drank from their expansive White Russian menu. First round, a Caramel Russian and El Duderino. Second round, From Russian with Love and Jackie Treehorn. They were delicious, the bar was quite busy, and no one else was drinking White Russians.

We decided a late night snack was in order, so we went to the nearby Icelandic hotdog stand — apparently, famous for having some combination beef, pork, and lamb in their hot dogs. KrisDi took a big hearty bite, while I’m a bit daintier in my eating.

At this stage we realized that although it was still pretty bright out, it was almost midnight and we should go to bed.


The next morning, we went to a nearby bakery (Brauth and Co) to buy food for later, and then to Early in the Morning for breakfast.

After breakfast, we headed out on KrisDi’s pre-planned “ring route” — a long series of interesting sites looping us back around to Reykjavik by the end of the day. Part 1, and Part 2, separated only by Google’s apparent limit of ten stops on a route. Straight driving, it was planned at about 170 miles.

First, we went to the Nesjavellir geothermal power plant. Shortly after leaving Reykjavik, we left pavement behind, driving on fairly well maintained gravel roads through the sparse greenery and rocks. We stopped along the way when we found a long, slow slope right next to the roadway with a neat peak on it, and I walked up to the top (I think it’s bigger than it looks — that last photo was taken with the huge zoom lens).

There was a lot of beautiful scenery along the way. The power plant was closed when we got there, so we looked over the security gate and drove away. I don’t think we saw a single car through this.

Then Ljosafossstoth, which I think was a hydroelectric dam. On our way, we were nearly crushed by a giant offroad vehicle coming the opposite way (there are a lot of “not safe for standard vehicles” roads in Iceland due to fords-instead-of-bridges, and they have a special sign just for warning people of this, and you frequently see vehicles that are prepared for this). The gravel roads on this path were loose — like, scary to drive in a little car. Anyway, when we got to the place, it was closed, too. A bird had nested and laid eggs right by the entrance, and she was very angry at me for getting close to her babies.

Kerid Crater (maybe Kerith) was the next stop — it’s a lake in a caldera. It’s unnaturally easy to reach, right off a major road. It’s pretty, and you can walk all the way around the rim and right down to the water at the bottom of the crater. I don’t really have a lot to say about it, but it was one of our favorite stops.

On to Skalholt Cathedral. We didn’t get to go inside because they were holding a mass and we didn’t think we should barge in and start taking pictures. My favorite thing there was the old sod-roof building. The most mysterious thing there was that the churchbells were going bonkers, with no pattern or reasoning that we could discern. Also interesting was the tunnel entrance into the basement of the church, which we weren’t allowed to go into. Overall, it was kind of a boring stop to look at — more historically interesting.

Then we had to change plans because our lunch reservation couldn’t be set up before 3 (good thing we picked up bread first). So, rather than going to lunch next, we went to the Secret Lagoon at Fludir.

It was a nice spot — but we got bored and impatient pretty quickly, and it got hard to breathe pretty fast, too. We think there was a higher sulfur content. It was a genuine active surface-level geothermal site, and it was pretty cool, with tiny little geysers that went off every few minutes.

We then drove to Gullfoss, a huge and magnificent waterfall. Hundreds of people were there. We took hundreds of pictures — more in the “uncut” album of course. Not much to say about it, other than that it was huge and magnificent, and go look at the pictures.

We went to see a pair of geysers after that — Geysir and Strokkur. Geysir is not dormant, but not very active. Strokkur erupts apparently every 10 minutes or so. We wandered around and drank some beer, and saw Strokkur go off about five times, and got a couple cool pictures of that.

Then it was finally time for our lunch reservation at Fridheimar tomato greenhouse. The restaurant is inside the greenhouse. It’s pretty warm. We couldn’t figure out the back story — who decided they should grow tons of tomatoes year round in Iceland, and serve them to people? Anyway, everything they serve was made with fresh tomatoes — best tomato soup and bloody mary I remember having; one of the few tomato beers (still not successful) and the only tomato ice cream (disappointingly icy). Pasta with a delicious marinara sauce for me, pizza for KrisDi.

Efstidalur ice cream barn was the next stop. It’s a little dairy farm that makes ice cream. They sectioned off a portion of the barn for the purpose of selling and serving it. It was really tasty. Ice cream is not particularly well paired with the delicate aroma of cow shit, however. Roads to get there were even worse — gravel again, and not as well cared for — NoDaks will probably know what I mean when it seemed like the grader’s blade was jumping.

Afterward, we made an unplanned stop because it was pretty and KrisDi was falling asleep in the car. I think we stopped by Thingvallavatn, a lake. We took a bunch of pictures and drank some of the beer we had bought the previous day. I thought it was amusing to open a very fancy beer by popping the cap off on the side of a picnic table.

Finally, Thingvellir national park. We took a long walk, by this time my back was already pretty tired. We saw a waterfall at the end of it. I picked my way across the rocks extremely carefully for photos, thinking very consciously about whether my back would let me get back. Another case of “Lots to see, very pretty, tons of pictures, not a lot to say.”

Back then to the apartment (a cat was very interested in crawling on our car), to our room, where we repacked, and then went to Brewdog for dinner. Not yet wanting to go to bed, we went back to the Lebowski bar and had more White Russians. Then bedtime, despite the light.


That night, I was fooled by the light — I woke up at 12:30 AM, and it looked bright outside. I thought my phone was wrong, and we slept through our alarm or something. I thought Kristen’s phone was also wrong. I ended up getting up to check an independent (and not internet dependent) clock before relaxing and going back to bed.

The alarm went off at 4. Headed off to the airport, stopped for gas, dropped off the car, with no incidents.

We were confused by our plane tickets, because they gave us each one ticket that was good for two flights (on two airlines). We ate some skyr (it was thick and dry — reminded me of a kind of chalky mud).

Icelandair continued to be shitty at boarding their fucking planes — they put us on a bus to take us out to the plane, and made us wait on the bus for about 30 minutes before letting us actually get on the plane.

Strangely: Not once did they check our IDs.


Conclusions: Iceland is pretty, sparsely populated, and expensive to eat and drink in ($10+ for a regular beer, $35+ for KrisDi’s little tuna dish). There’s a ton of interesting stuff to see. If you’re into hiking or offroading, it might be a paradise (in the summer). Everyone speaks pretty good English. Reykjavik is not a huge city, but it’s got some interesting things. The seafood was great.

Posted by snaotheus in Food, Photo updates, 0 comments

April 2019 Part II

KrisDi and I decided that this year, we should replace our now 15 year old couches, that have survived just-out-of-college-newly-employed-shenanigans and over eight years of children. This turned into replacing about half the furniture in the house: Couches, end tables, kitchen table, bookshelf in Chilkat’s room, bed in Chilkat’s room, new bookshelf in the kitchen area…anyway, so those replacements started coming in the second half of April, starting with Chilkat’s new bookshelf, which is grown-up sized and immediately covered in books and Legos. We also received our new gigantic sectional couch, which I couldn’t pick up, move into the house, or set up because of my back. KrisDi’s parents very kindly did all of that stuff for us. It has power recliners and built-in USB charging ports — so I like to think of it as an elaborate phone charger.

As a part of replacing the furniture — “Hey, we need to get everything off the carpet anyway, we should probably clean it!” because we’re dummies. We borrowed a carpet cleaner from KrisDi’s parents, which was cracked and chipped in so many places it didn’t have any suction. After some debate, we decided to buy a new one to use, and try to find some way to get KrisDi’s parents to take possession of it (so we don’t have to keep it in our house) and to convince them to get rid of their broken-ass one.

Some interesting child endeavors:
1. We found a to-do list of Chilkat’s (conveniently labeled “to-do list” on the cover), containing three items: (1) Tell on Chilkoot because he bit my hair. (2) Tell on Chilkoot because he kept hurting me and threatening me to get a white paper. (3) <left blank>
2. Chilkat and some friends at school started a “drawing club” in before and after school care. Chilkoot joined. Here’s an example of Chilkat’s “teacher” version of some drawings, and Chilkoot’s “student” version. Smiley ice cream, TacocaT, and a taco.
3. Chilkat invented a ruleset to go along with this Japanese nonsense game I found nine years ago (nonsense since we can read the directions).
4. Chilkoot thinks hammers, knives, and scissors are dangerous; beds, bunnies, and stuffies are safe.
5. Chilkat drew an an awesome tooth fairy.

Easter happened. KrisDi and the kids used her weird shaving cream technique that results in interesting tie-dyed-looking eggs. We went down to the Gig Harbor and spent the day with KrisDi’s older brother, eating, drinking, and letting all of the kids play with iPads.

Chilkat and I worked on her Pinewood Derby car for the girl scouts. She went with a Minecraft theme. She didn’t win (or even come close), but she won a round, and she got a prize for the best add-on (probably the Lego Minecraft cow), so she was pretty happy overall.

This is totally random, but according to KrisDi, this is just how the M&M’s ended up randomly when removed from the bag at work.

I went to San Francisco for a training class on a Thursday and Friday.
– My training was about a block away from Monocular Ben’s office; I met him for dinner and it was fun. Rarely see that guy, and always enjoy it.
– My first hotel was clearly not ready for me. Why the fuck was the phone on the floor of the shower with the coffee stuff? They sent me across the street to another hotel, which was older and shittier (but all of the stuffs were in the right places). Later, it turned out to have a nice view (topless pot smoker girl directly across the street), but also a leaky ceiling. Three rooms for two nights.

After the training, I took the train down to visit my brother. We went to a really good Thai restaurant, and then Northwood and I shared two beers (apparently that’s too much — he was puking all morning the next day).

My favorite part of the whole trip was when Northwood saw one of his friends approaching his new apartment for their housewarming party, looked at me intensely and said, “Her name is L!” and ran into another room. I was sitting there thinking, “WTF?” When she got to the door, I figured it out. I answered the door, and said, “Hi L! It’s been a while since I’ve seen you! How’ve you been? Welcome to our new place!”

My brother and I have been mistaken for twins many times in the past (when we were little). L stared at me, contorting her face, displaying the clearest physical portrayal of WTFness I have ever seen, for fully thirty seconds. Then she pointed at me and accused vehemently, “You’re not Northwood!” She referred to me as “Not Northwood” for the rest of the weekend (I’m not sure she ever actually got my name). This was a fairly significant amount of time, since she enjoyed an alcohol-induced sleepover Saturday night.

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April 2019 Part I

KrisDi left town and visited San Diego for work. She had training. That left me alone with the kids. Of course, we had a trucknic.

We went down to Medford, OR to visit our friends for their daughter’s 7th birthday. Piñata, cotton candy, tons of food, and lots of beer. On our way home, we stopped in Portland. We tried to eat at Great Notion, but it was too busy, so we went for ice cream and sandwiches.

Chilkat started gymnastics. This is a new class, closer to home, with a more demanding teacher who takes it more seriously. Chilkat actually was supposed to do specific things, practice, and try to do them right. It was hard for her, but she did a really good job, I think.

We got to go to a baseball game — I think KrisDi’s work got tickets. It was cool to see Felix versus Verlander.

KrisDi decided to start repainting the walls in the house. Of course, I was still too broken at the start of this to do anything besides sit on the couch and cheerlead.

Chilkoot has been reading more and more — he’s not loving it the way his sister currently loves it, but he’s definitely making progress.

Chilkat lost another tooth — she was brushing or flossing and bonked the loose tooth, causing it to bleed, causing her to freak out. I managed to convince her that the best thing to do at that stage was to just take the tooth out, so we did. I think that was her 5th — bottom, left of the front two. Incisor, maybe? I think she named the new tooth that’s coming in “Sixlet.”

G False Alarm tried to organize a birthday outing for me, but he couldn’t make it. So I went out with HB and the Pope. We managed to visit eight different breweries, walking from the first one, ending up at a bar. The Pope may have been somewhat inebriated before we were done for the night. It was a good time. Also, we ate meat and cheese from a vending machine.

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 0 comments

March 2019

Click here or on the photo for the rest of the March pictures

Man, going back through these photos, March was a busy month. I guess I usually split a month into two posts, but I didn’t have very many photos so I just made one album, which leads me to one post…anyway…

Chilkat apparently had a bad day.

Chilkat sold a bunch of girl scout cookies. She had an assigned day standing out in front of the QFC assaulting passersby. Luckily, her little brother was an easy mark.

KrisDi stubbornly ran her 15K with T Dog. Remember — she had already injured her hip flexor while training in the snow, which she then agitated by continuing to train in Florida. She could barely walk after the 15K. She has started going to physical therapy, and I think she’s getting better now, but it’s been rough for her. I was not cruel enough to record a video of her walking with a horrible limp.

Weesh’s family came out here. I can’t remember the real reason — maybe Weesh’s uncle’s birthday or something? Anyway, they came over to our house and had dinner with us, and we got to hang with them. They’re always fun. KrisDi made a nice dinner.

KrisDi and I had a date day. It was for my birthday. We went around from brewery to brewery and ate foods. It was fun. KrisDi got to go and hang out with the Weesh, too.

Chilkat’s 2nd grade concert happened. Chilkoot decided he needed to dress nicely for the occasion, so he wore his old suit, which is now so small on him he could barely move. “It’s OK. I won’t have to move my arms.” KrisDi gave Chilkat some flowers afterwards, and she was super cute. So was my wife, for that matter.

Chilkoot’s kindergarten did the leprechaun trap thing. I don’t think they caught that rascally leprechaun.

We took Miss K out to dinner again. We took her to one of my favorite places (which I would recommend purely on the beer or purely on the food — both excellent). We got her to try a bunch of different beers and tried to teach her a little about beer styles. At least she’s adventuresome. It seems likely I’ll be taking her to a Pietasters concert without my wife, who will be out of town.

Chilkat’s brownie troop had a tea etiquette event. Evidently, she did not enjoy the tea so well. But, she got a new badge and she got to try a variety of teas.

KrisDi and Chilkoot went to the Mommy / Son Super Hero Dance way up north again, so Chilkat and I got to have Daddy Daughter Day. We went to the zoo, we went out for lunch and ice cream, we went to a movie. We had a good time.

I have no idea what triggered this, but approximately nine months after the fact the kids decided to finally finish last year’s Father’s Day birdhouses. The very day they were working on this, a bird moved into the 2016 birdhouse (our first tenant!), and then it moved into one of the 2017 ones.

Finally, KrisDi decided to start repainting the walls, which is nice because it covers up the dirt and scrapes that decorated our house. Unfortunately, somehow she caught one of her pinkie toes on the stairs and maybe broke it. Which is great when she’s still trying to recover from the hip flexor thing.

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment