The Great Northwest Adventure

("It's a weakness to try to show yourself to be more than you actually are. To me, it's cooler to hide yourself, even if you're better than that. That's a big difference between Japanese and American cultures. Sometimes, (Americans) try to make themselves out to be bigger than they are." - Ichiro Suzuki)

Seattle/Vancouver 8/5/09-8/8/09

Arrived in Seattle to visit my friends Gay & Alicia after a long plane ride. First stop was The Mission in West Seattle for some food. Watching the Mariners play the Royals at the bar and a cat starts running around on the field. Where in the world is the Royals' stadium in Kansas City that a cat can just stroll in and start running about the place? It was pretty funny. Someone ran it into the bullpen, and the game wasn't the same after that.

From The Mission, we went to Qwest field to see FC Barcelona pay the Seattle Sounders. Wow, people in Seattle have embraced soccer. The green jerseys way outweighed FC Barcelona shirts. The stadium was pretty packed. I actually like this football stadium - the open air, the view of downtown and the planes flying by in the sky. We were pretty high up, but the view was still great. FC Barcelona was wearing neon orange jerseys with matching socks. Now, I know that Seattle is known for being alternative, but I was looking forward to seeing the red and blue. I like watching soccer because the footwork is seriously unbelievable, but also reminds of how in basketball the plays develop in transition, you're looking for cutters and making the perfect pass in front of the goal. When I first started watching soccer, I didn't understand offsides. However, today I'm like "that's so offsides." I'm exhausted at the end of the day. I fear that pictures of me of my eyes closed on the city bus will end up on the Internet.


Our hotel is on Robson St., which is a bit like Melrose Ave. in Los Angeles. Lots of people walking and shopping here. The accessory of choice that I notice isn't shoes, but headphones, All types of sizes on people walking down the street about their business. One thing that is different. Is "Ketchup Lay's." Such a bitter taste and the look of the chip, not so appealing. I'm sure I eat things Canadians wouldn't understand, so I try not to judge. Different types of house (modern, Victorian) are placed by each other side by side in the neighborhoods much like the fashionable people of Vancouver. Impressed by the amount of Prius taxis here. So smart.

The skyscrapers come in marvelous jewel-toned colors (emerald, sapphire and topaz) downtown . I walked from our hotel to the water. I enjoyed watching the seaplanes take off and land in the water. It's cool here, meaning the temperature, like Fall. Went to a few thrift stores in Kitsilano. Almost a bust, but I did find this shirt. I do like this side of town, though. It moves at a slower pace; however, it is still hip and eclectic. Stanley park has some wonderful views. This part of Vancouver is reminiscent of San Francisco - big trees nestled in the city. In the evening, we played 5-pin bowling. Here you have a smaller ball that you hold in your hands instead of gripping it with your fingers. It was a little unusual and fun.

Occasionally, you can pick up on Canadian pronounced words. One canunck, which we were told we could say, mentioned that I didn't have a Texas accent. I told him I say "fixin to." Then he went into his impression of a Texas accent. Canadian Texan - you gotta hear that.

Back to Seattle

For the past couple of mornings, I have been awaken by the sounds of seagulls outside my hotel window at 5:30a lasting to about 7ish. That I will not miss about Canada. On the way back, we stopped at the duty free shop. This concept is weird to me. Does everyone want to buy perfume, alcohol and handbags when they leave another country? People like electronics and usually need those on the road. They need DVDs their kids can watch or a new CD for the road. I'm surprised that Apple hasn't come up with a kiosk that you could download music from for those who don't have access to Wi-Fi or an iPhone. The people in Seattle seem like simple big picture solvers- meaning they can think of a simple way to make life easier and efficient. That's why my favorite baseball player or just one of my favorite people is Ichiro Suzuki. He believes in maximum efficiency with little effort. That doesn't mean he's lazy, not by any means. He uses his energy wisely. I always thought that if work is constantly hard, then there's a problem. Work should involve using your strengths, be challenging, but not defeating. Ichiro has said in so many words that Americans want to see things done the hard way. Which I think is true. A lot of people can't appreciate someone whose performance looks effortless, graceful and efficient like clockwork. They want power hitters, power dunkers and power workers. Home run hitters instead of smart base runners, a slam dunk instead of a beautiful shot release and 40 plus work weeks instead of leaving when work is done.

However, on a lighter note, I must apologize to Ichiro for taking pictures of him mostly bending over and stretching from behind. Look at that bat stance. Being zen can only get you so far. Also, Ken Griffey Jr. may want to lay off a few of those rally fries. Safeco field is very nice. I haven't been to a ballpark in ages. Once I go, I always find it enjoyable.

So many different adventures on this trip has pretty much left me wiped out. I'm taking the next day off to recover and relax. Hopefully, there will be no birds outside to disturb my rest and ketchup-less chips in my cabinet.

On my iPod:

"Seaside" - The Kooks
"See The World" - The Kooks
"We're from Barcelona" - I'm From Barcelona
"El Presente" (live) - Julieta Venegas
"Seven" - Dave Matthews Band
"Off The Wall" - Michael Jackson
"Animal" - Miike Snow
"1901" - Phoenix
"Sucka Mofo" - Northern State
"Kick Push" Lupe Fiasco
"Surrending" - Alanis Morissette
"On The Other Side" - The Strokes
"Oblivion" - Wintersleep
"People Got A Lotta Nerve" - Neko Case


Going Back To Cali

(I suggest we learn to love ourselves before it's made illegal...warning, don't ever let life pass you by.- B. Boyd)

Visiting Los Angeles again. This time because my friend Joanna is having baby number two, and I figured I would go a see her before the baby's arrival.

I always try to make her a CD before I go to see her. Here's what's on it this time.

"Help I'm Alive" - Metric
"Zero" - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
"Get Myself Into It" - The Rapture
"Two Weeks" - Grizzly Bear
"Something Is Not Right With Me" - Cold War Kids
"I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked" - Ida Maria
"Black Heart Inertia" - Incubus
"Electric Feel" - MGMT
"Caravan Girl" - Goldfrapp
"Poker Face" - Lady Gaga
"Sunday Girl" - Blondie
"French Navy" - Camera Obscura
"The Opposite of Hallelujah" - Jens Lekman
"Relator" - Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson
"Summertime" - The Sundays

I love Los Angeles. My goal is to go there once a year. We'll see how that goes. But I don't do fancy pants LA. I'm not hanging out at Chateau Marmont or The Standard. I do laid back, easy-going LA.

Favorite LA Things

1. Amoeba Records - The biggest and best record store ever. And when I say record, I mean vinyl. You can get some great stuff here at very affordable prices. I still need a Jimi Hendrix picture disc to go with my Led Zeppelin and David Bowie discs that are on my wall. Hmmm...

2. Beach/Weather - Going to Zuma beach this time, which is supposed to be the best beach in LA. 70, 80, 90 degrees... whatever, I'll take it compared to Texas heat.

3. Vintage Stores Galore - Los Angeles is a vintage store paradise. I could spend all day going through the racks.

4. Farmer's Market at The Grove - I get Waffles with Strawberries every time.

5. Fish tacos - I like cheap, from a stand, on the street fish tacos. Sometimes they even have shrimp, too.

6. Silverlake - The houses on the hill, I want one. There are quaint coffee shops and cute, little boutiques. It's like Austin or Seattle in LA.

7. View from Griffith Observatory - At night, of course, is terrific. It will be the only time you can stand looking at the traffic in Los Angeles. The lights are fantastic.

8. The Originals - In-N-Out Burger, Pinkberry and Sprinkles. The start of some of the best food chains in America.

Day 1
June 18, 2009

Los Angeles and your Spanish bungalows, how I adore thee despite your love of the Lakers. Ninety degrees here isn't like in Texas. A cool breeze comes along and makes everything alright again, and at night it's chilly enough for a jacket. Can I take you home with me? I'm staying in La Brea which is close to Hollywood. My hotel of choice is this time is Farmer's Daughter, which isn't too far from Joanna. It's across the street from the Price is Right building and the Farmer's Market/Grove. This is a perfect location if you have a car. It's near some of the touristy things and some type of everyday, normal LA life. I've noticed...1. People love to walk their dogs all the time here. 2. Women wear boots with everything (skirts, pants and even shorts). Maybe shoes are a cultural thing and people should do more studies regarding people's choice of footwear and region. Footnotes: a)White people like to wear flip flops in 30 degree weather. b) LA women wear boots summer, spring, winter and fall. Met up with Joanna after doing some thrift store shopping. You can read about what I found here. We went to Amoeba Records after catching up (dishing about Facebook) I picked up 2 remix singles and latest Strokes album on vinyl. I think some things are meant to listen to on vinyl. Classics like Bowie or old 60s-70s R&B. Somehow I think the Strokes fit that bill, too. Gabriella is so big, and she still smiles all the time. Definitely an explorer. She likes to run around and pick up things. We went to go see the Hangover. Very funny. A nice combination of physical comedy and "what in the world" moments. Day 1, Success.

(view from hotel room window)

Day 2
June 19, 2009

Went to Zuma Beach. It's very relaxing to look at the waves even in cloudy weather. In the random way the world works, I look up at a light while we are driving and see a street named "Morning View." Then I realize that this is the street that Incubus named their album after, which makes me smile on the inside. Went to Duke's to eat lunch. You can look out at the ocean while you eat and big seagulls will walk pass on the window ledge. Later in the evening we saw Grizzly Bear at The Wiltern. It's a nice theater - a little old Hollywood. The sound was really good. Normally, I don't go see mellow bands in concert, but the band was great. The way they blend melodies is amazing. Their sound is attention grabbing yet beautiful enough to lull you to sleep. I thought weird mustaches were so last year, but apparently some guys are still rockin them. It was a bit like being surrounded by a bunch of Ryan Goslings from Lars and the Real Girl. Day 2, Accomplished and tired.

Day 3
June 20, 2009

Walked around town a lot today. I didn't realize how close I was to Melrose where a bunch of vintage stores are located. I also didn't realize that most of the stores don't open until noon on Saturday. What are these people doing on Friday nights that half the day goes by before they open a store? I think I could handle driving a car out here. I'm starting to put locations and streets somewhat together, and I now know that you don't have to take the 405 to the airport. I did stop by, The Way We Wore, a very famous vintage shop where celebs like to shop. Prices are definitely to high for my taste, but I could see how some Hollywood celebutante could clean up in there or someones stylist - the customer de jour of the day. The Way We Wore - Expensive vintage. Melrose Thrift Stores - Retail Vintage. Thrift Stores - Cheaper Vintage. Day 3 - Satisfied until next time.

Washington D.C./Miami 09

(Mavs/Nash trip #6)

"Before seriously agreeing to date Barack, Michelle Obama asked her brother to take on her suitor on the basketball court (her father and brother had always said you could tell a lot about someone's character on the court)."

Washington D.C. (Jan 26th - Jan 28th)

Day 1

There are always two feelings that begin to surface right before I take these trips. 1. Excited. I really can't wait to go to my basketball games and see a new city. 2. Apprehensive. I'm such a dork. Why do I do this? I'm a little nervous. And so begins trip number 6. Seven if you count San Antonio, but we all know that going there isn't really a vacation. (Suck it, Spurs fans)

The first thing I notice as I step out the airport onto the Metro station platform is how cold it is. The tips of my fingers started to go numb, so I put my gloves on and put my hands inside my down coat. But that still didn't keep the cold away.

In D.C., apparently jaywalking is okay. I don't want to look out of place, so I do as the people do. Also, it is customary to stand on the right side of the escalator while people walk up the left. I don't think we do this in Texas.

Since I only have two days here, I jump right into it. I go for a walk around the city. Take pictures of the Capitol Building. Some of the inauguration stuff is still there. I guess it's like waiting to take down your tree after Christmas is over, but it will be a week ago tomorrow. Can we create new jobs that involve taking that stuff down? I walk down the National Mall looking at the museum buildings on the outside. I don't have time to go in.

I figure if I keep walking, I will eventually run into the White House, and I do. No sign of anyone stirring about. I ponder walking down to the Lincoln Memorial, but I see how far I am away from it and fear I will pass out and be eaten by the geese before I even get there.

I take the Metro back to my hotel because I am exhausted and freezing. I hurt. Somehow I manage to lose my sense of direction, and I walk the wrong way prolonging my tiredness. I get back to my room and vow to remember what way to go the next time. I'm tired of being tired.

My Suns game was alright. I don't know if Steve is really enjoying the way the team is structured now. It's like they are trying to be two different teams at the same time. I always feel that there's a parallel between the Suns and the Mavs. Something always seems to connect them. This year it's the year of not knowing. (Not knowing the identity of the team or who's going to show up every night or the right rotation) I hope both find the answer soon.

Wasn't really impressed by the Wizards' game presentation. It's really weird when a team doesn't have a Humble Billy. The game seems boring. The loudest anyone ever got in the first half was when they were giving out Chipotle burritos. The Wizards dancers are the second worst dance team I've seen behind the Clippers. Caron Butler is super good. I was hoping to sit by a Wizards fan, so I could ask if they are afraid when Antawn Jamison shoots a layup because he always looks like he's going to miss, but that didn't work out.

Took the Metro to and from the game. Got lost going to my hotel again. Damn it! I will defeat you L'Enfant Plaza. I'm exhausted. Until tomorrow...

Day 2

I woke up this morning, and snow was on the ground. Honestly, I needed a day to recover from yesterday's walking. Most of the schools are closed, but a lot of the working people seem to go about their business. I don't know how they do it without hats and gloves.

I didn't take the tour I had originally scheduled. Didn't want to be out on the cold snowy streets in some bus. The Lincoln Memorial isn't going anywhere, so perhaps another time. I did go downtown to do some quick shopping at H&M and Zara.

The rest of the day I spent in my hotel, which is across from an office building. Kinda reminds me of the Bourne movie where the lady asks Bourne how do they know where to find Julia Stile's character and he says, "It should be easy. She's standing right beside you."

70 degree days ahead in Miami...

Miami (Jan 28th - February 1st)

Day 3

I'm glad I decided to take an extra day in Miami. I didn't arrive at my hotel until 5:30p. Upon arrival at the reception desk, I notice a group of pilots and flight attendants. I hear the words "eins, twei," and the theory that Germans love Miami has now, in my estimation, already been proven. Looking out the balcony of my hotel room, I see the Atlantic Ocean. So peaceful and serene. This may be the life. It may not be my life, but I'm certainly willing to take it for a test spin.

Day 4

I'm so relaxed. I've really never thought about repeating a basketball trip, but so far I'm considering Miami. I'm not staying in South Beach. I'm in Sunny Isles Beach, which is a bit more laid back. I can walk to a Walgreen's or the grocery store. I rented a condo online that is inside a Le Meridien Hotel. I paid $179 a night, which is an excellent price for Miami. This place would normally be about $600 a night because it has a full kitchen, a living room, a bedroom and bathroom. I'm glad I went this route because I scored a super sweet deal. Might go for a jog later this afternoon down the beach. Don't really care for running, but it always looks therapeutic in the movies or on TV.

Day 5

Today, I took the rental car challenge. I have never rented one before. I feel like I passed with flying colors. GPS is great, but has some flaws. Thus setting up another vacation rule, if you're renting a car make sure you have cash on you in case you end up on a toll road. I've notice in Miami that everyone is very affectionate when greeting each other. Sweetie. Senorina. Mami. It's nice, but when it's a group of girls it can be overwhelming. Could Radiohead be the most relaxing, introspective beach music ever? Everything here seems too perfect. I like to sit on a towel at the beach, not on a beach chair. It feels more natural, and I get to look at all the shells in the sand.

Day 6

Note to self: When in Miami bring CDs because there aren't any good radio stations. On the beach at 10am for my daily walk and pensive staring out into the ocean. Sixty degrees and windy today, but nonetheless refreshing. I drove to Key Biscayne today. I've never seen a lighthouse in person, so I decided to take the trek. I went up the 109 stairs. Lighthouse keeper is definitely not a job for a tall person or those who are afraid of heights.

I went to a beach and souvenir shop and picked up 2 of these beautiful sarongs that turn into dress in like 30 different ways. There was this charming salesgirl who showed me the different ways you can wear them. She asked what sign I was. I told her Aries. She said she knew it because Aries are a little bit different and a little crazy. She said that they will always feel like a kid inside, they normally don't show their age and children are attracted to them. She said her birthday was March 31st. I told her mine was April 1st. How amusing.

Got to the game a little later than I liked. Missed tip off. Mavs looked ready to play. Very impressed by their offense, and their defense looked a whole lot better than in recent games. Dirk scored 30 on 12 of 14 shooting. The Morning News says the fact that Holger was there attributed to it (Yes! My favorite German quote machine is back in the States.). But make note that I was there, too.

There were these two little boys behind me who seemed to know more about basketball than a lot of adults I know. At one point, they were debating whether Dirk's name was (No-vit-ski) or (No-win-ski). Yeah, no one knows. But Steve says (No-win-ski), so I go with that. One of the kid's mom had to beg him to leave with 1:46 left. He kept saying, "There's only 1 minute." Stick to your guns, kiddo. One day you'll find the girl of your dreams who doesn't believe in leaving games early like you do.

The Heat dancers can give the Mavs dancers a run for their money in several categories including skimpy outfits, good dance moves and provocativeness. They actually win that last category hands down. I thought we must have been in a rap video at one point. But I ain't hatin' on them.

I liked this experience. I slayed the rental car with GPS. City of Miami you stole my championship, but I can't hate on you, either.

On iPod:

"13 x Forever" (Garbage)

"Sour Cherry" (The Kills)

"Walcott" (Vampire Weekend)

"Message Of Love" (The Pretenders)

"Crosstown Traffic" (Jimi Hendrix)

"Under Construction" (No Doubt)

"Dream Brother" (Jeff Buckley)

"Electric Feel" (MGMT)

"Lost Coastlines" (Okkervil River)

"Reasons Not to Be an Idiot" (Frank Turner)

"Live" (Lenny Kravitz)

"Frische Luft" (Clueso)

"Everyone Nose" (N.E.R.D)

"Move Shake Drop (remix)" (DJ Laz ft. Pitbull)

"Freakum Dress" (Beyonce)

"Saturday Night" (Ozomatli)

"See Fernando" (Jenny Lewis)

Beach Music:



Rilo Kiley

Led Zeppelin's "The Ocean"