Monday, August 22, 2011

Kah Nee Ta

We aren't having a summer again this year. Last year we didn't have a summer either, except for like three days in July where the temps reached 100 degrees. Before and after that, nothing. So, like last year, I had to find some real sun to convince my skin that tanning bed bulbs are not the only source of color in my world. Last year at this time we went to Palm Springs for five days of 100+ degree heat; this year, because I'm a cheapskate and seriously am going to Cancun in December (God damn it), I chose something a bit closer to home: Kah Nee Ta.

I haven't been to Kah Nee Ta since either 1984 or 1985. I can't remember exactly when, because we made a few day trips out that way back then, but I DO know that the last time I did, I got so sunburned that my face swelled up like that kid in "Mask" and then it dried out and cracked like the Sahara desert and when it peeled, it peeled off in huge sheets of skin that would slide off my face and into my lap at the slightest crack of a smile. It was horrid.

So anyway, this time we decided to stay there a couple of days since I didn't go to North Dakota but still had some days off. We left on Friday about mid-morning and arrived around 2:30 or so. The place was packed. The resort's policy is a two night minimum, and they have pretty much no cancellation policy, but since it's reservation land, I think you pretty much have to put up with it. You know, since we raped them of their land and threw them on these reservations and introduced them to booze that kept them down for years and years until they started to sober up and realized that the white man likes to gamble and built a bunch of casinos and are turning the tables now. It seems like a pretty fair trade off, when you think about it.

Which is kind of what I had to remind Cece when the kid at the front desk kept telling us our room wasn't ready until EXACTLY 4:30, which coincidentally is the "guaranteed" time. We were kind of cranky because there were no chairs to be had at the pool (luckily when we got there another girl I work with was in the pool and had great chair positioning, so we were at least able to put our bags down and attempt to float on the air mattresses), we were totally unsettled, and just wanted to lay down. But all that is forgotten when you finally have all your shit together in one spot and you've cracked open an icy cold beer.

The chair game is alive and well in the high desert of central Oregon. We got so-so chair positioning at 6:45am Saturday morning (it doesn't even become mildly warm until around 9), but it was nice to assume the position knowing there would be no leaving the area until much later in the day.

People are always crazy friendly in a resort situation. It's easy to put out of your mind that these are the same bastards that cut you off on the freeway, steal your cart at the supermarket and are most likely Beaver fans. But at the pool everyone is your best friend, sharing their more expensive floaties and watching your Kindle when you have to go to the bathroom. There's nothing more relaxing then laying out all day, even if this WAS a family resort and there were 897 screaming kids in the pool. I think I still got tan.

We intended to do the Salmon Bake that night - we had a view of the venue from our balcony. It was billed as a showcase of Native American dance and rituals and then the barbecue and a bunch of food and fun. We figured we could skip the culture-y part and just go down and get the food part, but when the entertainment showed up at 5:15pm for a 4pm show and dressed into their native costumes in the parking lot, I don't know, the charm sort of fell away. Behind-the-scenes footage did nothing for the ambiance. We ate in the restaurant instead.

Where the busboy was talking about a wildfire that kind of lost us. Apparently there was a pretty good one going on outside between the lower part of the resort and the lodge where we stayed. But I think the busboy was kind of slow or maybe he just thought we knew about it and chose to have a fine meal while his living quarters were threatened. We noticed the helicopters and planes overhead when we left the restaurant, and it clicked..

It was something to watch, definitely. I mean, it was REALLY close. There were unsubtantiated rumors that the Village area was evacuated, and the Hamlets, where the staff is housed, was right in its path. You could see the flames shoot out over the ridge at one point, and every time a tree went up it was pretty frightening. We also learned a lot about firefighting in the desert. We watched the action for about an hour or so and then kept one ear open all night just in case of lodge evacuation. Seriously. It was that close.

Sunday morning we gave it a couple more hours in the sun and then hit the road. Traffic over the mountain was a bitch and by the time we hit the Marquam Bridge it was ridiculous, so being home was nice. It was good, quick weekend getaway that hopefully results in a lasting tan. It better, since it was the last tanning opportunity of the summer. The summer we didn't have.

I would recommend this resort based on it's close proximity and because it's pretty much always sunny there, and the fact that it's the high desert and I love that terrain. The service is lacking in some areas, but if you're laid back about it it won't get to you. Just remember who holds the cards and you'll be fine.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What, me complain?

I feel like I haven't bitched in a while. So I'm gonna.

I'll admit it. I bought into the whole Starbucks thing. For, like, ever. When I lived in Cleveland in the early- to mid- 90s I had Starbucks coffee delivered to my house, because they hadn't quite made it out of the Pacific Northwest yet. I've been somewhat faithful to the brand for a long time, and I'm not really sure why, when you consider their coffee tastes burnt and is ridiculously over-priced. The nice thing about buying into the brand, though, is the fact they are EVERYwhere. If you don't feel like getting out of your car at the non-drive thru one on your way to work, there's a drive thru one a block away. There is always one conveniently located to anywhere you happen to go - in the mall, by the gym, inside the supermarket. If you are a total Starbucks devotee, you will never find yourself far from one.

A couple of years ago I discovered Dutch Bros coffee near one of the branches I work in, and whenever I work there, I go to Dutch Bros on the way in. Dutch Bros is fantastic tasting coffee. Seriously. You don't need to hide the burnt taste with crazy syrup additives and foam. It just really tastes good. And it's inexpensive, AND they can knock out your order in no time. AND they are friendly. Chit-chatty. Tip inspiring.

Lately I've been off Starbucks because the one closest to my house, and closest to the gym, the obvious choice of getting a post-workout coffee, is always packed and the staff just sucks. They suck. They are constantly getting orders wrong, they take forever to fill said orders, the lines for waiting for your coffee are longer than the lines to order your coffee. They have piss-poor attitudes and appear to be annoyed with anything you might order. Often times I will go the extra two or three miles out of my way to hit the Dutch Bros when I come back from the gym on a Sunday, because of the good coffee, the friendly staff, and the fact it would take me the same amount of time to drive clear over to Washington Square, wait in line for my order, and come back to my house as it would to get a cup from the Starbucks a mile away. From a bunch of bastards. For more money.

I noticed signs for a Portland Bagel Company going up in the Murray-Scholls shopping center a while ago, and it's in the same strip mall situation as the stupid Starbucks that I hate going to but sometimes do anyway out of convenience (only to be irritated upon my departure). I'd considered going in but hadn't yet. This morning as I waited in the long (but shorter than the pick-up-your-coffee line) order line, I googled Portland Bagel Company to see if they offered espresso drinks. According to the brief page I read, they did. So I left the stupid Starbucks line (that hadn't moved), walked past the irritated customers waiting for their incorrect coffee orders, and walked two doors down to the bagel place. It was empty.

I asked if they had espresso or was it just drip coffee. They said they have espresso in other stores, but this one was drip only. I cocked a thumb toward the Starbucks and said "Because of them?" and he said yes. I tried to illicit some kind of opinion from the guy, but he was too nice to bite, and listened politely to my mini-rant of the injustices of it all with a customer-is-always-right-even-if-a-little-bit-crazy-sounding smile on his face. I ordered a drip coffee and a bagel and after some more chit chat with the friendly counter guy, I left with plenty of change in my wallet and a really good tasting cup of coffee. Irritated.

How about a little friendly competition, Starbucks? You already have consumers so snowed into believing your coffee is the best out there, so who cares if this little bagel shop serves espresso too? Are you concerned that once people taste what coffee is supposed to taste like, meaning not burnt, they'll leave your stupid location and spend all their money two doors down? And who died and made YOU king of the strip mall, by saying PBC can't sell espresso at this particular store? Are you worried that if your customers discover that they can actually get friendly service at the other place, YOUR staff might have to put on a smile and listen to the order the first time? Or possibly wipe off the counter from time to time? It irritates me that rather than strive to be better than a competing coffee shop, Starbucks would prefer to throw their weight around and not allow said competing coffee shop to even compete. But I know the truth - the bottom line is that even this cup of drip coffee I am currently sipping on is a THOUSAND times better than any cup of coffee I have ever had at Starbucks.

I will say as an aside that there are Starbucks locations where the staff IS friendly, the store IS clean, and the service IS accurate and somewhat speedy (well, relatively speaking.). But not this particular one, who from this moment on will never see a dime more from me. Not just because the coffee tastes like shit, and the staff is surly and incompetent, but because they KNOW they are terrible, and have no intention of improving. That's just sad to me. Sad, stupid and lazy.

And crazy irritating.

Saturday, August 06, 2011


It's reunion weekend.

Not MY reunion, but my brother Tom's 30th, and I SO wanted to crash it. When I went to Beaverton it was still a three-year high school, so as I was entering my sophomore year, Tom was entering his senior year. Thankfully he had established a pretty good circle of friends, which was integral to my own budding social structure. I can't imagine what would have happened if he hadn't become friends with the guys he did.

Through his connections I had access to all the good parties, and didn't necessarily look like a complete idiot showing up to them with my own friends (I say "necessarily" because generally no senior girl wants a bunch of sophomore girls homing in on all the senior boy talent. Senior girls start realizing their advanced age at 17 and 18 and those dewy faced 15 and 16 year olds were too much of a threat to their intended good times, I guess.). Plus Tom's friends seemed to like me (as a sister, unfortunately for my dewy faced 15 year old heart) so THEY didn't mind if I was there drinking all their beer (and trust me, I did).

Plus I had that score-keeping gig for the varsity baseball team, and seriously, there wasn't an ugly guy on that team (well, maybe one or two). So awkward, inexperienced, fresh-out-of-catholic-school TtheD was almost immediately plunged into the world of popular star athletes and the mean-spirited groupies/girlfriends that came with them. I am pretty sure that's how I developed my hard candy shell. Some of those bitches were ruthless.

I really wanted to crash the reunion tonight because the number of boys I had crushes on in that class is too high to count. I suppose I really just want to relive that life of an innocent naive girl surrounded by confident young bucks drinking beer and wanting to make out, but the truth is none of them are so young anymore and the baggage around that no-host bar is going to be worse than Thanksgiving weekend at PDX. And you can pretty much cut the hair follicle number in half, if not more. But still.. wouldn't it kind of be fun to go back one more time to those days of being fresh and new and ripe for the picking? Only now, in the More Worldly Less Naive suit you've been sporting for the last twenty years? Of course.

I think Tom wouldn't mind me crashing, but the Class of '83 girls to whom I suggested it didn't bite. So I'll run my errands today, maybe lay by the pool, do some laundry and light cleaning, just like any Saturday of my adult life. And who knows, I might need to drive by the Stockpot later in the evening, just in case the path of my errands leads me in that direction. Just to be 15 years old and ripe for the picking for three seconds again.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

And now for something funnier than anything.

Kudos to the guy that made this. I've watched it like five times already. I apologize in advance (after the fact?) for the language to any of my more sensitive readers, but it's really nothing worse than you normally see here.