Fat Mangosteen

I’ve been eagerly awaiting a visit to Vancouver and especially its Chinatown. It’s a wild city with nothing but Asians everywhere you look. Consequently, driving was quite taxing at times. There is also a staggering number of high-rise apartment buildings. But Vancouver has that “big city vibe” that Seattle is definitely missing. And they have mangosteens.
mangosteen.jpgI only really became hip to this exotic fruit last year or so but I’ve been rather obsessed with wanting to taste what all the hype is about. It grows in Thailand and India and for insect reasons can’t be imported into the States. Several grocers in Chinatown had them fresh from Thailand for $6.99/lb. I picked up one, got in the car, and cracked it open with a coffee stirrer I snagged from Starbucks. It’s hard to explain the taste…but it’s pretty darn delicious. So if you ever find yourself in Thailand, India, or British Columbia try to get your hands onto one of these guys. I also just discovered online this product called XanGo which is a mangosteen based juice. I need to try to hunt down some of this stuff.
I also saw the Guiness-certified world’s narrowest building. At five feet wide it sounded amazing….but I was disappointed. It sits up snug with another building so unless you’re looking for it you’d never notice it. Here’s a profile shot–it’s the skinny building on the left.
Finally, on the way back into the country I stopped in a little town near Bellingham and picked up some live oysters. In this little shack in Bow, Washington on Samish Bay, I bumped into two black guys buying oysters and crabs. This still blows my mind. But the oysters I bought were delicious on the grill back home.

Henry IV

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The Mirror always comes with the heat on the headlines. Just a week after his hat-trick, Thierry nets four more to thump Leeds 5-0. One of which was a cheeky chip from the penalty pot. Bob Pires scored the first for Arsenal on a spectacular curling first touch.
Henry is like watching Michael Vick–everytime one of them have the ball in their possession, you just get a feeling that fireworks are imminent. Speaking of Vick, he’s coming to town to play the Seahawks this coming season. My first Seahawks game was a miserable experience but maybe if I don’t sit in the nose bleeds this time I won’t have to deal with so much nonsense from the bleacher bums.

Vancouver Bound

Just plowed through a bunch of stuff to help make sure I have the financial means for Euro 2004 in July. Keep those fingers crossed.
Now I’ve got a couple hours sleep before I wake up to pack for my first trip to British Columbia. One thing I won’t forget is my Passport…this big brown boy doesn’t want any border crossing troubles. I’m going to attempt to get a hike in tomorrow despite the wet weather we’re looking at throughout the Pacific Northwest. However, Dim Sum and my quest for fresh mangosteen top my list of things to do.
I’ll have all the gory details posted come Saturday.

Juiced on Jamba

Despite the move to Seattle, I have continued to steer clear of the coffee beans. However, the past two days have seen me buy my first two Jamba Juices and I am embarassed to say that I am absolutely hooked. It’s all about the Berry Lime Sublime!
After slurping down the smoothie, I picked up a badminton set and tonight lost the inaugural match in my living room. Now I have a new place to meet some friends and talk shuttlecock–Northwest Badminton Association.

Mad Peeps

Today’s Easter celebrations consisted of a gluttonous feast of BBQ goodness washed down with the mandatory holiday staple of Peeps. Then I had my first go at volleyball in many a years…I think I might have to stick with lawn darts.
In sporting news:
Arsenal held Newcastle to a 0-0 draw and moved closer to the league crown.
Heavyweight Wladimir Klitschko was KO’d for the second time in a year by a journeyman. It was a bizarre scene with Wlad dominating the action until he ran out of gas and seemed to be knocked over by a mere breeze. I was immediately under the impression that there was something medically wrong with him, as an athlete of his caliber (i.e. Super-Heavyweight Olympic Gold-Medalist) could not possibly be that exhausted in the 5th Round of a 12-Rounder. Early reports are saying post-fight tests showed his blood-sugar levels were 4x the norm. Perhaps a diabetic out there can break down the magnitude of this for the lay? The potential ramifications of this to an already hurting sport are obvious. Almost worse is Don King arranging for Chris Byrd to fight Andrew Golota this weekend on PPV for a heavyweight title.

Oh Henry!

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And I’m not talking about candy bars…Thierry Henry had a great Good Friday netting the hat-trick against Liverpool and Arsenal was victorious 4-2. I watched the game with a group of elementary school kids who quickly learned the way and were rooting for the Gunners in no time.
The other highlight to the day was a first-grader unknowingly stumbling upon a two-foot glass bong (aka drug paraphernalia) in a park by the school, holding it in the air, and exclaiming: “this is awesome!” Thankfully, no other kids had any other questions about this fancy flower vase and the problem was quickly contained.

The Most Beautifullist Dosa

dosa.jpgIt was amazing. A tape measure wasn’t available at the dinner table, but eyeball estimates put this “Family Dosa” at a solid 6.5 feet in length. All eyes in the restaurant were on my table as it was brought out from the kitchen. And even more stares came when I stood up to take a picture. It was a fantastic Indian dinner complete with the requisite poor service.
Sadly, only about 5 feet of it was consumed on-site (I had the help of three other hungry stomachs) and the remains are resting in my fridge for breakfast/lunch.
Click here if you want to see this grand ol’ dosa in greater detail. Certainly a meal worthy of a big brown boy.

Gunners Disappointment

Unlike Cold Heat, Arsenal squandered their chances at the double today. Just as I was about to call into work and alert them of a potential extra-time/late to work situation, Chelsea scored in the 87th minute and that was that. In a matter of three days Arsenal have departed from both the FA Cup and Champions League competitions. The Premiership League crown is (hopefully) still for the taking barring any further atrocious slipups.
John Cooper’s years with the Buckeyes have prepared me well for bitter disappointment in the wake of such promise so I think I’ll cope sufficiently. However, a few days ago I bought tickets for the Chelsea v Celtic match in Seattle in the Chelsea supporters section. I don’t know what I was thinking.

Silverware

The soccer squad I am playing on completed our undefeated run tonight. Team Cold Heat compiled a 12-1-0 record on the march to the title. Thankfully, the one draw was avenged in an extra-time/penalty kicks thriller during the playoffs.
We go for the “Double” (both league and intra-city honors) on the 17th when we face the league champs from Redmond.

Adventures in Neah Bay

Yesterday was a long one. The party kicked off at 2:30am PST to watch Arsenal drop their FA Cup semifinal to ManU 1-0. This was not the pre-dawn mood I was hoping to find myself in.
By 6:30am the auto was loaded and off towards the Olympic Peninsula with distant Neah Bay in sight. After four hours of driving and one car sick passenger, I crossed the boundary to the Makah Indian Reservation. Californians will be delighted to know that even in this most remote corner of the country gas prices are still under $2/gallon. I strolled into Washburn’s General Store to pick up my $7 recreational permit to display in my vehicle/ensure my car isn’t looted at the trailheads. I overheard a cashier in there talking about how she can speak Spanish, German, Dutch, Japanese, and Makah. I wish I had pressed her on this subject as now I have unfinished business at Washburn’s.
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Now it was off to Cape Flattery-the northwestern tip of Washington. There is a 4-mile gravel road to the trailhead but the 1.5-mile roundtrip hike is as luxurious as can be–boardwalks with four observation decks along the way. The milage:scenery ratio on this trail is off the scale. By far the most spectacular almost wheelchair-friendly short hike I have enjoyed. And I made a new friend along the way. The final observation deck gives you a view of Tatoosh Island and the Cape Flattery lighthouse–just a half-mile offshore and the northwestern most point in the continental United States. The U.S. Coast guard still operates the lighthouse but the island is closed to the public.
With suntan lotion and sand castle building supplies in hand, it was then time for a trip to one of “America’s Best Beaches“. So technically, getting to Shi Shi Beach (pronounced Shy Shy) requires a 13-mile one-way coastal hike but I obviously cheated here and used the shortcut through the Makah Reservation. The legit way is still on my list of things to do.
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Finding the trailhead proved to be quite an adventure. The main road to it had just been closed by a downed utility pole and power line. The Neah Bay police officer at the scene of the incident asked me for help. I assumed he was joking and proceeded to ask him for directions to the trailhead, he explained an alternate route to me, and I was on my way. After navigating several unpaved and unnamed roads, I ended up at the closed road again. The police officer again asked me for help in clearing the road and again I shrugged it off (in retrospect I realized that he did in fact really want my help). I asked him for directions for hopefully the last time. This was like receiving instructions from Yogi Berra: “when you see a fork in the road, take it.” I can’t really fault the guy as giving directions on nameless gravel roads you’ve been driving on your whole life to some guy with Ohio license plates is far from a simple task.
However, this time the directions were clear enough to get me to the trailhead. It is about a 2.5 mile one-way stroll down to the coast. It is a straight forward and well-marked trail starting with nearly a mile of boardwalks and bridges with plenty of skunk cabbage along the way. There was about a mile of non-boardwalked trail that was extremely muddy but in those places there were beaten paths off the trail to avoid the mess. The same person who got carsick on the ride there also managed to lose a shoe to the suction power of the mud.
The sky was clear and the temperature was in the 60’s so it was a gorgeous day to check out Shi Shi. Once arriving I enjoyed my Safeway-made hoagie before further exploring of the Point of Arches, tidal pools with starfish, and such. Considering I don’t know how to swim, I am far from a beach guy. But Shi Shi made me want to take off my shoes, sit in the sand, and read a John Grisham novel. Well worth the trip and effort.
On the way home, I picked up some dungeness crabs from a fisherman in Clallam Bay. The two of them were a little rowdy in the backseat on the trip back to Seattle but they were treated to a very warm reception on arrival. Delicious.