Tacoma

Jie and I finished off our action-packed Seattle weekend with a day trip to Tacoma, Washington’s 3rd largest city, located only 30 miles south of Seattle. What compelled us to visit? 1) it was close to Seattle and 2) it houses the Museum of Glass, an acclaimed museum featuring works from Tacoma native Dale Chihuly. Since we enjoyed visiting the Chihuly Garden so much the day before, we thought this would be a fun encore.

The museum sits alongside the Tacoma waterfront, separated from downtown by train tracks and connected by the Bridge of Glass on the museum’s roof. There are small boats plying the water, which leads to Puget Sound. It’s small but at least gives it a recreational feel and provides separation from the city’s giant port facility.

Approaching the museum’s entrance, you can’t help but notice a large, cone-shaped structure that houses the museum’s hot shop. This is where visiting glassmakers take up residence to produce art for the museum. We sat and watched as the glassmakers blew glass, fired their art in the various furnaces and used their tools to shape glass. That day’s session was overseen by renowned glassmaker Therman Statom while a museum staffer answered all of our questions on the glassmaking process. I will not be able to adequately convey how they do what they do but suffice it to say that watching them manipulate scorching hot, molten glass inspired Jie and I to look into classes where we can start learning more about this process. This was one of the cooler museum experiences that I have had. And yes, I have spent some time this week streaming the hotshop live from the museum’s website.

view from the entrance of the Glass Museum

view from the entrance of the Glass Museum

 

The Glass Bridge

The Glass Bridge

 

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Hisashi Iwakuma Bobblehead Night

Last weekend I returned to the Emerald City (Seattle, not the Land of Oz) to herald the initial meeting of my mom and Steve with Jie’s parents. During the course of an action-packed weekend (dinner at Din Tai Fung, a visit to the Chihuly Garden, a delectable BBQ at Golden Gardens Beach, riding the Seattle Great Wheel, etc.), we managed to squeeze in my first game at Safeco Field between the visiting Oakland Athletics and hometown Seattle Mariners. This promised to be a great opportunity to watch the AL West-leading A’s go up against the contending Mariners.

full family picture

full family picture

 

Just days before the trip, I picked up four field level seats on StubHub. Compared to New York, these seats were relatively inexpensive. Despite being 40 rows back, the views were terrific, allowing us to see the whole field. We also sat one row in front of a woman with a golden retriever service dog who was very cute and friendly, further igniting Jie’s burning desire for us to get a puppy. Read more of this post

Bavarian Style in the Cascades

During a trip to Seattle last weekend, Jie and I took a wonderful day trip to visit Leavenworth, a small town in the Cascades that is modeled after a Bavarian village.

When Jie first mentioned to me that there is a Bavarian-themed town within driving distance of Seattle, my first thought was let’s go. After all, I really liked visiting Solvang, and this was an opportunity to get outside Seattle to see more of Washington state.

The drive out from Seattle is gorgeous. We took Route 2, which heads east through the state and keeps going until you reach Michigan. Along the way, you are immersed in tall green trees and farmland before you traverse the Cascades. Along the way are an assortment of small towns with their own set of charms, such as Skykomish, an old rail town with a lovely bridge and a quaint general store where we stopped for lunch, as well as Sultan, whose high school team nickname is the Turks (which I think is awesome). Read more of this post

Guest Post: Gastronauts South African Style

For my second Gastronauts dinner, I invited my Stanford friend and fellow world traveler Shaw Yean, to pen a guest post briefly describing our meal. Shaw Yean has always been adventurous (she dragged me along to go skydiving after all), so I knew that she would feel right at home at her first Gastronauts dinner. After all, her family has roots in Penang, Malaysia so she is no stranger to diverse cuisine.

My biggest comment on the meal itself (which Shaw Yean describes well) was how rich the food was. I was so stuffed afterwards that I literally had trouble lying down to go to sleep. Read more of this post

Austin, TX

Jie and I spent last weekend in Austin, Texas celebrating the birthday of her law school classmate Yoon, who as a graduate of the University of Texas wanted to gather his closest friends back in Austin. As this was my first time in both Austin and Texas, I thought I would share some thoughts from our trip. Read more of this post

Half Moon Bay Sunset

To kick off the Memorial Day weekend, Jie and I took the short drive west to Half Moon Bay, where we took in a magnificent sunset.

Below are a few pictures:

Juxtaposition of cliff, beach and ocean

Juxtaposition of cliff, beach and ocean


 
Standing on a cliff overlooking the beach and ocean

Standing on a cliff overlooking the beach and ocean

 

Jie about to enjoy the view from a bench overlooking the ocean

Jie about to enjoy the view from a bench overlooking the ocean

 

Looking out on the Pacific from Half Moon Bay

Looking out on the Pacific from Half Moon Bay

My First Gastronauts Dinner

I first learned about Gastronauts, a dining club dedicated to adventurous eating, back in the summer of 2010, after reading about in the New York Times (naturally). I thought this was an excellent idea that would stretch my culinary limits so I applied to join the New York chapter. I was waitlisted…and when I left New York nearly two years later still had not gotten an invite to one of their monthly dinners.

Fast forward to earlier this spring. I noticed that a former high school classmate had posted video on Facebook of a recent Gastronauts event and once again my curiosity was piqued. It turns out that Gastronauts had recently opened a San Francisco chapter.  This time, when I applied along with my friend Alan, we were both invited to the next dinner that they were hosting. We both jumped at the opportunity and I was able to bring along Jie as my guest.

The dinner was held not at a restaurant, but at Nomiku, a small startup that designs and manufactures sous-vide machines for home cooks. To enter, we rang the door bell of a non-descript building in San Francisco’s Mission District. We were escorted by Lisa, one of the evening’s hosts and a Nomiku founder, through a long corridor up the stairs to their loft-style office. There, we found a wide open space with tables in the middle serving up Japanese tapas and infused drinks, all prepared using Nomiku’s machines. The kitchen was in the back room of the office and we were served by Nomiku’s staff. Read more of this post

Tough Mudder: NorCal

Jie and I just completed our first Tough Mudder in Diablo Grande, about 90 minutes east of where we live. This completed one of my six goals from this blog's re-launch back in November. So, to commemorate our achievement, I want to give a blow-by-blow on the event, good and bad. Unfortunately, we did not bring a camera and haven't been able to track down pictures that Tough Mudder took.

Tough Mudder is a company that hosts 10-12 mile adventure course events in the US, Europe and Australia/New Zealand. The company bills its events as hard core endurance challenges with innovative obstacles designed by British Special Forces. They are also known for being a marketing powerhouse, intent on bringing these type of adventure races to a broad audience base, who find them more appealing than other endurance events like marathons.

Their events are also promoted as an exercise in teamwork and camaraderie. They are not races because nobody wins and your time isn't tracked. They encourage you to form groups to participate with. In that vein, Jie and I did Tough Mudder with my colleague, Laura, who jumped at the chance to join our Turtle Power team (slow and steady wins the race). On race day, most people were in teams and solo participants were easily able to join up with teams at every obstacle.

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My Trip to the DMV

This day had to come, eventually. My New York driver's license will expire at the end of April, I could either renew it or get a California license. So I crunched the numbers (i.e., compared the cost of each option) and decided to go with the latter option, even though that meant a trip to the DMV, where I would need to pass a 36 question written exam.

Luckily, I started thinking about this early because when I called the DMV, the first appointment available wasn't for five weeks. Within the past week, as my appointment approached, I started to think, hey maybe I should see if I can get a look at some sample questions for this driving test.

I went to the DMV website, took a few practice questions, and realized that I was in trouble. These questions were harder than I thought. Without studying there would be no way that I could pass. Read more of this post

Carnaval in Barranquilla

This post has been long overdue. But better late than never. Jie and I finished up our recent trip to Panama and Colombia with three days in Barranquilla, which coincided with their raucous Carnaval celebration.

When we initially booked this trip and realized we could celebrate at the 2nd biggest carnival in the world behind Rio (at least according to Wikipedia), we jumped at the opportunity. My travels have not often taken me to large cultural celebrations, but how could we pass up the chance to check it out?

Accommodations

Barranquilla, Colombia’s 4th largest city, is not a tourist destination, but during carnival its population swells with the hundreds of thousands of visitors congregating there to celebrate (and party).

You can imagine that with all those visitors it can be pretty tough to find a place to stay, especially at a reasonable price. Right after we booked our airfare, we started looking at our accommodation options in Barranquilla. Hotel prices were multiples higher compared to the rest of the year. So we turned to Airbnb as an alternative and snagged a spare room in the home of a local woman for $65/night, a fraction of what a hotel would cost. Read more of this post

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