Anniversary Weekend

Anniversary Weekend

August 21st must be a good day to get married. Jack and I saw three wedding parties at the places we visited this weekend.

Jack and I just celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary and 16th year together this past weekend. We started off by seeing Inception (which we enjoyed) at our favorite movie theater, Cinetopia. Then Friday night we stayed at The Heathman Lodge for free thanks to buying the winning raffle ticket at Sissa’s school fundraiser last year (for only $5.00!). We had a blast! The hotel was beautiful and the beds were actually comfortable! The accompanying $50 gift certificate to Hudson’s Bar and Grill was just another treat as the staff and food were great. We stayed there Friday night then Saturday we spent a good portion of our day at Portland’s Saturday Market.

We haven’t been to Portland’s Saturday Market in years. We forgot how fun and adventurous it can be. From the unique entertainment,

Anniversary Weekend 2010

video: Some guys playing buckets at Portland Saturday Market

to the strange people you come across,

PotHead at Saturday Market in Portland

to the amazing items you can purchase!

Toothbrush Holder and Matching Cup

Toothbrush Holder and Matching Cup

It’s not very often I get excited about a mundane purchase, but I have to rave about these toothbrush holders Jack and I found at the Saturday Market this weekend. I’ve seen many handmade pottery toothbrush holders but it’s always the same: holes are too small, holes too close together (my kids can’t stand it when the brushes touch), they are hard to clean, etc. These totally caught my eye. They are unique, pretty, and functional in more ways than one: nice wide holes, matching cup, the brushes don’t touch, easy to clean, and there’s even a holder on the back for the toothpaste. It’s perfect!

I found these at FarPoint Stoneware and Porcelain at the Saturday Market. And we’ll be going back to buy another set for mine and Jack’s bathroom considering I found MOLD that I can’t get out at the bottom of our traditional cheap holder. EWWW.

After soaking in all we could at the market, we had a couple hours to kill so I decided to show Jack where I used to have lunch every chance I could when I worked in downtown Portland many moons ago: The Ira Keller Fountain.

Anniversary Weekend 2010

This is a short walk from from the “Black Box” where I worked, and I loved eating lunch there any day it wasn’t raining. Jack was really taken by the uniqueness of this fountain and explored it for a long time. 🙂

Saturday night we took a dinner cruise on the Portland Spirit. This is the third time we’ve spent an anniversary on the Portland Spirit and they’ve never disappointed us.

Anniversary Weekend 2010

Sunday we slept in, had breakfast, then decided to go for a drive and quite by accident ended up on the The North Clark County Scenic Drive. This took us through Battle Ground, Yacolt, by Lucia Falls and Moulton Falls. We stopped at Moulton falls to explore a bit.

Anniversary Weekend 2010

Anniversary Weekend - Moulton Falls

It was an amazing, perfect, romantic weekend and I’m so very happy to have spent it with my soul mate.

P.S. There’s a few more photos here.

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Seaside Beach Trip, Feb 2010

Just like last year, Jack and I took off for the Oregon coast to get away and celebrate my birthday. This year it was Seaside, Oregon. This time it wasn’t just the two of us. We brought one the four-legged babies; Mia.

Pretty Mia

The weather couldn’t have been better. It was warm and near 60 degrees during the day and each night we were treated to beautiful sunsets.

Jack and Mia, Seaside

Like this one:
Sunset February 20, 2010 - Seaside, OR

And this one:
Tracie's 41st Birthday, Seaside Or, 2010 145

As always when the weather is nice on the Oregon Coast, the scenery was breathtaking.

Somewhere between Tillamook and Seaside

What was different was having a puppy tagging along. She required a bit of work, but she was mostly a ton of fun to have with us.

Mia taking a short break from all the digging and running around

We spent our first night relaxing in the hotel and getting rested up because the next day was spent walking around and shopping. Mia was with us the whole time and attracted a LOT of attention from the many people enjoying the coastal shopping opportunities that day. Seaside is pretty dog-friendly. Many shops allow the dogs inside and even put out bowls of water for the pups outside their doors. Many people stopped to pet her and she enjoyed every second of it.

For Mia’s first time out on the beach we kept her leashed and close to us. The second day we got brave and let her go off-leash to see what she’d do. To our delight she stayed close to us most of the time and came running every time we called her if she wandered too far.

I called her too me

She discovered the joys of digging.

Lots of digging to be done at the beach

Jack did too. 🙂 We’ll probably pay for that this summer when we have no yard left.

We were thoroughly impressed with how well-behaved she was the entire weekend, especially being only 5.5 months old! She sure is a smart one!

Cute too!
Snuggly Mia

You can view the rest of the photos I uploaded here.

More photos from our Anniversary Getaway

Whenever we travel to the Oregon coast, I’m always in awe of just how much there is to see and how gorgeous it is. Saturday and Sunday nights of our trip we were treated to a breathtaking sunset. Unfortunately I took about 50 pictures of it before I realized the lens on my camera was dirty so only a few turned out. The rest had spots on them. 😦

Here’s a couple that did turn out:

Anniversary, Getaway, Seaside, 2009 052
So bright and orange it almost hurts the eyes!

Anniversary, Getaway, Seaside, Sunset
On this one I love how the sun looks more like the planet Jupiter than a sun.

Anniversary, Getaway, Seaside, 2009 114
This is where we stayed. Our room was the top far right room with the triangle windows above the three rectangle ones. We had a loft with a hot tub where we could look out those upper windows and view the ocean.

Here are more photos from our Anniversary Getaway.

"And if you believe that"…

“I’ve got some ocean front property to sell you”.

This was said to me today by a Costco cashier. Thus ends a week of both some really awesome, and some really crappy customer service we’ve experienced. I’ll start with the crap first.

When we shop at Costco, we never walk out of there without spending hundreds of dollars. Since we have a large family it makes sense for us to buy food in bulk. It’s usually (but not always) the cheapest route, but most importantly: it’s the most convenient for us. It’s not unusual for us to go through a dozen GALLONS of milk in a week.

Occasionally we get a cashier who gets overwhelmed by our overflowing flatbed or multiple carts. Most of the time I make jokes or try to engage the poor cashier in idle chat to lighten the mood. Jack and I almost always shop together and we both unload the cart and will assist with reloading it if feasible. Jack’s careful to keep heavy items in the cart/flatbed and turn the UPC’s where they can scan them easily with their little scanner gun. We understand that overwhelmed feeling. Boy do we. Especially around the time they give us our total.

So today the cashier asked if we wanted boxes to carry out our purchases. As always I spare them the hassle and just ask them to box the small stuff. This must have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for this cashier because it was quite obvious my saying, “Just the small stuff please” offended her. She rolled her eyes and made a huge spectacle of looking under her counter for a box. Then she slammed the one she picked down on the counter and started tossing my food into it. I watched in shock.

This photo has nothing to do with this post. I just really like it.

This photo has nothing to do with this post. I just really like it.

When she got to the grapes, she tried to fit it in the box, it wouldn’t go, so she snatched them up again and slammed them down on the counter next to the box. At this point I’m getting annoyed myself. I don’t want WINE when I get home, thanks very much. I thought for a moment how I wanted to handle this as I didn’t want her throwing around our stuff anymore. I decided direct was the best approach:

Me: “Having a bad day?”

Cashier (very sarcastically): “Ohhh EVERY day at Costco is a WONDERFUL day!”

Me: “…”

Cashier: “And if you believe that, I’ve got some ocean front property to sell you…”

Me: “…”

I should have asked, “In Arizona?”

She went back to throwing my food around. I was so stunned I just kept my mouth shut and didn’t say another word to her. Jack missed it all because he was still unloading our purchases on to the conveyor, organizing as he went as he always does to make things easier on the cashier.

I mean it’s one thing to be frustrated or unhappy about your job, your day, having to ring up over $500 worth of food, but come on. In our current economy, she’s lucky to have a job and whatever her issue was, wasn’t MY damn fault. I thought of a few things I could have said to her. I even thought about telling her to stop touching my stuff since she couldn’t stop throwing it around. But I was in a good mood, and I really didn’t want her to bring me down. Most of the stuff we bought was pretty durable anyway.

I did complain about her at the customer service desk though. Despite having one other bad experience at Costco, I really LIKE Costco. I love seeing what new things they’ll have on display, I love the free samples, I even love the way our Costco smells (coffee & baked bread.. mmmm). Most of the employees are very friendly, and on many occasions they’ve thanked us for “helping the economy” (lol).

I don’t think this cashier realized HOW she offended me. I wasn’t offended for me, or my grapes. I was offended that she’d speak so rudely about her own employer and try to give me the impression that Costco sucks. I’ve never worked there so I can’t say from experienced, but I’ve been told it’s not a bad place to work. And one thing I’ve noticed is most of the workers I see have been there several years (their name tags all say what year they started). What if that was my first time there? I might have never come back.

Tomorrow Hopefully some time this week, I’ll get around to the AWESOME experience we had. Hint: Pat Moore Quality Cars

Suburban

As I posted Friday, we started looking for a new rig. We thought about a passenger van but we wanted something a bit more rugged, something that could go over a mountain if we wanted it to. Something with four wheel drive.

I did quite a bit of internet research and had my heart settled on a Chevy Suburban. Jack is more of a Ford man and wanted an Ford Excursion. Either would work. While rare, both have versions that seat up to nine people. The only problem is the larger sized Excursions seemed to be very rare. At least around here. There were far more Suburbans to look at.

We looked at an ’06 Suburban on Friday at some sort of “close out” event at a local dealership. The salesmen weren’t actually from Vancouver, though. They were just using the (otherwise empty) dealership to sell their stock of repossessed and lease-returned vehicles.

The ’06 Suburban was feature packed, but seemed a bit rough on the ride. If there’s one thing Suburbans are known for, it’s their comfortable ride. It was hard to put my finger on it, but it just seemed like the vehicle had seen some hard times. It had fairly low miles (64,100) for an SUV (most we looked into had 80K plus miles, even newer used models), and it seemed in good condition, so I chalked up the ‘rough ride’ to not being used to riding around in a “truck”. It only had 8 seats, something I wasn’t thrilled about. But at that point we realized how hard it was to find the 9 seat versions of these SUVs. We decided to make an offer anyway.

I’ve dealt with car salesmen before. Actually I should say Jack has dealt with car salesmen before. But these were the most sleaziest sales guys.. EVER.

The salesman and the sales manager sat us down in a tiny stifling hot room, whipped out their scratch paper and started writing numbers down all over the place, circling the numbers here and there, and basically doodling on the paper while trying to seem like they were working hard on “figuring out the numbers”. It took an effort on my part to not laugh in their faces while telling them to STOP with the hokey dramatics.

Despite the fact that we told them they would not be pulling our credit and that we had our own financing, they made us sign this paper stating that we’d drive the vehicle away THAT DAY if we all agreed on the terms. We hesitated at this. Why do we have to sign for anything before we even really talked numbers? They explained “the bank” (the ones who owned this supposedly repo’d or lease-returned vehicle) required it. We obeyed, then made the mistake of giving them our phone numbers.

We had already looked up the value of the vehicle at kbb on our iPhones. (kbb.com is iPhone-friendly by the way.) We already knew the ballpark figure we’d be offering. The salesmen saw what we were doing so grabbed their kbb printout of the vehicle and told us their sticker price. It was $2k higher than the suggested retail on kbb. We were like “wtf?” They just continued talking out their ass, avoiding our questions, giving us a bullshit runaround while doodling on their paper.

I have to give them this: They could write numbers and make circles really really well. My 6 year old would be proud.

What we offered was dead center of the high and low values on kbb. It was a fair price based on our research. They balked at us, but remember, their sticker price was $2k over the norm with no reasonable explanation as to why. The sales manager claimed the bank would not take the number we offered as the vehicle was going on auction on Tuesday and they would not take less for what they could get at the auction.

Jack and the “sales manager” bickered back and forth about that for a while. It wasn’t a public auction, it was a dealer auction. Did they really think we are stupid enough to believe that a dealer would pay 2k more than the kbb value at an auction? Call me crazy but that doesn’t make sense at all.

The sales manager did the “have to talk to the bank” crap and kept leaving the room to “try to get our offer approved”. We know damn well he went into another room, picked his nose, then came back. That’s how they work.

Jack stuck to his guns, stating over and over the only price we’d pay. The sales manager left the room one last time, then came back claiming he talked to the bank and the bank counter offered with 1.6k more than our bottom line. He had written it in big letters on his doodle paper, and put a few circles around it. We said sorry and turned to leave. He and the salesman chased us down to the parking lot, continuing to show us the big number and circles. We kept saying, ‘sorry. not happening. We offer this and only this and that’s that”.

He changed his tone to be that of someone who understood so he was going to work with us. Then he pointed to the SAME number again and said “we agree on this right?”.

Um… NO? Didn’t we JUST tell you 60 times NO NO NO? He was like “but come on? We AGREE!” Jack was like “no, WE DON’T AGREE”. The guy practically whined saying ‘WE ALL AGREE!!’.

Was he trying to do some Jedi mind trick on us or something??

Then he tried to guilt-trip us. He said the salesman who assisted us worked hard for us and spent a lot of time with us. So we should all AGREE on their number.

First of all, the salesman didn’t do shit. He just followed Jack around like a desperate starving puppy while Jack waited for me to arrive to the lot. Second, there was NO GAS in the vehicle. NONE. And the salesman couldn’t get their company gas card to put gas in it to allow us to test drive it. WE drove it to the nearest gas station and WE put $5 in it. Out of our OWN pocket.

That reminded us. They owed us $5.00.

The weird freaky sales manager dude with his uber Jedi mind powers (haha) kept trying to convince us that WE ALL AGREE while the sales dude went looking for $5.00. I think our eyes WERE glossed over at that point, but it really wasn’t because his Jedi mind powers were working like I’m sure he thought they were.

We got our $5 and tried to make a break for it. Jack beat me to his vehicle first and hightailed it out of there back to work. I had to buckle in a child so I didn’t escape so easily. The sales guy chased me down and tried to get ME to buy the Suburban for the number WE ALL AGREE on. I played dumb telling them my husband did all the numbers in the household and I was clueless. He tried anyway repeatedly the whole time I was getting in my car, buckling my seat belt, starting the car, and backing out. He practically chased me down the street!

He then called my cell phone later that evening. Fortunately I missed the call so he left a voice mail saying they really wanted our business. Their offer, the number WE ALL AGREE on, was still good. I didn’t return his call.

What part of WE DO **********NOT********** AGREE did they not understand?

Yesterday we did some more research online, looking for anyone who had what we were looking for. No one really did, or if they did, the mileage was way too high for us to consider. So we went scouting local dealers ourselves. And found her. The ’04 Suburban that seats 9.. .the ONE we’ve been looking for. The mileage was 4k less than the mileage on the ’06 the freaks tried to sell us, and it was priced fairly.

It also had some gas so we could test drive it without having to fork over some cash. That’s always a bonus.

I drove it first and instantly I knew THIS is what a Suburban is supposed to feel like. It was smooth, like butter and exactly what I envisioned it would feel like. That “rough” feeling was not there at all. The engine was clean, the interior in excellent condition, and had brand new tires. Overall it was in better condition than the ’06. It had the ninth seat and… it was priced seven THOUSAND dollars less than the ’06 from Friday.

I realize two years on a vehicle can make a difference, but this had LESS miles than the ’06 and was in better condition. I don’t think I’m so crazy thinking the crooks were asking way too much for the ’06.

We didn’t snatch it up though. We wanted to be sure. We spent the next several hours scouting and calling around. NO ONE had a 9 seater. Some dealers tried to sell us passenger vans instead and one even told us for a low ten thousand dollars we could convert a passenger van to a 4WD (lolz).

We looked at Expeditions, Excursions, and Explorers. We looked at Tahoes, other Suburbans (lots of Suburbans) and none compared. It all came down to the ’04.

On top of the that, the dealer selling the ’04 was good. It was the actual owner of the dealer working that day and we could tell he was reading us and acting accordingly. He recognized we wanted to be left alone and stayed away keeping himself busy but still nearby if we had a question. He let us do our little iPhone research and didn’t butt in. Even when we left to do more scouting, he didn’t give us any hassle. He just thanked us for our time and off we went. Of course we came back, with an offer in mind. STILL he didn’t push us. He let us look over the vehicle some more, talk, etc. He left us alone to make our decision.

When it was time to talk numbers, there was no scratch paper, no numbers, no circles. He told us he tried to follow Costco’s way of pricing and mark up all his vehicles a certain percentage (15%) and that was that.

The price he was asking for the ’04 was more than fair, yet Jack still managed to talk him down a bit and we all settled on a price. It was THAT easy with this guy. And guess what? WE ALL AGREED. 😉

A short time later we drove this home:
New Suburban 008

We grabbed the kids and took off for a family member’s birthday party in Portland. It wasn’t a big trip… but… WE ALL RODE IN THE SAME VEHICLE. There was no figuring out who was going to ride where, or who could go or stay. We just… went!

And for those naysayers worried about how much gas this thing is guzzling (yes we’ve already been teased for this), we’re driving ONE vehicle to haul our kids around instead of two. So we’re really not consuming any more than we were before. 🙂 We’re keeping our minivan for the times when it’s just the 7 of us, and for around town driving. The Suburban is our weekend vehicle.

Edited to add: I forgot to mention the second phone call from the sleazebags. Just after we finalized the deal on the ’04, Jack got a call on his cell phone from the sales guy from the ’06. He called to let Jack know that their offer was still standing. They were still totally allowing us to drive their crappy ’06 away for $1600 more than we wanted to pay. Wasn’t that nice of them?

Jack told them, “I just bought an ’04 in better condition and with less miles for $7000 less than your piece of crap. Don’t call us again”.

It made his day.

Shop till you drop

Tomorrow is Father’s day and also Kayla’s graduation party, and also Katherine’s birthday party. (Why not combine everything into one? Besides, Kayla leaves for California/Disneyland on Tuesday morning so it’s this weekend or never…) As such today was the only day to get caught up on laundry, get the house straightened up, fix the window the air conditioner goes into, etc. etc. etc. We got most of that done, but mostly we shopped.

First stop was Lowes for new plexi-glass (for the air conditioner window), some drill bit thing Jack couldn’t live without, some weed & grass killer for the gravel area on the side of our house, some weed n’ feed for the grass, and a spreader (old one broke). We came home after that and set about our chores only to discover we didn’t have the weed & grass killer. We looked high and low and we just didn’t have it. Melissa wanted to go to the store anyway to pick up a birthday gift for one of her friends so back out shopping we went.

We decided to get gas and the cheapest in town is at Costco ($4.15/gallon… OWIE). Since we were already at Costco we ran in to pick up “a few things”. While there we decided to pick up some lunch and I splurged and got a very berry sundae. UGH. Waaaaay too much ice cream. I may need some Phentermine after that. 😦

The “few things” ended up being $600 worth of groceries. Our cart was overflowing. But our pantry and cupboards are full. That’s always a good feeling. Plus while there we found the perfect birthday gift for Casey. After a quick stop at R&D’s to stash the birthday present for the next month, it was back to Lowe’s (itt urns out we weren’t ever charged for the weed & grass killer and it got left on the counter) then to Fred Meyer’s for some stuff Costco doesn’t carry.

I’m still not caught up on the laundry (am I ever???) because of all this shopping and I’m beat. But at least I got some sort of a workout today. After eating that sundae, this is a good thing.