Nothing Special, Really

Monday, July 28, 2008

Weekend In Bend, Part 2


I started off Saturday with the intent to run 3 miles in the morning. I had a half-marathon to train for, and I couldn't let myself get too far astray from my training plan with just over 2 months to go. Luckily, I wasn't very hungover in the morning and was able to get through the first mile with no problem. Once I hit the second mile, it started getting a bit tougher, but not so much due to my hangover.

I had to poop.

Miraculously, around this same time, I ran into my girlfriend, who was on the tail end of her 10 mile run. We decided to walk the last couple of miles, stopping at a McDonald's nearby to allow me to relieve myself. On the walk back to the house, we came across a neighborhood market that had bikes for rent. We had plans of renting a group of bikes and doing a brewery tour on bicycle later in the day. However, these were no normal bikes. I don't even think these classified as tandem bikes. They were two person bikes, but they were more like buggies, with the seats side by side. They even had a four person variety as well, and they were pretty inexpensive as well. We contemplated renting some right then, but we decided wait in case others were interested.

We got home around 11, and everyone else was finally awake, either cooking breakfast or showering. All of us were feeling pretty good considering the shenanigans of the night before, and we were ready to walk down to a different bike shop Wac & I had found on our run earlier that day. Just before we left, I had the bright idea that maybe we should call them to check on their availability & prices. Good thing we did - they didn't even do rentals. We tried another place; only 2 bikes available. The next place had 5 bikes and they were double the price. We found one that had 10 bikes and was reasonably priced, only to discover they were 15 miles away in another city. It was apparent we only had one choice.

Bicycles built for four.

So six of us left to go check out the bikes at the market while the other four were off on a coffee run, intending to catch up with us later. We walked through the Old Bend neighborhood to the market, picked up our bikes, and started on our leisurely ride through the town of Bend.

Only it was anything but leisurely. It was hard goddamn work. Since we were all in a seated position, we really had to pump our legs to get any motion, and whoever was stuck in the two person bike had to work even harder. It wasn't leisure, it was a fucking workout. And we couldn't even go very fast, making us a liability anytime we got on a major street. So we nixed the idea of riding around Drake Park and instead headed to the nearby Deschutes Brewery, despite the absence of 40% of our party.

It turned out that they had the same idea, and we all ended up at the same place at the same time. They were already a couple samples deep, and we squeezed in one or two before the tour started. The tour was unlike other breweries I had toured previously (Heineken, Guinness) in that it was more informational or educational than it was entertaining. But it was also free, including the tastings, and it was interesting being able to walk around the entire production part of the brewery. We got in a couple more tastings before we left, including a sample of the Black Butte XX Porter, the 20th anniversary version of their most renowned beer.

Oh. My. God.

This beer is a-maz-ing. It's their standard porter brewed with the addition of coffee & high-end chocolate, then left in whiskey barrels. Or something like that; check out their website for more info. Anyways, bearing in mind my limited exposure to Porters & my fairly novice status as a beer expert, this is hands-down the best Porter I've ever had, and easily one of the 5 best beers ever. So smooth, so chocolatey, and so strong - 11% alcohol! It is also a limited release, so I picked up two of the 750ml bottles, a bargain at $10 a pop, and we headed back to the market to return the bikes.

Lunchtime was long overdue, and the six of us decided to embark on a trip to the magic land of Sonic Drive-In. Wac & Erik never had Sonic, but the rest of us were more than familiar with the goodness of their tater tots & their flavored drinks. I went with the Bacon Cheeseburger Toaster, a burger topped with BBQ sauce & an onion ring between two slices of Texas Toast, along with some Cheesy Tots and a Diet Sprite (gotta watch the carbs somehow).

We got back to the house & nearly all of us passed out in a tired, beer & carb induced, post-quad-bike-riding slumber. But it was only 4pm, the sun was shining, the weather was perfect, and I wasn't going to succumb to sleep today either. So I got in enough of a nap to refuel myself, and by 5pm, I was awake, with a pint of Ruby in hand, hanging out on the patio with Simon's girlfriend Molly, enjoying the few rays of sun that would peek through the tree branches. It was this moment that epitomized everything I hoped this weekend would be, just enjoying a beer outside with friends, hanging out in this amazing house, with nary a moment of stress or bother. One of those moments that makes you never want to leave ever again.

Unless, of course, you're leaving to grab another pint. Or another. Or another.

In the course of a couple hours I was several pints deep, and a group of us decided to go catch a free showing of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Of course, a movie at McMenamins isn't just your standard movie. It's a theater of mostly couches, with a stand inside where you can order food from the restaurant, as well as any of their wonderful beers. I went with the blue cheese bacon burger & another pint of Ruby.

(Note: McMenamins has several wonderful beers, but for me, on a bright, warm Summer day, nothing tops a Ruby, a pinkish ale with a very strong hint of citrus, including grapefruit. It looks girly & to many probably tastes girly, but whatever, it's amazing and, in my opinion, a perfect Summer beer).

We got out of the movie around 10:30 to find the rest of our party at the house with beers in hand, and we immediately joined them. It was a perfect night: just a group of friends, drinking beer, telling stories, shoving our faces with chips & salsa. I tried to teach others how to fling bottle caps with a simple snap of the fingers. Matt & Clay turned on the Misfits and started bouncing around to the music. Simon thought it would be a good idea to start chucking plastic plates at anyone lingering on the patio.

Then, I had another bright idea.

Years ago, when I was a senior in high school, I was living with my parents in a two story apartment. The stairs to the second floor ran directly down the middle, ending right at the front door. One night, when my nieces & nephew were very young, I thought it would be a fun idea to slide down the stairs on my belly with them on my back. The stairs were carpeted so it really didn't hurt at all, and there was plenty of time to stop before the doorway, so it was relatively safe. The kids absolutely loved it, and thus, bodysliding was born.

In my drunken haze, I thought it would be a good idea to relive this moment. So I went up to the middle of the stairs and flew down on my stomach, coming to a stop right before the wall. Everyone thought I was crazy, but I just laid there in a heap with my two thumbs up, a smile on my face, everything just OK.

Kelli & Simon, in their own drunken haze, thought it would be a good idea as well, only their ideas was to pile on top of me. A three-man bodyslide. In the history of man, I don't know if this had ever been attempted. And I don't know if it will ever again.

Once I got going, Kelli & Simon leaped on my back, stomach down, and my chest felt the pressure of two full grown adults on my body, so I came to a stop. Kelli & Simon did not, and flew head first into the wall, a crumpled mess of bodies. Luckily, Wac had the foresight to place a couch cushion there (and at the expense of half a fingernail ripping off in the process), so complete tragedy was avoided. But as they laid there, bruised & moaning, I smiled & held two thumbs up again.

The debauchery mellowed from there, but the drinking did not. Kelli kept handing us beers, regardless if we already had one. Simon and I started throwing popcorn at each other, with most of it landing on the ground. Finally, those that were less intoxicated started heading to bed, and those that were more intoxicated found that to be a good idea, so around 3am, the festivities ended.


10am came too early. Many of us could have used another hour or twelve of sleep, but we had to be out of the house by 11am. A few gracious souls like Erik, Amanda, Molly and Wac were already awake, getting a headstart on cleaning up the mess. The rest of us stumbled around, gathering our things, trying to make the place look respectable again. We made a couple sandwiches for breakfast, packed up our things and headed home.

Of course, not without another stop at Sonic first.

The ride home was considerably more somber than the ride there. I had no playlist ready for the ride home, so we settled on some stand-up albums from Patton Oswalt and David Cross. That carried us to Portland, where we switched up to 5-song random shuffles from everyone's iPod.

After a pit stop for Subway in Castle Rock, we got slowed by some unexplainable traffic between Olympia & Tacoma. But the sun was still shining, and we crawled along, waiting to get home to a beautiful Summer day in Seattle.

No such luck. On this Sunday, Seattle was again gloomy and dark. A sky full of clouds prevented most of the sun from peeking through. It was dull, gray, and depressing, perhaps a fitting sign that the "best weekend ever" had finally come to an end.


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