King Tut

This weekend, I went up to Seattle to stay with my parents because my brother Andy and his wife were visiting from Philadelphia. Since they live so far away we only see them once or twice a year. The way up to Seattle was probably one of the more memorable road trips. We were literally in the middle of nowhere when the muffler on the car in front of us fell off his car. Michael had nowhere to go, with a semi truck on our right and a cement wall on our left. You know what happens when you drive over a muffler at 80 mph? You get a shredded tire. And Michael’s car is a 3 ton tank! Luckily there was a Les Schwab in the middle of nowhere and we were able to get it replaced (AND it was still under warranty so it only cost $17 instead $200+!!).

Saturday morning I got up a little bit early so I could get in a gym session before we started our day. It was weird going to the old gym I used to belong to when I was 18 years old. It took me back to a time in my life when I was half-assing trying to lose weight (i.e. going to the gym once in awhile but still eating like crap).

After the gym, all 6 of us headed toward downtown Seattle for lunch at Dick’s Drive In. It’s a Seattle landmark and a must-visit if you’ve never been. I hadn’t been to Dick’s since I was a teen! Talk about walking down memory lane. It opened in 1954 and has been a popular place ever since and you may or may not have heard the lyrics “We’ll stop and eat at Dick’s–Dick’s is the place where the crew hang out–” by Sir-Mix-A-Lot in my Posse on Broadway. Ahem, I KNOW I am not the only one who knows all the words to this song….!

I got a standard cheeseburger for lunch and a diet soda (total for lunch: 340 calories! Not bad!). Michael got a deluxe, fries and a float. They are also famous for their amazing shakes.

After lunch we went downtown to the Seattle Science Center to see the King Tut Exhibit. If you live in the Seattle area, I highly recommend the King Tut exhibit –the first time in Seattle since 1978 (On display for the last time in North America! Egypt has decided this is last time they will allow the artifacts to leave Egypt). We meet again, dear friend!

The last time I went to a museum to see the King Tut treasures was in Chicago. It was a fun trip and the exhibit was definitely worth seeing. Quite a difference in those photos, huh? I love Egyptian history. To see the exhibit you had to buy tickets in advance and make a reservation for a time. They were only allowing a certain amount of people in each tour.

We had some time to kill before our reservations for the museum so we walked around the area. I felt like such a dork for playing tourist in the city that I spent 19 years in! But honestly, it was making me a bit homesick and I loved walking around and seeing everything I took for granted as a kid when I lived in Seattle.

It was so much fun and so great to see my brother. I hate that he lives so far away. Can you tell which one of us was blessed with the tall gene? I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun in Seattle. While we were walking around the Science Center, the Blue Angels were flying overhead. Apparently it was Seafair weekend.

Now for the exhibit! If you can’t tell, I am totally into Egypt and I took hundreds of photos, but I will only share some of my favorites from the exhibit. The picture below was a canopic coffinette jar made of gold, jewels and precious stones and held King Tut’s stomach after he died.

You could get really close to most of the pieces in this exhibit, which was nice for taking photos. Of course the items made out of gold were behind glass.

I’ve seen many Egyptian artifacts over the years. My favorite exhibit was the British Museum and the current one in Seattle is probably my second favorite. It was put together very well.

This is a replica of the King Tutankhamen mummy. I already knew he wouldn’t be there (learned that in Chicago!). King Tut’s mummy, sarcophagus and death mask are not allowed to leave Egypt–which many people don’t know and I overheard several people complaining at the end that they missed the mummy. The replica was cool to see, though.

One of my favorite pieces in the exhibit was the statue of the Pharaoh Akhenaten.

Akhenaten was a fascinating character in history. He tried to change the traditional religious beliefs of polytheism (multiple gods and goddesses) to monotheism (a single god). It was not a popular change and after he died, the Egyptians went back to the old ways. Akhenaten was also King Tut’s father and he was married to the beautiful Nefertiti. Seeing his statue in person was crazy because it was so big and domineering. What is fascinating is the theories around this Pharaoh. The people who believe in extraterrestrials believe that aliens bred with the pharaoh and that’s why he looks so alienlike. Another theory is that he suffered from various genetic diseases (the one I find most compelling is Marfan’s syndrome).

I’ll finish up this post with some photos I took of the tropical butterfly exhibit at the Science Center. It was a beautiful (and muggy) experience:

The butterfly exhibit was fun because you walked into a room with them fluttering around, sometimes landing right on people! I hope you guys enjoyed the pictures. It was a fun day and I’m happy to share my adventure with everyone.

QUESTION: What is your favorite historical time period? And have you ever eaten at Dick’s?

The Quest for the Best Burger in Portland – Part 3

Swimming. The love of my life. Swimming cures me. Swimming heals me. Swimming calms me. It’s an amazing activity and I can’t stress it enough. It’s pretty much my answer to anything that ails you. Back pain keeping you from working out? Swim. Ankle or knee pain keeping you from running? Swim. So I took my own advice on Wednesday night and went to the pool after work.

The yoga I did on Tuesday did wonders for my back! I felt so much better. In fact, I didn’t have to take an Advil on Wednesday. I wasn’t sure if I was going to work out at all on Wednesday, thinking I would just rest but I felt good so I decided to swim. It wasn’t an intense swim–I just swam for 50 minutes. No HRM, no clock watching; I didn’t pay attention to how fast I was going, I just listened to my body and swam. And I felt GREAT. I felt even better afterward.

When I got home Michael was cleaning and prepping his bike for the Portland Century. He spent a good five minutes trying to convince me we should go out for burgers. You guessed it: I gave in. He knows I am weak-willed when I come home from the pool and I’m famished!

The Quest for the Best Burger in Portland – Part 3

I decided we were going to Toast. We’ve been there once before for breakfast. I remember liking the food but it’s been so long since I’ve been there I don’t remember anything specific.

Toast is a a cute neighborhood restaurant in SE Woodstock. It’s a surprisingly good restaurant with trendy food in a suburban area. The menu and food seem more like something you’d find in SE Hawthorne.

The restaurant is quaint and pretty big. Business we slow when we got there. I ordered the specialty beverage of the day:

Basil and Lemon Vodka Gimlet. YUM! And holy moly was this drink strong! It smelled like Lysol. Not a good combo–but don’t let that stop you because it was incredibly tasty. The lemon was strong but not bitter and the basil was fragrant and an interesting addition.

The waiter was super friendly and helpful. He brought us both a small snack of chopped cucumber with basil to eat before our entrees arrived.

The place is really cute. Patrons can draw art and hang it on the walls. It reminded me of my high school days at Beth’s Cafe

We both ordered the burger. It came with caramelized onions, cheese, whole grain mustard and mayo on toast. You can add additions to make the burger your own. For my burger I got the Aged Gouda cheese (Michael got white cheddar) and we both chose the fresh green beans for the side. The green beans were delicious! They were roasted in garlic and olive oil, topped with red pepper flakes. Best beans ever.

I want more of those beans!

The burger arrived with toast instead of buns. It was kind of a surprise but ended up being one of the best parts of the burger.

The burger may look huge but it was small. The perfect size. I absolutely loved the combination of gouda and caramelized onions. Best flavors ever! The mustard aioli sauce was a good addition.

It was medium-rare. I was a vegetarian for about 12 years and when I started eating meat again I ate it very well done. How far I’ve come that now I prefer my meat medium rare. I loved this burger. Michael liked it but didn’t think it was better than Slow Bar or Laurelhurst. If I could make the running a tie I’d put Toast in second place with Laurelhurst. I loved the flavors and the buttery toast was a cool presentation.

Yummiest burger I’ve had in awhile. Now that I’ve rediscovered Toast, I can see us returning a lot and trying the other dinners. The pork shoulder and polenta is calling my name. So where does Toast rank?

Burger Quest Ranking:

1. Slow Bar

2. Laurelhurst

3. Toast

4. Gruner

5. Foster Burger

We still haven’t made it to some of the other trendy places that supposedly have great burgers. So far the quest has been a delicious one!

QUESTION: How do you like your burgers? What are your favorite toppings?