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Christmas 2010, Stone Edition

Started: 2011-01-09 20:44:35

Submitted: 2011-01-25 08:45:06

Visibility: World-readable

After a long weekend for an early Christmas with my family, I flew back home to work four more days before Christmas proper. I spent much of my free time working on my bike; my attempt to upgrade my straight handlebars to road-bike-standard drop handlebars ran into some snags when I discovered that the new front and rear brakes I had acquired were too short to reach the rims, though that didn't stop me from picking up brake cables at my favorite local bike shop (and by "local" I mean "in Boulder"; I suspect bike shops in Longmont have a very hard time competing meaningfully with Boulder, though I can't help but think there ought to be somewhere I could acquire a brake cable in Longmont on a Sunday).

I set out early Friday morning for the airport to catch my 08:23 flight to Portland. My standard on-airport shuttle parking lot, Pikes Peak, was running like a well-oiled machine: the parking staff had scouted every last open space in the entire parking lot and was efficiently guiding inbound cars to the empty spaces, then into the waiting shuttle buses. (I was, in fact, surprised that Pikes Peak was open at all; I expected to be routed to the more-remote Mount Elbert lot since it was the peak holiday travel season.)

I got a window seat on the second-to-last-row of the A320 taking me to Portland, right in front of an unaccompanied minor making his way all the way across the country for Christmas. The flight was supposed to be full, but the middle seat next to me remained closed as the main cabin door closed, so I had a bit of room to spread out. We took off to the west, then turned north-west for the flight, giving me an amazing view of a snow-covered east side of Rocky Mountain National Park: I could see Longs Peak and its buttress peaks. A cloud bank pushed up to the Continental Divide obscured the west side of the park, but I ticked off half a dozen peaks I climbed this summer in the park.

I couldn't see much coming into Portland; clouds obscured my view on the entire descent until we dropped under the clouds over Vancouver. I spotted the massive vehicle docks in Vancouver and Portland, the major rail and highway bridges across the Columbia River, and Hayden Island; and glimpsed into downtown Portland itself.

Kiesa picked me up at the airport in her mother's Prius, and promptly handed me the keys. We headed straight to her parents' house, where Calvin was pleased to see me but didn't cling to me quite as much as he had at my parents' house after not seeing me for a week. After lunch, we took Calvin to Lake Sacajawea for a walk so he could take a nap. (He's been trying to give up his sole remaining afternoon nap, though he clearly still needs it as he feels much better when he gets a nap. Most of the time he's not especially interested in sleeping and (worst case) cries incessantly when we try to get him to nap or (best case) just stays awake and refuses to sleep. The best way to get him to nap is take him for a walk or a drive, which means we need to fit the nap or drive in our schedule, and not rely on his naptime to do other things.)

On Christmas morning, the rest of the Stone family assembled at the Stone Estate headed to church, and I borrowed a car to drive to Lake Sacajawea for a run in the morning fog (and occasional light drizzle). I ran one-and-a-half laps around the lake while listening to the appropriately-Christmas-themed PodCastle story The Christmas Mummy

We had a two-part Christmas dinner, with one meal on Christmas day itself and another meal on Boxing Day, when the extended Stone family came up from Portland. (Calvin skipped his nap on Boxing Day but wasn't especially fussy.) While playing with the Waffle Blocks with Calvin -- I built, he destroyed -- I realized Calvin was getting a Buddhist lesson in impermanence, and the build-and-destroy-and-rebuild cycle was an illustration of the rebirth-and-redeath cycle of samsara.

On Monday, Kiesa, Calvin, and I drove to Portland to meet Aunt Bethany and Uncle Josh at the Oregon Zoo. It rained off and on during our visit, which Calvin didn't really seem to mind, but the adults thought it was a bit chilly. As we were going through the Pacific Northwest exhibit, which featured a 'mountain path' through native forest, Calvin was not especially interested by the mountain goat scampering up the rocks or the black bear lounging in its cave but was absolutely transfixed by the plants. "That's a fern, Calvin," I'd say. "Look, there's a bear!" But he didn't think the fauna was nearly as interesting as the flora.

After a wet morning at the zoo (and a fascinating glimpse of a monkey pleasuring himself in the middle of his habitat) we headed to an Indian restaurant north-west of downtown Portland where I had spotted dosas on the menu. What I failed to realize was that they served only a buffet for lunch and only the menu for supper, so instead of exotic south-Indian dosas we had to settle for tasty north-Indian curries. In the parking lot on our way out, I lost my ring, then found it, and promptly headed to the nearest Tiffany&Company to send it off to be resized. (I previously alluded to this in the entry "One ring to rule them all".) When Calvin finally woke up from his nap, we took him into Powells (his first visit to the City of Books). Keeping track of him as he climbed up and down the stairs and wandered the stacks (and keeping him from pulling too many books off the shelves) distracted me from actually buying any books for myself, though my reading list is rather long at the moment. (Note that I don't physically possess many of the books in my reading list. I own the books that are also in the "Your Library" collection, and other books on this list are ones that I want to read (especially those that I've seen mentioned in the bibliography of other books) but haven't quite managed to hunt down yet. I suspect I'll need a Norlin library card to get my hands on many of the scholarly works on my list, which will still be cheaper than buying many of them.)

On Tuesday, our last full day in the Pacific Northwest, I talked my sister-in-law Jessica into going running at Lake Sacajawea. Her aerobic pace is a bit slower than mine, so she dropped off after half a lap around the lake; I continued for a standard easy run, a lap-and-a-half around the lake, in the light morning rain. (These days, my standard aerobic-intensity 'easy run' is about five miles at about nine minutes per mile.) We celebrated Christmas with Kiesa's family (including her grandfather Gramps and his recently-remarried wife Grams), and then I packed everything we didn't need to see until we returned home into a box to ship home via UPS. (I brought my recently-acquired larger suitcase, but it still wasn't enough to carry all of the gifts we got for Christmas.)

We finished our Christmas with the Stones and packed for the final phase of our Christmas extravaganza, a trip to Lincoln for a Megafest -- our first remote Megafest with Calvin.