Still Crazy ‘Bout Dem Balloons

I know I’ve written about this before and you’re probably sick of hearing it, but I have to re-reiterate it yet again; man am I ever crazy about balloons.

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Some are mysteriously lighter-than-air but most are just bubbles of heaven that fall to the floor, as glad to do so as I am to kick them back to the sky. Either way they are flawless accoutrements to human life. Irreplaceable, unmistakable and so delightfully distracting.

“Balloon” was one of my first words, and one I’ve still never bothered to perfect. They have k’jillions of them at the supermarket, and I get so riled up I can’t practice the word, just scream out my excited demand. I scream like a madman. I told you, I’m crazy about them.

You know how I already feel about balloons, so I won’t bore you with a review. Just understand that every bit I’ve felt in the past is still every bit I feel in the present. Loved ‘em then, love ‘em now.

So, while I can’t explain even the first ounce of my madness, I can tell you how much and how strongly I embrace it. When the police come to your home and ask you about me and my iniquitous ways in connection with this or that crime, I hope you remember to tell them how I feel about balloons. Forget that “he was always such a quiet boy” business. Skip straight to business. I’d have it no other way.

If I escape to Canada (with my family) under cover of darkest night, I hope you safely (and rightly) assume I’ve done so in the hottest of air balloons, (and not just in excessive parentheticals.)

Did I mention I like balloons?

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Bottle Begins to Bear Negative Image

This is so crazy. I’ve been a bottle-bearing man for as long as my life begs to recall, yet somehow now, out of all the odd, random times, it’s all of the sudden a forbidden pleasure. What happened, man?

As if my own conscience ain`t enough, I gotta go run around in the yard to keep it safe.
As if my own conscience ain`t enough, I gotta go run around in the yard to keep it safe.

It’s not like I started driving (where drinking and driving is a TV-forbidden no-no) nor that we suspect it’s loaded down with mercury. Neither, it seems as though my age (yes, check that craziness out, my AGE) is the reason I’m supposed to get off this silly thing.

As you can see in these pictures, in order to keep the cozy comfort of my handy-dandy bottle at hand, I had to throw on a jacket and run out into the yard. I even had to pretend like it was naptime just so I could have it handy. Madness, I know, but it almost worked.

I took my bottle full o’ Lactaid and ran out into the yard. Sadly and surprisingly I was shortly thereafter followed by those toting cameras and bottle restricting proclamations… what’s so wrong about a bottle? Isn’t a milky-laden nipple one of my many God-given rights?

One guesses not.

So for all my running, escaping and evasionary tactics I was no less stripped of my bottle and given some “tippy-cup” in it’s place. It’s odd. Like as if I can’t be relied upon to know my own boobiesque limits or something.

While I can’t say what the meaning of this business is, one thing I know for certain is this: ’tis the end of an era. Call it the era de la nipple or the era de la T’tay, me carest not. All I know is that someone somewhere is forcing me and junior journalists like myself to forsake the supple rubberitine nipple in favor of hard, unforgiving, plasticine spigots of unfair proportion and elasticity.

It just ain’t right man, it just ain’t right.

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Ivar’s Clam Lights Disproves Myriad Mollusk Myths

As an ever-traveling tourist, it’s easy to give up the easy “gimme” destinations in any given town. If you’re in San Francisco, you need to check out the Golden Gate Bridge, or if you’re in Shanghai you need to check out the Great Panda, but when you’re in any town, you really should stop in at the local visitors center, and Butte Montana has a great one. 

We even got to enjoy sitting in a firetruck hosted by the fire department at the big Clam Lighting event.
We even got to enjoy sitting in a firetruck hosted by the fire department at the big Clam Lighting event.

Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park (originally Lake Washington Beach Park) is a huge 55 acre surf n’ turf park at the southeast corner of Lake Washington. We went down for the annual tree lighting ceremony, and found out there are many trees that are set alight and then the surprising real excitement is the Clam Lighting… wait a second, clams aren’t luminescent, even I know that!

The park offers a unique mix of land & sea fun, while carefully restricting some of the things that might make it difficult or unpleasant for small kids or persons of disability such as alcohol, rollerblades, and bike touring.

What they lack in letting college kids party it up, they make up for in all kinds of other ways.

The park is the crown jewel in Renton’s public works and boasts eight boat-launch lanes, four picnic shelters, playground equipment, two tennis courts, horseshoe pits, two sand volleyball courts (for warmer weather), interpretive botanical walk, fishing pier, water walk (goes out over the water, super cool, even if a bit chilly this time of yea,) and a summer swimming area.

And instead of your usual city park food offerings, the kind that normally range from “bring your own” to “here’s a vending machine,” Coulon Park actually has an Ivar’s Seafood Bar and a Kidd Valley burger & shake restaurant. These are pretty tasty offerings, and regionally famous both.

But back to the whole “illuminated clams” business. I know from visiting the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana, that all kinds of natural creatures may glow (or go bump) in the night. Jellyfish, mushrooms and that scary deepwater carnivore from Finding Nemo top the obvious list, but nowhere did I see anything about clams.

Still, they clung to their myth, so the least I could do was stop in to see for myself.

Since we caught the big day of festivities (the first day of Clam Lights each year) we were treated to all kinds of fun. We got to do a hay ride, listen to some fun, seasonal music, and even got a visit from Santa before all the lights went on.

The Santa scene got a bit crazy. It started as a Where’s Waldo? situation, as it was very dark and everyone was dressed in red, but quickly becoame something of a mob scene as the geriatric hero of the season found himself knee-deep in knee-high youngsters, all giddy for his complimentary candy canes. The parents were just as excited, and I think it’s because we figured out independently that this wasn’t a “helper” Santa, but the actual man of legend himself.

ABOVE: We had sort of a "Where's Waldo?" moment when in a sea of red, who should appear but jolly old St. Nick himself… at first I thought it might have just been a helper, but it turned out to be the real Santa himself.
ABOVE: We had sort of a “Where’s Waldo?” moment when in a sea of red, who should appear but jolly old St. Nick himself… at first I thought it might have just been a helper, but it turned out to be the real Santa himself.

As such, the parents all crowded around to get their pictures taken with, let’s face it, the biggest celebrity most people will ever meet.

The local fire department even came out to show off their big red truck full of lifesaving gear. Dominic has always wanted to be a fireman, so he went up and told them that when he grows up he wants to be a “cops” for a living… that was disappointing all around. I think he might have been flustered by the majesty of the moment.

There was even the annual Christmas boat parade put on by the local yacht club, and that was really fun too. There were a couple dozen boats each decorated with individual flavor and flair, and they looked really interesting to us floating out there on the water.

When it finally came time for the Clam Lighting there was a countdown, and I have to say it did not disappoint. Trees, Santa scenes, and even a school of jogging clams came to light. I guess I was wrong about luminescent clams, and even as small as I am, I’m big enough to admit it.

ABOVE: I'm not sure what to make of it, but anything emblazoned in such bright lights has got to be true, so I guess clams really do light up.
ABOVE: I’m not sure what to make of it, but anything emblazoned in such bright lights has got to be true, so I guess clams really do light up.

The Clam Lights are on display at the Gene Coulon Park, which you can visit online here, or in person by finding the southernmost tip of Lake Washington (just east of the Boeing plant in Renton). It’s a free display and you can see it right through New Years.

And if you just want to check out the park, you can do that too. They’ve got over a mile and a half of paved walking trails along the shoreline, and access to the Lake Washington Loop Trail on Lake Washington Boulevard, and the whole park is ADA accessible, year round.

ABOVE: I didn't get a program, so I'm not sure who the band was that played. If anybody recognizes this festive duo, please drop us a line so we can pay credit to them too.
ABOVE: I didn’t get a program, so I’m not sure who the band was that played. If anybody recognizes this festive duo, please drop us a line so we can pay credit to them too.