Ruth’s birthday in Spokane

Gay threw a party for her mom’s 80th birthday in Spokane. We picked the kids up from school on Friday and headed to Spokane, beating the rush hour traffic out of the city and avoiding any traffic on Snoqualmie Pass making it a smooth drive across the state. We checked into the Davenport Grand Hotel at 8:30pm, had a late dinner and went to bed.


The birthday party started at 1pm, we stopped at Costco for flowers, Sweet Frostings for cupcakes and then set up for the party at Prospectors Bar & Grill. The party went well, lots of old friend showed up, Gay gave a nice speech and I think her mom had fun.

We had dinner at Downriver Grill with Amy & Chad and Jon & Megan, who were also in Spokane, but for a funeral. We later discovered that the restaurant was in the same location that Gay’s step dad’s butcher shop was in 40 years ago! The kids went over to Amy & Chad’s house to hang out with Leo, Kaki and Emmarie.


The original Davenport Hotel has an old school Sunday Brunch. We invited Gay’s dad and aunts but they decided not to go. That was a mistake because the brunch was amazing! In the atrium there was Bloody Mary Terrie making crazy Bloody Marys four at a time that were impossible to pass up. Gay got in that line as we were seated. The hostess walked us by all the food stations and explained what everything was while Gay waited in the Bloody Mary line where Bloody Mary was making . The food was all buffet style and our champagne glasses (and the kids’ sparkling cider glasses) were always refilled automatically. There was so much food including pork bellies, prime rib, made-to-order crepes, waffles, pancakes, fruits, omelettes, eggs, Eggs Benedict and a dessert table with a chocolate fountain the kids dipped strawberries in.

Bloody Mary at The Davenport Sunday Brunch

We walked around downtown Spokane a bit, the kids rode the carousel at Riverfront Park.

Gay and Havana met her mom and her mom’s friend, Ginny, for a beer somewhere near her mom’s house. Later, I took Hudson and Eva out to dinner at Table 13, the hotel’s restaurant, and Gay and Havana met us there just as Hudson and Eva finished their dinners.


Gay met her friend, Lisa, from high school for coffee and I took the kids for breakfast before picking Gay up and driving home.

I’ve always dreaded coming to depressing Spokane. This was the first time I enjoyed the visit. The Davenport hotels are great, there are more good restaurants than ever, it feels more diverse and less redneck than it used to be.

Neil Peart, 1952-2020

Neil Peart, Rush’s great drummer and even better lyricist, died today at just 67. I discovered Rush when I was 11 and I played Moving Pictures over and over on my turntable while playing Atari. These lyrics he wrote resonated with me as a kid and I’d like to believe they describe me today — individualistic, optimistic, and willing to change:

No, his mind is not for rent
To any god or government
Always hopeful, yet discontent
He knows changes aren’t permanent
But change is

Neil Peart, “Tom Sawyer”

More obituaries: Rolling Stone, Pitchfork.

Mexico 2019

Gay was talking to Edie, Fiona’s mom, in early November, about going to Mexico after Christmas during the kids’ break from school. They go almost every year since getting engaged in Sayulita in the 2000s. A couple weeks later we had a plan to get an Airbnb in Punta Mita together. Eli and Hudson are close in age and Eva and Fiona have long been great friends, but Havana had no one so we invited her friend Hannah to come with us.

Hannah’s dad, Dan, brought Hannah over at 7:30am Friday and gave us all a ride to the airport to fly to Puerto Vallarta. Edie & Zach + Eli and Fiona had flown in the day before, stayed a night in Puerto Vallarta and met us at the house in Punta Mita on Saturday.


We watched the Steelers lose to the Ravens and fall out of the playoffs, then we went to the beach and pool at the W Hotel and then we watched the Seahawks lose to the 49ers and drop to the 5-seed in the playoffs.

Sunset (Zach’s photo)


Beach and pool at the W Hotel for boogie-boarding on the boards that Edie & Zach brought from their previous trip here. Havana and Hannah baby-sat the kids and the adults went to the town of Punta Mita to Hector’s Kitchen, a modern Mexican restaurant which was very good.


New Year’s Eve! We all went to Sayulita. This was our 3rd time in Sayulita. The first was in 2008, then 2012 and now in 2019. Great beach surf town, ever more touristed but still very small. Edie & Zach got engaged in Sayulita and have been there almost every other year since. We all had dinner at Sayulita Cafe.

Dinner at Sayulita Cafe

We met Edie & Zach’s friend, Georgia, who moved there in 2009 and runs a local ex-pat baby-sitting empire. Dinner at Sayulita Cafe. [Show photo of Havana’s re-enactment]. Got champagne and groceries and went home to play Exit game and wait until midnight to see fireworks in the bay.


Rain all day. Stayed home. Reading. Zach & I watched Oregon v Wisconsin. Adult dinner at Los Agaves in Punta Mita (where we ran into more friends of Edie & Zach).

Eva swimming in the rain


We spent the morning and early afternoon at the beach, including lunch at the W’s Wet Deck beach restaurant again. Edie & Zach and the kids left soon after to catch their flight home. We stayed a while longer at the beach before going home to get ready and then go out for our last dinner at Venazú, another of the W’s restaurants, which was very good – Gay, Hudson and Hannah we adventurous enough to eat crickets! All the kids got to try their hand at driving the golf cart to and from the W and our house.

Eva in the W complex
Crickets! 🤢


We got a driver to take us to Puerto Vallarta (and hold our luggage) before our flight. Due to an accident on the highway, it took an hour-and-a-half to get there. We had a good lunch at The River Cafe, walked around the old town and on the Mercado a little before taking the car to the airport for our flight home.

This was our 7th visit to Mexico including our 3rd to the Puerto Vallarta area: Cancun (for a day our two on our way back from Cuba) in 1998, Zihuatanejo in 1999 and again in 2000 for Eric & Steve’s wedding, Cabo San Lucas in 2009, Puerto Vallarta in 2008, 2012 and 2019. Mexico is my most-traveled-to country by a long margin.

2019 Year In Review

January: The year started with our late-night New Year’s Eve party. Eva’s had a brief violin stint but it was too frustrating for her at her age.

February: After a snow-free Fall and Winter and after the last scheduled snow makeup day, 13 inches of snow began falling causing several days of school closings and, as a result, the school year was extended several days.

March: Gay went away for a spa weekend to Miraval for her 49th birthday and then we celebrated it together.

April: We went to NYC for Spring Break and Mark & Lee + Henry and George visited from London. Havana turned 12 on the final day of the month.

May: Havana had her birthday party. Game of Thrones ended.

June: Hudson graduated from elementary school and then we left for 3 weeks in Italy.

July: We continued our vacation in Italy and days after getting back all the kids went away to camp for a week so Gay and I were child-less for the first time in over 12 years.

August: Eva got her lower braces on. We wanted to have one final trip before the end of summer so we spent 3 days in the San Juan Islands. Hudson turned 11.

September: First day of 6th grade for Hudson and 3rd grade for Eva and first day of 7th grade for Havana. We sold our Jeep Commander that we’d had since 2007 and was the first car Gay and I bought together.

October: My mom had a health scare but has since been fine. Barley turned 6. I got Tonal so I could do weight training to complement the Peloton, on which I did my 1000th ride.

November: I turned 50 and two weeks later Gay and I had a fun trip to New Orleans. We celebrated Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, with the Carders.

December: Eva got her braces off and turned 9. We took a quickly-planned trip trip to Mexico with friends for New Year’s.

I feel like this was one of our most eventful years with more traveling — 5 trips for Gay & I, 4 with the kids — than we’ve done in a long long time, if ever.

Beolab 50 speakers

My real 50th birthday present from Gay arrived today. It took 6 weeks from when I ordered them because they are made to order and then shipped from Denmark.

Gay intended for me to get the intriguing Beolab 90 speakers, which were made to commemorate B&O’s 90th year, but I figured that the Beolab 50 speakers are the model to commemorate my 50th year.

Bronze and smoked oak Beolab 50
The tweeter’s acoustic lens rises when they turn on

They have 7 separate amplifiers in each speaker, one for each driver: 3 mid-range drivers, 3 woofers and 1 tweeter. Each amplifier can be controlled independently and the tweeter has an acoustic lens to change the focal point of the sound to the room and listening position. It’s impressive technology that B&O developed first for the Beolab 90s.

I also got the Beosound Core and Beosound Essence tabletop remote.

Because they arrived minutes before our Boxing Day get-together, I couldn’t set them up until Friday. They are very heavy, about 140lbs, so they’re hard to move. I had to use furniture moving pads and slide them to where I wanted them. And it took me several hours to get them and the Beosound Core working after doing the B&O iOS app configuration. It’s a long story but I eventually figured that I could reset them — by holding both buttons (Network and WPL) for 15 seconds or so — and they started working. The default volume is 42, that can’t be a coincidence.

They sound fantastic. I only got an hour or so to listen to them before having to pack for Mexico tomorrow.