First off the bat let me say "HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUM" for last Saturday. Hope you had a cracker... I'll give you a huge hug and a kiss when I come home for a visit in a few weeks... xx

Just got back from yet another epic weekend over the border with the boys. Chris, TJ, Steve, Will and I headed down to Auburn in Washington to see Tom Petty play at a wicked venue called the White River Amphitheater. I wasn't intending on going down (due to money constraints following my recent backpacking jaunt in the East) till about a week ago, but when I realised that the timing and situation of the road trip was PERFECT in terms of being able to activate my new 12 month working holiday VISA for Canada, I jumped at the opportunity. Funnily enough, TJ had screwed up his online ticketing purchase and ended up buying two tickets even though he only wanted one... again PERFECT!

We kicked off the road trip by rounding up everyone early Saturday morning from both Vancouver and White Rock before completing a carefree and somewhat amusing border crossing into the US. Normally the feeling you get when you enter the border center and pay your Visa waiver fee is one of tension and nervousness - there's just something about a place where nobody smiles and everyone looks like they belong to a SWAT team. But the two fellas I lined up with this time were up for a chat and a laugh as they once again took my photo and fingerprints (Grrrrrrrrr!).



Once across, we made a bee-line straight for the nearest greasy spoon, American style diner for some brekky. We didn't have to go far finding "Big Al's" in Blaine to be just what the doctor ordered. Blaine was actually quite familiar to me after having made the trip down there one or two times last year with Ryan to sail around on his Mum's boat.

Big Al's in Blaine, USA

Heading into Seattle, Steve was all pumped about taking us to a particular grocery store called Trader Joe's to stock up for the weekend away. It was one of those new-age newfangle-dangled organic shops where you can't find "normal" food... only "special" stuff that costs you double and doesn't deliver any extra...

Ok, mini rant over! LOL My biggest gripe was that we weren't able to find any "man-soup" anywhere. You know, the stuff that comes in a can and has chunks of meat and veggies in it! Regardless, we eventually filled the truck with food and beer and we were off!


Quick over-nighter on Vashon Island

The plan for the rest of the afternoon was to make the relatively short trip past Seattle, onto a ferry a little further to the south-west and across to Vashon Island, a great little retreat just off the coast. Steve had found a YHA Hostel/Campground that he liked the look of, so we headed there to check things out.

Our seafaring chariot
The lads lined up on deck
The lads lined up on deck. (L to R) Me, TJ, Steve, Chris and Will.
Steve in deep discussion with Chris
A little post-ferry fun
A little post-ferry fun
A little post-ferry fun

Upon arrival at the Vashon Hostel, it appears that you have transformed back in time to the days of Cowboys and Indians in the wild west with tee-pees and wagon wheels littering the grounds. We were kind of wondering what we were walking into when we spied what looked like a registration table set up near the hostel's office. Sounds harmless enough, but there were rainbow flags and windsock looking things with trailing ribbons set up all around it. We figured we'd wandered straight into a "gay convention" similar to what we came across for TJ's birthday last year. We had to laugh a little when we found out that it was actually a getaway for a group that were against "violent communication" or something. Just a bunch of gentle hippies me thinks!

The grounds of the Vashon Hostel
"With the beer flowing and the sun setting, we all took the chance to relax a little..."

Upon checking in, we signed a form stating that we understood that NO DRUGS OR ALCOHOL were permitted on the hostel grounds even though we had 3 eskies full of beer waiting back down at the truck. A cunning semi-circle of tents in a secluded corner of the hostel camp ground later and we were all set! With the beer flowing and the sun setting, we all took the chance to relax a little before contemplating a journey into town for a little nightlife exploration.

Unwinding with a wee game of Frisbee Golf
Unwinding with a wee game of Frisbee Golf.
Unwinding with a wee game of Frisbee Golf
Unwinding with a wee game of Frisbee Golf
Unwinding with a wee game of Frisbee Golf
Unwinding with a wee game of Frisbee Golf

We eventually decided to hoof it the 2-3km into town but were thankful to be able to hitch a ride in with some locals who were more than happy to drop us off at the only two open pubs (on opposite sides of the street) in town. We settled on one of the pubs and proceeded to dominate the pool table. When I say dominate I strictly mean in the sense that we didn't let anyone else near it... initially anyway. When a couple of the fellas did eventually let some others onto the table, it certainly appeared that they got hustled! Ha, ha! If nothing else it was an interesting night observing the locals of this small Washington island interact.

We woke relatively early in the morning (on Steve's insistence), packed the truck just in time to get our gear out of the rain that began to fall, and headed back into town where we stopped to grab a bite to eat on the way back to the ferry. The plan for today was to find some accommodation fairly close to the point at which we would be catching a shuttle bus out to the concert venue for the show. This meant finding somewhere to stay in the entertainment-void town of Auburn (yeah, none of us were all that impressed with the place). In all honesty we weren't all that concerned about finding something in town to keep us amused in the run up to leaving for the concert as we had our championship frisbees we picked up along the way, and there were local sporting fields nearby to the "Best Western Peppertree" where we settled for the night.

With everything unpacked, we grabbed our plastic discs and headed off for a sweet round of extreme frisbee golf. Over the course of the next few hours we ended up with frisbees on roads, in trees, over fences, and even on roofs – it was a hoot and just what we needed to get us fired up for the concert. I'm sure there's a security video floating around somewhere of TJ tiptoeing his way around a Government department roof. Haha!


Tom Petty @ the White River Amphitheatre

Back at the Best Western, we showered and got ready to head out to the White River Amphitheater via a complimentary shuttle service that was being put on between the local mall and the actual amphitheatre. The whole process of getting people on board without alcohol in their possession was a bit of a gong show, but before long we were rumbling along a highway heading into the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation where the impressive amphitheater was located. I say impressive not in the same fashion as you would say The Gorge is impressive mind you. There's no real stunning backdrop to be found at White River... but the actual facilities themselves are clean, modern and intelligently laid out - perfect for a large outdoor concert venue.

A panoramic capture of the White River Amphitheatre
A panoramic capture of the White River Amphitheatre

Anyway, cutting to the chase the actual concert was every bit as good as you would expect from someone of Tom Petty's caliber. I don’t have the exact set list on hand, but it was GOOD! It contained all the usual suspects like "You Don't Know How It Feels", "Free Fallin'", "Learning To Fly", "Runnin' Down A Dream" and more. We were stoked to learn, a few songs into the set, that none other than the great Stevie Nicks (of Fleetwood Mac fame), was going to provide backup vocals for a number of tunes.

Here we were thinking that that was pretty cool, when Tom got up there before us all and pronounced that his next song was going to be sung by someone who could cover the song far better than he could perform the original. In an eruption of screams and applause, both Tom and Stevie were then joined on stage by the legend that is – Mr Eddie Vedder (of Pearl Jam).

I've been to many concerts in my time, but this single moment in my concert experience history will no doubt stick with me forever. Three legends of rock belting out some harmonious rock melodies... well that pretty much did it for me!

Needless to say, we all enjoyed the concert immensely, despite the late onslaught of rain, and we returned to the hotel wholly satisfied.

This entry is becoming somewhat long-winded... so I'm going to wrap things up by saying the final day of our trip involved a little more sight seeing, some more frisbee golf on an insanely overgrown course, some duty free shopping on the border, and a pretty easy drive back into Vancouver where the "Big Weekend" sadly came to an end.

More frisbee golf because... why not?
More frisbee golf because... why not?
This wicked left-hand fading fairway was not one for the faint-hearted
This wicked left-hand fading fairway was not one for the faint-hearted.

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