Sunday, October 27, 2013

Northern Italy: Confrontation in First Class

This is Part 1 of 3 (plus a possible 4th post, now that I’m back in the U.S. to write one), typed from northern Italy last week while hanging with friends old and new:  Carli, Chris, Piotr, Sarah, Leslie, Chad, Jorge, Jenny… and the rest of the gang who surprised me in Venice!

Kathy and our two year old Lena drove to Salem and Bend with family for a few days last week.  Due to a work scheduling conflict on their first day, I wasn’t able to join them.   So I resumed a mini-version of our European trip, solo, that was interrupted last month when our family was in Madrid.  The blog posts about last month’s family trip to Spain are coming soon!

A few of my Delta vacation days were cancelled (and one wasted) late last week trying to fly standby from Portland to hook up with friends here in northern Italy.  But so far, this trip has been worth the wait!  Here’s a little pre-adventure story to kick things off:

Confrontation in First Class

I "live tweeted" about the following dust-up as my plane was returning to the gate in New York.  The passenger seated next to me had waaay to much to drink in the Delta Sky Club prior to boarding.  He was so loaded that his hands couldn’t even hold his pre-departure drink steady.  As our plane taxied off to the runway, he started making a fuss… and a mess.

Warning: This is gross.  My seatmate (a dead ringer for zombie-slayer Michonne, from the Walking Dead) and I gagged as this guy coughed up what looked like blood all over himself.  There were red droplets and chunks splattered everywhere:  the floor, his clothes, his seat, the TV monitor.  I asked him if he was alright, and he calmly assured me that it was merely wine and not blood.  He had regrettably “spent a little too much time drinking at the Sky Club this afternoon.”  So then what in the name of Gilbert Gottfried were those red chunks?

The pilot announced that our plane was returning to the gate.  No surprise there.  The tanked passenger started a series of arguments with the Delta flight attendants, then the captain, then the returning gate agent, and then finally launched a 2nd and final bout with the captain.

While the utterly smashed passenger was being escorted off the plane, a collective wince fell across our Business Elite faces at his parting imagery.  He was trying in vain to prevent his sagging slacks from falling down around his ankles.  Pure horror.

Cleanup on Aisle 2: The cabin service crew earned their paychecks that night.  It took THREE of them to clean up that disgusting mess before our plane could taxi back out to the runway again!

The moral of the story is:  don’t drink and… fly, I guess?  Maybe the moral is even more obvious.  Just don’t be that guy.

Kudos to the New York-based Delta Airlines team for their professionalism in handling this heated situation.  Our plane departed the second time and made it to Venice, Italy without incident!

And a big congrats to the bewildered buddy pass rider who was suddenly upgraded from Economy Coach to the Business Elite seat of the crime.  Friend, your new seat was most likely sparkling clean by the time you sat down next to me.

But just in case, I hope you packed a change of pants.

Coming this weekend early next week

on Garth’s Blog…

...Pt. 2- Northern Italy: Verona, Venice, and Beyond!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Warner Pacific alumni fall picnic

Above photo courtesy of Warner Pacific College's Facebook page

Garth, Lena, and Cha-Cha the Clown

Warner Pacific College people:  It was great to see so many of you at our WP alumni fall picnic last month!

As president of the WP Alumni Association, it warmed my heart to see how many of you alumni showed up for a good time.  Even though Portland’s rainy climate persuaded us to move our fall picnic into CC Perry Gym this time, the picnic proved once again to be an event that keeps growing in popularity each year!  And it’s easy to see why.

Reconnecting with former classmates and making new friends is the main reason why many of us get together for WP alumni activities.  But it didn’t hurt that our WP Alumni Council also threw quite a party for us to enjoy together!  Here are some of the festivities from that evening, from an admittedly Hamilton family-centric perspective:

Bouncy houses

Balloon twisting by Cha-Cha the Clown

Beanbag throw and other games

Door prizes

Lively music

Delicious sides and food from the grill…

Our newest Alumni Council member Cal Fowler, my terrific dad Doug Hamilton, and LaMont Shaindlin grill the hot dogs and burgers.

…And chowing down on all that delicious food together!
From my Twitter feed: Alumni begin to show up at the beginning of the picnic.

Later that evening, the Portland fire department parked a fire truck in the lower WP campus parking lot.  The little ones got to try their hands at spraying the fire hose!

Even with our record setting picnic numbers this year, we hope to bring in even more of you WP alumni and family to our fall picnic next year.  And don't forget, Homecoming 2014 is only four months away!

Garth Hamilton
WP Alumni Council President

Coming Sunday night on Garth’s Blog…

My brief, mini-visiting spree in Europe is coming to a close.  I’ll be posting Part 1 of the 3 (so far) blog posts that I wrote here in northern Italy!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Banks Lake heats up!

...Continuing our story from the previous post, Banks Lake camping, Take 31:

Ok, so this post is a day late.  I take the blame, but y’all should see the crazy hours I’ve been working at Delta and on-set at my shoots!

Daddy hangs on for dear life.  Believe it or not: Unlike my crash pic at the top of Part 1, this was NOT a wipeout!  I actually landed this one.  But just wait… more of our spectacular near-wipeout photos are included below!

Last month's 31st annual Banks Lake camping and boating trip was off to a good start.  Click here for the link to Part 1.  The September weather may not have been the warmest we’ve had at Banks Lake, but things heated up on the second day.

Uncle Mike and Aunt Summer (a.k.a. Country Mike and Aunt Tum Tum) Sorensen drove all day to join us at Banks Lake that afternoon.  The Sorensen love birds took up residence in the RV with my parents, while us three Junior Hamiltons Garth, Kathy, and Lena moved out to our tent site.

They call it car camping for a reason.  Our tent site was just a few feet away from our parking spot.

As mentioned in the previous post, that morning’s wakeboarding and tubing were only a warmup.

Lena puts the boat out into Banks Lake

"Grandpa Bo, can you untie the boat and push us off from the dock?"

Garth and Mike test out the water

And the water sports continue with Summer, Mike, and Garth!

Credit: The two photos above are from my parents’ camera

Above: Nope, STILL not wipeouts!  Every run inevitably ended with me slamming into the drink, but the top photo and two pics included here were my survivable ones.  With the exception of my tubing crash picture from the previous post, most of my actual wipeout pics were nothing but blurry white water and fury.

The Birthday Party

The fam threw a belated birthday party for me in the RV that night.  It was much more than I deserved.  Chili dogs were served before I was serenaded and loaded up with birthday presents.

Birthday presents: Lena used her gift unwrapping skills to bail Daddy out.  How else would those new theology books, Lord of the Rings Blu-Ray set, and Americana music CDs be unveiled?

The after party: Hooligans at Couleegan’s!

Credit: Above photo from Summer’s Facebook page

Continuing tradition, we kids headed to “downtown” Coulee City (with some of the most ironic air quotes ever used) for the after party.  Couleegan’s boasts the hottest (read: only) live music and dancing for miles and miles away.

Considering Coulee’s remote location in eastern Washington, Couleegan’s is actually a surprisingly fun and lively place to rock on a Saturday night!


Choppy water on the lake limited our boating activities the next morning.  Staying upright on the wakeboard required superhuman endurance, and tubing was a blast but downright painful.

No matter.  Banks Lake had beckoned us back for a 31st year, and we answered the call.  Let’s bring back the smoother water and hotter weather next year!

The Hamilton and Sorensen family squint into the sun and say our goodbyes at Banks Lake.

See you next summer at Banks for Year #32!

Coming soon on Garth’s Blog…

Lena finally becomes a world traveler!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Banks Lake camping, Take 31

Wipeout!  Daddy flips out whenever Grandpa Bo insists on driving the boat.

Upholding 31 years of family tradition, the Hamiltons made our annual trek to Banks Lake (link) last month.

The only problem to solve:  Which wheels could get us to eastern Washington?  Lena is still banned from riding in the Jeep Wrangler when the soft top is down, per Mommy.  And the Camry has seen better days.  On our way out of town, we gave in and rented a car at the airport.

Swapping cars at the PDX airport cell waiting area

Road trip:  Future world backpacker Lena takes a hiking break along the Columbia River Gorge

Dusk beat us to Coulee City.  My parents stayed awake long enough to make sure that we made it to the campground safely.  They were both excited to see Lena! 

Rather than setting up our tent in the dark, we spent the first night in my parents’ RV.  A pregnant Mommy was tuckered out from the long drive.  Lena, on the other hand, wouldn’t take “bed” for an answer.


The next morning, commotion in the RV eliminated our chances of sleeping in.  This is how Daddy and Lena look first thing in the morning:

After setting up our tent, we untied the boat and jetted out onto Banks Lake!

Getting warmed up on the wakeboard

Prepping the brand new tube for its maiden wipeout

Not to worry, the best tubing action pics are coming to BlogSpot next week!

Mike and Summer were making the drive over to Coulee City from Vancouver, WA as we played on the boat.  Later that afternoon, our Banks Lake family gathering would be complete.  Our good times were about to get even better!

Coming next weekend on Garth’s Blog…

...Banks Lake heats up!