Posted by: Heather | August 24, 2016

Things to Do on Chuckanut Drive

100T3105_LUCiDOne of the first things I heard about when we moved to Washington was the abundance of beautiful, scenic byways throughout the state, and in particular, Chuckanut Drive.

When people would find out we lived in Lynnwood, they’d always ask if we’d spent a day exploring that route. Several of my work colleagues recommended it and couldn’t believe we’d been living here a year without having checked it out.

I couldn’t believe it either, but the timing never seemed right. I was looking for that perfect lazy Saturday or Sunday so we wouldn’t feel rushed and could just meander without a schedule. Thanks to work schedules, weekend plans and weather, we just hadn’t been able to make the trip.

We finally had a weekend without plans–my husband’s favorite kind of weekend. The weather was beautiful, we were both hoping to relax and put the work week behind us, and it seemed like the perfect time to finally spend a day on Chuckanut Drive.

Originally I thought we would leave early and return early, but after looking up a few of the places we wanted to stop, it became quickly apparent that nothing opened until 11 a.m. so this was going to be more of an afternoon activity. We ate a late breakfast and left around 11 a.m., stopping off in Arlington and Mount Vernon to pick up some Row by Row quilt patterns for my mom before making our way just north of Burlington to route 11/Chuckanut Drive.

Our first stop was in Bow-Edison just a few miles after we were en route. My colleague said it was a cute, funky artist community, and that’s exactly how I would describe it! The town is tiny but we managed to find parking and then spent a little time walking around, popping in and out of the shops. Modern art is pretty much lost on us but we did check out the local gallery.

I bought some local sea salt, Brian bought a nice piece of walnut in a woodworker’s scrap pile, and we both went in for some baked goods from Breadfarm, including a black olive baguette, fig bar, coconut macaroon and pear tart for the road.

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We hopped back on Chuckanut and headed slowly north, passing a bison farm and several fruit farms as we approached the coast. There were tons of bikes on the road thanks to a huge race from Seattle to Vancouver so what would have typically been a slow drive became infinitely slower as we all wound up and around the curvy and narrow road toward Bellingham.

It was early afternoon and we were starving so we pulled off at the Oyster Bar for lunch. It was pretty warm outside but we grabbed a perfect little table for two in the shade outside on the back deck overlooking the water.

It was gorgeous outside and we ended up there for quite a while, eating oysters on the half shell (including Wildcat Cove, which we hadn’t tried before–they were delicious!) and some small plates. Brian had a crab roll, and I had an asparagus gnocchi dish that was really tasty.

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Despite having eaten an incredible lunch, we did stop at Taylor Shellfish Farms to see what it’s all about.

Several people had recommended we grab lunch there, but we didn’t quite know how it worked and we weren’t really interested in grilling or sitting out in the sun given the heat.

I think we made the right choice for our day, but we both agreed it would be awesome to go back for a late lunch or early dinner. There were tons of people with buckets of oysters just going to town–some eating them on the half shell, some grilling them on the charcoal grills around the seating area.

It would be awesome to bring friends and just sit out back, looking out over the water, eating seafood. Definitely on our list for next time!

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Our last official stop along the coat was at Larrabee State Park. Before we arrived we came across an awesome viewpoint and pulled over to take a few photos. It was a huge rest stop for all of the cyclists, and I ended up taking pictures of several couples overlooking the water and mountains.

I finished my photos and went in search of Brian, only to find him chatting with one of the cyclists. He makes friends wherever he goes so it didn’t really surprise me, until I found out they were contemplating loading his bike into my car so we could take him to Bellingham!

In my husband’s defense, he told the cyclist I’m pretty particular about my car and might not want a greasy bike in the backseat–that he would have to ask me before agreeing to anything. In the cyclist’s defense, he wasn’t even half way to Vancouver and the chain on his bike was broken beyond roadside repair, and he really needed help getting to a bike shop in Bellingham.

What was I to do? We were heading to Bellingham via one final stop, so I helped them grab some doggie bags to wrap the greasy parts of the bike and we loaded him and the bike in the back and prepared to set off. Just as I was about to pull onto the road, he got a phone call from a friend who was not far away and could take him to the shop. He thanked us, we unloaded the bike, and each of us went our separate ways. We were happy to help, but thankfully his help was already on the way!

After our adventure we made it to Larabee, which was pretty busy. We didn’t spend a lot of time exploring the campgrounds or trails given it was a little later in the afternoon, but we did walk one of the paths down to the beach where tons of families were in the water. A few boats and kayaks went by, and it looked like a great place to set up a tent and spend an afternoon swimming and playing in the water.

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We were near the end of Chuckanut Drive so we wrapped up by heading into Bellingham to check out a couple of breweries my friend recommended. I appreciated Brian giving up a free Saturday to accompany me on this adventure– the least I could do was take him to a couple of new local microbreweries!

Our first stop was Boundary Bay Brewery, which was packed. There were tons of people waiting for seats in the dining areas, both inside and out, and we lucked out grabbing a couple seats in the bar area, which was 21 and over. Brian picked a medley of IPAs, their specialty, and I taste tested a few, but those aren’t usually my favorite.

Afterward we walked a few blocks to Asland Brewing, which had a very different setup. There was some in and outdoor seating for people getting food, and there was also an outdoor beer garden on the side of the building where people could take their samplers and hang out. We lucked out again with a couple stools in the bar area, and I tasted a few more of Brian’s sampler. These were very different brews, and I was particularly intrigued by the pale ale and weisse.

We walked back to the car, loaded up and set out for home as the sun was starting to set. It was a perfect day to finally explore Chuckanut Drive– the weather was perfect, we didn’t have a timeline or agenda, and we got to check out some of the more obvious stops along the way. I look forward to exploring some of the hiking and lesser known viewpoints next time, or even doing the trip on our motorcycles for a different perspective.

Add this scenic byway to your list!

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Posted by: Heather | August 9, 2016

Portland with My Parents

IMG_6831_LUCiDAfter an incredible day exploring the Columbia River Gorge we were excited for our Sunday Funday in Portland.

Brian and I were just there a month or so ago for a quick weekend getaway as part of a world record attempt for the most red heads in one place (it was fun but not a successful attempt) so we had seen some of the common sights downtown that my parents still had on their list.

Since we had his car and my parents would be without the rest of their stay, we decided to do a few things a little ways outside downtown that were easier to do by car and that none of us had done, primarily up in Hillside/Arlington Heights.

We set off early and decided since we had introduced my parents to Voodoo Doughnut the day before, which is known for its unusual and eclectic donuts, it was only right to have them taste Blue Star Donuts, which offers gourmet, brioche-style donuts.

For those concerned about our health, two days of doughnuts is more doughnuts than any of has had in the past six months, but you can’t go to Portland and not try Voodoo and Blue Star. When in Rome!

We grabbed our coffee and donuts to go and drove to the International Rose Test Garden where we found awesome parking right in front of the garden entrance. We grabbed a nearby picnic table, cut our donuts into quarters so we could share (my favorite was the blueberry bourbon basil, followed closely by the lemon poppyseed buttermilk–YUM) and enjoyed our breakfast before heading in to see the flowers.

The garden is almost 100 years old and has about 200 varieties of test roses! The rows have plenty of room in between so you can wander in and out in between the different types, which are all labeled with clever names.

In addition to the main gardens there is a miniature rose test garden and a Shakespeare rose test garden. There weren’t too many people there at first but it was pretty busy after a couple hours as we were heading back out. My favorite varieties were the ones that were dark purple–I didn’t know there was such a rose, let alone several varieties of different sizes, leaf styles, heights, petal styles, aromas, etc. Developing all of these varieties is clearly an art, and I really enjoyed roaming around and looking at everything.

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After we’d had our fill of roses we walked up the hill to the Portland Japanese Garden, which several people had recommended.

The entrance and parking area are under construction but we were able to add money to our parking meter, climb up a stairwell through the woods to the entryway and enter without any issues.

I really enjoyed the Japanese garden–I love all of the moss and stone and find the thoughtful designs soothing and relaxing. The stone sculptures, waterfalls and koi ponds were beautiful.

It wasn’t a huge garden, but I enjoyed strolling around the different areas–it was very peaceful. I could see having a backyard set up in that manner–I think it would be incredible to wake up and enjoy some tea or coffee while taking it all in.

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We headed back down to our car and drove around to Pittock Mansion, our final late morning stop in the area. It was also getting busy when we arrived, but we were able to get in and start our self-guided tour without having to wait.

As the materials describe:

Built in 1914 for one of Oregon’s first and most influential families, Pittock Mansion overlooks the city’s skyline–and is the perfect place to learn how Portland became what it is today.

It reminded me of a few other mansions we’ve toured that were constructed about the same time and with amenities that were well ahead of the time, like Stan Hywet Hall and Garden. These great houses are incredible, and I’m always most impressed and jealous of the beautiful libraries–this home was no different. I loved the formal library with all of its beautiful woodwork, including the carving of the family’s coat of arms above the fireplace.

We were able to see all of the bedrooms, bathrooms (which were crazy ahead of their time– I wouldn’t mind having one of their showers today!), kitchen and more. We were also able to explore the small house next door where one of the staff members lived with his family. The grounds are pretty and have a beautiful view over all of Portland.

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It was early afternoon when we finished and having sufficiently walked off our breakfast, we headed across town to a Thai restaurant Brian and I had missed last time and really wanted to try called Pok Pok.

My boss had recommended it to us the last time we came to Portland, and then my mom read about it when she was researching things to do leading up to their trip. They had never tried Thai food before (!!!) and wanted to give it a shot! All signs seemed to be pointing to our going there, so we went!

Somehow we hit the timing right and were quickly seated, but unfortunately things went a bit downhill from there. Our waiter lost our order and didn’t realize it for some time– when he finally came back to ask us to give it again, we’d already been there more than half an hour. We ordered again, and he brought us some shrimp chips to tide us over–what could we do? We ate those and were very happy when our food finally arrived.

My parents ordered Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings for us to share, which were delicious, and a shrimp and pork belly dish with sticky rice for themselves. Brian and I ordered the Muu Paa Kham Waan, which is a spicy boar collar meat dish with a chili/lime/garlic sauce that was also very good. The waiter warned us it was pretty spicy and when it came out with a side of mustard greens on ice I got a little nervous. I love spicy food but thought maybe we were about to be blown away, however neither of us thought it was very hot. It was good, just not spicy!

Afterward we walked down the street for some dessert at Salt and Straw, which is the Jeni’s splendid ice cream of Portland and very good. I had half scoops of the caramel corn on the cob and the pear and blue cheese (the former was good, the latter was amazing) and Brian tried the zucchini bread with chocolate freckles (ok) and green fennel and maple (good). My parents really enjoyed their flavors as well.

It was about 3 p.m. by the time we headed back to the hotel to drop off my parents before hitting the road for Seattle. It was another wonderful weekend, but it was nice coming home to Seppy. See you next time, Portland!

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Posted by: Heather | August 8, 2016

A Day Along the Columbia River Gorge

IMG_6361_LUCiDMy parents have come out to visit a couple times since we moved to Seattle and most recently bought round-trip flights to Portland for a long weekend visit. We made arrangements to join them Saturday and Sunday to see some new sights in town as well as the surrounding area.

Brian headed down earlier in the week to meet with a few customers, and I took the train to Portland on Friday after work to join everyone.

The train was packed–every seat was full in my car–  which wasn’t quite the experience I’d had my last couple of train rides.

Nevertheless I made it there on time, Brian picked me up from the station, and we headed to our hotel for a night cap and some shut eye in preparation for our full day Saturday exploring the Columbia River Gorge.

We headed out early on Saturday morning following a quick pit stop at Voodoo Doughnut where we grabbed breakfast to go. Believe it or not, Saturday morning is the time to go–usually there’s a line of people around the building, but there was hardly anyone waiting so we were in and out quickly, doughnuts and coffee in hand as we drove east out of town.

There is so much to see and do along the gorge as well as in the entire Mt. Hood territory, but we limited our itinerary to some highlights along the river that we thought we could reasonably see in a day.

We started by driving out to The Dalles, a historic spot discovered by Lewis and Clark in the early 1800s at the end of the Oregon Trail as part of their expedition to discover the territory acquired in the Louisiana Purchase.

The town was still waking up when we arrived so we had no trouble parking downtown in the midst of really neat old buildings and storefronts. We headed down to the Riverfront Trail so we could walk off our breakfast and learn a little bit about the area.

There were a few people walking, jogging and biking along the trail, and we stopped off at some clearings to read the informational plaques about Lewis and Clark, Fort Dalles and other historical highlights. It was a beautiful morning, and we absolutely lucked out that the weather cooperated with us throughout the day.

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We checked out St. Peter’s Church, a 115+ year old landmark, but it, along with most of the town, wasn’t open yet. The downtown was very cool and it would have been fun to have spent some time touring the old theater, checking out the shops or wine tasting at the Sunshine Mill, but we had a full day ahead and didn’t have hours to wander around until things opened for business for the day.

Our drive along the Columbia River Gorge was breathtaking. We had buzzed out to The Dalles along I-84, which offered some great views of the river and surrounding area, but we took the more scenic byways throughout the day, making our way back to Portland.

Outside The Dalles we caught the Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway, which twisted up the hill, giving us incredible views across the Columbia River. We stopped off at a couple viewpoints to take pictures as we headed west along the byway to our next stop at Hood River to check out Panorama Point.

Panorama Point isn’t far off the byway and offers an incredible view of Mt. Hood and the surrounding area. There were fruit trees everywhere– this is the entry to the Hood River Fruit Loop–but the only roadside stand we saw in this area mentioned salmon, not fruit. There were a few people at Panorama Point, but we had no trouble parking and walking around.

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There are tons of places to eat in Hood River–I would love to go back and do a mini food crawl. We were a little early for lunch and still working off our doughnuts so we continued on to Cascade Locks to check out the Bridge of the Gods and Eagle Creek Trail.

The traffic had picked up and more people were out and about by midday, but we were able to park next to the bridge and the trailhead. There were a number of fruit stands nearby and my dad bought a big bag of dark-sweet cherries–yum!

We had a quick snack and then headed off down the trail, walking single file at times to stay out of the way of the multiple bikes speeding by. The trail was lovely, wooded and peaceful, but we had hoped there would be a few viewpoints so we could catch some views of the bridge, Bonneville Dam or other parts of the river.

It looked like there were several clearings that offered those views, they were just a ways from the trailhead. We opted to make our way back to the bridge and took pictures from that vantage point instead. There was a beautiful mural under the bridge, and gorgeous views across the river. We all commented on how amazing it would be to come back in the fall once the leaves start to change color–I think that’s going on my list of future things to do!

After taking a few pictures we popped into a nearby restaurant for a quick lunch and then continued on our journey–but not before hitting one more fruit stand and tasting some delicious peaches for dessert! Thankfully we had the cooler because I ended up buying a bunch–some white, some yellow and some doughnut peaches. The lady was nice enough to also throw in a crimson pear, all from a local fruit farm. Delicious!

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Just beyond Cascade Locks we rejoined the scenic byway and entered Waterfall Lane, one of the main attractions of the Gorge and home eight different waterfalls!

The traffic at this point was absolutely insane–people were holding spots up and down the road, police were ticketing people who were parked over the lines, there were cars and people absolutely everywhere.

Brian and my dad dropped my mom and me off at Horsetail Falls and found a parking spot not too far away. The falls were right along the road, and this one ended up being one of my favorites. Once the guys caught up with us we walked down the road to a pathway you could hike out to Oneonta Falls. This falls sounded magnificent, but we weren’t properly attired to trek back the Oneonta Gorge to get to the lower falls. People who were coming back from the journey explained how you have to travel up the river, which was chest-height for some of the guys! We didn’t have swimsuits or towels to accommodate getting soaking wet, so we had to skip that falls this time!

We spent most of our time at Multnomah Falls, which was my mom’s favorite. It’s the most famous of all the falls, the most visited recreation site in the Pacific Northwest, and the second highest falls in the U.S. It was at the heart of why she wanted to travel the Columbia River Gorge in the first place, and I’ll admit it was pretty incredible at 611 feet with two tiers and a bridge crossing over the middle pond, giving you several amazing vantage points.

The 1.2 mile hike to the upper falls has a 600-foot elevation gain and 11 switchbacks. After 45 minutes we were at switchback five so we decided to head back down and continue on to the other falls we wanted to see. It was getting late in the afternoon and we wanted to make sure we had time to see several other falls and some viewpoints near Troutdale while there was still good light. Here are my thoughts on the others:

  • Wakeena Falls: Beautiful and another of my favorites. It’s less than half a mile hike and you can walk right up to and in front of the falls. If you stand in front of it long enough, you can get pretty wet!
  • Bridal Veil Falls: Tucked back in the woods, this falls has a nice hike back to a platform viewing area. A little bridge crosses a river half-way there, and people can swim in the pool at the bottom of the falls.
  • Sheppard’s Dell: Right off the side of the road. This one probably wasn’t my favorite, especially compared to the others.
  • Latourell Falls: This falls is visible from the trailhead and road. There was a nice parking area with information and a loop trail allowing you to hike to the upper and lower falls.

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Our final stop was at Vista House, which ended up being one of my favorite viewpoints and stops of the entire day. It’s not surprising to me it’s considered the ‘crown jewel of the Columbia River Gorge!’

The observatory closed at 6 p.m. so unfortunately we were too late to go inside, but it didn’t matter to me–the views from the parking areas and steps of the house were gorgeous.

If you haven’t been to the Columbia River Gorge, it should go on your bucketlist. We had a really full day of activities and could easily have spent weeks seeing and experiencing everything else there is to do along the river and throughout the Mt. Hood territory. I would love to go back in the fall to see everything in color, and I would love to spend some more time hiking and exploring the towns along the way.

As I always say (and hope!), we’ll be back!

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Posted by: Heather | July 20, 2016

Sunday Concert at Ballard Locks

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My best friend and favorite travel companion

Brian has been traveling a lot for work and is usually ready to relax on the weekends. My work travel is limited to the 2.5-hours a day I spend commuting to and from downtown Seattle, which is a considerable amount of time each week, but not exactly mt idea of ‘travel.’ By the weekend, I’m ready to get out and explore.

I’ve been trying to be more reasonable about our weekend activities lately knowing he’s exhausted, but I can’t help feeling a little cabin fever at the prospect of spending an entire weekend at home.

In an effort to compromise, I’ve been trying to limit my planning to just one day of a weekend versus an entire weekend.

I would say I’ve been partially successful.

This weekend he was a complete champ, helping me introduce my cousin to downtown Seattle, and accompanying me to our first Pow Wow. That should have been plenty of activity for one weekend, but there was one other thing I really wanted to do while we were down by Ballard– see a summer concert at the Locks!

I don’t remember if someone told me there were free summer concerts at the Chittendon Locks or if I read it somewhere, but I had added it to my list of local things to do. We were at Discovery Park in the morning to see the Seafair Indian Days Pow Wow and basically had to drive through Ballard to get home so it only made sense to stop and check out the afternoon performance.

This particular Sunday’s performance was by the West Seattle Big Band– we had to go! I love Big Band music, and we both played so much of it in band together that we really appreciate and enjoy hearing it live when we can.

It was a warm afternoon, but we took our lawn chairs and water bottles across the Locks and over the to the green space by the visitor center where they were setting up and found some seats in the shade. There were a ton of people there, many with picnics, who were there for the concert, and other people who were there to see the Locks would stop off to listen to a few songs before carrying on.

We had a really nice time–the band was good, the singers were great, and the older couples who got up and danced around the green were adorable. Even Brian admitted it was much more relaxing than he had anticipated, and he’s recommended it to a few people since.

The concerts are on Saturday and Sunday afternoons now through mid-September–I highly recommend you check them out. Take some chairs, take a picnic, and prepare to enjoy a relaxing and entertaining Sunday Funday afternoon.

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Posted by: Heather | July 19, 2016

Our First Seafair Indian Days Pow Wow

100T3039_LUCiDWhen we told family, friends and work colleagues we were moving to Seattle, one of my co-workers immediately emailed me to let me know how excited she was for us. She had lived and worked in Seattle for 10+ years prior to relocating to Ohio and considered it one of her favorite places–one she returns to as often as she can.

We went for coffee and she brought a list of her favorite places to eat, drink and visit, recommendations for where to live and work, tips and tricks about traffic and travel, and much more. I filled several pages in my notebook with all of her helpful advice, and we’ve tackled many of her recommendations.

While we’ve taken advantage of our time here to see and do as much as possible to really get to know and experience the Pacific Northwest, we did miss several annual events last spring and summer because we were also house hunting, hosting family and friends, and getting acclimated to our new jobs.

One of those events was the Seafair Indian Days Pow Wow, which my former work colleague had recommended as a local cultural event we should be sure to experience.

While many people in Ohio can trace part of their lineage to one of the tribes that used to reside in the state, there are no longer any federally recognized tribes in Ohio. Washington, however has nearly 30 recognized tribes with active reservations across the state, including near where we live.

It has felt, and continues to feel really important to me that we learn about and understand the history and relationships here in the Pacific Northwest in order to appreciate this aspect of where we live. Neither of us has a great deal of knowledge about indigenous culture. Finally attending the Seafair Indian Days Pow Wow was our baby step in that direction.

We arrived at Discovery Park mid-morning just as the sun was starting to take to the sky. It was already getting warm out as we hiked back to the event location and made our way around the circle of activities underway.

Sunday’s event itinerary included some morning ceremonies as well as the Pow Wow Grand Entry, and while some of the initial announcements were underway, people were opening their booths, selling handmade art and crafts, and starting to warm up the grills in order to start cooking and selling food.

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We found some slightly shaded seats in the bleachers as the ceremony got underway. There were announcements, a memorial for one of the founding leaders, drumming and other musical performances.

These events took place in a large grassy circle in the middle of the event. All of the booths and bleachers surrounded the circle, and people could continue to join the event by walking around and visiting the booths or coming in to the seating area.

Many people joined us in the stands, but just as many people brought their own seats and filled in the areas in front of us. Others walked out into the grassy area to participate in the activities underway or to simply get a better view of what was taking place.

I was very cognizant of the event information I had read ahead of time because I didn’t want to misstep or accidentally do something disrespectful, but the activities were all incredibly welcoming and less formal than I had expected.

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It was getting warm and we were having a hard time keeping up with all of the announcements and agenda items. We visited all of the booths, ordered and ate some frybread, which is a dough leavened by soured milk or baking powder and fried in shortening or lard, and finally headed back to our seats as they announced the Grand Entry, which is described by the United Indians as follows:

First the eagle staff is carried into the circle, followed by the American, Canadian, state and tribal flags, followed by the Veterans, Head man & Head woman dancers, title holders from tribal pageants. Next followed by Golden Age dancers Men’s category, Women’s category, then Adult Men’s Categories (Traditional, Grass, Fancy) followed by Adult Women’s categories (Traditional, Jingle, Fancy), teen boys and girls, Junior boys and girls, finally tiny tots.

As we drew closer to the Grand Entry, more and more people arrived. It was incredible to see the different ceremonial attire for the members of the different tribes. Many people were putting the final touches on their regalia with the help of family and friends. There were also a number of kids, many of whom were participating for the first time. Their excitement and energy was infectious.

The Grand Entry was definitely the highlight of the event. Each tribe was represented, and not only were their regalia different, so were the ways they participated and danced into and around the green.

The Pow Wow was certainly eye opening, and I’m glad we took some time to experience it. If you want to learn more about indigenous culture, this might be the event for you as well. The activities only loosely followed the posted agenda so I would recommend you keep an open schedule as well as an open mind in order to make the most of your experience.

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Posted by: Heather | July 18, 2016

Downtown Seattle Highlights

100T3015_LUCiDMy cousin has been interning at HP this summer, living in Corvallis, Ore., and exploring quite a bit of the state. Brian was able to meet up with him when he first moved out while visiting a customer near Eugene, but I hadn’t been able to connect with him and was afraid I would miss the chance by the time he needed to get back to RIT for another school year.

Luckily things did work out for us to connect on the West Coast! His hosts had weekend plans at the University of Washington so he called to say he planned to catch a ride with them. They were only going to be here for part of a weekend, giving him less than 24 hours to experience downtown Seattle.

Naturally he asked us what he should do, and naturally I immediately had a list of things that clearly exceeded what could be accomplished in that short amount of time.

After narrowing it down and accounting for his interests, we decided to take him on a whirlwind tour of a few downtown highlights so he would at least feel like he’d had a taste of what Seattle has to offer.

We met him at the University of Washington at 1 p.m. shortly after they arrived in town and drove down to park near Westlake Center, which is a nice hub for reaching several local points of interest. Seattle Center seemed like a good place to start so we hopped on the historic Monorail and made our way north.

Seattle Center was hopping–I had failed to note it was Bite of Seattle this weekend! We took in the Space Needle and International Fountain but were a little overwhelmed by the number of people. None of us are much for crowds so we grabbed some fried alligator on a stick (yummy!) and a Mexican corn dog to go and took a slightly less crowded Monorail back to Westlake Center.

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Our next step was also (unsurprisingly) bustling with energy — Pike Place Market! We had brought along a cooler so we wandered the stalls filling our bags with items to take home and make for dinner. We ended up with:

  • Smoked scallops
  • King prawns
  • Salmon cheeks
  • Rainbow carotts
  • Rainbow fingerling potatoes
  • Beecher’s cheese
  • Rainier and dark-sweet cherries

The guys stopped to taste test some jellies and other goodies along the way, and we also made friends with a street performer entertaining a line of people in Post Alley waiting to get into Copacabana Cafe. She was playing the accordion and singing, and was really good!

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We dropped our purchases off at the car and then headed down by the gum wall before taking a walk south to Columbia Tower. As much as there is to see at street level, I was also trying to take in some of the nearby buildings. The architecture is really interesting, and one art deco-ish building really caught my eye. (I, in turn, caught it on my camera.)

While we got a good look at the Space Needle, it was a little cloudy and none of us were willing to pay to fight the crowds to get to the top. The sky had cleared up a bit while we were shopping at the market, so we thought we would check out the Columbia Tower Sky View Observatory, which Brian and I actually hadn’t done yet.

I had it on good authority that the tower offered a better (and cheaper) view of the surrounding area and that was ABSOLUTELY the case! I highly recommend it! We had incredible, nearly 360 views of the surrounding area, including great shots of Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier.

If the sights and information about what you’re seeing aren’t enough, there’s also a little bar/cafe so you can grab a drink or bite to eat and just relax and enjoy the view.

If you’re in Seattle and the weather is cooperating, it has to go on your list. I loved looking out over the Sound toward the Olympic Mountains–it was truly breathtaking.

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After we saw our fill, we walked back to the car and took a turn through Fremont on our way back to Lynnwood.

It was late afternoon so most shops were closed or closing, but it was still fun to walk around. We parked on a nearby side street and made our way to the Fremont Troll and then downtown to check out the self-guided walking tour.

We’ve been to Fremont several times and always see the different sculptures, etc., but I didn’t realize there was a mobile app/printed handout to guide you through all of the public art on display with history and information about how it ended up in Fremont!

I was particularly fascinated by the story behind the Statue of Vladimir Lenin as well as the Fremont Rocket. We didn’t make it around to all of them– we were getting hungry and ready to cook up our market fare for dinner.

We did make a quick stop on the way to the car at Pie to get a couple small dessert pies for later. Brian (unsurprisingly) got a cherry pie and I got a salted caramel apple. They were both delicious–I would love to go back later this fall or at Christmas time to try some of the seasonal dessert pies, like pumpkin chai spice, sweet potato, gingerbread cream, or eggnog cream. YUM!

It was a busy half-day, but we hit quite a few quintessential Seattle landmarks and definitely gave my cousin a taste of the city.

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Posted by: Heather | July 12, 2016

Wine Tasting at the Woodland Park Zoo

100T2997_LUCiDWe wrapped up my birthday week at the Tasting Flight wine event at Woodland Park Zoo after work on Friday night!

I came across the event several months ago when I was looking into concerts at the zoo (we’re heading there to see the B-52s in a couple weeks–hooray!). It’s a good thing I bought our tickets early– the event sold out!

Brian picked me up from work, we grabbed some sandwiches and then headed to the zoo. It was packed! The VIP ticket holders were admitted at 5 p.m. and while the gates opened to us at 6 p.m., we didn’t get in until closer to 6:30 p.m.

I liked that you brought your own glass verses collecting yet another branded tasting glass, and the 10 tastings per person was more than enough.

There was a band, three tents featuring several dozen local wineries, multiple food trucks, and the opportunity to walk around and see some of the animals. Our ticket stubs also get us $5 off our admission the next time we go to the zoo!

It was a really well organized event and even the longer lines didn’t take very long. We got to try all of the wines and wineries we wanted, and although he’s not a huge wine fan, Brian found a Pinot Noir he really liked.

We marked up our program with our tasting notes so hopefully I can track down some of the ones we really enjoyed.

I understand they do a similar event in October featuring beer tastings. If it’s anything like this event, I might have to look into it!

What a great way to wrap up my birthday week!

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Posted by: Heather | July 11, 2016

Ports of Call: Port Angeles and Port Townsend

100T2980_LUCiDI couldn’t believe how quickly our motorcycle trip around the Olympic Peninsula flew by!

From exploring La Push and its beaches to hiking Ruby Beach and the Hoh Rain Forest to discovering Cape Flattery and the Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway, we experienced so many incredible, new places and made incredible memories.

By our last day, however, if I’m being perfectly honest, I was getting a little tired. Not of traveling and seeing new things, but from riding my motorcycle, hiking and enjoying so much of the outdoors! Clearly I need to do this more often!

Feeling that way reaffirmed our decision to start at the far end of our journey and work our way back home. We didn’t have far to go from Port Angeles to Lynnwood, and our itinerary allowed us to play things by ear and get back in time to put things away, settle down and hang out with our cat.

We spent our last night in Port Angeles at the Olympic Lodge, which is on the east side of town on a golf course with the Olympic Mountains towering overhead. I thought we’d start off early and head to Hurricane Ridge, but the monitors at the front desk showed how cloudy it was on top with no signs of clearing up. It was pretty cloudy the last time we went there with my parents so we decided to skip it this visit. Had it been clear, I would have loved to have hiked and actually seen the surrounding area.

Instead, we packed up the bikes and drove to Dungeness Spit, where the wind off the water was blowing the clouds away, giving us glimpses of blue sky.

There were quite a few people coming and going as we took the trail through the woods and out to the spit. We didn’t have the inclination to walk the 11-miles roundtrip to the lighthouse at the tip, but we did spend some time wandering the shores and exploring the debris dumped by the waves.

We didn’t come across any wildlife until we headed back up the trail and came across a friendly little bird that posed for a few pictures! We took the longer trail back and had a peaceful walk through the woods, occasional sun beams piercing through the leaves.

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The sky was a little gray as we left so we continued northeast through Sequim and on to the Victorian seaport of Port Townsend.

We were just in time for lunch so we climbed up a few floors in an old building along the water to pop in a restaurant called Sirens. We walked up to the bar to place an order but were told they were waiting on tables so we headed outside and grabbed a great corner table overlooking the water.

While the interior atmosphere was really fun and the outdoor seating offered great views of the surrounding area, the service left quite a bit to be desired. We quickly wished they hadn’t bothered serving and had just let us place our own order and pick it up from the bar when it was ready. The food was ok, but we were ready to go by the time we finished eating, given how long we waited to place our orders and then to receive our orders.

After lunch we walked around town, checking out a few shops and eventually found Jane Dough Gourmet Shortbread. The shop is a really cute, clean and airy room in an old building with a little glass display case of shortbread cookies and a small display case of ice cream. I thought long and hard about getting the lavender ice cream with a lemon cookie, but there were so many yummy sounding cookies we decided to just get a medley of cookies so we could try multiple kinds.

We walked a few more streets downtown, occasionally selecting a cookie to split between us as we discovered our favorites. When we’d had our fill we packed up the rest, returned to our bikes, and hit the road one last time. Several hours later we had successfully caught the ferry from Kingston back over to Edmonds and from there were quickly home.

It was the perfect ending to an incredible day and trip. We saw so many things, but also noticed so many other places and parks we would love to go back and explore. For instance, I’d love to do the lower loop of the Olympic Peninsula or spend more time exploring Port Townsend and other places on the peninsula.

As always, I can’t wait for our next (motorcycle) adventure!

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Posted by: Heather | July 10, 2016

Cape Flattery and the Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway

100T2933_LUCiDAfter two incredible days in Forks, visiting the beaches in La Push and exploring Ruby Beach and the Hoh Rain Forest, we climbed back on the motorcycles and headed north west– in fact, we headed to the northwestern most point of the continental U.S., Cape Flattery!

It was misty when we set out and unfortunately the rain picked up from there. We lucked out with perfect weather the first two days of our ride, but we were pretty wet by the time we arrived in Clallam Bay.

The rain let up as we turned west onto route 112 so we pulled into a little park and took turns running into the restrooms at a beachside trail to change into dry clothes before continuing on our way.

There wasn’t much traffic as we wound our way along the coast toward Neah Bay.

As we entered the reservation we came across closed roads and preparation for a 4th of July parade. We slowed down and drove through a residential area until we came to the park entrance.

Although we entered the park in good time, it was a fair drive up to the trail head. We climbed out of our gear and set out down the trail through the woods to the ocean. A guy from the Makah Tribe was there, setting out handmade walking sticks you could use on the trail and purchase for future use.

The trail was very well maintained and was equal parts packed earth and wooden boardwalk. There were several vista points along the coast with a big viewing platform at the very end.

I kept an eye out for puffin and sea life, and we did end up seeing a number of birds (unfortunately no puffins) as well as some seals. There were quite a few people, some of whom had dogs, and we had to take turns climbing the latter to the viewing platform for the full view of the water. It was gray and windy, but rugged and beautiful.

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After spending some time at the point we hiked back to the bikes and set off east along the coast. It was midday so we decided to veer off at Sekiu for lunch at By the Bay Cafe.

There really weren’t many places along the way to grab a bite so I wasn’t surprised the cafe was busy. We ordered burgers and shakes and watched the clouds rolling east over the bay.

It rained a little while we were waiting for our food and talking about our afternoon drive, but by the time we finished lunch the sky was blue with big white clouds, which held out throughout the afternoon.

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Refreshed from lunch, we set out for the second leg of our day-long ride along the Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway. I read several articles about this byway being a favorite of bikers, and I understand why. The windy roads make for endless twists and turns with plenty of beautiful wooded areas and countryside along the way.

It was a little overwhelming for me at times when the traffic built up behind us. I don’t like to go that fast and the speed limit was a modest 35 mph for the majority of our ride. The cars didn’t seem to think that applied to them, and they would come speeding up behind us and then pass us whenever they had a chance. Sometimes they would cut it close approaching double lines, which made me nervous.

Moments like those made me glad for our headsets so Brian could talk me through it and keep me calm. On a couple of occasions we pulled over to let a line of traffic around before we continued on.

One such pull off was in Joyce, Washington, which I had heard about ahead of time. We popped in the Joyce General Store and walked over to the nearby Depot Museum, which was closed for the day.

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Our last stop was the Olympic Discovery Trail outside Port Angeles. The traffic picked up and things got busier as we approached the city, and we actually passed the trailhead without seeing any sign of it. It’s very odd– the sign is small and wooden with light paint and runs alongside the road rather than perpendicular to the road like basically every other directional sign. I have no idea how you could possibly see it going 60 mph down the highway!

Luckily we turned around before we got very far and made our way back to a small, unmarked lot along the road. We climbed out of our gear one last time and set off to explore a couple miles of the trail, which actually goes across the entire Peninsula.

I read that the first couple miles had great viewpoints of the Olympic Mountains so I thought we would go a few miles out and back. That plan worked perfectly. It was getting later in the day and we didn’t want to be out in the dark, but we did want to go far enough to see a few things.

About a mile in we came across a clearing full of tall grass and beautiful purple flowers, and sure enough we could see the Olympic Mountain tops off in the distance. We took a few pictures and then continued on into the woods and up into the hills. We finally stopped at a viewpoint looking out over the mountains and got back to the bikes just in time to pack up and get to our hotel just before dark.

The trail was very remote– we only saw one other person the whole time, a gentleman on a bike– and we only heard fireworks shooting off every once in a while in the distance. We did come across some monster slugs that Brian pointed out right away. We put a dollar down next to one to try and capture exactly how big they were!

It was a long but really fun day. From the northwestern most point of the continental U.S. along the Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway to the entry to the Olympic Mountains National Park at Port Angeles, we experienced a range of weather, scenery, people and animals, and enjoyed another day on the bikes, connecting with nature.

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Posted by: Heather | July 9, 2016

Overnight in Forks, Washington

IMG_6043_LUCiDDespite knowing we were going on this trip for some time, I was still booking things relatively last minute for our recent motorcycle trip around the Olympic Peninsula. I should have known better– we were planning to go for my birthday, which is around 4th of July weekend, and things are always busy, no matter where you go.

That was especially true of the Olympic Peninsula, where every campground, B&B and hotel was booked for the holiday weekend.

I wanted to stay in Forks, Washington a couple of nights because it’s a perfect spot to hit so much of the surrounding area. Unfortunately by the time I went looking for a room, there was almost nothing available. And by almost nothing, I mean there was one room available in any accommodation in the entire area. So, of course, I booked it!

We stayed in the executive suite of the Pacific Inn Motel and it worked out perfectly. Not only did we have plenty of room to drop off our gear, we had a small kitchen where I could make coffee each morning, a private entrance so we could easily come and go without running into the foot and vehicle traffic at the hotel entrance, and a PERFECT front porch where we could store the bikes out of the weather!

We couldn’t have asked for a better setup given our bikes and gear. If you’re considering a motorcycle ride around the Peninsula, I highly recommend you consider this arrangement. Our bikes were safe and out of the way, and we didn’t have to spend a bunch of time wiping off the morning dew each day.

In addition to enjoying our lodgings, we really enjoyed Forks itself. I was initially a little concerned it would be too touristy, thanks to Twilight, and while the shops did carry some Twilight gear and there was a Twilight walking tour, etc., it was appropriately campy and not overwhelming.

The town reminds me a lot of little towns in Ohio where everyone knows everyone, people come together to eat and talk in the local diner for breakfast (and maybe lunch and dinner), and everything moves at a little slower pace.

We would eat breakfast at the Forks Coffee Shop, head out to explore nearby La Push as well as area beaches and rain forest, come back and change out of our gear and into more comfortable clothing, and walk around town until we were ready for dinner.

Our first night there was a little street fair going on that we walked through on our way to El Pescado Loco, where we had good food and great margaritas, and the next night we walked to South North Gardens and took our Chinese food to go so we could enjoy our evening in our suite and store the leftovers in our kitchenette.

If you’re looking for a place to stay during a trip around the Peninsula, I’m another voice in favor of Forks. We really enjoyed being near so many sights without having to deal with too much traffic or too many people. Perfect overnight on our long weekend getaway!

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