Plan Your Visit To Seattle!

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For three years my husband and I lived just south of Seattle. While the city gets a bad rap for the gray skies and rain, it really is not that bad! For a majority of the fall and winter you’ll find the PNW is buzzing with locals on the hiking trails but in the summer months downtown is filled with cruise ships, tourists and long-term visitors.

We absolutely loved living in Washington and once our friends and family came up to visit they were just as excited to come back. There’s no shortage of things to do or places to see. It’s a great place if you love wine and beer, a large variety of food, family-friendly and children’s activities, party groups and your beloved dog. Can you really go anywhere without them? 

If you’re looking for things to do in Washington or any neighboring states check out the Passport section of the blog. Right now I’ll just focus on downtown. It’s easiest to go through the neighborhoods so you can pick and choose what works best for your trip. If you have any questions just ask!

WHERE TO STAY

We never stayed in an Airbnb while in downtown Seattle and instead opted for the Mediterranean Inn in lower Queen Anne. Living on the outskirts or suburbs would have been too much of a hassle to get in and out with the traffic and busy streets. The Inn was always a great experience and comparable in price (if a bit lower) to other hotels near Pike Place. We also loved it because it was across the street from Dick’s for a late-night snack or early-morning hangover cure, walking distance to the Monorail in Seattle Center and city views from your bedroom window or romantically lit rooftop.

 

DRIVING IN

Whether you’re coming in from the north or the south you will get an awesome view of the skyline on your way in. You can also expect traffic. If you’re coming in from the north you’ll likely see the Space Needle first and a view of Fremont and Lake Union on your right.

Driving in from the south

If you’re coming in from the south (like from Sea-Tac) you will turn a corner and immediately see the skyline of Seattle as you wind your way in on I-5. As you near Seattle, Boeing will be on your left. If you have time stop in at their Museum of Flight for air and space artifacts or for a guided tour. We loved what they had to offer and being able to walk through aircrafts like Air Force One! Family friendly and interesting for anyone in your group. Tickets run about $25/adults but the first Thursday of every month is free admission!

Walking off Air Force One at Boeing’s Museum of Flight

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QUEEN ANNE

Speaking of Queen Anne, this historic area is well-known for it’s gorgeous homes and prime views of Seattle and Alki Beach from Kerry Park. Drive to this little strip of grass and get your photo opp in. It’s IG worthy at any time of the day in any weather. A few blocks up is the resident’s house from Grey’s Anatomy. This is an actual residence so enjoy the view but don’t get creepy trying to get inside.

Kerry Park

I already mentioned you can stay at the Mediterranean Inn, Dick’s and other restaurants. It’s also minutes walking distance from Seattle Center which we will get to below.

FREMONT

Make a point to ride your bikes or drive your car over to the Fremont Troll. This is another highly residential area but they have free parking spots on the streets near the top of the hill. You will have to walk a short distance to get to the Troll under the bridge. While you can’t graffiti it you can climb up for a picture.

Fremont Troll, June 2017

I hope you’re thirsty because you’ve got some drinkin’ to do! It’s a five-minute walk down the hill to 34th street and turn left until you see Fremont Brewing Company. They are pet and child friendly with indoor and outdoor seating, merchandise, snacks and a board full of brews to choose a drink from. While sitting out here you’ll see several sea planes land in Lake Union and Duck Boat tours driving by.

Fremont Brewing

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SEATTLE CENTER

No matter what you will be spending at least a day here! Seattle Center is home to the MoPOP Museum, the Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center and much more. One thing we didn’t end up doing here but is very popular is the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum and the Seattle Children’s Museum. We have visited the Pacific Science Museum and had a great time (without kids!) It’s actually a really well-done area.

Children’s Science Museum

The Armory is a multi-level building full of play places, events and food stands if you need a pick me up.

MoPop Museum

The MoPOP – Museum of Pop Culture- Museum ( or whatever else they change the name to every year) is the metallic colorful structure with the large playground next to it.

They rotate exhibits from the underground music scene Seattle is known for cranking out, artists, fashion and much more. Have fun taking a few hours walking through and playing the instruments.

The Space Needle is next; you ready?! I recommend ordering tickets online so you have a reserved time to go up otherwise order the Seattle City Pass to get the best value for all the main attractions. When it’s your time to go up head to the back of the Needle, walk up the ramp and head through security before taking a walk through time. They take a photo of you and your group before you enter the elevators and on the way up a tour guide will give you some facts about the needle.

Once at the top walk all around the interior so you can enter your name on the Visitor’s Board, tap the interactive panels for help on facts around the city and check out your photo to email to your account!

Always windy at the top!

Interactive Checkin at the Needle

Walking around outside will be windy (see the above photo) and a bit cold but there are markers for you to orient yourself and free binoculars for you to check out everything you can see. If you’re lucky the mountain might be out!

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You can also check out the International Fountain and walk around the lawn they’ll host several events and concerts on throughout the year.

International Fountain

If you choose to walk around you’ll run into the Belltown area which we will talk about in a minute. But if you want to give your feet a break, hop on the monorail.

The Seattle Monorail is next to the Armory in between the EMP Museum and the Space Needle. Tickets are $2.50 for adults or $1.25 for military. All prices are one-way so just buy before you ride. The monorail has never been packed and runs anywhere from 7:30 am to 11 pm depending on the day of the week.

Hop down to Westlake Center if you want to stay on the Monorail for now. Otherwise you can-and should at least once-walk through Belltown.

 

BELLTOWN

One of the most quaint and quirky, residential and comfortable areas in Seattle for us was Belltown. We walked through consistently to and from the Needle and Pike Place. As you’re leaving the needle you can choose to stop in for the game at the local sports bar in KOMO Plaza or you can cross through the lot (They used the roof of that building to film the rooftop helipad scenes in Grey’s Anatomy) and over the street to a street of bars and restaurants.

The authentic wood-fired pizzeria Bambino’s Pizzeria is at the corner on the end to your right. We always had the most accommodating service, authentic, delicious food and a large beer selection. I remember they also had a large wine selection though I never drank wine there.

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Belltown is also home to a Biscuit Bitch location. I have seen kids in here but just be aware that the menu, language and surroundings are full of colorful decor and language. Having said that the food is delicious and the coffee specialty drinks match. I enjoyed their unicorn latte (maybe only during pride month?) and the Seattle Fog.

Belltown Biscuit Bitch

 

WESTLAKE CENTER

The Monorail has two locations to hop on and off the monorail: Westlake and Seattle City Center. Once you step into the Westlake Plaza area you’ll see several food trucks across the street. You HAVE to try out a Seattle Dog! They’re a hot dog topped with cream cheese and sauteed onions.

Seattle Dog

Nearby is the Nordstrom #1 flagship store. I’ve been in a couple but I can say this is a BIG store and the cafe had great cocktails upstairs!

A few blocks down to the water and you’ll be at Pike Place.

 

PIKE PLACE

Another Biscuit Bitch location is located above Pike Place. It was much smaller than the Belltown location and was just wide enough for one line up and a shelf on the side of the wall where we were able to stand and eat. Otherwise expect to stand outside or take your food to another location to eat.

On your way near 5th street you’ll come across the flagship Top Pot Doughnuts. They are one of my favorites and there are dozens of locations around the city so just google one near you. Top Pot  has hand-roasted coffee and hand-forged gourmet doughnuts. I didn’t meet a doughnut or iced coffee here I didn’t like. They’re great to grab a box and take home for breakfast the next day.

Seattle street signs around the city.

Another must-see, must-do, backbone of Seattle. There will be a fairly steep hill before getting to the market. The Market opened August 17, 1907, and is one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers’ markets in the United States. Expect this place to be shoulder to shoulder crowds near the vendor tables especially during the summer months. You will probably also be in a few lines for the more popular attractions. At the ‘main entrance’ you’ll see Rachel the Piggy Bank for the market foundation. You’ll also get the up front prime viewing of the Pike Place Fish Market fish throwers. When we have been they only throw the fish when someone makes a purchase.

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Walking down the alley past the donut stand you’ll see a small Indian food stand called Saffron Spice. This is where we were introduced to samosas and, once we did, we returned each time we were in town.  Pop some gum in to freshen up (plus you’ll need it in a minute) and walk back toward the fish market.

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To your left there will be a staircase that leads you down to the gum wall.

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This wall is cleaned every few years (once lasting a 20 year span) because the sugar from the gum erodes the brick walls. You’ll see tickets, ID’s, names and initials spread out, some on the ground and some so high up you wonder how they were placed there. Take your boomerang blowing a bubble or the picture of you adding to the saliva-filled colorful wall and NOW it is time for a drink!

At the left-end of the alley is the Pike Brewing Company. The most fun thing about this bar for me is the location and I enjoyed a few of their beers from local grocery stores or from a flight on the bar.

In front of Post Alley

Back up on Post Alley you can walk on the far side of the alley and you’ll come across Pike Place Chowder.

THIS CHOWDER is the BEST I have ever had (seriously I would pay you for a bucket right now) and there will always be at least a short line but mostly a long line backed up to Rachel’s Ginger Beer. *Rachel’s is hand brewed and the sting of ginger is real. Fun drinks on a hot day though!

July 2017 Rachel’s Ginger Beer

Sept 2015 Rachel’s Ginger Beer

We usually split a few small cups of chowder since we like to eat around the market. At the front counter you can turn around and the shelving with utensils has a basket on the top filled with inside of the sourdough bread bowls. You get the best part of a bread bowl for free and you don’t even have to order the filling bread bowl! Usually the inside seating is sparse and filled constantly so your best bet is a picnic table outside.

If you don’t feel like going to Pike Place Chowder there is a pizza counter next door called LoPriore Brothers Pasta Bar (if it’s still open) that serves large slices of New York style pizza and Italian food made in front of you.

Take a walk down the market eyeing the fresh bakeries and seafood, the colorful (and huge variety) of produce and you’ll eventually come up on Beecher’s. They’re famous for their handmade cheese products and you can watch from the corner windows as they make it. I’ve had their cheese on other occasions but never straight from the store (not a huge straight cheese person) but I have heard great things about their legendary mac-n-cheese.

You want to try a place with some bomb food that might take my #1 favorite in the market? It’s Piroshky Piroshky Bakery. Usually there is a short line but in spring and summer you’ll have to wait in a roped off line for a two minute transaction inside the no seating alley shop. But my gooodddnessss is it worth it. I LOVED the Smoked Salmon Pate for a great Seattle take on the Russian pastry. If you’re in a sweet mood I enjoyed the Chocolate Cream Hazelnut Roll. I don’t think you could really go wrong.

You’ll need the snack during your wait right next door at the ‘original’ Starbucks location. The original Starbucks was actually a few blocks north at 2000 Western Ave but then moved to this location five years later during construction. Giving the monster that dominates the coffee industry today this is still a fun experience for visitors.

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You’ll wait in line before entering a quaint wood planked, narrow coffee shop. To the left is a wall of merchandise where you can grab a location mug or a bag of coffee. When you order notice the names and locations of the baristas: they are from all over the world. You will then stand in a crowded corner while you wait for your drink. I encourage you to order a drink you can only get at the roastery or reserve areas.

If you’re traveling buy your coffee in beans so you can fly with it. Once you’re at your location any Starbucks (or coffee shop) will grind the beans for you at no cost if you don’t own your own grinder. I purchased several bags of the specialty Pike Place Special Reserve which is only sold at two locations.

The Pike Place Blend OR the Pike Place Roast are also available in other locations but this is different than the above two. Coffee, right? 
Once you have your drink and the photo to prove you’ve also been there, walk through the market and get the view at the back looking over the pier.

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My favorite thing to do in the market is pick up a bouquet of flowers at the end of the day. For $5-$20 you can get the most incredible, HUGE bouquets of flowers. If it works out grab the bunches before the market closes in the afternoon so you don’t have to walk around with them all day but they will wrap them up with a bag of water to stay fresh.

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If you’re near Pike Place market in the evening I recommend going! The streets clear out and you can find drinks up and down the streets. We had a large Mexican dinner at El Borracho Pike Place Market and some Uli’s sausage  (they have their main vendor location in the market) and beers at Old Stove Brewing. It’s fun to see the neon sign and walk around the romantic, glistening streets at night knowing how busy it is during the day.
Purple Cafe and Wine Bar is also near the area. I went with two girlfriends and the atmosphere was great for our night and a few girly drinks but we weren’t crazy about their food.

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PIER 57
You can get to the pier by walking down through the gum wall alley and turn right. There will be a set of stairs and a street to cross under the bridge but the Pier is a fun place to walk around.

View of Seattle Aquarium

While I never went in you could hide from a rainy day at the Seattle Aquarium or hop on the Great Wheel. Tickets are a bit pricey at $14/adult but it is a one-time experience that you can choose to do.

On top of the Great Wheel, June 2017

Afterward take a walk through the Miners Landing building. This building is like walking through a two-story covered pier with a carousel, shops, ice cream stands and restaurants. Outside to the right is the infamous Ivar’s. If you didn’t already getcha some fish and chips in Sea-Tac then this is the place to snag some up. It’s a walk up window with a nearby enclosed eating area. They also have yummy chowder!

Pier 57

PIONEER SQUARE

After our time on the pier we chose to walk the few minutes down to Pioneer Square. You can also catch an Uber if you wanted but the walk really isn’t that bad. You’ll have to walk up the tower to cross the bridge over the street and you’ll come across downtown area near the International District. Pioneer Square is trendy and filled with art galleries, coffee shops and a beautiful plaza, paved streets and lined trees.

I would have loved to take one of the underground tours in this area so if you have time go for it! Our favorite place to go at the edge of this area is Elysian Fields. Elysian is Seattle’s prime brewing company and home to Drew’s favorite: SPACE DUST IPA. Seriously he always orders it and if we find it on the East coast, he will buy it. They’re right next to Safeco Field where the Mariners play and CenturyLink field where the Seahawks and and Sounders play so on gameday this place is packed. It has a huge horseshoe bar, two seating areas and stacked bleachers with views of the game on TV. We always had great food -think upscale bar food- no matter what we ordered and I loved their seasonal beers or limited release. Check out their Capitol Hill location below.

On our way to a Mariners game we stopped at a tailgate popup in front of Pyramid Brewing Company which is conveniently across the street from the stadium. The beer garden we were in hosted several different breweries and I was introduced to one of my all-time Beerland worthy beers. A mango passionfruit IPA from Two Beers Brewing Co. They usually serve ciders because their owner was gluten intolerant but this IPA was MAGICAL. I really, really enjoyed it and I think people who don’t like IPAs would drink this all day. My only complaint was it was difficult to find afterward.

If you’re looking for a late night order of fries walk down a few blocks to The Lodge. While this bar drew us in because of the large wood doors and warm, lodge ambience inside it’s also trying to go for a sports bar and grille feel which it slightly misses for me. We’ve been twice for afternoon drinks and had a good time but I would say there are hundreds of other places if you’re only in town for a little while longer.

CAPITOL HILL

This is a town so easy to walk around in. I would say this is one of the most eclectic areas in Seattle because it’s packed with trendy, hip bars, gay clubs, indie stores and a drink-with-cats lounge all connected with rainbow crosswalks.

There are several artsy walls for your viewing pleasures like this…

Capitol Hill Wall Mural

Plus another Dick’s burgers location and Volunteer Park in the historic mansion district with walking trails that are always busy with locals and their dogs. It abuts Lake View Cemetery, where the city’s founders (and Bruce Lee) are buried.

This is a college district so you’ll see Seattle Central College near the Jimi Hendrix statue at 1604 Broadway, Seattle, WA 98122.

If you’re looking for restaurants check out Mezcaleria Oaxaca for their rooftop happy hour and taco truck or downstairs seating for their large menu. There are so many good places to eat a variety of food a simple google search for what you’re craving won’t disappoint. If you’re looking to start your day with brunch you need to go to Witness. The chicken and waffles are exactly what you want (even if you don’t know you want them) and the drinks are poured generously. It’s a simple, southern menu and adornments in a trendy PNW fashion.

If you’re here to drink, you will be overwhelmed with your options! Number one must visit on your list should be the Unicorn. It’s a no cover, gigantic, eclectic bar that’s sure to take you on a trip (if you’re not already…WA things.) Even if this isn’t your usual scene you still need to walk around and have a sugary, cereal flavored drink. The booming music, lights, arcade games and crowd are entertainment enough.

Across the street is Elysian’s Capitol Hill Brewery. Elysian has brewed over 350 craft beers since it opened on Capitol Hill in 1996. We visited their Capitol Hill location and it reminded us of Deschutes in Portland but more of a sports bar vibe. Since they had the pride parade recently before we visited they had their pride glitter beer on tap which was fun to try although it didn’t glitter like I was hoping. Another plus is they have their own Series of beer to choose from!

There are local gay bars, biker bars, specialty bars and late night menus we loved checking out.

You’ll see this area is jam-packed with every kind of awesome gastropub or bar you could ever want to visit. If you’re looking for more suggestions send me a message! 

CASCADE

Near Capitol Hill we’ve only been to the MBar here on the 14th floor for a fantastic view of the city and glass-walled rooftop. For this was a cocktail specialty bar where you are paying for the view and perk of the elevator, guided entrance experience. (Pictures of all this on Instagram.) You can expect a menu filled with portions of food that tastes great but you would see it on the food channel wondering if you would even feel full haha! This is a must visit for a date or girls night out. Even if you go for one drink it’s fun and quirky! Make sure to place your reservation ahead of time.

You can venture down the streets for a few more bars and pizza shops even though a majority of this area is business buildings.

 


Other things to do in Seattle that we did not end up seeing but wanted to were the Kurt Cobain bench (His childhood house is a few hours away here.)

Starbucks Reserve Roastery is at 1124 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101. When driving in from the south you’ll be able to sneak a peak at the logo on the towering building down past the stadiums. They have special drinks, wifi and light bites.

I decided to make a seperate post about Alki Beach which focuses on West Seattle. Check that out here!


 

We loved living an hour away from this city and we really enjoyed living in Washington. Don’t underestimate what this state has to offer in Seattle, the national parks or out west! It’s bordered by Oregon and Canada for your roadtrips and has direct flights to Hawaii. Whatever you choose to do I hope you have a great time and know this place has a very special place in our hearts.

 

Cheers!

Marin

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The Mountains Are Calling: Mount Si

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Sigh…

Si what I did there? 

Okay. I’m done. Mount Si (pronounced sigh) was our last big hike we did before leaving Washington. As any other Sunday we headed out on July 8, 2018 around 11 a.m. to climb a mountain.

From a previous hike at Rattlesnake Ledge, another must do!, we had seen and heard all the rave about Mount Si. Si is in the Snoqualmie Area and is 8 miles round-trip. As far as elevation goes you’ll get a gain of 3,150 ft in under four miles. The highest point is 3,900 ft. From using our WTA app I found out this mountain was very important to the Snoqualmie people.

“In the legends of the Snoqualmie people, Mount Si was the body of the moon, fallen to earth through the trickery of the fox and the blue jay.”

 

This was a dog-friendly hike so we were taking our German Shepherd/Saluki Mix, Argo, and Drew’s pack. It was the ideal hiking day; maybe even a little too hot: Clear and 72 degrees. As soon as we got near the infamous peak and sheer edges were showing off for us. It’s intimidating to view this driving in but soooo satisfying when you’re driving away. Feeling like a badass=addicting. 

Post-Hike IG story. Can you see Argo’s tired head waiting for ice cream?
IG: @marinslocalcollab

It’s important to note that they have a parking lot but you might find it difficult to find a spot. If it’s a great day expect to create a spot like we (and many others) did. They also have a bus option to shuttle in and out if you don’t want to bother driving. They also have bathrooms and a water spout at the trailhead.

On the way up you have an opportunity to learn about the Snag Flat and how the mountain survived logging, mining, fires, and other natural causes. The trail you walk actually was once a 4×4 track. 

Finding squirrels and chipmunks

By the time we started our hike up it was 12:45 p.m. With a few stops to enjoy the view, catch my breath and dog breaks we reached the top at 1510 (or 3:10 p.m.) 

From the top we could see beautiful Mount Rainier, Snoqualmie Valley, Seattle, and the Olympics. If you look down and around you you can also see small wildlife.

We took turns holding the dog while the other navigated through jagged rocks to climb even further to the peak. If you’re able, go a little bit further up. The view changes with every few feet and you get closer and closer to a 360 view. The true summit is called Haystack.

In early spring, climbers getting ready for Rainier come here with weighted packs. Conventional wisdom says if they can reach the end of the trail in under two hours, they’re ready to conquer the state’s tallest peak. 

WTA

The top is mostly rocks so don’t expect shade for your lunch or snack break. I recommend lots of water, a hat and crouching down under the tree or large rocks you’ll find for shade. 

We started heading down at 3:45 p.m. and were back in the truck by 5:30 p.m. I remember how much my knees HURT so wearing proper hiking gear, layers and good boots will make a world of difference. No, we never used poles. 

As I shared on my Facebook and Instagram (FOLLOW ME FOR REAL TIME UPDATES!)

Conquered Mount Si today and HOLY KNEES AND CALVES this was no joke! 8 miles in 5 hours. We gained about 1,000 ft in elevation per mile and reached the elevation 3,500 ft. Perfect hiking day with clear views of all the cities and #mountrainier ! 😍
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#mountsi#climb#hike#explore#adventurer#getoutdoors#optoutside#pnw#themountainsarecalling#mountains#workoutcomplete#sundayfunday#upperleftusa

This kicked my ass!

Not only was it a steep and slightly challenging hike there were a lot of people on the trail (100,000 per year hike this trail) and I was at the battle of some health issues that would last a few months. But, as with all of our hikes, I was impressed that I was capable of handling something like that in good time and the view is always worth it.

Don’t let this scare you away though! Novice hikers are just as welcome and enjoy it just as much. We had so many friends who denied (and continue to deny) exploring the areas we live in. If you just get out and try you will be in awe. You have no idea what you’re missing until you go see it for yourself. 

Cheers to getting outside and moving today!

Marin

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Hiking the Olympic Mountain Range: Mt. Ellinor (This is a MUST!)

Summited July 30, 2017

One of my favorite hikes to date.

 

Is it ironic to rate a mountain on a five-star system? That’s what the Washington Trail Association Trailblazer app does….and we love it.

For the last two years I created a Goals Sheet (which you can download for free here!) One of those goals was to explore one new place a month. We used the Trailblazer app while living in Washington to find a new hike each weekend and the Olympic Mountain Range never disappoints.

Ellinor is located on the Olympic Peninsula near the Hood Canal; a favorite location of ours for weekend warrior trips with our dog. You can check out more in the Passport section!

Grab your Northwest Forest Pass and drive out, rain or shine (but hoping for shine!)

The pass is FREE for military and good for 12 months from date of purchase. Perfect for a one-time visit or a move to this beautiful state! If you don’t want to purchase one, enter at the lower trailhead on Ellinor.

Mt. Ellinor lets you choose from two different trailheads. If you find old growth peaceful like the set of a movie scene, choose the lower trailhead. If you want to cut off a few miles but go STRAIGHT UP immediately choose the upper trailhead.

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I’m a little scared of saying this was my favorite hike of all time but if the hiking boot fits then, yes, this is a MUST! This made my knees feel like I was 85 years-old, there were a ton of bugs, I started in summer clothes and ended in winter clothes, I trekked vertically up rocks, held back my dog from being an a**hole to other dogs, smelled wildflowers and slid down a snow and ice covered mountain…it was an entire adventure in 6.2 miles roundtrip.

Although it felt long with all the obstacles and it was surprisingly hotter than we thought, the mountain was packed. When it felt like my knees were made of rusted iron I told myself ‘kids, dogs and parents with babies were summiting so you can too’ 😉

There are several switchbacks that were in great condition. They are long and winding at the bottom but once you exit the growth to the rockier terrain it’s a more vertical and staircase type terrain.

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We came up on a large field of icy snow (end of July? Snow?) Yup.

We stepped off to the side to add a couple layers, gloves and Yaktrax. I honestly am not sure how much they helped but the traction was nice on the short snow field.

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Otherwise, a majority of the hike was dusty and there were several rock areas that took a second to navigate with other hikers. The steps were easily marked and the views were incredible throughout. If you find it easy to look around and enjoy where you are, you’ll be in heaven. This was one of those treks that had me counting my blessings: Strong legs, endurance, working lungs, the ability to climb and hike which is denied to many and the urge to explore with an able body that many deny. Think about that…

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It’s going to feel like you’re far enough and ready to head back down…but DON’T! You have made it this far and trust me when I say the views change and get better the further up you go! Yes, it’ll be steep but you can see every big mountain and city so just do it. K? K.

Another thing to note if you have kids or dogs, paths will be narrower the further up you go so be prepared to step aside especially in busy months. (It was pretty busy when we went). The ‘rule’ is the people coming up keep working and the people coming down step aside. Sometimes it’s nice to use that step aside as a breather though, ammirighttttt.

 

When we finally reached the top there was more snow that Argo immediately layed down for a nap in. It was hilarious because as it slowly melted, he slid down. There are a few rocky areas to sit or climb around on for that IG shot to show you did something cool and you can look down the sheer faces to valleys and water below.

Words and iPhone photos really can’t do this justice. You just need to experience it.

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You did it. You just gained 3,300 feet in 6.2 miles of crowded hiking paths through almost every terrain you could experience. You reached the highest point at 5,944 ft. with 360-degree views. You earned views of Lake Cushman, We also saw Mt Baker, Mt Adams, Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Rainier. Careful on your way down–as your legs are probably shaking–and grab an ice cream at our favorite Hoodsport Coffee Company. You sure as hell deserve it.

 

Cheers from our post-hike snack to yours!

Marin

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Cross-Country Road Trip: Part One of Three

Ah, yes, PCS season. Can you just smell the cardboard box and endless pizza for every meal?

This summer was the first move my husband and I did together and it was a full PCS from the Army. We drove two cars with our belongings and dog from Washington state to North Carolina before settling into home number two.

I wanted to share our cross-country road trip for the hundreds of questions I see about where people should go or what they should do. It will also be fun to look back on our trips and showcase the food, drinks, hikes and sights we experienced along the way.

If you would like to see a separate piece on how to prep for a PCS or move, let me know in the comments!

We spent weeks prepping our house for the move so by the time the packers came to load up our belongings it felt like a relief to get things moving. They took two days to pack our household goods and load them into the truck. We slept on an air mattress for another two to three days before starting our cross-country road trip.

Leaving our first home together was surprisingly emotional for me (maybe not so surprising?) as it marked several big milestones in our relationship. If you’re following me on Instagram you would have seen the tribute.

**We still can’t find the GoPro from the move so enjoy my phone’s photos!**

www.mylocalcollaborative.com


Friday, July 20: Lacey, WA to Bend, OR

We always had Bend on our bucket list because it was an adventurer’s paradise but we never made the long drive with so many other things to do near us. A cross-country move made perfect sense to stop down and it was more dog friendly than our Coeur d’Alene route. At 11 a.m. we left our WA home for Bend, OR. There were a few stops and traffic but we made it to our hotel at the time Google Maps said (5:30 pm.) The drive gave me more SW desert vibes than I was expecting. Once we got into Portland we had constant views of Mount Bachelor and Mount Hood and others in the range.

If you missed our Portland trip, check it out here.

Our route took us through Mount Hood National Park  which looked like it offered amazing hikes and winter sports.

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We chose to stay at La Quinta’s as often as we could because they were relatively cheap/same price as other hotels once you add on the dog fine. They ‘served breakfast’ and definitely varied in quality but a good option for consistently knowing what to look for and include your dog at no extra cost! We also racked up a ton of points once the trip was over which can be used for free nights.

Once we checked in at La Quinta in Bend we noticed they had nice rooms even for dog rooms, good breakfast, dog treats upon check-in, and an outdoor poop bag and grass area. This was one of the more expensive hotel locations we stayed at as well. (Summer in a major destination and during a state tournament.) We drove a few miles into downtown which we didn’t mind and walked the streets and a loop around Drake Park. This path takes you over a bridge, large grassy areas and serene views for how busy it is right along the Deschutes River.

 

Stop into the Bend Brewing Company for some food and drinks: DOGS AND KIDS WELCOME! They have a cool indoor and patio area if you’re looking for AC but we went outside in the grassy area where they had some picnic style seating and cornhole with views of the river. They had two outdoor tents for beer and food. Our tacos were definitely not amazing but we had to leave because Argo got a little bad toward the end… Anyone else deal with insane rescue dogs with issues?! Great.


Saturday July 21. Day Two in Bend, OR
Time to walk off those beers! We drove out to Tumalo State Park (Bring $5 to park.) to walk the Deschutes River Trail. There were a few other people out hiking but not much wildlife…except for a little snake that popped out in front of me and scared me. Yeah, Drew isn’t letting me live that one down.

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Even though it’s not a difficult hike it is very dusty with some hills and rougher terrain so I suggest hiking boots or tennis shoes. The Bridgwalk gives you clear views of the river on your left and right before coming up on private properties. Keep your dogs on the leash and on the trail is all they ask.

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We noticed lots of families hanging out at picnic areas for their weekend celebrations and playing in the shallow, calm parts of the river if you wanted to cool off after hiking. In total we walked about 1.5-2 miles.

 

If you plan on (and you should) check out the gorgeous Tumalo Falls LISTEN UP! This took up a good chunk of our time and it looked like several other people experienced the same confusion. If you follow your GPS you WILL get lost. If you follow these directions then you’ll be better off. Ask your hotel/Airbnb or local friends for directions beforehand.

Directions to Tumalo Falls. www.mylocalcollaborative.com

You’ll know you’re in the right place when you’re at a long, gravel road. It’s very bumpy with some potholes but not impassable in smaller cars. Arrive at the payment box and grab the $5 day pass to hang in your window. Drive up the road to see if you get lucky for a spot. We did! There are bathrooms, trash cans and billboards at the top for guests and there will be two different paths to choose from. If you’re facing the bathrooms take a left for the outlook. You can go up the outlook trail which is about 1/4 mile; fairly steep. Take this all the way up to the top railings for awesome shots from above.

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As you work your way down go on that small dirt unmarked path that will be on your left. It’s a very narrow and tricky trail to get you “behind” aka right next to the waterfall.

It was so loud and powerful you will get the wind and spray from the falls but the rocks and power of it are amazing for an 80 some-foot waterfall. It was about 45 minutes for the entire time we were exploring.

 

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On our way back into town I had my gas pumped for the first time at a Shell. Apparently this is a law in Oregon but I have never experienced that before! We visited Crux Fermentation Project for some beer and food. We weren’t the biggest fan of the beers we tried but we enjoyed the outdoor seating area, yard games and food and drink stands outside. Again, kids and dogs are allowed with their families; at least outside.

We grabbed some brats from the food truck “Dats Brat” which were really good after a long, hot day and no food. Head back to the hotel for showers before driving out to Spork for supper. We placed the order inside and took a quick nighttime walk around that neighborhood while we waited. Their take on Asian/Mexican fusion was DELICIOUS and the interior looked like it would be fun for the night. If you’re looking for recommendations we ordered the chips and salsa, carnitas sando and spicy fried chicken with kimchi.


Sunday, July 22. Day 3 in Bend

We arrived at Tumalo Creek Rentals by noon and decided to rent a canoe for two hours for $70 which was enough time to reach the bridge landmark and come back. Argo did pretty well in the middle of us but he tried a couple times to step out and get the ducks or geese swimming in the river. He also liked drinking the water my oar would push back which was hilarious. If canoeing isn’t your thing here were lots of canoe, kayak and floaters and a very small waterfront dog park.

After turning in the canoe we walked around town where there were plenty of places to eat, drink and shop. We went back to Drake Park to walk around and visit the downtown area again. Argo got his first bath today in the hotel and the water basically ran black. With a wiped out dog, Drew and I went to the Deschutes Public House . If you have ever been to a Deschutes location you’ll understand what is offered here. It is a few minutes drive from the original brewery if you’re wanting to check that out. This location had great service and food and the outside was beautiful. I really LOVED their Earl Grey and Pacific Wonderland beers. We drove back to a beautiful sunset against the mountain silouhette before relaxing in the hotel and booking our next few days.


Monday, July 23. Bend to Twin Falls, ID
This hotel is right next to a Dutch Bros so we made a run before heading out by 10 a.m. heading for Twin Falls, Idaho. This drive was a really long stretch of nothing. Desert and dry grass.

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We didn’t have to stop for gas until Vail for gas and I noticed this area was covered with signs that said ‘Onion Country.’ I didn’t realize this but they ship over 1,000,000,000 pounds of onions a year. About an hour later you’ll drive through Boise. We arrived in Twin Falls at 6 p.m. where stayed at a La Quinta. This was probably the nicest room we stayed at on the entire trip.

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The room keys offered a free appetizer from the nearby Outback Steakhouse so we placed carry-out and made the short drive over to Centennial Waterfront Park while we waited. This park is the overlook while you see driving over the Perrine Bridge and it reminded me of Fern Gully. It was stunning to look at a lush, green canyon at the base of a desert!

This Snake River Canyon boasts a sophisticated green golf course and area on the inside for a meal with a view. From inside the valley you get a clear, full view from the top of Perrine Bridge where Evil Kennievel’s unsuccessful jump took place.

As you’re driving into the canyon, look to your left for the insanely impressive Perrine Coulee Falls. There are cement blocks you can climb over to admire the views or you can crawl carefully through the mini forest to get a view. It reminded me a lot of Latourell Falls in Oregon.


Tuesday, July 24: Twin Falls, ID to Salt Lake City
Breakfast was best here, too!! We woke up with a little bit of bed head…

15 mins from the hotel was Shoshone Falls. This was absolutely beautiful! A must see, it’s nicknamed the Niagara Falls of the West but they are higher than Niagara Falls.

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The falls were formed from glaciers years ago and they now appear as multiple waterfalls stacked on top of each other. It is only $3/vehicle and they have restrooms and a concession stand for visitors. There are several lookout points for adults, kids and pets to enjoy.

A short drive up is Dierkes Lake but they don’t allow dogs.

It was about 3 to 4 hours driving from Twin Falls to Salt Lake City, Utah. There was a weird rain and windstorm that freaked me out a little but once we got back into the city I was okay. At that point it was definitely one of my more stressful days of driving…little did I know (HA!)

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Cheers!
Marin

KEEP READING: Part Two of Three

 

Vancouver to Victoria, BC

British Columbia

Read more at www.mylocalcollaborative.com #localcollab

This trip was July 19-23, 2017

 

Oh, Canada.

We live 4.5 hours from the Canadian border. Being from the middle of the United States it was exciting to have the chance to be in another country that quickly. Drew had never been out of the country until this trip and it was time for me to renew my passport so Canada it was!

We knew British Columbia was a must-see and heard Vancouver and Victoria were a blast for sightseeing and nightlife. While we never made the long trek out, we would absolutely have gone to Banff.

Before You Go:

  • First make sure your passport is up to date or allow up to six weeks for any changes. My renewed passport came in about 10 days sooner than Drew’s first passport.
  • We did exchange for Canadian currency at our local Wells Fargo bank. Once we got there we realized we would have been just fine using our cards. Because of the exchange rate it’s actually more beneficial for you to use your card. We found it nice to have some cash to use or have ‘just in case’. You’re visiting their country. Be respectful and make it as easy as you can on them. Having said that…
  • Let’s say worst came to worst. They might accept your American currency. They’ll round the difference and you’ll get Canadian change. We spoke to a bartender about how they handled this.
  • Not important but just for fun 😉 …They bring a portable card scanner to your table to process the transaction which we found common in every city we visited.
  • They had the same outlets. You won’t need to bring an adapter but double check with your lodging.
  • The drinking age in Canada is 18-19 depending where you go. Each province and territory is free to set its own drinking age.
  • 3 a.m. will be the latest bars and clubs are open. U.S. residents can bring back 1 liter of alcohol duty-free on their return from Canada. If you want to bring back cigarettes or any other products, check this out.
  • Sleeve=Pint. Or as close as you can get give or take a few ounces. You’ll see what I mean.

 

VANCOUVER, BC

Jul 19 – 21, 2017

 

canda currency

We drove from Lacey to Vancouver with no traffic. Crossing the border was a short line and, as you drive into Vancouver, you’ll see a beautiful cityscape. Here are a few VERY professional GoPro videos of us passing through Seattle and on our way into Vancouver.

 

There are long winding roads that take you down a two-lane highway to town. We pulled up to our Airbnb which hosted it’s own parking garage and keys to access the elevator and our room. We stayed here which I cannot recommend highly enough! It was clean, modern, close to everything and the floor to ceiling windows give you an awesome view 24/7.

If you’re looking for some money off your Airbnb rentals, use this code!

Here is a tour of the awesome Airbnb!

Since you’re staying in the most superb location, walk over to THE place to eat and drink…Yaletown. It used to host industrial warehouses but has since turned residential the perfect mix of industrial turned residential. You’ll feel the modern, boutique, funky and stylish personalities at each location. Several have indoor/outdoor seating. We grabbed our first food and drinks at a delicious Mexican place called Tacofino.

Here’s a little breakdown of day/night one thanks to Snapchat.

 

It’s fun to walk down the sidewalks pass the multiple restaurants, bars and shops and we stopped for a few beers at Phat Sports Bar. We talked a ton to the owners here (a husband/wife couple) and here is where I learned what a sleeve was. Awwww.

Phats Sports Bar

Phats Sports Bar

Yaletown Brewing Company is a MUST go to! The inside is huge, rustic with awesome decor and Happy Hour atmosphere. We went here twice solely for their Raspberry Wheat Ale. It was seriously that delicious and I want to go back right now…

Yaletown Brewing Company

Yaletown Brewing Company

Now go take a nap! 😉

 

If you want to go out tonight for some late-night food and drinks head over to Doolin’s Irish Pub. Grab their nachos! This is the side of town where most of the clubs are so expect to be carded and run into more of the homeless population. We slipped into the Republic bar for a steep cover and pricey drinks. It was pretty dead and we saw a guy puke on the couches so….Not sure if I would recommend going there….

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I hope that booty is ready for today! Walk down the street for your carb loading at La Petit Belge. They’re famous for their Belgian waffles and we can see why. We waited in a short line and, by the time we left the line was backed up to the door. The best way to tour the city is going to be on your bike to avoid busy streets.

 

We rented two city roadsters from Cycle City Tours. Right above this is some bumpy bike basket footage of us starting off the ride to Stanley Park.

 

They’ll have multiple bikes to choose from and you can add things like baskets. You will rent a helmet along with your bike…don’t feel like a nerd. EVERYONE had a helmet on because it’s a law and you’re riding next to cars on the street. We wore rainjackets today along with comfy clothes and were thankful for the layers. They also provide a lock for you to explore without worry of the rental being lost. You’ll save 10% by booking online and pay for only as long as you bike (half or full day).

The views are awesome and the path is busy. Head down the hill and you’ll find the path for a quick 15-minute ride to the totem poles at Legends of the Moon in Stanley Park.

A few minutes later down the road you’ll see the “Little Mermaid” statue on your right. This statue was built in 1972 and is actually a woman in a wetsuit. We also heard and spotted an eagle above us!

As you round the corner (You’re basically following the Seawall which you will hear lots about) you’ll start to exit the ‘city’ and find yourself next to stunning rock formations, the large Lion’s Gate Bridge, more water views and several lookout points. Each time I saw mountains or a new city view we would pull over and enjoy the view.

You’ll start trading the rocks for the sandier beaches. You can make it to the highest point of the park, Prospect Point Lookout, to grab a bite to eat but we decided to keep pushing since we were going to see the entire city.

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You’ll bike through some beautiful gardens and parks where families are enjoying their weekend and wildlife are scurrying around. There are a few hills I enjoyed coasting down like a kid….maybe three times….

Finally we made it over to Olympic Village. By this point my tailbone was feeling it! It hurt to get off the bike and walk around or jump down curbs and potholes (haha). Olympic Village was built for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and is now one of the greenest communities in the world.

Olympic Village

Olympic Village

The housing used for the worldwide guests is now hosting residents. We grabbed a large lunch and beer at Craft. Craft is the large red barn in the center next to the oversized birds so I hope you don’t miss it. They provide over one hundred different beers on tap, most of them from local brewers. We tried their hot dog sushi, lobster roll and OF COURSE poutine.

We biked back across and over the bridge to Granville Island which was one of my personal favorites. Granville is a man-made island formed in sand dunes around False Creek and is home to breweries, arts and beautiful neighborhoods. If you had more time to explore this area I would. It was extremely busy when we made it in to town and, even as a biker, it was difficult to lock our bike up. Cars were almost at a standstill.

catshouse granville

We grabbed some cold cocktails at Cats Socialhouse which is now permanently closed. Granville Island Brewing was packed full of people but we were still able to check out their gift and beer center. Their public market and stores were also fun to walk around and check out.

That last push back to Vancouver was a long one but we made it! On our walk back to the Airbnb it was late afternoon. We walked into the most Instagram-worthy restaurant/bar, Homer Street Cafe and Bar, a few steps from our door to grab a couple celebratory drinks. I believe I got the Secret Garden and Spring Flowers (pictured.)

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We grabbed some of the best couture pizza and sliders we’ve had at The Parlour before drinking at a couple cool random bars nearby tonight. Our criteria is 1) Are they still open? and 2) Looks cool, wanna try it out? The Parlour turns into a club and while we were paying the bill they started transforming the space and a line began forming.

PS: We heard lots of good things about Medina Cafe but the line was always way too outrageously long for us to wait around.

We went to a few other bars tonight but nothing that I think you’d be missing out on.

 

Our last day in Vancouver started out in Gastown. Gastown is the original settlement of Vancouver and upholds the historical characteristics from bricked pavers to street lamps and wrought iron, cozy stores.

This area is extremely busy so park where you can. We chose a parking garage downtown and walked the sidewalk a shortways to the infamous steam clock. This clock blows steam constantly and chimes it’s bells loudly to tell visitors the time.

We walked through a few touristy stores and noticed several bars as we walked through town. You can easily find the “Gassy” statue before stopping in at the Lamplighter Public House for lunch.

We had great beer and delicious food plus there wasn’t any waiting time. You can sit outside but we had to change when it started to rain. They have the old pub feel, molded ceilings but arcade games in the corner.

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Find the photo above with the pavers behind the black chain link looking at the Lamplighter. I am standing in the spot where they named it Vancouver.

We plugged in directions to the BC Ferries about an hour away. We rode from Tsawwassen (Vancouver side) to Swartz Bay (Victoria side). You can check schedules here. As you approach the ferry expect long lines and the biggest ferry you’ve probably ever taken.

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Arrive an hour before your departure time. This is a pricier ferry ride because of their charges and I believe we paid $40-50/per adult. You can check current rates here.

HIGHLY RECOMMEND reserving a ferry time so you don’t wait around as long OR risk missing out on a ferry altogether. You also save money.

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They will sort you into a row, you park and each time a ferry leaves you MIGHT be able to move forward. There are restrooms, restaurants and a concourse area for you to grab food and drinks. Kids were playing in a park and people walked their dogs around the grassy areas.

Once you’re on the ferry, it’s business as usual. Park, emergency brake and grab your coat to head up to the top. This ferry had several floors and rooms full of activities for people of all ages. We were REALLY hoping to see whales but had no luck. Seals and smaller wildlife were in the water and the views of islands and mountains were stunning. Crossing over took 1.5 hours and when we arrived we were able to drive into Swartz Bay.

 

VICTORIA, BC

Jul 21 – 23, 2017

 

From Swartz Bay it was a straight shot about 30-40 minutes to our Airbnb. We passed Butchart Gardens, the edge of downtown and the entrance into the city.

We stayed here. It was a shared room which I didn’t really understand but the host was very nice and the location was great. If we were to go back to Victoria I would prefer a place to ourselves but this provides great parking and a clean space at a very low price!

This first night we went out for dinner and drinks hopping around the downtown area. It was easy to find places to visit because of how popular this area is. If you haven’t discovered Earl’s chain in Canada take the walk down to Government Street. We are big, big fans of their garlic fries and wings. This area close to Market Square is where lots of college and young adults hang out for nightlife.

Here’s another snapchat video of our nightlife…

nightlife

We walked down the street and stopped in at a few bars: The Churchill, a few bars here and there and found the COOLEST interior ever at Bard and Banker.
If you need to cure that hangover this morning grab breakfast at Browns Socialhouse. It’s a very short walk from your Airbnb and they have the most delicious FRESHLY SQUEEZED orange juice I have ever tasted. It’s a must try!

Drive thirty minutes out to The Butchart Gardens. No, we’re not big gardening enthusiasts but it really is breathtaking and the expansive grounds were impressive to walk through. Because it is such a famous landmark plan on spending some time walking around here. It was raining off and on the day we went but they have clear umbrellas you’re able to borrow.

Instead of including a million photos from Butchart, here is a link to all the photos I uploaded. Take a look!

You drive through neighborhoods to get to the entrance and then pay about $30/adult to get into the park. Don’t worry it’s worth the one time visit.

These grounds were once a personal residence and the couple grew it into the grounds you see today. They will hand you a map so you know what you’re looking at and how long it has been there. There are waterfalls, a rose garden, grass sculptures, a Japanese section, a boat dock to the water, ponds, a home and much more. You can easily spend a few hours here.

Head back to Victoria and walk around the Market Square and Bastion Square. We were able to wander through The Bay Centre and several really cool bookstores.

Speaking of bookstores you should visit the infamous Powell’s in Portland. I talked about it here.

OH AND I FOUND SOMETHING WITH MY NAME ON IT!!

 

While you’re on this side of town stop into the Irish Times Pub for a classic beer and great live music. I wish we could have stayed longer, the atmosphere was a great time!

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You’ll walk around the edge of Brentwood Bay. You couldn’t have missed it but go by The Empress. This is MASSIVE and difficult to get in one photo! Some people like to visit for high tea or tours and others even stay here.

Caddy-corner to the Empress is their provincial capital, Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. Ain’t nothin like the one in Topeka…. You can climb up some of the steps, walk the grounds and visit the gigantic trees, statues and totem poles on their grounds.

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Your feet are probably hurting as much as mine were by this point but keep going to see more cool things while you circle back to your room. Past the Royal BC Museum (we will come back to this) is the Elliot Street Square, St Ann’s Schoolhouse and further down the road is Beacon Hill Park.

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We definitely didn’t make it through all of the park but it was cool to walk through a historic and famous area. Round the street by the Old Spaghetti Factory to walk through the historic St. Ann’s Academy.

 

The Airbnb is right here on the corner so rest up, get ready and walk down to The Guild. We had an enjoyable dinner and drinks even though the portions were fairly small we were still full. There WAS some waiting and were extremely surprised when the bartender comped our meal for us!

We visited several bars in this area on our walk back home including Darcy’s Pub where there was more live music and a cover charge for the band. This was pretty crowded and definitely more of the college and bachelor party scene. Big Bad John’s was a dive bar with another cover and it reminded me of the Floribama bar near Gulf Shores. We grabbed a Coors but there wasn’t a place to sit down or move and we left after one drink. I wouldn’t say it’s worth the cover.

Since we’re big fans of Irish pubs we hit up one closer to home, the Sticky Wicket Pub. We would have loved to spend more time in this HUGE bar filled with games, tables, bartops and outdoor seating but it was closing time and we finished the walk home.

This last day is for the museums: The Museum of Anthropology / Royal BC Museum so grab a filling breakfast at Sam’s Deli and Bistro. This museum was both of our favorites we had ever been to. It was really well done and there was plenty to look at. Victoria had a large presence of showcasing and honoring their Native American heritage.

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It will be a lengthy walk but head down to the Fisherman’s Wharf. There were more hotels lining up the water and the area itself is entirely on a floating dock. There are restaurants all over the place and one of the more famous ones is Barb’s Fish n Chips.

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Next to the wharf is another dock area where whale watching and tours take off from. There are tiny houses are docked and you can walk the boardwalk to view the private residences.

The ferry out tonight is in the same area as the Empress. Plan for traffic and arrive an hour ahead of time. This is a narrow two lane road so if you’re earlier then you will be turned away and asked to come back. Once you park your car in the lot, walk up to the office for your ticket and to fill out a card that will be placed in your windshield.

We took Black Ball Ferry line and you can find more information here. Use the same approach as you did on the earlier ferry.

This ferry will be just over two hours long and it was FREEZING outside. We had a great view of Victoria as we sailed out. About halfway through we saw whales pop up out of the water! It was fun to watch their tails fluke in the sunset.

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Our drive back through Port Angeles happened right after nightfall. If you want to spend some time in Port Angeles or the Olympic National Park read about it here.You’ll love that the sun doesn’t set until 9-10 p.m. in the summers here.

This Canada trip was one for the books and we want to go back constantly. We’ve got some spare loonies and toonies if you want to pick us up on your way there. Now that we are about to move to the East coast I would love to hear and read about your trips on that side! Please leave them down for me in the comments.

Cheers!
Marin

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Thanksgiving in Oahu

ALOHA!

Hawaii is a dream destination for basically every individual on this planet. And for good reason, of course.

Before we begin, remember to follow my Instagram for all the live photos!

While we were living in Seattle we knew we had to take advantage of SeaTac airport’s direct flights. If we moved and ended up connecting through SeaTac we would kick ourselves. We were wanting to travel and explore as much as we were able to in this stage of our lives and when my husband gets a chance to take time off, we take it and run.

Our friends had recently been stationed in Oahu and were gracious enough to host us over Thanksgiving leave! We chose to travel around November 23-November 27 so we started keeping an eye on direct flights. You can set up Google flight alerts or search for alerts on your favorite comparison and search engine sites. We bought tickets a few months beforehand (another perk about traveling in September-November…it’s usually cheaper than peak travel months!) I watched prices for the next drop. Check your airline’s policies but we were able to get a credit from Alaskan Airline to use on a future flight. Score!

 

Pre-Trip Planning

  • Book your pet’s boarding now to avoid the holiday rush and make sure they’re up to date on all required vaccinations. Some kennels may also request sweaters or extras for weather.
  • Book your parking reservations. If someone can’t drive you, look at other options before airport parking! It gets SO expensive SO quickly. We’ve had great experiences using Park n Jet Airport Parking and Jiffy Airport Parking.
  • We were beyond lucky enough to stay in our friends home and have them drive us around. If you need to book a hotel or Airbnb do it now! Renting a car can also be pricey (as our friends found out in Maui) so figure out your needs or if walking/Uber/etc. would be a better option.

 

We flew in on a redeye and as we arrived near the island we could see the lights lining the edge and airport. Stepping off the plane we were hit with warmth and bit of mugginess; welcome surprise from late fall in the Northwest! Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, also known as Honolulu International Airport, was an open air concourse before walking through the main area which was easy to navigate. We met our friends in baggage claim and were lei’d with beautiful locally made leis (that I dried and hung in our guest bedroom.) 

Seattle is three hours ahead of Oahu so luckily we woke up early while on vacation. Looking out our window you could glimpse the ocean. It was Thanksgiving Day and my one request on things to do was a hike to see a waterfall. We drove across the island and I was blown away by the beautiful landscape next to a busy downtown area. We drove past coastal drop offs, the Royal Hawaiian Golf Club and tall peaks. I loved driving around with ‘locals’ who pronounced street names for us, told us stories of the areas and had been on the hikes before.

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We parked in a neighborhood street and headed off on Maunawili Falls Trail. Something I wasn’t expecting was the consistent, daily rain showers that breezed over the area. It was like walking through a mister and was great for cooling off but the trail was extremely muddy. It’s a thick, red clay-style mud which wrecked our shoes so bring dark socks and shoes you don’t mind getting stained.

We wore our swimsuits under our clothes and carried a light backpack with towels and water. A small portable speaker also made the 3 mile hike enjoyable. You walk along a river in the base of the mountains and the only trail issue we had was walking through a river…so we got a little wet. Made it fun, though! The incline on the second half of the hike was fairly steep but the lookout points and stairs made it easier. Overall I would say this trail is moderate to just harder than moderate with all conditions considered.

Crossing a few more rivers we came up on a secret little corner of paradise. There were a few other small groups of people enjoying the cove but everyone we met on the trip was extremely friendly. The water was FREEZING but we numbed up as we waded and swam over to a rock ledge. You climb up on the left-hand side and use caution as you climb over the slippery wet rocks; there’s nothing here that is established, it’s all natural. There’s a wide rock ledge that leads to another small rock formation. If you climb up this there is an even more intimate small swimming hole to wade around in. A small waterfall fills it up and you’re surrounded by trees and rocks.

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We scooted down to the first ledge and jumped off into the water. It’s about a 12 foot jump into the swimming hole.

There were a few boys who climbed even higher-about 40 feet-to jump down. You can tell where we are at and get an idea for how high up they climbed. No way would I do that but if you’re brave and crazy do it! Here’s a quick video of one of those jumps…

When we got back to our car, covered in mud and water, a resident drove by and offered us a hose to clean off. SO NICE! We drove back through town and stopped in for Thanksgiving goodies. It was fun to see the different food and produce in the store. Of course we had to pick up local, Hawaiian beer.

Drew’s jump off the waterfall: 

Lexi told us to try the pineapple because it’s sweeter than on the mainland….ABSOLUTELY! Usually pineapple makes me throat scratchy, too but this was perfect. We ended Thanksgiving with the ultimate feast and enjoyed a night of board games and playing with their dogs.

thanksgiving


 

THE NEXT DAY we took a quick driving tour of Schofield and drove out to the legendary surfing mecca North Shore, passing the Dole Plantation.

We grabbed some sandwiches at the Waialua Bakery; we learned sprouts were a big part of many Hawaiian dishes and sandwiches.

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You can easily walk around Haleiwa exploring tourist and surf shops including the North Shore Surf Shop. Laniakea Beach was short drive down the road and made for some beautiful views straight out of a movie.

The waves were too strong for swimming and there were several flags along with lifeguards who warn you not to go in.

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There were only a few experienced surfers out in the ocean…and some sea turtles swimming in the surf.

On the far end of the beach we saw a sea turtle who came up on shore. There were several people from a local organization guarding the turtle making sure the ropes were placed around it to ensure it’s safety.

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We drove down to see the infamous angel wings next to Anahulu’s Shave Ice. In Hawaii you can get shaved ice with condensed milk—SURPRISINGLY not that bad! There were several surf shops here, too, and you can see a small alcove where rowers and surf lessons were taking place.

On your way back home stop at the Green World Coffee Farm for a quick drink and snack. They have rows of coffee to smell, taste and view. I picked up a couple bags of “Coffee Cake” for presents.

TIP: You can buy them ground or as whole beans. If you buy them as beans you can fly home with them in your suitcase PLUS ship them without worry. You can grind shortly before drinking for freshness.

This was our nice night out so we got all dressed up and Ubered to downtown to watch the free fireworks show at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. (Each Friday evening the Hilton Hawaiian Village puts on a free firework show on Waikiki Beach.)
Taxi a few blocks over and ride the elevator to the rooftop bar Buho Cocina y Cantina. This was one of the coolest places we’ve been to for Mexican plates and cocktails. We shared their spiked melon bowl which was a half watermelon scooped out and created into a margarita bowl for us to share.

DAY THREE kicked off with a big breakfast and fresh, sweet guava juice at the Wailana Coffee House. This won’t stand out as the most modern restaurant but the best places never do. For very reasonable prices you can get TONS of really good food. We hurried over to Pearl Harbor to make our ticket time. They sell tickets for a certain time of day and limited amounts so check on this beforehand.

TIP: If you want to visit Pearl Harbor or the memorials nearby, buy your tickets in advance. We purchased them the day before at the Navy PX but you can look online or through other tourist locations.

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The Pearl Harbor Visitors Center offers a small concourse to walk around on and, at your assigned time, a theater with a short film to explain the history of what you’re about to look at. They’ll empty the theater and file you over to the World War II Valor In The Pacific National Monument; this beautiful all-white monument is what you envisioned before visiting.The names etched into a wall, the continuous oil leak and the open-air monument are breathtaking.

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You’ll need a taxi or ride across the bridge to get to Ford Island, home to Navy families. Have them drop you off at the gate of the Battleship Missouri Memorial. There were a few stands for drinks and refreshments near the dock but we were still too full from breakfast.

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Walking up on the USS Missouri you understand how large of a ship this is and you’re able to walk around the exact spots where history happened, including the site of the official Japanese surrender in WWII.

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If you walk across the island you’ll see the neighborhoods that current Naval families live in. Farther along you’ll see the more historic neighborhoods. The names on the properties show nameplates from officers living in the residence during Pearl Harbor and, just below them, the current resident. Standing in this neighborhood under palm trees and next to the water you really get a sense for what it looked like on the day of. It was surreal to be in the same place as such a historic event.

all four blowhole

Lexi picked us up and drove us to the East side of Oahu and stopped off at several blowholes and rock formations.

You can visit the Halona Blowhole and a few other beautiful locations on this side of the island.

 

Coming back into Oahu we stopped for a cavity…I mean…snack….at Volcano Shakes. Make sure you share with one (or more) friends! You can walk around Waikiki beach in the daylight to view the statues and monuments then swing through the open air Ala Moana Center.

It was still warm for November but it could get chilly in the evenings so we picked up super-soft crew necks and tees at Local Motion. There were multiple weddings and photoshoots taking place in and around the mall which apparently happens every weekend.

Korean BBQ

We had dinner reservations for (my first Korean BBQ experience!) at Sura Hawaii. Good thing because the wait line never ended! You can grab some cold drinks at several local places; just start walkin’!


 

ON THE LAST DAY drive out to the Countryside Cafe for a super yummy, local breakfast and cross the street to Ma’ili Beach Park.

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We were the only people on this far end of the beach so we could snorkel, swim and sun the food babies. Ride down the road a ways to the Mermaid Caves! You will not regret this! You’ll park in a lot and walk over the Nanankuli Beach Park.

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If you’re hungry grab a quick pick-me-up of Poke at Poke Stop. Pack up real quick and head to the airport. We checked our luggage on the far side of the airport before heading over to stand in security. It was a very long line but they moved fairly quickly and we had plenty of time for our flight back home (BOOOOO). Keep in mind many people will need to claim items, check luggage and passports. Get there early.

Our flight home was with Hawaiin Airlines and if WHEN we go back to Hawaii we will fly with them. It was a great airplane, fantastic service, a hot meal and gets you in the island spirit.

Thanks again to our friends, Josh and Lexi, for hosting an amazing trip!

 

Mahalo for reading and, as always, cheers!

Marin

PS: Did you get those free downloads I shared earlier? If not, here ya go.

Even better, are you interested in working together? Let’s Connect.

 

Rattlesnake Ledge: Hiking With Dogs

In only five miles and at about 2,000 feet up, you’ll be at one of the most popular, beautiful and unique outlooks in Washington. Plus you can do it all with your four-legged hiking buddy!

Rattlesnake Ledge is popular because it is relatively easy, well-maintained for all types of families, it’s easy to get to in the Snoqualmie Region and the lookout surrounds you in open air, mountain-side and views of Cedar River, Mount Si, Mount Washington, Rattlesnake Lake and Chester Morse Lake.

But it also has a grim history we weren’t aware of before making the climb.

 

Since 2009 there have been at least five deaths, some accidents and some suicides. When we reached the top you can stand on the edge of steep and abrupt drop-offs. Walking out toward the boulders there are usually groups of people sitting for a break, eating lunch or taking IG worthy pictures. To get to the lower rocks or many of the edges you have to be careful and jump over varying crevaces and gaps in the rocks. The rounded and jagged edges are what make this hike beautifully unique but also dangerous.

Use caution if hiking with dogs or young kids. Also be aware of weather conditions as the rocks can get wet, icy and slippery quickly.

Please use this to be aware of what to expect but don’t keep it from you missing out! Having said that, let me use this as a place to remember and document this perfect day.

It was sunny, warm with a cold breeze; ideal for any weekend warrior. We had heard of this hike from several local friends and frequent suggestions on the Washington Trails App. We drove out October 29, 2017 (Thanks for tagging the date, Instagram!) 

It was a short walk from the parking lot (you don’t need a pass or money to park) and you pass through Rattlesnake Lake’s beach. There were boulders, trees and leveled off stumps that made for fun photos.

 

As we started hiking through the old and new growth, we noticed it wasn’t near as thick as some of the forests we had walked through. A majority of the people who bring their pets will have them off-leash which is frustrating on narrow paths or for other dog owners but a majority of them are understanding and good owners. We only had one man who was pretty rude about his dog.

Be respectful that not everyone wants a dog in their face, in their kid’s snacks or near their own leashed dog. It sets back training and behavior even though we’ve been working with him and a trainer for a while.

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This hike is relatively short but dang do you climb. The switchbacks are many and while it’s well-maintained don’t expect handrails or guard fences. It’s a very loose trail rule that you let the people coming up to ‘keep working’ and if you’re descending you step to the side. As being someone who has done both, we usually try to move over with our dog or whoever finds a clearing first. It’s nice to catch your breath for a second on your way up, too.

I am super curious on if you’ve heard this or how you handle passing people on a narrow path. Please share your advice in the comments!

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Because the forest is fairly thin there are several spots to look through the trees and see your progress. The entire Snoqualmie area is stunning so make sure to look up while hiking. I keep reminding myself on any trip up a mountain and it’s the main reason our time is slow sometimes (hehe). Watch your step and be careful but don’t forget to take some breaks to look around.

As you break up top you see an opening on the left. There are several people who check out the trees and homes next to the highway we came off of. It’s a VERY. STEEP and abrupt drop off but only a few more feet up a small hill and you’re at the top of Rattlesnake’s sheer drop off.

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We were able to find a few open paths to head off to the right and a man offered to take our photo.

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The walk down was like many: Long and short steps with braced knees and a pretty sunset by the time you’re out at the bottom. There are some portable restrooms and several signs with maps. It’s built out and you’ll probably see some engagement or other photos being taken nearby. Look on Instagram or a Google search to see some BEAUTIFUL photos and drone footage!

Let me know if you take this hike. It’s a Must-Do while you’re here.

 

Cheers to adventure!

Marin

Psssttt…It’s almost July which means my FREE content guide will come out soon! Make sure you’re following this blog (button on the right) so you don’t miss out.

 

 

Washington Family Trip: Anacortes & San Juan

Living 2,000+ miles away from our family the last three years has had it’s own challenges but it’s also one of the best things we could have done for us as a couple.

One of the perks of living far away is being able to offer a home away from home for family vacations. Both sides of our family and our friends have been awesome about coming to visit and we’ve been able to see and do a lot of fun activities with them. I’m going to go more in depth on some of the more popular areas (like Seattle) but the Upper Left Corner makes for a great trip no matter age, group size or time of year.

The first time our families come to visit we offer them a tour of our everyday life: the capitol 15 minutes away Olympia, our hometown Lacey, JBLM and Tolmie State Park (another day hike area I will dive into). We will also take a quick drive out to towns near the Puget Sound Steilacoom, Tacoma and Gig Harbor for great food, drinks and views. If you want to hear where we like to go, leave a comment and I will let you in on a secret.

When our in-laws visited in July 2017 we were looking for more adventure farther up. We looked into the San Juan Islands and nearby areas for hiking, look outs and whale watching. After picking up the family from SeaTac airport, we drove up to Anacortes. We stayed at the Majestic Inn & Spa which offered the best views of the town and the islands, the rooms were large and clean, the hotel was updated while keeping it’s historic charm. The Majestic offered fantastic service including a rooftop happy hour, delicious breakfast, free game/movie rentals and more. We highly recommend staying here.

The entire town has art standing and painted on the outside of buildings. We ate and drank on the strip since we were able to walk down the main street. There are some places where you must be over 21 to enter but there are many more where you can get in with your family. One of them was a super busy pizza place called Village Pizza. We noticed all the restaurants were busy so expect a wait at the popular places, especially as a table of six. We also stopped into the Rockfish Grill & Anacortes Brewery, Brown Lantern Ale House, and the 5th Street Bistro in the Majestic Inn. We also watched the sunset on the docks with the porpoises.

 

Here’s a quick view of the Snapchat story I had taken showcasing our trip. If you want to follow along in real time, here’s my Instagram.

 

A short drive from Anacortes over to the Anacortes Ferry Terminal to catch an early morning ferry over to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. We hopped on the Friday Harbor Jolly Trolley (yes, that’s the real name and it was awesome) to tour the island. As soon as you hop off the ferry there are numerous options for trolleys and tours. The immediate area is full of steep streets that were covered in historical, patriotic decorations for the Fourth of July. There are lots of stores, ice cream, food and lavender shops.

I tried some lavender ice cream and some different flavors.

During our tour I was amazed that this was an ISLAND where people lived, worked and attended school. They told us how they take garbage off the island, electricity when it’s storming and routing other utilities or real estate. There were lots of farming fields and livestock as well as a huge lavender farm. We didn’t get off on this stop but even driving through you could smell the freshness. Next to this farm there was a huge tree house up in the woods if you look closely.

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On the other side of the island was Lime Kiln Point State Park. The driver let us off here for a little bit to walk around. You will want to put your phone on airplane mode here (if not the whole island) because of Canadian roaming charges. You can see Victoria from the edge of the coast.

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While we didn’t see whales on this trip there was lots of other wildlife and seals swimming around in the harbor. Last summer when we were in the Port Angeles area to whale watch we saw lots of Gray Whales. We had also seen lots of whales in the islands when we went whale watching with my sister. If that’s your goal, you’re in the right place.

 

Otherwise they do drive you through other attractions that will make you have huge House Hunters envy.  The next day we stopped through Seattle on our way back down to Olympia. While we spent the Fourth at our house, there’s also a really good fireworks show on Main post at JBLM or across the Sound.

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