Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What I loved in June, travel edition

Well, y'all, June happened. All 30 days of it. Awhile ago now. But I can't seem to remember much of it prior to our fantastic Pacific Northwest vacation at the end of the month and into July. 

Two of my dear friends from college got married (to each other) in Bremerton, Washington, which spurred the adventure. We spent time there, and in Seattle, and after that we headed to Portland for a few days.

I can't rank these highlights (and there's way more than ten), so I'm posting them chronologically, and there was so much great food that I'm giving it its own section. We loved it out there and can't wait to go back! 

  • First, a rejoicing that graced our entire trip: So many friends! My family lived in Seattle the year I turned 3, and we bonded with a wonderful family out there who then vacationed with us each summer for over a decade. They were wonderful hosts for part of our trip. And then there were the countless college friends who journeyed out for our classmates' wedding, a bunch of my favorite folks who made the weekend so much fun (I wrote about that reunion a bit here), some other Seattle-based folks, and my boyfriend's brother and his girlfriend out in Oregon. Phew!
  • I was 2 when we moved to Seattle, so much of what I "remember" about our year there comes from photos. So we visited some old haunts, driving past my family's old house, and then heading to Olympic Beach Park in Edmonds. There's a statue there of a man with a child on his shoulders, and a little girl clutching his leg. We called the little statue girl "Mary of Edmonds," and when I was a toddler, we were the same height. How strange, fascinating, moving to stand next to her and be so much taller now!
From 1990 to 2013...
  • Toured the Burke Museum on the University of Washington campus.
  • We took an afternoon and drove to Carnation, Wa., home of multiple berry-picking farms and markets. Alas, we missed the picking time, but bought some strawberry fig preserves and savored the scenery. 
  • I should mention that the NW gave us phenomenal weather (apparently it traded with the South for the week we were gone) and had us forgetting that it's overcast and drizzly much of the year. We took a morning ferry to Bremerton, stood on the deck and watched the Space Needle and downtown disappear into gorgeous islands and beaches and mountain ranges. 
Beauty from both sides!
  • We wandered around the Bremerton marina and waterfront one quiet morning, and it was just beautiful. Plus, there was this fun bird-duck creature (the official term) with a long neck that dove into the Sound and entertained us as we waited to see how long he'd stay under - once for over a minute!
  • The wedding, of course! Took place in a backyard overlooking Puget Sound without a cloud in the sky. The ceremony featured the hymn "This is My Song" (one of my favorites) and a reading from Dune. The bride and groom wrote their own vows and cut their wedding cupcake with a sword. We tossed lots of flowers. People canoed and hung out on the dock, ate, drank and were merry well into the night. Blessedness, personified.  

We kinda like each other.
  • We got to explore some Seattle neighborhoods, including Queen Anne, Beacon Hill and Ballard. I especially liked Queen Anne and its independent bookstore, the Queen Anne Book Company
  • Baseball! We went to the Mariners-Cubs game on yet another sunny afternoon and hung out in the nosebleeds with two wonderful friends. 
Gorgeous view of the city from Safeco Field
  • On our drive from Seattle to Oregon, we detoured through Mt. Rainier National Park, winding up the magnificent volcano to the Paradise Inn where we had lunch (coincidentally, we were there on the anniversary of the inn's founding, July 1). Then we drove back down the mountain to more glorious views and on to Portland.   
Hello, Rainier, you epic volcano!
  • Our Oregon hosts took us to Vista House, a gorgeous point overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. Then we hiked - did I say hiked? More like wheezed uphill, or maybe that was just me - Multnomah Falls, a beautiful waterfall. I was grateful for sneakers - and the mile up was definitely worth the view!  
The view from Vista House

Multnomah Falls

  • I hadn't been to a zoo in ages (my senior prom was held at the zoo, but sadly, no animals partied with us), so we went to the Oregon Zoo on yet another sunny day to see the polar bears (favorite), otters, giraffes, flamingos and a really cool bird show, to name a few. Plus we took the MAX train through downtown Portland to get there, and got to see a lot that way. 
Our pink friends.

  • And speaking of downtown Portland, we explored more later, hitting up Powell's City of Books (*drool* slash it is soooo good I do not live nearby, I would be broke), Pioneer Square, the Willamette river walk (on the 4th of July! Lots of people out and about), and a hodgepodge of awesome restaurants I'll get to in a minute.
River walk and fountain...
  • On our last day, we had about 8 hours between checking out of our hotel and going to the airport, so we took the hottest part of the afternoon to go see Star Trek: Into Darkness. Loved it!
  • We flew out late on Independence Day, and got quite a show from the Delta gate, fireworks up and down the horizon for what seemed like miles. And it was even cooler as we rose up into the sky and could see them sparkling below us.
I wish I'd been able to get all of them in one photo. So cool.

**Okay, restaurant time. You can't go wrong!

In Bremerton:
  • We enjoyed lunch on the waterfront at Anthony's, which I'm told is a franchise, so there are more in Seattle proper, too. Shrimp BLT, strawberry lemonade and strawberry shortcake, overlooking the water...

Hard to beat!

In Seattle:
  • Grub, for brunch in Queen Anne - delicious, and such a cute spot
  • Hot Cakes, also in Ballard - you guys - it's a MOLTEN CHOCOLATE CAKERY. Boom.

Homemade ginger ale... A winner.
In Portland:
  • Voodoo Doughnut, the legend - and yes, we went twice, at 2 p.m. and 11 p.m., and yes, there was a line both times. Well worth the wait.
  • Kell's Irish Pub, where they played Gaelic Storm and I wanted to jump on the next plane to Dublin. And the food was, as my dear Irish friends say, brilliant.
  • Deschutes Brewery - Okay, this is going to sound funny talking about a brewery, but if you know me it makes perfect sense: the best ginger ale in the WORLD is made at Deschutes. And that's why it's so good, it's actually made in-house. Fresh! I am so sad I'd have to go cross-country to taste it again.
  • Gaufre Gourmet - So the place we thought we would go for brunch doesn't open until next month, oops, and then we happened upon a WAFFLE FOOD TRUCK. What is better than that? Seek until you find! And it kept us full until dinner at... 
There's a waffle under there, promise!
Breakfast. And lunch, and dinner...

  • Old Town Pizza - This was our last meal of vacation, and we chose well. Thin-crust pizza hit the spot. And apparently there's a ghost?! 

Friends, if you've made it through this whole spiel, I'm pretty impressed.

Bottom line: Pacific Northwest. Go for it.  

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