Posts Tagged ‘Bellingham’

Pacific Northwest: Day 3

August 31, 2011

Blogging, Pacific Northwest Edition – Day 3!

On Saturday I started the morning with a little Twitter in bed. That sounds dirty because the word “bed” is in it, but I guarantee it’s less exciting than it sounds. The call of coffee became too strong to resist, and so I moved into the living room. The unbelievably relaxing, peaceful, never-want-to-leave-it living room. 

My sister and brother-in-law rent the bottom floor of a two-story house and it’s just incredible. There are two huge nearly floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room which look onto the expansive, woodsy backyard. They have a wood deck that’s probably the size of my entire living room. It’s gorgeous. The view alone is worth their paltry $850 monthly rent, and they also have a huge kitchen, a washer/dryer, two bedrooms and they get to have a dog and cat for no extra fee. Jerks.

That morning me and my sis went out to the roadside ditch in front of their house to pick blackberries. Blackberries grow everywhere up here. Apparently they’re a real pain in the ass for people who want to cultivate manicured lawns, but if you like the natural woodsy look you can just trim them like hedges to keep them under control and then enjoy fresh blackberries for the entire season.

Our morning blackberry harvest.

After a breakfast of gluten-free blackberry pancakes, the sister and brother-in-law unit took us to Larrabee State Park to walk along the beach and visit the tide pools.  When we arrived we parked in a lot and walked across a cleared area that looked a lot like a normal midwestern park – a kid’s playground, a picnic pavillion, the usual. But we knew we were in for a treat after crossing through about 20 feet of forest; we started hearing the sound of waves washing across sand and we passed this collection of signs:

Gee…only a five dungeness limit? What harsh lives these Washingtonites live! And that pink sign to the right is a warning to not approach seal cubs. Seal cubs! Well, spoiler, we didn’t see any seal cubs, and the only dungeness crab that we found had already been picked apart by the ocean-dwelling competition. But we did see a ton of starfish, sea anemonae, hermit crabs, snails, limpets and barnacles. We also found a heron and a bunch of pretty large seagulls.

Chuckanut Bay from Larrabee State Park

Purple Ochre Sea Stars anchored to rock during low tide.

Snails in a rock crevice in the tide pools. 

A great blue heron stands on a rock outcropping in the bay while gulls fly overhead.

Two seagulls fight over a clam.

We spent a couple of hours at Larrabee then drove a few miles down the road to Clayton Beach. This time we hiked about half a mile to get to the beach. We passed through a moss and fern-filled forest, over a train track and finally emerged onto a new beach. Our big finds here were hundreds of sand dollars, the carcass of a dogfish and the ruins of an old railroad.

The Sister and the Hubby in the woods en route to Clayton Beach

Clayton Beach

A small collection of the sand dollars that we found within a few steps of this spot.

Dogfish carcass

The Hubby in front of railroad ruins on Clayton Beach

We stopped for lunch at a little diner called Winn’s in Fairhaven. It turns out that hiking through the woods, tromping over sand, and breathing fresh salt air for about four hours will stimulate the appetite. We had burgers, fries and milkshakes and then headed home to recoup. It turns out that recoup in this case meant nap for two hours. We were crazy exhausted and we didn’t even realize it until we woke up at about 5pm.

That evening we drove up Mount Baker. This is all I have to say about Mount Baker.

Pacific Northwest: Day 1

August 26, 2011

The last couple of days have been odd because I’ve only had about three hours of sleep on Tuesday and Wednesday night. See, I had to finish my Dragon*Con costume and then pack up for two separate vacations. Best problems EVER.

So I went to bed around 12:30am this morning and work up to the first of four separate alarm clocks that we had set for 3:30am, 3:33am, 3:35am and 3:40am. They were situated all over the room too, just in case we accidentally pressed snooze on the nearby clocks. Because we really, really didn’t want to miss our flight. We managed to roll out of bed, throw on our pre-set out clothes for the day, grab our suitcases and stumble out the door on schedule. I actually had some twitter company during these awful early hours because several of my friends were heading out to PAX, a gaming convention which coincidentally is also in Seattle this weekend. Yeah, we saw a Yoda backpack on our flight.

We bought the first-class upgrade from Sun Country. It was an awesome guilty indulgence. We had quiche for breakfast with a side of bacon and fresh mixed berries. Coach got pre-packaged breakfast sammiches. Mwah ha ha! The Hubby slept through the entire thing, but I like being awake during flights, especially if I have a window seat (and first class). I managed to get some kick-ass photos of clouds, mountains and cities from the air. Because we headed to the west coast we had a two-hour time change during our flight. It’s pretty neat to leave from one city, fly for four hours and arrive in a new city two hours later.

After we arrived at SeaTac (SEAttle-TAComa airport), we found the Link light rail into downtown Seattle. Tickets only cost $2.25/person, as opposed to an online estimate of ~$20 for a cab ride into the city. My sister, Erin, had meanwhile been driving two hours down from Bellingham, WA to meet us. We found each other in a park outside of the Pike Place Market, home of Seattle’s famous Public Market and the Pike Place Fish Company. Then all three of us walked over to the Space Needle; it was the one tourist thing (other than Pike Place) that The Hubby and I wanted to do during our limited time in the city. 

After that we took a beautiful drive up to Bellingham, including a suprise discovery of a sandy beach called Golden Gardens. On the way home we drove the scenic Chuckanut Drive, which goes up a mountain and overlooks the Salish Sea. It was a spectacular view. We made it home and met up with my sister’s husband, Ralph, and went for a quick dinner at a nearby Chinese buffet. We chatted a little and managed to make plans for Friday, but Aaron and I were fading fast. We came home, made a half-hearted attempt at watching a movie, and then Erin and Ralph set up the inflatable bed while I typed this blog post and pulled the day’s photos off of the SD card.

I am beat. But here’s a few photos – you gotta see these:

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Heat Wave

July 19, 2011

Wowza it’s hot!

I love me some warm days. I’m happiest when we have a sunny, low-humidity 85-90F day. But over the past couple of days it’s been more like 90-100F with humidity so thick that I could swim through it. I guess this is the price we pay for having so much lovely water up here.

Speaking of which, I wasn’t able to convince the Hubby to go tubing this weekend. Doesn’t this look like a great way to spend a hot, steamy summer day?

But I understand the Hubby’s hesitation. The place to go tubing around here is the Apple River in Somerset, WI. On weekends it’s usually crowded with drunken 20-somethings (and older people who act like they’re still in their 20-somethings), and subsequently by Sunday afternoon the shallow river probably has an even ratio of river water to urine. The nice, calm photo above is NOT from the Apple River. This is what a weekend jaunt down the Apple often looks like:

As a woman named Sarah describes in her blog (the photo above is from her blog), it’s pretty much Girls Gone Wild Apple River. I don’t mind some alcohol and rauchiness, but this is way over the top. Ah well.

We decided to go for a motorcycle ride instead. I found a couple of routes that wound down from Shakopee to Mankato on motorcycleroads.us. When we were riding through twisty, wooded backroads we experienced dips in temperature as we drove into and out of valleys. The roads were gorgeous, green, uncrowded, relaxing and a great way to explore MN in the summer and stay cool.

A short stop on the Scenic Byway between Henderson and Le Sueur.

Neat bridge structures near Mankato.

Lush, green farmland located five minutes south of Mankato.

Saturday Evening – Tim Minchin

Aaron and I rode our bicycles downtown from South Minneapolis and were dripping in sweat by the time we arrived at the theater (but we didn’t have to pay for parking – cheapskate win!), but the lobby was cool and we were comfortable by the time the show started.

Tim Minchin delivered a uproariously entertaining mix of standup comedy and music. He accompanied himself on piano for most of his songs, and had recorded musical backups for Statistically Accurate Love Song and the live version of his beat poem “Storm”. He did two encores: White Wine in the Sun and a cover of Hallelujah that was absolutely breathtaking. Not only can the man sing something fierce, he managed to get a room which had a high proportion of religious skeptics and atheists to croon the word “Hallelujah” with deep emotion. Nicely done, sir!

Sunday was. too. hot.

On Sunday I decided it would be a good idea for me, the Hubby and the dog to walk 3/4  mile to the grocery store to pick up bread and OJ. At about 1/2 mile in we realized that this may not have been the most brilliant idea I’ve ever had. Luckily we had brought water for the dog, and the Hubby and I took turns going into the grocery store air conditioning before walking back. We both took showers when we arrived home. The dog flopped on the living room floor and didn’t  move much for a good long while.

So we made Sunday a Chores In The Air Conditioning Day. We did laundry, dishes, bills and bit of organizing. And…oh, and these are very exciting:

  • We booked flights to Seattle to visit my sister and brother-in-law at the end of August! We’re going to go hiking and scuba diving and exploring in the upper East (correction: West) corner of Washington state. My sis assures me it’s gorgeous out there.
  • And, and – I’m going to Dragon*Con! I have a hotel room and I booked my flight to Atlanta!

Not only am I going to Dragon*Con, but I’m going to be sharing a hotel room with two good friends from the Twin Cities. This will be my first BIG scifi/fantasy convention and I am pumped. I’m looking at the different tracks (panels, presentations, demos, etc), the featured events, contests and celebrities that will be at Dragon*Con, and my mind is blown. I need to come up with a costume. I’ve got a few ideas, but nothing solid yet.

Oh, and here’s the really awesome part – I leave for Dragon*Con less than eight hours after I get back from Seattle, which means I get to take a LOT of time off from work at once (and I can tell you all of this this because my on-site caretaker is big and mean and doesn’t take kindly to trespassers)!

Yippie! I’m super excited.

Yeah, I said yippie.