Sunday, September 28, 2008

We're Old News...

Although our goal was not shameless self-promotion, we fully recognize that we had a fairly newsworthy 2007-2008. Hosting numerous weddings/receptions, moving across the country, and starting new jobs certainly kept us busy. But now we can say without reservation that we are old news. Our families have moved on, and to them we say, "Congratulations!" There has been a lot to celebrate lately... *Jon's mom was married last weekend in a lovely ceremony. *Jon's younger sister and her husband are expecting their first child in February. *Jon's youngest sister will be getting married in March. *And last, but certainly not least (okay, in the scheme of things, maybe least, but still very important), my younger brother won a mini-fridge. Again. I am not making this up. It's enough to make us want to get married all over again...no, not really. Seriously, we couldn't be happier for our families and are thrilled to share their good news.

Summer in the Rain Forest

It is summer in Seattle! A month after experiencing EXTREME HEAT! ™ we have had a whopping two days of rain. So what did we decide to do with all this sunshine? Why go to the rain forest, of course! We drove west on July 25 and picked up U.S. 101. We followed it on its meandering path north, east, then south again to its terminus at the state capitol in Olympia. It wasn’t long before we reached the Pacific beach. We wandered on the warm sand, stood amazed in front of a giant cedar tree, and poked around the sea stacks of Ruby beach. The warm sun made us think we would not see any precipitation in the rain forest.
Boy, were we wrong! The skies darkened as we drove into the Hoh Rainforest. We scouted out a nice camping spot near the river and settled in for the night. We broke up the quiet night by going to watch the Ranger presentation about (I am not making this up) the danger of elk. Apparently elk are not as cute and cuddly as they look. The 1,000 lb. antlered beasts are quick to charge and kick when threatened. Who knew! Wait, didn’t I mention rain? We were not disappointed. By morning, it was raining steadily and we had to pack the tent wet. The rain let up just long enough to walk through the hall of mosses. Words cannot describe how incredible this was to see, so here is a photo:

The rain picked up again as we drove out to Neah Bay. The winding road seams to hang out over the water in places and really makes you feel like you are driving to the end of the earth…or at least the northwestern-most end of the United States. We capped off this portion of the trip with the best smoked salmon I have ever had! That night we camped at Lake Crescent. We got the last site in the campground, presumably because it was extremely rocky. The rain returned in spurts, but soon cleared up. It was warm by the fire and we stayed up late watching the fire dance across the coals. On Sunday, we drove into Port Angeles, hoping to see the incredible view of the Olympic Mountains from Hurricane Ridge. We soon learned that all we would see up there is the inside of a cloud, a view we have seen many times before and is not worth the 17-mile drive. Plan B was Dungeness Spit, an odd bit of coastal geology. The river current and the ocean tides combined to form a spit of land five miles long but less than 150 feet across at high tide. The inner bay attracts a great number of migratory birds, of which we saw exactly zero (they are all nesting up north). We enjoyed a nice, if loud, walk along the spit before heading for home. We eventually returned to reality, smelling of campfire and salmon. The rain stopped and the clouds parted as soon as we left the peninsula. We soon realized we had missed a beautiful sunny weekend. Oh well, at least we have a souvenir to show for it!

Washington "Stay-cation"

With the rising cost of gas, this summer’s buzzword has become the “stay-cation.” Rather than encouraging people to travel, local communities are promoting day trips and activities that require less than a tank of gas. This trend depresses me a bit, as I am a big advocate of travel. I could go on and on about the benefits of seeing the world and experiencing life from a different perspective, but that’s a different blog post for a different day. Instead, I’ll discuss our own “stay-cation,” which came about not as a result of the skyrocketing price of oil, but rather from our roles as host and hostess. A good friend of ours spent a sizable chunk of his summer vacation traveling all over the Northwest, and my mom flew out to claim her prize for attending each and every event of our “Wedding-a-thon.” Our household doubled in size (as long as you don’t count our two basil plants struggling to survive on our windowsill). Having been once described as the “Travel Mary Poppins,” Jon eagerly embraced the challenge of tour guide, made all the more exciting by the fact that he now had the opportunity to show off his hometown. For the week and a half-ish that we entertained guests, we felt like we were on vacation, too. And for all intents and purposes, we were. We saw some cool stuff, we ate too much, and we stayed up too late. All necessary ingredients for a successful vacation. Warning: the next part of this post has the potential of coming across as a laundry list of activities and/or a travel brochure… My mom and our friend arrived within a day of each other, just in time for Reception #4. As we live south of the city, it was necessary to drive through it on the way to the lake, so of course we had to stop in Seattle. Jon thrilled at the chance to uncover various picturesque sites, just whetting the appetite of our guests for an upcoming, longer trip, which was planned for the Fourth of July.
In the meantime, it was up to me to entertain my mom while Jon was at work, and our friend ventured to Portland. Luckily my mom is flexible and laid-back, so we spent our days exploring Stepford…er, DuPont, and the surrounding areas, including my new school. We also did some shopping; Mom was finally able to experience IKEA and all its glory (including the Swedish meatballs that are a mandatory part of the trip for us). We spent a day at the Tacoma Museum of Glass, which I’ve been meaning to check out since I moved here. Isn’t it funny how we never take the time to be tourists in our own towns?!? But I digress. My mom and I can both honestly say that the glass museum blows. Seriously. We were able to watch a team of artists blow glass in the museum Hot Shop. It was really interesting...and really hot. The artwork is beautiful and even more impressive now that we know how it is produced. Jon joined us for a trek to Olympia, the state capital of Washington. We experienced the Farmers’ Market for the first time (eating delicious Rainier cherries the entire time) and walked along the water before hiking up to the Capitol building. I felt like I was on my fourth grade field trip to Jefferson City again. But these ventures were just small potatoes. The holiday weekend was upon us, and we certainly took advantage of every moment. We hit the ground running on the Fourth, meeting Jon’s dad and his wife at Pike Place Market in the morning before hopping on the streetcar (gee, whose idea was that?) en route to a picnic lunch and the Wooden Boat Festival. We were able to board a few boats and a few of us even got to take a ride around Lake Union. Then it was off to the Seattle International Beer Festival. We have a sixth sense when it comes to finding these things. Yes, we took our family to a beer fest…again. As this festival was near the Space Needle, we hopped on the ever-useful monorail to the waterfront in order to watch the fireworks. Whew. It’s no wonder that we got a late start the following day as we were all pretty exhausted. Plus, the weather was gray and rainy for essentially the first time since our visitors had arrived. Yet that didn’t stop us from visiting the Tall Ships Festival in Tacoma, featuring—you guessed it—tall ships. Again, we got to board some, but unfortunately we were not able to ride any pirate ships…although there were plenty of pirates milling around.
(It's a Captain Jack sandwich!)
If you’re keeping score, you might have realized that there’s still weekend left, so we opted to drive out to Mount Rainier. I was extra-excited because I had never been to see the volcano, either. It’s not uncommon to hear locals proclaim a day to be favorable because “the mountain’s out.” Well, we visited the national park on a day that it wasn’t. But it was kind of cool to be inside a cloud, and it made the fact that there was still snow on the ground in July a bit more believable. Oh, but we’re not finished yet. Jon had a four-day weekend (and I had a three-month weekend), so we headed up to Seattle once again on the Monday after the Fourth of July. Jon took us to a lot of his old haunts around the University of Washington. We stopped at various parks along the way before enjoying a great dinner at an outdoor restaurant. My mom left a few days after that, having had as much fun as we did, I think. Our friend spent a couple of days in Vancouver and then returned to the “Spoon and Captain Jack B & B.” His brother quickly joined the group as the party continued. We attended the Sub Pop 20th Birthday Music Festival, enjoying artists such as Mud Honey, Iron & Wine, and the Flight of the Conchords. The rest of the “stay-cation” consists of a haze of meal after incredible meal. The brothers insisted on cooking for us, so of course, we obliged. I am proud to say that I ate fish…and I liked it. If you look outside right now, you might see some pigs fly by. Congratulations if you’ve made it this far. Hopefully by now you aren’t bored but rather excited at the prospect of visiting us. You, too, could experience all of these adventures firsthand and be mentioned in our blog (but probably not by name, unless you want to be). Just let us know when you’ll be visiting…I think we’ve finally recovered from this round of guests.

EXTREME HEAT!

From the "I should have posted this months ago" file:
The National Weather Service often issues warnings when tornados, heavy snow or high winds are in the forecast, so I was alarmed to see a warning had been issued on an otherwise warm and sunny June 25: -- Severe Weather Alert -- ...HOT WEATHER ACROSS WESTERN WASHINGTON THIS WEEKEND... TEMPERATURES ON FRIDAY ARE EXPECTED TO RANGE FROM THE 70S ALONG THE COAST TO THE UPPER 70S AND 80S INLAND. ON SATURDAY AND SUNDAY MOST AREAS SHOULD REACH INTO THE 80S...WITH SOME LOW TO MID 90S POSSIBLE. IT IS POSSIBLE THAT A FEW SPOTS COULD APPROACH OR BREAK THE RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE FOR THE DAY…
This is proof positive that everything is relative. While many in the Midwest may scoff at the warning, we here in the Northwest were forced to get the box fan out of the basement and ride out the weekend of EXTREME HEAT! We tried many different things to beat the heat, like going to the lake, and keeping cool with beer.
Unfortunately, the basil didn't makew it through the weekend.

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