In which there are a few more pictures from Sol Duc

Just a few more pictures:

Taken by a man we met at a viewpoint along Crescent Lake

Panoramic taken by a man we met at a viewpoint along Crescent Lake

This poem has been reminding me about our trip this past week:

Give me a land of boughs in leaf
A land of trees that stand;
Where trees are fallen there is grief;
I love no leafless land.

-A.E. Housman

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Seriously, I will take trees any day. I love no leafless land either Housman.

In which I glamp with the neighbors

Glamping is the portmanteau of glamorous camping. And my new favorite thing, or at least the RV version of it. Until now I’ve always experienced the outdoors under the thin cloth of a tent, but after tasting the civilization in the wilderness that is wine, cheese, Trader Joe’s appetizers, an actual mattress and a heated, dry place to sleep, glamping might be my new thing. This past weekend I went with my friend-neighbors Anna and Mary out to the Sol Duc area of Olympic National Park – an absolutely gorgeous corner of Washington state. Even the drive out was breathtaking:

Crescent Lake

Crescent Lake

Fog lifting briefly off the road

Fog lifting briefly off the road

Gary the Mann took our picture by the side of the road.

Gary the Mann took our picture by the side of the road.

The next morning after setting up camp we decided to make an easy hike up to the Sol Duc Falls. We started in a light mist that progressed to heavier rain.

Starting out

Starting out

And then, was that snow? And then, omg snow! So much of it!

Covering the trailhead in a winter wonderland.

Covering the trailhead in a winter wonderland.

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What do you get when you mix a rain forest with snow? A mossy, cold wonderland:

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The falls were fairly close to the trail head – good thing, because we were cold and wet at this point:

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Overlooking the water

Opposite side of the falls

Opposite side of the falls

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Close up of the falls

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So cold – let’s go to the hot springs!

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Bridge over the river

Lunch was sandwiches complemented by bacon jerky and prosecco eaten under a 1938 shelter built by the CCC - galloping at its finest.

Lunch was sandwiches complemented by bacon jerky and prosecco eaten under a 1938 shelter built by the CCC – glamping at its finest.

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I wish I could show you how large this forest feels. The greenery is overpowering and my neck was constantly looking too far up to grasp it all. It overwhelms you what tiny, tiny creatures we are in this forest; how small we are on this planet:

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Mary and Anna

Anna and I

Anna and I

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You can tell you're almost back to the springs by the sulfur smell in the air

You can tell you’re almost back to the springs by the sulfur smell in the air

After our hike we spent some time in the hot springs that Sol Duc is famous for. I never quite got a picture since I did not want to take my camera, but here is a picture from the website:

The large pool in the background was 53oF (cold!!!), the smaller ones closer were in the between 98oF and 103oF.

The large pool in the background was 53oF (cold!!!), the smaller ones closer were in the between 98oF and 103oF. It was fun to soak while it snowed and then jump in between to get the circulation going.

All too soon we had to get home.

Kingston-Edmonds ferry.

Kingston-Edmonds ferry.

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When you wave goodbye to the mountains off the back of the ferry – the fact that you’ve had to travel over land and sea to get there combined with their perpetual misty cloak, makes the Olympics seem like a forbidden land unlike any other.

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Here’s to many more adventures with these two!

In which my mom came to visit – Part I

My mom had a big birthday last year and our present to her was a plane ticket out to see Seattle. We’ve been here a little over two years now, but the timing hasn’t been quite right to get her out here to see it. That combined with a busy summer and a need to put in vacation requests 6 months early, we had to wait until this summer season was almost at an end for the trip.

It was well worth it – every other visitor (Graham, Molly, Kuppy, Teresa and Larry, Roy and Nell, our Duke friends for the wedding) made the perfect practice for our amazing time. As Jeff put it so well: We did ALL of the stuff and things. If it was to be done, we won Seattle. Our amazing itinerary:

On Saturday we…

Picked mom up at airport mid-morning | Had her lashes done at Lash Noir | Ate a late lunch of chicken and waffles at the Bugundian | Walked down to Green Lake | Had tacos and quesadillas at TNT Taqueria & adjusted to Pacific Standard Time zone by going to bed early.

{No pictures apparently exist for this day because we were too excited to see each other – it’s been almost 2 years!}

On Sunday we…

Brunched at Bastille | Explored the Farmer’s Market and various cute shops in Ballard | Walked on the beach and enjoyed Puget Sound at Golden Gardens | Watched the boats, salmon and sealion (!) at the Ballard Locks | Visited a PNW Trader Joe’s | Said hello to the Fremont Troll | Made delicious BLTs with the fresh homemade bread and Benton’s bacon that mom brought in her suitcase along with farmer’s market heirloom tomatoes & then walked our dinner off around Green Lake:

Ballard Farmer's Market

Ballard Farmer’s Market

Fresh blackberries

Fresh blackberries – isn’t she adorable? I’m going to age so well!

Golden Gardens

Golden Gardens

Ballard Locks - we loved this public sculpture!

Ballard Locks – we loved this public sculpture!

Boats in the locks waiting for the water to fill

Boats in the locks waiting for the water to fill

This picture is for Graham and Nick who wanted to steal this sign when I brought them back in the Spring.

This picture is for Graham and Nick who wanted to steal this sign when I brought them back in the Spring.

Selfie with the boats - we could not have gotten luckier with the weather!

Selfie with the boats – we could not have gotten luckier with the weather!

Fremont Troll

Fremont Troll

Delicious dinner! Yes, my dear Southern mother loves me enough to bring me Benton bacon and 10 lbs of White Lily flour.

Delicious BLT and green bean (fried in bacon grease) dinner! Yes, my dear Southern mother loves me enough to bring me Benton bacon and 10 lbs of White Lily flour.

Walking off the BLTs around Green Lake

Walking off the BLTs around Green Lake

On Monday we..

Took an Uber downtown to explore the tourist district | Drank a chai tea from the Original Starbucks | Ate sweet and savory pastries from Piroshky Piroshky! in Victor Steinbrueck Park overlooking Elliot Bay | Were disgusted by the Gum Wall | Used the buggy escalator at the multi-level City Target | Rode the monorail down to the Seattle Center | Visited the extremely cool Chihuly Museum | Took pictures in front of the Space Needle & then, if that all weren’t enough – drove 2.5 hours to go hike up to Glacier View in Paradise at Mount Rainier:

{This day’s itinerary convinced me that this trip needed to be spread out over several blog posts, not just one!}

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

Inside the Original Starbucks

Inside the Original Starbucks

Chai lattes in front of the mermaid with boobs Original Sign

Chai lattes in front of the mermaid with boobs Original Sign

Gum wall - thoroughly disgusted

Gum wall – thoroughly disgusted

Seattle Center - the line was way too long to go up in the Space Needle, plus, we had a lot to do this day!

Seattle Center – the line was way too long to go up in the Space Needle, plus, we had a lot to do this day!

Very cool Chihuly museum

Very cool Chihuly museum

We've been to Chihuly exhibits in Knoxville and Nashville stretching back decades. It was very fun to see him in his hometown.

We’ve been to Chihuly exhibits in Knoxville and Nashville stretching back decades. It was very fun to see him in his hometown.

I had never wanted to pay the $20 to go in because I just thought it was the garden area - but the other exhibits were totally worth the price of admission.

I had never wanted to pay the $20 to go in because I just thought it was the garden area – but the other exhibits were totally worth the price of admission.

These boats reminded us of the ones he did at Cheekwood mansion in Nashville

These boats reminded us of the ones he did at Cheekwood mansion in Nashville

View from the atrium

View from the atrium

Reflection in the garden's glass balls

Our reflection in the garden’s glass balls

On the way up I could tell it was going to be an amazing  hike - the top of the mountain was so clear!

On the way up I could tell it was going to be an amazing hike – the top of the mountain was so clear!

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iPhone photos don’t even do it justice.

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We chose to do the Skyline trail and since it was after 5pm and a weekday, we almost had it to ourselves. It was so much less crowded than the last time I was up here.

We chose to do the Skyline trail and since it was after 5pm and a weekday, we almost had it to ourselves. It was so much less crowded than the last time I was up here.

Only part of it was paved, but it was all straight up.

Only part of the trail was paved, but it was all straight up.

Views from all sides were perfect - we kept feeling like we were Maria in the Sound of Music

Views from all sides were perfect – we kept feeling like we were Maria in the Sound of Music

Because it was so late when we started, we decided just to get to the start of the glaciers, not more and stopped at Glacier View

Because it was so late when we started, we decided just to get to the start of the glaciers, not more and stopped at Glacier Vista

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Feet on the snow!

Feet on the snow!

On the way up we saw a couple of deer, and on the way down we saw a marmot!

On the way up we saw a couple of deer, and on the way down we saw a marmot!

He was a fat little guy, ready for winter.

He was a fat little guy, ready for winter.

As we left we had an awesome view of the sunset from so far up

As we left we had an awesome view of the sunset from so far up

Don't be completely fooled by the gorgeous scenery though - Mount Rainier is an active volcano!

Don’t be completely fooled by the gorgeous scenery though – Mount Rainier is an active volcano! This is the first of several Natural Disaster signs we encounter – the Pacific Northwest is a dangerous place.

All this, and we were only on day two!

In which my mom came to visit – Part II

And the adventure continues!

On Tuesday we…

Bored my mother out of her mind and presented my research at UW School of Dentistry’s Department of Oral Health Sciences Research Symposium | Perfected the art of eating dumplings at Din Tai Fung | Visited the Center for Pediatric Dentistry and got to meet the amazing people I work with | Had a mini winery tour in Woodinville and tasted flights at Novelty Hill/Januik, Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia wineries | swung by Gas Works Park to see the houseboats on Lake Union | ate Paseo sandwiches for dinner | found Graham’s picture on the wall and had Johnny drinks at the Moon Temple & recreated our favorite Bacon and Maple Syrup ice cream with the rest of the Benton’s bacon:

First winery - Novelty Hill/Janiuk

First winery – Novelty Hill/Januik

Watching them fill the barrels

Watching them fill the barrels

Second winery - Chateau Ste. Michelle where we had a flight of bubbly

Second winery – Chateau Ste. Michelle where we had a flight of bubbly

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And to finish it off - Columbia winery

And to finish it off – Columbia winery

As always, crowded Paseo. We were smart and called ahead on our way back from Woodinville

As always, crowded Paseo. We were smart and called ahead on our way back from Woodinville

So good! Mom agreed that this was one of the best sandwiches ever made.

So good! Mom agreed that this was one of the best sandwiches ever made.

Look Graham - we found our picture on the wall!

Look Graham – we found our picture on the wall!

A sweet end to a fun day

A sweet end to a fun day

 

On Wednesday we… 

Got up very early and took the Edmonds-Kingston ferry to the Olympic Peninsula | Froze our butts off on Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park | Visited the longest sand spit in the United States at Dungeness Spit | Ate my favorite sweet potato mexi-fries at Taco Time, a PNW version of fast food | Drove down the western edge of Puget Sound and Hood Canal past oyster farms and adorable cabins | checked into Alderbrook Resort and drank wine on our balcony overlooking the canal and Olympic mountains | Learned to filet Coho salmon from a master chef & finished the night off with a delicious seafood boil of shrimp, clams and dungeness crab:

On a boat!

On a boat!

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You can tell we were trying to fit a lot in when my mom has to start the morning off with a Monster energy drink!

You can tell we were trying to fit a lot in when my mom has to start the morning off with a Monster energy drink!

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It was pretty, but very cold and rainy!

It was pretty, but very cold and rainy!

Lovely view of the very cold mountains

Lovely view of the very cold mountains

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At this point we decided that hiking would just lead to hypothermia, so we headed down the mountain.

At this point we decided that hiking would just lead to hypothermia, so we headed down the mountain.

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Dungeness Spit

Dungeness Spit

Pacific Northwest Beaches aren't like those back East..

Pacific Northwest Beaches aren’t like those back East.. If you can imagine, five miles out into the distance is a lighthouse – it was barely visible for all the fog and rain.

Feet in the sand this time.

Feet in the sand this time.

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This time the danger was tsunamis, not volcanos!

This time the danger we needed to be aware of was tsunamis, not volcanos!

Then down the edge of the Sound to Alderbook:

Alderbrook Resort

Alderbrook Resort

Apparently it's a thing to seaplane down from Seattle to eat at the restaurant. Maybe in a different lifetime we'll be able to do this.

Apparently it’s a thing to seaplane down from Seattle to eat at the restaurant. Maybe in a different lifetime we’ll be able to do this. Or when we win the lottery – which ever comes first!

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View from our seats on the lawn. We make good resort people.

View from our seats on the lawn. We make good resort people.

Unfortunately my real camera is still broken, so this trip was documented through iPhone photos which can't do this place justice. I stole this from Alderbrook's website to give you an idea of our amazing view.

Unfortunately my real camera is still broken, so this trip was documented through iPhone photos which can’t do this place justice. I stole this from Alderbrook’s website to give you an idea of our amazing view.

Delicious dinner!

Delicious dinner!

Mm.. Northwest seafood boil!

Mm.. Northwest seafood boil!

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On Thursday we.. 

Said goodbye to Alderbrook and then drove over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge | Stopped by IKEA on the way back into Seattle so my mom could see what all the fuss is about | Checked out the REI headquarters downtown | Popped into some cute Ballard shops one more time | ate Fish and Chips at Ivar’s happy hour overlooking Lake Union and watched the seaplanes land | packed up and did some laundry & then headed down to Westward for one last meal out:

IKEA! The closest one to mom is 4 hours away in Atlanta. Also I am thinking about buying this mirror - it would fit perfect in this random nook in our bedroom.

IKEA! The closest one to mom is 4 hours away in Atlanta. Also I am thinking about buying this mirror – it would fit perfect in this random nook in our bedroom.

To cap off the PNW Natural Disasters to be aware of the evacuation route from: Floods! Seen in Renton.

To cap off the PNW Natural Disasters to be aware of the evacuation route from: Floods! Seen in Renton.

REI headquarters

REI headquarters

Ivar's for fish and chips. This is where UW Pedo had the applicant dinner when I interviewed, so it was fun to show mom where my Seattle journey truly began.

Ivar’s for fish and chips. This is where UW Pedo had the applicant dinner when I interviewed, so it was fun to show mom where my Seattle journey truly began.

And then Friday morning, it was all over way too soon and we headed back to the airport. I kept saying we needed three more weeks, or at least three more days, but in reality we made the very best of what we had: we ate some of my favorite Seattle food, visited two of the prettiest national parks in the nation, saw all the typical Seattle touristy things plus the all tucked away places that make this city home. We really did win Seattle.

To give you an idea of all the places we visited, I’ve marked them on a map:

This is the greater NW Washington area we covered.

This is the greater NW Washington area we covered.

And a more specific Seattle-area one. We. Covered. Some. Ground.

And a more specific Seattle-area one. We. Covered. Some. Ground.

When I was little people always commented on how much I looked like my mom. As I grew up I realized that this similarity extended far beyond features and the phrase “I am my mother’s child” was especially applicable to me. This trip was not only a chance to show one of my best friends our new city, but it was also a chance to hang out with Future Me. I am so lucky, blessed and grateful. It was so much fun. Can’t wait for the next adventure!

In which we check one off: North Cascades National Park

For my birthday Jeff gave me a map of the US with all of the National Parks on it because he knows of my love of travel, my love of the outdoors and most of all, my love of checking things off lists.

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We hit a few of them on our way out here a few years ago (though sadly I didn’t know about the Wind Cave in South Dakota even though we were so close to it! Ahh!), and this weekend we checked another one off – the only one we were missing in Washington State: North Cascades National Park.

#43

#43

It’s only three hours drive north of Seattle now that WA 530 state route is back open after the Oso mudslide. We drove through the devastated area where 43 people died when the side of the mountain came crashing down one morning back in March. The road was early quiet – like driving through a graveyard.

State Route 530, opened one week ago on June 20th.

State Route 530, opened one week ago on June 20th.

The side of the mountain that came down and the destruction underneath.

The side of the mountain that came down and the destruction underneath.

We left after work on Friday and after fighting Seattle traffic, rain and some bad directions, we made it to the campsite with the last bit of our long Pacific Northwest daylight around 9:15pm, just enough to pick a spot and put up the tent. We had planned to use our air mattress like we had before in Yellowstone, only we hadn’t factored in that we had bought a larger size to replace the old one that died on my trip up to Whistler in January. It did not fit at all. But in the dark and pouring rain, all we could do was deflate it halfway and cram it in as best we could to get out of the wet – it filled up probably half of the tent by volume. We climbed in and managed to balance ourselves somewhat, now much closer to the tent roof and constantly readjusting our lopsided selves on top of the squishy behemoth. The air mattress at this point took on a life of its own; it was the third creature in our three-person, three-season tent. It felt like sleeping in what Jeff described as a half inflated fun house. It’s been years since I’ve slept outside where it rained hard throughout the entire night. I remembered that I do not miss that.

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John Muir in a letter to his sister, 1873

The next morning I managed to light the camp stove in what had let up to a light drizzle and we made coffee in the French press – it was much needed after the soggy, squished night. We then decided to hike up nearby Thunder Creek to the 4th of July Pass (it being close to the holiday and all and one of the only trails the park ranger said wasn’t covered in snow). We made it about 5 miles in the rain before deciding that we had had enough fun. A steep ascent had left us exposed on the side of an open mountain face and Jeff did not have adequate rain gear, so I made the call to turn back. It wasn’t fun rain. It wasn’t just deal with it rain. It was beat at you without tree cover, soak you to the bones rain. I’ve had hypothermia once before, many years ago and I wasn’t willing to repeat it.

Sometimes knowing when to turn back is just as important as knowing when to push on, even when it’s hard. We were close to the Pass and close to the top, but it was just getting too dangerous. It paralleled an experience I had had with a patient just the day before: a sweet kid with a medical condition that I could have easily precipitated into a medical emergency with a little stress of dental treatment. Sure, we could’ve gone ahead with the filling, and maybe nothing would have happened, but the conditions that day were just right for the makings of something more sinister and I had to make the call not to risk it. Same with the hike – we could have made it. Or because of today’s conditions, one of us could have gotten seriously hurt in the storm. The older I get, the easier it is to make the call. I think they call that maturity or something? Anyway, we got a few pictures of the old growth forest and Thunder Creek on the way down:

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Very wet Elise

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The water is milky blue green - from when the park's many glaciers have crushed the hills into fine power. This "mountain flour" mixes with the water and reflects the light to make it look this way.

The water is milky blue green – from when the park’s many glaciers have crushed the hills into fine powder. This “mountain flour” mixes with the water and reflects the light to make it look this way – it’s surreal.

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We ate lunch back at our campsite and spent the rest of the day driving around looking at things. A lot of the trails still aren’t open yet because of snow – crazy to think that even after the official start of summer things are still thawing out here!

The old faithful Jeep - still trucking.

The old faithful Jeep – still trucking after 189,679 miles..

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Overlooking Ross or Diablo Lake

It was freezing cold and still raining.

It was freezing cold and still raining.

Diablo Lake

Diablo Lake

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More clouds moving in – time to get back in the car

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Peaks peaking through

Around this time I began to feel very sick from lunch. We had grabbed to-go sandwiches from the grocery store since this was a last minute camping trip and we hadn’t had time to prepare well. Something in mine did not sit properly with me and I was struggling. This, coupled with the prospect of another rainy sleepless night in a deflated fun house of a tent, was too much. I called it again, for the second time in one day. The reason there are no pictures of our very picturesque campsite in Colonial Creek (right by a very blue lake in an old growth forest, really a spectacular spot) is because we packed everything in ten minutes of this decision and headed home.

I was fully reminded and humbled that June is not a summer month here. No matter what the calendar says, July 4th is the official start. This post on reading it highlights a lot of horrible things on our 28 hours trip up north – but it was in fact actually really good to 1) check off a new, and beautiful National Park and 2) get our bearings for when we come back. It’s too close and too pretty not to return. When it stops raining.

In which Graham comes to visit

My little brother Graham got back from Afghanistan in May and he’s on his way out of the Marines next month!

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Fresh off the plane

On his way to Tennessee, he and his friend Nick stopped by for a few days in Seattle. I feel like I’ve been practicing for his visit every time others came through and now we have the Seattle circuit just about perfected. We haven’t seen each other in over a year, since our grandmother’s 90th birthday in Nashville, so we had some catching up to do. Here’s what we accomplished:

Gas Works Park

Gas Works Park

Gas Works Park

Gas Works Park with the Seattle skyline and Space Needle across Lake Union.

The Fremont Troll under Aurora bridge

The Fremont Troll under Aurora bridge

Both Nick and Graham are in the 1st Marine Battalion - Engineers whose symbol is a castle. It took a lot of convincing for them not to steal it.

Both Nick and Graham are Marine Engineers whose symbol is a castle. It took a lot of convincing for them not to steal this from the Ballard Locks Engineers.

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Fish ladder – Ballard Locks

Ballard Locks - in the Seattle rain

Ballard Locks – in the Seattle rain. At this point I don’t mind the misting, in fact, when a visitor comes I hope that it rains a little. I don’t want people thinking that I complain over nothing or that I’m lying about the meteorologic properties of this place.

Graham is going to hike the Appalachian Trail at some point in the next year or so, maybe even Nick will go with him. We visited the REI headquarters downtown so he could stock up on some gear and also bask in the outfitter wonderland that is that store. Naturally we needed to test out his new purchases out on a hike, and where better than Mount Rainier National Park? Unfortunately the Mountain was obscured on our drive down, so the boys couldn’t see her glory. We ended up going to an area in the northern end where I hadn’t been before to hike a trail called Green Lake.

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Graham and his new backpack – checking one National Park off the list. We stuffed it full with everything we could find in the car to simulate the real thing.

On the trail

On the trail – that is a fallen tree above Graham, they grow them big here.

Old growth forests, plenty of moss and waterfalls did not disappoint along the way.

Old growth forests, plenty of moss and beautiful waterfalls did not disappoint along the way.

Nick, Graham and I

Nick, Graham and I – Ranger Creek Falls

Green Lake - a little different from the Greenlake in Seattle we live near.

Green Lake – a little different from the Green Lake in Seattle we live near. A little more alpine-y and snowy.

It was about 10 miles up and back - a lakeside picnic broke up the trip.

It was about 10 miles up and back – a lakeside picnic broke up the trip.

Wubby and I.

Wubby and I post-hike in the valley 

On the way home, after stopping by the Carbon Glacier Distillery that was on the way from the trailhead, the clouds parted just as we were entering the city. I told the boys to look out the back window of the Jeep and there was stunned silence at the sight of Her. All day Graham had been joking that we should go to the top of Mount Rainier and I kept telling him that was impossible in May, but he hadn’t believed me. Now he did. It reminded me of my first glimpse when I was up in Seattle for the pedo interview so many years ago. She still takes my breath away – I swear one day I’ll wreck the car from staring at Her too much when I’m driving.

The next day we started playing tourists in my own city, starting with the Space Needle:

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View of the Mountain from the top.

View of the Mountain from the top. When I first went up in the Space Needle when I came out for the interview, there were clouds between it and downtown, so I had no idea there was even a huge-ass mountain yonder. Now I know that the Space Needle is not worth the $20 “airfare” unless it’s a clear day. We couldn’t have picked better weather for it though – 360 degree views from Mt. Rainier to Mount Baker to the Olympics, Sound and even our tiny Greenlake.

The boys enjoying the view.

The boys enjoying the view.

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To continue playing tourist in my own city, we took the Monorail downtown. For $2.50, it's worth it to get the 15 clocks downtown from the Needle.

To continue playing tourist in my own city, we took the Monorail downtown. For $2.50, it’s worth it to get the 15 blocks from the Needle. It was my first ride too. 

We started off in the Market with my favorite drinks - Rachel's Ginger Beer. I'd never actually been to the flagship store, we buy it at our local farmer's market (yes, I just hated myself a little for typing that), but it's super cute and they taste so refreshing - especially with rum!

We started off in the Market with my favorite drinks – Rachel’s Ginger Beer. I’d never actually been to the flagship store, we buy it at our local farmer’s market (yes, I just hated myself a little for typing that), but it’s super cute and they taste so refreshing – especially with rum!

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Then on to the Market itself.

Then on to the Market itself. Please note the ferry boat going across to Bainbridge.

We saw the trinkets, and watched the thrown fish.

We saw the flowers, and the thrown fish.

And took in views of Elliot Bay and the Cascades..

And took in views of Elliot Bay and the Olympics…

..and downtown with the waterfront from the pier.

…and downtown with the waterfront from the pier.

The boys liked the gum wall - Graham added to it.

The boys liked the gum wall – Graham added to it.

And they weren't too impressed with the original Starbucks. I blame the spoiling them with Rachel's Ginger Beer first.

And they weren’t too impressed with the original Starbucks. I blame the spoiling them with Rachel’s Ginger Beer first.

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The next day I had to go back to work, but not before dropping the kids off for kayaking in Lake Union at Agua Verde:

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Not pictured of the things we accomplished: running around Green Lake, eating Mighty-O doughnuts, taking shots of absinthe at Carbon Glacier Distillery, touring my work at the Center for Pediatric Dentistry, eating Paseo sandwiches, drinking at the Moon Temple and on Murphy’s back porch, eating home cooked meals, visiting the EMP museum and recovering from all our adventures in the hammock. We. Did. It. All.

Cheers to an excellent visit. Come again soon Wubby!

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In which we go to Glacier (Part II)

We’re starting to perfect our camping skills as an offshoot of our “throw two bags in the car and go” skills. This time came the added challenge of sharing our adventure with some toothy wildlife:

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Our campsite had recently had some bear sightings and the Ricky Rangers were out warning everyone to keep their food secure.

We ate all our meals out of the picnic basket that was a wedding present from my grandparents. They have the sweetest tradition that each grandchild is given a picnic basket and a family Bible when they marry. I love that this one is part traditional basket and part cooler on the bottom; we’re certainly getting some miles out of it!

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DSC_0596 One of our favorite camping foods is “drunk fruit” which we invented in Yellowstone and made for this trip. The recipe is a jar of fruit, drain (drink) some of the liquid and then add back in your favorite spirit. Shake occasionally and then enjoy.

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This time it was mangoes, peaches and rum.

For dinner we feasted on hotdogs and baked beans over a pretty darn good fire:

DSC_0607We ended the night sharing some marshmallow roasting techniques with sweet retired man at the campsite next to us. The secret is a good looped wire, focusing on the second mallow and lots of turning. He gifted us his homemade roasting wire as a present before he left. Thanks kind sir! Whenever we make perfectly roasted mallows we’ll think of you and your kind lessons!

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Good morning! Our new snuggle sleeping bags from REI worked great!

The next morning we drove the Going-To-The-Sun Road in reverse:

Saint Mary's Lake

Saint Mary’s Lake

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Saint Mary's Lake with Wild Goose Island in the background.

Saint Mary’s Lake with the small dot of Wild Goose Island in the background.

Jackson Glacier, one of the only glaciers you can see from the Going-To-The-Sun Road (those other things are ice packs).

Jackson Glacier, one of the only glaciers you can see from the Going-To-The-Sun Road (those other white things in the pictures aren’t glaciers, they’re ice and snow packs).

Did you know in 1890 there were a 125 glaciers in GNP? Now there are only 25 and they’re all projected to disappear by 2030. Weird and sad to think I won’t be able to take my grandchildren to see this.

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This road hugs the mountain so intimately

Back down the mountains. This road hugs the mountain so intimately

Jeff loved driving this road - you can see the incredible panoramic views we were treated to.

Jeff loved driving this road – you can see the incredible panoramic views we were treated to.

One last stop at Logan's Pass

One last stop at Logan’s Pass

DSC_0650Thanks Glacier for the chance to come back and see more of your beauty! 

Soon it was time to head back towards the West. As we passed out of Montana we were reminded of how much beauty our untamed neighbor has:

Fields the same shade of yellow highlighters are apparently a flower being grown as an experimental biofuel

Fields the same shade of yellow highlighters are apparently a flower being grown as an experimental biofuel

The vastness is indescribable

The vastness is indescribable

Roads are sweet that lead to home

Roads are sweet that lead to home

We crossed into Eastern Washington which looks for all intensive purposes, like Kansas – flat and agricultural. It’s miles upon miles of peas, Timothy hay, wheat, corn and potatoes:

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Our Jeep is still holding up well, if only a little dusty after this latest jaunt. We’re at 181,143 and counting. You’ve got miles to go little Jeep. Miles to go.

Those are windmills in the background over the Columbia River Gorge

Those are windmills in the background over the Columbia River Gorge

And so ends a road trip that was all at once beautiful, long, refreshing, quick, enlightening and so, so worth it. Until our next adventure!

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In which we go to Glacier (Part I)

Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park in June 2012.

The view from our hotel room of Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park in June 2012. Doesn’t it make you want more?

Last year on our trip out West, we tried to hit a lot of the highlights on a drive across the northern US. We got to see a lot of cool things: YellowstoneMount Rushmore, the World’s Largest Ball of Twine, etc, but we when we got to Glacier National Park in June the highlight of the park, the Going-To-The-Sun Road was closed for snow. To be fair, it was gorgeous all the same and the folks at the National Park Service would like to let you know there are other things to do, but it just seemed we were missing the whole main experience.

This picture, from the same place as the picture above, is the image on my work computer desktop and iPad  background

This picture, from the same place as the picture above only the next morning, I love so much. It is the image on my work computer desktop and iPad background

Jeff and I were hiking around a cool little urban pocket wilderness, Tiger Mountain State Park outside Issaquah, last week when we started talking about our move last year that had us chasing the ever lapping sun:

Me: You know the only thing I regret about that trip is that we didn’t get to drive the Going-To-The-Sun Road.
Jeff: Well, let’s do it next weekend.
Me: What?
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, we can do it. You’re not on call. It’s possible to get there in a day. We can do it, so we should do it if you want. 

And that’s one of the many reasons I married him. I’m thankful for his spirit of adventure and his insistence that we seize the opportunities we have control of. It’s a nice lesson to be reminded to do things if you can in fact, do them.

So that’s how on Thursday night we found ourselves in the insanely cool REI headquarters downtown, dodging mountain bikers on a tree lined test path and climbing out of the parking garage with its very own waterfall, to buy some sleeping bags:

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Inside REI Headquarters

And then on Friday after work, heading out on yet another Team Sarvas road trip. Just East this time:

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Just a 2 day, 1200 mile road trip. No big deal.

The original plan was to make it to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, just across the Washington state line to spend the night. When we got there though all hotels there and in nearby Spokane were booked. All. Of. Them. A helpful hotel clerk told us that our only real option was to continue driving 40 miles east and hopefully Kellogg, ID would have something. It was approaching midnight, but what could we do? So we kept trucking on, the whole time trying to call ahead, but failing due to losing signal in the mountains. The desk clerk at the almost full Silver Mountain Resort seemed sad that all he had to offer was a studio room, but perked up when I told him that he was my new favorite person and we’d take it! Yay for a bed and a shower after a long day of clinic and an even longer day of driving.

After a goodnight’s sleep and hearty breakfast we set out again and reached Glacier around 1pm. And then we started to climb. I’ll just let the pictures tell the story from here (though they do not begin to do it justice):

Stopping for lunch on the way up.

Stopping for lunch on the way up.

Adult lunchables!

Salami, cheeses, fancy crackers = Adult lunchables!

It's not being in the woods without some good ol' raisins and peanuts (and M&Ms, granola and banana chips..).

It’s not being in the woods without some good ol’ raisins and peanuts (and M&Ms, granola and banana chips..).

The road is carved into the sides of the mountains. Obviously Jeff drove and I tried to keep my fear of heights down to a dull roar.

The road is carved into the sides of the mountains. Obviously Jeff drove and I tried to keep my fear of heights down to a dull roar.

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Rim Rock

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You can see why the road is sometimes closed - they have to clear thousands of pounds of snow each year.

You can see why the road is sometimes closed – they have to clear thousands of cubic feet of snow each year.

It’s crazy the amount of snow they clear each year. The park even employs professional avalanche experts to test things out. Pictures from this year’s clearing can be found here. Check them out – they are indescribable!

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So excited we got to do this!

Logan's Pass Visitor Center

Logan’s Pass Visitor Center

Bighorn sheep just chilling in the sunshine

Bighorn sheep just chilling in the sunshine

Continental Divide - 6646 ft

Continental Divide – 6646 ft

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DSC_0557The entire road is about 50 miles long and once we reached the end of it and therefore the east side of Glacier, we decided to camp for the night and snagged one of 4 camping spots left. We certainly cut the obtaining of nightly lodging thin on this trip, but both nights we were fortunately okay! (But seriously, with two tents AND the Jeep, which we’ve definitely slept in before, are you really ever out of nightly shelter?).

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Perk: The Rising Sun campground was right next to the Rising Sun Motor Inn which meant hot coffee in the morning!

We set up our new (to us) tent to test it out for a camping trip we’re planning later in the summer and started dinner. Just in case the blue one didn’t work we had my favorite small yellow Marmot I’ve had forever in the car as backup.

Not too shabby lodgings

Not too shabby

I feel I've inundated this post with too many pictures already, so more in the next post.

I feel I’ve inundated this post with too many pictures already, so more later.

In which we took a trip to Mt. Rainier

Over Labor Day weekend we took a trip up to Mt. Rainier (pronounced Rah-neer, not “rainy-er” despite the weather situation up here). It was a gorgeous weekend, but unfortunately every other person and their brother thought it would also be a great idea to spend some time on what Seattleites affectionately call “The Mountain”.

I’ve had a slight obsession with this gorgeous volcano since I first came out to Seattle to interview. Before catching my red-eye back to Chapel Hill, Sandra Fisher and I took a walk down by Lake Washington and she pointed out what I thought were high clouds in the distance. Those clouds were really the snow capped slopes of Rainier and I was fascinated by a mountain that could be so high it had snow all year round. My beloved Appalachians in contrast only have snow in the deep of winter and the blanket is dirtied by the trees that cover their hills.

We visited probably the busiest part of the park – the Paradise area which is famous for its alpine wild flowers. Below are some pictures of our 5.4 mi loop hike.

This is my imitation of Maria in the Swiss Alps

Jeff is not as willing to reenact the opening scene of The Sound of Music

During our entire hike, the 14, 410 ft peak remained an elusive site behind clouds. The Mountain makes its own weather it’s so tall. Right as we were about to head out of the visitor’s center the clouds parted briefly for a look at her summit.

Despite the crowds it was nice to get out of the city for a little bit. Oh! And we saw a bear! I didn’t have a really nice picture of it, so nothing to post, but it was cool to see one. Don’t worry, we took a quick survey of the other people watching it and Jeff and I decided we could at least out run three of them. I was also really excited to walk on some glaciers after not getting to see any at Glacier National Park on our trip out here (that long delayed post will come soon!).

In which there was no rain and there were no vampires.

After our gigantic kayak fail last weekend we decided to take a trip that left navigating water to the professionals. From our balcony we can see the glaciated tops of the Olympic Mountains and so today we took advantage of the gorgeous weather and took a trip out to the Peninsula. Nothing like sunny day to inspire a trip to one of the rainiest spots on earth!

We left early and caught the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston – the first time I’ve ever driven my car on a boat!

As you can see, it was a little foggy. Looking through the windows of the boat you could see little more than a thin line dividing similarly colored heavens and water. This blank background made it easy to pick out orangey pink jellyfish floating in the sound and we briefly giggled at a passing otter that Jeff spotted.

Once on the Peninsula we drove west, a direction that after the past month or so we thought we had run out of. This took us through the town of Forks of Twilight fame. Lots of kitsch, but no vampires – maybe because by this time the sun had come out.

(and no we didn’t go on the tour – I like being married and I’m pretty sure forcing Jeff on the Twilight tour would have ruined this good thing we have going)

 There isn’t a whole lot on the Olympic Peninsula; it boils down to mostly a big chunk of inhabitable rugged mountains making up the Olympic National Park in the middle circumnavigated by the 101, a highway that starts up here and goes all the way down to the East Los Angeles Interchange (the world’s busiest highway interchange, btw). The 101 took us past Lake Crescent on our way to the Western entrance to the Hoh Rainforest.

It was really pretty, really blue and really clear

 We finally made it to the Hoh Rainforest in the Olympic National Park around lunchtime. Yay for our America The Beautiful pass for getting us in for free (we’d broken even on buying it at Glacier National Park but now we’re saving money on it!). This is the rainiest spot in the continental US, averaging 150 inches of rain a year – that’s 12.5 feet! From our visit you’d never know it though because it was gorgeous and sunny.

Phone booth!

We walked the brief Hall of Mosses trail which looked like it was straight out of the Dagobah system.

Many massive trees!

In a temperate rainforest there is a lot of moss

This was a skinny tree

Trees growing out of trees!

Massive trees and moss!

Little blurry, but that’s what you get with the auto timer

After lots of green and sunshine to recharge my soul, we headed back to Seattle on a much clearer ferry ride with great views of Puget Sound.

My car – ON A BOAT!
(i was wearing flippie floppies)

Good day trip 😀

After a long day of driving all over creation we settled into a nice chicken dinner at home and past episodes of The Office.

So today’s lesson: sometimes there is no rain in the alleged rainforest and when it’s sunny there are no vampires in Forks.

Also we found Twilight beer at our corner market and thought it was an appropriate end to a day spent visiting Forks.

Jeff saw this picture on my phone right after I took it and immediately said

“Well you won”.
“Won what?”
“Won Instagram.”
“What?”
“You took a picture of an ironic picture of an ironic Twilight beer (which was probably already ironically named) with Instagram while in Seattle. If that doesn’t win I don’t know what does.”

So I drank one for winning. And it was delicious. The End.