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!

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In which there’s 12th man fever

It’s finally here, the day that’s been hyped for the last two weeks: Super Bowl Sunday! This is the first time I’ve lived in a city with a football team I could claim as my own. I was in high school getting ready to leave for college when we got the Titans and when I was in North Carolina, the Panthers had too many resemblances in color and name to UNC so I couldn’t bring myself to cheer for them. At best I cheered for the Steelers since Jeff grew up in Pittsburgh and I liked to keep a happy relationship. Now having moved out here, I feel like I can finally adopt the Seattle Seahawks team as my own.

Unfortunately I'm on call, but I'm hoping that the both the Seahawks and I have good luck this evening during the game.

Unfortunately I’m on call, but I’m hoping that the both the Seahawks and I have good luck this evening during the game.

These past two weeks in 12th man fever has turned this city into a small town. Signs, bought and homemade, abound on buildings and hardly anyone talks about anything else. Our little old neighbors have been flying a 12th man flag for two weeks now off their balcony. They’ve renamed Mt. Rainer to Mt. Seattle Seahawks. Issaquah, a nearby town is now 12saquah. Every time I see the flag on top of the Space Needle, my heart swells a little.

12 lit up on a dorm at UW

12 lit up on a dorm at UW

Roundabout in our neighborhood decorated in blue and green

Roundabout in our neighborhood decorated in blue and green

UW tower lit up in a 12. Forgive the picture, it's part of my artistic series of blurry iPhone photos.

UW tower lit up in a 12. Forgive the picture, it’s part of my artistic series with a blurry iPhone theme.

Even our local aquarium otter is getting in on the action this morning (though maybe it should be devouring a Bronco logo instead? Also, the fact that there’s a website called the dailyotter.org is AMAZING) :

On Friday I was taking a break from running code for class and decided that a coffee would really help things along. I drove to the local Starbucks and absentmindedly was listening to our local NPR station when they asked the question, “What is the nickname for Seattle’s defensive backs?”

 

In my head, I had already answered Legion of Boom before they gave the choices when I parked and turned off the car. I turned it back on quickly, wondering what the contest was and caught the number to call. I did and to my surprise a nice woman answered and asked if I knew the correct choice. When I gave her the answer she said that I had qualified for the weekly news quiz and I should make myself available in 20 minutes to be on the air! Ahh! I forgot about getting the coffee and raced home to study potential Seahawks questions and have Jeff nearby incase there was a stumper.

All my preparation was for naught because the questions were much harder than the ones I had anticipated (like “Who is the head coach?” “Which Seahawk is legally deaf?” “What division do the Seahawks play in?” – QUESTIONS I KNEW THE ANSWERS TO!), but I guessed well and got 2 out of 3. You can hear the radio interview here – the pauses are where Jeff and I are looking at each other and shrugging.

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Unfortunately my prize was not an all expense paid trip to the Super Bowl this afternoon, but I think the reward of being featured on their Facebook page photoshopped as a giant over the city  is a close second. Plus, I got to say “Go Seahawks!” on the radio the Friday before the Super Bowl which is pretty awesome. Thanks for letting me play, KUOW!

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I was talking via Voxer to my little brother this morning and he’s getting up at 4am Afghanistan time to watch the contest. I feel very similar to him, that if I wasn’t so caught up in 12th man fever in my new adopted city, I would be wearing some different colors this afternoon:

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I’ve loved Peyton since he played for Tennessee and he’s an excellent guy. It’s going to be a tough match up, and I have some orange in my blood, but my shirt and heart this afternoon are blue and green. Let’s go boys!

In which I make pumpkin muffins

We had some crazy fog today – it was clear above, you could see the mountains, but barely the city. From my friend’s Instagram:

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Instead of putting any real effort into making a costume for the weekend, I made pumpkin muffins instead:

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I haven’t had a lot of pumpkin-y things this October, partly because Starbuck’s PSL campaign resulted in such a let down of a drink and Trader Joe’s has lost its ever loving pumpkin mind (pumpkin body scrub? really?). But these were perfect and delicious.

In which we tricked Bri into getting on a Duck Boat

My co-resident Bri loathes the Duck Boats in Seattle. You know the ones. They surface in any major touristy city – D.C., San Fran, Branson, Newport, KY, Boston, Philly, Boston and Stone Mountain, GA and are amphibious tour busses (boats). They’re slightly.. okay, really annoying – a major feature is that they use loud quackers to get locals to wave at them and acknowledge their presence.

Duck boat on land

Duck boat on land

Any real local just kind of tolerates them as a tourist attraction and sometimes this toleration boils over into true abhorrence, à la my friend Bri. She has told me multiple times how much she hates them and that no matter what, never in a million years would she get on one. Never, one must always remember, is a very strong word. 

Bri’s birthday was this past week and so Kat and I concocted a brilliant plan to get her on one of these tourist traps. First, Bri owed us pedicures for part of our birthday presents from back in March. So off to Wallingford we went to collect at Night Lite Nails.

Clockwise from upper left: Bri, Kat and I.

Clockwise from upper left: Bri, Kat and I.

And then lunch at my favorite Mexican place in Seattle, TNT Taqueria:

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From there we convinced her through a series of lies and half truths that we were going down to the Seattle Center and managed to make it there without too much suspicion. The only trouble was when we neared the Duck Tour station (“Oh I just want to check the price of a ticket for when my family comes in town…”), she began to suspect the inevitable and took off running away down the block. Luckily we had more co-ressies meeting us there and Matt graciously tracked Bri down from her sprint and carried her back to her own special seat on the Duck:

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All touristy annoyingness aside, it’s kind of nice to see your own city with someone else driving. I learned a lot today and hopefully it’ll make me a better tour guide for our all visitors out here.

Nice picture of the Market without having to dodge traffic

Nice picture of the Market without having to dodge traffic

The Waterfront without trying to find parking

The Waterfront without trying to find parking

Bri began to forgive me after I gave her a commemorative birthday duckie I stole from work (we give these to the kids too small enough for the toys from the coin machine).

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It's awesome how much public art our city has, especially downtown.

It’s awesome how much public art our city has, especially downtown.

Seattle landmark Pink Elephant Car Wash (first automated car wash in the nation) - where Elvis cleaned his pink cadillac daily during the 1962 World's Fair

Seattle landmark Pink Elephant Car Wash (first automated car wash in the nation) – where Elvis cleaned his pink cadillac daily during the 1962 World’s Fair

Over the Aurora bridge - so nice to have the luxury to take pictures and not be concerned while driving so far up!

Over the Aurora bridge – so nice to have the luxury to take pictures and not be concerned while driving so far up!

We picked an awfully good day - you could see the Mountain out in all her splendor.

We picked an awfully good day – you could see the Mountain out in all her splendor.

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Bri, Karen, Kat, Matt and Karin

After we crossed over into North Seattle we entered for a quick dip in Lake Union in North Lake

After we crossed over into North Seattle we entered for a quick dip in Lake Union in North Lake

In the water we got incredible views of Gas Works Park

In the water we got incredible views of Gas Works Park

Gas Works and Kite Hill

Gas Works and Kite Hill

Matt, Ian, Me, Bri and Kat

Matt, Ian, Me, Bri and Kat

Sleepless in Seattle Houseboat

Sleepless in Seattle Houseboat

Group shot on the Duck

Group shot on the Duck

We also saw the charred boats from last week's 4th of July fire.

While in North Lake we also saw the charred boats from last week’s 4th of July fire.

Out towards the Ballard Locks going towards Puget Sound

Out towards the Ballard Locks going towards Puget Sound

View from the back of the Duck

View from the back of the Duck

All in all I found it an enthusiastic view of our adopted city. There were some lies (we do not call the Burke-Gilman Trail the “Spandex Highway” even though there are a lot of bikes) and some history lessons (in 1889 the Great Seattle Fire destroyed the entire 25 blocks of the city, but only one person died), a few good city pictures and a lot of fun with the co-ressies. Bri said she didn’t like it, but she’s smiling in all the pictures, so you be the judge:

Ian, Me, Matt, Kat, Jim, Karin, Bri and Karen

Ian, Me, Matt, Bri, Jim, Karin, Kat and Karen