Well, in case anyone was wondering, I am still alive, despite my blogging hiatus. (If you were hoping otherwise, sorry to disappoint.)
Because I’d rather not revisit junior year at this point, I’ll just take you back a few weeks to when Chris and I left our drought-ridden land of eternal sunshine for the gorgeous Pacific Northwest! This trip marked several milestones for me: 1) It was the longest trip Chris and I have taken together; 2) It was my first time planning nearly every aspect of a trip from flights to lodging to attractions; 3) It was Chris and my first time on a plane together; 4) I finally got to meet my dad’s good friend Rome and his lovely wife, Connie; 5) It was the most money I’ve ever spent on a trip for myself; and 6) It was the farthest northwest I’ve ever been!
We arrived at LAX several hours early on Tuesday, May 17 expecting the usual delay at the TSA checkpoint. Miraculously, we made it through in no time at all, leaving us with two-ish hours to play vicious games of Words with Friends and eagerly await our departure. At last, it was time to board the plane, and Chris and I were (overly) excited to find that you can order drinks ON YOUR SCREEN on Virgin Airlines. (We live in the future, guys.) So, essentially, our flight consisted of marveling at this TV/menu and me hurriedly assembling my DSLR camera to take pictures of snow-capped volcanoes.
After getting lost looking for our soon-to-be-hosts at Sea-Tac Airport, the four of us headed to Tacoma for pizza and a stroll to the Chihuly Bridge of Glass. From Downtown Tacoma, we headed to Chambers Bay to watch the sunset, and I knew I’d fallen in love.
On our first full day in Washington, Chris and I rose bright and early (no easy task for my boyfriend). Connie was sweet enough to drive us to the transit station in Tacoma that morning and every subsequent morning, and before long, we were at Pike Place Market. Naturally, I had created an extensive itinerary detailing every landmark and restaurant I wanted to visit, and we decided to share small bites of food at some of the top places on my list: macaroni from Beecher’s, piroshkies from Piroshky Piroshky, and a latte at Storyville Coffee. Many pictures later, we made our way to Pioneer Square for the Underground Tour, where we learned that decrepit underground passageways can actually be pretty awesome. From Pioneer Square, we made our way towards the Seattle Public Library, stopping at City Hall and the incredible Sky View Observatory along the way. Upon finding that the observatory was a comfy lounge with incredible views instead of a cramped outdoor observatory, we decided to rest there for a while to recharge our minds as well as a our iPhones. After the library, we returned to Pike Place Market to eat at Steelhead Diner, where we tried (and disliked) oysters.
Now that we had (somewhat) learned the lay of the land, the next day felt much more relaxed. We started the morning at the Cederberg Teahouse, a South African teahouse specializing in rooibos tea lattes. From there, we rode the bus to the Seattle Center, where we took a thousand pictures under the Space Needle, longingly peeked inside the EMP museum, perused gift shops, and unleashed our inner children at the world’s coolest playground. As fun as the Seattle Center was, we couldn’t help but notice the ominous clouds above and prayed that the rain would wait for the sun to set. Luckily, after riding the link rail, we emerged to find that the University of Washington was completely dry, and we strolled the campus sans umbrellas. From there, we worked our way to the Amazon Bookstore before sitting down for a sushi dinner. Of course, while the two of us stuffed our faces with the most seafood we’ve consumed in one sitting, it began to drizzle, but we came prepared. All was well as we rode back into the city and walked to the Pie Bar… until we began to eat. No, it wasn’t the food– our pie was awesome. But while we set to work on our giant slice, the light drizzle turned to a torrential downpour. We resolved to wait out the worst of the rain, but the downpour continued long after we’d scarfed down the last bites of pie. Finally, we resolved to walk to the Starbucks Roastery and Tasting Room. It wasn’t too far away, we decided. How bad could it REALLY be?
Awful. No SoCal storm could have prepared us for this kind of rain. Thankfully, we had each other, and the rain was so heavy that it was almost comical. Sure, our feet and lower legs were soaked, but our warm drinks more than made up for it. And our pictures were amazing.
Friday marked our last full day in Washington. Since Rome had the day off work, Chris and I accompanied our hosts into the city for the day. It was refreshing not to have to consult a map every few seconds, and Rome and Connie took us to places that we would never have known existed. From exploring the International District to sharing, in Rome’s world, “the best canolis on the West Coast,” to perusing the Olympic Sculpture Park, the day was filled with fun, food, and great company. After a Vietnamese lunch, donuts at Top Pot, and another trip to the Reserve Roastery, we decided to head to Point Defiance park to watch another gorgeous sunset. Though Chris and I spent most of our time in the city, Point Defiance was the highlight of the trip for me. The Puget Sound is gorgeous no matter where you see it from, but the glittering water coupled with endless greenery felt like something out of a painting. So, basically, I think I’ll leave California and buy a cabin in the Washington wilderness.
It was past 9pm when we left the park, so we skipped eating dinner out and instead enjoyed a late pasta dinner at home with our hosts. After plenty of spaghetti and egg creams, Chris and I packed our things and prepared for the next morning’s early departure. Rome and Connie drove us to Sea-Tac, and we thanked them profusely for waking up so early to take us and for making this adventure possible.
As we prepared for liftoff, I sipped on my iced vanilla latte and craned my head for one last glimpse of Mt. Rainier. It was sad to see this incredible trip come to an end, but I know I’ll return to Washington soon enough– be it for another vacation or perhaps as my future home. Until then, I’ll be sipping coffee from my new Starbucks mug, dreaming up my next itinerary.