Mexico!

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Not a day has passed that I haven’t found myself daydreaming about Mexico since the day we bought our tickets. Both Brian and I desperately needed an escape from an exceptionally dark and cold Seattle winter, and I could barely focus on work the weeks coming up to the trip. Now that we’re back, we talk nonstop in broken Spanish about how much we loved our time there, and planning trips to all of the Mexican cities we can’t wait to visit. I don’t know if it was the weather, time spent with family, or just a week of doing absolutely nothing, but this was honestly one of the best trips I think we’ve taken together. When we plan trips, we gravitate toward cities (that are notoriously chilly and rainy) and plan days full of exploring on bikes and trying to soak in as much culture as we can. As much as I do love love love those trips, I also apparently really love lounging in beautiful weather and just doing nothing. It’s incredibly therapeutic.

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Brian’s family has been coming to Puerto Vallarta for years and years, and they always stay in La Zona Romantica in a condo building called Vista del Sol. I didn’t really know what to expect from this trip, but I was completely blown away when we walked into the condo unit. When we first walked in, the patio doors were wide open in front of us with the ocean right outside the window and a breeze blowing through the room. It was a pretty heavenly experience. Each morning we sat on the patio looking out at the ocean, drinking coffee and hoping for whales. I couldn’t believe what a gorgeous place we were staying in, and I’m already looking forward to our next trip, maybe with a little babe???

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The surf was super rough while we were there, with giant waves crashing violently on the beach and dragging decent sized rocks with them. I really wanted to play in the water, but after a few times of getting body slammed by waves that were 80% sand and super abrasive, I gave up and hung out on the beach instead. We spent our days on a constant rotation of reading on the beach, walking around the city, hanging out at the pool with the family, and eating.

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The area of Puerto Vallarta where we stayed was a really interesting mix of tourists and locals. There’s definitely a waterfront strip and a few blocks that are purely aimed at tourists, but just a few more minutes of walking and you’re very much in the neighborhoods where real life carries on. I enjoyed exploring this part of the city more than the beachy part, but I always felt a little like I was out of place and just a tourist who strayed from the beaten path. Everyone was extremely kind and welcoming, but I couldn’t help think about if the roles were reversed and these Mexican families came to Seattle to be tourists and walk around our neighborhoods, whether we’d treat them with the same welcoming attitude. It’s an uncomfortable thought, but one that was on my mind most of the trip. We’re so lucky to have the opportunity and privilege to travel where we want and experience new cultures and lifestyles.Photo Mar 27, 10 55 44 AM


My favorite places that we ate….

-Jorge’s Hideaway Shrimp Shack! We had giant delicious mango and blackberry margaritas and it was such a fun night out together.
-Salud Super Food – omg delish. Salud is a tiny little cafe, owned by a guy who used to live right by us in Capitol Hill! They serve really great and healthy meals, like lentils, salads, grain bowls, and nutrient-packed smoothies. I think we came here 4 times in 2 days, and I wish we’d gone even more!
-Red Cabbage – we came here with the whole family for our last night. The food was amazing and probably the most authentic that we had the whole trip. The margaritas were simple and clean, which was so refreshing.
-A little taco vendor on the street – we splurged and got a chorizo taco and a carnitas taco, and they were worth it. Vacation foods don’t count ๐Ÿ™‚
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My favorite things we did…

-Walk. We spent one morning wandering through the streets, watching the city wake up. People washing their sidewalks, hanging the clothes out, opening up their windows.
Another day, we walked up a twisty old cobblestone street where we saw beautiful architecture, a lizard, and great views of the ocean from way up high.
-Picked up fresh tortillas for dinner and a coconut! The fresh coconut cost 30 pesos, which is only $1.50!! It was so worth it for both the fresh coconut milk and the photos ๐Ÿ˜‰
-Bought our beautiful wool rug. There are tons of vendors around Puerto Vallarta, and most of them sell cheapy little trinkets or mass produced blankets that you can get on Amazon. Right outside of the condo where we stayed, there was a stand with the most beautiful handwoven wool rugs. One in particular caught our eye and we walked over to look at it and started talking to the couple who own the stand. Lulu and Jacobo were just the nicest and showed us pictures of their home in Oaxaca where they and their family treat and dye the wool, and weave these beautiful rugs. We promised we’d be back the next day to buy the one we wanted after we went to get cash. When we walked up to the stand the next day, we literally watched someone buy our rug before we could get there! Ugh completely heartbroken, but we found another that we loved, and its perfect in our apartment.
-Ate dinner with the family each night. We don’t get to see everyone very often now that we live so far away, and when we do, it always seems rushed or there’s so much going on that we don’t get to just chat and relax. I loved having dinner together each night and just being together.Photo Mar 27, 11 20 33 AM2019_04_05_063Photo Mar 27, 10 20 06 AMPhoto Mar 27, 10 12 16 AM

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I was hesitant about carrying our Fuji camera around some of the neighborhoods, so our photos are a mix of Fuji, iPhone, and film. I love them all.
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Bike Camping – Manchester and Vashon

I’m writing this with one hand, while the other is scratching my growing number of mosquito bites that are appearing by the hour. We had such amazing weather in Seattle this weekend, and I’m so glad we took advantage and spent the entire time outside. We packed up our bikes on Friday morning, left work around 3pm to catch the ferry, and didn’t get home until Sunday afternoon. All in all, we rode about 75 miles, rode 3 ferries, and climbed a little over 3200 feet (although it felt closer to 10000 feet). It was about 84 degrees on Sunday, with a beautiful breeze off of the sound the entire time. The map is hard to read since we covered a lot of distance with the ferries, but it shows where we rode in relation to home. Each of the lines is round trip, and show the mileage.
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Right out of the gate, we were behind schedule (my fault) and were pushing it to make it on time to the last direct West Seattle Ferry to Southworth. I didn’t have time to stop at the library to grab a book like I wanted, but I figured I’d just lay out and get tan while Brian read his ๐Ÿ™‚ย  The ferry was a short 30 minute ride, and we rode right off and were on our way.
It’s weird how we’ve gotten so used to some of the coolest quirks of living in the PNW, like seeing little free libraries all over the place! There’s probably an average of one every other block in Seattle, but even on this little island that feels like the middle of nowhere, we rode right past a fully stocked little free library! It was perfect timing, so I stopped to grab one. The options were sparse, so it was a matter of the best of the worst. I went for one that was written “By a New York Times Bestselling Author” with the hopes that if they wrote one good book, they could write another. Turns out, that’s not necessarily the case. I’m kicking myself for not taking a picture of the back cover, and I’ve spent an embarrassingly long time googling the quote, but the author’s foreword started out something like “Dear reader, as you know I write a lot of legal crime thrillers with plot twists, cliffhangers, and surprise endings…” Sure enough, within the first two pages, the main character tried to ford a river along the Oregon Trail, his pregnant wife died tragically when her wagon tipped over, and then he woke up in a cold sweat because… it was all a dream! Of course it was. So I used the book to smash a giant mosquito in the first page and decided that was enough of that.
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We also passed a llama! Unfortunately in my excitement to take photos with it, I neglected to notice the Trump signs all over their yard…. so my apologies. I won’t be back. No llama or exotic animal is worth that.

In general, most campsites in Washington offer hiker/biker campsites which have fewer amenities, can’t be reserved, and are relatively cheap. These are intended for people who arrive on foot or on bike, and are a way of making sure backpackers or people on bike tours always have a place to stay on their route. People in cars can at least drive to another site if the first one is full, but walking or biking can take 4+ hours to get to the next campsite, and if it’s dark and 10pm, that’s not ideal. These hiker/biker sites are our favorite way to camp, but since both campsites this weekend were new to us, we didn’t want to risk the hiker/biker sites being full, so we paid for full reservations. (technically state parks aren’t allowed to turn away hiker/biker, but we’ve heard of some park rangers who aren’t the most receptive to bikers…) It gave us some peace of mind, but since the reserved sites include power hookups, we were one of the only tents in a sea of massive campers at our first campsite at Manchester state park. It wasn’t great.
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The mosquitoes were GIANT (and biting, even though Brian was convinced they weren’t), we had an obnoxious family parked at the campsite across from us with 3 screaming children, and all we wanted to do was climb into the tent to escape the bugs and get out of that park! We made coffee down by the water the next morning and then we were packed up and gone by 9am. I didn’t even take a single photo of the campsite! The ride back to the ferry was great, we saw deer, lots of horses, a very sad looking camel, and met a very generous woman who runs an awesome little cat-centric coffee shop right on the water. She made us iced coffees with coffee ice cubes, and even offered to let us borrow her kayaks so we could camp on Blake Island one night. We’ll probably take her up on that one day when there’s no wind or rain and the water is clear and still…. maybe. We’ve never kayaked before…
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Dana, this is for you! She had a bunch of really funny comics clipped out, and this one made us crack up! I’m picturing Webster at home knocking your plant off the windowsill haha.

The ferry from Southworth to Vashon was so short, I barely had time to run into the bathroom to change into a tank top and get back out to our bikes! I probably wouldn’t have survived that first hill off the ferry if I hadn’t changed, and my only regret is that I didn’t put on shorts too. We’ve been told that Vashon is hilly…. but that is a massive understatement. The first hill felt like it went on FOREVER and I was dying. I sucked down my entire waterbottle in the first 20 minutes of climbing, figuring we had to be close to the top. We weren’t. Brian was way up ahead of me, so I reverted to my little hill chant that I fall into whenever I’m exhausted.

inhale – exhale ‘this is so hard’
inhale – exhale ‘omg I’m so hot’
inhale – exhale ‘I think im dying’
inhale – exhale ‘I need water’
inhaleย – exhale ‘such a big hill’
inhale – exhale ‘this sucks so hard’
inhale – exhale ‘lots of swear words’
inhale – exhale ‘my legs are gonna look so good’
inhale – exhale ‘I hope I’m getting tan’
inhale – exhale ‘I wish I had shorts’
inhale – exhale ‘those look like blackberries’
inhale – exhale ‘I want a blackberry’
inhale – exhale ‘I want some water’
inhale – exhale ‘where’s the top’
inhale – exhale ‘I’m so hot’
inhale – exhale ‘holy crap’
inhale – exhale ‘so sweaty’
…. and so on til I get to the top. It really does help.

The top wasn’t actually the top, it was just the bottom of another hill. (Vashon in a nutshell)

Eventually we rolled into the tiny little downtown strip of Vashon, and locked up to walk around the farmers market and cool off for a bit. We had a delish vegan tamale, icey horchata, and strawberry sorbet, and Brian got his knife sharpened by a cute little old guy whose oxygen was hanging off the back of his tent. Ohhhh island life. We refilled our water bottles at the grocery store, and set off for our last stretch to the campsite. It was super hilly, that’s all there is to it. It was hot and long and steep and definitive proof that 11 miles on flat ground is WAY different than 11 miles of hills. We finally turned into the little park where we were staying, and found ourselves at the top of one of the steepest gravel hills I’ve seen. The ocean was way out in front of us, and wayyyyyy far down. So down we went, very aware that every hill you go down, you have to come back up. BARF.
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That campsite was lucky it was so beautiful or I probably would’ve just laid down in a shady spot and had a meltdown. But it was gorgeous, just a few flat spots on a little bluff that dropped straight down to the beach with a wall of forest behind us. It was primitive camping, and we loved it. The view was so incredible that we kept the rainfly off the tent so we could lay in our sleeping bags and look out at the sun setting on the sound. We hung out on the beach looking for whales (none), and made our freeze dried rice and beans for dinner. This site didn’t provide any water, so we were ultra conscious about saving enough to make our dinner and coffee the next morning and still having enough to drink for the hot walk back up that godforsaken hill. There was a quick little rain shower while we were making dinner that was actually very refreshing and short lived. A beautiful full rainbow opened up right across the water from us, ending right at Mt. Rainier! It was almost too perfect.
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We had great intentions of staying up to look at the stars through our tent, but it was still very light out when we tucked in, and we were both asleep within like 2 minutes of laying down.
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Based on our route to the campsite, we knew we had at least the one giant hill to get up to the road, and then we were hopeful for mostly downhill the rest of the way back to the ferry. We were mostly correct, but we tried a different route home and ran into one massive hill that was a real killer, especially since we only had a few sips of water left til we got into town. We stopped to refill our bottles at a weird little coffee shop (again, typical island life), and then took our time getting to the ferry. The whole island was really really beautiful, even if we were focused on getting up the hills most of the time instead of looking around. There was tons of country farm land with beautiful rolling hills and tall grasses, and it smelled so fresh. This is one place where I think we’d really enjoy having a car and being able to explore more of the island without worrying about the hills. The campsite itself was so so worth it, and we’ll definitely be back (but with more water!) The views were incredible, and there have been plenty of whale sightings from this park where we stayed (!!!!). I’m adding binoculars to my list of must-haves for future trips. Also added are shower wipes (3 sweaty days was REALLLLLLY pushing it), a new inflatable pillow for Brian, and travel toothbrushes.
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It was a hotty totty weekend, and we were both really disgusting by the time we got home. Showers all around! It was super fun though, and it felt so nice and relaxing to be outside for 2 days straight. I took a bunch of videos, so eventually I’ll put those into one big video and update the post.

 

 

Yay I did it! Two posts in a row! WHOOOOOOO!

Hurricane Ridge

Hiking Hurricane Ridge

We finally got our chance this weekend to go explore the Olympic Mountains! We’ve been dying to hike the Olympics since we move here, so we met up with some friends and drove out (up) to Hurricane Ridge.

The temperature dropped about 20 degrees as we drove up the mountain, so our hike was a chilly 45 degrees at elev. 5200. Our ears were popping like crazy on the way up, and we could definitely tell that the air was thinner at the top.

IT WAS AMAZING.

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The clouds were still low when we first started our hike, so we literally hiked through the clouds for awhile. It was totally crazy how thick they were. We were walking along the ridge of the mountain, with drop offs on each side, but all we could see was a solid white wall.

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Right when we were getting to the top, all the clouds started to burn off and we could see the enormous mountains we’d been climbing through! The views were absolutely insane.

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On our way back down, the clouds had cleared so we could see what was at the bottom of the cliffs we’d been walking along. We could hear waterfalls in the distance from all of the snow melt, but couldn’t see many.

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