Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier

I opened up my computer one day in July and read the best email I had ever received. It was from my sister, Julia, who requested a long-weekend sister trip to one of three national parks! I couldn’t be happier to respond “YESSSS!!!” We decided to take a long weekend in October to hike around Mt. Rainier which is outside of Seattle, Washington.

Thursday  –

We flew in from different cities but landed within minutes of each other and had quite the exciting, hug-filled reunion in the Seattle airport. We gabbed as we walked to the Uber pick-up area and got lucky that we did not have to split our Uber-Pool Prius with another 3 people – that would have been so cramped!

It only took 20 minutes or so get to the Marriott Seattle Waterfront hotel that had the most beautiful view! The check-in guy asked us if we were twins which made my day since I am 5 years older! I am not sure how my sister feels about the mix-up but I think she lets it slide for my sake.

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We got up to the room to clean up before heading out for dinner. We opted for sushi since the seafood in Seattle is so darn fresh and delicious! We opted to try Umi Sake House since it was only a few mintue walk from the hotel. We cheersed to our reunion with some cocktails and split seaweed salad, edamame, and two of the best rolls I’ve ever had in my life! (Unfortunately, I Snapped and didn’t actually save my food-porn worthy photo evidence.. ugh!)

Totally stuffed, we walked back to our room and chatted until late in the night. You’ve got to love an old fashion sister sleepover (except when you get touched by cold feet)!

Friday –

My sister mentioned she had to work a tiny bit when we first planned the trip but the “tiny” turned into 1/2 the day, so I made some solo plans. I had been wanting to try out an out Orange Theory class and there happened to be one about 10 minutes from our hotel! I booked a 10 AM class and my sister and I grabbed a yummy continental breakfast before I started the walk to Orange Theory. The directions had me go up this awesome bridge with a beautiful view of the water way. I then turned into the city for a short tour before arriving at the studio. Unfortunately for my body, it was “National Burpee Day” and the class totally kicked my butt! Maybe wasn’t the best idea with a big hike coming up the next day… (Oh, foreshadowing!)

The day was glorious – 60 degrees and sunny – and I loved walking through the city. Once I got back to the hotel, I freshened up while my sister finished her conference call. Our stomachs were rumbling so we took off to check out Pike Place Market and find a spot for lunch.

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Pike Place Market was only a 10 minute walk from our hotel and we had a great time sampling the different products for sale, like questionable moisturizer, and smelling all of the flowers. It took me back to the last time I was in Seattle for our Alaskan cruise.

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We came across a little cheese and wine shop and sampled some cheeses. We ended up buying two cheeses and a nice bottle of red to take back to the hotel for snacking later. We also found an Italian place and split a scrumptious pasta dish. (Mmm, carbs!)

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Another meeting popped up on my sister’s schedule so we decided to grab some coffee and head down to the wharf. Talk about an amazing view to take a call from, especially since happy hour with wine and oysters at Elliot’s Oyster House was to follow.

Feeling good after our wine, we went back to the Marriott to get ready for our exciting comedic evening. We were going to dinner at Local 360 before seeing Iliza Shlesinger live! I watched her Netflix special, “Elder Millennial”, a few months before our trip and could not believe she was premiering in Seattle the night we were there! I was beyond excited.

Dinner was probably an 7 out of 10. We split a weird goat cheese and beet salad, but a delicious squash soup with so, so, so much bread. My hand-made, pesto pasta dish was very good and my sister had a veggie medley over thick-cut toast.

We were so stuffed that we were glad for the walk to the Moore Theater. We had every intention of finding a bar to hang at before the 10:30 show, however, while passing by we noticed that the theater was really dark. It looked like there was a big metal gate and that the doors were closed. We walked up and, to my completed sock, we saw the below:

The sign for our canceled show - bummer!

I was SO sad that we could not see Iliza. Instead of going to a bar, we decided to go back to the hotel and get an early night’s sleep since we had an early morning to Mt. Rainier the next day.

Saturday:

We woke up bright and early to check out of the hotel and head to Mt. Rainier! Even though it is a 2 hour drive from the city, you could actually see the mountain from the wharf in Seattle. The drive was absolutely beautiful as all of the trees were changing to the most vibrant colors for fall!

The drive to Mt. Rainier in Washington

We took a pit stop at a grocery store on the way to grab some food for our hike. I was looking for something quick, prepackaged, and easy to eat and found the perfect lunch – Pizza Lunchables! My 5 year-old self would have been so proud.

We finally started the accent to Mt. Rainier. The mountain kept getting bigger and bolder as we drew closer and we were in awe. We took a quick stop to take some photos at a lookout point and finally made it to the hike area. The weather was perfect and the trail was up, up, and more up. Oh, my butt was burning from those burpees!

Hiking Mt. Rainier in Washington

The views and the hike got us talking about everything – wanting to move from Texas so I could hike more, previous hikes with our parents (like when we accidentally hiked through a nudist beach *cringe*), quirky family songs that we used to sing when we hiked with family, dating and relationships, and how we were going to make these sister trips an annual tradition. I have to say, I am so incredibly lucky to have Julia as my sister and built-in best friend / travel buddy. We are quite the quirky pair:

The view from the top of the hike made all of the climb worth it. We decided to post up on an out cropping for some relaxation and Lunchables.

Eventually, we had to make the trek down the path back to the car. It was pretty steep with shale rock everywhere. It was a bitter-sweet decent as I could have stayed by the mountain for ages.

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Our spirits were lifted though as we were staying the night in a tiny cabin! It was only 800 or so square feet and the bed was in a lofted area up-stairs. We were so excited!

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We were going to celebrate our day with the wine and cheese we bought in Seattle, but someone left the cheese in the hotel fridge (I finally forgive you Jules) so we “nommed” on some chocolate and went to watch the sunset in the National Park. Unfortunately, the trees were too tall and we couldn’t get a great sunset view. We were starving so we decided to try out the local Sherpa-Himalayan Cuisine at the Wildberry restaurant. It was beyond our expectations and so good!

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With full bellies and very tired bodies, we went back to our little cabin in the woods to sleep.

Sunday:

Another early morning for our last day in Washington. We made some toast for breakfast, packed our bags, and drove the 2 hours to Seattle. We had a few hours before our flights, so we parked the car with our bags hidden and took off around the city. The first stop was a Vietnamese restaurant called Green Leaf with the best vermicelli and pork I’ve ever eaten in my entire life (and I’ve eaten A LOT of vermicelli). I would go back there in a heart beat!

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After lunch, we walked through the park under the Space Needle  to the Museum of Pop Culture. I had been there once before and had to share it with my sister. It has awesome exhibits all about various artists and movie genres. If you are in Seattle, I highly recommend a stop.

The weather was perfect and we spent the rest of our time on the lawn of the Museum watching kids play in giant bubbles being carried by the wind. It was the perfect end to our trip before our journey home.

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Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington

Getting to our Alaskan Cruise:

After a stressful day at work getting everything finished before 7 days off the radar, dropping the dog off at daycare, loading our bags into the Uber, and bypassing security, we were finally in the airport by gate 14 for our departure to Seattle, Washington for our Princess cruise to Alaska! We grabbed some celebratory margaritas at the Chili’s by our gate, (which were surprisingly good for airport drinks), and finally boarded our plane! We had checked our bags, so we didn’t have to stress about finding overhead bin space.

The 4 hour American Airlines flight was bumpy but had some amazing views as we flew over Colorado’s mountains. We were not expecting the views to start before we even landed! The snow-capped mountains called our names as our recent skiing experiences have us hooked on the slopes. We had to remind ourselves of our current adventure and that skiing wouldn’t happen for a little longer, but the thought of moving to Colorado in the future did cross our minds!

Anyways, after watching one of my favorite movies, The King and I, it was time to land in Seattle; a new State to check off my list! It took about 30 minutes to grab our bags from baggage claim and we walked through a sea of Toyota Prius’ in the parking lot to find our Uber to town. Apparently, Uber and Taxis drivers at the airport can only drive Prius’ for eco-friendly reasons.

It took us about $30 and 40 minutes to arrive at the Maxwell Hotel in downtown Seattle. Boy did our hotel have personality! Upon checking in, we were greeted with cupcakes, pineapple water, and smiling receptionists. The hotel’s mascot is a Husky puppy and they have plushies you can “adopt” in each room for $25 that goes to the ASPCA. Additionally, there are free yellow bikes you can use to go around town, umbrellas for the rain, and huge feathery comforters for covering the bed! Each bed comes with two of these fluffy duvet covers and we took the two from our bed and the two from the other bed in our room to make a super comfy, pillow-fairy certified sheet experience. It was SO COMFY!

My boyfriend Ryan’s family arrived before us and were waiting in to lobby for us to check-in, dump our stuff, and head down the street to dinner. It was a quick, block long walk to the neighboring Vietnamese restaurant. We walked in and the smells we were greeted with made our empty stomachs rumble! The restaurant was tiny so we pushed a few tables together. While there were only a few other people in the place, the two young waiters were bustling around, a bit inefficiently if I may say so. Our waiter took Ryan’s sister and her husband’s order first, put their order in, ran to another table, came back for Ryan and my order, put our order in, ran food to another table, brought over Ryan’s sister’s drinks, went to another table, brought Ryan and my drink, ran to the back, and finally came back for Ryan’s parent’s orders. It made me tired just watching him!

I ended up getting some delicious pho soup and a grilled pork bahn mi sandwich for dipping into the soup. Yum! We arrived at 8:30 and the restaurant closed at 9. Usually, there is some wiggle room for current guests to stay after 9 PM closing time, especially on a Friday night, but the waiters were trying to hustle us out. They not only brought the checks right after we got our food, but were busing dishes and informing us they had busses to catch home at 9:10. Needless to say, we ate quickly, ran out the door, and walked back to the hotel to jump into the mound of covers and sleep.

Heading to the cruise:

The nice thing about going to the West Coast from Texas is that you gain two hours of sleeping in time. Getting up at 8 AM was really like sleeping in until 10 – so nice! It was sprinkling outside so I popped on my new yellow galoshes and we took off to meet Ryan’s family up the street at Mecca Café for breakfast. It was about a four block walk filled with lush gardens, cute little restaurants, and a great view of the Space Needle!

There was a line out the door for the restaurant but thankfully, Ryan’s family had some bar seats warmed up for us. The diner had a strange but warm personality with a menu full of comfort food. I got the biggest bowl of oatmeal and blueberries with a side of toast and their famous bacon. So much food but so good! After we had our fill, we paid and realized it was pouring out! Thankfully, my jacket’s hood saved my hair-day and we made it back to the hotel without being drenched.

The Maxwell Hotel rooms come with huge yellow umbrellas for use during your stay. We grabbed ours and took off for a post-breakfast stroll. The hotel was a quick walk from the EMP Museum, housed in huge colorful modern building. Right behind the EMP is the Space Needle surrounded by gardens and modern statues. Such a beautiful walk. This part of town is clean, seemed safe, full of well-kept gardens and surprises! We turned down a street and saw the bay at the end. We decided to walk to the bay and found a bridge overlooking the bay and a park on its shoreline. We could even see our cruise ship from there! We only had 30 minutes before we had to head to the ship, so we hustled back in the rain to depart from the hotel.

Graffiti wall in Seattle, Washington