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

Seattle

The alarm sounded at 6 AM and it took every ounce of my being to get out of bed. With our bags packed, we headed to the dining room for breakfast before we needed to debark. The breakfast in the dining room was basically the same as the buffet and I had my usual oatmeal with brown sugar, grapefruit, and sausage. The coffee on board was delicious so I had a few cups of that as well to wake up fully since we had a big day ahead of us.

Ryan predicted about a 45-minute debarkation process and boy were we surprised! We did the self-debark where we carried all of our bags to the Crown Grill for our debark time. Right as we got there, the staff rounded us off and walked us to the gateway. We were off the ship in under 5 minutes from our debark time and through the customs check in another 5. It took us a total of 10 minutes to get off the boat and to our Uber pick up! We were very impressed.

We all piled into one giant Suburban and rode to our downtown Holiday Inn. I liked the Maxwell hotel so much more, with its spunky personality and super comfy beds, but the Holiday Inn worked as well. We dropped our bags off quickly, freshened up, and then Ryan and I took off on foot to Pike’s Market. It was about a 20-minute walk through the drizzly downtown streets, but we passed some really cool statues, art fixtures, and graffiti. Seattle also has amazing architecture and almost every building has some unique color or quirk that makes it visually appealing.

Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington

We arrived at the market and was shocked at all of the fresh produce and the prices! While one side of the market was filled with flowers of every kind and color at prices from $5 – $15 for a beautiful bouquet, the other side had fresh produce that looked picked that morning, right-off-the-boat fish and seafood, fresh pasta of all flavor varieties (we got some basil linguine to try), cheeses and cured meats, honey sticks, and a huge variety of other goods to buy.

Not only was the market multiple blocks long, but it was 6 stories deep! We wandered down to a lower floor, tried some BBQ pork buns from a take-out Chinese window, window shopped through some old record shops, hippie boutiques, and a pet store that made us homesick for our puppy. I could have perused the market for hours!

Not only is Pike Place Market a big attraction, but there are other hidden gems inside and around the market that make for interesting stops. Across from the market is the original Starbucks with a line out the door 50+ people. It has the original Starbucks logo and everything. On top of that, the notoriously sticky gum-wall in an almost hidden corridor of the Market beckons gum chewers to make a deposit, leaving their brightly colored gum as a marker of their visit to the wall. We checked out both of these places before our stomachs brought us to Pita Stop for a gyro before the trek back to the hotel.

EMP Museum in Seattle, Washington

I changed my galoshes out for my hiking boots and we were back on the streets, walking to the EMP Museum underneath the Space Needle. We opted for the EMP since we have traditional science museums in Dallas and a very nice aquarium, so the EMP offered something different for us to try, and boy were we glad we did! Contained in an architecturally complex and colorful building that you can’t help but be curiously drawn to, the EMP Museum offers exhibits like nothing I have seen before. All of the exhibits feature priceless artifacts in theme, my favorites of which included Light Sabers that were actually used during the filming of the originally Star Wars movies in the “Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction” exhibit, Gizmo from Gremlins in the “Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film” exhibit, guitars and hand-written lyrics from both Nirvana and Jimmy Hendrix in their retrospective exhibits, and the actual costumes from all of the main characters in The Princess Bride! There was also a music lab with booths containing every type of instrument where people could literally make music and jam out on any instrument they pleased. Again, so interactive and cool. I highly recommend the EMP to anyone visiting Seattle!

After exploring the museum, we went out the backdoor to a huge park with an interactive playground for kids. There were white tents set up at the back of the playground and the smell of hot dogs drew Ryan’s stomach and my curiosity over to the tents. They started with lots of kid’s activities, and as we walked further into the tent mass, we realized we stumbled upon the Folk Art Festival taking place. There must have been thousands of people with the most unusual range of styles I have ever seen in one place! There were hair colors ranging every spectrum of the rainbow, clothes that looked like they dated back to the early 1900’s, folk bands set up every 20 feet or so playing on instruments ranging from old wash boards to beer bottles! We strolled through the crowds and were astonished as the free-flowing and happy nature of all of those participating. It’s amazing what a little curiosity off the beaten path will lead you too!

Folk festival in Seattle Washington

We spent about an hour in the festival before our feet couldn’t bare walking anymore and we returned to the hotel. Unfortunately for our feet, Ryan’s family was ready to go to dinner almost as soon as we returned, so we took off again to Vinason Pho & Grill for some of the best pork vermicelli I have ever had in my life! They added mint to the dish with a touch of cinnamon and the freshness of the ingredients made for a delightful experience. I topped dinner off with a strawberry macaroon from the Macadons up the street.

Pork Vermicelli in Seattle Washington

Ryan’s brother-in-law’s sister drove in town from Oregon to see us for her 21st birthday, so we topped off our night with some celebratory drinks. The bar was the oldest family run restaurant in Seattle, open 24-7 with a huge menu, and had quite a personality. We also had free entertainment as a juggler set up right in-front of our patio table. With a margarita and some good conversation under our belt, we headed back in the misty night to our hotel for some much-needed sleep.

Seattle – Back to Dallas

Ryan’s family took off early back to Houston, so we said our goodbyes and then went to an Einstein Bros Bagels up the street for some hot coffee and delicious bagels. My favorite it the everything bagel with honey butter – yumm! It was pouring out, but thankfully with my wellies and rain jacket on and umbrella ready to go, we were ok to walk around town for something fun to do. A lot of things in Seattle are outdoors, so we needed to find something easy to do inside and we found out that the REI flagship store was a little under a mile away. While a dangerous decision for our wallets, we took off to find our shopping mecca.

We came up to a rainforest and also functioned as the entry to the store! We went up a winding dirt path, past a waterfall, and across dirt bike testing trails before getting to the 3rd story entrance. The place was HUGE! It was two floors of everything outdoors and even had a 3 story climbing wall looking out over the forest and a big wooden fire-place to gather around. Not only that, but they were having their biggest sale of the year and it was packed! We spent an hour gallivanting around, wide-eyed at all of the great deals and things we wanted to take back. The REI in Dallas is about 1/3 of the size and this place made me want to move north so I could be a permanent camper. If you are in Seattle looking for something free to do and are any sort of outdoorsy type, you need to come check this REI out, just be credit card careful.

With some new gear in hand, we went back to the hotel, grabbed our bags and a driver to the airport, and started our journey back to the sunny and warm state of Texas.