sunny seattle gets visitors

it has been absolutely beautiful here, and when i got the news that it has already snowed back in my home state of colorado, i must admit i was oh so very happy to be in seattle! my little sister and brother-in-law flew in last weekend for a visit and left just this morning. i have to say that i didn't have half the energy that they did for walking all over this fantastic city. yet, the exploring i did take part in continued to remind me of how wonderful seattle truly is.

oktoberfest: last weekend was the annual fremont oktoberfest. anthony and i took part in the brew ha-ha 5k run first thing sunday morning and then joined up with our visitors to check out some of the other events. as a non-beer drinker i felt the cost of admission to the beer garden was a bit steep ($15), and the food was pretty disappointing. however, we did get to watch the chainsaw pumpkin carving contest! sitting right up front i got sprayed with pumpkin guts, which contributed to a great show overall. as i have a feeling that my running career will be over by next year's oktoberfest, i'd instead like to participate in the street scramble. we watched people running all over the neighborhood for this scavenger hunt, and it looked like a blast! there is also a miss buxom contest, and while i will never be participating in that event, it just may have been worth a visit.

capitol hill: from what i had heard of this neighborhood, it sounded just like capitol hill in denver. and lots of it really is just like denver's cap hill, but parts of it are much more special. the beginning of our visit took us along broadway, where nothing really stood out to me. and then we made our way to volunteer park. as we neared the park, we found ourselves in a beautiful residential area. and the closer we got, the more in love with the neighborhood i fell! it is just stunning! the 50 acre park has a cemetery, public conservatory and the seattle asian art museum. the conservatory is a small building, packed full of tropical plants and cactus (in separate rooms of course!). the asian art museum is also rather small, but full of beautiful exhibits. i definitely think it's worth the trip away from downtown to hit this unique spot. outside the museum is the black sun sculpture, which provides an opportunity for tourists and transplants a unique view of the needle. we also made our way to lake view cemetery, which is the resting place of bruce lee and his son brandon lee.

the aquarium: although there just a couple months ago, i jumped at the opportunity to return to the aquarium with my sister. i haven't been to many aquariums, but seattle's is my favorite by far. for me the best part is the tide pools that allow you to touch all the sea creatures. i've done the starfish and crabs, but it's not every day that you get to stick your hand into a sea anemone. pretty fun! they also have sea otters, which are MUCH larger than their river counterparts. additionally, they have an extensive exhibit about the salmon ladder, which ends with the adult salmon battling the upstream currents with river otters playing right along side them.

alki beach: i wasn't sure that i'd ever find a reason to get over to west seattle, but having my sister in town prompted a visit to alki beach. this park offers 135 acres of stunning views of downtown and the sound. although the rest of west seattle is less than thrilling (at least for me), alki beach makes for a gorgeous and relaxing side trip. plus they have their own replica of the statue of liberty overlooking the waters of the puget sound.

saying farewell: my sister and her husband stayed for over a week, but somehow their departure came all too quickly. for their last night in town we went to a great little restaurant (holds about 20 diners at a time) in wallingford called sutra. this place serves a fixed menu (changes weekly) of 4 all-vegetarian courses. each course is served to the entire restaurant at the same time, so reservation times are fixed and all diners experience the meal at the same time. prior to service the chef discussed some of the ingredients and preparation techniques, which was pretty enlightening for a long time ex-vegetarian. the food was excellent and a great experience that we will definitely have to try again. plus i was turned on to vegan ice cream made with coconut milk. delicious!

and now that our visitors have departed, we are getting back to work (plus a lot of football watching). i start my internship with the league of women voters of washington tomorrow and continue to submit job applications. a paid position would be nice after all. :)

stay tuned as the autumnal weather moves in and brings the rain!


my version of hiking

those of you that know me know i'm not one for athletic activities. however, hiking is so darn convenient (not to mention BEAUTIFUL) in this "neck of the woods"- yep, pun intended! these are our most recent hiking adventures:

cougar mountain wilderness peak loop: this low-traffic hike is about 30 minutes outside of the city in a more marshy area of cougar mountain wildland park. while cougar mountain can be generally busy, this particular trail is not nearly as popular as the others. we opted for the 3.5 mile loop with a short .2 mile side trip. one of the first and most exciting discoveries of the hike was a slug! i can't recall having ever see a real-life slug in colorado. my first slug encounter was actually in marin county in northern california, so i shouldn't have been too surprised to see one a bit further north up the coast. and as the hike went on, it soon became apparent that we would be seeing hundreds and hundreds of them! still, i made sure to notice every one on the trail and point them out to anthony to avoid squishing.

tiger mountain state forest: for our next adventure we chose an area with more than 80 miles of trails and a choice of 3 summits. we had planned on hiking the west tiger mountain #3 loop, but the weather led us in another direction. it was raining lightly when we left the house, but over our 20 mile drive the light rain turned into a full-on rainstorm. yet, we were committed to some sort of outdoor experience and found ourselves on a 1.5 loop around tradition lake. i wore a light rain jacket, but unfortunately i didn't stay dry! the heavy rain prevented us from really enjoying the environment, however i will say that i was impressed with the maintenance of this particular loop. it's certainly not a hike as it's very flat. but the nice gravel trail offers a beautiful leisurely walk in the woods. we decided it would be a great option for getting our dogs out into the wilderness. although our visit was short, by the time we made it back to the car the storm had worsened. we could hardly see the road because it was raining so hard, and yet we still saw a steady stream of hikers and their dogs during our short stay. obviously we are going to have to get some better rain gear for these situations if we are to become true northwesterners!

our most recent adventure took us back to tiger mountain for another shot at the tiger mountain #3 loop. the 5.1 trail is rather difficult and climbs in earnest with few flattened areas for reprieve. i gotta say, i thought this hike was miserable! i learned an important lesson: when the guide says "difficult," it really means just that! i pulled my groin about 2 miles in, but was determined the reach the summit. the summit offered expansive views, yet i suspect it is not the highest summit of the 3. we then let the guide book lead us down an unmaintained trail that dropped nearly 1,500 feet in just over a mile. translation: too steep for enjoyment. i ended up on my butt a number of times as my feet just couldn't hold me at that angle. in the car ride back to town our friend announced, "despite all the grumbling, that hike wasn't really that bad!" i disagree! i'm going to need to get better shoes and in much better shape to take on (and actually enjoy) another hike like that!

stay tuned for our upcoming adventure to the fremont oktoberfest (plus all that other stuff i promised)!


getting settled in seattle

i first learned that i would be moving to seattle last october. my partner (anthony) was starting a new job and i would be applying to transfer schools. anthony moved in november, and i arrived to my new home at the end of june. it's been a whirlwind of a summer since.

our first visitors: maureen and jana came to explore the city with me in mid-july. despite my hesitation, we made plans to go to a tourist trap of a restaurant on the docks- the crab pot. let me tell you, one of the highlights of my time in seattle thus far! seriously! yes, the lines are outrageous, the decor is hideous, and the ambiance is less than ideal. but, the food is incredible and the experience was one that i would love to relive soon. we also went to the aquarium, did the underground tour, and took a ferry to bainbridge island. the aquarium was great, the tour was informative but a bit lengthy for my attention span, and bainbridge was cute but i likely won't return anytime soon.

back to denver for wedding mania: after just a few weeks of getting to know the city, i roadtripped back to denver with my most gracious and patient friend maureen. first up was my little sister's wedding. it was AMAZING! rather than traditional wedding pictures, they opted for a photobooth-type set-up. it resulted in hundreds of photos like these (taken by matt novak and partner):

aren't they wonderful?

just a couple weeks later i headed to winter park for a good friend's wedding and then straight to beaver creek for another wedding! and then just hours after getting back to denver, i began my roadtrip back to washington with my mom.

back in seattle: and now i'm back and trying to find my way in this fantastic city. stay tuned for commentary on my most recent adventures, including the paramount theater, green lake, and hiking in the northwestern rain.