Pike Place Market

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Remember the family trip I took over the summer? Well, today I’m finally kicking of my recaps of the trip. There are so many pictures to sort through and places to talk about, so I decided it would be easiest to do this bit by bit. I’m also thinking of doing a round-up post towards the end to link all of the posts and places in one mini guide.

I thought we’d start with one spot that many people have heard of, whether or not you’ve been to Seattle: Pike Place Market. This was one of the first destinations I added to my list and the one place that everyone named when I asked for Seattle recommendations. Most of them said, “It’s touristy, but worth it” and they were right.

Even though we had a relatively short journey from LAX to SEA, we were pretty tired when we arrived in the afternoon of our first day in Seattle. We had a chill, relaxing night, and rested up to go exploring on Day 2. And oh boy, did we explore. I think we visited the most places on this day. But there I go, getting ahead of myself again!

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Our first stop in Seattle was Pike Place Market. After reading a few travel guides, I knew that the market is more crowded in the afternoon, so I wanted us to head there on the earlier side. But, I’d forgotten what it’s like when you travel with family, and by the time all of us were ready, it was already late morning/early afternoon.

Driving to the market was my first experience with Seattle hills. I was not prepared for the incline on some of those hills. After driving around for a bit, we finally found a parking spot at what felt like a 75-degree angle, and then walked down the hill to Pike Place.

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I enjoy markets in general and Pike Place has something for everyone. There are restaurants, groceries, flowers, handcrafted goods, food stands, and much more. We spent a few hours wandering around the market and of course I went crazy with the pictures because there was so much that caught my eye.

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Some highlights of the market and surrounding areas for me were:

– Hot mini donuts: these were so yummy and there were some topped with maple and bacon bits (!!)

– Rachel’s Ginger Beer: this place was recommended to me by a friend who lived in Seattle and a refreshing drink was just what I needed after walking around for a while

– The flowers: the flowers were lovely and not crazy expensive. I was sorely tempted to take some back to our Airbnb, but I knew we’d be walking around for the rest of the day and I didn’t want them to wilt before we made it back. If I lived near the market though, I’m pretty sure a good chunk of my money would be diverted to those pretty flowers

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We were able to see the flying fish too. Somehow, in all of my research before the trip, I hadn’t heard about the flying fish before we got there. Then my mom mentioned it, but I had no idea what she was referring to. We happened to catch the show and it was pretty amusing to see the men tossing this huge fish around. One of their tricks is to throw a fish towards you and then catch it right before it seems like the fish will smack you in the face (I have a clip of my mom reacting to this- it’s so funny!).

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After we’d walked around for a bit, we grabbed some fish and chips and sat outside behind the market to enjoy our food. The weather was fantastic and sitting in that open area provided some good people watching, mostly of other tourist families just like us.

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I realized early on that one of my favorite things about Seattle is that there are views of water everywhere. Sitting on a bench overlooking the water and munching a tasty meal is something I could quickly get used to.

After our lunch, we packed up to head to the next spot on my list. But this wasn’t our only visit to Pike Place- we actually went back another day during our trip. My mom wanted to pick up some more souvenirs and I was happy to go back for another round. On our second trip, we saw the gum wall and the hula hooping guitar man, two important things that we’d missed on our first go-around!

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Pike Place Market was such a wonderful, vibrant place, and I’d definitely go back. I’d love to experience it earlier in the day too, when it’s a bit less crowded and the market is just coming to life.

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My Best Friend’s Wedding

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I’ve been looking forward to this wedding for years. When my best friend got engaged in 2013, I was so excited for her and her fiancee. We’d been talking about the wedding for so long, it was almost hard to believe that the time was finally here. The last stop on my whirlwind vacation last month was San Diego, where I attended the best wedding I’ve ever been to.

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As the day approached, I could barely contain my excitement. I took the train from LA to San Diego (which featured a lovely stretch along the coast) a few days early so that I could spend time with her and help with any last-minute preparations. As she showed me all that she’d planned for the wedding, I could see how much love and care she’d put into every detail.

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Erica and Carlos were married in a gorgeous church in downtown San Diego, with soaring ceilings and beautiful stained glass windows. When they talked about why they loved each other and said their vows in Spanish, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room.

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After the ceremony, we had a bit of a break before the cocktail hour, so the bridesmaids and groomsmen headed to the venue to help set up a little bit. I loved the venue, which had a beautiful outdoor area with a koi pond, as well as indoor seating. Soon after, the guests started to arrive, and from then on it was one big party!

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My family has been friends with Erica’s family for years now, so my parents and sister were also invited to the wedding, and it was so fun to have them there. I was also able to spend time with some of her wonderful family and friends (who I met when Erica and I traveled to Spain together in 2009) who flew all the way to California for the wedding. To top it off, several of my oldest and best friends from high school were there, so it was wonderful to see them and have a mini reunion. Basically, the room was full of so many of my favorite people in the whole world. I felt really lucky to be there to celebrate the union of this beautiful couple.

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There was much dancing (Erica and Carlos actually met in a dance class- is that way too cute, or what?!), singing, and general merriment. After so much preparation and anticipation, the time disappeared in the blink of an eye. I had the best time and I wish I had a time turner so we could go back and do it all over again!

Shelter Cove

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Oh boy do I have a story about Shelter Cove. When we were searching for a stopping point close to the redwoods and the coast, Shelter Cove came up. The pictures were pleasant and one of the inns had a couple rooms available, so we thought, “Why not?” Let’s book it.”

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So it turns out that Shelter Cove is actually relatively remote. So remote, in fact, that there’s only one road in and out. And this road isn’t your average road; it’s a two-lane road that winds up and down through the mountains until you descend into Shelter Cove.

Let’s just say that driving this road was experience. We had no idea it would be like that and by the time we made it to that road, it was starting to get dark. It’s a twelve-mile stretch that takes around 40-45 (harrowing) minutes to drive. We were driving cautiously because we were completely unfamiliar with the road, which made some of the locals behind us very impatient. More than once, we had to find a carveout in the road and pull over so that someone could pass us. As their car went careening around a corner, I wondered how it was possible that they didn’t drive right off the cliff!

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I’ve never been carsick or even queasy in a car before, but I discovered on this trip that winding high-speed highways make me very uncomfortable. I wasn’t even driving on this road, but I was watching it like a hawk, particularly around every hairpin turn.

When we finally arrived in Shelter Cove, I was still uneasy because I knew we’d have to travel that same road back out the next day. But, here’s the happiest part of the story- when my sister and I chose Shelter Cove, we picked it solely for its proximity to the redwoods. It turns out that my parents actually know a couple that lives in Shelter Cove, two friends that they’d made many years ago when we were still babies. My parents had been meaning to visit this couple in Shelter Cove for ages, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. Then, out of the blue, we picked this destination as a resting point, my parents recalled that their friends live in Shelter Cove, they called them up to let them know we were passing through, and we met up with them the next day!

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My parents and their friends hadn’t seen each other in over ten years, so it was a very happy reunion. And, after realizing how remote it is, my parents were even more grateful. Who knows when we’ll ever be making that trip again?! Despite the frightening road, I’m really glad my parents had the opportunity to visit with their friends. Once I recovered from the drive and had a chance to properly look around in the daylight, I realized that Shelter Cove really is a beautiful little spot.

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And with that, I’m concluding my recap of last year’s road trip (if you missed any of the previous posts, you can catch up here)! I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip. The next travel posts will be about Seattle and Vancouver and I’m aiming to get them up sometime this year (hopefully it will be sooner rather than later, but with my track record, it could take me months!).

The Redwoods

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Despite living in California for most of my life, I’d never seen any redwoods or been to one of the state parks until last summer. As we were heading back home after our stay on the Oregon Coast, we’d planned to split the drive back into two portions (because it was crazy to make a 14-18 drive in one day). For the first leg of the trip home, we were going to spend the night in Shelter Cove, but we first we’d stop at Humboldt Redwoods State Park on our way.

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I’d seen these massive trees in pictures before, but it’s entirely different seeing them in person. It was both awe-inspiring and humbling. As we walked along the paths, the wind rustled through the leaves and the grass. The sound was both soothing and peaceful.

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When we planned this trip, I did want to stop and see the redwoods, but I didn’t expect to enjoy the experience as much as I did. There really is something fascinating about being outdoors and exploring. That particular day, it felt like we had the park entirely to ourselves. I could have spent much more time picking my way around fallen branches and listening to the sounds of nature.

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