Washington Travel Assignment

Ahh Washington! It is hard to sum up all that we did here in one post because we did SOOO much while we were there and absolutely loved it. We still talk about our time in Seattle frequently, and the state of Washington has got to be one of our all time favorite places. We also have to add that we were there the most ideal time of year, mid-May to the end of September, so we may have a skewed perception of the Seattle weather!

First off, finding an affordable 3 month lease for the summer that was dog friendly was NOT easy. We called around to so many different apartment complexes and finally found one that was a somewhat reasonable price and ended up being a really easy and quick commute to work. It may have been 400 square feet but it did the job, and it had a pretty incredible roof deck with views of Rainier and downtown, with the cascades to the east and olympics to the west on a clear day. We lived in the University District right next to the Wallingford neighborhood. This turned out to be a great spot for us. Especially with what ended up being one of our favorite (Charley included) little places to go right at the end of our street, Floating Bridge Brewery.

We went on lots of long weekend trips and some day trips. We chose Seattle for our summer assignment because of all of the National parks and hiking within just a few hours of the city. We feel like we squeezed so much in the summer we were there but still barely scratched the surface of all the things there are to do. We also loved exploring all of the neighborhoods in the city!

One of the first hikes that we did was Lake 22. It is a very popular hike since it is only about an hour from the city but it is so beautiful and the views are incredible for a moderate hike!

(Above) Another amazing hike, Bean Creek Basin, led us to an orange/clay colored basin. We climbed up over the top of the basin and got this incredible mountain view! This hike is one of the many hiking opportunities off of highway 90. Most of the hikes we did while in Washington were off of 90 or route 2 going west to east. For some more beautiful day trips and hikes, see below:

Our first big long trip was to the San Juan Islands. We left Charley with a dog sitter and took our car on the ferry to Orcas Island. We camped at Moran State Park and spent 2 days on Orcas Island and one day on San Juan Island. The islands are very quaint and quiet. We had a great time hiking, biking, driving around and whale watching. Swipe through for more photos!

Wallace Falls, a good hike for a rainy PNW day.

Another long weekend trip that we took was to the Vancouver area. Charley tagged along for this one. We got an air bnb just outside the city. We spent a few days with a hike in the morning and exploring the city in the afternoon/evening. We biked around Stanley park., ate poutine, checked out some other neighborhoods in the city, and we hiked at some of the provincial parks that were close to the city.

Our last day in Canada we dropped Charley off with a dog sitter and drove up the sea to sky highway from Vancouver to Whistler. We stopped just short of Whistler and hiked up to Garibaldi Lake, a turquoise alpine lake fed by a glacier and surrounded by mountains:

Since we had arrived in Washington, I had my eyes set on hiking up to the top of the crater of Mount St. Helens, but a special permit is required to hike the trail. We were able to score permits for July 4th! We left Charley with a sitter (we are so lucky that she is good staying with random strangers LOL) and we headed halfway to the trail after work so we could wake up early the next day and start hiking.

The first two miles of the trail is through a wooded, moderately steep forest trail. Once you break through the forest, there is a mile-long boulder scramble, and then a mile-long trek up a steep incline of scree (volcanic ash). We had a clear day with views of Mt. Adams to the east, Mt. Rainier to the north, and Mt. Hood to the south.

The North Cascades are extremely remote, rugged peaks, glaciers, lakes and forests in the central northern part of Washington state. There are no road that go through the park, and few trails. This hike that we did is just outside the park borders and has some epic 360 degree views of North Cascade peaks and lakes.

Another hike that we did was just outside the boundary of the North Cascades with some insane views! See below:

We had a few visitors while we were in Seattle! A few of which being our friends from UMass, Becca, Laura and Billy. They came for a long weekend in July, and we had a blast! They were all troopers about having to squish into our tiny apartment and took turns sleeping on our couch and air mattress. We took them on a hike, explored the city, went to a farmers market, and ate lots of good food (courtesy of our foodie tour guide Becca).

Quite possibly one of our favorite weekends of the summer was camping at The Gorge Amphitheater. We were able to find 2 of our favorite bands playing back to back shows on one of the weekends that we happened to be off from work. It was meant to be! We took off on a Friday morning for central Washington state, a town called Quincy, Washington which is situated on the Columbia River on the Eastern side of the Cascades. This part of Washington is the high desert and sees very little rain. It is dry and hot! We got to see the Avett Brothers and Mumord and Sons play which was incredible!

We also got to go to Cave B Estate winery right down the street from the venue, where they had some musicians playing at the outdoor amphitheater and sample some wines. We also hung out and took a dip in the river.

One of the things I miss the most about Washington is being able to see Mount Rainier on a clear day, even from hours away. It is so majestic and magical, and I don’t think you can understand unless you’ve seen it with your own eyes. Maybe it is having grown up in the northeast and not being able to see more than 100 yards in front of you because of the thick trees/brush and the lack of elevation. Mount Rainier stands alone at over 14,000 feet, and is covered in glaciers. Even after being in Washington for 4 months, it still amazed me every time I could see it looming in the distance. We visited both Paradise and Sunrise parts of Mount Rainier National park. They are both unique and beautiful in their own way. When we visited at Paradise, the mountain was shrouded in clouds much of the time we were there. However, we did get to explore endless lush meadows filled with wildflowers.

Here are some photos from our visit to Paradise:

Here are some photos from our visit to Sunrise:

We had a couple more visitors at the end of our stay in Washington. Jack and Jocelyn were not able to visit when the rest of the Neureuter family came out in May, so they came to visit us in August! We took them on a hike, explored the city, went to a Mariner’s game, and went kayaking on Lake Union.

While Jack and Jocelyn were visiting, one of Bijan and I’s favorite bands played a show on the rooftop of Pike Place Market! It was incredible, and definitely one of the most memorable experiences of our travels. Not to mention it was on the day of our first anniversary!

Below are photos from a hike that we did around Mount Baker in Northwestern Washington. Shown in the photos is Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker. We also saw a heard of mountain goats!

Another cascade region hike we did, Mt. Mccausland:

Our last overnight trip that we did in Washington was a trip to the Olympic Peninsula. The Olympic Peninsula has many different parts, the coast, the rainforest, the mountains and some beautiful lakes. We had intended to spend 5 days exploring, but not surprisingly it was raining all weekend, so we cut our stay short.

Since it was going to rain, we decided to spend our time in the rainforest and on the coast. The Hoh Rainforest receives between 140 – 170 inches of rain per year, and it is the most lush and green when visiting in the rain. Green moss and ferns blanket the trees and the forest floor, while a blanket of fog layers the forest and surrounding evergreen covered mountains. There are lots of giant slugs and snails. The Hoh River is a slate blue, clear and we saw some salmon swimming upstream. It is a very unique place to visit.

For our second night on the peninsula, Bijan and I packed our big backpacks with our camping gear and walked a little less than a mile through the woods to Second Beach. The coast of the peninsula is very rugged and much of it is isolated. The beaches are often covered in driftwood, and just off the coast are massive sea stacks. It is so rugged and beautiful. The photos don’t even do justice to how massive the sea stacks are. We got a killer sunset while we set up camp, and woke up to low tide in the morning. We were able to walk out all the way up to the sea stacks.

Aside from the trips and hikes that we did, Bijan and I visited a lot of restaurants, and explored a lot of the neighborhoods of Seattle. We walked around many of the city parks, and enjoyed strolling through the farmers markets. There are so many gems in this city! One thing that I also miss is the espresso shacks on every corner when you leave the city. It was our ritual to grab a latte at a different coffee shack each time we went on an adventure.

Believe it or not, we also worked full time all summer, meaning three 12 hour shifts per week. We worked at Harborview Medical Center as acute care float pool nurses. It wasn’t an easy gig, and it gave us a lot of anxiety and some sleepless nights at first. Harborview is a trauma center for 4 states, and we worked on all of the acute care floors including burns, trauma surgery, neuro, ED overflow, and everything in between. It is a city hospital that serves the underserved including the homeless, uninsured and prisoners. It was chaos at times, but very rewarding and we met some really awesome people there. We talk about Harborview often and how much we enjoyed working at such an incredible place.

One last rooftop cityscape photo:

And that’s a wrap! Most of the above photos were taken on my iPhone. While we were in Seattle, we invested in a nice new camera! See the next blog entry with photos from our trip back east to see our amateur photography skills. Thanks for reading!

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