Sharing the PNW

August 1-15

Before jumping into the post, I want to congratulate Abbey and Ethan on the arrival of their beautiful, healthy baby boy. We are thrilled for your growing family, and look forward to being the cool aunt and uncle he needs. Welcome to the world, Mr Elliott James Ouimet!

We worked a couple shifts after our friends Matt and Becca left. Nothing to speak of, except that the hospital is running overflow and short on beds, meaning as float pool nurses we’re tasked with opening, staffing, and closing border areas- inpatient “rooms”, but not a real department. Just beds situated in areas that can serve to hold patients, if needed. Trauma season is in full swing, and with the hospital serving as the only level 1 trauma center in 4 states (Washington, Alaska, Montana, Idaho), there are plenty of folks coming in.

We’ve decided to stay in town until at least the beginning of November, extending our contracts about 8 weeks.

On August 3rd, we decided to tackle a monster.

Jamie, Charley and I headed east from Seattle along Route 2 into the Cascades and toward Blanca Lake. The photos of the lake were stunning, and usually photos don’t do landscapes any justice. So it seemed to be worth the trip. We forked off of Route 2 along a forest road and into unpaved territory. Arch was pleased.

“What would we do if we got a flat tire way out here? No cell service, in the woods?” Jamie said.

“Then we’d change the tire! We’ve got a full spare”

2 minutes later, the low pressure light flickers on. The right rear tire was hissing when I checked it.

It’d take us about 45 minutes to get everything situated, and we decided to continue on. We’d driven 2 hours already, and weren’t about to abort the mission.

All in all, the hike took us a bit more than 8 miles up and over the side of a bowl holding Blanca Lake. We’d climb just under 3,500 feet in all. But boy, the views were spectacular.

After some resting on the shoreline, and the occasional frigid dip in the lake, we retraced our path back to Archie, fingers crossed the entire time that we didn’t somehow suffer another flat tire.

We celebrated with greasy burgers from a local dive in Sultan on the way home, complimented by karaoke night with some 90’s hits (no, we didn’t perform).

The following day we’d made plans to meet up with some family. Coincidentally, Jamie’s cousin Leah was visiting Seattle with a friend, at the same time her other cousin Cole, from the other side of the family, was also visiting. We all got together at Schilling Cider House for some flights and we grabbed dinner at Cafe Turko next door afterward. It was great to see family, albeit briefly, and catch up about the goings-on on the east coast.

On Sunday, the 8th, it rained. Up until a couple days prior, Seattle had seen 52 straight dry days. The wetness was welcomed, but we also were trying to get out and hit the trail. We met up with Maggie and Brandon, and the dogs, of course, at a trail just outside of North Bend, about an hour east on I-90, again into the Cascades. The forest canopy protected us from most of the rain, and it subsided shortly after we started hiking, anyway. A gentle hike to Talapus Lake (another alpine lake, this one less grand but still soul-soothing). The pups loved getting muddy together, and afterward we made our way into North Bend and had a late lunch at Snoqualmie Falls Brewery .

We’d spend the rest of the day resting up for our three consecutive shifts to start out the work-week.

It was on Wednesday evening that we’d welcome our next guests to the Emerald City. My mom and brother Kaivan came into town to visit, and we were looking forward to their arrival for some time. Jed was also planning to visit the same weekend, but, of course, with the arrival of sweet Elliott, Papa stayed back in Mass.

We (meaning Jamie) had planned quite the itinerary. Like when Matt and Becca visited, we’d be stuffing a lot into their time here. We picked them up Thursday morning, grabbed coffee from Lighthouse Roasters, a roastery that provides coffee beans to numerous cafes across the area, and hit the highway for a couple hour drive. Wildfires dampened the views while Mom and Kaivan were here, and the relentless and unusual heat (90+ for the majority of the time) was always a consideration.

Skyline Trail at Mt Rainier National Park (Paradise side) is an excellent trail to get the most bang for your buck if visiting. Of course, this means that the trail can be mobbed, as it was when we visited. But it’s about 6 miles, so there’s plenty of room to spread out. Charley couldn’t come (National Park rules), so she’d be getting picked up in the dog bus and heading out to Fall City for the day with her walking buddies.

The haze from the fires saved our skin, it seems, as the heat and exposure should’ve been even more intolerable, but the sun’s rays were obstructed from the smoke. And we were still afforded beautiful views of the lower 48’s most iconic and majestic active volcanoes, towering 14,410 feet above sea level, and 7000-8000 feet above the surrounding Cascade Peaks.

Rainier is the lifeblood to 5 rivers, and holds about 25 glaciers and numerous additional snowfields. And it gave rise to Paradise.

Appropriately named, Paradise sits on the windward side of the mountain, and thus is more lush and green than the Sunrise side (on the leeward). Wildflowers abundantly thrive in the meadows on the mountain’s slopes, and marmots feast on the vegetation and gluttonously drink from the streams. And if the sun’s heat proves too fierce? There’s always a nearby snowpatch to cool off on.

We enjoyed the different landscapes, leaving the meadows for higher altitude glacial rock fields, devoid of vegetation and quite a bit warmer, as the sun’s heat radiated off the dry lava rock.

We had a blast, and my mom crushed the hike. 6.5 miles in 70-80F heat, climbing just under 2000 feet.

That evening, back in Seattle, we were too tired to go anywhere to eat. Instead, we showed Mom and Kaivan our neighborhood, walked down to Gas Works Park for the best city view in Seattle, and picked up Thai food from Sisi Kay in Wallingford. We enjoyed dinner up on our rooftop, and called it an early night.

Friday morning, it was back to the trails. This time, Discovery Park, a Seattle city park in Magnolia, about 15 minutes drive from our apartment. Kaivan and I went on a little trail run, while the girls (including Charley) went for a walk. Mom wanted to see our RTT (rooftop tent), the Nest, so we popped it up and she and Charley climbed in. Char didn’t miss a beat- she’s a pro in the Nest from our 3 weeks spent in it while roadtripping and camping.

We checked out the Brooks Running headquarters, just a couple blocks down the road from our apartment, and popped into Local Tide in Fremont for a delicious lunch. We hit Fremont Brewery on our walk back to the apartment for a quick afternoon beer.

Then it was time to rest a bit.

In the evening, we showed our guests downtown Ballard, a neighborhood in northwest Seattle, near the Puget Sound. Some deep dish pizza at Patxi’s Pizza filled us up, and Salt and Straw down the street topped off the night.

You can see a theme by now, right? All we do is outdoor activities and eat. I’m not really sure what else there is to do?

In keeping with our routine, we had breakfast the following morning at Seattle Biscuit Co, home to the best biscuit I’ve ever tasted (though I wouldn’t claim to be a biscuit expert). They are darn good.

We recollected back at the apartment after that, and made our way down to Lake Union. As if one time on a hot tub boat isn’t enough, we booked it again so Mom and K could enjoy too. Our friends Andrew and Sarah were off of work for the weekend, so they joined us and we scooted out onto the lake for a couple hours, alternating between the hot tub and the cool, refreshing lake.

That afternoon, Jamie had booked us a crash-course 1 hour food tour in Pike Place market with Chef John from Eat Seattle. It was a great way to get your hands dirty in the market, as we usually just spend and hour or so wandering aimlessly through the area and being herded along in the throngs of visitors.

Chef John took us to 8 or 10 spots, and we skipped the long lines as he grabbed tastings and little bites at each spot and explained the history of the market and shared his knowledge of the foods we were enjoying. It was super touristy, but also super enjoyable.

When we’d primed our bellies with tastings, we had a glass of wine at our favorite Pike Place winery, Northwest Tastings featuring White Heron Cellars, and then made our way to the Pink Door for dinner. It was our second time there in as many weeks, as we’d taken Matt and Becca on their visit. The food and experience are second to none, and we enjoyed every bite and sip.

Unfortunately, Mom was set to head back to New York the following morning. It was more of a “see you soon” than a goodbye, as Jamie and I will be heading back to New York for our friends Rob and Lesen’s wedding at the end of the month.

We loaded up Archie and drove the 30 minutes down to SeaTac International. One more long hug and it was time for her to go.

Kaivan was staying until Monday, so after we dropped off Mom, the three of us and Charley hopped on I-90 and took it about an hour into the Cascade wilderness, to an area of innumerable alpine lakes. We walked to Snow Lake, about 7 miles in all, and cut it in half with a spectacular swim in the cold waters for an hour or so.

We had one last dinner with Kaivan before he left the following morning- some excellent mediterranean food from Almanqal up in Wallingford.

It was a whirlwind 3-4 days with family, but every minute was awesome. We’ll cherish that visit for a long time.

Seattle continues to totally rock it.

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