Catching up: here, there, everywhere

October 11-November 19

It’s been 5ish weeks since our last post. There’s a lot to cover, we’ll try to keep it concise and let the photos do most of the storytelling.

We spent about a week back in Massachusetts, visiting family. But there was a new human to meet, too! Mr. Elliott. Abbey and Ethan were pretty well into a routine with their boy by the time we came home to meet him, and parenthood looks good on them.

We spent most every night getting together at one house or another, rotating between Jed and Moe’s, Jack and Jocelyn’s, and Abbey and Ethan’s. We were able to get out and see some friends from home, and spent a morning hanging out with Nana Betty too. So all in all, it was a busy yet relaxing week, catching up and enjoying everyone’s company.

We took a trip up to New Hampshire to check out the Neureuter Lake House going up on Pine River Pond, and took the boat out one last time for the season. The place looks incredible, and I foresee many good memories being made up there. Jed goes up a couple times a week, always with a project in mind to make the place even better. Hopefully done sometime in the spring, but housebuilding is a dynamic endeavor.

It’s always too short of stay, but I’d say we optimized our time and left with full hearts on our way back west to Seattle.

Over the next week we did a bunch of Seattle things. The weather was starting to turn into what people imagine Seattle is like all the time: cloudy, rainy, raw. But you roll with it, doing indoor things or saying to hell with the rain. Thats why rain jackets exist.

The fall colors were still popping when we returned from the east coast, and Jamie took some shots from our roof deck of the city and Lake Union to the south. We spent a day up in Edmonds, along the Puget Sound and looking out west toward the Sound Islands and the Olympic Peninsula beyond. It was a crappy day, weather wise, but we enjoyed checking out the murals and shops, and I had been craving a lobster roll from Market since the summer.

We got our travel friends together for a little brewery hop in Ballard on another rainy Sunday afternoon. Ballard has a good strip of breweries in close proximity, making it a rather easy daytime activity to plan. We bounced around, trying different spots and ducking in and out of the rain along the way.

Keeping with the Ballard theme on another evening, Jamie and I had a date night down in the Leary/Ballard Ave area. We grabbed cocktails at Little Tin Apothecary and dinner at Asadero, a fantastic Mexican steakhouse recommended to us by our friends Andrew and Sarah.

On another day off, we met up with our new friends Brett and Tori, another travel couple from the northeast. The weather was crummy again, but we’d fortunately planned to be indoors at the Chihuly Glass Museum. I still have no idea how someone could create the things Chihuly does. They’re intricate, seemingly delicate, and wildly creative.

Whidbey Island had been on our to-do list since summer of 2019, when we were last in Seattle. For some reason, it always escaped us. A short ferry ride from Mukilteo, Whidbey has impressively dramatic cliffsides, rolling farmland hills, and cute harbor towns dotting the island. We definitely felt like we were far from Seattle, though it’s probably only 15 miles as the crow flies. We ended the evening at Deception Pass State Park and the iconic bridge.

We’d yet to make our way out on state highway 20, through the north cascades, since arriving in Seattle back in June. It was due to close in mid November, as snows begin to pile on and make the mountain highway impassable. We had a last opportunity to do the drive before it closed.

Depending how far you go and how often you stop, its ~3 hours from Seattle. But I don’t mind driving 3 hours when most of it is as awe-inspiring as the north cascades. We made a stop at Diablo Lake, home to the Skagit Hydroelectric Project that feeds Seattle with some of its energy needs. There are three dams in that area, and, save for the power lines that hug some of the shoreline, the area is stunning.

We carried on past Diablo, heading farther east and up to Rainy Pass. Quite the change in scenery, as the pass was comparatively inundated with snow already. We’d planned a couple hikes to stretch our legs while up there, but the snow kept our outing short, and we only made it in to Rainy Lake before turning back.

And lastly, our trip to Forks. The town is situated on the northwest region of the Olympic Peninsula, and holds its claim as the rainiest town in the contiguous 48 states. It flexed this fact, hard. An atmospheric river arrived as we were getting situated in the area, and dumped 8-10 inches of rain over 48 hours. Record flooding and mudslides ensued. The multitude of rivers and streams (the town garners its name from the river forks in the area) were swollen beyond containment, and we witnessed full sized pines being carried downstream like matchsticks.

But, we made due. With our full rain suits (thanks Mom), we shrugged off the persistent downpour, and visited the Sol Duc Falls, Hoh Rainforest, and a few beaches along the western coast. Our headquarters for our stay was a tiny cabin with a wood stove that Jamie found on AirBnB. It was a cozy stay.

Unfortunately, when we packed up and made our way out of town and back to Seattle, we were surprised (in hindsight, we shouldn’t have been surprised) to find that US-101, the only route back to Seattle from our current location, had road closures in both directions just outside of Forks. Mudslides and flooding had overwhelmed the area. We ended up having to stay a day longer in Forks, with no possibility of a workaround. Late the following day, though, with a bit more investigation and inquiry, we learned of a logging route that would get us around the closures. Was it passable/still intact after all the rains? Only one way to find out. If we won’t try with Archie, a vehicle we got for situations similar to this, then what was the point in buying it at all?

The road turned out to be ok albeit slick, muddy and riddled with potholes, and 20-30 minutes later we popped back out onto US-101, south of the closures along the peninsula coast. We had escaped, and we proceeded to make our way back home late that night.

Charley loving the warmth of the wood stove
The flooded Sol Duc River

It’s now getting to the end of November. What are our plans? So far, we know we’re headed back east for the holidays next month. It’s still up in the air if we’ll stay here in Seattle through January, or take off to a new home and new assignments when we return after the new year. Stay tuned.

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