Small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.


Seattle- One Week In

I just went back and found THIS post not even two short years ago about being "one week in" in San Francisco. Oh how have things have changed (at least some things). We are still going, going, going. (that may never change), but the city and our surroundings are certainly very different this move.

We arrived Sunday afternoon after almost exactly 24 hours after leaving San Francisco. We unpacked our U-haul and a few of the necessary boxes, but except for those necessities, our apartment is still full of boxes one week later. With Adam's sister, Katherine, and her son helping us move, we didn't want to waste anytime with them unpacking. Instead, we decided to hit the town and have fun exploring it together with them for the first time. 

Monday morning, Landon and I ran a few errands like registering him in Kindergarten (I can't believe it!) while Katherine and Taylor checked out the original Starbucks. We met up with them in the afternoon and found out about the City Pass, which allows you entrance into a number of Seattle based places at a huge discount. I'd recommend this pass to anyone visiting Seattle with kids as it was a perfect way to see many of the most kid friendly sights around.

We started off our tour with a bay cruise Monday evening from the Seattle Waterfront. Like Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, the pier is the most touristy part of the city, but it's also fun with a variety of activities and places to eat. Like the homemade ice cream we discovered while waiting for our cruise to begin.

It was a beautiful day, but once on the water, the wind made it a bit too chilly to stay out on the deck the entire 90 minutes. We sailed down the waterfront of the city, toward Bainbridge Island before heading over to the Seattle Port. My favorite part was getting so close to the port and seeing the containers being loaded onto the vessels. As a customs broker, it was a cool moment, but most people probably were not nearly as impressed.

The views of the city were wonderful too and we couldn't have picked a brighter or sunnier day to be out on the water. Seattle is best viewed from the water and getting out on a boat is a must. It was a great way to kick off our introduction.

Tuesday, we headed to Vancouver for a few days which I highlighted in my last post. It was almost hard coming back to Seattle Thursday night after such an amazing time in Vancouver, but we had plenty more to discover. We planned on spending the weekend camping in Olympic National Park only to discover moments before leaving Friday that the weather was just not suitable for our group. Instead, we took the boys to see Finding Dori Friday night and we WALKED to the movie theater. That's right, the best part of where we live in Redmond is how walkable of an area it is. We live within walking distance of some of our favorite places like Trader Joes and an REI!!! Even better, there are many restaurants and stores we can discover on foot. There's even a Saturday morning Farmer's Market that I can't wait to explore.

Saturday morning, we made our way to the Aquarium which was perfect after our Friday evening movie (where I literally cried of laughter during the tide pool scene as I have often thought about all the times we've been those people shoving our hands in the touch pools and probably scaring all of the animals). Ironically enough, there we were again Saturday morning being those people, elbow-deep in the touch pools. The girl working assured me most of the animals had no brains so it was completely fine. I guess that made me feel a little better. The Giant Pacific Octopus was by far the coolest part because we got to watch them feed it and she was very active. She was climbing all over the place so the boys got a great look of her underside and all of her tentacles and suckers. Pretty rare in our aquarium experiences.

After the aquarium we re-discovered our old homemade waterfront ice cream (it may have happened more than a few times) and then made our way over the Science Center. Our City Pass included general admission and an IMAX movie. They just so happened to be showing an IMAX on the National Parks so we had to see that. It was wonderful! I got a little choked up seeing just how beautiful this country is. The more of it we discover, the more amazed I am. It is truly spectacular. Then we explored the Science Museum which the boys really enjoyed.

It was a great science center and I see a membership in our near future. Landon was totally engrossed in every aspect from the dinosaurs, space, bugs, and health exhibit. It's a perfect place for little boys to run around, explore, and learn.

They even had things that the adults could enjoy. Like the butterfly atrium full of hundreds of butterflies flying all around you. My favorite item was the sandbox map of the Puget Sound. It's such an interesting landscape and to see it on the small scale all mapped out really helped me to visualize the waterways so much better. I can't wait to explore more of these waterways, especially by kayak.

After walking around all day, Adam was nice enough to take the boys home so Katherine and I could enjoy a girls dinner. Her friend had told her that the Crab Pot on the waterfront was not to be missed so we made our way back down there and put our name on the hour wait list. Boy was she right, it was the best dinner of my life!

They are famous for their seafeast and offer four different types in a variety from "ridiculous" to "out of control". We took the go big or go home approach and ordered the out of control Alaskan Seafeast. It was the first time either of us had experienced Alaskan King Crabs and oh my god! I had no idea what I was missing all these years. I thought we went out big for my birthday dinner at The Crustacean in San Francisco just a week before, but this place beat out the Crustacean and their measly little Dungeness Crab easily. Lets just say, I will never be the same.

Seriously, it was amazing! If you ever go to Seattle, go the Crab Pot and order the Alaskan Feast. It will not disappoint. But most importantly, invite me! I cannot wait to go back!

Sunday was not only Father's Day, but our 7th wedding anniversary! Adam got the trump card for the day so we let him pick the activity. No surprise, we all loaded into the car and made the 2 hour drive up to Mount Rainier. He loves that mountain and this was our first chance to visit it. We made our way into the park and found our way to the visitors center to get the boys started on the junior ranger program. Then we stopped off at Reflection Lake for a few pictures.

Afterwards, we did a short hike to Bench and Snow Lake that we could manage with the large amounts of snow still in the area. The hike went through more snow than we were prepared for, but ended at a small lake with a beautiful peak called Unicorn Peak in the background. A common phenomenon in the area was occurring as we hiked called a sundog. A ring was highly visible the entire time as well as a number of little rainbows. It was so pretty and neat to see. Katherine caught it best in her pictures. Most importantly, the boys had such a good time getting out and hiking. It's amazing how they can bicker and fight over toys at the house then work together out on the trail. This is where they belong.

Monday, we were back in the city as tourists (some of us fitting the bill more than others) exploring a few more places. We started off at the Space Needle, the iconic Seattle structure.

We were lucky enough to have another clear day and could see Mount Rainier just to the right of the city. It's was awesome to be exploring the mountain one day and admiring it from a distance the next.  Pictures have a hard time capturing it, but you can see it rising off the distance .

Later, we left the boys with Adam and checked out the famous Public Market just Katherine and I.

Markets and Waterfronts are not Adam's favorite places, but I love exploring them. Lucky for me, my little guy does too and I know we will be visiting place often. It doesn't hurt that they have the most beautiful fresh flowers for so cheap and my new favorite food, Alaskan King Crab.

And while the market has just about everything, they definitely specialize in fresh seafood. The salmon were huge and the smoked salmon that we got to sample was really amazing!

As much as we wanted to buy everything, we settled on some ice cream then made our way back to the house. Tuesday we made our way to one final place, the zoo. Landon was really excited as we haven't been to a zoo in so long he doesn't even remember it.

It wasn't a big zoo, but it kept the boys entertained for most of the day. The best exhibits included the wolves, grizzly bears, and toucans. I've always loved toucans and this was the first time we really got to see some well.

Another favorite was the bird encounter where we fed parrots and cockatiels. For a short time, I had a cockatiel and it made me want to get another one as they ate seeds off our hands. The boys really enjoyed it too.

Tuesday afternoon, we headed back to the Market to get a few goodies then made it home for a night of packing. Katherine and Taylor headed back to Kentucky Wednesday and took Landon with them. He's about to spend the next six weeks there having lots of fun with all his family and he is sooooo excited! Adam and I are making our way to the Canadian Rockies today to explore a place we've been wanting to see for many years now. I'm so thankful for the opportunity for him to go to Kentucky and us to have a wonderful trip just the two of us.

In a way, Seattle still feels like a vacation and not quite yet home. We haven't had time to settle into our new place the way we like to just yet, but once Adam and I return from our trip we will still have four weeks without Landon to make it feel homey. Once Landon returns and we start back working, getting on a schedule, and getting a flow, I know the realness will set in.

In my first impressions of Seattle, I can honestly say that it is a beautiful, beautiful part of the world and I see a long term future for us here. I know with every new experience and place we go, I will love it more and more. Redmond seems to be a perfect place for us and I cannot wait for Summer nights exploring our little hometown. I haven't sat down yet to make a bucket list, but I can already see it will surpass my California list by a mile. With so much to do nearby and so many amazing places just a car ride away, it's very exciting! If our first week is any indication, this will be a great place for all of us. There's no two people we could have had more fun with exploring all the fun sights here. We've already done so much, seen so much, been so many places, and shared so much. And this is only the beginning.



Instead of arriving to our new home and spending the next few days unpacking and getting settled, we decided to put our time to better use and headed up to Vancouver for a few days. Adam was stuck at home working, but my sister-in-law (who helped us move up here) and I headed up with our two boys to have some fun in Canada! Two days into our new home and we had already skipped the country!

This was the first time out of the country for both kids which we seemed to find more exciting than them. Despite it only being a two hours drive, my sister-in-law really wanted to take the train so we got up early Tuesday and took a four hour train ride up along the coast. It ended up being a good choice with beautiful views all along the way.

When we arrived, it was spitting rain but we didn't want to let that stop us. We headed to the hotel to drop off our bags and lighten our load. After a quick stop at the hotel, we made our way to the UBC's botanical gardens for a tree top adventure. We walked through the lush gardens with huge ferns, tons of flowers, massive trees, and branches that looked more  like ropes.

We entered into the tree top canopy just about the time the rain stopped and ended up having the whole place to ourselves. 

Landon loved the canopy and quickly made his way from tree to tree while the rest of us tried to steady ourselves on the swaying bridges. 

We moved from bridge to bridge at a steady incline and soon found ourselves pretty high above the ground among the tallest of trees. Breathtaking and a bit scary! When we were finished, we made our way back towards downtown, had some yummy sushi, then went back to the hotel so the boys could swim for a bit. We enjoyed the cloudy 9:30pm sunset from our balcony too. We had a great location right in the heart of downtown.

The next morning, we made our way to Grouse Mountain just North of the city. It was a cold morning and pretty grey, but were not going to let it stop us. Getting up the mountain takes a gondola ride and a chairlift, but between the two are a number of activities. We got off the first gondola and arrived just in time for it to start hailing. So we headed in the lodge to wait it out with some hot chocolate.

It was still spitting a bit, but the ranger talk about the two resident grizzly bears was beginning so we braved the elements to learn and see these magnificent creatures up close. And up close we got! At first the two bears were about 30 feet away from the fence, but as the ranger continued talking they each got up and came down and started eating grass right next to the fence. This meant we were just about three feet from a massive grizzly bear. It was amazing and a little intimidating to see them so up close. Their claws alone were bigger than my fingers.

After the grizzly talk, we headed over to the raptor area for a show. The first raptor was the bald eagle which flew around and then landed on a post just a few feet away. It was speculator to see this beautiful bird so close and thrilled the boys. They also brought out a barn owl, turkey vulture and gyrfalcon. It was all too neat!

Then we made our way over to a lumberjack show which was a little silly, but the boys loved it. They climbed trees poles, had a log battle and did some funny skits. Worth watching for sure!

By the time the show was over, the skies had cleared and the sun was out. We took the opportunity to head up to the top of Grouse Mountain on the chair lift. For the first time we could see all of Vancouver below and it was stunning!

When we got to the top the views were spectacular!!! We had chosen the perfect time to crest the summit as a final few clouds parted and the views were unlimited. We hadn't purchased tickets to the top of the windmill, but once we were at the base of it, we all wanted to come up for an even better view.

Lucky for us, we were able to buy the additional tickets at the base and it was totally worthwhile. Not only were the views amazing, but it was really cool to actually be inside a windmill. The wind had stopped so the blades were not rotating, but the 360 degree views were just amazing!!!

The girl working at the top said in the clearest of days you can see Mount Baker and Mount Rainier. I made a note to be sure and bring Adam back just to see that. 

We spent a lot of time looking around and the boys asked the girl about a
million questions stumping her more than once with their pointed questions. They definitely enjoyed the windmill more than the views, but whatever gets them interested.

We eventually came down from the windmill and headed back down the chair lift. Once again, the views were spectacular and what started as a cloudy day ended up being perfect. We got a bite to eat at the lodge then rode the gondola the rest of the way down the mountain.

Our next stop was the nearby Capilano Suspension Bridge. I had heard mixed reviews so I didn't have high expectations. We arrived just after 5pm which not only meant tickets were 20% off, but it seemed the crowds had really cleared out and for such a popular place we really didn't have a lot of other people around.

First, we made our way to the suspension bridge and conquered our fears. 

At least some of us... others were still a little afraid of the 460 ft long swinging bridge that was a mere 260 ft above a rushing river. 

On the other side, we walked the boardwalk, got up close to a blue heron, and did another tree top walk 110 ft above the forest floor. This seven bridge walk was much more sturdy feeling than the one we did the day before so we breezed right through it.

They had given the boys an interactive activity book to do along the way which kept them interested and learning. Once completed they received pins similar to the junior ranger program. Things like this are such a great way to involve kids.

When we had explored all aspects of the far side, we crossed the bridge once more and made our way to the cliff walk wehich was a suspended balcony on the cliff side. By now, we really had the whole place to ourselves and explored the cliff side structures at leisure.

We finished exploring just as the sun was beginning to set and made the trip back to our hotel on the bus. I don't think I've ever been to a city with as great and easy of a bus system as Vancouver. It made getting around for us two women and kids a piece of cake! By the time we got back to the hotel it was after 8pm so we grabbed a quick dinner then headed back to the hotel for a night of wrestilng...boys...

Our last morning, we packed up our bags and headed out to spend our last few hours exploring a little more. I had learned of a Dutch pancake house so we made it our first stop of the day. Of course we all had to get the pannekoeken a Dutch pancake thinner than their American cousin and similar to a crepe. It was a simple iced pannekoeken for Landon, cinnamon apple pannekoeken for Taylor, peach and raspberry pannekoeken for Katherine and Strawberries and Creme for myself. Add to that an order of sausage and Candian bacon and two mimosas for the adults and we were in Dutch pancake heaven. Seriously!!!

Afterwards, we headed to Granville a small island in the heart of Vancouver to check out their public market and Farmers market. Despite being absolutley stuffed from breakfast, our senses were constantly tempted with the sights and smells from all kinds of food.

Inside the market you could buy hot pot pies, cheese, flowers, macaroons, honey, salmon (and the cedar to cook it on) and everything in between. The fruits and veggies looked so fresh and many vendors made ornamental towers from the oversized cherries. Thank god for our full bellies and small backpacks or else we may have been more tempted to buy things. We escaped the market with only a few honey sticks for the boys.

Just across the street was the kids market where $8 bought us some rest and the boys unlimited playtime on a three story indoor playground. 

They burned off their breakfast and got out some energy while having a blast with the other kids whose parents needed a break too. Just before 2pm we started making our way back to the Amtrak station for our ride back home to Seattle. That still sounds strange! We stopped and got a bite to eat as well as a few coloring items to keep the boys occupied on the train ride home.

Despite being in Vancouver not much more than 48 hours, we had a wonderful time. From the breathtaking train ride, to the plethora of fun activities, and new experiences, we packed as much we could into two days. With two young boys, we really centered our time around fun activities for them, but it's ovbious that Vancouver has so much more to offer. Being only 2 hours away by car, I look forward to many, many more trips to this amazing city. Goodbye for now Vancouver, this is only the beginning of our time together!