Earlier this month Ben and I hiked around the Rosario Head cliffs at Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey Island. It’s not too bad looking, eh?
“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking successive autumns.” George Eliot, Letter to Miss Eliot
I went to the Seattle Japanese Garden last week, where I found fall in full bloom. As you might imagine, the garden is a peaceful and quiet place to walk around, sit around, or take pictures. They have a pavilion there too where a lot of artists go to draw and paint.
I wandered around with my camera and took a million photos…typical me…
I’ve been wanting to head down to Tacoma, WA for awhile to see the Chihuly bridge of glass, and when Ben read about an authentic Cambodian restaurant in Tacoma—Mitapeap—we added the Southern Kitchen restaurant and a visit to the Waterfront and Old Town Tacoma to our list and made a breakfast-to-lunch day of it.
Ben and I drove up to Noble Knob last Saturday for a fall hike with our dog Kai. The weather was perfect and the views on the hike were great. (Though I recommend a sturdy car for the pot-holed dirt road leading to the trailhead! It about did us in.)
We haven’t gotten out for hiking and camping nearly as much this summer and fall, mostly because of busy/clashing work schedules that really limit our free time together, so it’s extra great when we do have time for a fall outing. Since getting Kai in March we’ve also focused more on hiking in state parks and national forests where dogs are allowed, though we still love visiting and supporting our nearby National Parks.
“Your true traveler finds boredom rather agreeable than painful. It is the symbol of his liberty—his excessive freedom. He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not merely philosophically, but almost with pleasure.” – Aldous Huxley
Ben and I went to Puerto Vallarta last week with one goal: to relax. It was a purposeful halt to the fast-paced, tightly-packed vacations we usually plan, and we welcomed our boredom with great pleasure.
I didn’t do anything in Mexico I couldn’t have done at home. I read, I wrote, I watched the waves and the clouds. I learned a few more Spanish words and got a sunburn. Our brush with local culture and the only outing of the week was a bus ride into downtown Puerto Vallarta and back. We happily accepted our role as American tourists on vacation.
We turned off our phones, lingered over meals, and watched the sunset every night. The week reminded me that life isn’t about to-do lists, schedules, rushing, cramming, and stressing. It was a simple trip, with no agenda but to eat and rest. It was the adventure of being still.
Sweet Seattle: I’m exploring Seattle one cake, pie, and cookie at a time.
Cupcake Royale has pink boxes, pink dishes, and a sprinkle bar—does a cupcake shop need much else? And their West Seattle location is a 4-minute walk from my house—do I need much else?
I ate a Huckle Buckle cupcake with pink huckleberry-flavored icing. The icing was enough to get a burst of flavor with each bite but still taste the cake underneath.
Despite protest from my sweet tooth, I have occasionally stopped in Cupcake Royale for just a cup of coffee and left content. They serve Stumptown drip and plenty of barista-made coffee options. But I’ll be back to try more cupcakes—they have fall flavors out now and I can’t resist anything pumpkin.
See previous Sweet Seattle posts here.
Play along: #sweetseattle
Ben and I finally made it to quiet, beautiful Whidbey Island, an island north of Seattle on the Puget Sound. It’s been on our to-visit list for awhile, so we took advantage of a free Friday/Saturday to drive up, ride the ferry, and camp overnight at South Whidbey Island State Park.
^We stopped in the lovely little town of Langley and got takeout from the Braeburn Restaurant, which I found via this article—a huge reason for the reason I want to head back sometime—and for starters I would love to linger in Langley a little more.
Our short trip gave us just a tiny taste of the island…wish we’d had another day or two to explore!
“She’d never ridden a bicycle before and was experiencing, for the very first time, that rare and wonderful sensation of soaring that can occur—especially on a cool, sunny day, and especially when no pedaling is required. . . . It was impossible not to smile.” —The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey, Trenton Lee Stewart
When I was little, I would ride my bike in circles around our driveway. Big circles, little circles, figure-eights; change directions and ride around in more circles.
I wanted to go further but I was too small to ride away by myself, so I rode in big circles, little circles, figure-eights. Big circles, little circles, figure-eights.
I think my childhood self would be happy to know I finally made it somewhere on my bike.
For Christmas last year, Ben and I got each other new bikes for riding around the city. (Well, the holidays being crazy like they always are, we actually bought them in March.) Since then, I’ve been riding on and off to work. Trucks, trains, cars, crowds—there’s so much to navigate and it’s a million times more fun than driving.
There’s nothing like that feeling of soaring, the wind in my face.
The calmness of the waterfront in the morning. The chaos of the shipping terminals and construction zones.
I love being up close and personal with the city.
Just like when I was riding in endless circles in suburbia, riding a bike is still one of the most refreshing and reflective experiences. I let my thoughts swirl but don’t make any decisions except the ones immediately at hand, like when to change gears and when to cross the street. I face the day or leave the day behind with every push of the pedal; it’s exhaustion and renewal at the same time.
Biking in the city is completely different than biking around the neighborhoods where I used to live. I’ve never done this kind of riding before so there has been so much to learn, and I have so much more to still figure out, from bike safety and maintenance to how to handle helmet hair at the office.
I’ve made two goals going into next month:
- Bike to work every day.
- Create artwork inspired by my bike commute.
I’ve been slowly working up to biking every day, and as September rolls around next week I think I’m ready to take the plunge and commit to riding my bike to work every single day. I already know I’ll have two cheat days when I need to have a car at work, plus a vacation that Ben and I have planned in the middle of the month. So I think it’s doable.
I should mention I haven’t ridden in the rain yet. (And next week is supposed to be rainy. And I live in Seattle.) Plus I’m not a “sporty” or athletic kind of person; helmet hair is truly something that I’ve devoted energy to tackling—I might have to revive my hair tutorial series once I get that mess figured out!
Part two of my bike-to-work challenge involves artwork. I’ve felt such a desire to create lately but have wrestled with what exactly I want to make. I’ve decided to tie these goals together and make little art pieces based on things I see during my bike commute each day. I mean for this month-long art project to be completely experimental so it might be as awful as my helmet hair and as pointless as biking in circles around the driveway, but I’m excited to dive in and see what happens.
I hope you’ll follow along on this journey of health and creativity with me. It should prove to be an interesting month!
Inspiration photos from my commute can be found on instagram with the #bestofmybikecommute hashtag. If you have a bike commute please feel free to jump in and share the best of your bike commute (and tips for helmet hair, if you care about that).
I know we’ve covered Gas Works Park and the Ballard Locks around here before, but they are both worth a second mention. We took Ben’s brother and our puppy Kai to both spots recently. Gas Works is a really fun place to hang out and kinda unique as far as parks go. It’s a really big hill overlooking Lake Union with city skyline views and an old factory as a backdrop to the park—a great spot for skyline views, boat watching, and flying a kite.
If you are visiting and don’t have a ton of time, I do recommend putting Gas Works Park on your list.
I was really excited to see some salmon swimming through the fish ladder at the Ballard Locks on this visit too, for the first time. This website explains the locks and the fish ladder pretty well, if you’re interested.
On another note, thanks for indulging me on this little blog. Ever since Ben and I moved to Seattle I’ve enjoyed documenting and photographing the spots in and around the city that we’ve explored. I know I’m getting to a lot of places twice at this point but I’m still having fun sharing, so thanks for following along, and for the sweet comments many of you share in person.
Our first visit to Gas Works is here, where I pretty much said all the same stuff about it, but bonus: that post includes the Fremont Troll (which is not at the park but is in the neighborhood). Our first visit to the Ballard Locks is here, where you’ll find I don’t include any photos of the actual locks, because that makes sense, right?! So maybe it is good I’m posting some of these spots twice!
Ben’s brother was in town last week, and of course we put Pike Place Market on our list of places to take him. I still love going to the market. It’s always full of color and flavor and I can never resist pulling out my camera. I just have to pack some patience for weaving through the summer crowds.
Besides having fun watching the fish throwers, checking out the gum wall, and looking at all the in-season options for flowers and vegetables with Ben’s brother, we discovered a new restaurant—the Market Grill—that I’d definitely recommend. Super yummy! The Stranger says, “Eating a salmon sandwich in the Pike Place Market sounds like a descent into tourist hell. It’s telling, then, that the Market Grill–an unassuming little eatery just a few flower stands north of the market’s brass pig–has a loyal following of locals who keep returning for its excellent salmon and halibut sandwiches.” (Stranger review found here.)
Not pictured: us and the dog. We had Kai along for his first visit to the market. Oh.My. He was good but it took extra patience to have a puppy along on a weekend afternoon at Pike Place. Over stimulation for all involved (but I’d do it again).