Tag Archives: staycation


I’ve had regular people weekends off all summer, but I’ve now reached the part of my schedule where work overlaps the Saturday/Sunday weekends that Jess has off. Boo. We debated what to do with my last Sunday off. Tackle a project around the house? Do something really fun? We opted for the latter, and took a quickie road trip for the day.

Satsop Nuclear Power Plant, Satsop.

Don’t worry, moms, it was abandoned before it was ever used.

Kurt Cobain Riverfront Park, Aberdeen

I remarked on how the neighbors must hate having the park there, but turns out one of them made it happen.

Zelasko Park, Aberdeen

Chainsaw carvings and one of them a lumberjack? This combines some of my favorite Pacific-Northwesty things. We had to stop. The carvings have plaques that say “Louis Benanto Jr. 1971.” I couldn’t find a lot of information about them or the park online.

Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park

I cannot say enough good things about this gorgeous beach.

Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park

Where we saw lots of moss, elk, slugs, and billions of mosquitos.

What a spectacular day. Staycation for the win.

Want to see more photos? Yes, there are more. Full Flickr set here.


Filed under family

half of an epic celebratory weekend

Once upon a time this blog was about how we ran off to Canada and eloped. Wednesday will mark three years since that happened.

three years married!

We also have Jess’ birthday to celebrate the day before, so we usually try to make a fabulous weekend of it. Last year we took a road trip on the coast. This year we kind of casually picked a few things that sounded fun without a ton of planning and somehow managed to have the best weekend I can remember.

Since we made reservations for an eight course vegetarian dinner at Tilth in Seattle, I proposed a lunch of nothing but milkshakes and Jess obliged.

We simultaneously came up with the genius idea of trying a salted caramel milkshake at Molly Moon, because that is how our marriage seems to work. And you guys, holy crap.

I have since decided that this will be my birthday present to myself come September, as well as my last meal if I ever get the death penalty. I know salted caramel was on trend like five years ago, but it will never stop being amazing. Salty + sweet = true love forever. I probably won’t need a salted caramel cupcake again because this exists.

We people and boat watched at Gas Works Park, where even the garbage on the ground was romantic.

Then on to Tilth where we planned to go all out and get the Grand Eight Course Vegetarian Tasting Menu. To our surprise there was also an amuse-bouche, so it was more like nine courses plus cocktails and the house made sodas I just had to try.

I won’t bore you with 12 pictures of our dinner, especially since we sat inside so the photos are lighting-challenged. How about some highlights:

the most perfect shot of asparagus soup and a slice of heirloom tomato with preserved lemon and basil

a porcini flan and grilled cauliflower with pickled garlic and truffle oil

sasparilla and rhubarb-ginger soda, served with classy giant ice cubes!

strawberry-rhubarb shortcake with chantilly cream

Everything was so fresh and flavorful and delicious, we ran out of compliments to tell the waitress when she checked on us during each course. And we enjoyed the fanciness of it all. I was overly amused by Jess’ napkin getting refolded for her while she was in the powder room. One time while she was gone the maitre d’ and the waitress each folded it for her. Awesome.

Then we had a gorgeous sunset drive through Seattle before heading off to downtown Tacoma for alchemy drinks at this place we’ve been meaning to try for ages.

1022 South is named after it’s address on J Street in downtown Tacoma. One part old apothecary, one part classy bar, they make fancy cocktails with homemade bitters and botanical infusions.

This was just round one: cherry shrub – rum, tarragon, amaro, cherry balsamic shrub and drunken boat – blackstrap rum, ginger liqueur, house made ginger beer, flamed angostura bitters

I wish I had a video of my drink on fire. Everything tasted amazing, and it lit a fire under us to experiment more with homemade syrups and even shrubs (apparently and aged fruit syrup).

After drinks we ate a caprese plate of tomato, basil, fresh mozarella and balsamic reduction and drank tons of complimentary cucumber water to sober up before driving back to Olympia. I can’t imagine anything more indulgent, but this was just DAY ONE.

More tomorrow, if you can handle it.


Filed under family, marriage

Portland Food Carts

I know that all the foodies already know about the Portland food cart pods, BUT I just have to weigh in on the matter. The PDX food carts are awesome. Last weekend, Krista and I had a very successful visit to Portland. We were on a mission to buy a new bike (!!) for my birthday, and we made a point of eating every possible morsel we could stuff into our faces from the food carts. If you need info about food carts in Portland, this is where you should start.

We started the day by breakfasting at the Mississippi Marketplace – N Mississippi & Skidmore. I have to say, one of my favorite things about being married is that Krista & I share our food, so I get to try twice as much food as I could ever eat by myself. We had falafel from the Magic Bean, a freshly squeezed pearot (pear/carrot) juice from Dogfeather’s Coffee and Juice, and some vegetarian tacos from Nuevo Mexico. Everything was adequately delicious, although we missed the Big Egg. They closed before we got there. This is the danger of driving 115 miles because you’re obsessed with breakfast sandwiches.

Since I’ve had a major sugar obsession for, oh, the last 25 years or so, my absolute fave was the Sugar Cube. This is actually a Triple Threat Ice Cream Sandwich. Described like this: “Triple chocolate chunk, espresso and pecan cookies sandwiched betwixt a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, then doused with dreamy salted caramel.” I know, I know. I feel the same way.

My heart beats a little pitter patter when I see that dreamy salted caramel sauce.

OK so that was our face-stuffing breakfast. We had some errands to run around town, including visiting Clever Cycles, one of the best bike shops ever, and the Urban Farm Store. I am glad that I visited the Urban Farm Store. I totally support what they are doing and I think it’s great, but I don’t need to drive to Portland for that. I know where to source all that stuff closer to home.

Then, it was time for lunch. I had biked all over Ladd’s Addition to test out my new Linus. I needed fuel. We drove past the food cart pod at SE 12th and Hawthorne, and then circled the block. After perusing all the options, we agreed on vegetarian poutine at Potato Champion. They were blasting Madonna, Britney and Kelly Clarkson. It’s a shame that we missed the crepes and fried pies at this pod, but as John Waters says, “You have to save something for the autumn of your years.” Although he is most definitely not talking about food carts when he says that, it still rings true.

Cute, huh? Really cute. Imagine Madonna turned up all the way while you’re looking at this guy’s happy face. His beard is smiling, okay? Love it.

Poutine is a Canadian dish consisting of french fries topped with cheese curds and brown gravy. I’m certainly not Canadian so I don’t mind if they re-mix poutine, but my ancestry is very Irish. I have a lot of strong opinions about what should and should not be done to potatoes, so this was a gamble. It paid off, however, when we were rewarded with the most perfect french fries, delectable cheese curds, and a perfectly adequate vegetarian gravy. I wish we could have eaten an entire french fry buffet, with Rosemary Truffle Ketchup, Pesto Mayo, Harder Sweet Hot Mustard, and Satay Sauce. It would have been unreasonable to eat more french fries, though. Next time, Potato Champion, I am going to devour your fancy condiments.


Filed under food, summer

City of Destiny

We spent some time in Tacoma this weekend in an effort to escape the mountain of chores that pile up in a garden this time of year. Oh, I planted peas and watered the seedlings and turned the compost, but no one felt like building or shoveling. So, Tacoma: Procrastination via staycation.

We missed the movie we wanted to see at the Grand Cinema by just a few minutes, and the bakery we wanted to visit was closed due to the Sundayness. Tacoma thwarted our best intentions, but we had a little antique shopping and walking around downtown exploring alleys and taking photos of our own shadows.

Before I moved here, I didn’t know much about Tacoma. Maybe they had a big dome or something? What does anyone even know about Tacoma? It has an Aroma, I think? But I’ve grown to appreciate Tacoma as the most sizable city the shortest distance from Olympia. Just in case you need to see big old buildings to feel like the whole world isn’t a small town, which I occasionally need.

Krista loved this old, uninhabitable building on Broadway. I loved the Araucaria araucana (Monkey Puzzle) next to the building. Those plants are native to Chile, but they are all over the PNW.

In Pittsburgh, part of what I loved about the city was the way that decay and neglect led to recolonization of concrete by hardy little plants, “weeds” and mosses. Tacoma has some lovely west coast examples of this phenomenon. Can you tell I got a haircut and lopped off 4 inches of hair? No? Really?

But it’s officially spring! The equinox has passed, and the sun is coming out!


Filed under honeymoon, marriage, spring

Port Townsend staycation

It occurred to me this morning that I never wrote about our quick weekend jaunt to Port Townsend. For some reason, Krista & I both woke up one Saturday morning with a serious itch to get on the road. We did some google research (is there any other kind of research these days? it’s shameful but so, so handy. So much for scientific inquiry.) and narrowed it down to 3 places within a few hours drive. We settled on Port Townsend, which is straight up highway 101 and situated on the extreme northeastern corner of the Olympia Peninsula. Port Townsend is known for its Victorian architecture. There are tons of neat buildings downtown.

Fortunately (for us) the Hood Canal Bridge was closed, so there were plentiful, affordable hotel rooms, and there were very few tourists. We got a room in a sweet antique boutique hotel (The Belmont Hotel) on the main street. You could see the water from our window, and Levi had to climb a ladder to get to his lofted bedroom. Krista took the second picture from the loft.

Our first stop was Nifty Fifties, a re-created 1950s soda shop built from authentic, reclaimed soda shop machines, counters, tables, decor, etc. There were tabletop jukeboxes and phosphate sodas and veggie burgers. What more could you ask for?

Levi played Blue Suede Shoes, and I played some Patsy Cline.

Then we headed to the beach to frolic in the surf. We walked for a long time, and admired all the oddities. We found a ton of jelly fish.

You could see Mount Hood (i think?) over in Canada. This is the same mountain that was behind us when we got married. Allegedly, you could even see Victoria across the Strait, but my eyes are getting bad.

We walked down to the lighthouse, and then back towards the car and spent a ridiculous amount of time building a elaborate sand castle. It was an architectural marvel, just take my word for it.

Levi made the flag for the top & developed the backstory and history of our kingdom.

We were wiped out & exhausted after this exuberance, so we decided to be chill & see a movie in the evening. We barely caught the last showing of Up (Pixar’s newest) at the historic Rose Theater. It was a great old theater, and a really entertaining movie.

We slept very well, and drove back to Olympia after a leisurely brunch & stroll around town.

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Filed under family, summer

Mom, this is for you.

This is Fort Worden State Park, in Port Townsend, WA. Just to the left of the frame of this photo (only a few hundred feet) is the Lower Campground, with RV parking.

They also have historic officer’s quarters for rent. The houses run from 2BR to 4BR for very reasonable rates. If you want to go on a group trip to Fort Worden & rent one of these houses, just let us know. Here’s a shot of the houses:

More about Port Townsend later!

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Filed under family