Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Seattle Piers

A couple of weeks ago Robb and I had a rare Saturday off together and, of course, we headed to Seattle for the day. This time the destination was the Seattle Aquarium and the tourist areas along the piers. It was another beautiful sunny Seattle summer day and the crowds were thick. We started out with lunch at Pike Place Market and tried the sandwiches at Sisters European Snacks. Not bad sandwiches, but we have other food destinations we like more at Pike Place.

After lunch we walked down to the Aquarium. Overall it was a nice aquarium. I'm not sure if it was worth $15/person (I think I would've liked it more if it was $10/person), but it was still nice. It's a really interesting aquarium because it's built on one of the piers on Puget Sound. The focus of the aquarium is water life in Puget Sound and also tropical fish from the Pacific Ocean. There was a fairly large "tide pool" section that allowed for people to touch sea creatures such as starfish, anemones, lobsters, etc.. Our favorite display were the harbor seals. We watched a little video about the Aquarium's conservation and research efforts. It was really interesting to learn that there is an underwater lab right next to the Aquarium, which means it's right under Seattle. Also we learned that there are sharks in Puget Sound; we saw some in this section of the Aquarium that actually is "wild." The aquarium has this basement area with a window-dome to see the Puget Sound fish, sharks, starfish, and wolf eels.
After the Seattle Aquarium, we decided to walk along the waterfront and visit some of the tourist shops. But our real purpose was to find Ye Olde Curiousity Shop; Robb has been itching to visit this museum/store for months. The Shop has interesting collections of weird stuff: American mummies, freaky stuffed animals, pictures shows, etc. Robb was in heaven. He loves that kind of stuff. I can take it or leave it. Even though I was doing a very good job of masking my boredom and frustrations with the crowds, Robb didn't make us stay too long. I imagine he'll go back by himself sometime to look at everything in greater detail. I would highly recommend checking out his blog to see his opinion of Ye Olde Curiousity Shop, plus his blog postings tend to be a lot funnier than mine if you're in the mood for a laugh! http://norwesterly.blogspot.com/

After that, we made our way back to the car and headed back to Federal Way for dinner. We ate at a Pan-Asian restaurant we've been wanting to try, Indochine. We were very impressed with our food and the cocktails! Now we have a new favorite local Asian restuarant. I love good local restaurants. And what a good way to end another awesome Seattle day!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Single-Family Dwelling Unit

Wasn't it just the other day that my apartment smelled like cardboard and I was stressing out about getting everything packed in time? Well, we're moving again, but this time instead of moving 3000 miles, our destination is only 1.5 miles away. At the end of August we're moving into a house! (Nope, not buying, just renting.) We're beyond thrilled to get away from the noise that comes with apartment living and have plenty of space to feel like grown-ups.
House specifics:
  • 3 bedrooms
  • 1 bathroom
  • Kitchen with lots of storage
  • Living room with gas fireplace
  • Huge family room that was converted from a garage
  • Gigantic yard (with a landlord who mows it for us!)
  • Fantastic and safe neighborhood
  • Only 0.3 miles to Robb's work
This time, because the move is less than 2 miles away, we'll be renting a truck and doing it ourselves. Robb has started collecting boxes and bringing them home from work We're also hoping that we have a week or two before we move the big stuff over, to start taking a few carloads over each evening so the day of moving stress will be lessened. We're hoping this is our last move for awhile. The plan is, no more moving until we can buy a house of our own in a 4-5 years.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Katherine and Robb in Washington - Year 1 Review

It was exactly one year ago on August 5th that I arrived in Washington, without one iota of personal knowledge about the Northwest, but with unyielding hope and faith that this would become my family's permanent home. And lucky for us, living in the Northwest has been just about everything we dreamed it would be. After traveling and living all over the world, I have found home and I can't imagine living anywhere else.

This year has had its share of challenges and moments of doubt. We spent thousands of dollars moving across the country and living for months without jobs. The job search was much harder and longer than we ever imagined it would be; and although we are happy to finally be employed, Robb still isn't in the field he'd like to be at and the money I'm making is far below what someone of my experience and education might deserve. But we are both working full-time, paying bills, and even managing to pay down some debt and save a little. And while we don't have the perfect jobs, we live in a place that ensures the hours spent together outside of the office are filled with variety and happiness.

It's amazing how quickly a year passes and although we tend to fill our days off with exploring Seattle or getting outside, we still have so much we want to do. There are neighborhoods in Seattle we haven't even gotten close to yet. We really should take some time to visit downtown Tacoma. We have tons more hiking to get to and we need to visit Mount St. Helens. Robb still hasn't seen the Pacific Ocean and I'm on a mission to visit Oregon to see the Columbia River Gorge, Haystack Rock, and Crater Lake. We want to visit a little Bavarian town called Leavenworth to partake in authentic German food that I miss so much, visit the beautiful San Juan Islands to see orcas, and head to the border so I can cross Canada off of my countries-to-visit list. And I haven't forgotten that we need to head inland and explore Idaho, Montana, Utah, etc. Thankfully, since this is now our home, I suppose we have all the time in the world to experience it all.

Every day that I see Mt. Rainier on my drive to work, I am reminded of why we moved across the country. Who knew that risking so much could reap such great rewards?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Eating My Way Through Spokane

In July I headed to Spokane again for work. The last time I was in Spokane there was snow on the ground. This time it was all brown and 90 degrees. The nice thing about this heat though, as opposed to Florida heat, is that it was a dry heat. So even though it was hotter than I've gotten used to, it wasn't an uncomfortable heat. The first day there our meetings ended early, so after checking into the hotel I walked downtown and did a little shopping. I also headed to the Davenport Hotel again to have a drink with my boss, D.

I had gotten recommendations from local Spokane co-workers about where to go to dinner, and we chose to eat at Clinkerdaggers, an amazing and pricey restaurant overlooking the Spokane River rapids. I really enjoyed steelhead fish, smothered in a hazelnut butter. My first experience with steelhead (a type of salmon), and I look forward to trying it again soon. Then D insisted on ordering me the "fried cream" which he had tried years ago. This turned out to be the most amazing creme brule that I've ever tried. D had only two bites and couldn't eat anymore on account of his diabetes; so, of course, I had to do my part and eat the rest of it.

The next day, before we headed to work, we made a point to stop at Frank's Diner. This little diner was created out of an old train car. It was really neat. In the 1800s, when it was still a train car, it was the private car for the president of the railroad. The train car actually became a diner in Seattle in the 1920s (I think), and it moved to Spokane in the 1990s. It's been consistently voted as one of the best diners in Spokane for several years. And yes, my eggs benedict were pretty darn good.
I'm really looking forward to the day where I can go to Spokane and spend a little bit more time there. It's a really neat place to visit (I don't think I could live there, but visiting is nice), and I'd like to do some touristy things with Robb. Maybe, now that I'm a runner, I'll head over there for the Bloomsday 12K run held every May. So I'm sure that you'll see more posts about Spokane in the future.