Sunday, May 31, 2009

Port Townsend and the Rhody Run

I completed my first 12K in mid-May. The Rhody Run (Rhody is slang here for 'rhododendron' a very popular flower in these parts) was in beautiful Port Townsend, WA. The reason I chose this race for my first 12K was because several people in my running club were planning on attending and promised a beautiful run. So I joined the group, wearing our club jerseys. At first I was a little disappointed in my time; it took me 1hr, 16 minutes. Even though I was a little slower than I had hoped, I was still happy because I didn't walk at all and the day was VERY hot for the Pacific Northwest. Then I found out my stats compared to the rest of the runners. I'm not so disappointed with my time now; I am beyond excited with my race results!

Overall: 535th out of 2137 (top 25%)
Women runners: 189th out of 1229 (top 15%)
Females age 25-29: 26th out of 88 (top 30%)

Robb and I had a long day, both before and after the race. The drive to Port Townsend isn't easy. Especially because a key bridge to get there is currently closed for repairs. So, the drive was extra long to go around parts of the Sound, rather than across it. While this made for a long (3 hour) drive, it also made for a beautiful drive through gorgeous countryside and along the water. We got to Fort Worden (race location) around 10:30, enough time to pick up my registration number and get ready for the 11:00 race start. Fort Worden is a historic fort a few miles from downtown Port Townsend. Fort Worden is where An Officer and a Gentleman was filmed. And while I ran it provided a great distraction for Robb to walk around and take in the scenery. The race started and ended in the Fort, with wide country roads in between. Most races have sanctioned water stations every few miles. The Rhody Run not only had official water stations, but also unofficial ones. Several families who lived along the running route created their own water stations. And about a mile and a half away from the finish, one family even had a champagne station! (I did not partake, it was still too far for me to go!) Additionally, tons of people had put their sprinklers on to spray directly into the street so the racers could run underneath them. (It was a particularly hot and sunny day for a long run.) I finished the race and got a great t-shirt to show off in future runs.
After the race I changed and Robb and I started towards downtown Port Townsend to do the tourist thing. First we stopped at Mt. Townsend Creamery. This Creamery creates some of our favorite cheese that is sold at Metropolitan Market. We got to look at the cheese room and try a few samples (and look super-cute while doing so).

We ate a late lunch at the Public House Grill and both ordered the same thing (something we NEVER do, but had to because this meal sounded so good), a phenomenal cheeseburger with a portabello cap, dipped in mushroom jus. Ohmigod was it good!

Then we walked around downtown and popped into shops and took in the scenery. The town was super cute, with definite Victorian undertones. The houses were beautiful and historic. The rhododendrons were in full bloom. The water was crystal clear. There was even a deer lying down in someone's backyard. This town was charming! I'm hoping in the future we can spend a couple of days exploring it more. Maybe next year we'll go do the race again and this time we'll camp there the entire weekend (instead of a 6 hours of our day going to the round-trip drive time.)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Taking Angela to Fremont and Ballard

I met Angela while I was living in Florida. She moved to Portland a few months before we came to Washington and we've been able to visit each other a couple of times since we live only a few hours apart. Her husband has recently joined the Army and is now in basic training and Officer Candidate School. While she waits for him to get done with training, she's decided to move back to Florida to hang out with her family, before they get stationed. Luckily, she came to visit me and hang out one more time before she headed back to the Sunshine State.

Angela got to town around lunchtime and we headed straight to Burger Express here in Federal Way. Burger Express is a local burger joint that boasts probably the best burgers ever. Robb and I feel lucky to have this awesome local restaurant in our very own town. After Burger Express we hung out at the house a bit to chat and then headed to Seattle. We visited the REI flagship store and then walked around Fremont. It was a typical, chilly and rainy Seattle day. But, being the Northwesterners that we are, we just put on our rain jackets and walked around anyway. Plus, I got to wear my awesome new green rain jacket that I got from REI for my birthday in March. I love this jacket; it's suited perfectly to this area. It's breathable but has a warm lining and is waterproof. I feel like a Seattle girl when I wear it.

Have I mentioned the Fremont troll before? It's an art project under a giant bridge. The car the troll is holding is actually a real VW bug. Robb and I love taking visitors to the Fremont Troll, but this was the first time we've been able to get a picture of BOTH of us in front of it. After the troll we checked out the local independent shops and then we hung out in an Irish pub and had a few beers before making our way to Ballard.
At Ballard we finally got a chance to eat at the artisan pizza restaurant, Madame K's. Robb and I had been wanting to try the place for a long time. Apparently the building that Madame K's is in used to be a brothel, so the decor is all about luscious red walls and lingerie hanging from the lamps. We thought the pizza we tried was a little boring; it wasn't bad, just wasn't as flavorful as the menu description indicated it could be. But Robb and I have decided that we won't write Madame K's off altogether. We'll, visit one more time and try something new before we decide whether or not it's a keeper.

The whole day and evening was planned around attending a midnight show at The Tractor Tavern in Ballard. Robb and I had found out about and planned on attending a performance by Cash'd Out, a Johnny Cash tribute band for awhile. Once we figured out when Angela could visit (she said that she was also a Johnny Cash fan), we planned on attending the 8:00 show that night. But, somehow, we accidentally got tickets for the midnight show. I'm the type of girl that usually is in bed by 9:30 or 10:00 on weekdays and 11:00 on weekends (on a good day). So a midnight show was a little ambitious for me, but we thought it might be fun to act like adults in their 20s, without kids -- considering that is what we actually are.

The Tractor Tavern is a bar/music venue that I'd heard about as being a great venue and fun time. It was a pretty neat place with cowboy boots on the wall and plenty of space to watch a show and/or dance. The performance wasn't quite as good as I would've hoped, but it was their second show of the night and they were not actually the real Johnny and June Carter Cash. The most exciting part of the night for me was seeing two separate bar fights during the show. I don't generally spend a lot of time in bars, especially that late at night, so it was my first time witnessing such shenanigans. A little exciting and more scary then I thought!

The day was pretty good, despite getting home at 3:00 in the morning. The other great thing about this weekend is that I now definitely know how to get to Fremont without a map or directions. And I know how to get to Ballard from Fremont. And I know how to get home from Ballard and Fremont. And I know how to get to REI from the interstate and from Ballard and Fremont. Considering these are my two favorite Seattle neighborhoods and my favorite store, there is nothing else I need to know. Who needs a map? Not this local girl!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Our Green Thumbs

When we moved into the house last August we knew it was too late at that point to get a garden going. But we immediately started imagining a vegetable garden for the next year. We were excited about producing our own food and saving money. Last September we bought a compost bin for worms. We finally got some worms this spring and they are eating much of our food waste. In March we started to do our research on what type of garden we wanted to do. Robb got me a gardening book and various starter plants for my birthday. We got approval from the landlord to tear out some sod in the background in order to make a raised bed. Then we got started.
Robb planted some pretty bushes under our front living room window and we've also got honeysuckle growing around the mailbox. But, by and large, our main gardening goal is edible produce! Our first project involved planting strawberries in a shaded corner in our backyard. Robb planted potatoes in a couple of large bins. Onions were planted against the house. We've also got garlic thriving in a little pot. We're also attempting to grow a blueberry plant in a large pot. Robb took a day to tear out several feet of sod. It looked like really hard work. I just watched and took pictures. The garden was lined with cinder blocks and then Robb filled the area with a TON of soil. A few days later I was able to till the soil a little bit. That's hard work (but not as hard as tearing out sod by hand.) Then we finally were able to plant our first plants. We bought little starter plants that included: broccoli, tomatoes, red leaf lettuce, and field greens. The plants have been in for a couple of weeks now, and they are thriving. They are getting larger and stronger. Robb recently put in cucumber seeds. Eventually we'll put in squash too. We also tried to start several different herbs from seeds. I was in charge of planting the herb seeds in a little greenhouse-type thing. Robb planted some veggies and marigolds in another greenhouse. I blame Robb for the seeds not sprouting. I think he drowned them and then dried them out. (Who knows, I've never done this before. I could have put too many seeds each little section. At any rate, no sprouting seeds for us.) So Robb bought herb plants and we put those on our front porch flower box. Maybe creating a huge veggie garden and expecting to grow some things from seeds was too ambitious for beginners. We'll try seeds again at some point, but for now I'm happy with the seedlings we buy from the store.
It also smells an awful lot like Starbucks around our yard lately. Used coffee grounds are considered a nutritious food for plants. If you go into Starbucks and ask they will give you huge bags of used coffee grounds for free. The plants seem to love the coffee, but the fresh grounds, especially after watered, definitely make for a strong-smelling brew! I love how the Northwest combines gardening and coffee. The other night Robb harvested some greens from our garden to include on fish tostadas. Those greens were incredible (after he washed off the coffee grounds of course.) I can't wait for the other vegetables to be ready to eat. This is a great project for us. We can do a lot of it together and it's so satisfying to grow food (something I've never done before!) As our garden progresses this summer, I'll be sure to post more pics and updates.