Sunday, August 16, 2009

Denny Creek and Franklin Falls

The end of July and early August we had miserable weather. We had days in the triple digits. Seattle experienced the hottest day ever recorded - 103 degrees. I know that much of the country experiences extremely hot weather. But those places generally have air conditioning. Most houses here in the Pacific Northwest have no need for air conditioning. We only had one tiny fan. Robb bought another one - one of the last - at a Wal-Mart one night. People were happy to go to work because office buildings have air conditioner. Then the evenings were spent in the movie theaters and malls. I just sat in shorts and a t-shirt and tried not to move; we avoided cooking or turning on the stove.

One Sunday (it wasn't in the triple digits that day, but I think it was in the 90s), Robb and I headed to the mountains to beat the heat. We wanted to do a little hiking and get around some water. I did some research and found a couple of easy trails to try out.

First we went to Franklin Falls, probably a mile hike from the trail head. This waterfall was absolutely beautiful. When we first arrived there were a few people hanging out and splashing through the creek. By the time we left the area was packed with families and kids. The water was cool and inviting in the heat. Even I waded through the water - and I'm a warm water type of girl. It felt so refreshing!

Our second trail of the day was close by and was along Denny Creek. This trail promised to take us to a natural swimming area, complete with rock slides and picturesque waterfalls. We were not disappointed. We arrived at the swimming area and found several different pools and waterfalls. The creek and pools just kept going and going, along with the people. Again tons of families and teenagers were cooling off in the water. I think that both Franklin Falls and Denny Creek are great hikes for families. Each hike is only about 2 miles round trip; families and kids get to experience nature, get some exercise, and then get to swim in an unforgettable location. Robb calls it God's Natural Waterpark. I couldn't agree more. On a hot day this is a much more exciting place to take the family then a local swimming pool.
Our final stop of the day was at the town of North Bend to visit Twede's Cafe. I've never seen the show, but apparently this is where Twin Peaks was filmed/based. There is famous cherry pie in the show, and Twede's is the place that makes it. Robb and I ate a couple of hamburgers (decent, but not the best I've had) and then tried some cherry pie. I'm not a big cherry fan, but I must say the sugar crust was delicious!

Robb's First 5K - Seafair

Last year I completed the Seafair Torchlight 8K. I considered that my first serious race and have been running and building up my mileage ever since. Robb was my big support last year, cheering me on and taking pictures. This year I was lucky enough to be his support and document his entry into the running world! He completed his very first 5K at this year's Seafair. His goal was to finish the whole 3.1 miles without walking. To be honest, I was a little worried. He really didn't start training early enough. The longest run he had completed without stopping before this race was only 2 miles. But it turns out the crowd and race day excitement was the ticket! He ran the whole thing and finished his first race! I was so proud! Unfortunately, since then, he's been diagnosed with runner's knee. (I think a combo of being on his feet all day at work, combined with running, combined with running too much too soon, has something to do with his ailment.) But hopefully once he gets it under control he'll be back to training and we'll be able to run a race together!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Maryland and DC Visit

Michelle's wedding ended late Friday night and my Dad and I drove back to my sister's house in Maryland. Briana was a phenomenal hostess while I was there. She took me to the Metro station and let me use her Metro card. She let me drink her wine. She even let my friend Megan spend the night at her house so that we could get a good chance to visit. Plus, Briana and Adam took Monday off of work to gallivant with me around Baltimore before my flight left that night. I hope that when they finally come to visit me that I can be as accommodating as they were.

Even though Michelle's wedding brought me to DC, I had a huge agenda to see tons of people while I was there. Because I attended college in Virginia and the vast majority of my friends are in the surrounding areas, I had a lot of visiting to fit into only a couple of days. On Saturday I woke up early and took the Metro into Washington DC. I was on a mission to spend the day with Amanda and Christine, two fantastic friends from college. We started out with lunch in Georgetown then headed to the National Portrait Gallery. I think museum was really wonderful and we loved seeing the Presidents' portraits. We didn't stay terribly long though because museums aren't really conducive to girlfriends catching up after not seeing each other for several years. We walked around downtown DC, grabbed Starbucks, and talked about everything. I even spotted a Starbucks in "Chinatown" that was spelled out in Chinese. I have never noticed anything like that in Seattle, even with our huge Asian population! That night I had dinner with my Dad, Bri, and Adam. We went to a great "French-inspired Vietnamese" restaurant. I'll spare you the picture of my steak. But imagine a steak smothered in a lime sauce with a fried egg on top. It was awesome! On Sunday my Dad left to go home to Florida and Briana and I drove to Arlington, VA. As luck would have it, one of our high school teachers from Germany was in the area for a couple of months. We chatted with Mr. Schmidt and one of his kids, a girl who is now a shy, grown up 12 year old, when I used to babysit her as a precocious 3 year old!

After coffee, we drove back to Maryland to wait for my dear friend Megan to join us. Megan and I go all the way back to 2nd grade. We've stayed the best of friends even though I have moved all over the country in the years since we first met. Megan drove to spend the afternoon and evening with me and left early Monday morning. Our first order of business was to do a little shopping. Then we headed to the Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard. This Maryland winery boasts that they're the only local winery to have their product served at the Kennedy Center. Megan and I tried a 10-wine tasting and then enjoyed another glass in their outdoor seating area. The wine was okay. I'm not sure if it was my favorite wine or worth the prices, but the ambiance of the winery was pleasant and relaxing. On Monday, Briana, Adam, and I went to Baltimore for the day. It was a city that none of us had really spent any time in. It seemed to be filled with history. Our first stop was the Baltimore Inner Harbor, where we decided to tour the USS Torsk and the USS Constellation. The Torsk was a submarine in commission during WWII. And the USS Constellation was one the last commissioned all-sail ship in the Navy. The Constellation help fought slave trafficking in the 1800s. Both ships were really interesting. I had never been in a submarine before; even though you an imagine the tight space, it seems even crazier to see it in real life. We had a mediocre lunch in a charmingly-decorated Italian restaurant. We then went to see the original Washington monument. (The one in DC was created after the Baltimore one.) We wanted to do a lot more historical/tourism things, but we didn't want to continue to spend money and the free locations seem to be closed on Mondays. At any rate, the money we spent on the ship tours was money well-spent and Baltimore is on my to-do tourism list in the future. That night I flew out of Baltimore and headed back home. All in all, a great trip with fun, friends, and family.

For my next posting, I'll get back to our regularly scheduled Pacific Northwest fanfare...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Michelle's Wedding

One of my best friends in the world got married in July. I made my way to the East Coast to be a part of her beautiful day. I flew out of Seattle on a Wednesday night; I took a non-stop red eye to Baltimore with the hope that I could get some sleep and avoid taking off an extra day of work. The sleeping part didn't work too well; I only got about three hours of sleep during the flight. My sister picked me up at the Baltimore airport on Thursday morning and we made our way straight to the Pentagon, where she works. Briana gave me a mini-tour of the Pentagon, we ate lunch, and she sent me on my way via the Metro to Northern Virginia. Michelle picked me up at a metro stop and we spent the afternoon getting food, much-needed coffee, and primping. The evening was spent rehearsing, eating, drinking, and catching up.

Robb wasn't able to come to the wedding, his cancer treatments this year took up all his vacation days. But I was so lucky that my Dad was visiting DC from Florida for business that week. He decided to stay the weekend to be my date at the wedding (my parents love Michelle and vice versa). I love spending time with my dad, plus he danced with me and was my designated driver. The wedding was simply gorgeous. And the night was filled with dancing and fun - my legs hurt for two days afterwards. And of course it was wonderful visiting with Michelle, seeing Michelle and Jason pledge eternal love, and celebrate with such fantastic people. I felt so privileged to be a part of their day.