Sunday, February 28, 2010

Polar Plunge

Did I mention that becoming the president of my running club has made me officially a crazy person? Before I became a runner, I always thought runners were stupid or crazy. Now that I'm a runner, I can tell you that we're actually both. For some stupid and crazy reason I think I can run a marathon now (I'll let you know how that goes in October, after 10/10/10 in Victoria, British Columbia.) And for some stupid and crazy reason I've become the leader of a group that does things like annual underwear runs and polar dips. This year I skipped out of the underwear run (I wasn't president yet so I didn't feel the need to prove myself.) However, I was president by the time the annual polar dip rolled around and I felt compelled to participate!

I'm sure you've seen polar dippers on the news before. A lot of them jump into very cold water around New Year's Day. Well, our running group has an annual run every January that is followed by a jump into Puget Sound. When I was asked if I would participate this year I emphatically said "No Way!" I said I would do the run, but I would not be jumping into the freezing water, I'd be watching the polar dippers and laughing at them instead. I was told that it was my duty as president to jump. I again said "NO!" I explained that I am a warm water girl. I grew up swimming in the Gulf of Mexico where the water feels warmer than the bathtub. This cold water up here in the Pacific Northwest is not up my alley. (Do you remember this summer when it was unseasonably hot and Robb and I went to natural swimming holes up in the mountains? It was all I could do to put my feet in the water. I couldn't imagine getting into that water when it was 90 degrees outside! How would it be possible for me to jump into Puget Sound in the middle of winter?)

But, as my friends in the running club often do, they just plant a seed in my mind and I start thinking it over and it starts to grow. I started to gradually think about doing the jump. I thought how cool it would be to say that I did it, especially because I'm a warm water girl. I thought about the fact that very few women have participated in this club ritual, and it might be fun to carry the torch (or icicle if you will) for my gender. I thought about how participating in a polar plunge would be a real Pacific Northwest-y thing to do. I thought about how moving to Washington without a job, without knowing a soul, and without looking back 2.5 years ago was a pivotal point in my life that allowed me to prove that I could take on adventures I never dreamed possible before. I thought that in 50 years I want to look back on my life and be proud of the opportunities I took and the experiences I had. So I decided to take the plunge. And I started telling people I would do it so I wouldn't back out!

The day of the run was a cool January day. It started out raining and miserable, but by that afternoon the sun was shining. We ran 5 miles to a little bridge in Gig Harbor, WA that is the perfect place to jump. Arriving there though we discovered that we arrived at very, very, very low tide. If we were to jump off that bridge, the fall and landing into the shallow water would probably maim us (if not kill us.) I was relieved and disappointed at the same time that my polar plunge wouldn't happen. But a couple of brave souls decided that instead of jumping we should just run into the water instead. So, the plungers (all men and me!) changed our shoes, took a few before pictures, and then ran in! It was cold, but I went all the way, dunked my head and entire body under water, and ran out as fast as I could. You know, it wasn't as cold as I thought it would be!

We've learned our lesson and next year will be timing the run and jump with the tides. I'm actually glad that the tides were low and we ran in this year, because the jump off the bridge would have been very scary for me. But, now I have a whole year to anticipate a polar plunge in January that involves a jump off that bridge. It will be another experience I have to try!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


On December 30th we celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. The day was lovely and we both took the day off to do something fun. We decided to visit the U District in Seattle. This is where the University of Washington is based and we hadn't really investigated this neighborhood yet.

Awhile back Robb got me a really cool deck of cards that had Seattle walking tours on them. Each card has a different suggested walking tour of a neighborhood, places to see, restaurants to stop in, and unique shopping experiences. I really like these walking tour cards because it gives you a starting point to exploring a new neighborhood, which as you know, Robb and I love to do.We took these cards to walk through the University District and take a short tour of the University's campus. The campus was lovely - and the library, both inside and out, was phenomenal. We'll be going back to the U District soon to check out the Burke Museum and walk through some of the gardens while in bloom.
We ate an early dinner at a pupuseria (El Salvadorean food, which we've tried before and really enjoy) and then headed out of town. We wanted to catch Avatar in 3D, but tickets were sold out and we didn't manage to get to the movie until several weeks later.
We planned on spending quite a bit of money in Hawaii only a few weeks after our anniversary. So with that in mind, our 4th anniversary was low key, but fun. And like always, we enjoyed exploring a new part of Seattle.

Christmas 2009 - Quick Recap

Our Christmas holidays in the past few years have tended towards low-key, with the focus on food and relaxation. This year was no different. We both worked the day of Christmas Eve, but I was determined to have a traditional Christmas Eve dinner. We ended up eating pretty late at night, but had a fantastic herb-crusted roast tenderloin, mashed potatoes, and baked cauliflower.
On Christmas Day we opened gifts, called family, and watched Christmas movies all day. And Jack and Malibu enjoyed the Christmas paper. (Yes, Jack does look like a walrus at times - although that is a particularly unflattering, but funny, first picture of him.) I love the Christmas holiday. The relaxation and family love is so immense, I can't get enough of it!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Thanksgiving 2009 - The Family, Snoqualmie Falls, and Rattlesnake Ridge

My family invited themselves to the West Coast for this year's Thanksgiving. Mom, Dad, and Briana (her husband didn't make it this year, didn't have enough leave time after starting a new job) joined Robb and me for the long weekend. It was the first time Briana has managed to visit Washington and it was nice to show her around!

Everyone flew in on Thanksgiving day and evening. Briana's flight was really late, so dinner was an all night affair. Briana is a vegan (no animal products of any kind - no butter, cheese, milk, eggs, meat, etc), so Robb and I spent a lot of time planning a menu that she could eat. We had a traditional turkey and my family's favorite fried corn, but just about everything else that evening was vegan and it was all delicious - mashed potatoes, couscous stuffing, lemony garlic spinach, etc.! Briana said it was the first time she has been stuffed at Thanksgiving in years. (Normally when she goes to other people's Thanksgiving celebrations she brings herself a frozen meal and that's generally all she can eat.) Unfortunately my great-grandma's pumpkin pie recipe did not turn out okay. My mom conveniently forgot to tell me that I should use electric beaters to mix the ingredients. So the pumpkin pie was a bust, but luckily I had made a German chocolate pecan pie, which was more than enough for dessert (Bri had vegan pumpkin doughnuts we had bought.)
(I was excited Briana was there!)
We decided to make Friday an outdoorsy, Pacific Northwest day. We first headed to Snoqualmie Falls. Robb and I hadn't been to the Falls yet, but we had been wanting to go. The Falls are featured (I think) in the show Twin Peaks. They were truly magnificent. I think that may have been the biggest and most forceful waterfall I have ever seen.
(Briana and I were presenting the waterfall.)
Our next stop was Rattlesnake Ridge for a 4 mile round-trip hike in the midst of the Cascade Mountains. This was a hike that had been recommended to me before and I was glad to finally get there and share it with the family as well. It was a steady incline up to the top of Rattlesnake Ridge. Around 3/4 of the way up my Mom's shoes completely fell apart and she had to flop up the rest of the mountain and then flop down. While it looked like a painful way to hike, it was really funny to walk behind her and see her make her way up the mountain. And I think she was grateful to hike through the pain because the views at the top were spectacular. Rattlesnake Ridge is definitely a hike you'll want to do in the Pacific Northwest; it's not too difficult and the views are a great payoff at the end, especially on an overcast day!
(Robb's on the left side of this picture can you believe how immense this view was?)
The rest of the weekend was low-key. We made it to our favorite Indian restaurant in Federal Way. We walked around Pike Place Market. We went to the vegetarian restaurant Cafe Flora. We spent time together and drank lots of coffee and wine - a very traditional family reunion for us!