Seattle/Portland Travel Journal Day 8

August 11, 2013

Okay, yesterday was too long and too exhausting to stay up and journal about! When it was all said and done, we didn’t get home until about 1 a.m.! I’ve been pooped all day. But back to yesterday: Justin had a half day of conferencing left, so Bennett and I decided to go to church! We got all packed up and checked out of the hotel, and visited a church in Portland called Mosaic. It was so nice to worship and hear preaching from the Word. I regret to say that during my whole trip, I only cracked open my Bible once before that church service. With so much going on and so little free/alone time, it wasn’t as easy to prioritize Bible study as it is at home, so joining in this service was refreshing! A funny and completely unspiritual observation at this church: shoes. I have a very practical reason for this observation, and that is because I had a crisis of outfits that morning due to a (completely not-scandalous) wardrobe malfunction that left me with two choices: really dressy complete with very high heels, or really a bit too casual with Old Navy flip-flops. I opted for the 2nd, knowing I might feel underdressed, but I thought I’d be more uncomfortable — in more ways than one — if I dressed up. Turns out that I chose correctly. I was underdressed, but I laughed to myself as I glanced around. I did not observe a single pair of heels anywhere! Most people were wearing sensible and sturdy sandals or flats. It says a lot about their culture as compared to what I’m used to in North Texas; they bike and walk regularly as a main form of transportation, so sensible shoes make sense! I would have felt exceptionally out of place being so dressed up! Anyway, I enjoyed my visit and felt warmly welcomed. After church, Bennett and I picked up Justin, ate lunch, and headed to Powell’s City of Books again! I was so excited to go back! This time, I actually shopped for myself instead of only chasing B around the kids’ section — although there was plenty of that, too — and I bought a book I’ve wanted for a long time: The Journals of Jim Elliot. (I’m super-excited about it!) After a shorter visit to the bookstore than I would have liked — ha! — we headed for the Portland airport. At the rental car return, we learned that even the minimal coverage we purchased would be enough to keep us from having to pay for the slight damage to the vehicle due to the run-in with a building earlier int he trip, so that was a relief! The flight home — which was thankfully non-stop — went fairly well. Bennett did pretty well overall, and our seatmate was a bonus. She had the window seat and she was 13 years old, on her way to visit family in Allen. She just loved Bennett and kept him entertained off and on during the flight! So glad she wasn’t annoyed. Anyway, it was a long wait for luggage and expectedly inconvenient to get to our car in remote parking with tons of stuff and a tired and confused toddler at midnight, but we made it! So glad I decided to drag the kid along and join Justin on this trip! It wasn’t always easy or convenient to haul around a 1-year-old, but it was so worth it. He did awesome, because he is awesome! I love my family, and I’m so glad we got to make these memories together!



Seattle/Portland Travel Journal Day 7

August 10, 2013

100_3166This morning went much better than yesterday’s! After Bennett’s nap, we went to a small park that’s next to our hotel; it’s called Holladay Park. Its main feature is a fountain in the center, with water spraying up from the ground so kids (or adults!) can play in it. There were also benches, picnic tables, and lots of trees. I just let Bennett wander around and get muddy, and he loved it! It was kind of an ordeal when play time was over; he was not ready to go! An interesting note about the park’s namesake: he was a jerk! I don’t remember much about his story, but I do remember that he was described as a “rake” and that he was not well-liked. I guess he just made a lot of money. Anyway, Bennett and I went to Lloyd’s Center Mall across the street for lunch and to kill some time until it was time to pick up Justin. After much discussion, Justin and I finally settled on going to the Japanese Gardens as our final big activity in Portland. Here’s what I have to say about it: It was beautiful, and I think it would be a great place for quiet reflection. They had little, tucked-away spots here and there, and the babbling brooks gave it the perfect finishing touch. 100_3168There wasn’t much reflection happening with a toddler who is very persistent when it comes to his “requests,” which are frequent! He had fun, though. He just wanted free reign of the place, and it’s not really the safest area for that. There are narrow stone paths, steep steps, and dangerous heights for little, wobbly ones. Overall, we thought the gardens were pretty, but that the ticket was overpriced for the small size of the place. After the gardens, we drove through a trendy area of town Jen F. told us about, on 23rd Ave, but decided to have dinner at a reportedly haunted restaurant, called Old Town Pizza. The service was far from stellar, but the awesome food and atmosphere made up for it! We had the house special, which was pepperoni, salami, Italian sausage, mushrooms, black olives, green pepper… I think that’s it. They say the place is haunted by a prostitute named Nina whose body was found in the elevator shaft when the building was a hotel. Below the building are tunnels where men were “shanghaied” back in the 19th century. We now regret doing the underground tour in Seattle and wish we’d chosen the Portland one instead! We didn’t know about it, but it sounds more interesting! We’ve spent so much money on this trip that we decided that another underground tour would just be an unnecessary expense. Anyway, this is our last night. Back home tomorrow!


Seattle/Portland Travel Journal Day 6

August 9, 2013

So I am officially “that” hotel guest that everyone on staff probably knows about! It started off as completely not my fault. Remember the small fridge they brought in for us? Well, I found out this morning that it wasn’t cooling — after leaving $30 worth of new groceries in it overnight, including a quart of milk for Bennett’s bottles. We were already running late this morning after the alarm either didn’t go off or we didn’t hear it, so we had to really rush to get Justin to this conference semi-on time. When we told the front desk what happened, they went out of their way to make it right, arranging to replace the refrigerator and milk free of charge. (We didn’t mention the rest of the food — I just needed a bottle of milk for B right away!) So, that was great. However, after dropping Justin off and returning to our room, Bennett was driving me crazy with the refrigerator. I had pulled it out of the coat closet to make it easier to move out quickly and replace. Bennett thought it was an awesome toy, which it’s not, so I decided to just push it out into the hallway. That’s when it happened — CLICK! I didn’t have my foot as far back behind me as I’d thought, so I didn’t catch the door before it swung tightly closed. I was locked out, while my one-year-and-one-day-old walking toddler was locked in! I instinctively wanted to stay by the room and yell for someone to come help me, but I quickly realized that it didn’t matter if I was just outside the door or in China — my child was still unsupervised and out of my reach — so I got to the lobby (barefoot) as fast as I could. I apologized as I cut in line and calmly but quickly explained to the girl what happened. She asked for my room number, name, and address, and then eyed me warily. She said it wasn’t the right address! I repeated the room number, and she said she was showing an address on Madison — which is not my address. She said she’d have to call security. I understood that, but she took an incoming call first — ugh! I waited patiently, but ready to object if she found another task to do before calling. Thankfully, she didn’t, and a gentleman came quickly to help me, no questions asked. As we walked, I explained in more detail about what happened, how I was moving the fridge out, and he said, “Oh, you must be the one whose milk went bad?” Oh great! If everyone knew about that, which was not my fault, surely all of Portland must know I’m also the one who locks her baby alone in a hotel room because she’s too dumb to either keep the key in her possession or to prop open the door! I’m so embarrassed and mad at myself about the whole thing. Thankfully, Bennett didn’t seem to notice that he was alone for about 5 minutes. He was standing next to the office chair, spinning it around when the security guard opened the door for me. Bennett just glanced up at me like, “Oh hey, Mom. Did you know this chair spins around?” Meanwhile, I’m waiting for my badge to come in the mail, labeling me as either the dumbest mom on earth for August 9, 2013, or at least the most irresponsible! While the day did improve, I was forgetful at every turn! Between forgetting sunglasses for the zoo and  forgetting to bring the dinner I packed for the baby to the restaurant, I was just a mess! Despite my best efforts to ruin the day, we did go on to have fun! We picked up Justin for lunch and then went to the Oregon Zoo. The weather was gorgeous! I don’t think I’ve ever been to the zoo without being miserably hot, so this was a treat! Bennett seemed to enjoy his first zoo trip. He liked the fish and the penguins — anything where he could be right up to the glass and the animals were really obvious. At one point, we had him right next to a sleeping cheetah, and he got really excited when it woke a bit to lick its paw. Otherwise, he just enjoyed the stroll outside, with little regard for giraffes or elephants! One thing we really enjoyed about this zoo was the minimal commercialism. Usually there are kiosks at every turn offering every type of animal-related junk you could think of. At this zoo, however, there is a ton of vegetation offering shade and a peaceful atmosphere. There was very little in the way of junk! We really had a good time, even though we were surprised at the small size of the park. I went in fully expecting to only see part of the zoo since we had a young toddler in tow, but we easily saw all the exhibits in just a few hours. It was great! Bennett napped in the car on the way back to the hotel, and then we walked two blocks to Red Robin for dinner. (And that’s when I realized I’d forgotten Bennett’s meal — ugh!) It was a mess of a day, but we still had a great time, and we’re all safe and sleepy tonight. That’s always a good ending to a day in my book! 


100_3161 100_3128 100_3136 100_3145 100_3146 100_3149

Seattle/Portland Travel Journal Day 5

August 8, 2013

This morning was a little rough as I was trying to get everything together to leave because Bennett was a huge grump and really clingy! Then of course, it seemed like nothing was going right at all. We were about 20 minutes down the highway before my attitude adjusted! Thankfully, traffic was not too bad, even though we left about 15 minutes later than scheduled. The drive was pleasant, and we arrived in Portland in plenty of time to get checked in and have a sandwich before Justin had to go to his conference. Although I had hoped to have a fun afternoon with Bennett in a nearby park, he took a seriously long nap, and we only had time to stop in at Safeway for a few essentials before picking up Justin for dinner! But, I got to spend a good amount of time online learning about Portland and what there is to do, so that’s a plus! Anyway, we picked up Justin and drove about six blocks to the Pearl District and ate dinner at Jake’s Famous Crawfish. At the hostess  stand, they were talking to Bennett and asking him how he was, and Justin told them it was his first birthday. They gave him a free stuffed crawfish toy! So now Bennett has two souvenirs from his first vacation! In any event, the food was great. Bennett and I had seafood fettuccine with scallops and shrimp, and Justin had dungeness crab cakes. We were all stuffed and happy! After 100_3123100_3125dinner, we walked to Powell’s City of Books, which was a paradise. It’s 68,000 square feet: nine rooms, four floors, one entire city block of books. It’s the world’s largest used and new bookstore, and I want to move in. At the very least, I want to pack it all up and move it to Texas! That’s about all we did today. Before I close, however, I’d like to talk about our lodging in Seattle (actually Edmonds) and in Portland. In Seattle, we decided to save a little money and stay in Travelodge. It’s funny because our travel agent really advised against it and wanted us to stay somewhere nicer, but this is pretty much how we roll; we prefer to spend our vacation money on experiences instead of on fancy hotels. It certainly wasn’t amazing, that Travelodge, but it met all of our needs perfectly. There was a kitchenette perfect for making baby food, and we also got free breakfast with lots of choices. And I already wrote about how much Bennett loved it! Still, I was excited to get to Portland because we decided to splurge on a really nice hotel — the DoubleTree. It is of superior quality in just about every way, to be sure, but all three of us think our old room better suited to our needs! Bennett is far from excited about this room — in fact, he cries every time we walk into it! It’s a much smaller room, with less counter space, less reliable internet, breakfast for sale, and no kitchenette! There’s a small fridge only because we requested one — they brought it to us, and there’s no good place to put it! Oh and there’s not a tub, only a shower. It will be an adventure bathing Bennett tomorrow! While we are definitely more comfortable and feel cleaner and safer from unseen bugs and bodily fluids, we find it hilarious that Travelodge met our needs better than the DoubleTree (which should be named DoubleThePrice)! C’est la vie!


Seattle/Portland Travel Journal Day 4

August 7, 2013

100_3103Today was game day! The Mariners/Blue Jays game was the only thing on our agenda, so we weren’t sure exactly how to spend our morning. We decided to go ahead and let Bennett nap in the room, and then we planned to go to an alehouse adjacent to the stadium for lunch, being sure to make it in time for the 12:40 game. that’s probably the plan we should have stuck with, but it wasn’t. After discussing our options, we decided instead to stay in our room and save money by eating sandwiches for lunch. We still left with plenty of time to make the 20-minute drive, park, and buy tickets — in theory. It turned out that the hour and ten minutes we allowed for this process would only get us about halfway there. Traffic was a complete nightmare, and parking was even worse. By the time we approached the stadium by car, we were already significantly late, but then we had to park forever away. Really I think it was at least a 20-minute walk, and we had to pay $20 for the spot! Not the best start to what was supposed to be the highlight of Justin’s trip: visiting MLB park #19 on his quest to see all 30. Things turned around a bit when we went to the ticket kiosk, though. We were looking for cheap seats in the shade when a girl came around with two extra tickets. She had four season tickets, but wasn’t able to find people to come with her and her sister that day. They were $44 tickets, and we bought them for $20 each! Turns out the seats were on first base side, 17 rows up, and in the shade (until about the 7th inning, at least)! It really (almost) made up for the terrible experience getting there. We had great seats at a great price! to make it even better, the Mariners (who had been down 7 to 2 when we got there), ended up winning 9-7! Bennett did pretty well, and he delighted neighboring fans with his cuteness. 100_3114I did take him to a clear area in a corner for a bit to let him run around, so that helped him empty some of the ants out of his pants! I also got him a moose keychain to keep him busy when we got back to our seat. That’s about all we did — it was after 5 when we got back to our room, and neither of us was hungry for dinner yet. I fed and bathed Bennett, and then it was too late to take him out anywhere, so we just ordered pizza! It’s just as well. We have to get our stuff together quickly tomorrow and be on the road to Portland by 8 a.m.! Justin starts his conference tomorrow. Boo.


Seattle/Portland Travel Journal Day 3

August 6, 2013

100_3063One thing I keep forgetting to write about is how relaxed everyone seems to be around here! Waiting for the ferry in long rows in a huge parking lot — no signs of impatience. Really heavy traffic on the highway — no reckless drivers bobbing in and out of lanes, no horns, no rudeness. It seems that people here have just accepted delay as a natural part of life and have adapted accordingly. Oh, and no one speeds! It seems that everyone drives at or below the posted speed limit, which is not very high in most places we’ve been around here. Another funny thing we noticed is that state highway signs do not, like every other state I’ve seen, have the shape of the state with the number of the highway in it. Instead of having the shape of Washington state, they have the shape of Washington, as in George! It’s his profile. So funny. What’s not funny is how confusing their roads and exits can be, and how they’re not overly zealous about labeling them. We’ve missed quite a few turns, even with our GPS! Now on to today’s events! We spent the day in downtown Seattle: first at Pike’s Place Market, 100_3079where we had lunch, then we took an underground tour, and we finished at the Space Needle. So the market was crazy! We were there on a Tuesday morning, and it was packed! It was a little difficult to navigate with the umbrella stroller, but not too bad. I can’t imagine the place on a Saturday! Anyway, the place was pretty neat, and we got to munch on a few samples here and there. We saw the original Starbucks, but neglected to get a picture. The line was out the door — which I suspect is the norm — and we figured we’d come back later. We never did make it back! We ate lunch at a little Italian cafe and topped that off with a  little rum raisin gelato, which was really yummy! After lunch we tried desperately to make the one o’clock underground tour of Seattle, but it was several blocks away. We walked up to the ticket counter — and a very rude teller — at about 1:07. Oh well. We really wanted to take the tour, so we went ahead and purchased tickets for the next one, which left at two. This caused two major complications. First, our parking expired at two. (Remember, our car was several blocks back, by the market.) Justin had to hustle back to get the car and find parking closer to our tour and pay more. Oh and it was uphill all the way back; he barely made it to the tour on time. The second complication caused by taking the later tour was that it began right at Bennett’s normal nap time. So of course, he was a bit of a pill! I missed some of the history because I was stepping aside to try and settle him. I’m still glad we did it, though; it was really interesting! We literally went down stairs and under buildings to see where original businesses and streets had been. There was so much discarded junk all around, like a red velvet lounge chair in what was a saloon, and the first electric elevator, and an old toilet with blue flowers painted on the porcelain. I learned that at one time, 86% of the city’s revenue came from taxes on the red light district. They called the girls “seamstresses.” Also, they (the city) had huge sewage issues, caused in large part by the changes in tides. Another city planning issue is that they used sawdust from logging as filler in the foundations of buildings. As we were walking along what had been ground-level rooms inside buildings, you could see the floors sagging because oft he sawdust. Because of the sawdust thing and the varying tide levels (22-foot variance), they decided they should raise the city. During that project, they would build the streets up on stilts, basically, and a person would have to climb a ladder up to it, cross the street, and then climb a ladder down. The guide said that Seattle became known for their “one-step program,” as several bar patrons would climb the ladder up, but then forget about the whole ladder business completely by the time they got to the other side. They’d take that one step off, and their death certificates would call it an involuntary suicide! Crazy. Well, after the tour, we decided B definitely needed a nap, so we hopped in the car. He fell asleep pretty quickly, so we just drove around a while. 100_3086Once he woke up, we drove to the Space Needle. It was pretty cool. Seattle is beautiful because of Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and of course the mountains in the distance. The setup, as far as getting off the elevator and walking onto the observation deck, looks really different from Sleepless in Seattle! In all, it was an eventful day, and I had fun, but I liked yesterday’s activities better. I think the ferry is still the highlight of my trip so far! I’m sure hiking would have been my favorite because of the awesome experience of being in the mountains and having that vantage point to look at all the other mountains — gorgeous!!! — but I just had such an awful headache that it really put a damper on things. 😦 I am happy to report, however, that I’ve been headache-free all day today!


Seattle/Portland Travel Journal Day 2

August 5, 2013

We got off to a rough start this morning, despite being down for breakfast by 7 a.m. and leaving by 8. We had to stop at Safeway for some pre-made baby food because I hadn’t (well, and still haven’t) had time to make any for him. Then we had GPS confusion and had to go back to our room to check directions online, but en route to the room, we had a minor fender-bender with a neighboring motel building. (Don’t ask.) Anyway, upon checking the directions, we found out we had to ride a100_3008 ferry, and we were both pretty nervous about that! We had no idea what to expect logistically at all — “riding a ferry” was just some abstract concept referenced sometimes in books and movies. Turns out that everything about it — except the ticket price — is awesome! We were looking around wondering why everyone else was so unmoved by it, while I went right on snapping pictures! Once we figured it out, it really turned our day around. So you drive your car onto it, park, turn off the engine, and you can either stay in your vehicle or go onto the passenger deck. It was a 30-minute ride, and we were curious, so we got out! 100_3020 there were two levels above where we parked, and I think there was also parking below. You could be inside or outside. There was a cafeteria inside, as well as plenty of seating, tables, restrooms, visitor brochures, and plenty of space to stroll around. (Bennett particularly appreciated that last feature!) We were surprised by the speed of the boat, and in awe of the views. It was breathtaking to see surrounding homes and mountains peeking out from behind patches of fog. We just loved the whole experience. After crossing Puget Sound, it was more or less 2 hours to Olympic National Park, where we wanted to do some hiking. At the visitor center, they recommended Hurricane Ridge for an “easy” family hike. It was far from easy for me — I had a very difficult time. Aside from the physical exertion, a headache I’ve had since deplaning yesterday became fairly unbearable by the end. I made it all the way up and down the trail, but not without lots of
100_3041breaks and water! Sandwiches and trail mix were also major players in the success of my mission! Along the way, we saw quite a few mule deer. They were obviously used to people, so we were able to get a pretty close look! The same goes for one particular chipmunk we met at the top; though we weren’t supposed to, we fed him peanuts. He even ate one directly from my hand! So cool. He was adorable. I had no idea chipmunks were so small! Oh and the views were phenomenal. I couldn’t begin to describe the beauty of the surrounding mountain scenery as we hiked. 100_3047 Parts of it were even dizzying! It was gorgeous. Bennett did pretty well with the whole thing; Justin and I switched off wearing the baby carrier. Bennett got lots of comments from other hikers because of his irresistible cuteness! He had the best time at the top, when he got to walk around on his own, and on the way down, when Justin wore the carrier in front and let B face forward. He was cracking up most of the way down and delighting everyone! We ate a mediocre dinner just before getting back on the ferry, but the atmosphere right by the water was cool. Now I’m exhausted and happy to be clean and in bed. Good night!


Seattle/Portland Travel Journal Day 1

A note to my zillions of readers out there: This series is predominantly for people who know me personally and who are really interested in a detailed answer to the question, “How was your trip?” Memory fails me very quickly — so quickly that I had a hard time remembering what we did in Seattle once we got to Portland a few days later, so I figured that keeping a journal would help me recall what I actually enjoyed or didn’t enjoy, and then I could give a real answer to the question. If this doesn’t interest you, fear not! I was only out of town for about a week. This series won’t last forever, and I hope you’ll be back when it’s over! ♥

August 4, 2013

I am writing from Edmonds, Washington! We spent the day flying, first to Houston, (which makes so much sense), and then to 100_2996Seattle. We plan to do a little sight-seeing over the next few days and then go to a Mariners game Wednesday. Thursday morning we’re driving to Portland and then Justin will be attending a conference all weekend. As for today, it was long and a little stressful. Flying a total of 6 hours with a one-year-old is no picnic. However, it wasn’t too bad! I tried to come prepared with stuff to occupy him, and he mostly did pretty well. He surprised me by falling asleep on the plane, but that only lasted about 30 minutes, I’d say. For being confined to a small space and essentially missing both naps, he did awesome! And he loves our motel room! He was running around shrieking and cracking up. Now that we’re off the plane, I guess, Bennett loves vacation! And for dinner, we walked across the street to this Korean restaurant. We had no idea what to order, so we asked the server. Several people helped take care of our table. They were super helpful and nice, and one lady in particular just loved Bennett! that was kind of the theme of the day, actually; everyone just thought he was so cute. (I mean, of course he is!) Anyway, and earlier I stopped at Safeway — didn’t know those even still existed — and I had several conversations with random people there. That happens to me a lot these days because of Bennett, but he wasn’t with me! It just seems that the people of Seattle — or at least of Edmonds — are really friendly! I like it here a lot. I love that it’s 80 degrees in August, and that there are evergreen trees everywhere. I just like the feel of this place so far. Tomorrow, we hike!


Addendum: I just remembered as I typed this from my journal that at the Korean restaurant, they made Bennett a special soft tofu soup. The waitress said, “It’s very healthy for babies.” It looked gross, but B loved it! I tried it, and it was actually pretty good. I think it was broth-based, and there was also some white rice in it. She made it special just for him, and we didn’t get charged for it. We loved that restaurant!