We spent the afternoon of our anniversary driving straight from Vancouver to Seattle for dinner. We had plans to see my friend Emily and her husband Adam; the last time I saw her was 8 years ago to the day, at our wedding! (The minute Scott and Robby gave us their wedding date, I messaged her to let her know I'd be in town a year in advance
so we could make plans.) There was some really bad traffic getting back to the city, and Matt and I ended up at the wrong restaurant, but eventually we made it to Purple and had a great time!
After dinner, we found our Airbnb and settled in. Matt surprised me by finding Hot Cakes, a dessert restaurant that serves molten lava cakes and has gluten free options. We walked over and shared a chocolate lava cake and strawberry milkshake. It was the perfect end to an already perfect anniversary.
|I am channeling my inner-Gollum here. My preciousssss.|
The next day, July 11, was another things-on-my-
list day. We started with the SkyView Observatory, which is on the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center. We had heard it was less expensive and higher up than the Space Needle, and because the Space Needle was under construction anyway, we opted to skip it.
|Spot the Space Needle!|
I was not disappointed. Seeing the city from so high up was breathtaking. I had chills the first moment I looked out! The observatory has lots of interactive information, so you know what to look for in each direction. We spent about an hour enjoying the view.
|The freeways look so cool from this view!|
Afterward, we headed to Pike Place. Emily had warned me to avoid the famous market on the weekend, and I totally get why. Even on a Wednesday, it was incredibly crowded. We picked up some snacks (mozzarella, salami, fresh fruit...yum!) and ogled the oversized pastries.
|Donuts as big as his FACE!|
We picked up some sushi for lunch, then walked over to the Seattle Aquarium...which, in retrospect, seems cruel. The aquarium had been on my must-do list, and I was not disappointed. I am terrified of sea creatures, so aquariums are kind of like haunted houses for me. I love them!
We saw all kinds of fish, including jellyfish and the resident octopus. We got to see the sea otters being fed and visit some puffins.
|Some kid stuck his hand in the one good pic I managed to get of the octopus.|
|This shirt really spoke to me.|
We headed home from there. Matt was meeting a local paddling club for some outrigger canoe fun, so he left me at home to enjoy that. I was happy to have some quiet time to put my feet up and catch up on Netflix. (I am watching The Santa Clarita Diet
but Matt won't watch it with me!)
We ordered in from Jai Thai when he got home; we had an early, big day ahead of us!
On July 12, we drove out to Mt. Tacoma (Rainier) for a hike. This was Matt's #1 must-do on the list and I'm so glad we were able to fit it in. I told him the night before he'd have to remind me periodically that I love him; during the hike, I threatened divorce three times. Mostly joking.
|We pulled over on our drive to the Paradise Inn, our starting place for the hike. This was before I knew the pain I was in for.|
Tacoma is another one of those many places that European explorers pretended they found first. I looked up the original names of the surrounding mountains so we could try our best to respect the history of these natural marvels.
|The loop we took is at the bottom of this map, in red. It's VERY small and nowhere near the main summit, as you can see. It certainly felt like a lot while we were hiking, though!|
We took the Skyline Trail up to Panorama Point. There was way more snow than we were expecting, and some of the hike was really tough! I was sliding a lot, and my ankles really hurt toward the end from trying to balance myself. Some of the hike up the mountain was narrow and extremely rocky, too. I hadn't expected it to be quite so intense.
|The foothills at the beginning of the hike were actually the hardest part, even though they were paved! But the atmosphere was just phenomenal.|
That said, it was awesome. The temperature was gorgeous, probably in the low-70s, and the snow acted like natural AC. The sun was shining in a cloudless sky. We spotted hundreds of marmots and chipmunks, birds, and even a mountain goat on our way back down!
Panorama Point earned its name, of course. At an elevation of 6800 feet, we had a gorgeous view of Wy'east (Mt. Hood), Pahto (Mt. Adams), and Lawetlat'la/Loowit (Mt. Saint Helens). I had no idea that this mountain range had a rich history in Native legends, giving the mountains personalities and relationships.
|We made it!|
|I made friend while I elevated my feet.|
From our final summit, we tracked down the mountain using a few different trails; the descent was longer but easier. (I found out halfway through our trek that the Skyline Trail we hiked up is one of the "strenuous" hikes from our starting point at the Paradise Inn. At least that explains why I found it so challenging!)
|It was like being in the Shire!|
The entire 5.5 mile hike took us about 4.5 hours to complete. Toward the end, I started running down some of the slopes. It made my achy calves and ankles feel better!
Photos really do not do this mountain justice. The waterfalls and creeks, the vibrancy of the trees, glaciers all around, the distant mountain ranges all along the horizon...cameras really can't catch all that. I can see why Matt was so insistent we make this trip. It was worth it.
|We made it back down!|
The next day was fairly easy. We picked up Matt's tux downtown, spent some time at the Seattle Public Library, and visited Nuflours, an all-gluten-free bakery where I indulged myself in pastries I'd never had before. We walked around the UW Botanical Gardens a bit before heading out to Anacortes, where we would be reunited with the family and would catch the ferry the next morning for Orcas Island.
Somehow, the end of our vacation had sneaked up on us! Next up...it's wedding time!