travel trials

travel trials- washington

Hi! Welcome to a new section of my writing where I explore traveling!

I’ve never been one to have an incredible amount of wanderlust- my trips have been few and far between, and always somewhere I can drive. I’m far more of a homebody, and I always will chose a staycation over a stressful trip. A little over a year ago I made my first adult flight with a friend to South Carolina for an impromptu bachelorette weekend and since then I have been itching to travel. I’ve had moderate success, exploring places from San Francisco on a work trip to Gulf Shores with the family.

A month ago I visited the SeaTac area of Washington with my boyfriend during his break from school. He’s a Washington native, so I felt like I had the best tour guide in the world to lead me around the city. I wanted to share a few of the fun things we did while in the area and provide suggestions if you plan on visiting in the near future! We stuffed SO MUCH into our trip. The entire trip we ended up walking a whopping 35 miles over 6 days and we have already started planning our next venture out west!

ENTERTAINMENT

Museum of Glass

I feel like I have to start with this one because it was one of my favorite parts of the trip. And an unexpected one.

I don’t even know where to start. I can’t believe that there was ever a part of me that wasn’t completely and utterly enthralled with glassblowing. We visited the Museum of Glass in Tacoma with about 45 minutes until our parking expired and we expected we could be content and be able to take all of that in within our time constraints. WRONG.

We ended up spending about 2 1/2 hours in the museum, with about half of that spent in the hot shop watching the live glassblowing demonstration.

There were absolutely gorgeous pieces everywhere in and around the museum, and I easily could’ve spent another hour there, peering at every little detail. It was amazing.

And for an added bonus, make sure you check out the exhibit of kid’s drawings that the hot shop artists made into glass sculptures. Some personal favorites included Log Sheep (and Squirrel Friend), Night of the Living Ham, and Mr. Popsicle and Hamburger Cowboy.

I seriously could not stop smiling the entire time I was in there. It was beautiful and eclectic, overwhelming and peaceful, over the top and minimalist all at the same time, much like Tacoma was.

Pride

We were lucky enough to get into town the last day of Pride in Seattle and it was such an incredible way to kick off the trip! We walked around Queen Anne’s and Capitol Hill, visited a few places, and made friends with the Miller Light rep at one of the establishments we stopped at. Turns out, she’s from the Midwest and so close to the part of Illinois I originally hail from! I was starting to feel very out of my element with so many people, but Mecca was able to make me feel right at home. (The free t-shirts didn’t hurt either!)

The neighborhoods were donned with everything rainbow and neon, pride and love. When we got to the Seattle Center, there were tons of artists playing music (and one of my favorite drag queens!), and the whole arena was just electric. It was (as I was told) almost unusually sunny and warm for Seattle, but the entire experience was worth it and truly made me, and all others who participated, feel welcomed and included.

Freedom Fest

One of the last events we got a chance to make it to was one of many 4th of July festivals happening in the area. Freedom Fest was a perfect and simple way to enjoy the beautiful city on a gorgeous day! We definitely racked up some steps on this day, as the fest just stretches for miles and miles along the water. Lots of great food, cool vendors, and a strange new fascination with pole vaulters later, this was one of my most memorable 4th of Julys. (and yes, I took a picture of the corn stand- I’m an Iowan, after all!)

HIKING

Alright let me level with you- this was one part of the trip I was not excited for. Chris loves hiking and I know that he misses it when we’re in Iowa, so I really wanted to make sure that he got his fill of altitude when we were surrounded by mountains.

Bright and early on Monday morning, we loaded our backpacks with multiple layers of clothing, numerous water bottles, some snacks, and we were on our way to Mt. Rainier National Park to climb Camp Muir.

This is not a hike that I recommend anyone do who isn’t an experienced hiker, nor should it be taken lightly. I did both.

I had trained for a couple months prior, and you could find me sweating on the treadmill at speeds of 60-65 for at least an hour once a week. This was hugely helpful during the hike, as some parts were so steep you felt like you gained absolutely no ground. The snow line is fairly soon after you start hiking, too, and the snow sets you back (mentally and physically) more than you think! The one thing I didn’t account for was altitude, and I feel like that was my biggest deterrent. However, after an altitude increase of +5,000 feet (you already start at ~5,000 and end at ~10,500), 8 miles, and 7 1/2 hours later, we successfully made it back down.

near the top of mt. rainier- and yeah, i was in a cloud.

The best part of it all? No, it wasn’t the breathtaking views, or the chance that I pushed myself to do something I didn’t think I could do, or have my boyfriend there supporting me; it was the glissading at the very end.

Easily the best way to get down the snow drifts, you pack a frisbee (or in my case, a pizza pan) and sled down the mountain. Its much safer, faster, and who are we kidding, way more fun, to come down this way. The hike might have been 5/10, but glissading was 10/10.

We had another hike planned for two days after this hike was scheduled, but our bodies ruled that out of the question almost immediately. These hikes are no joke, but I am looking forward to going on some different day hikes during our next visit!

FOOD

Okay, lets get to the good stuff! When we were initially planning, Chris had laid out 3-4 restaurants we were going to visit every day. While that didn’t necessarily happen, we still had some amazing food that I will be dreaming about until I come back!

Dim Sum at Ocean Star

Being from the Midwest and not accustomed to much Asian food aside from the occasional Chinese takeout we would get on New Year’s Eve, I was really excited to try dim sum at one of Chris’s favorite local spots. We ordered their signature pork and vegetable dumplings, seafood dumplings, shrimp dumplings, calamari, and pork belly. This was our first meal in Seattle and it did not disappoint! I could eat a whole order of their pork and vegetable dumplings and I’m sure when I go back that I will. Everything was phenomenal and the atmosphere is so cool!

Shakabrah

Pancakes bigger than your head. That’s all I’m saying.

Classic diner breakfast food, delicious coffee, and fresh blueberry pancakes made this one of my favorite places that we ate! Then again, I am always a sucker for breakfast food..

Voula’s Offshore Cafe

Speaking of breakfast foods.. Voula’s Offshore Cafe already had some pretty big shoes to fill after I had heard Chris talk about the Greek Hobo. A breakfast skillet loaded with gyro meat and feta cheese? It was SO. GOOD and we ate every last bite of it! It was so good that I’m looking for places in Iowa to get gyro meat so we can make it ourselves to tide us over until our next visit!

Notable Mentions

Notable only in the way that I am noting them here and not trying to make this the longest blog post ever 🙂

Everything I ate was incredible, and it was so cool to see so many different cultures and cuisines all over the city. Some favorites included the vanilla malt at Frisko Freeze, the carrot cake cupcake at Hello Cupcake, choosing from basically any food you could want at Freight House Square, homemade lumpia and lasagna, Beecher’s mac and cheese, trying ramen for the first time, and alllllll the best coffee.

TAKEAWAYS

This trip was amazing. The hospitality of Chris’s family was so kind and welcoming, and it made it very easy for me to see why this city is as beloved as it is. I was immediately thrown into a whole new pond but after a little adjustment, I saw what attracts people to this area. There was such a sense of electricity throughout the city and there is truly something for everyone in Washington, often just a few miles away. Whether that is forrest, mountains, beaches, or all the amenities that a big city has to offer, Washington has it all.

And this wouldn’t be possible without the best travel companion of all. Chris, thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone (safely!), being patient and kind, and leading me up any obstacle we might face. You are the best team member.

and thank you for braving pike’s place and riding a ferris wheel for me 🙂

Until my next adventure, tell me your favorite spots in Seattle!

-Madison

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