Crater Lake National Park

After Christmas, Bae and I decided to take a little trip down to Sisters, OR and spend a few days at 5 Pines Lodge as our Christmas gift to each other. It was a perfect little lodge equipped with a movie theater, brewery, legit fitness center, and even had a cocktail happy hour each day from 5-6. Needless to say, we were in heaven. Oh, and did I mention snow? It had a lot of snow, and seeing as Seattle was sort of lacking in that area (as usual) it was quite a treat for us. It was the perfect relaxing getaway right after Christmas, and before things started to get hectic again.

We enjoyed daily walks into the downtown area of Sisters, home of Sisters Coffee Company, which was delicious. There were also many other little shops and businesses to check out. Really a great little town to stop by and check out if you’re in Central Oregon.

Knowing that we were well over halfway to Crater Lake National Park from Seattle, we decided we should go ahead and make the trip! It was only a 2.5 hour drive away, so we figured, why not?! Well, it is technically a 2.5 hour drive in sunny and dry conditions. Unfortunately for us, we made a small detour in Bend trying to get gas (hand up, that’s on me. I may have ignored road signs and taken us on a major detour that alone added 15 minutes, but then also got us stuck behind a snow plow for the next 45 minutes), and the trip was more like 3.5-4 hours due to snow conditions. When we arrived I was running around like a madman (cause fundido) trying to figure out just exactly where we were supposed to meet for our noon snow-shoe tour that I signed us up for. I finally figured it out, it was the first place I started at (naturally). What’s important is that we were there and on time ready to go on a tour!

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Our obligatory photo at the Park Entrance

This was both of our first times snow-shoeing and it was a blast! Very easy and nothing to it. Just a great way to venture into the snow and have some much added grip when walking!

This is a really great feature that the park offers. You can go to their website and call and request your spot on free ranger-led scheduled snowshoe tour! Ranger Rick was a great tour guide for us and took us through the forest, without a structured plan, just based off of his knowledge of the area.

As we took off on our journey, it felt like we were tackling a blizzard! It was extremely cold and windy and snow was flurrying every where. I make it sound miserable, but it was actually a lot of fun. It make the experience that much more worth it.

Along the way, Ranger Rick gave us some cool facts about Crater Lake, like the fact that it was actually formed when Mount Mazama erupted and collapsed about 7,700 years ago. We sneaky learned a lot on tour, while burning some good calories trudging through the snow! For example, Crater Lake gets about 44 FEET of snow every year. One might ask, “when the snow melts, how come the lake doesn’t keep rising and go over the rim’s edge and flood the forest?” To that I would answer “cause there’s obviously a leak some where, duh!” And that happens to be the case! Anyway, we had a great time on our tour (minus being stuck with some slow-pokes and complainers on the adventure), we would highly recommend it.

After venturing through the forest, Ranger Rick took us near the rim’s edge and we were just barely able to see the lake and Wizard Island in the middle(ish) portion of the lake.

After our snow-shoe tour came to a close, we poked around the gift shop and cafe and picked up some very warm soup, coffee, and an ornament for our christmas tree (we got this thing going where we get ornaments from places we’ve been). After that, it was just about closing time for the park so we figured it was best we scoot! The drive home wasn’t so bad, I almost forgot, we had Sarah Koenig keeping us company most of the ride as well, so it all went pretty fast 😉

Overall, it was a great day spent adventuring and taking in some great snowy sights. And you better believe we’ll be back in the summer to check out the lake in all it’s glory in the heat! After all, we still gotta drive around the lake and check out all the viewpoints!

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Chuckanut Drive

To start off Bae’s month of working in Seattle, we decided we would spend the first Sunday going for a day adventure we’d read quite bit about and needed to go on. Per our M.O., we were up and on the road before sunrise. After a pit stop for coffee, we were on our way North to checkout the locally famous Chuckanut Drive.

Located just off of Interstate 5 around Burlington, Chuckanut Drive is located on Highway 11 and is a 2o mile drive curving through the cliff of Chuckanut Mountain. It is known for it’s breathtaking views of the Puget Sound and leads you on an alternate route to Bellingham. It’s highly recommended if you have some spare time, or are making the drive around sunset.

As I mentioned earlier, Bae and I like to get an early start on our day, 1) because we both wake up pretty early anyway, and 2) we don’t always have the most time together, so there’s no point in spending it sleeping! We got our iced coffees courtesy of Big Foot Java and we were on our way! Our first stop was the Oyster Dome hike. Located around mile marker 10, the hike is about 6.5 miles. It contains more switchbacks and elevation than the alternate entrance off of I5. Bae was a bit skeptical that this was the proper entrance because it wasn’t too well marked, but I did my job to assure her that we were in the right spot (after quickly double checking with our good friends at wta.org).

Since we were already on the trail before 7:30 am, it wasn’t quite sunny out yet and not hot either (which was actually not a totally bad thing). We saw yellow, brown, and black slugs on our way and that was pretty cool if you’re into those slimy guys. Other than that, there wasn’t much to see on the trail. Regardless, it was nice to get out and enjoy some crisp morning air. At the top the fog was rolling quite a bit so we didn’t get to take in the view of Samish Bay and the Olympics Mountains as we had hoped, but getting to the top and taking time to relax and eat our protein bars was still nice. On our way down, Bae took off running and so naturally I followed. We made it down in world record time. They will be etching our names in that stone at the trailhead in the near future!

 

Our next stop was Bellingham! We continued up Chuckanut Drive and found ourselves in Bellingham. We contemplated and ultimately decided to stop for some coffee and doughnuts at Rocket Donuts and Acme Ice Cream. It ended up being a great decision. We ordered their daily special which had berries and icing and a regular maple. We also had Moka Joe’s cold brew coffee which was new to both us of and not too bad. Overall, it was a great decision to stop in and grab some fuel to give us a little boost after our morning hike!

On our way back home, we decided to stop at Larrabee State Park. It wasn’t part of the original plan, but because the fog from our hike subsided and sun was shining, we had to stop at the beach for some rays and whatever else it had to offer.

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Larrabee State Park

We got there, walked down the walkway toward the beach, and we got to the beach and Bae started going bananas! She couldn’t even speak just pointing and ‘ooh-ing’ and ‘ahh-ing.’ I thought there was a whale or something. Turns out it was even better… A little family of sea otters! They were perched on some drift wood and were taking turns diving in, very  majestic and smooth! I’ve never seen her so excited! PC knows the way to Bae’s heart, and it includes a pet sea otter in the future!

After the excitement died down, we combed the beach and found a handful of starfish clinging to rocks, crab shells, and various other marine life (namely hermit crabs) in the tide pools. I highly recommend taking the time to check out tide pools if you’ve got the free time and beach accessibility, you never know what you’re going to find!

Our last big stop on the way home was the village of Bow, WA. We drove down a small little one lane road that looped through the main shops, parked our car and got out ready to explore. We saved room from our stop at Rocket Donuts for an actual meal, so we decided now was the perfect time to eat! We heard quite a bit about Breadfarm. Breadfarm is a local bakery that is known for it’s decadent treats. We went with a handful of shortbread and fig cookies and a loaf of their Sour Cherry Lemon bread (that was delicious!).

Baked goods in hand, we went next door to Slough Food. Slough Food is an extremely cool little spot that you need to check out. The owner is passionate about wine and cheese and a real cool dude. We went out back and sat at a nice picnic table and got to eat in solitude. We ordered a meat and cheese plate that was frickin delicious! We brought our bread and cookies with us and had quite the meal. It was our own charcuterie plate with dessert! Bow was a 10/10 and a must stop for anybody who is in the area, or even not in the area, but looking for some good food and good people!

Our final stop was Samish Bay Cheese. Samish Bay does a lot of organic cheeses and has 100% grass fed beef as well. The folks in there are very kind and are willing to let you try whatever you’d like to make sure you enjoy the cheese. Being a smaller operation, they are also the ones who make the cheese and are very knowledgeable with any questions you may have. Bae and I went with the Aged Ladysmith, a Gouda, and the Mount Blanchard Cheddar. You really can’t go wrong with any of their cheeses (except maybe the Aged Ladysmith), and they have so many options, they have something for everyone. They can also be found at local Farmer’s Markets ranging from Lake Forest Park to West Seattle if you’re not able to make it all the way up north.

Overall, Bae and I had a great Sunday day trip exploring Chuckanut drive. We may have gotten a bit too early of a start and experienced more fog than we would have liked, but all in all a great day.

Overall Grade: Bae: B-, PC: B

A Weekend At Chelan

To celebrate being done with my exam and spend some time with my family PC and I made the drive out to Lake Chelan for the weekend. We ventured through the beautiful and highly underrated North Cascades National Park on our way, which was filled with natural beauty every direction you looked, but I must say Lake Chelan is a natural wonder in itself, as it is over 1,500ft deep and 50 miles long. It is the third deepest lake in the country after Crater Lake and Lake Tahoe. Chelan is a popular vacation destination for Washingtonians and is nestled in mountains and surrounded by land that is used for growing fruits like apples, peaches, cherries and blueberries. Everyone thinks of Washington as being super rain but this part of the state is actually quite dry with about 12in of rainfall a year. Unfortunately the area was hit pretty badly by wildfires last year and you could still see some remnants of that on our way over.

There is a tiny town called Steihekin across the lake from Chelan, with a permanent population of only 100 people that is accessible by boat or hiking in, but not by road (sounds a little creepy/cool right?). There is a ferry that leaves from Chelan daily to go to Steihekin but the ride takes several hours one way. PC and I wanted to take the ferry, called Lady of the Lake, out to Steihekin and hike back to Chelan along a 17 mile trail but we just didn’t have the time, as it would be a two day venture where we would take the ferry out to Stehekin the first day and then leave early on the second day to hike back, so we will have to do that on our next trip to the area.

The house my family rented for the weekend was actually in Manson, a smaller town further down the lake coast than the city of Chelan. Manson is less commercial and crowded so I’m glad we stayed there instead.  The house had a beautiful view of the lake and you could often see boats zooming around. The evening we arrived I went down to the beach and jumped in the lake to swim around a bit with my dad while PC helped my mom and aunt make dinner 🙂 The water in the lake is so clear and refreshingly chilly, but not too cold since the temps run in the 80s and 90s during the summer months, making a dip in the lake feel quite nice. When we got back from the lake we enjoyed a nice family dinner with a lake view.

Every morning PC and I woke up and went for a run around town. We like to run in the morning because it makes us start the day feeling accomplished. Its a good time to talk and enjoy each other’s company before we get into whatever shenanigans we have going on that day. After our morning run we went to a famous local breakfast place for our morning meal with my sister and cousin. The four of us order a giant streusel muffin as an appetizer when we arrived (now you’re wondering if appetizers at breakfast are a thing). We also sampled the blueberry juice. For my main course I got the blueberry blintzes.

They were featured in The Seattle Times as breakfast worth the drive. They were delicious but so rich, so I made PC trade me for some of the tasty hash browns and sausage he got with his more tradition cowboy breakfast.

The restaurant itself is located on a family owned berry farm where you can pick your own blueberries so of course we had to do that afterward. It was so much fun!!

We picked only the biggest juiciest blueberries – I’ve never seen such big ones.They tasted amazing and it was hard to stop picking.

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Plus they were only $2.50/lb! I would say that Blueberry Hills is a must do if you are staying at Lake Chelan!

That afternoon we went to a few of the wineries in the area (there 30+ in Chelan) to do wine tasting, including Tildio and Hard Row 2 Hoe. Then we hit up Mystic Pizza in Chelan for some good pizza. Sun + wine + pizza = sleepiness so next it was time for a nap.

That night PC, my sister, my cousin and I made dinner for the family, including beer-boiled brats, hamburgers, corn on the cob, sweet potato fries and grilled asparagus. It was controlled chaos with all of us working on the meal but it was actually really fun! PC did a great job on the grill and I liked being his assistant. We made chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter s’mores cookies for dessert and we had a family game night. We played Blockus and Bananagrams, two fun ones.

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Baker boy with the peanut butter s’mores cookies.

The next morning we woke up and went for a run. When we got back PC and I shared some tasty sourdough toast with some of big juicy blueberries we had picked. That gave us the energy to go paddle boarding.

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Paddle boarding is actually pretty hard work because you have to constantly use your muscles to stay balanced and not topple off your board into the water. Its especially hard when there are lots of boats on the lake making waves. I must say that PC did not love it – he look pretty terrified the whole time he was on his board! But he was a good sport. We tossed a little football around in the lake too, which he liked better.

After all that paddle boarding we needed some refreshment so we went to a local wine spot to have some chardonnay while playing cribbage, then hit up the brewery in Manson and final stopped at Rootdown Cidery for some delicious cider samplers.

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Overall it was a fun trip to Lake Chelan, that went by too fast and we were sad to leave but we hope to back sometime in the near future!

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Mini Seattle Adventure

After a long week of studying for Step 2 of the boards PC and I took 24 hrs off to enjoy a relaxing evening and then hike the next day. We started off with dinner at The Cheesemongerer’s Table in the Edmonds downtown area. PC and I have been meaning to go there for quite a while since we love simple meals of meat, cheese, bread and accompaniments (aka charcuterie, the best food ever). This weekend was our last chance to go before PC moves out of the neighborhood to West Seattle. The Edmonds downtown is actually really nice, right on the water with lots of mom and pop shops and restaurants. The Cheesemongerer’s Table is one of those shops and is a deli that specializes in fine cheese, wine and meat. We ordered a cheese and meat plater with charcuterie and it was very satisfying.

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The cheese and meat platter at The Cheesemongerer’s Table.

Next it was time for dessert! We ventured over to Hello Robin on north Capitol Hill since PC had never had any of their treats. Hello Robin specializes in the most delicious ice cream sandwiches. They have a variety of fresh- baked cookies including “Mackelsmores”, whole wheat chocolate  chip with sea salt and sugar cookies, just to name a few. They also carry Molly Moon’s ice cream. You pick two of their cookies and an ice cream flavor to be combined into a delicious ice cream sandwich.

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PC and I decided to share one since they are so rich and we were already pretty stuffed. We chose one strawberries and cream cookie and one birthday cake cookie to go with earl gray ice cream. PC was skeptical about the ice cream flavor but ended up liking it.

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You can’t tell me that doesn’t look tasty!

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Two cookies, one birthday cake and the other strawberries and cream, with earl grey Molly Moon’s ice cream.

It didn’t take us long to finish it off! Plus I like that their spoons and dishes are compostable.

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Next we went over to Volunteer Park, just a few blocks away, even though it was raining since PC had never been there. I have spent lots of time at Volunteer Park since my aunt and uncle lived nearby when I was growing up and I went to Seattle U which is only a mile away.

First we went up to the top of the water tower to enjoy the few.

Then we walked over to see the conservatory. It was closed but I’ve been inside before and its cool if you like plants.

There were also baby ducks, a cool sculpture framing the Space Needle and the Asian Art Museum to check out.

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When you look through this sculpture the other way it frames the Space Needle but it was cloudy at the time.


The next day, we got an early start and headed north to tackle Mount Pilchuck. We’d been exciting about going on a hike for a while now and we figured Mount Pilchuck was a great candidate for our first adventure! It was a bit of a rocky start (literally) as we made the drive. The detailed write-up described the drive as finishing up with 7 miles of paved road followed by 1 mile unpaved, but in actuality it was the reverse! Luckily, the Corolla can handle anything thrown her way, and it wasn’t anything we couldn’t conquer. We parked our car, loaded up our backpack with some water and a couple nutrition bars, and we were off!

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At the Mount Pilchuck Trailhead

The hike itself was the perfect start to the season. It was intermediate in difficulty and was a good start to the season for us. It’s about 5.4 miles roundtrip (2.7 each way). What makes this hike so special is that at the top is an old historic fire lookout that has since been restored. From the lookout, you have 360 degree panoramic views of Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, and the Olympics. When we went up, it was definitely more cloudy than we would have preferred, but nonetheless it was a great trip.

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Mount Pilchuck from about 1.7 miles below

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“Look! It’s snow in June!”

Once you reach the top, there are plenty of great photo opportunities. You can let your feet hang, stop for a snack, or just enjoy the views (we did all three)! The last mile and a half or so was the most intense part, it was definitely worth it! We would recommend this to anybody looking for a good hike that isn’t too far away from Seattle.

After finishing our hike we were famished! It was definitely time for lunch. We decided it was only proper that we reward ourselves with dumplings! Bae and I are HUGE fans of dumplings. One day we are going to open our own restaurant that serves dumplings from every culture (patent pending, don’t even consider taking this idea). Today, we decided to try out a place called Dough Zone that my (PC) sister recommended to us. They have all sorts of Chinese dumplings and “comfort food” as they call it. We went in with high expectations and they did not disappoint. We had steamed dumplings, fried dumplings, hum bao, some with pork, and some with chicken. We even had Chinese Doughnuts, pot stickers, and pickled green beans! Overall it was delicious and extremely filling; I think it won’t be our last trip to the Dough Zone.

Overall, it was a great mini-adventure in our own backyard. With Bae away at school so much, its easy to forget that we have so much available to us in Seattle and the surrounding areas. It’s nice to take advantage of all it’s beauties. We have an on-going checklist of all the things we want to do in our own hometown (“I’m bored” is something you’ll rarely here us say), and we recommend you do the same!