Category: travel

Pacific Northwest

August 2nd, 2018 — 9:10pm

We’ve been vacationing in the Pacific Northwest for over a week now. We drove from Colorado, through Utah, to Idaho, into Oregon—where I saw for the first time in my life a fox, in real life, running across the road (while I was definitely, maybe, probably not following Oregon’s ridiculously slow speed limit)—and then into Washington. Tomorrow we will venture into Canada for a day and night before we head back to Colorado.

The PNW is familiar in ways that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe because the tall, tall trees and sea salt air are what my heart always longs for. (Why do I live in the desert?) Oregon is gorgeous with big sandy beaches and massive green trees. Portland feels a little like a place I belong with the most delicious food and shops dedicated specifically to terrariums and bubble tea. Everyone is kind and quirky and just really special.

We spent several days with my dear cousin Halee and her husband exploring farmers markets and ocean towns and wandering the rows and rows of their flower farm. It’s a place so magical that I can’t help but slow down and appreciate the black, fuzzy bumblebees lumbering between flowers, collecting every bit of pollen the can bear to hold. My cousin continued to extoll the virtues of Portland, being sure to hook Eden into going to college there, hoping that she would later bring her parents to Portland as well. All the while we talked about the cheap, cheap farmland in Western Colorado, working hard to convince them that a flower farm is exactly what WestCO needs. I’m pretty sure all of this convincing on both sides is because we really just long to do life together and that’s really hard to do with a couple states between you. I really love my cousin.

When we crossed into Washington Josh said that it felt different somehow from Oregon. And it did, but in ways neither of us could quite put our fingers on. Everywhere I look I see a Wes Anderson vignette, in the best possible ways. And it smells like earth and pine needles and the sea. We’ve driven through canopies and canopies of trees with ferns sprouting up from moss beds beneath. Everything is so green and sometimes the canopy overhead is so dense the road becomes dark and it feels familiar again, a little like there is magic in the air.

We’re staying in a vacation rental that’s literally right on Port Gamble. I look out from the table and see six different kinds of pine trees, each over 100 feet tall, framing the bay where boats are anchored and a sandy beach is revealed across the way, but only when the tide is out. I’m sure I’m going to see a whale at any moment. (The kids feel this dream is ridiculous, but I know it’s possible.) How do places like this exist on earth? Life is such a gift.

We’ve ridden the Bainbridge Ferry back and forth a few times, adventuring in Seattle. The ferry itself is magic and I’m sad that we won’t get to ride it again. I imagine that the commute gets old for people who have to take it every day, but it’s amazing to me that someone’s real life could exist with a boat ride across the Puget Sound at the beginning and end of each day.  The city looks familiar but feels way different than I expected. It’s much more of a city-feeling city than Portland. Seattle is cool, but I think the special part of Washington is in its small coastal towns.

We took kayaks out on the bay tonight floating lazily while we watched crabs scuttling around on the ocean floor, climbing over oysters, through billowing forests of seaweed. It’s been cloudy today and even though it never rained, the air is heavy with moisture. Earlier we turned the kids loose in Bainbridge Island’s downtown, buying ourselves a little one-on-one time, sipping wine and eating clams while we looked out on the harbor.

I’m not sure I’ve taken enough pictures. I’ve been so entranced by this green, lush landscape, the smell of the ocean, and the towering, tall trees. I read once that you remember something better if you see it with your own eyes rather than through the lens of a camera. I’m not sure I trust my memory, but I hope that’s true.

Although life is never, ever easy, I often look around and marvel at where I find myself.  The ocean and all it’s beauty buts just up to the forest with all its wonder. How are these places real? How does this exist? How is this wonder not here but as a gift, just for us?


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September 14th, 2016 — 6:17am


We’ve been exploring our way through Portland as only we know how, by tasting it. In the mornings we make our way in to downtown on the train, Starbucks in hand, waiting until we can trade our white and green cups in for something truly hipster. We wander to coffee shops where there are only three things on the menu and it makes me wonder if it’s ok to ask for cream. It always is because people are so nice in Portland. So much more than in other big cities I’ve been to and even more so than in Western Colorado.

That’s the part that we keep being so surprised about, sure, we are finding all the hipster things that you’d expect from Portland (except I’ve yet to see anything with a bird on it) but no one is snobby about it. It’s just the way they happily choose to live their lives and it just seems so normal, it makes so much sense. And maybe they have something figured out because their kindness radiates in a way that’s startling.

But back to the food. We ate our first meal in Portland at a place called Lardo. Think about the best pork sandwiches you can imagine. God, everything was perfect. French fries with chunks of bacon and deep fried pork, flash fried sage and rosemary, topped with spicy, pickled peppers. We left off the Parmesan but I’m sure had I been able to eat it, it would have been amazing. And that was just the fries.

Dinner was at a farm-to-fork Mexican restaurant called Verde Cosina and it was fresh and flavorful with each ingredient working exactly as it should with the next. Who knew all I ever wanted with my carne asada was kale? My cousin picked it as her top choice in all of Portland and she was not wrong.

Today we explored the food trucks. There are food truck pods all over the city. I know this because Josh has mapped out every single one. We went to the largest pod. A whole city block lined on all four sides with food trucks facing out. How does one even choose?

We finished today with dinner at a James Beard Award winner. Pok Pok lives up to its hype with the most amazing blends of Thai flavors. It was hot, sour, salty and sweet. I’m still not sure what my favorite was between the three dishes we shared but they were nothing short of perfect. It was definitely a meal that we will be talking about for awhile.

And then even though we were so full we couldn’t even think of dessert, we managed to hit Salt and Straw when the line was barely there and it was seriously the best ice cream of my life. I had half a scoop each of bone marrow with smoked cherries and olive oil and they were so, so good.

Tomorrow we will eat our way through the northeast side of Portland and I’m sure it will be equally delicious. I can’t wait.


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Pacific North West

September 11th, 2016 — 6:15am


I’m laying in a tent on the Oregon coast. I can hear the crashing of the ocean, the fog horn from the Yaquina Bay Light House. Every once in awhile something will rile up the seals on the beach and they start barking, reminding me how very badly I just want to pet one.

Tonight we walked along the harbor, photographing the boats as the sun went down. We ate dinner at an amazing seafood place overlooking the harbor. Everything was so fresh, directly from the boats we looked down on as we ate.

We drove through the forest to get here, soaring trees so tall, that all I can do is stare at them. They have so much presence. We drove immediately to the beach. I’ve needed the ocean so badly. There is something so healing about the never ending crash of the waves, the way you never quite know how high or low the next one is going to be, the way the wind whips the clean smell of sea salt through my hair. This Colorado girl is never more thankful than when I get to eat seafood so fresh I can see exactly where it came from and walk, holding Josh’s hand, along the Pacific.


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