It probably won’t surprise you to hear that after 3 weeks on the road, the little things start to back up on you. When you’re go-go-going all the time, things like budgeting, picture uploading and editing, and blog-post-writing tend to slip a bit. Uncle Ted and Aunt Pam left Thursday morning for dog agility trials, but were gracious enough to allow us to stay in our super-awesome guest suite in their home as long as we wanted. (For real though, we basically had an entire wing of the house to ourselves.)
So, we got to work, but don’t worry, we didn’t overdo it. There was plenty of sleeping in, reading, HGTV, and enjoying the house and Port Townsend.
I had enjoyed that birthday lunch at Doc’s so much, that we went back out there for dinner, and had a wonderful meal. Hard to beat Alaska king crab for dinner!
The other thing we did was reset for the second half of the trip. I had been getting frustrated with the amount of time we were losing daily with the setup and breakdown of the tent, so Rebecca suggested we revisit the idea of setting up the Tahoe so we could sleep in it. We had discussed that idea originally, but hadn’t been able to set it up, as I bought the truck the week before we left. So, I bought a rooftop car carrier, we reorganized a bunch of our clothes and gear, and strung up an impromptu curtain system inside. We’ll see how it goes!
There are few things I love as much as exploring a new city, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to check out Seattle while we were in Washington state.
On advice from our hosts, we drove to Bainbridge Island, parked, and took the ferry right into the city. (Well, we actually drove to the island, missed the ferry by two minutes, had a delicious brunch, and then took the ferry into Seattle!)
We had chosen our day to travel into the city as one sandwiched between two days of rain — but I was a little worried when this was our view on the ferry:
Despite the fogginess, we thoroughly enjoyed our ferry trip; it was quiet and comfortable and Ryan even took a little nap! By the time we arrived at the Seattle dock, it was still gloomy but much of the fog had dissipated.
Our first stop was Pike Place Market, which opened 1907 and is one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers’ markets in the United States. Since we’re trying to downsize the amount of stuff we have packed into the Tahoe, I wasn’t in the market to buy anything, but it was really fun to check out all the fresh fish, fruits and veggies, and handmade wares for sale. I was most wowed by the amazingly beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers available for sale. The “small” bouquets (bigger than most grocery store flower bunches) were only $5, and the big ones were $10!
Next stop: The original Starbucks at 1912 Pike Place. The line was out the door, but the staff was friendly and incredibly efficient, and I had my pumpkin spice latte in hand in no time! #basic
Next it was on to the monorail, a two-minute ride to the base of the Space Needle. Before heading to the needle, we were distracted by this fun, crazy park. It wasn’t made for grown-ups (there was actually a sign in the park that said “Adults must be accompanied by children” – good thing I had Ryan!) but we definitely thought it was too cool to pass by.
When we went to purchase our Space Needle tickets, I was horrified to learn that the ride to the top cost $22. Per person. Yikes. I was on the verge of walking away, but Ryan convinced me that we had come too far to just walk away.
The view from the top was definitely amazing — and it was so cool to get a 360 degree perspective of the city. Most of the fog had dissipated by this time, and we were treated to stunning views of the mountains, the city, and the waterfront.
There was still much more we could have seen in Seattle but we wanted to get on the ferry before the commuters started returning home. It was warm enough that we were able to sit up on the outside deck of the ferry, and we were treated to beautiful views of the Seattle waterfront that totally made up for the foggy morning trip!
It is hard to believe we left Virginia three weeks ago today! The past few days have been a welcome break from the road. It has been great to sleep in a real bed, and have something approaching a normal routine. I think we didn’t realize how tired we’ve been from all the driving, exploring, and sleeping on the ground we’ve been doing! We’ve been doing a little work, a little relaxing, a lot of eating, and spending plenty of quality time with Aunt Pam and Uncle Ted.
There have also been ample amounts of puppy snuggles:
Another highlight was bottling wine with Uncle Ted. He had a large vat of his own 2013 Petit Verdot that needed to be bottled so we spent a couple of hours out in his workshop learning about the process and helping him bottle.
On the left you can see me in action corking a bottle. Top right is an up close of the wine corker. The bottle sits on the round black piece, and the cork fits in that little hole. As you press on the lever, the cork is compressed in the hole, tightly enough that the thin metal piece can press it right into the neck of the wine bottle. And, most importantly, the bottom right is the 25 beautiful bottles of Petit Verdot that came from our endeavors!
Well, the day dawned clear and beautiful. THE day. The big 3-0. And honestly, it was one of the best birthdays I can remember. After a wonderful night’s sleep, my uncle started us off with some delicious birthday waffles, and we ate breakfast overlooking the unbelievable views he and my aunt have off the back of their house — you can see for MILES, across the bay and to the mountains beyond. We spent a morning around the house, with my uncle giving me the tour of his awesome man cave (which was actually a huge building) full of toys: his classic Mercedes, his motorcycle, the RV he custom renovated for my aunt, along with his office, workshop, full bathroom … you get the picture. He also gave me the tour of his boat, his 5th wheel, and his beautiful garden, where he had grown much of the food we’d eat. (Hello, fresh salsa.)
After that, it was off to downtown Port Townsend to see the sights and get some lunch. It was a perfect day to stroll downtown, coffees in hand, enjoying a new town. We stopped for lunch at Doc’s Marina Grill, a seafood restaurant right on the water at the far end of town. The food was fantastic, as were the views.
Rebecca doesn’t eat seafood, so I don’t have it very often, but Doc’s was well worth the wait. After lunch had settled, my aunt and uncle gave us the driving tour of Port Townsend, including the Port Townsend Bay Kinetic Sculpture Rally, which was really unique and fun. A bunch of crazily-dressed contestants build human-powered machines that must be able to navigate on land, on sea, on sand, and in the mud, and then they have a huge themed race around town! This year’s theme was insects:
It was a lot of fun to watch as all these different vehicles tried to get through the nastiest mudpit ever, while being cheered on by kids and adults all the way up into their 70s dressed in outlandish outfits. Port Townsend is a colorful town, for sure!
After watching that for a while, we also drove over an explored Fort Worden, a former military installation where An Officer and a Gentleman was filmed back in the early 80s. They had a giant embedded WW2 gun bunker which was really awesome, and which I was too distracted by to actually get pictures of. Then, because we obviously hadn’t done enough fun stuff yet, my uncle took us to Fair Winds Winery, where he works occasionally. He introduced us to owner, gave us the private tour, and a tasting. The wines were awesome! I especially liked the Lemberger and the Fireweed Mead. Finally, after that, we headed back to the house for dinner and birthday cake!
The next day started bright but not too early after a fantastic night’s sleep at the Holiday Inn. We decided to forgo breakfast at the pricey hotel restaurant and find something on our way out of town.
Unfortunately we were on the west edge of Spokane and ended up not hitting any restaurants for about an hour. When we stopped for gas in Tokio we noticed there was a small cafe — Templin’s Country Corner — in the convenience store. It wasn’t much to look at from the outside, but the waitress was friendly and the place was very clean. We ended up enjoying a hearty breakfast that hit the spot!
Eastern Washington was flat and brown, but when we reached the center of the state, gorgeous mountains began popping up out of nowhere. We were about to see some of the most gorgeous scenery we’d seen yet in our travels.
We had a relatively short six hour driving day planned but we were eager to reach our destination and excited to see signs for Port Townsend, Washington.
When we arrived at Uncle Ted and Aunt Pam’s home, we were warmly greeted by them and their two poodles, Fleurette and Jeeves. We spent the afternoon catching up with them, enjoying their beautiful home and stunning views.
That night Aunt Pam made one of the best meals we’d enjoyed on our trip: gluten-free pasta with veggies, delicious stuff zucchini (fresh from Uncle Ted’s garden), and — to Ryan’s great joy — shrimp etouffee.