Category Archives: Travel

Travel Tales: Paradise Inn, Mount Rainier

So I know I did a little reflection on my first year of marriage, but I didn’t get to tell you guys exactly how we celebrated our one-year anniversary. We knew we wanted to do something special for it, so after talking for awhile, Matt suggested we go stay at the Paradise Inn up on Mount Rainier for the weekend of our anniversary. The last time we’d stayed there was back in 2004, so it’d been over 7 years since we’d been back.

We made our way up the mountain, which is a really long and windy trek up through the mountains. In fact, the Paradise is at 5,400 feet on Mount Rainier, so it’s pretty high up, and also the highest point that you can find lodging. The nice thing about the long and windy drive up is there are lots of great viewpoints along the way, which we stopped at to take photos. We listened to Cat Stevens and John Denver on our drive up, which fit in perfectly with all of the huge trees and beautiful view of the mountain.

We finally made it up the mountain and to the Paradise Inn. The Paradise was built in 1916, with extra guest rooms built in 1920. The lodge/great hall area, which is what you initially enter as you go to check in, has two stone fire places, plenty of seating, and has lots of furniture and exposed beams made from cedar logs… and yes, it’s a cozy as it sounds. What’s even cooler is that this German-born carpenter named Hans Fraehnkebuilt two long tables, a grandfather clock and piano from local materials during a winter stay at the lodge.

Anyway, we checked in on Friday, dropped our stuff in our room (which had an excellent view of the Tattoosh mountain range), and made our way outside to go on a little hike. The weather wasn’t perfect, a bit cloudy, so the views of the top of Mount Rainier were pretty non-existent, but the hike was still beautiful. The wildflowers were in full bloom, and the base of the mountain was stunning. We made our way up to Myrtle falls, which with the background of mountain, are equally stunning. And we got to see my favorite little guys, the marmots, chasing each other around in the distance! There was even one little guys sitting on a rock, just staring as us as Matt whistled at him. It was pretty awesome and cute.

After our hike, we went upstairs for tea and cookies, which I thought was a great little thing for them to offer guests. We relaxed for a bit and read before going down to the dining room. Yes, right next to the lodge/check-in area, there is a huge dining room that the inn serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in. The food isn’t to die for but it’s also nice to have a pleasant sit down dinner with a view of everything around you.

Our nights consisted of sitting down in the lodge, listening to this man play the piano nightly, and either reading or playing board games together. Usually board games earlier in the evening, then moving to the couches by one of the fireplaces to sit and read. What I love about the Paradise is how everyone relaxes, too. There is no cell phone reception, no wi-fi or internet access; hell, there aren’t any phones in any of the rooms. Being forced to disconnect and relax, I noticed how friendly people were and how much more likely you were to start a conversation with someone you’ve never met. I can’t even count the amount of people who stopped by our table as we played Ticket to Ride to ask us questions about the game or talk about how much they love it. When people aren’t staring at computer screens or their phones, and instead interact with those around them, it creates a really warm environment that is very difficult to find anymore.

Our Saturday consisted of having breakfast and then spending nearly 6 hours by the fire as there was a torrential downpour outside. I can’t say I really minded this one bit. I’ve been re-reading “The Shining”, which is kind of a hilarious choice considering the outside of the Paradise kind of resembles the outside of the Overlook in the movie, it was built a long time ago and has great history, and it is also closed for the fall/winter months, as they get a LOT of snow up there. So that was kind of funny, and at times creepy, especially when I looked at photos from many many years ago, plastered around the halls that led to our room.

Matt and I also exchanged cards during this time, and did cards-only (or so I thought). He also snuck on a new charm for my Pandora bracelet, trying to argue that it wasn’t a “gift” but that I just needed a new charm to represent our anniversary since I didn’t get one for our wedding. He’s a total sneakster and broke the rules, but I still love him nonetheless, haha.

We got up early Sunday and headed back home after getting some breakfast in the dining room. It was sad to leave, mainly because we both just enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere so much. I was happy to get home to our dogs and our house, but I would be lying if I said I was okay to come back to real life Monday morning. We made a promise to ourselves that we’d make a trip every year to the Paradise, as there is nothing better than relaxing in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

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V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N, we’re gonna have a ball!

Man so, we’ve been thinking about how we really want to take another big vacation in the next few months. Since our honeymoon, we’ve done a quick trip to Boston, a camping trip, and we’re about to go stay at the Paradise Inn up on Mount Rainier this weekend for our one-year wedding anniversary (which in itself will have its own blog post, both the trip and a reflection on our first year of marriage)… But since January, we haven’t really done a BIG trip together.

Let’s back up for a minute and talk about the vacations that we have gone on during our relationship. Matt and I have been together for over 8 years now, and our honeymoon was our first actual full-on vacation together, just the two of us. For so many years we didn’t have a ton of money, and in the beginning barely made ends meet when we had our little apartment. Matt was working for a TV/radio station making a terrible salary and I was making near-minimum wage as a barista. We were happy, but all of my vacation time and extra money (which really came from my tips as a barista) was spent on going back to Boston for Christmas, plus I was still in school, so we really didn’t have the money or the vacation time to go anywhere big.

Fast forward to now, and we’re at a point in our lives where we are able to afford vacations. Not on a “every 2 months let’s go somewhere exotic!” type of budget, but enough that we can take a really nice trip around once a year, with fun low-budget trips scattered around the other months. We’re also at a point where we’ve realized that we probably want kids in around 2 years, so we should probably try to get in any big trips or any “selfish” time now while we can, because when we have kids that’s not going to happen very often. Of course we’ll take our kids on vacations with us, but more people on the trip means higher cost. Plus, going on vacation minus kids is a much different – not saying it’s necessarily better – experience than with children.

So that being said, we’ve talked and discussed and researched different places but both kept coming back to the same conclusion:

We wanted to go back to Disney World.

Disney World is where we went on our honeymoon last January and it was the best trip ever. It’s funny because the looks I got from people when answering their, “Where are you going on your honeymoon?!” question with, “DISNEY WORLD!”, were pretty ridiculous. I think a lot of people assume Disney World = KIDS, and thus going there is childish and dumb. At least that’s the vibe I got anyway from the eye roll or stifled laughter.

Um, what? No. Disney World is not just for little kids who want to dress up as a princess or a pirate (though I do love seeing little kids as pirates while walking around Magic Kingdom). You have so many options on how you want to spend your trip! You can go to the different parks, go on tons of rides, eat at amazing restaurants, sit by the pool and relax, shop… I’d rather have all of these options than to just lay out in the sun and tan… But that’s just me!

Anyway, we looked into pricing out another trip for the same time of year, late January (literally the slowest week of the year at Disney) and realized we could probably afford it, though it might end up being a little on the pricey side, and that was staying at a moderate resort… Fortunately, Matt’s parents had leftover points through their Disney Vacation Club membership that would cover a 10-day stay at one of the DVC resorts. We are so lucky to have these points because they literally save more than half the cost of what the trip would normally cost…

As soon as we found out we’d have the points, we discussed it further and made the final decision… WE’RE GOING BACK TO DISNEY WORLD IN 4 MONTHS!

It’s funny because Matt and I were both talking about how our excitement level is different than it was before our honeymoon. Even though we were pumped to be going on our honeymoon to Disney, this time I think the excitement is ten times bigger. Part of it I think is because we’re both in serious need of a vacation, but the other (bigger) part is remembering how much fun we had last time; the thought of going back and getting to ride the Haunted Mansion again or Expedition Everest 10 times (maybe we’ll shoot for 11 to break last year’s record?) is so exciting I can hardly contain myself.

It’s going to be a time where we don’t have to worry about the stresses of work or anything else, but just be able to run around like we’re totally free and go on rides together, eat at our favorite restaurants, takes tons of goofy photos in silly hats, and just have fun. I love Disney World for that very reason; you are there to have fun and not worry. There really is “magic” when you see Cinderella’s castle for the first time, or see Spaceship Earth lit up at night, towering over all of Epcot..

Sure, maybe I’m drinking the Disney World Kool-Aid, but I really don’t mind. It’s one of my favorite places in the world to visit, and to be able to go again is so beyond exciting I can’t really put it into words.

So yes, we’re going on vacation and we’re heading back to Disney World… and I can’t wait.

This is a video I took of Matt and me on Expedition Everest, sitting in the very front of the rollercoaster, which scared Matt to death.

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Cabin time and wine adventures

This past weekend, we went to one of my favorite places in the world: the cabin. It’s up in the middle of the mountains, right off of Highway 2, and it’s the perfect place to get away, unplug, and spend some quiet time away from the rest of the world. It helps that both the drive up and the drive back are absolutely gorgeous.

We went up with Bruce and Amy, and brought all the pups along. Our dogs absolutely love going to the cabin, as we take them on fun walks to the river trail, where Anya romps around in the water and the sand.

We got up to the cabin late Friday evening, and of course turned on the Christmas tree. Yup, middle of August, and there’s a Christmas tree.. It stays up year-round and makes the cabin cozy no matter what time of year you’re staying there.

Because the cabin is in the middle of nowhere, with spotty reception, it’s nice to be pretty unplugged from things. You tend to end up having fun conversations with everyone and you finally get a chance to relax, read a book, play board games, all while listening to the river. In the winter, when it snows it’s absolutely beautiful, with a nice big fire to keep you warm.

Anyway, Saturday we woke up, and Matt and I made chocolate chip pancakes and bacon for everyone. Not going to lie, they were some of the best pancakes I’ve probably ever made.

After sitting around, talking, and watching The Office, we took the dogs for a nice long walk down to the river trail, and around the area. After Milo got a little tired, I finally let him walk free since I knew he wouldn’t try to run off. (No seriously, one time we thought it’d be okay to let him off and he ran into the woods.. I thought he would just fall into the river and float away. Thankfully he didn’t, but we learned our lesson.)

We got back, relaxed, and let the doggies chill out. They were totally pooped.. especially little Beefcake, who makes the funniest faces ever..

And little Stella got very upset whenever I stopped petting her, as you can see in my little video I took.. She tends to make very sad noises, hahaha.

We played some board games and popped open some wine. Matt and I are trying to get more into wine, and figure out what we like/don’t like. After a few glasses of King Estate’s Pinot Gris (which we had at our wedding and is delish!), we opened a red wine from Baker’s Dozen, a Pinot noir, that was labeled as being “jammy”.

Oh. my. god. It was like time stopped. This stuff was sweet and tasty and um.. I actually found a red wine I enjoy! Problem is, I enjoyed it too much, and before I knew it, I was drunk tweeting the movie Tombstone. I don’t remember much, but Matt thought some of my tweets were hilarious. Just a few for reference:

@jakethegirl yah!! I drank wine and liked it and now I’m watching Tombstone and I want more wine but Matt says njo and I get sad now. Pewwww

People died and looked like ladies. Too basso sad

Mac n cheese with chopsticks would be hard no?

Omg I just ninjaed more winez better drinnj before I get in trouble!!

Slowno death for bill Paxton. Nooooo. The dog is sad

Captian Ron is yelling at the lady in the rain. Why? It’s Always raining in movies when people are sad

Matt toon the wine away but thought u didn’t notice. How can in get it back guys

Wyatt Earp stop being a proud twat goddammit..

Ohh no the guy from titanic died!!! Beautiful face

Goodnight friends Bye bye twitter. I got banned to bed!

Nope, don’t remember 95% of these. Maybe I’ll have a future career in drunk tweeting random movies after nearly 2 bottles of wine? No?

Alas, I was actually banned to bed, after Matt lugged me off, telling me I was too drunk (I’m like dealing with 5 year old who doesn’t want to go to bed). It’s weird how “wine drunk” is very different from “mixed drinks drunk”. What I appreciated was the lack of a hangover the next morning.. And the epic amount of sleep I got.

We got up on Sunday morning and headed home early, after a nice relaxing (maybe TOO relaxing on my part!) weekend. Every time we leave the cabin I get a little sad, but then look forward to our next trip up, away from reality, even just for a few days…

 

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Travels! Orcas Island, Part Two

Here’s Part Two of our lovely camping trip, and this post is super-duper packed and long, so let’s get to it!

After a wonderful but tiring day one, we got up and had some breakfast. It was pretty chilly in the mornings, so it was a good excuse to wear a moose and bear hat… and also to wrap Milo up like Mother Theresa.

 

We took it pretty easy that morning, while Bruce went on a bajillion mile hike, and I ended up taking an epic nap. One of my favorite parts of camping is the naps. There’s something about falling asleep in a tent, with the sunlight warming it up just enough to be cozy (but not too hot), and taking a nap with nature surrounding you. It’s very relaxing and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Eventually we played some wiffleball and tossed around our Nerf football, which was pretty fun… until Matt decided to whip the ball at me, throwing it over my head and into the lake. It was pretty entertaining watching him try to figure out how to get back. Fortunately the wind was blowing in our direction and the ball floated back, along with Matt pulling it in with a stick. It was SO NICE to have enough room at our site to be able to play frisbee, wiffleball and football.

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Travels! Orcas Island, Part One

Ohhh I’m not sure that I have ever been this excited for a blog post, honestly. I had planned to make this one long post, but soon realized that there was so much to talk about, it’d be best to split this bad Larry up into 2 posts. I also took far too many photos to squeeze into one post, so there it is.

This was one of those trips that left me feeling so happy and reminded me of how wonderful life can really be… One of those trips that could not have come at a better time for me. To be forced to unplug (in that we literally had no service at our campsite) was so nice. No Facebook, no twitter, just relaxing by a lake with my husband and some of our favorite friends (and a whole bunch of dogs, too!)… While I did check email and post a few photos of the day to Facebook when we were in the nearby town of Eastsound, I kept my iPhone usage pretty strict to only taking photos. Anyway, let’s go back to Thursday, where our trip began bright and early…

We woke up at around 5:30, with the car completely packed, our epic playlist ready to roll, two happy doggies in tow, and headed over to Bruce and Amy’s, who were of course joining us for the trip as it has become tradition that we camp on Orcas Island with them every summer (this would be trip number 3). We made our way over to Starbucks for some much-needed coffee, then headed up north to Anacortes where the ferry terminal is.

I have to say, I love road trips. I love listening to music with Matt, talking about our excitement for our trip, I love holding onto Milo has he sits in my lap and breathes in the fresh air whenever I put the window down for him, I love looking back at Anya laying in the back seat… Nothing beats good music, good company, and the excitement of a little vacation from work.

After around a 2 hour drive, we made it to Anacortes and stopped at the local Safeway, where we tried on some fabulous hats on our way out. We then drove over to the ferry terminal, being some of the first people there, and promptly took our dogs down to the beach for a walk… It may/may not have ended up being a little family photo shoot, but I couldn’t help it!

After burning a few hours between the beach and then hanging out in our cars while we waited, we finally loaded and headed upstairs to the main sitting area to play some Bananagrams. Best game to play on a ferry ride, I tell ya.

We eventually made our way out to the front of the ferry, which was cold as heck. Of course we took dorky photos and didn’t last very long until we decided to go back inside.

After a stop at Lopez Island, we finally arrived at Orcas Island. Ohhhh how I missed this beautiful little island. For those of you who don’t know, Orcas Island is part of the San Juan Islands in the northwest part of the state of Washington. The islands are absolutely beautiful, and while I’ve spent a lot of time on the main island, Orcas Island is my favorite. It is quiet, the views are breathtaking, and the people are delightful. Matt and I dream about living here one day, perhaps owning a bookstore or coffee shop…

Anyway, we made our way to Eastsound, which is the cute little town on the way to our campsite. This town has lots of cute locally-owned stores and restaurants, and is home to one of my favorite farmer’s markets (more on that later). We stopped by the local grocery store to grab a few items, then went on our way to our campsite at Moran State Park to set up and get settled in.

After checking in (where the girl actually remembered Matt from last summer’s trip, haha), we drove over to campsite 8. Now I should preface this with the fact that campsite 8 is the most popular site in the entire state park. It is so popular that you literally need to book it 9 months in advance, and even then you’re lucky to beat out other people who are online at the same time as you, trying to get this site. So yes, back in October I got online right at midnight on the dot and booked site 8 for us to enjoy.

As we approached the site, I was hoping that this really was worth all the hype… And I was not disappointed. The site is right on Cascade Lake, with it’s own private beach, beautiful view of the lake, and tons of space. We all looked each other with excitement over the fact that this would be our home for the next few days, and began to set up the tents, chairs, etc.

After setting up (and losing my phone during this process, only to find it UNDER our tent a few hours later, ha), we relaxed for a few before Amy and I decided to go for a swim. Sure it was maybe 64 degrees outside, but the water wasn’t nearly as cold as we thought it’d be, and the doggies wanted to go in, so we joined them. We ended up swimming over to a nearby dock, talking about anything and everything. One of my favorite parts of the whole trip was swimming and talking, enjoying the sun hitting our faces as we doggy-paddled our way over (haha, best way to have a conversation while swimming), and waving back as Matt and Bruce became little specks in the distance.

We eventually made our way back to our site and little beach, got changed and made some dinner. This trip was a vacation and Matt and I had agreed that any vacation we take means we’re allowed to have whatever we want. So did I eat Costco hot dogs? Heck yes I did. And were they delicious? Obviously.

The dogs were all pooped from a long day of traveling, and we took it easy that night, playing Bohnanza, sitting by the fire, joking around and snuggling the pugs (no seriously, between Milo and Beefcake, those two needed some serious snuggling because of how cold they got, haha, talk about high maintenance dogs.)

Okay, this is where Part One ends. Part Two will include the best meal I’ve ever eaten, more swimming (and a possible sighting of Nessie?!), games, relaxing, a trip to the Eastsound farmer’s market, and a series of photos depicting the many creepy faces of Matt from this trip. Now if that isn’t a reason to read Part Two, I don’t know what is.

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Team Serpico: The Wedding

It’s been too many days since I’ve updated. I planned on writing something Thursday night, but Thursday turned into me screaming and breaking down over things, so by the time I came out of Hulk-mode, it was 11pm, I was emotionally and physically exhausted, and wanted nothing more than to go to bed and not have to go to work the next day. Don’t worry, the whole Hulk-mode freak out thing had nothing to do with Matt, or anything else like that. So again, apologies for no posting but by the time the weekend came here I just needed some laughs and smiles, along with total vegging out. Sometimes you just don’t feel like writing or doing ANYTHING and this was definitely one of those times.

Anyway, while I have a recap of what was a wonderful weekend, full of photos and happy times, I first wanted to talk about the wedding we went to over a week ago.

Kim and John got married in a beautiful venue in Lawrence, MA. I think I forgot it was so close to New Hampshire (aka beefs pagoda – see the text exchange below for reference). Anyway, it was a wonderful day, and once we got all prettied up, we headed out to grab the cheese for the cocktail hour.

    

We totally had fun with it, because we’re dorks, and finally stumbled upon the coordinator to hand off the cheese. We walked over to the venue and it was such a neat room. Brick walls, sitting area full of vintage furniture, and so much space. We walked around, signed the guestbook, caught up with some old friends (like Nicole, who I don’t think I’d actually seen in person since a random Piebald show in high school, haha), and soon found a seat as the ceremony was beginning. I thought it was also really cool that was we waited, the music playing were awesome orchestral covers of some of Kim and John’s favorites. Definitely heard a little Weezer and No Doubt/Gwen Stefani, classy-style.

 

 

 

The ceremony was short and sweet and beautiful (definitely my kinda ceremony), and it was wonderful to see both John and Kim look so happy. I knew how much work they put into this night so to see it come together was pretty awesome. I think when you’ve gone through planning a wedding yourself, you truly understand how awesome it is when everything comes together. So yeah, they got married and everyone cheered and it was delightful.

 

We moved over to the building next door for a cocktail hour while the wedding party went and took photos. It was such a neat spot full of art and I totally took more photos than probably necessary, but whatev. We ended up chatting with Doug for a long while (because Doug is delightful), and another guy who neither Matt nor I knew (but I felt like I recognized him from BC, and he definitely seemed to know Doug so, yeah.)

 

 

After some amazing hors d’oeuvres, everyone eventually made their way over to the main venue again for the reception. The traditional dances were had, and were beautiful. Kim’s sister danced with her Dad halfway through the father-daughter dance and yeah, that dance as a whole made me a little teary-eyed. I don’t get like that with most weddings, but I swear having been through it makes you so happy for everyone involved because you get it… that you just get kind of overwhelmed with emotion.

 

 

Music started playing, and people were definitely filing in and out onto the dance floor while others chatted with their table mates and relaxed before dinner. Oh my God, that dinner. They had BBQ and it was wonderful. I love a good corn bread and mac ‘n cheese and yeah… it was worth it (even though I ate way too much food!) Later on I ate the amazing cake and Matt and I split the carrot cake and chocolate cake with chocolate ganache. Both were definitely to die for and made me want to go buy an entire cake from wherever they got it from. That good, yes.

  

The favors on the table piqued my interest, as they were way too adorable and upon opening the box, we found BC-colored M&Ms, with “Team Serpico” on the back of each candy. Totally cute, and totally John and Kim. I love when a wedding is personalized and you feel like you get a real understanding of a couple. It makes it special and intimate and you leave feeling like you got to be part of a really awesome moment for your friends.

  

Eventually I danced (and even somehow got Matt out a couple of times), and overall had a really fun time. We said our goodbyes, as we realized we needed to get SOME sleep before our 4am wake up, and I was so happy we were able to be there, to be a part of such a special day, and to see some of our great friends become husband and wife. 🙂

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Off to Boston we go!

So I didn’t have much time to write an update for today (which I normally do the night before I publish/publicize it)… Why? Been packing for the quickest trip EVER to Boston. We leave tonight, get in around 7:30 in the morning, then we’re picking up our car, making a stop at Boston College (of course), grabbing breakfast then heading down to Abington for the day. We’re planning on spending the day with family, doing lunch with my Dad and sister, then dinner later with my Mom, sister and cousins.

I’m hoping we’re still awake to make it back to Lawrence that night so we can check in and conk out. Seriously though, if I don’t sleep on the plane tonight, Matt has threatened that he will be very mad. Let’s just say when we went on our honeymoon and did a red-eye flight, in which I got no sleep on it, I had a mega meltdown over having 2 queen size beds vs. one king size in our room.. Yeah, it was stupid and I don’t want to have that again, ha.

Saturday is the big wedding day! Thankfully we can sleep in a bit before getting ready and helping out with picking up some stuff (cheese in particular) for the wedding, then making our way to the venue. I plan on sneaking in some photos (because who wants to wait til FOREVER to get photos of their wedding back? It’s always nice to see it from the guests’ point of view).

After all the wedding fun, we’ll go back to our hotel, go to bed, and get up at 4:30am so we can return our car and make our flight. Back to Seattle by 11am. Definitely a fun weekend but holy crap if I don’t get sick for the lack of sleep/being on a plane, it’ll be a miracle.

Anyway, all that being said, I’ll try my best to update tomorrow, though I’m not sure I’ll have much time. So if I disappear, don’t worry because Monday will be a nice massive recap of our weekend, with lots of photos.

Boston, here we come!

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