Travel: Seattle, Washington & Mt. Rainier

If you want to know how to have an action packed weekend, this is the perfect post for you to read. This past weekend my best friend Rachel and I went on our first trip together! We have been best friends going on 22 years now. We have known each other since birth, literally our mom’s were pregnant together and live just down the street from one another. So, we decided on Seattle. Up until earlier last week we were just going to stay in the city and do a little nature walk right outside the downtown area, but then I had a crazy idea to go to Mount Rainier, I found a car we could rent for quite the deal and it would be something exciting to do outside the city for a day, I mean it’s a national park, so it must be worth the trip, right? The answer is absolutely!

I left Chicago in the morning and got to Seattle around 1pm. Conveniently, Rachel arrived at the same time from her flight, so we could not have planned that better. It was a sunny day in Seattle, a bit out of the norm, but we were happy to catch it on a day like this. We picked up our rental car, and sped down the I-5, eager to see the Seattle skyline. We did not have to wait long, the airport is close to the downtown area, so while we soaked up the sun and pine trees lining the highway we also admired Elliott’s Bay with its raised bridges high in the air, the gathering clouds touching the mountains’ peaks in the distance, and the intriguing cityscape right in front of us.

First things first, we were starving! It was right around the middle of lunch time and we parked the car near Pike’s Market. Seattle has a similar city grid street design like Chicago, so navigating was very easy. We walked down 1st Street which is right by the market as well as the waterfront. We stumbled upon this taco restaurant, El Borracho. I am always down for tacos and I was not disappointed. I got two fish tacos made with fresh cod, cilantro, a delectable sauce, tomatoes, corn, and then a variety of salsa to pick from on top. Rachel loves beer so we also tried a Seattle made beer and it was the perfect pairing with our lunch!

 

After lunch we headed for Pike’s Market. It is so vibrant and populated with people from all around the area. There is fish, flowers, fruit, bread, jewelry, decor, art, spices, sweets, you name it. We took a solid hour just walking around the area and taking in all to see.

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We found quite the face on this monkfish, there is so much fish and you would imagine it smells quite strong yet it was no bother, it was fresh and, at the most, peculiar.

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Coming right out of the market, there is a beautiful walk along the bay with the views of boats at the docks, bridges, park views, and the ferris wheel.

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We continued our walk towards the Space Needle. I was please to find a lot of street art on the sides of buildings. The streets are lined with coffee shops and boutiques. In between are alley ways with murals galore!

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We stopped for a quick coffee along the way. The barista at Uptown Espresso made a suggestion I never had before and that was to put a bit of orange zest in my normal soy latte. It was the best suggestion ever! If you like oranges and you like coffee, it seems like an unlikely pair, yet it works! img_7511

At the Space Needle it was a quick ride to a gorgeous view of the city. I am not usually inclined to do such a touristy activity, yet Rachel was all about it so I got on board with it and I am glad I did. We had an entire 360 degree view of Seattle: from the bay to the mountains it was pure view goals.

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After we descended in the scenic elevator it was just about time to head back to our car and go to check into our Airbnb. On our way walking back, a store front caught my eye, Endless Knot. It is a boutique where they sell products made by women designers in the Pacific Northwest area. The style is unique and colorful. I was so impressed with their store and I even went back at the end of the trip and bought a fun light blue bucket bag and a spring sweater.

We checked into our Airbnb, which was conveniently located right outside the downtown area. We rested for a little while and planned out our day on Saturday. We then ventured out once more for dinner. We stumbled in to a restaurant, Japonessa, and the sushi
was the perfect meal to end the day with.

 

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We woke up early on Saturday so we would reach Mount Rainier by noon when the roads opened. We got lucky again with weather and it was a perfectly sunny day with only a few clouds in the sky. We stopped in the city on the way to grab some breakfast and snacks for our adventure packed day. We had crumpets with egg, pesto, and tomato from The Crumpet Shop, it was a fun little cafe and they served a killer dirty chai latte.img_7527

After breakfast we hit the road and started our drive towards the mountains. It took about two hours to get to the base of the mountain and I had to get comfortable driving along the steep winding roads, yet I love to drive so it was easy cruising once I got the hang of it. The drive was gorgeous. One of the most scenic drives I have ever done. We stopped along the way to take pictures along the side of the road. Just before we hit the park entrance we picked up some snow shoes and tire chains. We did not end up needing them but they were advised to have since the road conditions could change so quickly when we drive up the mountain. img_7535

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We entered Mount Rainier and it was about 45 minutes until we reach the Paradise area for our snowy hike. We put on our gear and just went for it. We climbed and fell a few times, but once we got the hang of walking in the snow shoes, our snow hike was the perfect cardio filled afternoon. We took some time to catch our breath and drink water, which was necessary with the altitude change. It also created the perfect opportunity to snap some pictures of the area.

The adventure was exactly what we needed and it was a great workout too! Climbing was quite the peaceful experience. It was close to silent aside from the crunch of our snow shoes. We would stop in our own time and just take a minute or two to take in the nature around us. There weren’t too many people where we were and it was serene to have an entire landscape for ourselves. img_7646img_7557img_7560

We spent about an hour and a half climbing and then another hour going back down. I think the time change was due to us pretty much sliding all the way down because there was only so much our snow shoes could take until I found myself taking quite the slid down a bit of the way.

We got back to the car in one piece, ate some of our snacks and started to head down to lower trails. We saw little creeks, bridges, and towering trees throughout our way down. Driving back to Seattle was the hard part, we were so tired and hungry, and that produced a hanger I have never had before. I got frustrated with some slow drivers and my Chicagoan side definitely came out in my driving maneuvers. Nevertheless, we made it back to Seattle and found a little Italian restaurant in the Capital Hill area. It was the perfect meal, I had spinach ravioli and Rachel had pasta carbonara and we topped it off with a piece of cheesecake to treat ourselves after a long day. Capital Hill is a fun and unique area, we enjoyed walking around for a little while and indulged with a drink at Stateside. We were so exhausted after that, so we walked back to our car and called it a night.

Rachel’s flight was a bit early on Sunday, but we wanted to get in one more meal together. We visited The Wandering Goose, which I found to be the perfect name for obvious reasons. The cafe is named after the fable, The Wandering Goose. There is a book situated around each table and it creates the perfect interlude between ordering and eating. We both ordered a Veggie Hash complete with beets, onion, baby broccoli, squash, and topped with two poached eggs and cholula hot sauce, my favorite. img_7596

After breakfast we had a few more stops to make before I took Rachel to the airport. We visited Hot Top donuts, highly recommend, and then we wandered off to find the Fremont Troll, an art project created to bring the community together and boy does it have a presence. img_7600img_7611img_7614img_7619

After our troll finding, we walked around the board walk right next to the museum of history and industry and then made our way towards Pioneer Square. I drove Rachel to the airport and then had a little more time to do a few things on my own. I went to a few coffee shops and then back to Endless Knot to make my purchases. I had a savory late lunch with waffles and a cup of oolong tea in hopes to sooth the caffeine jitters, which I think I still have from all the coffee I tried over the weekend. I would recommend Seattle for any adventure seeker and I definitely see myself spending some more time in the Pacific Northwest.

 

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