hello from canada, eh.

Just blogging here from my mother-in-law’s couch in snowy Kamloops, BC. We’re having a lovely time. Probably the most relaxing trip we’ve ever taken (once we managed to get up here). I got up at 3:07am (thanks Sophie, I wanted to sleep in until 3:15am), showered, got ready, and we were in the cab to the airport by 4:15am. Flew out of Richmond at 5:40am, and reached Seattle at 10:30am (pacific time). Holy mackerel, I was tired. We met our friend Jordan for a nice lunch in Seattle at Chaco Canyon, and it was great to see him as well as just to be in Seattle again.

Jordan and Dan in Seattle.

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california adventure 2010.

Our trip was amazing in every way.  As usual though, we packed every minute with fun, so we’re exhausted now. All pictures are here.

Day 1:  Flights, errands, food.

The night before we left there was the most wicked storm ever, and the sound of water smashing onto the tops of our AC units kept us up, as well as multiple leaks inside the house.  I’m glad the garden got some water, but I got barely any sleep.  So at 3:30am I got up and started getting ready, and around 5:30am the Fishers came over, and Silas picked us all up and took us to the airport.  I don’t think there’s ever been such a merry band of airport-goers so early in the morning.  We parted at our respective gates, the Fishers to attend a funeral and we to attend a wedding.

When we arrived in Sacramento, the rental car people kind of messed up our order, so they “hooked us up” — meaning they gave us a way bigger, tackier car than we asked for.  ::sigh::  This kind of thing is always happening to us.

 

Ugly rental car: not so bad when Dan has Jamba Juice.

 

But anyway we took our monstrosity straight to Thunderhorse Vintage, our friends’ shop in Midtown Sacramento.  I was blown away by their selection of vintage dresses and boots, and happy to see that Jen and Marilyn’s store is really as cool as they are.  I bought a great purple dress for $10, which I was complimented on many times when I wore it.

Wish I could have spent more time at Thunderhorse, but we were starving.  We headed to the Old Spaghetti Factory, which is probably Dan’s favorite left-coast chain (Red Robin being his right-coast fave).  It’s pretty good.  I can heartily recommend the Garlic Mizithra, minus the bacon of course.  But their standout is seemingly just a detail: the pesto ranch dressing.  Holy smokes.  I can see why there are many conversations on the internet with people trying to copy that recipe.  It made my salad memorable.

After that we ran errands, picking up Dan’s tux for the wedding, as well as replacing a camera lens (I don’t even want to go into this right now), and getting some cold medicine for Dan.  We met up with Andre at the Roseville Galleria, the mall I thought was crazy last time because they have teeth whitening kiosks right in the middle of the walkways.  He took us to his and Kat’s town house in Rocklin, where we briefly met Kat and her family and their dogs.  We were installed in the guest room, which was so comfortable, and I was super happy to be staying there.  Then Andre, Dan, and I met Andre’s BFF Kari and her boyfriend, Tony, for dinner at Orchid Thai, which was delicious and sufficiently spicy.

Back at the town house in Rocklin, we walked the dogs and enjoyed the chilly night.  Ahead of us on the path, jackrabbits scampered around — the first time I’d ever seen them.  Later I struggled to stay awake until sometime after 11pm, at which point I had been up for 24 hours and I passed way out.

Day 2:  San Francisco, old friends, bachelor party mayhem.

We got up early and headed to San Francisco.  The drive there was beautiful.

 

golden.

 

 

 

just look at those clouds.

 

Since we were looking to replace some of Dan’s very thrashed shoes, we headed to Haight St. and checked out some shoe stores.  This venture was a great success, thanks to the Doc Martens store as well as Villains.  The most amazing store we found, though, was a new one called Loved to Death.  You guys would walk right in and go “This store is for Tess!”  It’s stuffed full of taxidermied knick-knacks, optical toys (I played with an old stereoscope while we were there), shadow boxes with tiny morbid scenes inside, and super goth fascinators.  Dan and I decided that if we ever had a bricks-and-mortar shop, it would be something in the same vein.  Luckily they do have a blog and an Etsy shop, so that we right-coasters can keep up with them from a distance.  The kicker?  The shop clerk saw me flipping wistfully through Peter Beste‘s True Norwegian Black Metal, and he asked if we were going to be around the next day (we weren’t).  Bummer, because Peter Beste was having a reception and book signing there the next evening.  I freaked out.  It would have been amazing to meet him and get a signed copy of the book!  So maddening that we had to be back in Sacramento.  But I got my laments out of my system and put on a happy face, because we were on our way to see Beth.

Beth is my best friend from growing up.  We met when we were four and have been friends ever since, except for that one time in late 4th / early 5th grade when we fought over a Bart Simpson notepad.  She now has her doctorate and does research at UC Berkeley, trying to learn about the manner in which the universe expands.  No biggie.

We drove to her pink house in Berkeley, and the three of us went to Zachary’s for pizza.  Beth tried to transfer some of her knowledge about the cosmos into our heads, but I think our understanding was imperfect at best.  Where’s Carl Sagan when you need him?  The pizza was as decadent as ever.  I ate too much of it and I’m glad we went for a walk around the Telegraph area afterwards, though the whole neighborhood smells like weed.  I slew 485 hippies with my bare hands.  It was great.

 

 

even scientists have to eat.

 

 

happy camper.

 

Next we met some of Dan’s friends at E.J. Phair Brewing Company in Concord, CA.  I think Dan has known these guys since his Mission Year stint in Oakland in like 1998, and it was so cool to see how similar they all are.  Dan has a very distinctive sense of humor that sticks out in some crowds, but his banter fits in so naturally with these guys you’d never know they’d been separated by so many years and miles.  I really enjoyed talking with them as well, their conversation being just the type of thing I look forward to: plenty of wit without being mean, asking all the right questions, and genuinely listening and encouraging.  I can see them enjoying the heck out of Richmond, so hopefully they will come visit soon.

 

 

arguing about who's handsomest.

 

Finally we headed to the Old Tavern in Sacramento to meet up with Andre’s bachelor party.  This place was nasty in an old-world, dark ages kind of a way.  Not just a grubby dive, but an active type of dirty, like they’re trying to make the place unappealing.  Weird layout too…the words “haphazard” and “disarray” come to mind.  But we discovered why people meet up there — the drinks are deep and cheap.  So we salute you, Old Tavern.

When our friends got there, Andre had donned his special bachelor outfit (a child’s cowboy costume, duh) and looked pretty sharp.

I was also delighted to meet Dan’s friends John and Anissa, who made the effort to come out for a drink even though they have kids.  Troopers!  It was much appreciated, and meant a lot to Dan.

 

the cowboy owns you.

 

 

 

trying not to move.

 

The group then migrated over to the Townhouse Lounge for more drinks and dancing.  I don’t know how the electro band that was playing usptairs felt about Andre joining the band for a while with his tambourine, but we all laughed a LOT.  It was certainly the evening’s pinnacle.  We danced until a ridiculous hour, and had a blast with all of Andre’s friends.  I really enjoyed this group, not just because they’re great dancers, but because they’re all super genuine people.  There’s nobody being hard-to-please or condescending, nobody getting TOO crazy so that everyone has to take care of them, and nobody using shyness as a (pathetic) excuse to be miserable.  I love that getting together and having a good time is so simple and straightforward with sincere, fun-loving people.  It’s fun to travel and find other pockets of people like this in the world.

 

 

I stole someone's flash! yes.

 

 

mr. tambourine man.

 

 

total joy.

 

 

Will looking a little unsure about this.

 

 

vests!

 

After we left, a few of us went to Pieces for pizza, which seems like Sacramento’s version of Aladdin Express, minus the whole middle-eastern theme.  The pizza was amazing, and we also happened to run into our friend Mar!  She came in and said “Of course I’d find you at the best pizza place!”  Such a nice treat to see her, though strange that I would manage to run into somebody I know in Sacramento, where I barely know anyone.

When we finally got back to Rocklin it was sometime after 3am, and I was exhausted but proud of myself for sticking it out, jet lag and all.

Day 3:  Old Sacramento, a 2-year-old’s birthday party, wedding rehearsal, and more reuniting.

I love Old Sacramento, and was excited to walk around taking pictures and popping in and out of shops on Saturday morning.

 

 

pitch, tar, etc.

 

 

 

there's that purple dress from Thunderhorse!

 

At 11am we went on the Sacramento Underground tour, which takes you below the city to what used to be the surface.  Due to lots of flooding, they actually jacked the entire city up a story in the 1860s.  Problem solved!  The tour was fascinating, blending general city history with the mechanics of raising the buildings up.  The real standout, though, was our tour guide, “Ms. Odessa.”  She was in character as an 1860s widow from the eastern south (not many people were really from Sacramento at the time, she explained), and her colorful quips at the end of every tidbit of history were hysterical.  Dan and I are both in agreement that she’s the best tour guide we’ve ever had, and that’s saying something.  I love that she kept referring to herself in the third person, such as “Ms. Odessa knows you ladies don’t want to be out in the sun, so she’ll just take us under this big shade tree right here.”  Truth.

 

 

Ms. Odessa: "I made my mind up to stay a widow and give some of the other ladies a chance."

 

 

creepy tunnels under Old Sac.

 

As soon as the tour was over, we headed to Owen’s birthday party.  Owen is one of our favorite kids on the planet — super expressive and agonizingly cute, in that oh-my-gosh-I-want-to-eat-you-up kind of a way.  His parents are lovable as well, and it was so refreshing to see them.  Owen lit up as soon as he saw Dan, and gave him a high-five immediately.  I took some photos, helped make cookies, blew bubbles for the kids, and enjoyed the pizza and goat cheese-stuffed figs.  Such a beautiful day and a beautiful backyard.

 

 

playing with Dan.

 

 

 

gimme five.

 

 

family.

 

Next we were off to McBean Park in Lincoln, CA for Andre and Kat’s wedding rehearsal.  Though the afternoon had gotten hot, I set up camp under a shady tree and was quite comfortable.  They ran through the ceremony a couple of times, and then everyone went about a block away to Old Town Pizza.  Yep, we ate a LOT of pizza on this trip.

 

 

run-through.

 

 

sunny afternoon.

 

 

pizza love.

 

After that it was back downtown to meet up with Dan’s friend Andy, who was in town from Fresno.  When Dan found out he was in town, he got really excited.  Yet another person he hadn’t seen in years.  We met up with him and his friends Shaun and Luke at Java City, and went to Shaun’s house for a couple of drinks.  We were served moonshine, which I always suspect is not quite the same as it used to be because it’s too tasty.  Then we went to the Townhouse Lounge again, and saw some interesting things at their hip-hop night (gin n’ juice specials!).  The big chalkboard at the base of the stairs had “hide yo kids hide yo wife” scrawled upon it, haha.  We mostly ended up talking outside, until Dan and I had to go so we could get some sleep.  I wished we could have hung out more though.  I feel like we’d see a lot of this crowd if we lived in town, biking and walking everywhere and trying to find out where the best dance party is.  Anyway, more Richmond visitors, perhaps!

 

two Americanos, please.

 

 

 

good talks.

 

Day 4:  Wedding!

We got up and got ready, and helped Kat and her family bring a ton of stuff to the wedding venue, so we were there at like 9:30 or 10am.  The Flower Farm Inn is a lovely place, quite a distance from the beaten path, and full of flowers, chickens, pumpkins, etc.  Since I was the only one there not in the wedding party or having a specific job to do, I got to help out with random tasks like decorating the rows of chairs, and I also walked around and took a bunch of photos.  Everyone kept commenting on the bizarrely cuddly-looking chickens, which are called silkies and are quite cute.

 

 

the barn.

 

 

 

oranges!

 

 

silkies.

 

 

so lush and gorgeous.

 

 

bows on rows.

 

 

flower baskets.

 

The wedding was simply beautiful.  The light was perfect once they got started, and leaves were falling gently from trees all throughout the ceremony.  It was conducted in both English and Spanish, but was still pretty brief.  As soon as the ceremony was over, a mariachi band walked up the path and serenaded us as we had champagne.  Inside the barn there were tearful speeches, insanely crispy eggplant parmesan, and lots of good talks at our table.  I held Ellora for a while to give Katrina a break, and a bunch of people came up to admire her and asked me if she was mine.  Aw.  I got kind of sad when Ben and Katrina left, because it’ll be hard to see them now that they’re out in Sacramento again…and we have such an easy connection with them.

After somebody turned the lights down a bit lower (good call!) we danced to such greats as the Police and Portishead until it was time for Andre and Kat to leave.  They made their getaway in a limo which carried them to the airport, where they got right on a flight to Mexico.  Bam.

 

 

petaled.

 

 

train!

 

 

some fierce groomsmen.

 

 

 

candy buffet.

 

 

full.

 

We fell into bed, exhausted, at 9:30pm.  We were tired, happy, and had to catch a flight out at 6am.

Day 5:  In flight.

I got up at 2:30 in the morning so that I could shower and pack without being rushed.  We got to the airport around 4am, returned the rental car, rode a shuttle, got through security, found our gate, and had something to eat before 6am.  When we got to Dallas, we ate at the Tequileria, which tastes like someone went to Kroger and bought month-old tortilla chips and gelatinous salsa to make “Mexican” food.  The silverware was also plastic, which did not match up to their prices.  We DO NOT recommend.

Our flights were good though, and it was a great day of traveling overall.  I was even able to sleep!  I can almost never sleep in a moving vehicle, including a plane.  I must have been tired enough to just pass out.

As we landed in Richmond, the elderly lady sitting next to Dan told us she was born and raised in Richmond.  She was in the air force for 35 years, and today she was returning from a visit to Dallas for her daughter’s 65th birthday party.  Her first plane ride cost $5 and was in a biplane, back when the airport was still called “Byrd Field.”  What an awesome lady — so full of sweetness and interesting conversation and descriptive memories.  She was lovely, too…I couldn’t believe she had a daughter who was 65.  I hope to turn out something like her.

The Bonkovskys picked us up from the airport, and we squeezed into their minivan with all three kids.  Raynie wailed with horror when she saw Dan’s beard, and the rest of us laughed.  We had dollar burgers at Capital Ale House, and we talked about how many people are getting engaged or having babies in the church and the fact that a record number of kids showed up to Children’s Worship on Sunday.  We listened to the kids talk about all kinds of things, some of which didn’t make any sense but were hilarious anyway.

Finally back at home, we were greeted by a cold house, and we got under the covers and watched Tommy Boy.  The cats curled up between us and we drank tea and Theraflu and laughed a lot.

The trip was wonderful, but it’s good to be home.

off to the old west.

It’s raining cats and Zuuls out there, but nevertheless we’re flying out of Richmond this morning for a weekend of wedding festivities in Sacramento.  It’s always surreal to be out there because much of what’s “old” in town dates to, oh, say, the 1960s (it’s okay, I’ve packed appropriately!), but we’ll no doubt seek refuge in the truly old-ish part of the city.

With cowboy boots on my feet and my DROID in hand, it’ll be like Back to the Future III!  It’s nothing like the 1790s environs of a couple of weeks ago, but in a pinch I’ll take the 1860s.  Yeehaw, y’all.  BBL.

of farms and mountains.

Things have been positively wild since we got back from Canada.  I spent the past couple of weekends on some long-overdue road trips to Stanardsville, VA to hang out on Mia’s family’s farm, and to Asheville, NC to go to the Biltmore and to visit some of Dan’s friends who live there now.  Ping-ponging all over the place makes you feel like you’re catching up / preparing for more traveling during the whole week, rather than just taking things one day at a time.  It’s been hectic, but worth it.

Low point: Last Saturday night: Mia’s sister Maddie being bitten five times by a copperhead and sent to the hospital.

High point: This Saturday night: Dan and I wandering slowly through thunderstormy downtown Asheville, just taking our time, exploring, and sharing an umbrella.

Here’s the yert that Mia’s family is building, and which I tried valiantly to help with.

The farm has an array of wildlife, including these two friendly horses.

The view from the porch.

Nightswimming.  Just before the copperhead attack!

This is Owen, our friends’ adorable kid.  I fell just a little bit in love with him.  Yes, he’s THAT expressive, all the time.  This was taken at the Laughing Seed, an amazing vegetarian restaurant in Asheville.

Oh, how’d that mansion get there?  The Biltmore is so impressive I’m afraid I’ll be jaded about house tours after this.

A waterfall we walked to, via one of the many trails on the Biltmore estate.

Pizza at Asheville Brewing Company.

Our friends’ beautiful little home in the country.

We drove for a while on the Blue Ridge Parkway on the way home.

So beautiful.  This really gives Canada a run for its money.

Okay, that’s enough road-tripping for now.  ❤

canada and beyond, part 3

This is Part 3 of the account of our trip to Canada.  Part 1 is herePart 2 is here.  All photos are posted here.

Day 8:  Kamloops –> West Vancouver –> Nanaimo –> Victoria

We got up very early on Day 8, said our goodbyes to Dan’s parents, and got on the road to catch our ferry in West Vancouver.  We checked in early and waited for like an hour and a half to board, during which time we milled around, read magazines, and had an indian pizza (sauce, cheese, and green onions on naan) from the hippie cart next to the dock.  The ferry that we boarded was like the Rolls Royce of ferries.  Having only ever been on the Jamestown Ferry in my un-traveled life,  I couldn’t believe the size of this thing.  It was a monster.  Inside there’s a food court, a coffee shop, a gift shop, and who knows what else.  Out on the deck the wind threatened to treat my long dress as a sail and whisk me back to Vancouver.  Now THIS is a great view: the calm blue water, the towering mountains, the wispy clouds, the approaching shore.

We disembarked in Nanaimo (home of Nanaimo squares, a dessert I’ve made for some of you!) and explored the downtown area.  We found exactly what I was looking for: an amazing little fish n’ chips spot.  This one was called Pirate Chips, and was clearly beckoning to us with its life-sized pirate on the curb and seafaring decor.  Don’t let the gimmick fool you.  This was one of our best meals during the whole trip.  The batter was crispy and delicious, and the poutine was the best we had had in Canada.  The service was great, and I found myself wishing I could take this place home with me.  I should have gotten a Nanaimo square for the road.

I really wanted to see Hatley Mansion on our way into Victoria, but because of some truly awful traffic, we didn’t make it in time to get on a tour.  So we walked around the grounds and took some pictures, and I thought about how much I’d like to have a garden maze.   And a moat.

This house is exactly what makes me cringe when I see the McMansions all over the side of the highway and the ugly, sprawling, beige compounds on MTV Cribs.  If you have the money and you’re going to build a mansion anyway, why not build something beautiful?

Finally in Victoria, we checked into the Dalton Hotel & Suites.  This is a GREAT hotel to stay in if you ever go to Victoria; I highly recommend it.  It’s not super fancy, and the water in the shower takes a long time to heat up.  But it’s clean, it’s not tacky, and it’s right in the middle of everything you want to do.

After tossing our bags in the room, we headed out for shopping and sightseeing.  Again, we got to a city around 6pm and all the shops were closing.  But a few were open, and we got a couple of our only souvenirs from Canada (mine was a wardrobe staple: a black, open-front sweater that I lived in for the rest of the trip).  Then we made our way to the harbor, and we oohed and ahhed over the Parliament building and the Empress Hotel.  I loved walking around Victoria.  The architecture is stunning, it seems like pretty much everybody is on vacation, and the air is breezy but not freezing.

The coolest shop in Victoria is Old Morris Tobacconist.  Dan recently started smoking a pipe, so naturally he wanted to check it out.  But I ended up enjoying it just as much as he did, because it seems to be one of the only remaining Victorian-era shops with both the exterior and interior still styled as it was back in the day.  This place was like the candy shop in Willy Wonka, except it was stocked with tobacco instead of candy.  The guy who helped us was friendly and knowledgeable, and as we talked he picked out several different blends for us to smell.  All the fun of being in a Yankee Candle shop, with none of the nausea.  Alright!  Seriously though, this place was downright gorgeous.

photo by Brandon Godfrey via Flickr

photo by Brandon Godfrey via Flickr

At dinnertime, we strolled around and leisurely read the menus posted outside restaurants we passed.  This is one of my favorite memories from the trip.  We weren’t in a rush (for once), and the sun was setting on the harbor as we picked our way, arm in arm, through the cobblestone streets.  There were tons of delicious-sounding places to choose from, so we let ourselves be really picky and look for the right place.  Finally we settled on Fiamo, a bicycling-themed Italian place with super low lighting.  I love how I gravitate toward places that would fit right in back in Richmond.

We really savored this one fancy date night we got to have.  Fiamo was almost deserted due to it being a late dinner on a weeknight, so we were immediately shown to a great table where we had a quiet meal.  I had plenty of wine and seafood and Dan had plenty of wine and garlic, so we were two happy campers as we walked back to the hotel.

Day 9:  Victoria –> Port Angeles –> Forks –> La Push

Day 9 began with a continental breakfast and driving to the harbor to catch the ferry to Port Angeles.  This ferry wasn’t as bangin’ as the previous one, but it had its own midcentury charm that I enjoyed.  In the ferry shop, we saw our friend Jenny’s book for sale, and I marveled at the level of distribution she’s getting.

The view wasn’t super great, because of the giant cloud of doom that hangs over northwestern Washington state.  Also I think at this point, we were both starting to get a little weary of the whole ferry thing.   It was FREEZING on deck, so mostly we rode inside and tried not to get ill since the ferry was lurching violently.

Back on American soil in Port Angeles, the first thing we saw was a shop advertising a “vampire’s kiss latte.”  Oh yes, everything in those part is vampire-themed.  And heck, if I owned a shop and slapping the word “vampire” on something would earn me twice as much, you’d better believe I’d be doing it too.  Also, things taste better that way.

We only stayed long enough to exchange our remaining Canadian currency, and then we began our Forks-bound drive through the Olympic National Forest.  I’ve tried to decide whether this drive or the Coquihalla Pass from Day 2 was more beautiful, and it’s a toughie.  This was one of those drives where you gasp every time you come around a corner, because it’s just that beautiful of a scene.

Eventually we made it to Forks!

Originally, our trip only involved Seattle and Kamloops.  We were just going up to see Dan’s dad, who had been in poor health.  But he has been feeling a lot better, so the Canada trip grew to include Jasper too, which made it awesomer but also make it more hectic.  Then as I was planning the logistics of the trip, I looked on a map and said “When the heck else will we ever be three hours away from Forks?  We should totally stop there, at least just for a minute.”  Then Dan suggested that since he had never been to Victoria, we should drive back that way and visit it on our way to Forks.  So the trip kind of spiraled into this super packed, frantic race across a huge amount of ground, which involved more driving than anybody really wants to do on vacation.

But oh, I’m so glad it ended up that way.

We visited the Forks welcome sign, the hospital, and the high school, and then we were like “Wow, that took all of seven minutes total!  Now what?”  On to the Twilight shops of course.  The main event is Dazzled By Twilight (which has another location in Port Angeles), so we went there and immersed ourselves thoroughly in teen vampire culture.  We saw some cringe-worthy t-shirts and we got pushed around a bit by middle schoolers trying to get to the keychains, but mostly we just enjoyed the heck out of it.

The thing about Twilight is that it’s this tween generation’s chance to be goth.  And yes, it has flaws, but it wasn’t meant to speak to 35-year-olds.  It communicates with its audience the way that The Vampire Chronicles spoke to me when I was a teenager.  To enjoy Twilight, I put my brain into 18-year-old-me mode…and I understand it perfectly.  I think it describes the total immersion and irrationality of a first love perfectly.  That feeling of how much really is at stake, in your heart.  And it doesn’t treat that like something trivial…it acknowledges it and deals with it, and I think that’s something teenage girls need.  I wish I had been able to read these at a younger age.  And of course, if the series brings millions of little blond girls into the world of black eyeliner, the more the merrier.  Sure I’ve been doing the vampire-obsession thing since I was 15, but that doesn’t mean I have a ton of “cred” or that I own the genre or something.  I’m happy to share it.  I’m happy it makes new generations happy.

I got my other trip souvenir at Dazzled By Twilight — a replica of the dress Bella wears to her birthday hangout at the Cullen’s.  The color is great on me and you’ll probably be seeing me in it soon.

Forks really is the little one-horse town it’s portrayed as.  If you blink, you’ll miss it.  It’s the lumber capital of the world.  But now there’s this one block that’s just PACKED full of Twilight shops, which means it’s also packed full of tween girls, middle-aged women, and random 30-ish-year-old couples on their way to Seattle.  It’s a place of contrasts. I like that at the Dazzled By Twilight store there’s giggling, and the movie soundtracks playing, and cardboard cutouts of Twilight characters, and exclamations over funny t-shirts, and an electrifying feeling of excitement.  And if you walk a few feet down the sidewalk and go into the little coffee shop, you see Indian art for sale and some old timers having a jam session in the back.  And then you realize the coffee shop is also a huge antique store.  Amazing.  I loved it there.

Another thing I love about Forks is that it really has that brooding feel that they try to bring across in the movies.  It really is that cloudy, it really is that wooded, it really is that lush, it really is that foggy.

After shopping, we walked around for a little bit, and then had dinner at Pacific Pizza.  The pizza there was fantastic: a very crispy crust and lots of flavorful cheese.  We also sampled a special Twilight beer that they have on tap there, which I enjoyed.  Dan thought it was good but he’s not really into lagers.

The short drive out to La Push was lovely.  When we neared the reservation, we stopped to take photos at the “treaty line.”  It’s good to see the treaty is still being enforced.  When we rounded the bend coming into La Push proper, I saw a glimpse of that foggy, foggy beach, and fell in love immediately.

We checked into the Quileute Oceanside Resort and checked out our room.  We stayed in the hotel part of the resort, which has very well-kept little rooms with kitchenettes and balconies that face the ocean. There was totally an afghan with a wolf print on it lying on our bed.  Everything in the room was nice and new, and it was probably the least tacky hotel I’ve ever stayed in.  Even though the resort has been open since the 1930s, I get the feeling that they’re doing VERY well for themselves since the advent of Twilight.  Besides the hotel there are also cabins, which would be the way to go if you wanted to go on a group field trip with a bunch of friends.

Dan took a nap (exhausted from the constant driving) and I went for a long beach walk on my own.  To get to the beach you follow a little path through a grassy hill, and then you have to pick your way through a driftwood graveyard.  I guess whole trees fall into the water elsewhere, and end up beached on the shore there.  The trees are HUGE, and all bleached-looking and scraggly, which adds to the wild appearance of the beach.

I went crazy taking pictures, even though I was terrified that the misty, salty air would get to my camera.  I think this is where I got some of my best shots.  They really do capture the gloom of this beach.  I wish there was some way I could take a picture of the salty wind and “show” that to you as well.  A few beachwalkers and a couple of wetsuited surfers were the only people I saw the whole time I walked to both ends of the beach.  From either end, you can’t see the other end very well because the fog is just so insanely thick.

Another thing that probably contributes to my love of La Push is the fact that you could not get a sunburn there if you tried.  I’m one of those rare goth kids who loves the beach, but I hate having no shade and having to slather sticky, smelly sunblock all over myself.  But you could spend hours on the beach at La Push, just doing whatever it is you’d normally do at the beach — read books, frolic, snack — and not even worry about the sun.  You’re protected!

I was super tired after my beach walk, and called it an early night.

Days 10-11:  La Push –> Forks –> Port Angeles –> Seattle –> Richmond

In the morning it was way clearer outside, so when we took a walk we could see the surrounding cliffs.  I scrambled around on the largest of the driftwood trees, and we walked and talked for a while.  On the way off the beach, we saw the biggest slug I’ve ever seen in my life.  It looked it like it was smiling for the camera.  I didn’t know whether it was cute or terrifying.

I was genuinely sad to leave La Push.

After a hearty and delicious breakfast at the very rustic Forks Coffee Shop, we started the journey to Seattle.  We had to pass back through Port Angeles, so when we got there we took a picture of the movie theater, and the restaurant where Bella and Edward dined, and visited the Dazzled by Twilight and a couple of other shops.  The amazing Port Angeles Antique Mall blew our minds.   So much incredible, reasonably-priced stuff, so little room left in our bags.  Seriously, I highly recommend plundering this place if you’re ever in the area.  It was chock full of treasures of every sort.

The rest of the drive to Seattle seemed to take forever.  There was a lot of traffic, and finally when we were only a few miles away, the GPS took us right onto yet another ferry.  We had no idea we were going to have to take another ferry, which is because we didn’t research it very well I guess.  But I was like “NOT AGAIN!”  Haha.  This one boarded pretty soon after we got there, though, and the ride was quick.  Looking down into the water from the ferry deck, I saw the biggest jellyfish I’ve ever seen in real life.  They were ENORMOUS.  Soon we were approaching Seattle.

We walked around Capitol Hill for a couple of hours, going into various shops.  One place carried all of my favorite brands, and I was dying over some of the boots and coats.  And of course they were having a huge sale.  I would have had to wear the coat on the airplane, though, since I had absolutely no room left.  So nothing new for me.

Dan was jonesing for Jamba Juice (what else is new?), so we found one via the GPS.  It was about 3 miles away, and we decided to go find it since we had an hour and a half to kill before our dinner plans.  The traffic was horrible getting there, and we almost gave up several times.  But finally the trusty old GPS took us into this super cute neighborhood with lots of shops and restaurants and lovely houses.  Alas, we stared into the storefront that was supposed to be Jamba Juice, and it looks like it had very recently been converted into a yoga studio.  Curses!!!

Anyway it was time for dinner, so we headed back to Capitol Hill.  We met up with my friend Laurie at Ghost Gallery, the gallery she owns.  I hadn’t seen her in many years, and it was so refreshing to see her smile and here her voice, and to catch up and know that she’s really happy.  After talking to her for a few minutes it was like picking up right where we left off, as if we hadn’t missed several years with each other.  Her gallery is awesome too, so if you’re in Seattle definitely stop by.

We had dinner nearby at the Saint, an incredible Mexican place.  Laurie’s friends Cait and Ed also dined with us, and it was an awesome meal full of margaritas (we recommend the Hermano) and good stories.  Dan and I both had Tacos Rajas con Crema, which were tacos stuffed with poblano peppers and cheese.  Out of this world.  I could have stayed for like eleventy more drinks, but we had to head to the airport.  It was so nice to have a really good last night of our vacation, but it left me wanting to spend more time in Seattle.  Of all the places we visited on our trip, I would most like to return to Seattle someday.

At the airport we turned in our rental car and caught the 11:20pm flight to Dallas.  I didn’t sleep the whole time, because my body will very rarely sleep in a moving vehicle.  This makes travel very difficult sometimes.  From Dallas to Richmond we were able to upgrade to first class, though, and the combination of my first two bloody marys EVER (my new favorite drink) and being able to actually recline my seat allowed me to sleep for about an hour.

When I woke up and we began our descent to Richmond, I checked out the window to make sure my wonderful city was there, and it was just as I had left it.  The humidity hit us like a ton of bricks as we passed through the airport’s automatic doors, and we were home.  Matt Fisher took us straight to 821, and then we had a happy reunion with our kittehs back at our castle.