Hiking Little Si – North Bend, WA

Summer is here and that means hikes, hikes, hikes!  Probably one of the best things about living in the Pacific Northwest during the summer time is the endless amounts of hikes to do.

I am slowly starting to get back into hiking after not doing so since last summer.  And honestly, I felt so out of shape, lol!  One of my bucket list hikes this summer is Mt. Si in North Bend.  In preparation for that, I am starting off slow with some easier hikes before I advance on to some of the more challenging hikes.

So yesterday, I hiked Little Si.  Even though the clouds decided to come back out on the day this hike was planned, it was still a lot of fun, and still a great view.

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The hike was steep in some places and flat in others, but had great views all around.  I love this view of North Bend and into the mountains that surround my home.  So cool to see some rain pouring down in the distance too!  I would definitely recommend this hike for those who are on the same boat as me and want to ease their way into more advanced hikes.

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A Traveler’s Guide to Vancouver’s Top Attractions in Just Two Days

Back at it again. Summer is definitely my favorite time of year and pairs perfectly with my love of traveling.  The convenience of heading up north to British Columbia from Seattle is always a fun little excursion to enjoy on a weekend off of work in the summer time.  This trip marks my third summer in a row visiting the big city.

So what all is there to do in Vancouver BC?

A LOT.  The total pacific northwest scenery and nature surrounding the large city makes for so many excursions and activities, including many things to do downtown as well, mainly all being within walking distance. And the best part?  It can all be done within just two days (and on a budget!)

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The perfect way to begin the trip is walking around Vancouver’s historic district, Gastown, to see the iconic steam clock and stop by the town’s many shops, bars, and restaurants.  One of my favorite bars in Gastown is 131 Water Kitchen & Bar.  They offer a great selection of food and drinks right in the center of Gastown.

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After walking through Gastown, Vancouver’s shopping district is a great place to go.  There are so many shops to choose from including Nordstrom, Prada, Gucci, Brandy Melville, Adidas, Urban Outfitters, and much more for those who love to shop.  For me personally, I am totally in love with Brandy Melville apparel.  I could not resist stopping by the store in Vancouver as there are none in the Seattle area or anywhere nearby.  It was seriously like a dream come true, lol.

Another must-see in Vancouver is Granville Island.  It is a little bit further and takes a while longer to walk, but is definitely not horribly far away.  I’ve walked there once and rode the aqua bus across to the island which was fun to do.  However, on this trip, I drove.  The public market on the island is basically like a huge expansion of Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle.  There are so many food, antique, and beauty vendors in the market to look at that I feel like I could get lost in there.  They all offer great products that you definitely want to spend a bit more time through the market just to see everything. Of course, walking around that cute part of town is always fun too, not to mention with a great view of downtown Vancouver on the other side of the water.

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Continuing the festivities of day one in Vancouver, driving over to Stanley Park from Granville Island is probably one of the best parks in the city to visit.  Other than the fact that it is huge, it’s a nice city park right on the water with great views all around.  Although I love the scenery of the pacific northwest, I got so excited when I saw a portion of the park with a bunch of palm trees.  The palm trees only enhanced the beach walk experience.

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Nearing the evening of day one, I would definitely recommend a nice, fancy dinner in Yaletown.  This year, I had my first dinner in Gastown, and while that was nice, I prefer the dinners offered in Yaletown as there are so many nice restaurants to choose from in that part of town.  Definitely a younger part of town for people my age to go to at night for the restaurants and bars.  You also get to see more of the city that was not seen earlier in the day by choosing Yaletown over Gastown.

My all-time favorite bar in Vancouver that I have gone to each year now is Steamworks Brewing Co. located right on the water near Gastown.  I always get the same drink each time I am there, the bellini.  The drink consists of Captain Morgan white rum, peach liquor, champagne, peach slush, and sangria, topped off with a large gummy worm candy.  It’s a bit sweet but very good.

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Starting off day two, I took an excursion just 20 minutes away from the city to Capilano, just north of downtown, to visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge.  This was the first time I have visited the bridge and it was definitely thrilling for me.  Even though I have an intense fear of heights, the experience was totally worth it.  I walked across the wobbly suspension bridge as well as the cliff walk which both seemed as if they were thousands of feet off the ground.  I was only slightly terrified haha.  Nevertheless, whether you are or are not afraid of heights, it is definitely a must-see while in Vancouver.  There was a lot of great scenery to look at and photograph.

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Another excursion that I did in place of the suspension bridge last year was visiting the University of British Columbia (UBC) campus.  That is also something fun to do in Vancouver as well.  The campus was probably one of the nicest and fanciest college campuses I have seen.  It contained so much modern architecture and a very nice botanical garden overlooking the water and mountains in the back.  I would also recommend visiting the campus after Capilano.

And you’ve basically seen it all! It’s amazing how much of the city you can see in just under 36 hours.  Of course, there is a lot more to look at such as many other shops and restaurants, Chinatown, as well as hikes and other outdoor activities.  But overall, you have now seen Vancouver’s top attractions on a fun mini-vacation!  I always have so much fun visiting each year and love exploring new parts of the city I have never been to before and trying new things each time.

Presidents’ Day Weekend Festivities

After being at school and away from home for six weeks, I was so ready for a much needed weekend trip back home in Seattle and it was so much fun.  It was probably one of the best weekends I have had in a while.  Being such a short trip, it went way too fast and I am missing home already.

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After a night of traveling, the next day could not have been more perfect.  As a late Valentine’s Day and anniversary celebration, my boyfriend planned the best surprise for us to spend the day together and celebrate.

The first thing planned was to go to the top of the Space Needle in downtown Seattle.  As a Seattleite, you’d think I have been to the Space Needle before, but I have not! As my boyfriend knew that, he surprised me by taking me there and spending time on the observation deck for some great views.  It was so much fun and I loved finally being able to go there, even on a rainy, typical Seattle kind of day.

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After visiting the Space Needle for a few hours, it was time for surprise number two, a visit to Discovery Park.  As my boyfriend also knew that I hadn’t been to Discovery Park either, he surprised me by taking me there as well!  I loved it.  It was a total pacific northwest kind of beach and it was so fun to walk around the beach area and look at the cute, old lighthouse.  Despite the fact that it was totally freezing and a rainy and windy day, it was totally worth the visit.

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When we were ready to leave after hanging out at Discovery Park, my boyfriend surprised me by taking me out to dinner at one of my favorite Italian restaurants, Maggiano’s (Little Italy) in downtown Bellevue.  It was the best.  We both enjoyed our pasta’s and fancy dinner to celebrate Valentine’s Day and our anniversary together.

To finish off our perfect day together, there was one surprise left for me.  My boyfriend rented out his apartment’s movie theater for the two of us that night to watch some of my favorite movies and eat some of my favorite snacks.  The day could not have ended any better.  It was perfect.

We spent the next day on Whidbey Island, visiting with family and celebrating my grandpa’s birthday.  I always have a great time visiting Whidbey Island and love riding the ferry boat over and back.

It was sad to have left after one of the most perfect weekend’s and I cannot wait to come back home again soon.

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New York City Love

I have been to New York City twice in my life, and both times were when I was pretty young that I hardly remember my experience in the big city.  Of course, I remember absolutely loving it.  I may be the stereotypical girl who dreams of going to the big apple and loves the big city.  There’s just so much to see in such a unique city that I cannot wait to go back sometime soon.

Lately, I have been finding myself thinking about New York like all the time.  Multiple times a day, images of NYC will pop up on my Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook feed, drawing me in each time.  It’s just been so long since I have been and I can’t wait to see the city again.

I can’t wait to visit Central Park, Times Square, Washington Square Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Upper East Side, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, and so much more that the city has to offer.

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Photo from Pinterest

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Photo from ihitthebutton.

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Photo from Fodor’s Travel.

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Photo from Pinterest.

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Photo from Grayline.

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Photo from Pinterest.

Dreaming of Paradise

Being stuck in the middle of an eastern Washington winter while going to school, I feel myself every day getting more and more in desperate need for summer weather and some fun in the sun.  As the snow has been around since the end of November, I have never been more excited about sun and temperatures over 40 degrees in what feels like forever.

I knew I deserved to treat myself after going through one of the worst winters I have experienced.  To expose myself to some much-needed vitamin D and do something about my extremely pasty skin, I am so excited to have booked my summer vacation to spend a week in Hawaii this summer with my boyfriend!

Over the years I have been to Hawaii about four times and I have loved it each time.  Constant 80-degree weather, palm trees, beaches, poolside smoothies, and island life never gets old.  I could never get tired of views like this.

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I seriously cannot wait for this vacation and all of the fun things we have planned. With about three months left of the semester, I always have something to look forward to.

New Years at the Needle

One thing I love about new years in the Seattle area is being able to watch the fireworks show from one of the best fireworks show locations, the Space Needle.

Each year I like to spend my New Years Eve exploring downtown Seattle by riding the Great Wheel, trying out some of the nice restaurants, and then visiting the Space Needle for the fireworks show.

For those who have never visited the Space Needle, I highly recommend making your first visit on New Year’s Eve for the fireworks.  The Space Needle puts on one of the best fireworks shows I have seen and never disappoints.

Being able to stand right underneath the Space Needle to watch the fireworks is always the best way to end each year and say hello to a new one.  Who can beat views like this?

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Instead of riding the Great Wheel this year, I wanted to try something new by staying in a hotel downtown for the night and enjoying New Year’s Eve in the city.  Thanks to the Holiday Inn Express next to Seattle Center, I enjoyed a fun night in the city, while also staying so close to the space needle.

Christmas in the South: Lexington, Kentucky

Every Christmas my family and I have a tradition of being together at home, visiting relatives on Whidbey Island, and family bonding by playing games, watching Christmas movies, giving gifts, etc.  But this Christmas was different.

Breaking away from my typical Christmas traditions of being home in the Seattle area for Christmas, I flew to Lexington, Kentucky the week leading up to Christmas with my boyfriend to spend Christmas with his family.

Being a girl who loves to travel and see new places, I was so excited to spend my favorite holiday doing one of my favorite things.  I had never been to Kentucky before and had no idea what to expect.  The first thing that came to my mind when I thought of Kentucky was a ton of horses everywhere surrounded by farm land.  And while there was a lot of that surrounding the city, I wasn’t expecting the small city, urban life right in the middle of horse land. I found it to be a cute little city that combined farm life in the south with small urban life.

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Starting off the trip, my boyfriend and I experienced what felt like one of the longest travel days ever.  Going through time changes in different parts of the country, connecting flights, and flight delays it was like being trapped at the airport.  Waking up at 2:30 in the morning, flying to Chicago with a time difference, and experiencing airplane trouble prior to boarding our connecting flight to Lexington after our three-hour layover, we were exhausted.  It was the longest day.  Although I have to admit, flying directly over downtown Chicago on a clear and sunny day had to be the highlight of the day, before stepping off the airplane in negative 7-degree weather.

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Spending the next day right, we visited the Kentucky Horse Park that evening for the holiday lights festival, Southern Lights.  It was a lot of fun driving through the park with his family and seeing all of the creative holiday lights displays, and then reaching the petting zoo at the end.

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The next few days were spent visiting his relatives, watching Christmas movies, and giving gifts.  Compared to Seattle, the amount of southern hospitality was so different than what I am used to.  Meeting a lot of new people, feeling welcome to join family traditions, and spending the holiday with my boyfriend and his family, spending Christmas in the South is something that was so fun that I’d love to do again.

Being a Kentucky tourist, I was dying to see all of the horse land that surrounded the city.  Having an exploration day with my boyfriend and his little brother and sister, it was really cool to drive through country roads to see the pretty scenery and drive by all of the different fancy horse farms and large fenced in properties.  We stopped by one horse farm to pet and say hi to one of the horses.  I have always loved horses and had so much fun petting the horse, and receiving little horse kisses on my face.

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Although the trip was full of fun and good memories, this was probably one of my favorite things about the trip.  I couldn’t believe how friendly the horse was and how it loved to be pet and would give little kisses on my face.  Such a bittersweet moment, I didn’t want to leave.  Can I have my own horse now?

But to continue the fun of the day, we also visited the Keeneland Race Course, home to the famous horse races.  I had never seen a professional horse race track.  Seeing it for the first time, my mind was blown.  It was huge.  It was like the combination of so many football fields into one large race track for the horses.  It was really cool to see in person.

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Ending a perfect day, we all went ice skating in downtown Lexington at Triangle Park.  It was perfect.  The rink was in the perfect little setting, right downtown, surrounded by holiday lights, a big Christmas tree, large buildings, crowds of people, with my favorite Christmas music playing over the speakers.  I had so much fun.

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After spending Christmas Eve with his relatives, it was time to head back home to Seattle on Christmas day.  Having about four Christmases and having so much fun on vacation, I was sad to leave, but was also looking forward to coming back home to see my family on Christmas day.  Spending most of the day on an airplane definitely was not ideal, but with a better travel day than what we had at the beginning of the trip helped a lot, and before we knew it we were already back home.

Spending this Christmas down south was something fun and different than what I have usually done each year and I had so much fun on the trip, I can’t wait to go back and visit Kentucky again soon.