Be inspired by a twenty-something Seattle native with a passion for the Northwest. I hope to bring to life a digital version of a journal I began years ago, with this dedication hand written on the first page... "This book is dedicated to the rainy days spent wondering what to do, the beautiful summer days that pass to soon, and every day in between in hopes that not a single moment is left spent with nothing fun to do."

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I am ready to shake off the winter doldrums and see something beautiful grow.  Washington apples are the best in the world.  I have a dozen or so in the fridge at all times, but there is nothing quite like the delicious tree-ripened fruit fresh in season.  These juicy little buggers taste best when you go visit them where they came from, in sunny eastern Washington.  And even better, meet the people to planted, tended and picked them personally.

Prey’s Fruit Barn - I love Peshastin.  I visit Leavenworth just so I have an excuse to go through it to Peshastin.  Why?  Because there is an adorable little petting zoo with goats that have ramps to walk up and over your head on a bridge from one paddock to another.  But this is another post altogether.  Peshastin also offers Prey’s Fruit Barn, which is one of my favorite roadside produce stands along the road on Hwy 2.  They are open late May through November and offer delicious apples, pears, and variety of other fruits and veggies in season.  It was started by an authentic German couple who decided to move to the Wenatchee area in the 1970s, and they’ve been serving our great state ever since.  They have an adorable garden and a little shop full of jams, jellies and gift boxes, and of course, boxes and boxes of shiny fresh apples.

Washington Fruit and Produce Co. - Proudly family owned/operated since 1916, selling apples, cherries and pears in all sorts of varieties.  They have orchards scattered all over central Washington and even a few fields just across the river into Hood River and the Dalles.  This isn’t your average roadside stand to stop and buy a flat of apples though, this mega producer ships their goods all across the state from one of their 6 major loading facilities.  Just keep a sharp eye for their name on your produce next time you visit the grocery store, that’s one well-raised apple in your grasp.

Barrett Orchards - Now here is a sweet family farm that wants your tourism business.  They offer two things that officially put me in line to come down for a visit: Orchards are open for browsing, a “Cherry Trail” and orchards open to the public for a “leisurely stroll”.  In addition to apples, cherries and pears, this farm also raises peaches, nectarines and apricots.  I had no idea until last year that Washington can produce peaches that rival any Georgia variety. 

Shaw’s Fruit & Produce - Trippin’ to the Coolee Dam?  This scenic roadside produce stand has a great view overlooking the Columbia River just 6 miles north of the Dam on Hwy 155.  They offer much more than just apples, and press their own cider each season.  They even have their own Nut Grove with Hazelnuts, Filberts and Walnuts.  Definitely worth a stop in to say hello and see what’s ripe.

Need more options?  Ask the experts.

Update… here are some tips about how to pick the best possible fruits of your labor and enjoy your harvesting experience:

  • Pick apples from the outer branches, these should look the ripest.  
  • Lift and twist off the stems, don’t tug.  
  • Find your nearest orchard at pickyourown.org.  
  • Pack a good-old-fashioned picnic lunch with sandwiches and dippers.  Orchards often offer plenty of apples, cider and pies for sale, but a good lunch might be hard to find.
  • Bring a blanket, a bottle of wine, and plenty of toppings for your fresh apples.  Try peanut butter, caramel sauce, or cheddar spread.  
  • Bring a camera!

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I’d like to spend the rest of my life attempting to hike as many portions of the Pacific Coast Trail as possible.  Stretching from the Mexico border all the way up through California, Oregon and Washington, the trail follows the natural ridgeline of the mountain range, approx. 150 miles inland from the Pacific coastline.  The trail crosses over 25 national forests and 7 national parks over its 2,600 miles in length.  Its neighboring sister trail, the Pacific Coast Bicycle trail cuts at least 100 miles off the winding trek and sticks closest to the major roadways.  The trail was originally explored and developed by the Boy Scouts of America and other nature-seeking groups in the 1930s.  It wasn’t officially declared “finished” until 1993.  

Seasoned hikers have taken on the PCT Thru-Hiking, which simply means to hike the entire length from end to end.  The journey’s complex planning sounds as challenging as climbing Mt. Everest, as hikers are expected to commit 4-6 months actually hiking, and at least 6 months preparing for the feat.  

While I have no actual aspirations to Thru-Hike the PCT, I’d love to see some of the highlights in WA and OR if the opportunities arise.  

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21+ events at the zoo are bound to be a good time.  This summer, the zoo closed it’s doors to kids and strollers and opened up to 30+ local wineries and thirsty patrons on two evenings in June and August.  Tasting Flight offers live music, catered concessions, and access to the animal exhibits after normal park hours.  The environmentally friendly BYOG (bring your own wine glass) event generates fundraising for the Woodland Park Zoo, so raise your glass for a good cause.  

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My family had one single go-to vacation spot every summer.  My sister and I could each invite one friend, pile in the back of the truck bed under the canopy with sleeping bags and a deck of Uno cards, and head across the Cascades for a long weekend of sunshine and fun in Lake Chelan.  

I haven’t been to Lake Chelan in ages… 10 years to be exact.  When I was a kid, we would rent a condo, pile into pull-out beds or sofa sleepers or cots (or the floor).  We would swim in the pool until our eardrums were ringing and our fingers were as shriveled as prunes.  We would spend the whole day at Slidewaters, the local water slide park.  We would go jet skiing, tubing, and swimming in our wetsuits (that lake was freakin’ cold!) and take long boat rides up the lake to Stehekin.  At the end of the lake, there wasn’t much more there than a historic old mining town and a few thousand miles of endless hikes into the wilderness, but I wouldn’t be surprised if time has changed it since my last visit.  

One of my family’s favorite spots to eat while visiting Chelan was a nice italian place called Andante just across the bridge.  We used to frequent a tavern that has changed ownership several times and seems to have gone downhill over the years, but I had fantastic memories of many family dinners along Woodin Ave.  Just across the block, usually after a full day of boating or watersliding, we would go for a spin around the go-kart track and bumper boat pool at Don Morse Park, and a then go for a rootbeer float and a cheeseburger at the Lakeview Drive In.  If the weather turned cold, or after the sun would go down, we would head across the street for a night of bowling at Chelan Lanes.  

It just wasn’t a weekend in Chelan without at least a quick stop in at those places.    I look forward to my next excuse to go back to relive some old memories, and hopefully to create some new ones!

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My husband disappears to Chambers Bay a few times a year for the spectacular golf course.  I vow to play it before it makes it bigtime in 2015 when the course will host the US Open on Father’s Day weekend.  Since the big news was announced, it has become much more difficult to score a tee time, but plan accordingly and the links can be yours for a few hours.

Chambers Bay is a younger course located in Tacoma, approximately an hour outside of Seattle.  The treeless course offers sweeping views of the Puget Sound and McNeil Island, and is long-iron friendly.  

The course was recognized as a Silver Signature Sanctuary by the Audobon Society for its commitment to environmental quality and wildlife protection, boasting as the first Washington course to receive the designation. 

Lucky pets can join in the trip and take an oceanside romp on the off-leash park just beyond the southwest corner of the course.  The Chambers Creek property spans over 900 acres of trails, two miles of beach shoreline, and endless parks and playfields.  

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Seattle Metropolitan wrote an article about the recent Washington Artisan Cheesemakers Festival in April, and I am drooling over the idea of craft beer paired with artisan cheeses.  

Featured pairings include:

Dinah’s Cheese (Kurtwood Farms, Vashon Island) and Schooler Exact Regrade Pale Ale (ten points for you if you get the name reference to a tidbit of Seattle’s history)

Woman of La Mancha Goat Cheese (Gothberg Farms, Bow) and Epic Ales Strong Farmhouse-Style Desert Ale

Two-Faced Blue (Willapa Hills, Doty) and Two Beers Heart of Darkness Cascadian Dark Ale (these CDA’s are my new stylized favorite of 2012, the combo with a zesty blue is absolute genius)

Trailblazer Aged Double-Cream Tomme (Backcountry Creamery, Tacoma) and Pike Brewing Naughty Nellie Golden Artisan Ale 

Sign me up for next spring!  I will be trying a few of these pairings on my own in the meantime.

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Every spring, Seattleites flock to the beautiful Skagit Valley with cameras, rainboots and umbrellas to admire the gorgeous fields of rows upon rows of tulips.  

The festival runs throughout the month of April and admission is free for visitors to roam the fields and enjoy the scenery.  

Tulips may be the featured attraction, but the town of Mount Vernon also proudly offers wine tasting, hot air balloon rides, helicopter tours, artisan cheese tastings and several historical tours.  

Visit tulipfestival.org for details. 

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This fall, I was fortunate enough to spend a weekend getaway with my girlfriends at a gorgeous little B&B just outside of Leavenworth, and I will absolutely go back.  

La Toscana Winery and B&B is a quaint little tuscan style house, guest suite and winery surrounded by the family vineyard, just a short drive off the highway far enough to drown out the road noise.  My friend and I were the first ones to arrive out of our group of 5, and we were literally in shock when we walked in the front door.  The suite had high ceilings, beautiful furniture, a lit fireplace, a fully stocked kitchen and fridge filled with groceries for our arrival, a master queen-sized 4 poster bed with privacy curtains, and a gorgeous rod-iron staircase leading to the upstairs guest beds.  There was also an adorable nook-inset twin sized bed with a curtain that had a tiny trap door with an air vent to let fresh air into the small nook, for cozy nights when the fireplace is left on.  

We had an absolute blast.  Our gracious host Julie sat and chatted with us about our friendships, our plans and our jobs back on the other side of the mountains.  I absolutely plan to return for a romantic getaway with my husband, or for a girls’ retreat with my aunts, mom and sister, or for another girls weekend with my friends.  I’d love to see La Toscana become an annual tradition!

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I am a golfer, but not a serious one. I used to play often, and I learned to hate the routine of playing on the high school team.  Now that my scores do not matter to anyone but myself, I love playing, but my scores reflect this nonchalance.  A more appropriate outlet for my partial golf pleasures?  Putt-putt.  Specifically, adult putt-putt.

Smash Putt! - I just learned about this adult’s only cabaret-meets-dive bar hole in the wall putting joint in Sodo.  I do not at all understand the concept, and the website leaves much to be desired, but I know one thing: I want to go there. 

Drinks on the Links - Want to get serious about your putt-putt commitment and join an adults only league?  I recommend Interbay Golf Course’s 5-week adults only league.  Gather your best 6-10 players (3 women and 3 men playing, rotating in additional players) to form a team, create a team “uniform” and get your putt on.  The bar is conveniently located in the middle of the course, and generous prizes are available to the top scorers.

Family friendly putt-putt:

Rainbow Run - this course was built at Willows Run while I was growing up in the area, so I have played it in a variety of growth stages.  Now that the course has been established for over 10 years, the landscape has changed the course’s play.  It is the most realistic putting experience I have ever had at a putt-putt course and I feel like its the best bang for your buck in terms of quality.  Plus, the course changes themes throughout the 18 holes from forest to desert to artic tundra and travels through a cave with a bear sound effect, my personal favorite.  

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It’s pretty hard to walk 10 feet in this town without finding an REI rockrat that owns their own harness, climbing shoes and an array of carabiners. Here are a few popular rock climbing spots that are fun, safe, affordable and lots of fun to boulder around on til you can’t feel your forearms anymore.  

Seattle Bouldering Project - A brightly lit room with padded floors and an open layout with massive walls.  No ropes in this joint, all their walls are designed for bouldering and are safe to climb “off leash”.  The SBP also offers more than just climbing, it also has a gym area, locker rooms/showers, yoga classes and other activities that appeal to their outdoorsy audience.  

REI - I first learned to climb at the Redmond REI and quickly became hooked.  The instructors were very friendly and always willing to belay for you at any time for drop ins for a small fee.  My goal was to get strong enough to climb the 65 foot Pinnacle wall at the downtown REI, but I never did make it to their store.  I highly recommend if you have no climbing experience, give it a try at your local REI and they can set you up with basic gear if you get the climbing bug.

Marymoor Park - I grew up only 5 minutes from this wall and once I learned to climb, I visited it often.  On a number of occasions I used to drive up onto the grass (sorry landscapers) and shine my headlights on the wall so my friends and I could climb in the dark.  This all-concrete wall is hard on the hands but offers fun routes and an overhang for those who enjoy a nice inversion every now and again.  

Honorable mentions:

Vertical World

Edgeworks Climbing Inc

Stone Gardens Seattle

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