You! Yeah, you! I’m here! I want to share what I did for the last two weeks. This is all about my vacation to the Pacific Northwest with my college friends to explore, see Kenny’s life and live in the moment. I was SO stressed out before the trip, because I usually when I jet off to a different state, I have lots of business meetings and places to be. This was my first truly personal vacation since I lived in Europe for a semester in 2012, so this was different. Not many plans – just people flying in and meeting in Seattle, driving up to Vancouver (BC) and then down to spend the rest of the week in the Portland area. Everything else from there was up to us – places, food, times…. everything. And you know what? It was magical.
As I talked about in my last post, I’ve been through some serious life challenges just in the last few months. For a while, I wasn’t sure that I would be able to afford the trip or be with my friends continuously for 10 days without going insane-britta-mode, but everything that happened over the past several months lead me to one single conclusion: this trip was meant to happen, and I was meant to be on it. It’s the random nights and crazy stupid adventures that fill my memories from college and afterwards. So many memories I have of Timmy are from the most random impulses or inklings to go to some random place and do something somewhat random. If you live in the moment, you’re really actually living. Since Timmy’s no longer here to do it for himself, I gladly take on the burden to live life as large and as true as I can. This is me. This is who I am. This is who I want to be.
So here’s a brief rundown of my trip and the places we went, the things we saw and the beer and food we consumed. I’ll be making a book for my friends to have printed (just like the one I made for #BigMistakeBowl), and I will most definitely be Project Life-style scrapbooking the entire trip. We have a ton of fun being nerdy and making up hashtags, so our one for this trip was #FriendFestNW, and you can see what we posted all along our journey on instagram and twitter (and facebook if you’re friends with someone from the group). Oh, and I try my very best to only have one rule while traveling: don’t make any rules. :)
Day 0 (Thursday) – Let’s Go To Seattle!
– It all started when we flew to sea-tac and arrived at almost midnight Pacific time.
– We took Uber (a super awesome crowd-sourced towncar service) to our hotel for the night.
– Sleepy and ready for bed, we walked up to the desk at our hotel and were met with a solemn face. They had overbooked the hotel and didn’t have the room we originally reserved, but they did have one room left…. the Penthouse Suite. So we got upgraded for free to a hotel room markedly bigger than my own apartment. Man, that was the coolest thing ever. Even if it was just for a night and we’d only be there for about 11 hours, we had the Penthouse.
– We couldn’t just go to bed in our ginormous hotel room without seeing what was around the block, though, so we stumbled upon The Hideout where our beer tasting of the NW began. The bar was dark, covered in art and absolute perfection. The bartender was my favorite of all time – welcoming us in with cool glasses of water and always being ready to pour another beer for us but just letting us experience the ambiance of the place. I can’t wait to go back to Seattle some day just so I can explore more of that part of the city. The vibe there was incredible, and it instantly felt like home.
Day 1 (Friday) – The Gang’s All Here
– Motif hotel was amazing – they had recently switched the name from The Red Lion on Fifth (and NO ONE told us… tsk tsk!), but the revamped hotel may have been the fanciest one I’ve ever stayed in. It was fun just walking into the lobby or sitting on the porch, not to mention the awesome bar below the hotel with happy hour pretty much all day.
– Jake and I had a day to explore Pike’s Market, eat some great market food and shop in some really kitchy stores. We also got some smoked salmon (and yes, they threw it all the way across the counter like you see on tv) for a ridiculous amount of money and ate it on the bed in our hotel room while we waited for Kenny to drive up after his day of work. We’re super classy, guys.
– We took some of the best views of Seattle by riding the Bainbridge ferry. I can’t wait to edit my pictures from that ride!
– Kenny arrived a little after 8 and we all jumped around and squealed and hugged until we were exhausted (okay, maybe I was the only one squealing). We took full advantage of happy hour drinks with Kenny and were so into talking that we almost didn’t notice when the rest of our friends showed up. Oh, but then there was a lot more jumping up and down and hugging. And beer.
– The gang’s all here and reunited at last!
Day 2 (Saturday) – Doing Seattle Right
– This was my first (and thank goodness, only) hangover of the trip. Catching up had been so exciting the night before that I had lost track of how potent my beers were, and 4 strong beers for me = one pretty hungover Britta the next day. But I hopped on the struggle bus and took it to see some more awesome stuff around Seattle with my friends. You better believe I was a lot better about drinking a ton of water for the rest of the trip. I think I actually might be an honorary fish now.
– More deli food and tourist attractions – the gum wall, climbing on animal sculptures, tasting more beer.
– We then went to the space needle for Groupon’s Bite of Seattle and ate many bites and took super touristy pictures in front of the Space Needle. No regrets.
– Someway, somehow, I was able to get us a very last-minute reservation at Umi Sake House, where some of us (especially me) were introduced to the world of sake and re-introduced to what fresh-out-of-the-ocean sushi taste like. AMAZING. This restaurant was awesome.
Day 3 (Sunday) – Oh, Canada!
– Our last day in Seattle got off to an early (and educational) start with Chihuly Garden & Glass museum (and EMP museum). I saw a few of the glass pieces from the outside the day before and knew immediately that I’d spend hours there if I had a chance.
– For late lunch, we went back into Bite of Seattle, and I got my even t-shirt screenprinted on the spot because that’s AWESOME.
– We then trekked up to Canada and took sunroof selfies while we waited in line for two hours to cross the border.
– We checked in to our hotel, Executive Hotel Vintage Park, and they started off strong by misreading our reservation. It went downhill from there. I’ll save you the grief and just tell you to never, ever stay at that place. It was weird.
– We were starving, so we walked a few blocks and wandered into Johnnie Fox’s Irish Snog it was on our itinerary and we didn’t even know it! Our waitress was awesome and the food was just okay, but it was our first night in a new country so we had a little adjusting to do anyways. ;)
– I couldn’t stop giggling because Canada SO different than the US but we just drove right in. The accents, the money, the metric system… I had serious culture shock, and apparently my super-mature way of handling that now is to giggle uncontrollably about everything. Thankfully, almost everyone we talked to there was incredibly nice and didn’t mind (and seemed to even enjoy) my excitement over the most mundane of things. Tim Hortons on the corner? OH MY GAAAASH! I may have caused a scene once or four times. Maybe.
Day 4 (Monday) – Tasting ALL the Beers
– In the morning, Granville Island with Jake was on the schedule while others went to Stanley Park – there were so many awesome shops and such a great feel to the island. Of course it was touristy, but you have to find your little pockets of hometown goodness and then soak them up like a sponge. I loved it.
– Tony’s Fish & Oyster Cafe for lunch was AHHMAZING. It officially made me addicted to all West Coast seafood, and their clam chowder was out of this world.
– Aquabus. It’s a rainbow-colored ferry that takes you places. Every city needs one of these, stat.
– We all met up at Granville Island Brewing, went back to the hotel to have a beer and relax on the roof and then went wandering around Yaletown with the best to-go gyro I’ve ever had.
– Yaletown Brewing – biggest sampler flights ever and Salmon chowder, which was amazing. I can’t say I’d recommend the those two things at the same time, though. Chowder + beer isn’t exactly a match made in heaven. Ha.
Day 5 (Tuesday) – Britta Can Golf?
– My first time at Tim Hortons – I was stupidly excited and annoyed/amused at least 100 canadian locals with my giggles of joy and “ooooh”s and “ahhhhh”s.
– Stanley Park for a drive around and to go to a Pitch & Putt golf course. Real golfers would probably be phsyically sick at my swing, but I suprised myself immensly – I had SO much fun and could hit the ball straight almost every time. It was awesome. Kenny also got his first hole-in-one ever and bought the first round of beers at lunch.
– The Fish House for lunch – the most amazing tuna sandwich ever, and poutine redeemed itself tenfold by being one of the most delicious things I’ve every tasted. I get it now.
– Drove back into the US and were so happy to be in a country where we knew what was legal and not legal again. Ha!
– Rallied at Porky’s Public Eatery in Longview, WA for some delicious burgers and then went up the mountain to Kenny’s house. He lives on a mountain!
Day 6 (Wednesday) – Astoria & The Ocean
– We drove into Orgeon for the first time ever – and every second of the drive was breathtaking.
– Walked around Astoria, having hole-in-the-wall BBQ (Rollin’ Thunder BBQ), taking the trolley (highly recommend this! It was the best two dollars I spent all day) and sampling as many beers as possible at Rogue Brewing.
– Got caught in a downpour for the first time in the NW and took it with grace – giggling, yelling and squealing all the way to shelter. Ha!
– Drove down to Seaside to see the beach and dip our feet into the ocean. Everything about the beach was breathtaking.
– Dinner at Hop-N-Grape in Longview. Their Mac ‘n Cheese may have ruined me for all other mac ‘n cheeses.
Day 7 (Thursday) – Portland. Much Wow.
– Drove down to get a lot of touristy stuff out of the way.
– Shopping in Nob hill; I picked up some Portland makeup and the boys bought a ton of clothes from a thrift store named Thrift Store.
– Lela’s Bistro for lunch. Amazing pho – one of my favorite things!
– Pearl City for Powell’s Book Store and Voodoo Doughnuts. Both were even better than everyone told me they would be.
– Drove all the way up to the Johnston Ridge Observatory. The views were unbelievable on our way up, but we ended up in a cloud and didn’t get to see St. Helens even though it was literally right in front of us. Who cares, though? We’ll just have to go back again, and times with friends are the best, even when they don’t go as planned.
– Ate an unbelievable taco shop in Kenny’s sleepy town. Fish tacos forever, baby.
Day 8 (Friday) – Tandem Bikes are the BEST
– Wore my exercise gear (and a helmet!) and rocked it out on a tandem bike with Jordan (the selfie king). The six of us rode aronnd the city to five different stops – Hair of the Dog Brewery, Cascade Brewing (best sours EVER), Robo Taco (the bean and rice burrito ruined me for all other burritos), Green Dragon and Belmont Station. It was a full-on terrifying, exhilarating, wonderful and amazing experience. Now I want to tandem bike everywhere.
– We all drank so much water that we had to stop at gas stations to use the restroom twice on the hour drive home.
– Dinner at Sora Sushi. I will never tire of fresh, west coast sushi. Om nom nom forever.
Day 9 (Saturday) – Oregon Brew Fest 2014
– Ended up booking a hotel right on the waterfront (Marriott Downtown Waterfront) just a couple blocks from the festival. It was a gut decision, and it worked out SO well.
– Amazing made-to-order sandwiches from East Side Delicatessen. That was the best sub I’ve had in years.
– We spent several hours (and tokens) at Oregon Brew Fest. The beer scene in Portland is SO mature. I thought Minnesota was unbelievable, but we’re just learning to crawl compared to these guys who are at least in their teenage years. The beer scene is pretty much the cutest guy in highschool with a really rad car.
– Women Enjoying Beer is a thing. YES. I want to wear my new shirt every day forever.
– I got excited when we went back to the hotel room to change and get ready for dinner and almost knocked myself out on an ornate headboard. The back of my head still hurts, but good thing my friends are functional while drinking and had a bag of ice on my head within a minute. They kind of rock.
– The Picnic House for dinner may have been the best meal of the trip. There were so many good meals that it’s hard to choose a favorite one, but our waitress here (Emily) was so awesome that it made the amazing food even better. Plus, they give you your check in a BOOK. A real book! I love that idea forever.
Day 10 (Sunday) – Britta Makes it to Breakfast and We Fly Back to MSP
– For the first time of the entire trip, I was the first one awake and ready to go to breakfast, so Jordan, Tom and I went on an expedition to Brunch Box, and it was a whole new kind of build-your-own-amazing-freaking-breakfast-sandwich (and burger) place. SO GOOD.
– We packed up and headed out to see a few more parts of PDX – first, back to Powell’s to buy some more awesome books and then to NE Portland to meander and enjoy our last few hours together as a group.
– We grabbed coffee and more deliciousness at North Light, exhausted but content with our trip.
– By the time we got to the airport, we were all thoroughly ready to head back east if only for our own beds.
– But, of course, we had to stop for a couple more beers to taste at Rogue at the airport. It would’ve just felt wrong if we didn’t. Ha!
– I made it home to my kitty and own bed and proceeded to sleep for about 14 hours.
All in All, Everything was Amazing
Sure, we had the struggles that come with being with people for 10 days straight without much of a respite. Plans change, sometimes people haven’t had enough coffee yet and sometimes you accidentally book two nonrefundable rooms at the same time and have to beg the hotel to give you a refund for one of the rooms. It’s all of these things, though, that make each and every moment of the trip amazing and special. What started out as a simple trip to see Kenny became so very much more. It became a way to fill up my entire soul with happiness and adventure.
Thanks so much for stopping by today to go on our big adventure with me. I’ve finally made it through all of the photos from the trip and narrowed it down to the 768 best ones (haha – there were a lot to choose from!). I can’t wait to share my process for organizing big trips and scrapbooking them accordingly with you. I’m super lucky to have a group of tech-savvy friends who all took pictures and wanted to share them with the group. Thanks to Dan, Jake, Jordan and Kenny for contributing photos to this post! You guys are the best.
See you soon with more fun things. Oh, and I hope you’re free Sunday, August 6th at 2 pm Central (Chicago) time, because this is happening:
See you right here on brittaswiderski.com on Sunday! I’ll have over 100 products for sale that I’ve bought over the past few years but now need new homes. It’s time to make room for more! ;) All of the products range from like-new to well-loved condition, and there will be a picture of each item so you can see exactly what it looks like before you commit to buying the item. I’ll have a blog post up when the sale goes live, and the sale will take place on a page on my blog that will have very clear instructions on how to participate. I look forward to seeing you there!
Thanks again for stopping by today. You’re amazing.