Thursday, January 08, 2009

Winter in the Northwest

I've been back in Seattle for about 3 weeks and in many ways it feels like I never left. It's the winter (again), I'm at my parents' house (again), I'm working in the Apex office (again), and I'm driving the Jeep that's been in the family since the mid 1990s. It's not bad, it's normal. Well, other than the record rain fall we've seen in the last two days that's busily flooding the low lands in the area. Some spots have even been declared federal emergency zones. It's ugly and all those poor people affected by the flooding are in my heart.

I was finally able to have my welcome home celebration which was a lot of fun. Everyone seemed to enjoy their souvenirs and Kate's pub is definitely a new favorite spot. Not long after it was the New Year's Eve Eve party thrown by the ever-fabulous Ruzzo sisters, and that was a really fun night. On New Year's Eve itself Mark invited a few of us to his houseboat on Lake Union. It was cozy until we went on top to watch the Spaceneedle fireworks, at which point we were pummeled by rain and wind. I admit I didn't make it through the entire show, though I did love seeing all the boats passing by with their Christmas lights strung high; I felt like I was in Sleepless in Seattle.

On New Year's weekend I visited Amber (think back to the post about her visiting me in Chile) who is living on Orcas Island these days. We had a fantastic time and I'm so glad I made time for the trip. It's truly a priviledge to live so close to so much natural beauty, and the San Juan islands are among my favorite places in the world. I also adore any excuse to ride on ferries and was standing outside even in the rain and wind, breathing in the fresh air. Here's the dock at Anacortes (for all you non-northwesters, the sky looks like this 6 months out of the year):

My first night (New Year's day) we went to some natural spring hot tubs and had some fabulous hippie gourmet pizza while listening to local artists jam on the open mic. It was a very 'island experience'. The next day was the first (and so far only) day the sun has been out since I arrived back in the states, and we took advantage of it by touring the entire island including camp Orkila. Look, sun!
That night we cooked a Thanksgiving feast as part of 'project pantry' to use as much food as possible in the house before the owners get home (she and two friends are house-sitting, a common winter activity on the island). Yes, they had a turkey in the freezer.

Amber also inspired me to rekindle an old desire to learn to play an instrument when she showed me her new baritone ukulele. It's like a mini guitar, has a lovely sound, and is much easier to play than the guitar (which was frustrating when I tried, briefly, to learn to play it years ago). The baritone is the biggest of the four sizes and the closest in sound to the guitar. My birthday present to myself was my own baritone ukulele, courtesy of the extremely helpful staff at the Trading Musician in Ravenna. I start lessons tomorrow and am so excited! Here's a picture of the one I bought, a Lanikai which is a nice mid-priced brand that I got a heck of a deal on:

My birthday was on Monday and it was pretty low key. It was also my first day back at Apex and they humored me with a happy hour at Boka downtown, one of my favorite spots. This Saturday is the bigger celebration and we're going to karaoke in the international district, should be a riot.

Otherwise I've been busy eating all my favorite long lost cuisines but still have a few to catch up on (Ethiopian, dim sum, and Vietnamese) and a lot of restaurants that I need to revisit. I never forgot how much I love happy hour and there are so many in Seattle that I used to frequent, so now it's a matter of talking everyone else into going to happy hour with me. It's normal to get into hybernation mode this time of year but I plan to stay as active as possible.

I always intended this to be a travel blog, so until I take another trip I'm going to leave it be. I promise to post again once I leave Seattle! Trips on the horizon include time on the east coast this spring and San Fransisco and Los Angeles this summer, so don't go too far. It's been a pleasure to blog for all of my readers and I look forward to writing again when the time is right.

p.s. I've posted a new set of photos on Picasa from my winter so far - check them out!


Tessa said...

Bethie, I like how I haven't even had dim sum in China, yet you had places to eat it in Seattle. What gives?!
Also, we could start a band when I get back, since we'll both be hot chicks with guitars (or guitar like instruments).
Come visit Hong Kong NOW! PS There is a desert you can get on the streets that is literally a waffle and peanut butter. It is so you.

Tessa said...

*DESSERT my bad

Sunshine said...

I'm glad you're back posting :-D I'll read it all tomorrow & make a proper comment! Love u, miss you ELIIIIII :-P

carrola29 said...

oh, Orcas, beautiful orcas. Sun or not, it's incredible. . .actually the hotsprings are always better when you're retreating from cold wet weather! Glad you're making the rounds- i'm too jealous to comment about the food though (had my first DECENT-not good, just decent- salad when we were in Vina for NYE. Talk about a freakin' challenge.