Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lavender Festival!

Last week when my sister innocently asked me what I was doing that Saturday, I just as innocently replied… nothing? Which resulted in an epic 14-hour trip to the lavender festival in Sequim.

It all started with the Edmonds/Kingston ferry, which had a line longer than I had ever seen it, all the way to Robinhood lanes for those of you familiar with the area. It was so long, in fact, I didn’t believe it was actually the ferry line until it was too late and then, dear readers, I cut. The designated ferry holding space hadn’t even started yet so it’s not like I went all the way to the front – I just eased my way over as soon as I realized that it was, in fact, the line. Cue the woman behind me FREAKING OUT, honking a bunch, and then very clearly calling the “Be a hero – report line cutters!’ hotline when we passed the sign. I called the number too, to defend myself against the crazy passive aggressive lady calling me out. Was it a little rude? Sure. But there were definitely people cutting waaaaay farther up than we did. I let my karma take the notch and we only had to wait an hour for the ferry. Here we are, shivering outside on the ferry (Tessa kindly loaned her sister a hoodie since I had dressed optimistically instead of realistically).

Once off at Kingston it was another 30 miles to Sequim. About 5 miles of this was inexplicable bumper-to-bumper traffic which ended up being due to a roadside farm with its own traffic cops that were apparently not very good at directing traffic. Then it was smooth sailing and clear skies to Sequim – it sits in a rain shadow and only gets about 10-20 inches of rain a year, and what had been a foggy, cold morning turned to sunny blue as soon as we got there . . . four hours after we left Seattle. Yikes. We immediately noticed lavender growing everywhere, even along the side of the highway; clearly it grows well in the rain shadow.

Of course we were starving and not thinking straight so we followed the lemmings onto a shuttle which languished in downtown traffic, only to find that we could have easily walked the few blocks from where we parked. Alas, we finally got to the street fair part of the festival.

We were surprised to find not the lavender-infused food we had expected but instead your standard, run-of-the-mill fair food like gyros, strawberry shortbread, and Vietnamese noodles. We did find lavender lemonade and made two Arnold Palmers out of that plus some rosemary iced tea (yum). Then we found the only food stand without a line which also happened to serve the only lavender-inspired food: a perfect piece of salmon grilled with spatzl pasta, sweet-and-sour cabbage with lavender, and fresh pesto. We followed that up with a dozen mini donuts seasoned with lavender sugar. The festival had started! Here’s Tessa showcasing our delicious lunch:

Next we wandered the street fair part which was outrageously tacky. Take your average fair tackiness and increase that about 50% - seriously, there was some talent behind this stuff. Tessa did find a gorgeous leather bracelet with lavender etched into it, plus there was an air plant stand, so there were some redeeming elements.

The real highlight of the lavender festival are the farms you can tour. There are 6 total and each one has a set of dedicated shuttle buses to and from the street fair. The first one we hit up was called Purple Haze and is supposed to be the most famous lavender farm in the world. Here’s a shot of part of the farm:

It was much more chill than the street fair but still fairly crowded which we found out when we tried to get in line for ice cream – crazy long wait and I promised Tessa I’d take her for honey lavender ice cream at Full Tilt sometime soon if we didn’t have to stand in line.

Instead, I bought an adorable hat and we each got henna tattoos. Then we laid in the grass between lavender fields and just enjoyed the sunshine and the fresh flowery smell. For some reason poppies were grown among the lavender plants at Purple Haze, a beautiful red accent against the various shades of purple. (For those of you who thought there was only one variety of lavender… think again.) Here’s Tessa in the hat:

It was getting pretty late and the farms closed at 6 (or so we were told) so we hopped the shuttle back but smartly got off at our car, choosing to drive to the next farm instead. There was plenty of parking and it set us up to leave right when we were ready. (Others were not so smart and when we left the second farm there was a group of about 20 waiting for a shuttle... except they didn't seem to realize the shuttles had stopped running 45 minutes ago. Luckily the farm was close enough to the street fair to walk, but they didn't show signs of budging.)

The second farm we checked out was called Cedarbrook and it was much, much more chill. Fewer people and a calmer, older vibe in general. There was a photography company there trying to promote itself and took free photos that they then emailed to us. Here’s ours:

Then we sat down at their outdoor café (which was open until 8) and ordered mint lavender chocolate iced teas and lavender crème brule and enjoyed more of the late afternoon sun and the ambience. The waitstaff was clearly undertrained and overworked and were pretty frazzled, especially since they were out of just about everything, but it was lovely all the same. We chatted up a super nice couple next to us before taking one last wander through the lavender fields. We waited too long to pay the $5 “U Pick” fee to snip enough lavender stalks to fill a zip-tie but we just did a little renegade picking and were otherwise happy with our many lavender purchases, made at both farms: soap, essential oil, massage oil, bubble bath, culinary lavender, and lavender sachets.

I wanted to drive up the hill to get a view of the surrounding mountains and water and after a few hilarious tries to take a timed self-portrait we were ready to roll at around 7:30.

We ran into traffic again, this time even more inexplicable because it dissipated 2 miles before the farm that had caused the holdup the first time. Then we passed ominous signs threatening a long wait for the Edmonds ferry and got a little stressed trying to figure out if we should take the Bainbridge/Seattle ferry, drive around to Tacoma, or just stick to the Edmonds plan, which is what we ultimately did.

A few miles outside Kingston we still hadn’t slowed down; the shoulder wait lane began and wasn’t used; we got as far as the pay booth (I didn’t know you had to pay coming AND going on this ferry route – bummer) when the woman told us we had a ‘50/50’ shot at making the 9:10 ferry; otherwise it would be 11 pm. Ohhhhhkay, we said. Suffice to say we were a mite grumpy. “You know,” I said to Tessa, “there’s not much difference between the last car to get on and the first car not to. It’ll be a karmic sign either way.”

They started loading lane after lane after lane. I could see how full the boat was getting and hadn’t lost hope when our lane started to move. Score! But, no sooner had we started than we stopped again. Our hearts sank. We sat… and sat… and sat… and then the cars in front of us started to move. We were the very last car in our lane. Would we make it? Would we make it?? …. YES! We were literally the last car and the ferry was already pulling away by the time I had turned my engine off. We started screaming and dancing and most of the ferry workers thought we were nuts, but one guy totally understood and joined in our celebration. Here’s my car with the sun still setting behind it:

Instead of getting on a ferry at 11, we got home at 11… 14 hours after we’d departed that morning. Totally worth it but now that we’ve been once, our takeaway is: go to the lavender farms any 1 of the other 150 days of the year they’re open!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Contact the Seattle City Council about the Tunnel

The following is reproduced with permission from my always thoughtful and well-informed friend Justin. If interested, you need to act NOW since the council is very close to a vote!


Hello Friends,

As you know, our political and business establishment has chosen to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a multi-billion dollar tunnel. The City Council has calcified around this position, despite the huge environmental and financial risks, and despite the fact that voters decisively rejected a similar tunnel when it was offered to them. This mega project will make Seattle the only city in the country to rebuild a major freeway along its waterfront---and will mean we have lost a once in a generation opportunity to change the way we live in and get around our city. We are all committed to moving toward a more sustainable way of living in our lifetimes, and this project represents one of our chances to put that commitment into action.

If you care about this issue at all, now is a critical time to do something about it.

This email is to urge you to CONTACT OUR CITY COUNCILPEOPLE, who are preparing to sign contracts with the State to approve work on the tunnel. There is a burgeoning opposition to the tunnel, and it is clear that the Council is starting to feel the pressure. In my phone calls to their staff, I sense growing exasperation with the political consequences they will face if they move ahead. But by this point, I'm just one of the crackpots they hear from all the time. But're just an average citizen!

In other words...NOW IS A REALLY OPPORTUNE TIME TO LET THE COUNCIL KNOW YOU DON'T SUPPORT THE TUNNEL. Two important amendments to the contracts have been proposed. One from the Mayor would make sure the City is not responsible for cost overruns. The other, proposed by Councilperson O'Brien, would allow the City to opt out of the contract if bids come in way over budget. LET THE COUNCIL KNOW THAT IF THEY INSIST ON MOVING FORWARD, IT IS ONLY PRUDENT TO INCLUDE THESE TWO AMENDMENTS IN ORDER TO SAFEGUARD OUR CITIZENS. For more information on the huge environmental and financial risks, read this recent Stranger article (, or see my few bits of info below.

Focus on calling:

Tom Rasmussen, chair of the Transportation Committee

Nick Licata (usually a reliable lefty, for some reason not reliable on this, but certainly the most easily swayed)

Richard Conlin, Council President and die-hard tunnel supporter and erstwhile "environmentalist." Also totally disingenuous on the cost overrun issue.

But if you've got time, go ahead and call them's fun!
Jean Godden (also on Transportation committee):, 684.8807
Tim Burgess (also on Transportation committee):, 684.8806
Sally Bagshaw (big supporter):, 684.8801
Bruce Harrell:, 684.8804
Sally Clark:, 684.8002

-We all agree that we must take immediate steps to reduce our carbon emissions, and a brand new freeway moves us in the opposite direction.
-An alternative proposal---making improvements throughout the surface grid, fixing an I-5 bottleneck, and a comprehensive investment in public transit---was deemed feasible by the State, and costs far less.

-The tunnel is the most expensive option the State considered. All told, it will cost more than $4 billion.
-The City's portion of that (just under a billion) is equal to all the levies we pay (the Parks levy, the Housing Levy, Families and Education Levy, etc) combined. Do we really value 1.5 miles of highway as much as we value parks, education, services for the homeless, and more?

-For the first time in state history, the Legislature has said that the citizens of Seattle are responsible for the cost overruns on a State highway project.
-An Oxford study found that 90% of tunnel megaprojects go over budget, with an average of around 30% over. For this tunnel, that would be hundreds of millions of dollars on our backs.
-I've personally called each of the councilmembers several times to ask what will hapen if there are cost overruns. I have yet to hear a plan. They say the law isn't actually the law, or that there magically won't be any overruns.

-The machine to bore the tunnel will be the largest ever built---and will be as big as one of the ferries out on Puget Sound.
-A similar machine has been stuck in a similar tunnel in similar soils in Snohomish County for a year now---resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Two Glorious Days at Mount Rainier

(Warning: long blog ahead, but filled with photos!)

Last weekend I had the privilege of going to Mount Rainier for the first time in my entire life. Those of you gasping in awe – please keep in mind we were a cabin and not a camping family. Summer weekends were spent at our friends’ place on Lake Tapps swimming, boating, hot tubbing, and eating junk food.

So, when my friend A (aka Desomniac) invited me to attend his sister’s 30th birthday camping bash on the mountain I accepted with glee, even though it was six months in advance. When the weekend finally arrived we tended to some basic logistics, I made a ton of pre-prepared food, and N (aka the TwobyFourster), Desomniac and I were off.

We left on a Friday afternoon and were sure we’d run into traffic. But we avoided I-5 altogether, taking Rainier until it turned into the 167 and then merging onto a few other highways whose numbers I currently forget but whose wide open, traffic-less vistas I do not. The drive was beautiful, and the closer to the mountain we got the giddier I became. Once we entered the park itself I was exclaiming left and right about how excited I was and how incredible it all was.

We took an accidental wrong turn which allowed us to climb to a higher point ending in lake Tipsoo, still covered in snow this time of year. A quick backtrack had us at Ohanapecosh camp ground on the southeast side of the mountain and our sweet spot on the A loop right next to the river. All told our group had about 6 camp sites, and the people who had arrived before us had dinner all ready. We quickly set up camp, gorged on chili and then s’mores, and turned in relatively early. How cute is my car in the wilderness?

The next morning we had a huge breakfast of pancakes, hash browns, bacon, and coffee. Then, two carloads set out for Paradise, the most famous and popular destination on Mount Rainier, located on the southwest side of the mountain. We cruised up the gorgeous roads – passing a zillion bikers on the way, both motorcycles and bicycles – and were ridiculously lucky to get two adjacent parking spots. This spared us having to park farther away and take the free shuttle up.

It was a beautiful, sunshiney morning and we stopped to take a few pictures of the super-up-close mountain from the parking lot:

Then we checked out the newly remodeled visitor center. It had a pretty cool scale model of the mountain with lights showing different pathways. It also had some great interactive elements that were designed for kids but fun for adults as well. Here is a shot from the outside:

Since it’s been such a cold season, the trails at Paradise were still covered in snow. Here is our group braving the trails, including a 3.5 year old:

Now, those of you who know me as the ‘crazy no-pants lady’ will believe that I hike in a skirt and chaco sandals. So, I hiked in the snow in a skirt and chaco sandals.

My feet were red and burning for a few minutes once off the snow but they were certainly dry much faster than everyone else’s!

We paused for a few minutes in the lodge at Paradise which includes the predicable but always pleasing exposed wooden beam structure, plus these awesome chairs:

On the way back down we stopped at some of the scenic pull-offs including Reflection lake...

...Box Canyon which features the river cutting impressively through the rocks about a hundred feet beneath you...

...and Narada falls where we had lunch:

When we got back to the campsite we chilled by the river, played a rousing game of Settlers of Katan, and then ate a gigantic barbecue dinner:

After that we went to the nearby amphitheater for the park ranger talk. That night’s lecture was about water and how it interacts with the mountain and it was pretty interesting, largely because he kept it to a reasonable 40 minutes.

That night 2x4 and I stayed up late watching the stars and the smoldering fire embers and I actually managed to get six hours of uninterrupted sleep before rolling out of my sleeping bag at 6 am. I took a chair down by the river, wrote in my journal, did some yoga, and was generally peaceful for about 2 hours before the rest of the crew woke up.
Desomniac, 2x4 and I decided to hike to Silver falls before breakfast, a lovely 2.5 mile loop whose pinnacle are some fantastic falls. They were especially powerful that day due to the recent increase in temperature finally melting some of the snow.

We took this impressive trio of shots along the way:

When we got back, an identical and equally giant breakfast was underway and the sun was breaking free from the clouds to give us another beautiful day. Afterward we packed up camp and checked out the Ohanapecosh visitor center, which is actually quite expansive.

Then we started the journey to Seattle with a detour to Sunrise on the way. Here is a shot of the Olympics just a short distance from Sunrise:
Sunrise is a smaller and less popular spot than Paradise but, in my opinion, no less beautiful. The visitor center is closed until next year but they had a store stocked with some pretty fabulous merchandise, all of which I managed to resist. Here's the store with the trails in the background:
The trails at Sunrise were also still under snowpack, but we did less snow walking this time, venturing only as far as a picnic table island – the entire ‘lunch area’ was under snow – and hanging out in the sun for awhile before getting back into our cars and hitting the road for home. Here's the picnic table area:

Before heading back I took this totally dorky shot which the ranger had told kids they could do to simulate what the mountain looked like before it blew its top many years ago:

As we headed back to Seattle, Desomniac told me that I'd seen just about everything you can see on Rainier by car. Nice! The only downfall was that the meadows were not in bloom. Now that I’ve been to Rainier I can’t wait to go back and I already have a trip planned for late August when I can see the mountain in all its flowering glory. Until we meet again...

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Whirlwind Seattle Update

Before you say it, allow me: I suck! I know I’ve dropped the blog ball but it has way more to do with an insane work deadline and way less to do with my time in Seattle being somehow less blog-worthy than my time spent elsewhere. Here’s a whirlwind update of what I’ve done in the past month-ish.

Aerial silks

I found quite the aerial community upon my return to Seattle and took a few classes in West Seattle before enrolling in a 12-week program at SANCA in Georgetown. Between doing silks two hours a week and lifting a 25 pound baby about 100 times a week I’m getting positively ripped.

Ray and Jen’s 10 year anniversary/wedding

My friends from college Ray and Jen celebrated their 10 year anniversary on Friday, June 4 with a huge party that culminated in their getting married. It was a beautiful event and the highlight was definitely watching people smack the holy living hell out of the world’s largest piñata, hand-made by Jen’s mom. A close second would be Jen’s custom-made dress, though I was also very moved by their vows, especially the part about not only loving each other but genuinely LIKING each other. So awesome. You can check out their blog here.

Seattle International Film Festival

I love film festivals and SIFF is especially great, though this year I learned about STIFF, “Seattle’s Truly Independent Film Festival” which goes on for 1 week during SIFF, which I think is a testament to the Seattle community’s dedication to independent arts. My sister Tessa was a full-time house coordinator volunteer which got her into everything free and me some free tickets, and I saw a bunch of movies I liked. My favorites were all documentaries: one on Hugh Heffner (who knew we had Heff to thank for most of our civil liberties?); one on an aging gay couple living in Paris; and, the true runaway, a New Zealand film called This Way of Life. It made me proud to be human and if you can, you should watch it. (Note: If you want to see it, do NOT watch the trailer! It spoils the whole movie.)

Annie and a daytrip to Portland

My dear friend Annie flew into Portland from LA for a quickie trip and made her way up to Seattle for an even quicker catch-up dinner with friends. The next day I drove her and her friend Nathaniel back to Portland with a stop in Olympia on the way so she could see some other friends and Nathaniel and I could try out my newly acquired circus fabric at a local park. Annie always packs so much into a visit but it’s a testament to the value she places on her friendships and I can’t fault her for it. The two of us were able to spend some quality time along Portland’s waterfront before I drove back that same night to Seattle. I just realized typing this that I totally forgot Annie’s birthday so here is a very public happy birthday and apologies for not being a better memory-based friend!

Here’s Annie in Portland in front of one of the Rose Parade floats we stumbled upon:


I love, love, love the Solstice parade and fair in Fremont. This year was particularly great. The weather threatened but never rained, I got to see the naked bikers, I played flip cup with Robyn and her friends in the beer garden, bought an indispensable $15 bag, went to a variety of parties including Jacob’s annual barbecue where I got to see lots of good friends, and spent some quality time with Tessa. It was cold but good. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to mention that it has been cloudy, cold, and rainy for going on 8 weeks. Apparently we’re supposed to hit the 80s tomorrow…

Clothing swap

We had a clothing swap at our house which involved a group of well-dressed women getting together with their old clothes, laying them out in various piles, trying a bunch of things on, then eating brunch and displaying everyone's new wardrobe items. It is such a fun idea and ours was a total success I hope to repeat twice a year – often enough to get constant free wardrobe additions and to force a purge.

At the end of it I took four huge bags of clothes to goodwill. Everyone got new clothes they’ll wear and got rid of ones they won’t – win win. Some people literally walked away with an entirely new wardrobe. Highlights from my pile include a vintage, knee-length, red corduroy jacket; a rain cape that makes me feel like I am an elf in Lord of the Rings; a yellow skirt and two beautiful dresses, plus several tops and a purse.

Here we are pre-swap:

More clothes:

Still more…

4th of July

This year’s fourth was identical to last year’s, and that continuity was oddly comforting. I started at Brandi and David’s country bumpkin affair before migrating up to my brother and sister-in-law’s annual party wherein he gets to realize his childhood dreams of making pyromania an event enjoyed by all. He is seriously committed to his fireworks show and ups the ante each year. He says that next year he’s going to do it all with an electric something-or-other which sounds like it will automate the entire show… here’s a link to last year’s show. This year’s video is pending, which I partially (and very poorly) helped shoot.

World Cup

I include this because it’s a very real event for a large portion of the world’s population right now, but frankly I’ve neglected it this time around. I have a hard time getting into it without a group of enthusiastic friends or a dense urban core pulling me in, and I don’t have either of those in Seattle.
I did watch the Ghana/Uruguay game and was disappointed by Uruguay’s lack of integrity with that overtime goal block, partly because I really wanted the only African team left to advance and partly because Uruguay was always a shining beacon of decency and order for me in the Southern cone. Once Brasil, Paraguay, and Argentina were knocked out (Latin America’s history-making was short-lived) it was up to Uruguay to make the continent proud, but I was thrilled that the Netherlandish underdogs kicked some Uruguay butt. Confidential to Uruguay: Karma's a bitch. I'm rooting for Spain in the Spain v. Germany game in the hopes that we can have two teams that have never won the World Cup vying for first place.

What didn't make the cut

I’ve left tons of things out like a hike with my sisters, some other parties, great meals with friends, a bonfire at Alki, and other titillating details on my full life back in Seattle. Sorry for the quick and dirty, and also sorry there aren’t more photos – more often than not I’ve had my video camera lately and we all know how bad I am at editing those together.

On the horizon

This weekend I’m going camping on Mount Rainier with Adam, Nick, and some of Adam’s family and their friends. The week after that my friends Adam, Lydia, and Elizabeth come into town for the girls’ 10 year high school reunion, and depending on how things shake out at work I might have all or part of the month of August free to undertake a West coast road trip. Details pending.