It’s hard to believe the trip as we know it ends in just a few days! My mom put it best, though, when she said that it has to end. If it doesn’t end, it wouldn’t feel special; it would feel like work.
We had an excellent weekend in West Seattle. Ryan’s friends, Jake and Jenna, live close to where we were cat sitting, so he was somewhat familiar with the area. We had a leisurely Saturday morning, then headed to Bakery Noveau / California Avenue to explore around noon. We walked up and down the strip, checking out a couple shops including a record store. From there, we drove to Momentum, a bouldering gym.
We hadn’t climbed on plastic rocks since July, but we fared decently. We agreed that this gym’s ratings were slightly easier than that of CityROCK’s in the Springs, but not by too much. We climbed for a couple hours and absolutely beat ourselves up (or at least I did). Though we did not want to spare the expense of the day pass (nearly $30 — outrageous), we made the most of it.
We returned to the house for a little while to shower and hang out, call some folks. Once it was getting closer to sunset, we walked along the path on the Alki Beach coastline to look for food. We were intrigued by a place called Fire Tacos, so we got on the waitlist and eventually grabbed seats at the bar. We were so pleased with this selection. It seemed like their specialty was birria (a sort of Mexican-style brisket), and overwhelmed by options, we decided to start with birria nachos. The plate was absolutely heaping, to the point that we didn’t think we needed any more dinner. Instead, we ordered churros that we had eyed some other diners eating, and left feeling very full and satisfied.
The next morning, we drove over to Jake and Jenna’s for brunch. Jenna is the older sister of Ryan’s best friend, Lance. Both Jake and Jenna work as nurses in a hospital in downtown Seattle, although Jake is also in school for another degree. Both are brilliant and warm and excellent hosts. Jenna baked a Dutch baby, and Jake, a total foodie, was wining and dining us with coffee made with his fancy espresso machine, sampling various honeys and macadamia nuts that he and Jenna had brought back from Hawaii, and chopping up fresh apricot and grapefruit. We had oatmeal with chia seeds, berries, yogurt, walnuts, honey, and macadamia nut oil, and slices of Dutch baby topped with avocado, cream cheese, and flaky sea salt. We honestly felt like we were at a gourmet restaurant. We caught up with the two of them over a couple hours, hearing about their recent travels. They helped us map out a bike route to tour more of Seattle, and we made plans to have dinner that night.
We drove back to the house briefly to pack up, then we walked down to the beach to rent Lime e-bikes. What a phenomenal decision. We cruised to downtown Seattle, biking a little over 7 miles like it was nothing. The bike path there was easy to follow and right along the water the whole time. Biking with the sun shining down, the wind in your hair, and your favorite music in your ear buds makes you feel like you’re in a movie.
Once we made it to the pier, we dismounted and walked north to check out the sculpture garden, as Jenna recommended. From there, we hopped on Lime scooters to get back to Pike Street, since I wanted to see the Pike Place Market. The scooters were a lot slower than the bikes, but they were much more maneuverable in the crowds on the pier. Once we hopped off, we started walking up the backside stairs of the market, and we ended up right at the famous gum wall.
“Did you plan for us to walk up this way?” Ryan asked accusingly, though good-naturedly.
“Nope. I had no idea we’d end up here.”
“You liar.” Ryan is always convinced I know way more than I actually do. I suppose I prefer that than the other way around.
We didn’t linger too long at the market — I just wanted to see it. It was quite busy on a Sunday at midday, and though the food looked delicious, I couldn’t handle the hoards. Instead we walked a block over to Pike Brewing Company and got a beer to watch some of the Cowboys game.
After an hour or so, we proceeded to walk all the way down Pike Street to the Starbucks Roastery Reserve, the original Starbs. While I am a Dunkin’ gal through and through, it was cool to check this place out. It was enormous, with three different barista areas. There was spot to choose your beans and have them ground and brewed; another to order bougie lattes and cappuccinos; another where they were baking fresh pastries and breads, included pizzas on focaccia. We decided we’d get their bougiest pumpkin spice latte, a whiskey-barrel aged beverage. It was $14 and worth every sip.
Next, we crossed the street to get a snack at Mamnoon, a Lebanese place that Jake had recommended (and knowing the foodie he is, it had to be good). We simply got pita with a “muhammara” spread and dolmeh, which are like Greek dolmas, but oh my word. Both small dishes were incredible. I have never eaten a spread so flavorful and immaculate, and the pitas tasted so fresh and authentic. The dolmeh were gone in seconds. Thank you, Jake.
We now had to bike our way back to Alki Beach, so we rented more e-bikes. We were in the heart of the city, and getting back to the trail proved to be a little perilous. Ryan was cruising down these busy city streets while I feared for my life. My blood pressure dropped significantly once we were safely back to the path.
We grabbed the car once back at the beach and drove back to Jake and Jenna’s. Jake ordered a pizza from a local chain they like, Pagliacci, and the four of us walked together to pick it up. They clearly had a system with this pizza, because as soon as we got back, Jake pulled out olive oil, balsamic, salt, and pepper, and told us how he tops the pizza to “level it up.” Jenna, meanwhile, made us all salad, which my vegetable-deprived self was super grateful for.
After another hour of chatting and eating, we departed, knowing we’d be back on Wednesday. Ryan drove us to the west side of Olympia, where we’d camp. The campsite was pleasant enough, though we didn’t stay for more than 8 hours. We had our third Trusted Housesitter job in Lacey, on the east side of Olympia, so we got up early and made our way to the house, where three pups awaited us: Otto (15 years old!), Margot (9), and Molly (foster pup, age unknown). The pups are all very mellow and sleep most of the time, letting themselves out of the doggie door.
Monday proved to be a weird day. Not bad, just weird. Both of us were under-slept from transitioning to the dog house, but while Ryan took a nap, I couldn’t fall back asleep. (I refer to Ryan as “siesta boy,” since he can sleep pretty much anywhere, anytime.) I eventually cut my losses and went for a long run and made myself lunch, and Ryan followed suit. By mid-afternoon, we were ready to go explore, so we headed to Olympia.
Though Olympia is technically the capital of Washington, it looked completely run down. Everything about it seemed dated and abandoned. We drove by the capital building, which was impressive, but we had no desire to park and meander the nearby streets. We pulled an audible, as we do, and headed to a local park. This always proves to be the way to go; Squaxin Park had enormous, moss-covered trees and it felt like we were in a jungle. We hiked around for a little over an hour, up and down steep hills and boardwalks cut through the forest.
For the rest of the evening, we cooked up dinner, baked cookies, and watched Disney’s Inside Out. I cried at this film too, of course.
As odd and slow as everything felt, we realized that we really should be taking the opportunity to just rest. We have some significant travel and festivities ahead of us, and it wouldn’t hurt us to mellow out a little.