Sleepover in Seattle

After spending a week in Oregon, Pat, Becca, and I ventured to Seattle for the weekend for my first visit to Washington.

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It was an action-packed and amazing time in the city…I learned a lot from them from some of their previous trips that makes me want to learn more about the history of Seattle.

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After a seemingly long trip heading North, what trip wouldn’t be complete without a few random pit-stops along the way for some laughs and sustenance?

Doing a little shopping...
Doing a little “shopping”…
Lunch at Beaches... where I was really excited about seeing water and having lunch along the Columbia River right after we crossed into Washington
Lunch at Beaches… where I was really excited about seeing water and having lunch along the Columbia River right after we crossed into Washington

When we finally made it into the city…we were greeted by Captain America and many other characters as we made our way to the hotel. Looks like we picked the same weekend as Comic-Con…where it’s normal to see a power ranger and a Jedi crossing the street together. Perfect.

Captain America crossing the street
Captain America crossing the street

We checked into this great little boutique hotel located about a block from the Public Market called the Moore Hotel. If you ever get a chance to travel to Seattle, I highly recommend it – you will get a unique experience and you can’t beat price for the location. Apparently it can’t be found on any of the he travel search sites (hence the reason why they still had rooms available when we found it).

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Which brings us our “sleepover in Seattle” theme for the weekend, we laughed through the quirks that our room had to offer with a “just the right size” room for 3 and the teeny-tiny sink right next to my bed…and the shared bathrooms down the hall…. (Apparently some rooms do have bathrooms, but we opted for the full experience), in addition to the variable temperatures of warm and hot. A great place for making great memories.

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After we checked into our quaint hotel, we braced for the rain in the rainy city of Seattle and immediately made the quick walk to the Public Market….

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…saw the disgusting wall of gum. Really, this is a “thing” to do and see while here?

Not amused...
Not amused…

Walked around and took in all the sights, sounds, and smells…

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We made our way down to the port/piers for some dinner…

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…and found a carousel, where we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a ride. Why not?! Big smiles and laughter for all…even for the bystanders…ha!

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We ate dinner along the pier – fresh fish and chips of course…

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…continuing our journey of exploring the city as the sun set and the night lights made an appearance…

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…to escape the rain we found a cute gelato place where we all laughed until tears were streaming down faces… This is my favorite laughter-moment that has been documented with these two…

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“Wait for it… wait for it…”
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Laughter ensued…
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Cr-aughter (crying + laughter) begins…

 

What was so funny you ask? If you know all 3 of us then you’ll know it doesn’t take much to have us rolling on the floor laughing with one another…this was just one of those times that will probably never be repeated…or just have Pat tell some ridiculous story and see what happens.

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Pat #wins…

I think I have fallen in love with a city…and would be game for going back anytime.

Flowers available for purchase at the Public Market
Flowers available for purchase at the Public Market

Day 2 in Seattle is up next… … Stay tuned…

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West Coast Wonders…

After leaving Chicago, my next flight took me to the West Coast to visit some more dear friends, Rebecca and Patrick who live in Oregon. The adventure started off right away with a trip to IKEA from the airport in Portland with one of Becca’s students for his first experience… which included lots of laughs and fun finds…

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I’m so excited to spend some quality time with these two for the week!

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I was welcomed warmly and with great attention to detail…

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State College map, a fox, and fun blue vase with purple flowers – all brought a smile to my face
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Minions! Wha…?!

For dinner we walked to one of the closer restaurants to their home and ate some Middle Eastern food at this little gem in their community – yum!

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Pat, Chris, Sara, and Becca at dinner at Bazaar

The next day started off early with a day full of adventures ahead with a day trip with some International students that Becca works with at Oregon State University. Since it’s their spring break this week only a few of them are still in the area and day trips to various places are on the agenda. Becca’s brother is also visiting as he is passing through to his move to Seattle, so we both joined in on the fun for the day… We loaded into the vans and made our first stop at Multnomah Falls…  in the rain…

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Sadly we couldn’t cross the bridge because a big rock had fallen earlier this year and made a rather large hole that prevented anyone from crossing…oops.

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At the next stop we learned all about how electricity is provided for about 900,000 homes in Oregon and Washington from the Bonneville Dam. It was fascinating to learn the history and terminology as we took a tour of this facility and learned about the fish ladders, which sadly at this time of year didn’t have any fish making their way through it right now.

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The fish ladders (not what I originally imagined)
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I played a part in the demo on how the electricity got to the homes… I played the part of the…. light bulb.
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Becca and Sara in the “powerhouse”…
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Clouds surrounding the mountains around the dam

Next, we visited the nearby fish hatchery and saw an assortment of fish – tiny-size and ginormous – the pics don’t really do it justice…

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I think this guy was the 10 ft. sturgeon named Herman

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The sun finally came out once we made it to our next stop at the Vista House for some stunningly beautiful views of the Columbia River…

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The Vista House
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Chris (Becca’s brother), Becca, and Sara

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The next stop took us to Portland where we stopped at a large Asian Supermarket for dinner and shopping…

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We had dinner at Pho Ngon, a Vietnamese Restaurant where I ventured into trying Vietnamese food for the first time… the waitress was adamant on what I should order. I trusted her decision and obliged on the beef noodle soup (which would make my “belly much happier” she noted)… good to know. 🙂

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It was quite a full day and a half and my heart has spilled over with JOY… I am so grateful to be able to spend this time with these friends and enjoy some new adventures with them!

 

Hey Chicago… Thanks for a delightfully fun time!

My next stop brought me to Chicago to visit my friends, Matt & Sarah for the weekend. It was so good to see them since the last time I saw them was at their wedding about 3 months ago. I loved being able to experience their world and explore Chicago with them!

Once I flew into town on Friday, Matt picked me up and we stopped for some lunch and to explore his old neighborhood along the way to Wheaton. We stopped to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s home as well as some amazing homes with stunning architecture.

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For dinner we made our way out for some tasty Chicago deep dish pizza…

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And then settled in at their home with the pups for some low-key evening of movie watching. Aren’t they adorable? I really enjoyed my time with these 2 as well…meet Kisa and Chiaki.

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Kisa
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Chiaki

The next day was full of all sorts of adventures as we made our way to the Windy City of Chicago! Even though it was still chilly it was a beautiful day to get out and explore – I’m so glad spring is just around the corner!

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We made our way to the Willis Tower (formerly Sears tower) and after much patience we finally made our way to the 103rd floor to see some amazing views!

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I loved the glass ledges – they were quite popular!

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After seeing the amazing views from the Willis Tower, we went off to find some lunch and along the way we started a walking art tour. I had some great tour guides who guided us very well to maximize our Chicago city adventure.

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I loved all the fun art along the way…

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I got to try a Chicago dog for lunch for the first time, it was quite the experience! I’m not a fan though…

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We continued to explore some more of the city as we carried on along the walking art tour….

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Matt sliding down a piece of Picasso art sculpture

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We made our way to Millennium Park where there are all kinds of fun things to do and see… like the ever popular bean….or as noted in the art tour, the cloud gate…

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We stopped for some tea and a place to rest our weary legs…I enjoyed some bubble tea of course…

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We continued on to the popular shopping area, the Magnificent Mile where we found this little gem tucked away…

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A cupcake ATM?! What a delightful and fun novelty thing to do in this energetic city! It even had a fun name that I highly approve of…sprinkles. Plus, the cupcake was really good too.

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We quickly made our way back / speed walked to the train after realizing our level of tiredness…decided to call it a day and stayed in for an evening of left over deep dish pizza and another movie (this time Matt got to pick)…I am so grateful for such a delight-FULL day of adventures with these dear friends.

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Sunday started off with making breakfast together…waffles (and delicious tea too)! This is one of my favorite meals and things to do with friends – make breakfast, especially waffles. Queue the song “makin’ bacon pancakes”….which may have been sung during this time. 🙂 my heart is so full…

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We made our way to church and I greatly enjoyed the message about receiving God’s gifts, which recently this has been a season of just that. Quite timely.

After church, Sarah and I went out for some quality time to one of the cute nearby downtown areas for some lunch and coffee and a little bit of shopping.

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The rest of the evening entailed some good quality downtime, spaghetti & wine, and preparing for the week ahead for all….along with an early bedtime. Which I was incredibly grateful for since my sleeping schedule has had me awake so early lately…not sure why my body thinks between 4-6 AM is a good time to wake up during my travels?

Chicago has treated me well and I am so thankful to have been able to spend this time with Matt & Sarah before all of our lives continue with more life-changes – full speed ahead with a grateful and full heart!

Last day of work celebrations

On Friday March 14, I went into the office at the Central PA Convention & Visitors Bureau for my final day of work before leaving for the Peace Corps in June for Moldova. I’ve only been at the Visitor’s Bureau for about 15 months and when I think back and reflect upon my time there, I am overwhelmed with how much I have learned not only about myself but about the tourism industry (which is a LOT of fun) and technology. I don’t think it will really set in until about a week later that I’m not going back… it’s hard to wrap my head around that right now.

On Friday my coworkers blessed me with some pizza, cake, and ice cream for lunch where we shared stories and laughed. I loved how they included the flag of Moldova on the cake!

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After work I met up with two friends and we went to a new restaurant in town called 100 Degrees Hot Pot where we shared in a lot of laughter together…

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Who knew trying to eat Udon noodles with chopsticks would be so difficult? Queue more laughter…

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Then after dinner I met up with more friends for more celebrating and some frozen yogurt at the local Sweet Frog yogurt place…

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I felt so honored that so many were able to come and join in on the final day of work in Central PA.

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In the meantime, I have set out on a month long adventure to travel in the US to visit some dear, far-away friends. I wish I could have been able to make it to ALL the places where friends have relocated to…but hopefully that will happen another time.

I am so grateful for this time to celebrate as well as spend some quality time with loved ones.