Vacation, Part 1: Seattle and Whidbey Island

Wow.  This has been the most amazing vacation.  Probably since we’re trying to pass ourselves as from Oregon!  This is because our SUV has Oregon plates so anytime either one of us did something stupid of the car (hypothetically speaking of course!), we’d shout out, “We’re from Oregon!”  Oh inside jokes…hilarious!
So, we got up early on the 4th of July and drove to the airport.  The flight was smooth and we got in a little early, yay!  We went to the Avis counter where we got a pretty sweet upgrade- we think it’s because I’m going to finish the vacation in Portland and they want to get the car back.  It’s a Chevy Captiva, a sort of mini-SUV.  It’s awesome! I also think the guy liked me a bit.  When he asked what car I wanted, I said, “The cheapest one.”  To which he replied, “Anything with four wheels?”
“Exactly.”  I also then proceeded to explain how I drive such a POS that any rental car is a step up.  So, anyway, by the time we left the counter, Ali and I were besties.  SMS and I saw the car and were totally stoked!

1. SMS at the Pike’s Market Gum Wall, 2. SMS outside the pop-up glasses shop and photo booth looking
less than amused, 3. Our photo booth strip- sexy glasses!

First, we went to Seattle and headed for Pike’s Market.  SMS was starving and I wasn’t much better so we gave up on Elliot’s Oyster House and went to The Fisherman’s Restaurant, which was clearly a tourist trap but did the job.  The oysters and fish were good and we were fed.  The servers were nice and the best part was, we got the best tip for another oyster place, which we went to on our way back through Seattle.

After lunch, we went to a cute letterpress shop.  Then, I bought a small gift for Laddie from Ugly Baby and LaRu.  It was a little shop shared by two artists.  The stuff was pretty cool but it’s funny- around the time of a move, I usually view cute house accessories as more shit to move rather than works of art.  Hmmm, now that I think about it, Laddie is moving soon…maybe this won’t be the biggest hit of a visitor’s gift!  

Next, we walked through Pike’s Market.  The fish throwers were closed for the holiday but we bought flowers for Nicole and Joe.  Then we checked out Beecher’s Cheese Shop and the cheese-making process.  Afterwards, we bought a dozen cupcakes to-go, one cupcake to eat there and I got salted caramel cupcake ice cream- yum!

1. The Civic Band on the 4th of July, 2. Swimming salmon in the ladder
SMS and I made a stop at the Ballard locks on the way out of town which was so cool!  We loved it!  We saw the Civic Band playing patriotic tunes for the 4th and we saw the Locks in action, which are pretty incredible considering the forces behind moving such large amount of water and how strong the gates must be to move through the water.  We also looked at the salmon ladder, created to help the migrating salmon.  Pretty awesome!
1. Gearing up for Roman Candles, 2. SMS firing away 3. America’s finest 4. Panorama from Joe and Nicole’s deck
Then it was off to Whidbey Island!  The drive wasn’t too bad apart from some traffic around Everett.  Joe and Nicole’s BBQ was in full swing.  The view from their deck was AMAZING and SMS and I had the best time.  The party guests were mainly squadron mates of Joe’s and their wives.  We talked to several of them.  We got to talk to Joe and Nicole a bit, although we caught up more the next day.  As the sun went down, people up and down the shore were busy lighting fireworks.  It was awesome and I’m fairly certain illegal.  Our group had several fireworks, which were so much fun to light off.  We all got a Roman Candle and shot it off while holding it, which was so stupid and SO FUN!   I definitely paused for a second when I considered that MY ENTIRE CAREER is based on using my hands but then…whee!  Fireworks time!   What was really stupid (but hilarious) were the guys who pointed the Roman candles at each other and fired away.  Then the guys shot off a bunch of “mortars.”  Finally, and thankfully for our well-being, it was time for the real show which was over Oak Harbor, which was amazing.  Beautiful fireworks and a really lengthy show.  Despite all the illegal fireworks up and down the shore, the real show was double the size and really terrific.
1. Joe and I outside the Cessna 2-5 (top to bottom) 2. Joe, 3. SMS, 4. Me, 5. Joe and SMS
The next day, we went down to the beach at low tide with Joe, Nicole and Reese the dog.  The dog loved it and it was really cool to walk out along the low tide flats.  I even dug up a few clams but put them back.  Although SMS and I meant to leave early, our plans were waylaid when we decided it would be awesome to get flown around in a Cessna by Joe.  And it was!  It was so cool.  I can’t believe my younger brother is able to chauffeur us around by private plane!  The views were amazing.  We stopped for lunch at Friday Harbor, which was really cool although it set us back time-wise thanks to island-time but it was ok.  The company was great and it was a really unique experience.  I loved it!
After returning to Whidbey, we got on the road.  I managed to cross the border with my military id and leave paperwork, thank goodness.  This is going to sound really dumb but I sent my passport in about 2 weeks ago for my name change in order to get ready for Japan.  I completely forgot that rules have changed over the years and a passport is now needed for Canada.  By the time I remembered, my passport was already gone in non-expedited fashion and it was already really short-fuse.  I looked on the TSA website and they said active duty ID on orders was ok so I just crossed my fingers and *phew,* no problems at all.
We got up to Squamish after STUPID SIRI took us through downtown Vancouver on the tail-end of rush hour.  Boo.  We hiked to the base of the Great Wall so SMS could scope it out and then we went into town to the Howe Sound Brewery and Inn.  We ran into Eric and Angela and discussed the next day’s plans.  SMS and I then got a quick bite to eat before bed.  The brewery had great food.  I had the most amazing Nicoise salad with amazingly seasoned trout, delicious potatoes, yummy asparagus, olives, arugula, perfectly hard-boiled egg and a lovely dill dressing.
Then it was bedtime to rest up for the day of big rock ahead of us!

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