Nan does PNW! (a guest post by Shannon)

April 4, 2011

Hellloooo….this is Shannon.

Kami’s always talking about Washington so she asked me to post my own trip report of my visit to the PNW for a different view. Here goes!

On Saturday, March 26, I woke up early to head to the airport. Andy dropped me off and within 10 minutes, I was at my gate waiting. If you’ve ever been to the DFW airport, you know that’s HUGE. Nothing quick happens at that airport. This was my first time flying Virgin America and I was really excited to try out a new airline because I’m a travel nerd. The staff at the gate was really fun like Southwest Airlines staff usually is.

On board the flight, I was excited about the TVs on the backs of each seat. From there, you could listen to music, pay to see a movie, view a Google Map of the flight and order food. Most people seemed to be falling asleep and since I was really tired, I decided to give it a shot. I’ve never been able to do that and after dozing off and falling forward over and over, I’m going to go back to not sleeping on planes.

I had a layover in San Francisco, a city I’ve never visited but have been drawn to for many years.

At the gate, they were looking for volunteers to check their bags since it was a full flight and they feared there wouldn’t be enough room in the overhead bins. They said there would be extra privileges for people who checked their bags. I texted Kam to see what she thought and she said to go for it. After checking my bag, I realized that the extra privilege was the ability to board between first class and coach so maybe not worth it.

On this flight, I sat next to a woman who looked to be in her 70s. I’m “that” girl on flights who will talk to you. I’ve met the most interesting people while traveling and will always attempt to strike up a conversation. Sometimes it works and sometimes people aren’t willing to talk. Luckily, this lady was a willing victim participant. She’s a geneticist currently working in Singapore and on her way to visit her daughter in the Seattle area. She got her doctorate and had a career in a time when almost all moms stayed home with their children. Women like her fascinate me because they were really pioneers. She told a story of applying for a grant while in college and when she went to meet with the committee regarding the grant, they told her that she had to leave because she was 8 months pregnant and nobody would want to look at her. (This is why whenever somebody plays the hypothetical “what year would you travel back to?” game, I never answer. Why would I want to lose rights?)

After our flight, Ms. Geneticist Scientist Lady and I went to get our bags and Kam and I began texting so we’d know where to meet up. After finally getting my spontaneously checked bag, I found Kam outside. Yea! Finally! It’s cold! OMG!

I’d left 80+ degree temps and it was in the 40s in Washington. I’m not good at cold temperatures. At all. But I knew the weather would be like that so the layers of clothing were packed to make it more comfortable.

Kam and I had plans to meet with a couple we know from Twitter but their daughter had to be taken to the ER that afternoon so they were understandably unavailable to meet us for our dinner reservation. We decided to head to the Pike Place Market area of Seattle. I love farmer’s markets and big cities so this was an awesome way to begin my visit. We wandered along looking at all the fresh produce and gorgeous flowers for sale. Kam had Flat Stanley in her backpack so that she could take pictures for Kristin’s son, Ethan. Flat Stanley had a fun time at The Market.

I asked Kam if we could have dinner in The Market area, right on the water. We found a place and warmed up with some authentic clam chowder and crab cakes at Sound View Cafe.

View from our table

On the way out, I bought a bouquet of flowers to take back to Kam’s house and we started the drive to Anacortes.

We got to Kam’s house and played some Just Dance 2 (such a fun game! also, sweaty!) and got our backpacks ready to go for the next day. We had a ferry to catch early the next morning, headed for Victoria, B.C.

(I’ve typed over 700 words already and we’re only on the travel day. Although it’s super long, this is why I try to type reports right when returning home from a trip. You can’t remember this level of detail after time has passed.)

Sunday morning we got ourselves packed up and ready to go with only our backpacks to take on our overnight stay in Victoria, B.C.

Reaghan took this pic of us before we left to catch the ferry. One of us had a bit harder time w/the idea of carrying only a backpack for an overnight stay than the other.

We got to the port in Anacortes to take the Washington Ferry to Sidney, B.C. This was the first day of the season that the ferry was running this route so we got really lucky on our timing (especially since Victoria is on my list of 10 places I want to visit).

We found a table with bench seats on the upper level of the ferry and we got ourselves comfortable for the 3 hour ride. We were joined on board with many people who were taking part in a sister cities ceremony in Sidney. A mayor and another elected official were part of the group. There was so much gorgeousness to take in during the ferry ride.

View of Mt. Baker from Washington ferry

View of the Olympics outside Friday Harbor

Goat-Deer-Cows ?? on Speiden Island

This island was so weird. Those little deer/goat things looked to my naked eye like little bunnies running around. Kam's camera zoomed in and they're some kind of deer/goat thing.

Stanley on the Ferry

We met a nice 20-something girl on the ferry who was traveling w/her parents and other older people. She lived in the area, was knowledgeable about the various islands and took this pic for us.

After a few hours, our ferry arrived in Sidney, B.C., later than scheduled. We were greeted in Sidney by some very fancy people.

Docking at Sidney

They were part of the sister cities celebration that was taking place right at the port.

After a verrry long line going through customs, we were off to walk about 10 minutes to the bus stop to make our way to Butchart Gardens. Only problem? Kam had planned our travels based on arriving on time. Now we were off schedule and had to figure out a different route. Kam and I have navigated many cities and don’t mind using public transportation but this was like nothing we’d ever seen. Bus stops weren’t labeled, the buses didn’t indicate what stop they were at and we didn’t know what the heck was going on. After borrowing somebody’s phone at the bus stop (so we didn’t have to pay international roaming charges), Kam called The Dining Room at Butchart Gardens to let them know we’d be late for our tea and to get directions. We finally were able to catch another bus, get off at a bus stop and catch another. This was so much harder than it needed to be but nothing was labeled. Have I mentioned that already? Nothing.

photo 4

Kam had screenshots of maps loaded on her iPad but it was all for naught! We had to figure out a new route.

Finally, finally! We made it to Butchart Gardens. We were hungry at this point, realllly hungry, so it was good that we had a reservation at The Dining Room to have a proper tea with food.

I was obsessed w/this entrance sign for Butchart Gardens. Such great textures, the raised letters, the typeface and the real hanging basket. Loved it.

We got our seats and were presented with the menu. It’s a set menu but you’re given the opportunity to share any allergies or diet limitations at this point. We did get to pick our tea (we chose the same tea – Teaberry).

Butchart Gardens High Tea Menu

The tea was brought out and then the scones with strawberry jam, maple butter and cream.

Ginger Scones

The rest of our food was to be delivered on a tower thing and while we waited, it wouldn’t be overstating it to say that we obsessed over it. Would they combine our two meals into one tower? Would we each get a tower? Should we have ordered one but split it? But if we did that, how could we share the food when it all sounded so good?


I’m happy to report that they combined both of ours into one tower where they had duplicates of everything. They had thought of this ahead of time. Imagine!

Tiny Sandwiches

After rolling ourselves out of The Dining Room, we made our way to the actual garden part of Butchart Gardens.

We’re walking along the path and we see this cute squirrel guy….

Him's a Squirrel

And then bam! Gardens!

{Butchart Gardens} Sunken Garden

So pretty! My brain was so confused to be so cold and be surrounded by so many blooming flowers.

{Butchart Gardnes} Tulips!

{Butchart Gardens} Fountain

This carousel was in a building in the gardens. Every animal was unique and the whole thing was very whimsical. I like whimsical. Maybe 1 of us should have coughed up $2 to ride it.

For the next few photos, imagine Kam practically laying on the ground as her camera is propped up on her bag and the pics are being taken between people walking by on the pathway. She had a remote thing to take pics that she appears in.

There were hanging baskets everywhere and my first thought was “I want to wear one as a hat!” The tricky part was finding one I could actually stand under.

I'm not sure it looks like a hat.

While I was obsessed with the daffodils, Kam was obsessed with the trees. “Look at that tree!” is something I heard maybe 7 million times. In this pic (taken in a barren rose garden), I told her she should pose in front of the freaking trees.

Kam loves trees

We're cute. Kam's camera was on a trash can for this pic.

The Japanese gardens….

1 of my fave pics

This isn't the Japanese gardens (obviously) but this was a view from that area

And, lastly, the Italian gardens which were built in the place where the Butchart family formerly had their tennis court.

{Butchart Gardens} Italian Gardens

At this point, we had finished up viewing all the areas of Butchart Gardens and needed to catch a bus to Victoria, B.C., which is where we’d be spending the night. Of course, to continue our Busgate issues, the last bus that left directly from Butchart had already gone and we had to trek about 10 or 15 minutes away to catch a different bus.

Waiting for our bus alongside a highway. I’m not sure why but I found this scenario to be very strange. I guess I’ve never waited for public transportation next to a 2 lane highway?


If you're like the other 13,000 people we encountered, you're probably asking yourself "where did Kam get that cute headband?" The answer is that she got it from the daughter of somebody at her hair salon who knits and crochets. That girl should start an Etsy shop (something Kam heard *me* say at least 11,000 times).

The bus finally arrived and we took it to Victoria.

photo 3

We got off the bus at some point (by asking the bus driver, of course, since NOTHING WAS LABELED) and walked to our hotel. Kam had gotten it on Hotwire which is like Priceline in that it’s a blind purchase. You know the city and the quality of hotel that you’re bidding on but you don’t know the hotel until after you buy it. She ended up getting the Hotel Grand Pacific which was a nice place along the water and within walking distance to many things.

After checking in, we asked for recommendations for places to eat dinner and then we did a bit of research in our room. We ultimately decided to head to dinner at Nautical Nellies which is along the harbor. We split an order of crab cakes, I got an order of sushi (maybe the best I’ve ever had) and Kam got a salad (you’ll hear more on this salad later – SO GOOD) which took our number of foods consumed for the day to 23 each. We also decided to split a bottle of wine and we needed a searchable database to find one that met all of our criteria – I prefer Pinot, Kam wanted it to be a local winery (she had a list of local wineries with her) and it had to be under a certain price. We lucked out and found one that was delicious. It also made our consumption of many tiny foods throughout the day verrrry funny to us.

Kam had gotten obsessed with the idea of eating fondue for dessert (more tiny food!) and knew they served that at Pescatore’s restaurant so we headed there.

Fruit with chocolate in shot glasses

Kam also ordered cough syrup port because she looooves drinking port with dessert. I do not like port but I tried it again. Still don’t like it.

We made our way back to our hotel. Some nighttime pics.

Legislative Building and Inner Harbor at Night

The building that's lit up is the legislative building

Legistlative Building

Because we’re total party animals, we woke up Monday morning by 7 a.m. No kids, wine the night before and we woke up at 7. After we both got ready, I wanted to head to Murchie’s which is a local coffee and tea place that had wifi (our hotel didn’t). We had a bus to catch back and wanted to plan which stop to take while having some tea and coffee.

Legistlative Building and Inner Harbor in the Daytime

Daytime view of the Legislative Building on our walk to get coffee and tea

Coffee House Breakfast

She had tea and a blueberry muffin, I had coffee and a chocolate croissant. I love how they served it on a silver tray.

We then walked to our bus stop where we met a lady who would narrate the bus ride back to the ferry. She had lived there her whole life and looked to be in her 70s so she knew a lot of history. We were the first to board our bus and we took seats in the front of the second level of our double decker bus. It was a great view for our hour-long or so ride to the ferry.

We boarded the ferry to head back to Washington.

Of course Flat Stanley was with us too

We played Scrabble the Kam and Nan way on our ferry ride back.

I connected my iPod Touch (it's Blake's iPod Touch technically but I rented it from him for the trip) to wifi via Kam's iPhone, downloaded the Scrabble app, then connected via blue tooth to her iPad. Follow?

I found the ferry rides very relaxing. When else in the last 16 years have Kam and I ever gotten to sit and just do something relaxing and chat for 3 hours without any interruptions? Answer: never.

After returning to Washington, it was sorta back to real life for Kam. There were Reaghan duties and then that evening the 3 of us girls headed to downtown Anacortes for Thai food. Lots of good Asian food even in small towns like Anacortes. My only issue was that the restaurant really wasn’t Thai as their name indicated; it was a mix of a few types of Asian food (they don’t eat crab rangoon in Thailand). My Thai yellow curry was delicious.

After dinner, there was more Just Dance 2 (so fun! Have I mentioned that? I bought the game after I got back.).

Tuesday morning we were up for a run. The temps were in the 40s and I’ve never run in temps that cool. I’m more of a 60s and 70s girl but I wanted to run so with layers and gloves and things to cover our faces, we headed out. The view from the trail while running.

After running and getting ourselves showered and dressed, we headed out for lunch in downtown Anacortes at Adrift. Such a charming place with books everywhere and great food. We had grilled cheese sandwiches with a few kinds of cheese on it and I had some soup. I also got a shirt from there because it was cute. Doesn’t look like a souvenir but it’s a cute American Apparel t-shirt with the restaurant name on it.

(Side note: I talk about food a lot.)

Then it was time to go see some local sites like parks near where Kam lives and then out to Deception Pass.

After this pic was taken, we drove to the other side of Deception Pass to park and hike down to the beach. It was quite a hike but we did it. (True story: I “trained” for this trip. I’d been pretty inactive for a while and began running again a couple of months before this trip. I didn’t want to have trouble doing something because I wasn’t fit enough.)

Deception Pass Bridge

Taken from the beach after we'd hiked down the hill

Beach at Deception Pass Park

Daffodil in the Rocks

Daffodils growing in the wild that we saw along our hike

I was surprised to hear that Kam hadn’t walked out onto the bridge before but I really wanted to (I have plenty of fears but height isn’t one of them). Kam came out on the bridge too!

Pregnant with gloves

Crazy how blue the water is

We drove around the area some more to view the sites. We saw lots of fields of daffodils. Tulips will be out soon!

Lemon lime

We also stopped by a fresh fish market to get some halibut for dinner. The plan was to make halibut (Kam and fam make salmon often but I might be the only fish lover who doesn’t like salmon so we were going to try halibut), recreate the salad Kam had in Victoria (spinach gorgonzola salad) and make some asparagus. We also had some pear cider and apple cider (beer) to drink with our meal and rosemary sourdough bread. The fish was bought at the fish market but everything else was purchased at their local grocery store which is more like a Central Market than anything else (interpretation: reallly nice).

Matt was in charge of the halibut and he’d gotten some recommendations on how to cook it from a coworker. Kam handled the salad and I handled the asparagus, heated the bread and helped out with whatever else I could.

The result? Fan-freaking-tastic.

photo 1-6

My mouth waters just thinking about it. I think Matt said the same thing. Mmmmm.

After dinner, I was done for the night. DONE. So tired. Kam asked what I wanted to do on my last full day there and I told her I wanted to spend more time in Seattle. It’s a 1.5 hour drive each way so it’s not a super fast trip but I’m a city lover and felt like I really wanted some more time in Seattle.

On Wednesday, we got to Seattle around lunch time and ate in the Fremont area at a sustainable deli (I think that’s what it’s called. Still not 100% clear what it means.). We had sandwiches and then headed out to explore the area. We opted to use a GoWalla trip of the area to see a few of the things. The Fremont area is super quirky and has many tech companies and basically is my idea of heaven. Some things we saw:

Fremont Troll

The troll under the bridge is BIG. That VW bug he's holding is real.

Fremont Center of the Universe

Center of the Universe. Surprised I didn't get run over.

Google Seattle

Google Seattle! Google opened this office in 2007. Adobe and Getty Images were in the same complex.

We left the Fremont area to meet Cristy (the female half of the couple we were supposed to meet on Saturday) for coffee at Starbucks a few miles away. After meeting her (she’s lovely!) and hearing Kam try to tell her we’d known each other for 12 or 14 years (it’s 24), we walked to a nearby Anthropologie. Three stories and such a gorgeous store. Love that place.

We then drove by the Space Needle but opted not to go in. We made our way back to the home of Kam and she made mine and Reaghan’s favorite dinner: stroganoff! Been eating Kam’s stroganoff for…..20 years? It’s so good.

This was my last night in Washington so we just watched some American Idol (they don’t usually watch it but Kam had programmed it to record – from her iPhone of course – and they watched with me) and got some things together to head out to the airport the next morning.

Thursday morning, Kam and fam packed their van for their trip to Portland and then dropped me off at the Seattle airport before continuing their drive to Portland. Kam doesn’t have a printer hooked up so I had checked in for my flight but couldn’t print my boarding pass. I made my way to the Virgin America counter where there was no line and four people were available to help me. I had my pass printed and got through security in a short time.

First flight landed in San Francisco where I had just an hour layover which was just enough time to grab some lunch at the airport before boarding again. I didn’t realize it but this plane stopped at LAX before heading to DFW. Since it was the same flight number and I just stayed on the plane, it wasn’t shown on my boarding pass.

The flight from SFO to LAX is one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen. View of mountains and ocean the entire time. Gorgeous.

FINALLY it was time to head to DFW. On this last leg of my trip, I took advantage of the in-screen ordering and used Wifi. I had another interesting seat mate (if anybody watched the show “The Sing Off,” he was a member of the Backbeats) and the time flew. Andy was at the airport to pick me up at 10 and by 10:15, I was home.

My view on the flight home. I believe this was taken whilst flying over Arizona.

Some final thoughts on the trip:

  • I loved being able to spend time with Kam kid-free. Our children are very spirited and although we’re completely crazy about our own and each other’s kids, it makes it difficult to have fun as friends if our intense children are requiring our attention.
  • I would have loved to see some whales. I won’t see sea life in captivity and it’s not always possible to see them in the wild but it would have been great if we could have.
  • More time in Victoria would have been great but it just didn’t work out schedule-wise. We basically ate our way through B.C. while enjoying the lovely scenery. Andy really wants to go on an Alaskan cruise and some of them stop in Victoria so we might get to see more on a future trip.
  • I’d love to take the kids to Seattle and spend time in the area of the Space Needle where there are some museums and things to enjoy there.
  • Although I didn’t mention it a lot, the coffee drinking was predictably delicious. From a local coffee shop in Seattle to Tully’s Keurig coffee to the Murchie’s coffee in Victoria, I had some delicious coffee. I think Kam would say the same thing about all the teas she drank.
  • I’m not much of a souvenir girl but the items I bought on this trip include loose leaf tea from Butchart Gardens, the t-shirt from the restaurant in Anacortes and that pink scarf you see in the pics. Not very typical souvenirs but will remind me of my trip each time I use them.

And *that* is the story of Kam and Nan’s time together in the Pacific Northwest. All 4000 words of it.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kristin April 4, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Sounds like a great trip! Beautiful pictures and I love seeing Flat Stanley in some of them!

2 Casey April 4, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Great trip report! My brother lives in Washington and LOVES the PNW. LOVES. Probably won’t ever leave.

Cute green NF jacket.

The pics I viewed were a bit off……will check back to see if I can see them full screen.

Shannon Albert Reply:

That black vest that I wore in many of the pics? Was part of my “costume” to look like you. Guess what? Super useful! I wear it often.

3 Tina April 4, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Very nice!

4 Sarah April 5, 2011 at 7:26 am

I want to go on your vacation. So jealous of the tea! PNW is definitely on my short list now. Fun recap!

5 Emma April 5, 2011 at 9:57 am

Yay! Awesome review of what sounds like a fantastic time!

6 Sara April 5, 2011 at 9:57 am

Next time you could go whale watching on the Victoria Clipper :-)

7 Kaye June 16, 2011 at 8:46 am

I felt like I was right there on the trip with you…very enjoyable reading…probably gained some extra pounds just looking at all the food!! LOL…

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