The beginning of the end

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And just like that, T is heading to California to start his new job. Being the dutiful wife that I am, I opted to spend the weekend with Jenn & Bryan in the Methow rather than hanging around to send him off (and then spend the weekend by myself… ) Besides, it seemed like the perfect way to kick off my last “not-quite-a-month” in the Pacific Northwest.

I loaded up the Element and set up a ridiculously luxurious traveling set up for the world’s most spoiled dogs:

BoysLuxuryTransport

If you’re about to make a huge transition in your life, it really helps to spend it with good friends. Behold the wine Bryan chose for the occasion. He really gets me! (sniff… )

NoGirlsWine

The next morning, we all set out for a hike. It’s bear-hunting season, so we decked our resident black bear in safety orange:

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Jenn decided to do the extreme hiking: baby edition!

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It was a glorious day for hiking:

HikingTrailWe did pass some evidence of the awful wildfires from earlier in the summer:

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We took a little break to let the world’s cutest hiker walk around.

CutestHiker Someone was not happy with losing his title…

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The rest of the weekend was filled with good food, wine and, of course, dog spoiling…

BryanAustin

We also went to a community cider pressing (I know, right?) and generally just enjoyed life in the Methow. So far, the Pacific Northwest Farewell Tour was off to a great start!

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Victor: Victoria

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While we were still waiting to hear if T got the job, we thought it would be nice to do a weekend getaway for T’s birthday either before everything got all crazy or to cheer ourselves up. (So happy it was the former!) We chose Victoria because I’d never been (and T was there in elementary school, which barely counts… ) Plus, it’s a pretty easy trip from Seattle on the Victoria Clipper. We bid farewell to gray, drizzly Seattle very early on Friday morning:

Victoria_SeattleHarbor

We landed in Victoria three hours later. It’s a stupidly charming little town. On Reed’s advice, we decided to stay in the understated Empress Hotel:

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Despite it only being 11 am, they were kind enough to let us check into our room. And is it just me, or do beautiful old hotels always have a Shining vibe to them?

Victoria_EmpressHallwayAnd PDX has nothing on the carpet at the Empress:

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The view from our room was not too shabby…

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And I loved seeing the architectural details from the window:

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We went out to grab a little lunch and walk around for a bit. Victoria is stupidly charming.

Victoria_HarborViewAnd has a surprising amount of native art around town. Such as these totem poles that date back to 1911.

Victoria_TotemPolesWhen I was a kid, my parents had visited Victoria and had high tea at the Empress and told many stories about it. I’d always wanted to go, so we decided to indulge as part of our trip. T was kind enough to go to high tea on his birthday. He’s such a good sport! (If you look over his shoulder, you can see the typical demographic for this activity… )

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Our waiter was kind enough to take our picture:

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It was quite the fancy affair, like something out of Downton Abbey:

Victoria_HighTeaChinaVictoria_HighTeaGoodies

It was definitely over-priced and a little too touristy, but it was fun. (Plus, isn’t a solid preview of your golden years the perfect way to celebrate your birthday?) Since we were on a tourist kick, I figured why not check out Miniature World? It was a quirky little museum full of dioramas, ranging from the historical:

Victoria_MiniWorld1To an interesting replica of the Trans-Canadian railroad:

Victoria_MiniWorld2Look, it’s old-timey Toronto:

Victoria_MiniWorld3And all sorts of other things. I didn’t get a picture of it, but there was a working model of a sawmill (that they couldn’t operate any more because it’s a fire hazard, but they had a video of it that was cool.) Some of the dioramas were really artistic:

Victoria_MiniWorld4

And some were clearly older, and a little… um… odd:

Victoria_MiniWorld5There was even a miniature car show:

Victoria_MiniWorld6And a circus that moved from night…

Victoria_MiniWorld7…To day:

Victoria_MiniWorld8We even saw Camelot!

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It was the perfect kind of cheesy fun. I made it up to T by letting him take a nap and them taking him to a legitimately cool cocktail bar and then an awesome tapas place for dinner. They light up the Parliament building at night. Look how pretty it is:

Victoria_NightMy phone didn’t capture the lights as well as I would have liked. Here’s a better sense of it from the next morning:

Victoria_Parliament

The next day, we got up and wandered around Victoria while we waited to meet up with Khai and his lady (Andrea). We walked through a cool park, where we saw a huge group of tourists taking a picture of a peacock in a tree. And we passed this statue of Terry Fox:

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We even got to see the Clipper coming in, with today’s batch of tourists:

Victoria_Clipper

We passed these strange stairs leading into the freezing cold ocean (later on, we’d see a second set, so apparently it was a thing… ):

Victoria_SeaStairs

And then happened upon this cool floating house neighborhood:

Victoria_FloatingHomes

They even let us wander down the dock:

Victoria_FloatingHomeDockThere were some cute retail shops mixed in with the homes. I loved these little guys:

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On our way back to the hotel, I stopped to take a picture of this super weird, (and kind of racist), statue. I particularly like the dog…

Victoria_WeirdStatue

We had an awesome brunch with Khai and Andrea and walked on a road high above the water. It was a surprisingly lovely day after the overcast, drizzly morning. Given how long it took them to get there, I was so appreciative that they made the trip! We ended our second day in Victoria at a cool Scottish pub:

Victoria_Pub

The next morning, we only had a little time to go get some breakfast before we caught the Clipper back home. While I was getting ready in the bathroom, I heard T talking to someone. I came out to see this:

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Meet T’s new friend:

Victoria_TsFriend

We checked out of the hotel and got into the crazy long check in line for the Clipper just as it started pouring rain. The trip home was decidedly more crowded and choppy than the trip out had been. It wasn’t the best way to end our weekend, but we will focus on all of the good parts instead. So begins our farewell tour of the Pacific Northwest…

Super fun Saturday

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Susan is in town visiting, so we took advantage of the gorgeous weather and our limited time left in Seattle to do some fun stuff. We started at Skillet for breakfast, then headed into the city to ride the Great Wheel, the only touristy activity that was on my list to do before we left. We were having one of those glorious “last gasp of summer” sunny days, so we opted to park a little farther away and walk through the sculpture garden.

SFS_WheelWe arrived at the perfect time, with a minimal amount of line/crowds. As you might imagine, it’s quite an impressive piece of machinery:

SFS_WheelMachinary

The car itself is really nice, with big floor to ceiling windows to take in the view. (There’s a VIP car with a glass floor, that we all agreed might be a little bit much… ) It goes up really high, so you get a gorgeous view of the whole area. Say hi to my office building (weird angly striped one with taller black skyscraper right behind it):

SFS_WheelView1Industrial area and stadiums:

SFS_WheelView2Even the gigantic cruise ships look minuscule from up here:

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We all geeked out pretty hardcore on the shadow in the water:

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It was a very enjoyable excursion and I was happy we’d done it. Then we headed south to do a little furniture shopping with Susan, followed by some whiskey tasting for the boy. He and I had tried to go the previous weekend, but they were closed for a private party. So, it was with great relief that we saw the open sign:

SFS_WestlandSuccess

Neither Susan nor I were particularly excited by whiskey and scotch tasting, so we hung out in the very beautiful tasting room, while T chatted with his fellow imbibers. It’s a gorgeous space:

SFS_Westland1

The barrel room:

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At some point the guy doing the tastings invited T back to see the stills, so he had us come back to see them also. Not only was the scale very impressive, I loved that they looked like something out of a Wes Anderson movie:

SFS_WestlandStills

T in his element. Look how cute he is!

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He bought a special whiskey that you can only get at the distillery. They really make the most of the experience. You get to fill the bottle yourself:

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It had a nice sense of ceremony. They have you sign a little ledger and fill out your label and everything. It’s pretty awesome. T was in heaven.

We then headed back to the house, where T hung out with the dogs while Susan and I went for pedicures:

SFS_Pedicure1I chose a fun bright red, which is a big departure from my usual burgundy or more subtle shades.

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Afterward, we had a little time to relax in the backyard, before getting dressed up to go to an early birthday dinner for T at Terra Plata. They seated us on their beautiful rooftop deck:

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We had a fantastic time. The food was both lovely and delicious. We shared many fantastic things, including fresh garbanzo beans, (pictured on the right):

SFS_TerraPlataSFS_beetsSFS_Crudo

We followed dinner with a few cocktails at Sun Liquor. It was an action-packed day, but, we all agreed, pretty much perfect. Since there are a limited number of days before T starts his new job, it felt like we’d really maximized our fun time.