Sunday, June 1, 2014

homeward bound

In exactly one month, Sean and I will board a plane that will take us from Taipei to Seattle! We will get to spend the entire summer with our family and friends! I am so excited because I have not been home for a visit in nearly two years.

I am already starting to fantasize about the restaurants I will eat at, the grocery stores I will shop at and all of the fun things I will do. Heck, I already pulled out our two huge red suitcases just so I can look at them and get excited [even though, let's face it, we will most likely pack the night before we leave and just throw in dirty laundry so we can use our moms' washers and dryers].

Here are some Pacific Northwest activities I simply cannot wait to experience this summer:

1. Staying in Port Townsend 
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My favorite place in all of Washington State is a little town called Port Townsend. Sean and I lived here for three years and when we feel homesick, it is most often for this place. We love everything about this town from its rocky beaches, green lush forests, mountain views, delicious restaurants and funky shops. I can't wait to wake up in my favorite town and get to do anything I want, which usually includes browsing the bookstore, grabbing a coffee from a French bistro and swinging in a beautiful waterfront park! 

[Confession: sometimes at work, when I am so over it, I digitally stroll around Port Townsend using Google Maps. I "walk" down Water Street and even pass by our old houses! You could say I am a PT stalker.]

2. Camping at Nehalem Bay 
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Every summer, we go camping along the Oregon Coast at least once with Sean's family and usually once by ourselves. Our favorite camp site is Nehalem Bay. It's a cozy and stunning bay along the Pacific Ocean in northern Oregon and it's perfect for water sports [more Sean's thing], sun bathing [more my thing] and hiking. There is also a rugged seaside town called Manzanita nearby that has great Mexican food and one of my favorite book stores in the whole wide world. I always get burned to a crisp and eat way too many Smores when we camp here, but I enjoy every second we spend in our tent, around the camp fire, in the forest or on the beach! 

3. Visiting the Sequim Lavender Festival
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Every year, my mom and I go crazy at the Sequim Lavender Festival. In a town close by where we live, there are a bunch of lavender farms along the highway. Each summer, the farms organize a huge festival. We visit our favorite four or five farms and listen to live music, wander around fields of purple and of course buy copious amount of lavender scented beauty products. This is always one of my favorite summer activities!

4. Road tripping to La Push
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When I was 18 years old, Sean took me on our first official "trip" as a couple. It was a four-hour road trip to the very northern edge of the Washington Coast. We ate burgers and drank milkshakes at a roadside joint called Sullys and then he took me hiking to Third Beach at La Push. Five years later, this is the exact spot we got married at! Any summer means a road trip to La Push!

5. Moped-ing around Victoria, B.C.
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From the time I was a little girl, my mom would take me to Victoria B.C. on day trips or on a mommy-daughter weekend get away. This city is so special to me. I have such fond memories of having tea at the Empress Hotel, taking horse drawn carriage rides and walking around the fabulous Royal BC Museum. It is even more special to me because it is also the place where Sean and I honeymooned. We had a blissful experience in BC, my favorite of which was renting mopeds to scoot all around the Canadian island! My mom got us a hotel in Victoria for our five-year wedding anniversary this summer and we cannot wait for the adventure we are sure to have!

6. Hiking the Olympic National Park
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The Olympic National Park is practically in our backyard. Every weekend when I was unemployed, we would go hiking with my brother. There are so many trails to choose from and so many beautiful things to see. Some hikes are long and grueling and others are easy and mellow. Either way, I love lacing up my hiking boots, grabbing some trial mix and hitting the trails. There is something so majestic and peaceful about walking through the true wilderness!

7. Shopping at Pike's Place Market
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Any trip to Seattle would be incomplete without a visit to Pike's Place Market. We usually hop on the Bainbridge Island ferry and spend the day in the city. We love to watch the fish being thrown and pushing and shoving our way through the incredibly crowned halls of the market. We always end up buying a bouquet of flowers and hopping across the street to buy fresh bread and pasta.

8. Picnic-ing in Chetzemoka Park
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Any beautiful summer day is the perfect time to grab a blanket and basket full of booze and food and head to Chetzemoka Park. The park is along the water front and has beautiful mountain and water views. There is a botanical garden and usually a wedding or some event to spy on. My favorite feature is the tire swing as long as Sean doesn't get it in his head that he wants to make me scream really loud.

9. Riding ferries
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For me, home will always be synonymous with ferry. I grew up in Kingston, WA, which has a ferry that goes to Edmonds, WA. My mom commuted on that ferry every day for almost 20 years. When I was a young child and in daycare, I would commute with her too. Later, I rode this ferry every day for three years to get to school and back. Then, Sean and I moved to Bainbridge Island, WA and I rode a ferry everyday to Seattle for work.

Any time I am on a Washington State ferry, I feel at home and at peace. The views are stunning, especially in the early morning when the sun rises over the Cascade Mountains or in the late evening when it sets over the Olympic Mountains. I am so looking forward to getting on a ferry, heading to the top deck and letting the wind whip my hair all around as I admire everything that is home.

10. Being with my people

Last but certainly not least, I am thrilled to pieces that I get to spend seven weeks catching up with the people I love and miss. I will get to see my mom all the time. We can shop and sit in the sun and drink wine and listen to music. I can squabble with my brother and meet his lady friend and love on his dogs and see his new house. I can meet my friends' babies and see their new homes and talk over the phone and grab lunch and try and cram in as much time as possible together. I can hang out with Sean's awesome family and see their new house and eat a lot of ice cream. These people matter. They matter so much and I cannot wait to see them. I know it could be a little weird. Two years is a long time. But I also know that regardless of time and huge life changes, we will find a way to connect. And I can't wait! 

22 comments

  1. Wow, the whole summer at home. Fantastic. Have a ball.

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    1. I know. I feel so lucky that I can spend almost 8 weeks at home!

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  2. Great news for you! I can imagine how excited you are going back home after 2 years away! The places are absolutely stunning!

    sunandsany

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    1. It's been a looooong 2 years in Asia. I am definitely ready for a break at home.

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  3. Yay for you...and we're heading to Tacoma...in exactly ten days! We'll be doing some of the same things, but I think this year we're heading up to Banff and Jasper for a few weeks...so much fun. Enjoy your family!

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    1. Oh! That sounds like so much fun!

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  4. Very exciting, I'm glad you get to go home and see all of your friends and family! I would love to visit all of these places someday...Seattle, Victoria, sounds amazing!

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    1. I am definitely biased but I have traveled the world quite a bit and have not quite found a place as beautiful as the Pacific Northwest. Clearly from my list, it is obvious I am an outdoorsy person and I just don't think anywhere does mountains + forests + water quite like Washington State!

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  5. I hope you have such a fun time at home! Those lavender fields look incredible.

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    1. Thanks! Yes, the lavender festival is amazing and so.purple. I always spend way too much on lotion.

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  6. Your trip back sounds awesome! I am in the midst of planning mine now, but at just a bit over two weeks, I'm not shooting for any real activity type things, but rather just seeing and spending time with the hoards of people I miss so much. Oh and of course, the food... I can't wait to have completely boring and delicious mac and cheese by my mom, cheap fresh lobster, and so much more. I can't believe you've held out two years though, I'm looking forward to it this much, and it's just been since last Christmas!

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    1. I so understand with the food. I have already given my mom a menu for what I want the first night we get back! I hope you have a blast too!

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  7. Very exciting! I didn't know you're originally from the Pacific Northwest. Let me know if you end up swinging by Vancouver :) I was in Port Townsend for a day a couple years ago and absolutely loved it. The town is just so quaint.

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    1. Hmmm... you wouldn't have to twist my arm too hard to get me to head to Vancouver! :)

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  8. I don't remember the Pacific Northwest being so beautiful when I lived there. I really wish I would have embraced it more, because I was miserable at that time (I'm from Miami, FL and live in San Diego, CA - I like a LOT of sunshine). That was almost 20 years ago and now I look forward to going back on business and getting in side trips here and there. Enjoy your time at home! Beautiful photos. -Heather, Life of a Traveling Navy Wife

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    1. I know the weather does people in. We had friends who moved to the PNW from Denver because they wanted to be surrounded by all that beauty but in the end they left because of the weather. As a native, it's all I know and what I love. I loathe Taiwan sometimes simply because of the heat + humidity.

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  9. I too stroll around my hometown sometimes using Google Maps. I can see that you guys are really getting excited to visit home. That beach at Nehalem Bay looks so pretty. Enjoy your trip, and above all have a great time with your family and friends.

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    1. Yes, I plan to enjoy people first and foremost. The places and the food are just huge bonuses!

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  10. Yay for you! Two years is a very long, so I completely see why you are so excited. Our first "real" family trip with kids where we didn't visit relatives was to Vancouver, Victoria, Olympic NP, and Seattle. I have such fond memories of the area, and my 11-year-old still remembers the ferry ride even though he was only 4 at the time. Have a great visit. How much longer are you staying in Taiwan? Our contract is over, and we are headed back to Texas in a few weeks after 3 years in Malaysia.

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    1. Two years is a long time. Technically, I went home once in the past two years but that was for 10 days and my dad died so it wasn't exactly a "visit" home or any kind of pleasurable experience. We are definitely in Taiwan for one more year. I teach at an international school and we are definitely looking for a new country/school but it is all so up in the air. We'll know if and where we are moving after we go to our next job fair.

      I bet you are so excited (and maybe a little nervous) about moving back to the US. How exciting!

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  11. All of these places gives me some great ideas for what I hope ends up being next year's roadtrip along the west coast :)

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    1. That road trip sounds amazing! I would definitely recommend the Olympic National Park in Washington State!

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