Our Quick Trip to San Francisco

Yes, it has been a while! But back in February, well before Madison came along, we managed to do a little long weekend down in San Fran to meet up with Esh’s cousin Kurt and his new wife Kellie.

Here are a few pics from the trip!

First stop was a night at the basketball at Oracle Arena to watch the Golden State Warriors vs. Chicago Bulls. The tickets cost a bomb because (a) basketball is expensive here and (b) we bought them at the last minute, but the seats were awesome and the game was lots of fun.

The weather wasn’t the best on a couple of days, so naturally we ended up doing indoor stuff – including MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) and a local brewery!

Strolling about is also a must in San Fran. We didn’t go crazy (I was still 5 months’ preggers) but did a few walks here and there.

Here are a few of the iconic houses of San Fran …

… plus the wharf (very touristy) and Alcatraz in the distance (no we didn’t get there).

Chinatown was good too, will have to dine out there a little more next time.

And of course, there’s the Golden Gate Bridge, with cloud! Looks pretty regal from afar.

 

It was a good little getaway, and looks like we’ll need to go back sometime soon to apply for Madison’s Aussie Passport (what a drag …! ;)).

PS. Here’s gorgeous Mt. Rainier, coming into Seattle on the way home!

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A Long Seattle Winter …

It is FINALLY starting to warm up a bit in Seattle. Though when I say, “warm,” I mean it’s roughly 10*C instead of 5*C.

It feels like it’s been freezing and rainy forever, and the media reported a while back that we have had only 3 sunny days since October (if you can believe that).

In tribute to the receding coldness I thought I’d share some pics from this past winter season. Enjoy!

The outskirts of Mt Rainier National Park in early December:

Snow on our roof and street from the night it snowed it in Seattle (December 8th-9th) …

We took a walk to the Space Needle as well the next morning.

More snow on February 6th! Moby had a blast!

Let’s just say that summer better last a bloody long time this year!

 

From Seattle to the Olympic Peninsula

We don’t get a lot of public holidays here in the states, so when one does come around, you have to make the most of it.

This year’s Memorial Day saw us loading up the car, Moby and all, and heading across to western Washington, to the Olympic Peninsula.

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The Peninsula is basically a big chunk of land on the western border of Washington state, with its coastline overlooking the Pacific Ocean, thus:

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Our drive took us onto the local Seattle ferry, where we crossed the water to Bainbridge Island, drove up it and then across the Hood Canal Bridge.

The day was sunny and warm (though cold out on the water), making for some great pics of Seattle, the Sound and Mt. Rainier from the ferry.

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On the drive, we stopped at 3 places along the way. First, Port Angeles, a quaint little town holding a small market day. We both ate (yet again) a giant pluto pop a.k.a corn dog. The coolest thing about this town is that across the water, you can actually see Canada.

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Next, we moved on to Forks, where there’s not much going on. Apparently this is the place where Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series is set (and you can even do a Twilight tour here). I think the movies were filmed around here, too. So interesting I didn’t even take a photo.

We also stopped off for some quick viewing of Crescent Lake, a lake that was formed by a glacier during the last Ice Age.

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Finally, we ended up at a grey-sand beach called Rialto, which was very pretty but super cold and windy (and we’d stupidly forgotten to bring jackets). It was, however, refreshing to see the actual ocean!

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Moby also had a ball running around.

Unfortunately we didn’t get into the actual Olympic Mountains either, but there’s always next time. Maybe in winter, when the mountains are snowcapped.

Most unexpected thing about the Peninsula 1: Apparently it’s the prime place to stock up on fireworks! We saw a tonne of roadside fireworks stalls. How 80s.

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Most unexpected thing about the Peninsula 2: It seems to be crowded with Republicans?! We saw a heck of a lot of “Donald Trump – Let’s Make America Great Again” signs out the front of people’s houses and shops. America is likely doomed.

The highlight of the trip (after being delayed for hours on the way back due a crash on the bridge) was the ferry ride on the way home at sunset. Mind you this is around 10pm at night – love these long summer days!

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Approaching the city … You can see the tiny Space Needle near the middle. With views like this, it’s no wonder we’re so in love with Seattle!

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Stay tuned for our next post on our upcoming trip to Mexico!

Our First Seattle Christmas

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Pub drinks in the sun? Forget it! Backyard BBQs? I don’t think so. Beaches? Not unless you want to freeze to death!

So, before you ask – YES, it is very weird having Christmas in the freezing cold rather than the summer sun.

But that said, our first Christmas in Seattle was still a great one! We got to spend it together, we had Moby to keep us on our toes, and we even set up our own little tree (yes a real one; apparently those plastic ones that we consider staples are frowned upon when you’re so far north).

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The day was incredibly relaxing! We slept in, and then cooked for the first half of the day… and then ate, ate, ate! Oh, and drank, drank, drank.

Here’s the roast chicken I made, with stuffing, potatoes and veggies (I forgot to take a photo before carving). It served us for lunch and dinner.

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On the plate, with champagne to match.

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Esh’s homemade egg nog, which consists of egg, cream, sugar and rum! Made a whole jug and drank all of it…

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And for dessert, Esh’s famous rum balls… Made with Arnott’s arrowroot biscuits.

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We also saved a couple of the arrowroots and ate them with vegemite. Yay!

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Here’s Moby hanging out in his new tunnel. IMG_2702

In the afternoon we took Moby for a walk down to the water and managed to catch the last of the 4pm sunset.

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All in all, we had a great day!

Next year, we’ll prob do a ham and some seafood… Assuming we’re not away in the Bahamas or something! 😉

 

Burgermaster – The Restaurant in Your Car

Oldies might remember it, but growing up in Sydney in the 80s and 90s, it’s a rarity. The drive-in diner.

We’d seen Burgermaster around a fair bit in Seattle and so we finally decided to American-it-up and give it a whirl.

Eating in your car? Why would you want to do that?!

We don’t know. Maybe you’re in a rush. Maybe the food is really good. Maybe you’ve got a puppy in the back and you can’t go to a real restaurant!

Burgermaster is a classic American drive-in diner, and apparently it’s been serving Seattle since 1952. Drive-in diners are somewhat of a norm in the US, but it was definitely a novelty for us Aussies.

So, you drive up… and gaze at the menu through your windscreen. For service, you simply turn your lights on.

IMG_2680 A waiter (who we forgot to take a picture of) then shows up at your window to take your order. You sit in your car and wait.

Then… food arrives! It comes on a little tray, which sits atop your window like this:

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We both got the standard Burgermaster beef burger… and it was yummo! Probably one of the best we’ve had here. Very much like an old school milk shop burger.

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Fries on the dash. Unfortunately these were pretty bland.

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We also got two milkshakes – vanilla and peanut butter – that you can see in the first food shot above. They were great, but suuuper thick! You have to make fish face when sucking on the straw.

In the end, Burgermaster turned out to be a winner! I think I’d rather sit and dine somewhere other than the car, but the burgers were worth it.

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Wine Sipping at Lake Chelan, Washington

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One of the great things about Seattle is that it’s surrounded by water. You’ve got bays and sounds, as well as plenty of lakes and rivers.

Keen to take our new Jeep for a spin, we + Moby headed off to Lake Chelan for a weekend of relaxing outside of the city. Lake Chelan lies around 4 hours away from Seattle and with a length of just over 50 miles (80km), it is the largest lake in Washington state.

Best of all, it’s surrounded by gorgeous hills…

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…and a tonne of beautiful wineries.

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We left on the Friday afternoon, which was a little rainy and subsequently, we ended up taking a misty drive…

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Before the weather finally cleared up a bit…

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It was also Moby’s first time in the back seat by himself! Crazy little dog.

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On Saturday, the weather turned out to be beautiful! Chilly in the morning and afternoon, but warm and sunny in the middle of the day.

The hotel we stayed in (Lakeside Lodge) had a balcony, great views, and was right next to a park that backed right onto the lake. Gotta love the dog friendly hotels in this place!

These were the views from our balcony:

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Esh stuffing around with Moby!

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We had breakfast and a bloody mary at the wonderfully dog-friendly A Shot of Gratitude and took a quick short stroll around the town of Chelan. It’s very small, with cafes/restaurants and little antique/gift shops making up most of the attractions.

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Next, we decided to spend the majority of our day hitting up the wineries!

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Note: Wine tastings here are cheap! You get 4-5 decent pours for $10, and if you buy a bottle of wine, they waive the $10 tasting fee.

In the end, we ended up lazing the day away at 3 different wineries.

  1. Tunnel Hill

This was a gorgeous little winery with a secret-esque garden and a trendy little tasting room and lovely service. We tasted all of the reds and two of the whites – and ended up with a bottle each of Voignier and Riesling.

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2. Nefarious Cellars

This was probably our favourite, mostly thanks to the setting. There was a great little outdoor area here that served as a lookout over the lake and hills. Beautiful! (But a little windy). They also had cool old-school rock music playing, which created a bit of a vibe and atmosphere. The tasting pours here were a little smaller, though. In the end, we ended up with a bottle of the 2013 Spinner blend and left very happy!

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3. Fielding Hills

After a brisk walk in the sun down the hill and up again, we worked up a sweat and arrived at our final winery, Fielding Hills. The tasting room and gardens here were lovely and the views were great, but overall it all felt a little too well manicured – more like a big wedding venue than a small relaxing winery. It was also very busy here and we found the service somewhat slower. Still, we had a good tasting time and headed home with a 2011 Merlot.

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Back at the hotel, we had a ball letting Moby run around and even coaxed him into the water for a bit of a swim. I went in up to my knees a couple of times, but sadly we didn’t have time for a proper swim for ourselves! (Too cold to swim in the afternoon).

For dinner on Saturday night, we booked ourselves a table at The Winemaker’s Grill at Wapato Point Cellars. We both had the steak, which was great! And the salad and vegetables were wonderfully fresh.

Sunday was home time, with a stop off for breakfast in Manson at Troy’s Pizza (highly recommended) and lunch in Leavenworth.

Needless to say, we loved Lake Chelan! Will definitely be coming back here – possibly in winter for the Wine Walk or next spring/summer. Yay Washington!

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PS. Fun Fact we learned here: Iron Maiden inspire beer! \m/

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Our Weekend at Cannon Beach: Goonies Never Say Die!

Never say die indeed!

Note: If you want to read this post, first you have to do the truffle shuffle.

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For those of you who remember The Goonies, you probably know that it was filmed down at Cannon Beach and Astoria in Oregon – which is where we decided to go for our last weekend getaway!

Once again, we packed up Ben and Delia’s car, jumped in with Moby and Honey and made the 4 hour trip down. We stopped for dinner on the way at the Fort George Brewery in Astoria – great food and beers! And a dog friendly patio.

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Once there, we checked into our little motel room and the next day, started exploring. Naturally, the first thing we did was hit the beach and check out the famous Haystock Rock that feature in the movie. So cool.

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Weather wise it was a bit cloudy, foggy and cool, but not unbearable. The beach itself was huge – really wide, and really long. And the water was choppy and freezing.

Esh and Ben trekking around:

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It was also Moby’s first beach experience! He was a bit unsure of the waves, but loved the water! We only went in up to our knees.
He and Honey also got to run free for a while, which they loved.

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Total Goonies!

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Cannon Beach itself is a fun, quaint little town with lots of art & craft, antique-ish and candy shops, and lots of good places to eat. Including Bill’s Tavern!

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Saturday night also saw us having dinner at a great restaurant called the Irish Table. The soda bread, shepherd’s pie, pork and steak were delicious.

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Then came Sunday. After checking out and buying a tonne of taffy at the famed lolly shop in town, we went on a drive through Ecola State Park. This is the place where the kids ride their bikes through, where you see those cliff views of the beach and rock (and I think where Mikey holds up the skull) and where the Fratelli’s hideout was built for the film.

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The lighthouse! FullSizeRender 295 FullSizeRender 344

After a quick stopover for a beer or two at India Beach, we headed back to Astoria to check out the Goonies house!

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Unfortunately, the house was closed to visitors – the driveway sealed off in an ultra unfriendly manner and half the house covered with tarp. Apparently thousands people of showed up for the 30th anniversary of the movie (which the local council promoted), and the owners weren’t too happy about it.

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At least we got to snap it from afar. The view you can see is the side facing the driveway (which the kids ride down on their bikes). The entry to the house (where the front gate and the truffle shuffle tree stump is) is around the other side.

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Next, we headed down to the port to see the resident sea lions! There were dozens of them and they were HUGE. They were also super stinky and very loud. Apparently they are a bit of a pest for the fishermen, but nobody can seem to figure out how to get them to move on. However, it was cool to see real ones in the wild – and not in the zoo!

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Finally, it was home time. All in all, it was very cool to tread where the Goonies (and Richard Donner!) once did. We didn’t find any treasure, but we had a fun and fabulous time!

Here’s to the next Goonie adventure. Oh, and here’s a more picturesque photo of Haystack Rock taken in the 20-minute window when the sun actually came out!

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Never say die! PS. Always separate the drugs.