Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wine-Making at Castle Bridge Winery in Kent, Washington
Castle Bridge Winery is unique from other Washington wineries because they will help you make your own wine using a 3-step process. The result is 30 bottles of wine that has been made, bottled and custom labeled by you.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Travel Guides for Dog Lovers

If you're a dog lover in Washington and you need some resources to help you figure out how and where to travel with your dog in our lovely state, I have a couple of book recommendations for you:

The Dog Lover's Companion to the Pacific Northwest
Val Mallinson
Published by Avalon Travel

This book might be slightly outdated by now (I have the first edition; the second edition was just released last month), but it's still an excellent resource on traveling with your dog(s) in the Pacific Northwest. It covers Washington, Oregon and British Columbia (only the western half of the region - the book's major drawback), taking a look at pooch-friendly accommodations, restaurants and shops. It covers many parks, beaches and recreation areas and both urban and rural locations. Mallinson's dogs - Dachsunds Isis and Cooper - served as the panel of canine judges for this book, rating locations on a scale of one to four paw prints. Keep in mind, however, that these are small dogs, and may be accepted more readily (especially at hotels) than larger dogs.

Mallinson's writing is witty, and the illustrations are charming, making this a fun resource for your vacation planning. We've already dog-eared several pages, looking at potential day/weekend trips where we can include Reece. Sometimes, however - as in the case of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival - we think she is better off in doggie daycamp, which is probably more fun for her.

Best Hikes with Dogs - Western Washington
Dan A. Nelson
Published by The Mountaineers Books

My husband felt it was important to get this book, although I'm not entirely sure why. Neither of us are avid hikers, and we generally only do trails of 5 miles or less when we do hike. But Reece, being a Lab mix, is rather outdoorsy, so this is a good resource to plan hikes with her. Fortunately, it covers both short and long hikes.

There are lists of essentials for humans as well as dogs when preparing for a hike, tips on canine first aid (and I want to add, be especially aware of foxtails! We had this problem with Reece recently and it was costly to have it removed), and information about encountering bears and cougars. Essentially, this looks like a book that caters mainly to hardcore hikers, not necessarily the person who wants to take their dog for a short jaunt through the park, although there is information for novice hikers too.

There are plenty of maps, photographs, and details given about the trails and the suggested hikes cover a wide range of skill sets. All in all, a good hiking resource, even if you don't have a dog.


As for supplies, you generally can't find good hiking/doggie travel gear at Petsmart, although it's good for lots of other things (I can't recommend their doggie daycamp enough!). I've found these types of items at places like
Mud Bay (various locations around the Puget Sound area) and Reber Ranch (located in Kent). Reece is a big fan of both stores, especially since they always dote on her and give her lots of treats!

And now she is dropping a squeak toy on my keyboard, so I suppose I better end this post.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

7 Ways to Annoy a Flight Attendant

...and, I might add, your fellow passengers.

Some simple airline etiquette that is definitely worth reading

Lance was just complaining about #2 because it happened to him on his flight from OKC to Denver yesterday morning. A woman threw her bag into the overhead bin right above Lance's seat, to where he had no room for his own carry-on, and then she found her seat in the back of the plane and had the gall to ask him to take down her bag for her when they were debarking the plane.

Manners, people...manners. The world would be a better place if more people used them.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

On a professional note

I now have a website up and running for my freelance biz.

I've been looking at getting one put up for the past month or so since I've made the commitment to starting my freelance career again, but even though I've had offers by various website designers and such, I would rather do these things myself.

The thing is, I don't know that much HTML coding. I've had websites in the past and taught myself HTML, but it's been awhile. has free websites, but they're pretty basic, and you have to go with their templates. That's ok. It works for now. You get links to some of my online stuff, my rates, my writing resume...all the important things are there. I still need to put up a photo gallery to showcase some of my best photographs. Otherwise, it's done.

Since I plan to (hopefully sooner rather than later) take a certification program for writing/editing to enhance my skills, I will also take an elective web design course. Then I can have the kind of site that I am envisioning for my freelancing business and I can finally migrate everything - blogs, photo albums and all - into one place.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

New Look

I decided it's time to change the look of the blog. Blogger doesn't really have that many templates, and most of them are pretty boring, but I found one that seems to capture the spirit of the Pacific Northwest a little bit.

I'm looking at making some other changes here too. I am planning to set up a website to promote my writing, so this blog will migrate over to that website at some point. I'll probably use Wordpress.

But all this stuff takes time and careful planning, so it may be awhile yet. I'm now self-employed (left my office job last week - it was choking the life out of me, metaphorically speaking), but currently without projects, and I'm working diligently to change that situation. So that comes first. I'm giving a lot of attention to Twitter right now, because I'm building up followers there pretty quickly, and some of them might prove to be very useful. I have a fair number of travel writers/travel companies following my tweets, so you never know what will happen.

So anyway, to make this topical (since it is supposed to be about travel, after all), here are some upcoming posts:

- another downtown Seattle visit, this time with Lance. He hasn't been to downtown Seattle yet, can you believe it? We'll visit Pike Place Market (lunch at a crepe place this time) and the Space Needle (annual pass, so our admission is free!). The reason why I continue writing about Pike Place is because it's different each time. Every time you visit there, you notice something new. It's amazing.

- a trip home to Ohio next month for a week. A visit to Franklin Park Conservatory (botanical photos! Flowers are one of my favorite targets for my camera), and who knows what else? That's still in the planning stages.

My big fantasy right now is to send out a query for an article about the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Nye Beach, Oregon. It is my kind of place. It's a hotel for book lovers. Each room is named after a different writer and attempts to capture the spirit of that writer. And they have a restaurant called Tables of Content. Brilliant! I'm dying to go there! I already know which magazine I want to's just a matter of preparing it and sending it out.

Oh, I have the itch to wander again, folks. Very excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.