Monday, September 27, 2010

Things to See in Kaiserslautern, Germany

Thought K-Town was just about military bases?

Think again.

My latest article:
Things to See in Kaiserslautern, Germany

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Freebie Saturday!

Two major national freebies happening this Saturday:

Smithsonian Magazine's 6th annual Free Museum Day allows you free access to a number of museums across the country. You can find more information at their website here, plus print out your ticket (good for 2 people) to present to the museum for admission.

Also, Public Lands Day is this Saturday, which means free admission to all national parks!

And now for a local freebie:

The Seattle Parks Foundation is hosting a grand opening celebration of Lake Union Park from 7 AM to 7 PM. Lots of fun, FREE events happening, as well as the opportunity to snag Metro Free Ride tickets (good for bus and streetcar) to get you there and back. You can find more details here.

The weather is supposed to be great in the Seattle area on Saturday, so get out and take advantage!

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Ballard Locks

A few days ago, Lisa asked me if I was free to do anything this weekend. I had Sunday morning/early afternoon free, plus LocalTwist was offering a special for food at Ballard Loft ($10 for $20 worth of food). So we planned a day around that. I had never been to Ballard and I've been wanting to get out and explore as many of Seattle's neighborhoods as possible.

It was a fun day, and the weather ended up being really nice.

We started out at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, better known as the Ballard Locks. It's quite a tourist attraction, as it connects the saltwaters of Puget Sound with the freshwaters of Salmon Bay, Lake Washington, Lake Union and Portage Bay. It's interesting to watch the boats pass through from one side to the other. You can also go down to the viewing windows of the fish ladder to watch the fish (particularly salmon) pass through from one side to another, but this isn't a good time of the year for that. The fish ladder was mostly empty.

There are botanical gardens there too - the entire area is beautifully landscaped and well worth seeing. Plus, admission is free. And parking is free on Sundays and holidays.

After spending about an hour there, we headed into the heart of Ballard to browse the farmers market. This is a popular and very lively market, but parking is hard to find. We found it an excellent place to people watch and there were some great street musicians playing up and down the market. The mingling of various street food smells were almost irresistable, but we had plans for lunch already (note to self: next time, on market day, don't go to a restaurant).

We made our way to Ballard Loft for lunch. It's a sports bar with ample outdoor seating. I liked the ambience of the place, but the basketball game they were showing was really loud, making conversation difficult, even outside. I ordered a "Washington Apple," which was an apple pork sausage on a toasted French roll with cream cheese and a relish made of apples, onions, and garlic. Beer-battered fries were served on the side. Delicious.

Stuffed, we made our way back throught the market, stopping for a free wine tasting at Portalis Wine Shop & Wine Bar. We had noted a gelato shop (D'Ambrosio) on the way to eat, and we decided we had just enough room. I ordered 2 flavors: meringue (with chocolate) and Nutella - creamy, sweet, and perfect. If you like gelato, this is the real deal. You couldn't get more authentic if you were in Italy.

For our last stop, we decided to go to Golden Gardens, which is the first sandy beach I've seen since I've lived here (most beaches here are pebbly/rocky with very little sand). Golden Gardens is known as a prime spot for sunsets, but it's also a great place to just sit, feel the breeze in your hair, and enjoy the sun's warmth. It was a peaceful end to a fun day. I could've stayed for hours (stretched out on a blanket with a book), but I had to get home.

I really like Ballard. It has a laidback vibe that made me feel right at home.

Here are my pictures from today.

Also, some links:

- Ballard Loft
- Portalis Wine Shop + Wine Bar
- D'Ambrosio Gelateria Artigianale

Friday, September 3, 2010

Deception Pass

Today did not go as planned.

This isn't the first or the last time things haven't gone as planned. This is a normal part of traveling, and I'm flexible enough to roll with the punches.

I had anticipated this day for weeks. My husband ended up with a 4-day weekend, and we were kind of unsure what his schedule was going to be like until the last moment (he thought he was going to go out of town, but that was cancelled), so a weekend trip was out of the question. But since we knew for sure he would have today off, I told him that we needed to drive up to Deception Pass.

Well, we started out a bit later than I had hoped. No big deal, though. It's not like we had a particular agenda.

Then one of the dogs got sick in the backseat of the car while we were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic in downtown Seattle. Again, not a big deal. I keep a towel in the car for just such a reason (if you're a dog owner, you pretty much have to), and I have leather seats. I managed to scoop up most of it. When we got north of Seattle, we stopped at a gas station, where I completed the clean up.

We hit the road again, and got stuck in traffic again because of a bad accident. So all in all, it took about 2 hours and 45 minutes to get to Deception Pass - probably about 45 minutes longer than it should have.

But it wasn't all bad. We drove through downtown Mount Vernon, which I found very cute. We were in Mount Vernon last year but saw a completely different part of it, which we didn't find so impressive.

Anyway, we arrived at Deception Pass around 1:30. We crossed the bridge over to the Whidbey Island side of the park. We scouted out a picnic spot, which were difficult to find since the park was so crowded. I think we got lucky.

picnic with a view

Nice view, eh?

Anyway, we ended up not staying too long. Between the crowds and trying to keep the dogs calm (easy with our older one, not so much with our younger one), we realized that perhaps hanging out and hiking wasn't really going to work. We didn't know our way around the park and only saw one trail while we were there, and it was one that led to the bridge. We decided not to take the dogs on that trail because that seemed to be the one that everyone was hiking.

We ended up crossing the bridge back over to the Fidalgo Bay side and walking a trail at Pass Lake. Nobody was there. Once we felt like the dogs had sufficiently stretched their legs, we headed home. I think we just ran out of steam.

It happens. But Lance thought it was beautiful up there and suggested that perhaps we go camping next time so we can stay longer.

Not many pictures, but you can see some here, if you feel so inclined.