You read that title correctly.  Almost a month ago now we left the EP burbs and traveled to the West Coast, specifically Seattle, WA, to take our eldest, Thing 1, to Kairos.  Kairos is a discipleship school under the umbrella of Reign Ministries, based in Minneapolis.  It is a nine month school in which she will be studying scripture, learning leadership skills, participating in a church internship and outreach at both the local and global levels.  To say this chapter of her journey will be life changing and intense might just be an understatement.  She has prepared, well as much as one can for such an undertaking.  There is a financial commitment that has been made as well.  Fundraising and saving and trusting for provision.  All significant components of this process.  So in the midst of all this Husband Jared and I thought it necessary to accompany her to the starting point of this endeavor.  That meant a trip to Seattle and since we were so close, a two day excursion to Vancouver, BC, for he and I.  Here is photo documentation of it all, with a few words mixed in.  Okay, more than a few words.

Before I delve into the time we spent in the PNW I want to share with you how our four Things spent their last night together at our home in Minnesnowta.  They had a sibling sleep over.  A tradition usually saved for Christmas Eve in which they bring mattresses and sleeping bags and all sleep in one room together.  Yes, still, even as teenagers.  I must say it makes my Mama heart so happy that they are connected this way.  I pray that these four allow their love for each other to grow bigger and deeper as they enter adulthood.  The world is a tough place to be and siblings can help soften the edges.  Not to mention they have shared history, no one else may understand what it was like to grow up in our home.  Anyhow, here they are on couches and mattresses with popcorn.  Polo didn't want to miss out on the action so he snuck in there too.  This is the calm after the storm.  

Oh Polo.  Let's just say that suitcases make him nervy and skittish.  And there were loads of suitcases and boxes around the house in preparation for Thing 1's move!

 Not too bad, minus the cell phone and awkward hands.

Family pic before leaving...we nailed it, right?

Husband Jared, Thing 1 and myself flew in late Friday night, (after our meager attempt at being on fleek in a family photo, see above photo),  met Emily in the airport, collected luggage, A LOT of luggage and were on our way to the hotel.  The next morning would be starting early, with the United v. Liverpool match and a day of sightseeing in the city so we needed our beauty sleep of course.  We drove into the city and even the drive was more beautiful than I could have anticipated.  The tallest trees towering over the highway and a brilliantly blue sky, a rare sight in the PNW.  Our necks craned from left to right the entire drive.  Thankfully Husband Jared was the chauffeur for us ladies so we could just take it all in.  An Irish pub was found and we planted ourselves there for the match and coffee and proper breakfast.  Emily has never experienced the force of Hanson super fan and therefore was quite taken back with all the shouting and hand raising and disdain that was shown for players and referees alike.  I think it was an eye opening experience for her.

Our delicious first meal in the PNW- complete with football spectators, thankfully they were sporting the right red for the morning's match.

The girls wandered off and found Starbucks and returned with their cups and sleeves upon which was the number twelve.  Bold and demanding.  We had no idea but quickly learned that Washingtonians may be super-fans too.  In fact, they believe they are the 12th man with their beloved Seahawks.  So much so that "12" is posted everywhere, buildings, dishes, gear, cars, etc.  Moving on, we toasted a win for our United and went about walking.  Lots of walking.  We stumbled, accidentally, upon a donut place that was recommended and went in to taste.  Because that's what you do on vacation.

Top Pot Donuts, yum.

Then more walking.  Along the pier and all the way to Pike Place.  We found gum alley, the public market sign, fish mongers slinging fish and singing for the crowds, flowers and fruit and veg, records and antiques, and clothes and jewelry and art and tourist junk.  Everywhere.  Stimuli overload.  And yet a place I know I could spend hours walking through.  Every nook and cranny.  There was a green space right there, on the other side of the market and we walked through it, experiencing a taste of the local culture and being spell bound by the views of the landscape.

Husband Jared taking in gum alley.


Flowers, flowers and more flowers.  

Two beauties taking Seattle on foot.

Husband Jared spotted a Turkish restaurant and felt the urge to practice his Turkish.  The lady behind the counter could not have been more delighted.  They talked Cesme and food.  He sampled her lentil soup and then she gave us a tasting of the best turkish delight I have ever had.  I usually don't care much for it but this, this was divine.

From there it was on the Space Needle and the Chuhily glass blowing museum and Paul Allen's music museum.  All nestled together in a different part of the city.  We walked there, crossing through neighborhoods, watching the locals gather, passing Starbucks and then another Starbucks, mixed in with the local establishments.  I do believe that is the best way to become acquainted with a city.  Walking.  Lots and lots of walking.  Up and down alleyways, across neighborhoods, up the hills and then back again.  We arrived at the Needle only to find out that tickets were sold out for the day.  Bummer.  No sweat.

Space Needle.

Art at the David Chihuly Glass blowing museum.  
These flowers made noise when there was movement near by.  

Almost forgot, which would have been blasphemous, here is the first ever Starbucks.  In which the original logo adorns the front window.  Which if you ask me is better than the current hands down.  Anyhow, there is always a line, there are like 129 baristas and umpteen cash registers and NO restrooms.  Okay, that is all.  We of course did the touristy thing and took our photos and then moved right along. 

We walked around and took our pictures and then decided to jump on the ferry to Bainbridge Island.  What a treat.  The last ferry ride I took was in Turkey, and anytime I can be on the water in a boat sounds good to me.  Let me tell you that ferry ride did not disappoint.  The people watching was spot on, the view across the Sound was breathtaking and the wind in my hair never felt so good.  Bainbridge is a quaint island.  A main street lined with shops and restaurants, houses peeking out from the hills and sailboats docked in the harbor.  We walked main street, witnessed sea otters playing  and found ourselves dining al fresco on some of the best clam chowder I've eaten.  Delightful.  Then we took the ferry back to the city and stood slack jawed at the magnitude of Mt. Olympus and Mt. Rainer flanking the ship.  Whoa.  Our day in the city had ended.  It was a good one. We picked up take out and made a Jack in the Box drive thru because Emily had not known the tastiness of curly fries.  We couldn't let her continue on.  I mean, what kind of hosts would we be?  Thank you for your understanding dear readers.

Ferry Riders.

Our view from lunch.  Where we ate all the seafood.  Also, under that bridge is where the sea otters were playing.  

A church on the island.  I was just so taken back with the sun shining I had to stop and 
capture the moment.  

Mt. Rainer in the distance, whoa!

Seattle City street with lights hanging.  I think it was upon seeing this and the locks below that I decided Seattle had a piece of my heart.  

Locks found on a pedestrian bridge in Seattle.

Sunday began with a long walk for Husband Jared and I while the girlies slept in.  We were met with typical Seattle weather and ran back to the hotel in the misty rain.  Not before we were Sherlock Holmes and solved the mystery of the footie training grounds.  Our hotel was right next to Seattle Sounders grounds.  Pristine pitches and stadium like seating had us intrigued.  Lo and behold as we were walking away boys were arriving.  There must have been an academy event so we took pictures for Thing 4 and talked about how much we love watching him on the pitch.  Moving on.  Hot coffee, packing and loud worship music filled the remainder of the morning and then we were off to a landmark diner in the Everett area.  Orientation was not until late afternoon so we had time for a late breakfast where the chicken fried steak was bigger than my face, the pancakes hung over the edge of the plates and the coffee cups were bottomless.  So good.

 My breakfast.  Look at the biscuit tower!

This sign.  Oh my did we like this sign.  

From there the girls were in need of essentials shopping.  You know toiletries, laundry detergent, necessary medical supplies, the list goes on.   Mission accomplished and there was still time for exploring.  We had noticed a lighthouse festival in the bay side town of Mukilteo so we joined in the festivities with the locals.  The lighthouse has been standing there since 1906.  The four of us traveled up the steep stairs and walked the balcony.  Just gorgeous, I tell you.  I've said it before and I'll say it again there is just something about the ocean air, it's good for my soul.  There was driftwood and sea glass and broken shells and rocks to climb, not to mention the live music.  The highlight of the afternoon though might have been the Red Cup.  A local coffee shop we visited.  Their coffee is roasted on Whidbey Island, just across the bay and their hot chocolate was out of this world.  What more could a girl ask for on a gloomy, windy day.  Our conversation was short and it was time to move on.

The Lighthouse.  

Husband Jared, Thing 1 and Me.  Man oh man do we love this girl.

The beauties once again.  And just look at that drift wood, it was everywhere. I wish I could have packed it up and brought it home with me. 

Photo bomb courtesy: Me!

Thanks Husband Jared for capturing this.  The beginning of a new chapter for them and learning to let go for this Mama.  

 Red Cup Coffee from Whidbey Island, their logo is the cutest.

Not a bad view to enjoy a hot drink.

These girls were waiting to meet their host families, fearless Kairos Seattle leaders and see the church where their classes would be held.  And for this Mama, the reality was slowly sinking in of the impending good bye.  Ugh.  I mean really.  I was holding it together quite well, or so I thought.  Then when a sudden change of plans arose and that good bye was imminent I folded.  Lost all sanity and credibility.  Like in a minute's time.  Husband Jared was there, thankfully, to step in and diffuse the situation.  An alternative plan was formed, you know, because we had Thing 1 and her roommate's luggage.  Thing 1 had dinner with her roommate and a Kairos leader and Husband Jared and I had a bowl of clam chowder at the infamous Ivar's.  Chowder sea side, no question there.  It lived up to the hype.

Landmark seafood, and ice cream

A calming dinner and many prayers later we arrived at Thing 1's host family's home.  The view was so incredible we stopped in the middle of the road to take a picture.  Moving on.  We nervously rang the door bell, unloaded suitcases and boxes and then were warmly invited in for tea and coffee.  This family.  God is just something else I tell you.  Thing 1 had not spoken with the family until two days before our arrival.  We had no clue what she was walking into.  The family is just amazing.  Really.  Family dinners, laughter, long conversations, joking and the four of them made each one of us feel instantly at ease.  I walked away completely confident that Thing 1 was exactly where she was supposed to be.  And just like that it was time.  Time for the looming good bye.  I was good.  Held it together until we began praying with her.  Her cheek was resting on mine and I felt a hot tear, then another and another.  A flood gate opened and I didn't want to let go.  Bittersweet comes to mind once again.  While I am thrilled and honored to be witnessing her on this journey it's a tad unnerving when that trust is put to test.  I said "see you later", as we do, and cried all the way to the hotel.  Just keeping it real people.  But that girl of ours, she is living to the fullest there in Seattle.  A month into her adventure and she has camped, hiked and scaled the rocks like a champ.  All while meeting new people, participating in a discipleship small group and having a church internship.  I am loving watching her story unfold.  What a gift.

I conquered my tears.  More accurately the sleep deprivation and emotional exhaustion overcame and when my head hit the pillow that night I slept.  Hard.  Our morning was beginning a new adventure for us too.  We were meeting Aunt Tina in Bellingham.  A little town just below the Canadian border.  We had breakfast in a local cafe which was delightful then wandered the streets and found a local craft brewery where real hops were growing.  There was more catching up and hugs and best wishes and see you laters.  It was a sweet time together.

Selfie in front of the hops vines.

Our next destination was the Peace Arch border crossing.  At the border there is a monument that was constructed to signify the friendly relations between Canada and the USA.  We were tourists and took our picture and then got back in the car and handed our passports over to the border control officer.

After the standard questions he asked what our plans were while in Vancouver, we had none, so he kindly suggested the Capitano Suspension Bridge.  So long as we weren't afraid of heights.  Little did he know I was shaking just at the mention of a bridge.  Anyhow, we decided that on his recommendation we would drive directly there.  No time to back out or make excuses.  Only we forgot that we would not have GPS once we crossed the border, making navigation interesting.  Oh and just remembered, no stamp of entry, what's up with that Canada?  My passport is sad.  On to the bridge.  Canada is beautiful.  As we entered Vancouver I was awestruck with the landscape from forest to city to the water.  Just breathtaking.  We paid our entry to the park and nervously stepped out.  Not so bad.  I did it.  All the way without collapsing or fainting or making a fool of myself.  Then we crossed more bridges and climbed higher into the forest and down again.  There was a lookout point.  A glass base suspended from the rocks out into the tree line.  You know, so all the brave souls could feel as though they were walking amongst the evergreens.  I wasn't so keen on this but I most certainly did not want to miss the opportunity so I squeezed Husband Jared's hand tightly and walked all the way around.  I am so glad I did.  Again, I was just taken with creation.  All that surrounded us and knowing who put it all there.  Remarkable.  Largest suspension bridge in the world:  check.

Driving in Canada, eh!

The bridge.  

Looking down from the bridge.

Once a tree hugger, always a tree hugger. 

Husband Jared's mug.  Yes, this is what we do.  

Here is the walkway, or catwalk, I mentioned above.  
And our big, shiny foreheads.  You're welcome.

Our drive into the city center was more of the same.  Trees every which way, rock formations and bridges and boats and all the sounds to accompany the scenery.  Almost as if a symphony was formed just for Vancouver.  Is that possible?  Does it even make sense?  We had less than 24 hours in the city and I could have spent weeks there.  Every nook and city block needed exploring.  Our best effort was given.  We walked and drove to Grouse mountain, took in the quaint town at it's base, people watched in the city center as the business crowd retreated and then conquered dinner at a quiet cafe with the most entertaining French waiter and the most divine gnocchi my taste buds have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

My favorite kind of city corner.  

Gastown, Vancouver. 

Steam clock that does in fact blow steam, whistles and plays music.  It is one of only six in the world.  While the whistle is steam powered the clock itself is electric.  Still worth stopping to stare at.  

The next morning we ran to Stanley Park and came face to face with the Totem Poles.  A collection of them smack dab in the middle of this park.  There were rowing lessons on the water, cyclists and runners and walkers and mothers and strollers every which way.  I do think it's the best way to find the pulse of a city.  And I must say I liked Vancouver's pulse very much.  Husband Jared did some research and discovered an off the beaten path restaurant for breakfast and I highly recommend it if you are in the area.  Catch 22 is it's name and the dirty breakfast plate was on point.  I mean duck fat and maple baked beans, what more could you ask for?  Not much in my case.  With that we bid farewell to Vancouver, rather reluctantly though.

Downtown Vancouver sky line.  
A majority of the buildings were covered with windows and when you have this to look at all day I can understand why.  

Mid run in Stanley Park, not a terrible view to have while you're running.

Totem Pole Display in Stanley Park.  There were signs posted explaining the meaning of each and every piece which I found fascinating.

Catch 22's Dirty breakfast.  All the duck and all the maple, bacon beans please.

Our flight back to the Things was leaving out of Seattle the next day so our last night in the PNW would be spent there.  Fine by me because I had high hopes for our dinner plans.  We walked the Public Market once again for a different perspective.  Up and down the stairs, on the sidewalk and across the streets.  The market is never dull.  Then we decided to check out the Ballard neighborhood we had heard so much about.  Their sea side park invited us in for a stroll on the water.  Barking seals on a buoy and a long pier allowed us to watch the boats as they sailed by.  This gem was just tucked away, off the main road.  I am so grateful we take these detours and venture into the unknown with no plan or destination.  Sometimes that mindset can unearth the most memorable moments in life.  While I was enjoying this down time I was also watching the clock for opening time of Delancey.  A restaurant by Molly Wizenberg and her husband.  I read her book telling the story of how Delancey came to be and I was smitten.  Both with her writing style and the story itself.  Needless to say I had to eat here.  We did.  And it did not disappoint.  Hands down one of our best meals ever and best pizzas ever.  If I had a restaurant I would want it to be like Delancey.  Enough about that I'm drooling on my keyboard now.

Golden Gardens park on Puget Sound, overlooking the Olympic Mountains.  

Dinner at Delancey.  This is the only photo worthy of posting from dinner.  I wish I would have paused to snap a shot of the outside and it's unassuming presence in the neighborhood.  Next time.  

And just like that our trip was over.  We were off to the airport the next morning and in the blink of an eye our time in the PNW was done.  Don't worry we'll be back in the Spring, you can start preparing to show off for us again.

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