Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Road trip snapshots, Chapter V: Nature, Pop Culture, and The End

We started the third day on the Olympic Peninsula by reluctantly leaving Lake Crescent and headed west towards the Pacific Ocean. Apparently, this is Twilight country, which we quickly learned as we passed through the little town of Forks. That might mean something to those of you who have read Stephenie Meyer's books or seen the movies, but to us it was just a rather sad looking place desperately trying to milk as much as possible from its brief spell of popularity. We didn't care much for the vampire business and moved on to Rialto Beach instead, which was our first real stop of the day. Gorgeous place for a morning stroll!

From the open terrain by the ocean we then headed straight into the deep woods of the inner peninsula, checking out Hoh Rainforest. Looking at my photos from there and similar locations during this trip, I have to face reality: their ambience is not readily translated into pictures. The lush greenery, the softness of the moss. The feeling you get when standing by the foot of the biggest tree you have ever seen, pine cones gently swaying in the breeze far above your head. The sense of years and years transforming into wood. Time solidified.

I tried my best, but most photos look like blah; I guess some things just have to be experienced.

Next stop: Aberdeen, another pop culture reference. This is the town in which Kurt Cobain met Krist Novoselic and formed Nirvana in 1987. Fun! Interesting! However, most people around here reacted in either of two ways when I told them we were going there:

1) Aberdeen? Why on Earth are you going to Aberdeen? or
2) When you get there you'll understand why Nirvana sounded like they did.

Nonetheless, the place was located perfectly for a last night on the road, and we had found an adorable B&B (A Harbor View) to spend it in. I was tired from all the driving and quickly crawled up in my Victorian bed with a cup of tea and season 5 of Mad Men on my laptop, but the parents took an evening tour around town and returned, how shall I put it, moderately impressed. The next morning, the three of us were considerably more excited by the delicious home-cooked breakfast that was lovingly served on the beautiful porch. Well worth the stay!

On our way back to Seattle we decided to take a detour to Twin Peaks (i.e. North Bend and Snoqualmie Falls), having the mandatory “damn fine cup of coffee” and slice of cherry pie at Twede's Cafe. Nerdy but nice. And waaaaaaay cooler than any stupid vampire dump, so put that in your pipe and smoke it!

And then...
And then?

And then it was over.

(But the memories remain.)

Monday, August 26, 2013

A truly happy birthday

It's funny; for over two weeks I've been agonizing about my birthday. Debating what to do with it. Pondering how to ignore it. It was my first birthday over here, and I was truly worried that I would end up spending it alone, feeling sad and abandoned.

Boy, was I wrong! I sincerely underestimated the generosity and kindness of all my friends and family in Sweden, Seattle, and across the world. Big mistake!

I've been spoiled and pampered, showered with thoughtful gifts and adorable cards. Treated to dinners, drinks, brunch, and desserts. Hugged and complimented. Taken to soccer games and night clubs.

All of you who texted, called, emailed, mailed cards and gifts, spent time with me and thought of me: thank you! This weekend was nothing but amazing, and I will remember it for a long time.
I love you all!

PS. This is the best ”detailed description of contents” I've seen on a customs declaration.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Stay away from me if you love your brains, because this gal is no longer among the living. After crawling through mud, climbing over fences, being electrocuted (twice) and dodging hoardes of charging zombies, an undead soldier eventually took the last of my three lives and passed me on to the eternal hunger.

Great fun, though! Not just the race but also the people/zombie watching. I particularly liked these two guys.

That's the kind of spirit that will keep you alive when the dead start walking the earth!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Intermission: the Running Dead

A brief interruption in the road trip recap: the undead are lacing their shoes and warming up their cold bodies. Tomorrow, David and I will be running for our lives, so please think of us as we leave the safety of Seattle at dawn. Let's hope we have what it takes to outrun a zombie apocalypse...

PS. Watch the video. It's pretty cool.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Road trip snapshots, Chapter IV: Olympic Peninsula

From Ucluelet we went back to Victoria, where Anton had to hop on the Victoria Clipper back to Seattle to make his flight home to Sweden. The rest of us took another ferry to Port Angeles, located at the north end of the Olympic Peninsula, and drove east to Sequim, the ”Lavender Capital of North America”. What we did there? Guess.

After Sequim we had an eventful day starting with a visit to the fantastic Hurricane Ridge: a mountain area with completely mind-blowing views of the Olympic National Park, Port Angeles, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and even Vancouver Island. Also: snow. Not much, but nonetheless: snow. (And some pretty flowers, of course.)

Leaving the mountains, dad wanted to take a quick peek at the Elwha River Restoration and mum and I obliged. It was awesome: I looked at a dam that was no longer a dam. Had an apple. Probably yawned a lot. Dad was happy. All good.

Next stop was Lake Crescent. We were staying at the adorable Lake Crescent Lodge, but before checking in we took a small detour to the north end of the lake to check out the Devil's Punchbowl, a popular swimming and diving area. Everything about this lake was marvellous; the eerily turquoise,  crystal clear water, the surrounding mountains, the wonderful old-timey lodge. Dad and I went for a swim in the evening sun before dinner, and I kept thinking that this was heaven.

If I don't go back to this place I will regret it forever.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Road trip snapshots, Chapter III: Ucluelet

After surviving the flower explosion in Butchart Gardens our next stop was Parksville, where we happened to arrive just in time for the Canadian Open Sand Sculpture Competition (sic). No excesses for me though; I spent the night working while the rest of the family enjoyed some fine dining at a restaurant a couple of blocks away.

Good for them.

However, Parksville was just a stop on the way to our next destination: Ucluelet, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. After driving up and down the mountains on twisty turny roads we finally arrived at my mother's cousin Silva's house, close to the Amphitrite Lighthouse at the south end of the beautiful Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Silva and her partner Carl both work in the national parks and told us all about the region and how to make the most of our brief stay. Without embroidering the story I'll simply conclude that Anton and I were struck by inspiration and decided to walk along the Pacific Ocean all the way from Long Beach back to the Wild Pacific Trail; a hike that took just over seven hours to complete. Meanwhile, our parents took the car between what Carl called ”popcorns”; shorter (but equally enjoyable) trails along the beach and in the rainforest.

All of us had our fair share of fantastic views, lush greenery, exotic wildlife, and last but not least: sand-filled shoes. To top it all off, Silva and Carl generously spoiled us with delicious food and lovely company at their house.

I wish we could have stayed longer, but who knows: I might be able to go back sometime. Let's hope I will.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Road trip snapshots, Chapter II: Butchart Gardens

There was one place everyone (literally everyone) told us we had to visit when I mentioned we were going to Vancouver Island: Butchart Gardens. So we simply had no choice but to go. The place was wonderful of course, although mum and I kept wishing that the gardeners would have settled for colour combinations that were a little less... ehm... vulgar. In some cases, less really is more. But still: lovely.

Besides strolling among the bountiful flower beds, snapping pictures, and drilling English plant names, we took the opportunity to royally indulge in some proper afternoon tea on the Dining Room's shaded patio in the midst of all the greenery. And indulge is really a correct description of what we did; each of us got a big pot of hot tea and a tower of goodies to munch on. They even had a vegetarian option that made me salivate simply by reading the menu... Being veggie friendly is perhaps not very true to the British heritage, but I'm certainly not complaining.

And after that? More flowers. More! More! MORE!


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Road trip snapshots, Chapter I: Victoria

It's time to start showering you with photos from my vacation in the Pacific Northwest. Roll up your sleeves, because here we go!

The journey started with mother, father, Anton, and I loading ourselves into the designated vehicle that David so graciously lended us for the whole trip (honestly, can you believe the generosity of that guy!?), and took off on I-5 heading for the Canadian border. After entering British Columbia, we steered towards Tsawwassen from which a ferry carried us to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island. The weather was nothing but lovely, making the cruise through the Canadian San Juan islands a most delightful experience. Once landed, we headed south to the tip of the island where we reached the first destination of our road trip: Victoria.

The capital city of British Columbia is an old British settlement and one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, giving it a sweet and highly agreeable old-timey aura. Two nights were spent here, and although we certainly enjoyed looking at art and admiring the city and its beautiful parks, the main thing was perhaps meeting a couple of long-lost relatives that ended up here after some truly fascinating adventures. Some of the remarkable stories have been told at family gatherings of different kinds over the years, making actually meeting the legendary persons behind them rather special.

My photos from Victoria are sadly not overly impressive but I'm trying to work with I've got, starting with a shot of the Fairmont Empress Hotel. This is the place to go to for ridiculously overpriced afternoon tea - a true Victoria tradition. The tea, at least. The prices I'm not so sure about... In terms of lodging, we went for something a tad more more low-key and tucked ourselves into a couple of bunk beds at a backpacker inn. Less glamorous, but at least we got cheap tea.

Don't trust the sign: we didn't spot a single whale inside the harbor. Not one! Terribly disappointing.

Christ Church Cathedral.


Lawn bowling: possibly the whitest sport out there! (Yes, tennis can just eat it.) Amazing.

Next stop: Butchart Gardens. Those of you who don't like extreme closeups of flowers should probably skip that post. Consider yourselves warned.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The end of the story

And so the mother and the father left their youngest daughter on the other side of the world and flew off to the far north, to tend to their garden and tell the story of summer in Seattle to each and everyone who crossed their path. After sunshine for days on end, the sky grew darker as they packed their bags. And the moment they took off, the rain returned.

Left behind was a heart within a tree, a turquoise lake among green mountains, and memories of endlessly winding roads going nowhere and everywhere at the same time.

As one story ends, another begins. The rain nurtures all that grow and adventures are everywhere. Let's go out and find some!

Summer is far from over.