Rain And Shine: A Friends’ Weekend In Seattle – Part One

A chocolate Space Needle and the real thing, glimpsed from the Westin Seattle

A chocolate Space Needle and the real thing, glimpsed from the Westin Seattle

Any two given days in Seattle will bring a combination of sparkling sun and pouring-down rain, with a high chance of natural beauty, a bayside Statue of Liberty, and some ridiculously good food. Back in March, one of my dearest friends and I found all of this on a weekend getaway to Seattle, the Pacific Northwest’s “Next City.”

Along the way, we also discovered the sweet beauty of a chocolate Space Needle. [Read more…]

Driving the American West: Northeastern Oregon

Portion of a mural outside York’s Covered Wagon in Baker City

The three main towns of northeastern Oregon — Baker City, La Grande, and Pendleton — made me feel like I was visiting another time, just dropping in via Volkswagen.

In this rugged slice of the country, the Gold Rush, fur trade, and Oregon Trail feel both quietly alive and properly labeled. Its towns are small, friendly places to lose yourselves for a while, reconnecting to America’s pioneering spirit and gentle sense of humor.

[Read more…]

A Portland Sort of Birthday

Jessica (left) and I enjoying a view of Portland’s Willamette River

Every year around this time, my birthday happens.

And as it happens, this year I’m spending half of my birthday week in my favorite American city, Portland, Oregon, with my dear friend Jessica. She lives here, which never ceases to delight me. See, I discovered my love for Portland in 2006…but I didn’t discover Jessica until 2009.

On this trip, we’ve so far wandered the Eola-Amity Hills Wine Route in the Willamette Valley (I highly recommend a stop at the Dobbes Family Estate) found some spectacular fall leaves, and enjoyed the meal of the gods: Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings from Pok Pok. Tonight, I’m looking forward to feeling a real chill in the air and breaking out my first sweater of the season.

In the time Jess and I have left this week, we might take a drive to peer out over the Columbia Gorge, amble up to a food cart or two, crack open a bottle of Argyle Pinot Noir, and settle in for a while with our laptops at a French restaurant which features both Kir Royales and free Wi-Fi. We’ll also mull over future Oregon trips, like one to mineral-blue Crater Lake and another to the pink-tinged Strawberry Range.

But most importantly? We’ll be enjoying each other’s company, catching up on stories, listening to some good music, talking back to her meowing cats, and taking a few minutes to notice that autumn is settling in all around us. 

Getting older isn’t so bad when friends are along for the journey.

Driving the American West: To Boise, At Last

The Idaho State Capitol Building in downtown Boise

Several years back, I read an article in National Geographic Traveler on the merits of relocating to Boise, Idaho, and remarked aloud to myself:

“Wow, that sounds like a great little city.” 

Having finally visited it for myself this past March, I can confirm that yes, Boise is a great little city — and a cool big town. Residents are focused on preserving local architecture and conserving their environment, nurturing a thriving arts community, and supporting their homegrown food and beverage scene. 

It’s got all the makings of a lovely weekend away.

[Read more…]

Driving the American West: Jackson Hole & the Grand Tetons

Northwest Wyoming’s Grand Tetons draped in winter snow


Continued from
Driving the American West: Cody, Wyoming

It had been four years since my last trip to Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons, an August trip that also included Yellowstone National Park and celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary. We’d vowed to come back and see the area in winter someday, and well…that day had arrived.

The only thing missing was Adam. But hey — I took photos for him.

And, y’know, for you.

[Read more…]