July 2022 Adventure Date 6: Seattle Art Museum

Our last adventure for the month of July was a trip to the Seattle Art Museum. We had some extra time our last afternoon in Seattle, so 3 of us decided to use that time to explore the Seattle Art Museum. It was a really cool place and we wish we had more time to spend there.

After we bought our tickets and checked our bags, we headed up the escalator. The first exhibit we entered was Frisson: The Richard E. Lang and Jane Lang Davis Collection. I’m not sure I would have liked to live with all of their art, but it was interesting to look at and read about. Here is our favorite view from that collection – my husband says this is exactly how sunflowers feel to him, and I just found it very striking.

Our next exploration took place up the next set of escalators. We were greeted with an amazing site at the top – so many masks! They were from many cultures around the world, and I was completely in love with the displays. Here are some favorites.

We went on to explore a few more areas of the museum. I really enjoyed the Porcelain Room and the Italian Room in particular.

By the time we made it through most of the collections it was time for a very brief stop in the gift shop and then heading out for a snack at Pike Place Market. I would definitely go back another time to explore what we may have missed. Definitely happy with the experience.

Have you ever been to the Seattle Art Musuem? What were your favorite parts? Let us know in the comments! 🙂

July 2022 Adventure Date 5: Seattle Underground Tour

When we were talking to some of our friends about our trip to Seattle, they told us that we HAD to get tickets for the Seattle Underground Tour. We didn’t really understand what that meant, but we obediently booked that tour for the last day of our trip. It wasn’t until our first walking tour, where we heard the story of the Great Seattle Fire that we understood just what the Underground Tour would entail. The story goes like this (the photos are from the Seattle Free Walking Tour and the Seattle Underground Tour. We saw different parts of this through both tours). In 1889, a carpentry apprentice was melting down some wood glue to be used in the shop. He got distracted and the glue overflowed into the fire, and a series of events that would burn down 33 blocks in Seattle was put into motion. Today, you can see the original site of the fire and the memorial they constructed to the fire.

After the fire, which miraculously killed no one, the people of Seattle realized that rebuilding with wood was a really bad idea. They were also really keen to do something about all of the plumbing and sewer issues they were having because the city was so close to sea level. So, they decided to build all of the buildings so that the second floor would become the entry floor eventually. They raised the streets first to install new plumbing that would flow down and not back up with the tide. They knocked down 2 of the original hills of Seattle for the fill dirt to raise the streets. While this was happening, there were ladders at each corner so people could climb up to cross the street and down to get to the entrances of shops. Here is a drawing of what that looked like along with a photo of the building our tour started in and photos of the underground first floor of that building today. I am also including a photo of a building that was constructed at that time to have the entrance on the second level, but then they ran out of hill to knock down, so the street was only raised about a foot, making the door on the bottom floor very short and the intended main entrance very high.

After the roads were all raised, the sidewalks were built over to the main entrances of the buildings. The underground remained – and sometimes still remains – intact underneath, which was actually quite convenient if it happened to be raining – you could go to several stores on the same block without going outside. They used manganese glass to make skylights to light the underground space. After a few years of sun exposure, the glass turned purple, so you will still see some purple glass in the sidewalks as you walk around Seattle.

It was really cool to walk around under the sidewalks. There were lots of stories, but I don’t want to ruin the tour. I did find it really fascinating that businesses could use their underground spaces for whatever they like. Some use it for retail or restaurant/bar space while some use it to store things leftover from renovations. One of my favorite things we saw underground was this elevator gear.

The tour ends at a little Seattle history museum with lots of photos of Seattle founders and important people. It was really interesting and I would definitely recommend this tour to anyone that wants to get a unique perspective on Seattle’s history. Our tour guide also had a really great sense of humor, so he made it super enjoyable to learn about plumbing and construction.

Have you ever taken an Underground Tour in Seattle? What did you think? Let us know in the comments. 🙂

July 2022 Adventure Date 4: Customized Tours Mount Rainier Day Tour

I have to be honest, I had picked out a day tour to Olympic National Park when I was planning the trip – it sounded amazing with waterfalls and mountains and so much more. However, by the time I could book our tours in May, that particular excursion was sold out. So, a Mount Rainier Day Trip was booked instead. I have very few regrets about this tour – it was breathtakingly beautiful to be in Mount Rainier National Park, and it was really nice to have someone that knew all the history and the best vistas to show us around.

The tour started bright and early when Customized Tours picked us up at our hotel – they also dropped us off at the end of the day which was perfect since we decided not to rent a car. About 45 minutes into the trip, we stopped at a grocery store to get lunch and drinks for the day – it was nice to be able to save a little money on lunch, and it was also the ONLY time we had Starbucks the whole time we were in Washington. (Not for lack of trying, but they were either closed or prohibitively busy the whole time in Seattle.) The bus driver even provided a cooler with ice and some waters for us to grab throughout the day, and he allowed us to keep some of our lunch and drink items in it as well.

Shortly after we stopped for food, we stopped for our first views of Mount Rainier at a very small community park. It was a quick on and off stop, but got us pretty excited to get closer looks.

As you can see, we dressed in layers in anticipation of some cooler temperatures up on the mountain. We were to be sorely mistaken, though, as it was 85 degrees at the highest elevations we reached. Even with the snow still on the ground. Alas, our trip did not end up being the cooler temps we had heard about and longed for…

We kept traveling through a few more small towns and finally made it into the National Park. Our first stop in the park was in Longmire to hike a short trail, see our first in park views of the mountain, and shop at the gift shop. Oh, and use the restrooms, a necessity if you are busy hydrating all day. The short trail was through some forest – the trees were tall and beautiful. It was a lovely walk, although we felt rushed when we realized we were only halfway through the hike and had 5 minutes before our bus was supposed to leave…

Our next stop was at a scenic overlook. We had to practically drag Charlotte back to the bus at this stop – she kept wandering further down the road to take photos.

A little further up the road we made the next stop – Narada Falls. It is a 188 foot drop, so it actually towers over Niagara Falls, and it has a beautiful rainbow from most angles. It also gave us a lovely misting when we went to the view area – very welcome in the unexpected heat.

How gorgeous is that?!? We were also supposed to see Christine Falls, but that parking lot was under construction, so we were unable to stop. No worries, our next stop was Paradise (no really, that is what it is called) and we got to hike up to another waterfall called Myrtle Falls. The views were gorgeous, we were able to make snowballs, and there was once again a gift shop and bathrooms. Practically perfect in every way.

After leaving Paradise, a sharp-eyed passenger on our bus spotted a momma bear and 2 cubs in the distance. If you look closely at this photo, they are the black spot that looks like a dog and the slightly smaller black spots in the distance. It was really cool to watch them from afar.

Our last stop in the park was at the reflection lakes area. It is a series of 4-5 different lakes that could be really reflective on a calm day. Our day the water was a bit rough, so this is what we saw – still gorgeous!

After the reflection lakes, we made 2 quick stops at a suspension bridge over the Nisqually River and then a stop at a Ukranian bakery on the way home for some amazing pastries. It was so good that I didn’t even pause to take a photo.

I mentioned above that I have very few regrets, but I did have 3. The first regret is that we did not wear shorts – it was so hot, but the forecast had not really predicted that when we left. The second is that I wish we had a little more time at a few of the stops – nothing that could be helped, it was a group tour that had promised some set things and needed to deliver. Those regrets I can 100% live with and take responsibility for. The third regret is that I did not have noise canceling headphones like the rest of my family for the trip home. On the way home, a German grad student (studying history with a focus on war) asked our tour guide for war stories because he had served in the special forces in the Middle East. The guide used the bus’s PA system to start with a story that then quickly went off the rails into conspiracy theories. I have no problem with people believing differently than I do, but I do not think that this was the proper use of the PA system on a bus with a wide variety of people on it. So, in summary, dress for the actual weather, be ready to cut things a little short sometimes, and take noise canceling headphones and you will have a marvelous time on this tour.

Have you ever been to Mount Rainier? Did you go with a tour or on your own? What was your favorite part? Let me know in the comments.

July 2022 Adventure Date 3: Seattle Terrors Extended Tour

I have always loved ghost stories and watching ghost shows on television – Haunted Travels Week was my Shark Week before all the streaming services. I do not like horror movies, but tell me about a ghost that might be in a hotel and I am all ears. So, when I was booking our tours for Seattle, I knew I wanted to find a ghost tour of some sort. Seattle Terrors Extended Tour was exactly what I was looking for!

Our tour guide met us by the Four Seasons Hotel in Seattle (spoiler alert – the Four Seasons is not part of the tour), and they were fantastic. They knew a lot of history and made it just spooky enough to be interesting, but not spooky enough to give my nightmares. There were serial killer stories, information about the first elevator west of the Mississippi – which was not used for the living, lots of spooky ghost stories, and ties to a couple of cults. We thoroughly enjoyed it! The tour was largely centered around Pike Place Market, but there were several other stops as well. I do not want to give too much away, but here are some photos from that evening – the market signs are amazing when it is dark!

Overall, I would definitely recommend this tour. We enjoyed the whole thing, including the extended tour stops. I would warn anyone wanting to do the tour that you will go up and down a lot of steps and hills – it is not for the faint of heart. Even the girls really enjoyed it, though, which is saying something.

Have you ever done a ghost or haunted tour? Where were you? Would you recommend it to others? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

July 2022 Adventure Date 2: FRS Clipper Whale Watching Cruise

When we decided to travel to the Pacific Northwest for our vacation, I knew there were 2 things that I wanted to do above everything else. The first was to go on a whale watching tour. I have always loved dolphins and whales. I wanted to be a Marine Biologist (until I found out how few get to work with dolphins and whales) and I even adopted a humpback whale named Pepper when I was in college. I found the FRS Clipper Whale Watching Tour and immediately knew that it was the one. They have a guarantee on their site that you will see whales on their tour (with an asterisk, because really, whales are wild creatures and can’t be controlled or completely predicted). Anyway, it was the first of our activities that I booked after we had our flights and hotel.

We arrived at the pier for our tour and had not problems getting aboard and seated. I sprung for the first class deck to give us each a little more room, and I made sure we all had forward facing seats. It was a beautiful day – you could even see the mountains, which I’m told is often not the case. Mount Rainier was on one side and the Olympic Mountains were on the other, and it was just gorgeous to be out on the water and see so much green on the shore. Here are some scenic shots of Mount Rainier, the Olympic Mountains, and some cool suspension bridges we went under (you have probably seen video of one of the bridges twisting and turning in the wind – that is why there are 2 right next to each other).

We hadn’t been traveling very long when Charlotte and I decided to get spots on the top deck. I am so glad we did, because pretty soon we were told that a humpback whale had been spotted. It was so exciting to see it come to the surface a few times in a row to breathe and then do a full dive with its tail coming up. We got to watch this cycle twice before we left in search of the Orcas. I was also really excited when I went through the photos at home and saw I captured the tail twice. 🙂

We traveled about another hour to get to the area the Orcas had been spotted. I do want to point out that I know that Orcas are actually related to dolphins and not whales, but they repeatedly called them Killer Whales, and I am fine with it. It was amazing to watch the pod of Orcas interact. We got to see them traveling and hunting something. There was one mature male and several females and juveniles. You can tell the mature male because his dorsal fin sticks straight up and much higher than the others. We were also a little amazed at how close people on jet skis were to the Orcas – I would not have been comfortable with that. Here are my favorite Orca shots.

I could have watched them for hours – it was so cool! I am completely thrilled with our tour and have no regrets. Having said that, I do have 2 things I would suggest to others looking to book this cruise.

First of all, I think that the people on the lower deck had better views of seal life. Our seats were well above the water, so we did not see the porpoises and other sea life that those in the lower deck were able to see. It also got extremely hot and stuffy on the second deck on the way back to the pier. If I did it again, I would get seats on the first deck. They also had better access to the front of the boat view area, the galley, and the bathrooms.

My second advice directly relates to this obstructed view. As you can probably see in my photos of the humpback whale, there were towers and bars and equipment on the front of the boat which obstructed the view from the top of the boat at times. We chose spots with a clear view almost everywhere except 11 o’clock (if straight ahead was 12 o’clock and straight behind was 6 o’clock). I figured that we would be able to see almost everything with a clear view. I was wrong, of course. The boat pretty consistently turned to keep the whales at 11 o’clock. I don’t know if it was because of some track equipment or what, but it was definitely a theme. So, choose your spots on the top deck with care so you can see at 11 o’clock.

I would 1000x do this again. It was exciting and the good far outweighed the bad for me. Have you ever been on a whale watching tour? Where were you? Would you recommend it? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

July 2022 Adventure Date 1: Seattle Center

In July our family was able to go on our first big family vacation in about 5 years, although it has been 10 years since we have flown anywhere. Our oldest daughter graduated in 2020 and we were supposed to take a trip to Disney and Universal at that time, but we all know how that story went. When we started to plan a trip for this summer, we asked her if she still wanted to go to Florida and she said she would rather go to Seattle and potentially meet up with a friend of hers. So, Seattle it was. And it was a marvelous trip full of many, many new experiences. I am happy to report she also got to meet her friend, although I will not really be covering that in the blog. 😉

Our first day there we did a walking tour and got our bearings, but our second day started our first real adventure: Seattle Center. Seattle has this really cool area which was originally created for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. In fact, we got to ride there on a monorail that was created for that fair. It was pretty cool – not quite as smooth of a ride as you get at the Disney Parks, but still fun.

We had bought timed tickets to the Space Needle (also from the Seattle World’s Fair) and Chihuly Gardens and Glass, so we had time to walk around and explore before that. We did not realize that we would be sharing Seattle Center with the Pokemon Go Fest 2022 crowd, which was mostly fascinating and only a little bit annoying. Mainly because the number of people caused places to run out of things quickly and close hours early. The people were very nice and we actually downloaded the app again to get a few things from the Pokestops – you know, as souvenirs. We also had awesome strawberry shortcake from a little stand by the Space Needle – so yummy! Here are some photos of other things in Seattle Center – Museum of Pop Culture, Olympic Iliad Sculpture, and Pokemon Go Oasis area,

We were very excited when it was our turn to go up in the Space Needle in the glass elevators. On the way up, we got a nice view of Seattle Center and on the way down we got to look out over Puget Sound. We enjoyed seeing Seattle and it’s surrounding area from up so high – we even got our first views of Mount Rainier. We were very brave and even stood on a bench in front of the glass for photos. And looked straight town through the glass floor in the rotating lower floor (there are only three pairs of feet because our oldest is not a fan of heights). It was a pretty cool experience.

After a brief stop in the gift shop, we headed to the Chihuly Gardens and Glass. It is the 4th place we have seen Chihuly’s work on display, so we knew that we are going to love it. And we did! I think my favorite is the ceiling sculpture in the glass house. We also loved the large blue sculpture that looks like water and the boats. Here are some favorite shots.

After another gift shop visit, we were on our way to dinner. Our tour guide on our first day had recommended a sushi place, so we headed to Umi Sake House for the best happy hour in Seattle. We really did enjoy it immensely – we also had some dumplings and tempura shrimp and veggies, but we were really hungry…

After that, we just did some walking back to our hotel. I am going to leave you with a few photos from around Seattle – it really has some beautiful views. Here is the view of the city from the ferry pier, the ferry arriving with our daughter’s friend, Pike Place Market, Daily Dozen Donuts (so yummy!!), Chief Seattle (not really his name, but as close as the early settlers could get), and the sunset from the ferry pier.

I have 5 more Seattle adventures to write about here, so stay tuned! Have you ever been to Seattle Center? Which museums/sites did you visit? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

June 2022 Adventure Date – Schnormeier Gardens Tour

Last June, I kept seeing posts from friends about visiting Schnormeier Gardens. When I tracked down their website to try to buy tickets, though, I found that they are only open for weekends (and Thursdays) in the month of June. So, I found their Facebook page and signed up for notifications so that I could be alerted when their tickets went on sale. Very early in April this year, I was able to snag a ticket for Keith and I to visit this month – tickets are sold by carload, so it really was just one ticket for the both of us.

We went into the tour not really knowing anything about it except that all of our friends that had gone had really liked it. We found it to be a beautiful and relaxing setting and may have spent more time if it had not been so very hot. The gardens have a definite Asian influence, which we really liked a lot. There was plenty of shade and a bit of a breeze, which helped with the heat. We entered next to the waterfall garden, one of my personal favorites, and continued around the property in a clockwise fashion to see all of the garden areas. Here are some of my favorite photos from the day.

While I don’t know that we will visit again, it was a really nice stroll with lovely scenery. I might have paused a bit in the shady hosta garden or sat beneath a tree by the waterfall, but it really was miserably hot. I give it a 4/5 stars and definitely recommend, especially if you are an avid gardener. We did find that we prefer a little more natural settings that don’t feel quite so man-made if we are going to be hiking through nature, or a little more of a public space if we are going on a tour. Keith said it was like touring someone’s private stuff – a little uncomfortable – and I think I agree.

Have you every visited Schnormeier Gardens? What did you think? What was your favorite garden? Let us know in the comments. 🙂

June 2022 Create Date – Pandora Bead Class at Glass Axis

In April, I tried to set up 3 months worth of Create and Adventure dates. At that time, we were supposed to take this Pandora Bead class at Glass Axis in May, but it got postponed to early June. That left us scrambling a bit for a May date, but it made things really easy this month as I was at a dead end with the company I tried to work with for June. So, we made the trip over to Franklinton for our class. We were pretty excited to find out that we were the only ones signed up, so we got a lot of attention and tips from our wonderful instructor, Helen.

To get us started, Helen explained the tools and supplies we would be using. Neither of us had worked with a flame so closely before, so I know there were definitely nerves involved. We chose our colors and got all set up.

After we had our colors in front of us, Helen gave us examples of a couple of techniques we would be using. Then it was trial by fire to create 5 beads each.

After we finished each bead, it was labeled and then placed in the kiln to safely cool over the course of a week. We were able to pick them up about a week later, and I am so very proud of both of us! I think they turned out fantastic and I can’t wait to maybe wear some and give some as a gift. There was one bead that broke, but everything else turned out better than expected. 🙂

All in all, I found the process of making the beads pretty meditative. You had a lot to think about (preheating, always rotating, keeping things hot but not too hot, mixing colors, etc…) but it was also easy to get into a rhythm. I would definitely do this again, and I’m pretty sure Keith feels the same.

Have you ever done any flame work? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below! 🙂

May 2022 Create Date – Sweet & Savory Grilling Class at Sur La Table

We did it! It was the last few hours of the month. It was the day we had to be up at 3:30 to take Charlotte to the airport. But we totally did a create date for May. Originally, we were supposed to make Pandora Beads at Glass Axis a week ago. That class was moved to next week by Glass Axis, though, so I was scrambling a bit to find something we could do. Then I remembered how much we liked out last cooking class at Sur La Table. After checking their website last week, I signed us up to do their Sweet & Savory Grilling class because it was definitely a new technique we’ve not tried. We don’t even own a grill anymore, but we have been toying with the idea of getting a new one. So, I thought this would convince us one way or the other.

Our class tonight was small – only 4 students – but it was really nice because I feel like we learned a lot and got to try everything. We started by chopping and prepping all of the ingredients for our dishes. Once everything was prepped, we were given a demonstration of how easy it is to make homemade whipped cream – and we got to try vanilla paste for the first time. I loved that we put cinnamon and cardamom in it – so yummy! That was quickly put into the fridge to wait for dessert. Our first creation was sweet pea and mint puree in a small food processor. We spread that on grilled bread and then topped with parmesan cheese, radish slices, olive oil and salt/pepper. It was amazing – I can definitely see us doing that again.

The next thing we did was chargrill corn, cherry tomatoes, and red onion slices to make a refreshing salad/salsa. A little basil chiffonade, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt/pepper mixed in and it was one of my favorite parts of the meal. We ate it with the grilled salmon, and it was a really refreshing combination.

The final part of our meal was grilled nectarine halves. The nectarine halves were soaked in honey and Grand Marnier before being grilled. We topped it with the whipped cream we made earlier in class and it was divine. I would seriously recreate this entire meal – and it wouldn’t even take that long.

Overall, we give this class 5 out of 5 stars. The chef was very knowledgeable and I feel like we learned lessons that we can use to make variations on the recipes. We also learned a lot about grill pans and knives, which I appreciated. Last of all, she gave us the best idea for a gift for my Dad – but I can’t reveal that before Father’s Day/his birthday this month.

Have you ever taken a cooking class? Where was it? What did you learn? Leave any and all ideas in the comments – we are always looking for new things to try. 🙂

April 2022 Create Date – Bicycle Spin Art Columbus

Last Sunday, we finally had a chance to do our Create Date for April at Bicycle Spin Art Columbus. The Columbus location opened April 9, 2022, so they don’t have a sign outside yet. You have to enter through Columbus Axe Throwing which was a little bit confusing. I went in just to ask where we needed to go, and that’s when we were directed down the stairs by the bar – after getting a couple drinks, of course.

Upon arrival, we were asked to cover up in coveralls and boots which they provided. We also had to sign waivers and create our name tags. There was a list of artists, a list of bike manufacturers, and then you added the name your kindergarten teacher called you. Keith and I were just called our names, so our tags aren’t the most creative ever…

Our Bicycle Spin Art host, Brooklyn, gave us a run down of how the process works, and then we were set free to experiment. Since I am, by nature, the more chaotic and experimental creator, I went first. I decided to mask the center with letter stickers to spell CREATE, and then I did just that. It was really fun to experiment with how fast or slow to pedal, how to pour the paint, and which direction to spin.

Keith went with a lot more negative space in his painting, and he was a lot better at directing me on the bike. He also had the advantage of all of the experimenting I did, so I think he was able to be a little more precise with his choices. Either way, I think our paintings are pretty much polar opposites. LOL

We really enjoyed this experience! We have even talked about going back as a family to make more. We are planning to add our art to the front room of our house, but it is not a project we are taking on right now. Here is what our final products look like – I love them so much! 🙂

Have you ever done any spin art? Would you love to try it? Let us know in the comments. 🙂