OFF TO THE PNW
With year 25 coming to a fast close, I had the sudden realization that I've never taken a "real trip" before.
DISCLAIMER: I am well traveled and have been very lucky with volleyball (high school & college) as well as family getaways to have had some amazing trips in my lifetime.
DISCLAIMER #2: I am not spontaneous and this trip was decided within a week and booked with two weeks before departure date.
Day 1: Chicago - Seattle
Of course my first pit stop was Whole Foods and then off to the airport with an obligatory travel caffeine pick me up. We ended up staying with a really good family friend (Thanks Karma & John!) which was great to catch up and see their new Seattle home base. Karma had these Angry Orchard Rosé's on hand that I had been wanting to try as well as some CPK pizzas ready to go for us - both pretty damn tasty.
Day 2: Seattle - Vancouver - Squamish
Of course first thing's first was coffee - I got a match latte & Ethan got a mocha from this cute place Third Culture in Bellevue. We then ventured out way to Vancouver - we were very lucky and hit little to no traffic even crossing the border. After getting some cash switched over we hunted down some food. We couldn't resist the smell of Belgian waffles, so we made a quick stop in Nero for 2 mini Belgian waffles (almond & plain). I could have devoured this whole case. After much debate we finally settled on a lunch spot, Peaked Pies. We got the Butter Chicken - Indiana Butter Chicken with a hint of Cayenne & Chunky Pepper Steak - Chunky steak pieces in a cracked pepper sauce. My first meat pie experience did NOT disappoint.
Then it was time to for some views. We drove across Lions Gate Bridge to Stanley Park to get some great views of Totem Poles & the water. Next stop was my favorite stop of the trip - Lynn Canyon Park. We ended up hiking around this park for a while, but the main showstopper is the suspension bridge. This place was stunning. We continued our drive to Squamish, BC with a few stops on the way - one random lookout where the water was like glass and then another pitstop at Shannon Falls (cue the waterfall).
After checking into our AirBNB we needed some food - ASAP. Ethan had been recommended this brewery/pizza joint when he was there last in early January so we decided to give it a try. Backcountry Brewing was a hit - small place that fit about 50 people. Their beers were solid & their pies were better...can we also talk about that view?! I got the Sour Bastard Beer, E got the Trailbreaker Pale Ale. For pizzas we got the Margherita - San Marzano tomato sauce, taleggio, fior de latte, parmigiana grana padano, mozzarella & Prosciutto - San Daniel prosciutto, roasted red pepper, arugula, chili, San Marzano tomato sauce. Let me just say, we left satisfied. I loved everything about this place - especially people watching the townies. Following dinner was a stop at the local Walmart for some essentials - I don't quite know how to explain it but was definitelyy different "food shopping" experience.
Day 3: Squamish - Whistler
So, if you don't know me - you don't know how uncoordinated of a human being I am. Take the D1 athlete out of it and I am a 6 foot tall Bambi. But...despite my better judgement, I decided to go skiing for the first time at Whistler Blackcomb. With a new ski jacket, Ethan's old ski pants and the rental boots, skis & helmet I was semi ready to go. We made it through a couple bunny hills, one chair lift and one green run....with only a few tears and a lot of patience (on Ethan's end)/
Whistler also has a Peak2Peak Gondola - which held the world record for the longest free span between ropeway towers— (1.88 miles) until 2017. It is still the highest point above the ground (1,430 feet). Man...was this beautiful. We rode the Gondola across to the Blackcomb mountain, had some chili (not pictured) rode it back, where Ethan then proceeded to ski down the mountain as I rode the Gondola down.
Last thing, but of course not least was dinner. I had seen Mag's 99 on a few lists but was still a little nervous. Yet again, we were not disappointed. The former Taco Bell / KFC chain kept the tradition with Mexican and fried chicken, but kept the layout as well. We ordered a taco salad & burrito to go. Taco Salad - crispy flour tortilla bowl, lime vinaigrette, crispy romaine, chicken, pico, lime slaw, cheese, guac, beans & salsa. Holy Hell yall - I have never been more satisfied from a taco salad before in my life. The night ended with binge watching ManHunt & eating popcorn in bed.
Day 4: Squamish - Whistler - Vancouver - Seattle
I tapped out on skiing after one day, so Ethan took the slops and I took the Village. I posted up at this little coffee shop called Lift for yet another Matcha latte. After a couple hours of searching where to go to eat, I walked around and ended up posting up at the bottom of the slopes - it was a BlueBird day as they call it and absolutely perfect. I also got a free beanie from Roots! We were then on the road all the way back to Seattle - with one more view pitstop at the Mt. Tantalus look out.
One more stop in Vancouver for some Asian Fusion at Bao Down's Gastro Pub. The vibe in this place was amazing with old school movie posters & music plus the food was to die for. I got the Same Same but Different - pad thai with cage free eggs & chicken, Ethan got the Fly Rice - cooked sisig style, water chestnuts, herbs, garlic fried rice, XO sauce, sunny egg & chicken. I think I could have ordered everything on that menu.
With very little time in Seattle, we decided to make the most of it and head over to Pike Place. It was a little overwhelming with everything going on, but we ended up at the local diner for an easy breakfast. Sidebar - I am still kicking myself for not going to Honest Biscuit or Biscuit Bitch. We did get away with some amazing dried strawberries & kumquats.
The obligatory Gum Wall happened with a little gem in the alley - Ghost Alley Espresso for our last latte of the trip. Tucked away in the corner of the alley they made their own syrups and I tried my first oat milk latte. They got bonus points for having some DubbleBubble as we did not plan ahead for our gum debut.
After a long day of travel and finally getting back to Chicago, we opted for some Pequods deep dish pizza to cap off the weekend...just a casual pizza 4 times out of 5 days!