travel

2018 travel year in review

Kayaking in Alaska.
Third trip to Alaska. First time kayaking!

Prior to the inception of this blog a month ago, a lot of traveling has occurred! Here is a little round-up of my 2018 adventures.

  • Japan (January) — I literally rung in the new year in Kamakura, Japan, where my grandma lives. Bryce, my mom and I walked to a nearby temple and rang a giant a bell while the temple monks chanted. The bell is rung a total of 108 times by temple visitors to signify getting rid of 108 human sins, according to Buddhist belief.
  • Portland, Oregon (February) — Spent a weekend in Seattle’s rival city, also known as the Rose City. Bryce and I ate lots of good food in Portland — I had Puerto Rican food for the first time! — and met baby Lincoln, a baby sea otter at the Oregon Zoo. It was a snowy weekend but that didn’t stop us!
  • Phoenix and Flagstaff, Arizona (May) — Finally saw the Grand Canyon in person! This is one of those national parks that you hear and see pictures of all the time as a kid, and I have always wanted to see it for myself. Bryce and I flew into Phoenix and drove north through Sedona first and stopped in Flagstaff. The second day was spent hiking at the Grand Canyon before driving in the evening to Las Vegas (where we flew out of back to Seattle). It was the busiest and best 50 hours.
  • Disneyland, Anaheim, California (June) — When my pretty annual jaunt to Disneyland coincided with my bachelorette party.
  • Richmond, Canada (June) — Spent a day-and-a-half in Richmond with my family to explore the Richmond Night Market for the first time. There are lots of food vendors but also lots of crowds. It was fun to go once, but I don’t think I’d go again.
  • Whidbey Island, Washington (July) — OK, this is near home but you didn’t think I would neglect my wedding day on my year recap, right?? I’ve been to Whidbey numerous times since I was a kid and have always enjoyed exploring the beaches and bluffs. The towns are quaint and the people nice. Also, now I know it’s a great place to get married!
  • North Cascades to Canada road trip (July) — The weekend after our wedding, we spent a long weekend road tripping up to the North Cascades where we did one of my most favorite hikes. (Well, I had never done it before, so now it is one of my most favorites!) Then drove up to Kelowna, Canada and spent some time there mountain biking and eating. Our final stop was to Vancouver, Canada, where we ate some more and went to the Vancouver Aquarium to visit the sea otters.
  • Olympic Peninsula, Washington (August) — Despite the rain and grey, we drove to the coast where we visited Rialto Beach and saw many sea otters in the wild! We camped outside of the Hoh Rain Forest and then did a hike in the rain forest. It’s about a four-hour drive from Seattle, but totally worth it. I’m a city girl, and always will be, but there’s something about being out in a forest away from people that’s really good for the soul.
  • Wasilla, Alaska (September) — Bryce and I visited his mom over Labor Day weekend. I kayaked for the first time! And, was introduced to the Alaska State Fair …
  • Calí, Colombia (December) — Visited Bryce’s grandma and aunt for Christmas. This was my first time in Colombia (and South America in general!) It was weird to have a “hot Christmas” but a wonderful time meeting and spending time with new family while exploring a vibrant city.
Grand Canyon National Park
First time at the Grand Canyon!

With getting married this year, I sort of forgot that I still took quite a few trips throughout the year. I honestly almost forgot about the Grand Canyon trip before I searched through my phone at old photos — even though this was one of my favorite trips from the year! Ah, I guess I can’t play favorites, Colombia is high on the list, too! Funny how time can be …

What are your highlights from 2018 travels?

colombia

The avocado man

The street outside Bryce’s grandma’s house can be lively during the day with cars rushing by and honking their horns, or people calling out to each other. She lives in Cali, Colombia.

The other day as we ate breakfast, I heard someone yelling through a loud speaker outside.

“Is it something political?” I asked Bryce.

“No, it’s a man selling avocados. Come look!” he replied, as he peeked through the blinds of a window facing the street.

I walked over to the window just in time to see the man pushing his cart, and surprised to see he only had like four avocados!

He also wasn’t yelling through a microphone. He was playing a pre-recorded recording to make his avocado sales.

We were unsure if he perhaps already sold most of his avocados, or if he just didn’t have a lot to sell to begin with.

All I know is that I would love to have an avocado vendor walk the streets outside of my house so I could have the opportunity to buy fresh avocados. That’s pretty much the dream. For those of you thinking it: Amazon Fresh doesn’t count!

Aguacates! Aguacates!

colombia, travel

Travel blogging while traveling

How do you do it? Travel blog while traveling?

Even on days when we aren’t out doing things all day, I am either too tired, eating or spending time with family (as this trip to Colombia was to mainly visit Bryce’s grandma).

So, how do you make time to blog while traveling? Do you just jot down notes and write posts when you are back home? Do you just “make the time” while traveling and crank out posts instead of sleeping? Do you do something in between the two? Or, something else?

This newbie travel blogger would like to know your secret!

I know there is no right or wrong answer, but it was something that I was thinking about as the days quickly have passed by and I have not written a new post.

And, while I’m here I guess I’ll give you a few Colombia travel updates:

  • The fruits and plants here are amazing! Both to look at and eat. I could eat avocados every day.
  • The people here are so nice and welcoming.
  • I have about a dozen mosquito bites — per leg.
  • Despite being only three hours ahead of home (Seattle), I feel like my sleep schedule is waaayyy off. But, I’m really “only” in East Coast time right now!

More things to say but I’ll probably have to write it all after the trip, as we are getting close to our departure … sigh …

Seattle skyline
seattle

Home is where the rain is

I’m from Seattle. 

As the years pass by, this phrase has more and more clout for me.

There is constantly construction going on downtown. More and more transplants arrive in droves to work at Amazon, or the next up and coming start-up. There are just fewer and fewer Seattleites in Seattle. It’s a known fact.

I was born in Seattle. I was raised in Seattle. I attended Seattle Public Schools. Even for college, I didn’t go far. I went to UW. I also currently work for an organization that has “Seattle” in its name … but this is just coincidental. I’m not selecting my place of employment based on its name!

I’m the person who gets annoyed when I hear people say they are from Seattle but really they are from Shoreline, Lynnwood or even Tacoma! This is equivalent to New Yorkers hating it when folks from New Jersey say they are from New York.

I can’t say I love the grey, because I don’t. But, living here for more than 30 years has taught me to love the rain.

Today I walked along Alki in West Seattle and was (again) reminded how special it is here. We have water. We have mountains. And, yeah, we have rain and traffic and roads with potholes that don’t get fixed … but, this city is a special place.

Bryce and I spotted a seal bopping its head up and down along the beach as we walked. We also saw a dolphin (or two?!) out in the distance. It’s no surprise to see wildlife other than seagulls in Puget Sound, but you still get that kid-on-Christmas-day-feeling deep inside when you do.

We were the only ones to spot these friends as other walkers and runners just went on by.

Yes, it was raining. But, it was still magical.

new zealand, pre travel, travel

Why New Zealand?

IMG_1734

I’m not sure when Bryce and I decided to go to New Zealand.

When we got engaged at the end of October 2017, obviously everyone wanted to know the who/what/where/whens of the wedding. I more so wanted to get planning on the honeymoon.

Once we had the venue locked down, I made sure to constantly bring up conversations on where we would honeymoon.

It wasn’t that hard picking New Zealand. Our main criteria for our destination was to go somewhere international that neither one of us had ever been to. We also wanted some place where there would be lots of options for outdoor activities and being in nature.

New Zealand naturally came up as a good choice.

I think our conversation went something easy like this:

Kristin: I want to go to Greece … or New Zealand.
Bryce: Let’s go to New Zealand. 
K: Yes! Should we go to Australia and New Zealand?
B: We’ll only have time for New Zealand. 
K: OK, New Zealand it is! 

Whenever it comes up in conversation that I am going to New Zealand, or when someone asks me where we went/are going on our honeymoon, the same question always comes up: Why New Zealand?

Bryce says he gets the same first question among his friends and colleagues.

I’m assuming people ask because from Seattle, it’s so far away and takes “forever” to get to. I’m also guessing people ask because maybe if people were to choose between Australia and New Zealand, they’d pick Australia?

Would we be getting the same question had we picked Mexico? Or, Greece? Or, somewhere in Europe?

I want to know “Why ‘Why New Zealand?'” 🙂

pre travel

Better now than in New Zealand!

I caught a cold last week that really knocked me out. It started somewhat slowly — and progressively got worse.

Last Friday Phyllis and I were supposed to do afternoon tea and walk around downtown Seattle and see the gingerbread houses at the Sheraton and look at Pike Place Market all decked out in its holiday decor. It’s normal to coordinate a day off with your best friend months in advance to do Christmas-y things together, right? Yeah, I thought so, too.

Unfortunately, none of that happened because she and I were both sick! A fun day off turned into a sick day. Neither of us could even muster up the energy to drive to the other’s place to sit and watch Christmas movies together.

North Cascades
Non-sick times in the North Cascades of Washington state

I ended up napping most of the day.

Why did this have to happen?? We had been looking forward to this FOR MONTHS!

I was being a tad dramatic that night.

“Better now than in New Zealand!” Bryce replied. “Or, better now than in Colombia!”

He had a point. Being sick during a vacation is a pretty unfortunate thing to happen. You don’t have time to be sick when you’re supposed to be taking in new sights and exploring!

I guess if I can get this cold out of my system now and not catch anything new, I’ll be a happy traveler.

pre travel

So, have you been practicing your Spanish?

Every time I see or talk to my mom — which is at least once a week, if not more — she asks me if I have been practicing my Spanish.

“No, too busy,” I always mumble back.

Bryce and I will be going to Colombia this Christmas to visit his grandma. It’ll be my first trip to Colombia, and South America in general, so I am very excited. (Bonus that we’ll also be away from rainy and cold Seattle!)

It’s no surprise that my mom keeps asking if I have been brushing up on my Spanish. Bryce’s relatives do not speak any English.

I studied Spanish throughout college — fun fact, I was a Spanish major for one quarter when I was forced to declare a major my fall quarter of junior year and had reached all the prerequisites — so you’d think it’d all be OK. I mean, after all, I started learning Spanish in middle school!

Park Güell, Barcelona
Park Güell, Barcelona, Spain — Spring 2013, the last time I used my Spanish …

But, I don’t use Spanish in my day-to-day life. Also, since I grew up learning both English and Japanese as a kid, sometimes when I’m searching in the depths of my brain for a word in Spanish, the Japanese equivalent will pop up first.

A few years ago when my cousin Marissa, BFF Phyllis and I were on a flight from Seattle to LA — to go to Disneyland, of course! — there was a woman seated in a middle seat that we wanted to trade seats with. We had an alone aisle seat and thought it would be a good trade to kindly ask for. As soon as we started talking to her, she responded in Spanish that she only spoke Spanish.

I started putting together words to politely ask her, this time in Spanish, if she would be willing to trade seats with us.

“What’s the word for “aisle?” I desperately asked Phyllis, who took some Spanish in grade school. She didn’t know either.

Boarding was pretty much done and my broken Spanish did not translate to the woman.

“It’s OK, I’ll just stay in my seat,” Phyllis said to Marissa and I.

More than eight years of formal Spanish education and I couldn’t even use it in a real life scenario to ask a stranger a simple question! To be fair, this occurred about six years after I graduated (and thus stopped using my Spanish).

So, to avoid an embarrassing situation like this again, any suggestions for a crash-review-course? I’ve done Duolingo before but find the beginning sections super easy. Binge watch Spanish-speaking shows on Netflix? I guess the easiest would be to force Bryce and I to speak Spanish to each other … we’ll see.