August 26, 2017 – Saturday – Port Angeles, WA to Tacoma, WA
The one day the kids sleep in, we actually have a timeline. So everyone dragged themselves out of bed, and helped themselves to whatever leftovers we had for breakfast. Hope you all don’t want yogurt, as we only have 2 left! Mac and cheese for breakfast? Go wild, young Zoe. You didn’t eat more than a bite? That’s okay, we didn’t want to bring it with anyway.
The kids played in the pool for a bit as we hurriedly jammed things into suitcases and reviewed the laminated checkout procedures. We piled up sheets and started a load of towels in the washer. We took out the trash and and made sure everything was out of the fridge. We packed up the Jeep and were ready to go!
NOTE: this was our first time doing an AirBnB. This place was interesting, to say the least. The way AirBnb works is that we then write a review of our place and the host writes a review of us (we swear we don’t know if there were originally 6 coasters and we lost one, or were there 5?? Please don’t downgrade us!!) and each of us can see each other’s review as soon as you write your own. In other words, we cannot trash them for trashing us. Then future hosts can look at our ratings and see if they should rent to us or not. The whole process is pretty interesting.
Anyway, pros of this place: out in a forested subdivision, very large, had pool and hot tub, DirectTV, enormous kitchen/dining/living room, beautiful large windows; would be PERFECT for a game night!
Cons: out in what felt like the middle of nowhere with millions of windows and only some of them had shades; so large that if someone was talking and not looking at you you couldn’t even hear what they were saying; shared pool and hot tub with a nearby cottage (we never were in there at the same time and I think the cottage was only occupied for 3 of the nights we were there); weird master bathroom with double sliding doors that we just stopped caring to shut because above them, it was all open to the ceiling (hope you are super comfortable with your family!); for us, on the wrong side of Port Angeles – we would have benefited from being west of town and easily have shaved 20 minutes off of our daily drive to the Park; we have no one to invite here in Port Angeles for a game night.
We then drove into Port Angeles for lunch – we stopped at a place called Turnip the Beet (get it? Har har) which was an organic-y kind of wrap place. We looked at the menu and determined the kids shouldn’t be subjected to our more adventurous tastes, and we had spied a DQ a few blocks away. Matt got a Ninja (with salmon and chipotle and sprouts) wrap and Sarah got a Greekin’ Out pita with lamb meatballs.
We then walked to DQ and had to wait for over a half hour for a few lousy hot dogs, as a crowd of elderly ferry-goers all wearing tour nametags knocked over Matt and ran into the DQ to get their blizzards before the ferry left. And the DQ was not prepared to answer their numerous questions regarding sizing, flavors, etc.
We lunched at the waterfront and got to see the ferry coming in from Canada. Matt almost strangled Sarah when she said, “Maybe we should have gone to Canada…”.
There was a guy with a bearded dragon perched on his shoulder wearing a shirt that said “Ask me about my bearded dragon” who kept hopefully wandering near our family. We didn’t ask, and avoided eye contact.
We quickly stopped by the National Park visitor center, and surprised B with a new combination binoculars/compass! Apparently this was such a unique item we could not locate it within city limits. He was so thrilled.
We then stopped off at a coffee place (note, we drink approximately 1 cup of coffee per 2 hours of awake time here) before leaving, and we were off to Tacoma! We drove by the exquisite lavender fields of Sequim (our kids just laughed when we asked them if they wanted to go on a tour of a lavender farm), and headed out of town. As we drove through the small towns with their local cannabis shops, bars, and dog grooming facilities, we hugged the side of the Hood Canal. At some point, we realized there were sure a lot more people hunting for oysters, and oyster bars, than there were on the way up. We bickered a bit about this lightly, as Zoe napped and we tooled along. Then Matt was like, you DID look at the directions, right? Well, turns out there is not one direct road straight from Port Angeles to Tacoma! Which it seemed like there was on the way out there. Ooops.
So we were inadvertently taking a quick (long) detour down through Olympia. We were like, eh, might as well visit the State Capitol while we are here.
We then got on I-5 up to Tacoma and there it was – Tacoma! Highway, Mount Rainier, the Tacoma Dome, all glorious. We motored to our new AirBnB, Commencement Bay cottage, in the swanky part of town. This is a little, two bedroom cottage with the best view we could ever imagine sandwiched between mansion like homes. It is absolutely freaking adorable. Every room is full of beautiful pieces of antique-y furniture, gorgeous pillows, everything is very hip and old at the same time. The view is outstanding of the bay. The owner has books for craft cocktails, shelves filled with games, dozens of DVDs, it is seriously just excellent. She left a huge binder filled with restaurant menus, information about the area. After being here, we are motivated to re-do our house exactly like this AND get a property to turn into an AirBnB and make it just like this one!!
We have been dying to have Chevy’s, which is a terrible Tex-Mex place out here that we always used to get takeout from. It is not good. And it’s not not good in that “bad for you” kind of way. It’s just bad. Apparently others agreed as we found out it closed in 2010. We checked out the Mexican place recommended in the “binder” and that had closed too. So Matt ran out to grab some supper from Brewers which is apparently a brewpub, Mexican place, and coffee house. Yeah, we kind of wondered about that. It was delicious! Sarah had tacos and Matt had a burrito. Kids ate part of a quesadilla and more PBJs we had left over. Got the kids down and enjoyed sitting out on our deck here with a cosmo and a beer. beautiful. (also – no mosquitos here!).
Beer of the day: Helmet Breaker Imperial IPA- Dystopian State Brewing, Tacoma WA. Gotta give it to the home breweries – good IIPA here.
August 27, 2017 – Sunday – Tacoma, WA
The kids woke us up bright and early, panicked that the donut place would run out of all the good donuts because we dared to sleep past 6:45 am. We DID awake to a glorious sunrise over the bay and Olympic mountains – amazing! Matt straggled awake and he and B took off for General Pao’s, and returned quickly with a box of donuts.
We all enjoyed sitting around and being lazy for a few hours, and then made the operative decision to go to a park.
We drove downtown for a bit, and then went to Point Defiance Park – we were about to spout off some crap about how this is the second largest urban park in the US after Central Park in NY. Then we checked the internet and learned it is only 700 acres and the largest “urban parks” in the US are in AZ, a loser state (that we are supposedly from on this trip as our stupid rental car has AZ plates). Anyway, Matt used to drive Noah around this park for hours when he was a baby and all he would do is cry and Matt wanted to cry as well. There’s a zoo, too! So many happy memories. We decided to go to the boathouse/marina there (this park is along the Puget Sound) and walk along the water so the kids could throw rocks in.
They enjoyed this and a playground. We found some weird gelatinous ooze in the water and Noah refused to touch it, even for 5 dollars. Good move, Noah. We need to have a talk with mommy about these “offers”.
We then decided to go home, eat sandwiches, and relax, then blow more time at another park before heading to dinner. We found another park where Braden made new friends, which included telling his friends’ mother his full name, how old we all were, and where we were from. She thought it was all pretty funny, and thank god, people in the Pacific NW are pretty blandly friendly like us Midwesterners are.
We then headed to the Hub, a pizza/brewery place. Then (too late) we remembered our service here 2 years ago. We waited for a table for 20-30 minutes, which seemed weird given it didn’t look super busy – we didn’t think that we could bring the kids in the bar. When we were seated, we ominously noted that every other group around us had 6-20 people in it. Yeah, we waited FOREVER for our food – the manager was waiting on us and we could tell he felt bad about it all. Then they made Matt’s (already bizarre (the special of the day that he ordered on purpose because it sounded “interesting”)) pizza with jalopenos on it by accident, and brought him a correctly made one too! Kids had cheese pizza and mac and cheese, and Sarah had a Tacoma Dome Dip sandwich – basically French dip with horseradish sauce and onion rings on it. The food was pretty decent but OMG it took 2 hours from us showing up to us leaving! We had beer there – sadly this was the best red (amber) that Sarah has tried the entire trip.
We had desperately wanted to have dessert but didn’t really want to stay another hour, so we swung by the best place ever, Metropolitan Market (think super fancy Whole Foods but locally owned and open 24 hours) for freshly baked cookies, macaroons for Sarah, and crème brulee for Matt!
We collapsed at home, but did let Noah stay up late – poor kiddo, he keeps getting stuck doing younger kid things this entire trip. We then collapsed again after he went to bed.
Beer of the night: Expedition Amber Ale and Puget Sound Porter at Harmon Brewing Company while waiting for pizza. Electron India Pale Ale from Puyallup River Brewing Company (also a home town brewer) for Matt, Sarah was just tired and wanted to go to bed.
August 28, 2017 – Monday – a day trip to Mount Rainier
Everyone slept in. We didn’t even tell the kids what we were doing today, it’s like they KNEW to sleep in to try and avoid hiking. Honestly, we didn’t even really know what we were doing until we hatched our plan around 9 am. Then we were like, fuck, we need to get in the car for the ~60-90 min drive there, because of course, Matt picked the one trail at the Paradise trailhead that has limited parking!! AHHHH!!!
We all hurriedly piled in and drove quickly to General Pao’s donut shop. (FYI that coconut donut is still delicious) – when Matt came back with 6 donuts, Sarah was like, who is that extra one for? Matt said the woman working made him take it, and he’s not totally sure why but wasn’t going to say no. Anyway, we cruised up to Mount Rainier. Sarah perused the hike book and pointed out that although this was the “1000 easy day hikes at Mount Rainier” book, there was a section where they were listed in order of difficulty and Matt had picked the hardest one in the book. With limited parking. When we started late. Also, it said hiking boots were necessary.
We inched our way up to the Paradise Visitor Center. Our friendly foe, road construction, was creating delays. The views of Mount Rainier were breathtaking; it was 87-90 degrees and hazy so you couldn’t see the mountain from Tacoma when we left – as you got closer it was gorgeous and clear. We made it to the top, and in the longer term parking area there were plenty of spots left (spoiler: when we got back from our hike (yes, we did survive), there was no parking left, and cars continued to stream into the lot and patrol for spots. Sucks to be them. (We were almost them)).
At the top, the plan to do Skyline Trail (which was only Matt’s plan, not Sarah’s) disappeared as soon as we saw the hoards of professionally dressed hikers with walking sticks (we left ours at home, much to B’s chagrin, as that is all he repeatedly asked for this trip) coming down the trail having just spent the morning doing it. We instead aimed for a trail called the Alta Vista, which was shorter and had minimal elevation gain according to the book.
Liar book! It was essentially hiking up a very steep hill with switchbacks to a look out, climbing down a bunch of rocks, then hiking slowly down a trail that was poorly enough maintained that we questioned if we were on the correct trail. (B: “why are these rusty metal poles here?” Sarah: “I think someone tore out a guardrail? Stay closer to the side of the mountain”). Either way, made it back and felt satisfied that we had done something. Also, our quads burned and our knees were killing us. B and Z needed negotiations to complete the trail.
We ambled back to the car after group vote was for no further hikes, and we lunched in the car. We then drove down the mountain slowly. There were numerous trails that looked good, and although again we were only at ~5200 feet, Mount Rainier National Park really reminded us of what we loved about Glacier National Park. Alpine lakes, back country camping and stretches of wilderness. None of which we experienced, although Sarah read some blogs by snobby backpackers doing the Wonderland Trail, and made fun of them. Close enough.
We then cruised down the side of the mountain and stopped at Narada Falls, which required immense Zoe negotiations and bribery with the rainbow at the bottom to get her to.
We then cruised back to Tacoma (another hour in the car). We let the kids eat at a McDonald’s playplace (we told them when hiking we were going to surprise them with something with 9 letters in it – (happy meal) and it kept them from complaining and helped with counting and spelling skills, so everyone wins). We then motored home and wrestled the kids into bed, after promising them a boat trip in the morning.
Then Matt picked up Sushido sushi rolls for us! We tried the Seattle, alligator, and yummy yummy rolls and they were delicious with beer and a Cosmo. We enjoyed looking out over the bay and twinkling lights, and called it a night.
Beer of the day: Gold Dust IPA from Pacific Brewing & Malting Company (downtown Tacoma, keepin’ it local, y’all). Pretty standard IPA.