Archive for the ‘Road Trip’ Category

One of my New Years resolutions was to make a bigger effort to explore the North Pacific West.  So, I took advantage of one of our less rainy weekends and decided to hike the Bridal Veil Falls and Lake Serene trail.

For those who aren’t familiar with Lake Serene, it is a glacial lake nestled in Washington’s Cascade Mountains.  The trail is about 7.2 miles (round trip) and has an estimated 2,000ft elevation gain.

I confess, I am not an experienced hiker, but I was initially drawn to this particular trail for its close proximity to Seattle, as well as rumored beauty.

But before leaving, I wanted to do a little background research on Lake Serene.  I discovered a collection of beautiful photos capturing a pristine, aquamarine colored lake nestled in between dramatic mountaintops.

However, most of these photos were taken during the summer, and it being January, I was fully prepared for the clear and present danger of snow and ice.


That being said, I decided to take my chances and embark upon this new experience.  The trail begins on an old logging road just off of Highway 2, and about an hour and a half from Seattle by way of I-5.

The trail starts off pretty easy, as you walk along a wooded path.  Gradually the trail begins to start its incline (Remember that 2,000 ft elevation gain?) as you make your way towards Lake Serene.

Unfortunately, on the day that I went, the trail was icy and I wasn’t able to make it all the way up to Lake Serene.

But, I was able to get a feel for what the trail would entail and I will definitely be going back during a warmer time of year.

From what I can tell, during the summer, the Lake is a great place to picnic and even (if it’s warm enough) a great place to go swimming.

I definitely recommend this trail for anyone that is looking to get some fresh air.  It is a great hike for people of any skill experience—just don’t forget to pack one essential item: snacks!


-Aryn Higgins, TWIF Blogger

 Pacific Northwest

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It’s the end of January and we’ve reached that mid-winter lull when we’re no longer motivated by the joy of the holidays to power through the chilly days with a smile. We find ourselves wanting for Spring rather than being satisfied with a cozy fire and a winter warmer in hand. But the PNW has had many a rainless day lately and countless breathtaking sunsets, so don’t wait for Spring’s distant arrival to embrace the outdoors. Here are 4 reasons you should get off your couch and get outside:

1. Because the views downtown offers are too majestic to miss. And while you’re there, be a tourist in your own city. Have a cocktail at the Alibi Room, use the Gum Wall as a photo backdrop, and don’t forget to head downstairs to Orange Dracula, an eccentric little shop that houses one of the best black and white photo booths in the city (trust me on this one, the exposure and white balance are flawless).

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2. Because houseboats. Take a stroll through the unchartered corners of Gasworks Park and you’ll find darling houseboats that gently rock on Lake Union’s wake. It may seem a little peeping-Tom-ish—obviously you should respect the residents—but it doesn’t hurt to daydream a little.

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3. Because the Bainbridge Island ferry guarantees lovely views of both the city and nature, but also because the 30 minute ride gives you just enough time to plan upcoming adventures—like where you’ll journey on the first warm day of Spring.

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And, since you’ll be visiting the Island, stop in at Island Vitners for an $8 wine flight and an ever-welcoming atmosphere. If vino just isn’t your thing, head down the main drag to the beloved Mora Iced Creamery; your taste buds will thank you.

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4. Because hiking to Twin Falls at Olallie State Park makes you feel like you’ve stepped into an enchanted forest. Bring your camera and your endurance, guys, this place is gorgeous. Olallie is about 45 miles east of Seattle and boasts six miles of hiking trails. Winter just happens to be the best time to see the waterfalls. So, couch or roaring falls hedged in an old growth forest? I think we both know the correct answer.

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Sometimes life is better spent outdoors, so go have your adventure!

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It’s near that time of year when Sasquatch makes itself visible for all to see. Ok, you already guessed, I’m talking about Sasquatch Festival. Set at the ever beautiful Gorge from May 24 – May 27, Sasquatch is the northwest’s premier music festival.

This will be my second year going to Sasquatch. Prior to going last year I had never been to a true music festival and I didn’t quite know what to expect. Would it be too crowded? Would it be too intense? Will the bands be any good live? It turns out I didn’t need to worry about any of those things, because it was just right. The Gorge is an amazing venue with beautiful views, the crowd were just mellow enough, and the music was great.

Some of the most anticipated performances this year are those by MUMFORD & SONS, THE POSTAL Service, MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS, SIGUR RÓS, VAMPIRE WEEKEND, THE XX,  and THE LUMINEERS.

If this is your first time going to Sasquatch, I recommend upgrading to premier camping, which gives you easier access to showers and slightly more camping space.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing at Sasquatch?

Written by Dave Rigotti

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Everyday I check my iPhone to see what the weather will be, cross my fingers for some sunshine, and then pack my rain coat and boots regardless of what the weather app tells me. After 5 years here I’ve finally learned that Mother Nature seems to have a permanent case of PMS in the fall and is constantly changing her mind. What starts out nice can instantly turn to downpour, especially when you have something important going on outside. But for this weekend I have it on good authority that she’ll be in a good mood and will be bestowing upon us ample amounts of sunshine and vitamin D :) So in honor of what may be the last sunny (and not freezing) weekend of the year, I’ve compiled a little list of ways you can have some fun outside.

Go for a hike

Seattle has been named one of the best cities for outdoor exercise in the country because of     the many beautiful trails and parks both in and around the city. If you’re looking for an           easy walk you can check out the Arboretum, Discovery Park, Alki Beach, Seward Park             Loop, Greenlake, or Carkeek park. If you haven’t been to Carkeek park and stood on the bridge that the trains zoom under I would highly recommend you go.

If you’re in the mood for a more difficult hike you can strap on some sturdy shoes and head out to Mt Si, Tiger Mountain, or Cougar Mountain. Mt Si has two trails to choose from- a moderate 5 mile trail (named Little Si) or a much more trying 8 mile trail. The first time I went up the regular trail I was pretty surprised at how out of breath I was. I was also pretty surprised to see people 3 times my age passing me as I huffed and puffed my way up (you can’t even imagine how good that felt…). But when I got to the top I wasn’t surprised that this hike is the most popular in the area. It’s just so stinkin’ pretty-definitely worth the drive and wobbly muscles.

Bike to Redhook Brewery 

This has always been on my bucket list of things to do. All I need is a bike, and maybe a friend with a bike, and I’d be good to go. Depending on where you start, this is roughly a 40 mile roundtrip ride on the Burke Gilman. Based on what I gather from the reviews, this is a relatively easy bike trip and one doesn’t need to be the next Lance Armstrong to go the distance. Upon arriving at the Brewery you can go on a tasting tour at 1, 3 or 5pm for just a buck and get five samples of delicious beer. Some fresh air, exercise, and beer for a buck? Fantastic.

Train for an upcoming 5k

Seattle always has some kind of 5k going on over the weekend and most of them support a great cause. If   you’re feeling philanthropic this weekend you can still sign up for the Beat the Burn 5k which benefits Seattle’s Northwest Burn Foundation on Sunday, October 16th at 9am. Your 30$ entry fee helps local families receive the treatments they need after suffering from severe burns. Plus you get a sweet t-shirt that you can feel proud wearing AND there’s booze at the end. Enough said. Also, if you’d rather do a little training this weekend and run next weekend instead, you can sign up for the MVP 5k challenge next Saturday at Greenlake. Registration is 30$ and funds go directly to Andrew Moritz, a former UW Basketball player who was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer. There are only two hospitals in the nation that can treat his disease and by participating you’ll be helping him with his sky-high medical bill and travel arrangement bills. You will also be given a sweet t-shirt and can pack some booze in the car to celebrate with afterwards.

Root Root Root for the Home Team

Both the Husky Football team and the Seattle Sounders have home matches this weekend and cheering for your boys would make for an excellent autumn afternoon. This is my preferred way to spend a   sunny day- just say no to exercise. I’ll take a hot dog, some nachos, a beer (or two) and       count the walk from my car to the field as a phenomenal form of physical activity. If you’re thinking of heading to the Husky game consider going early and getting in on the tailgate action. The game is at noon and often times the food, drinks, music, games, and camaraderie beforehand is my favorite part of the event. Sounders more your style? Go for a pre-game drink outside the Clink. The pubs are always packed with noisy, up to no good fans looking to have some fun. No tickets? No problem. There’s always some guy hustling seats on your way in.

There’s obviously many, many more ways to spend some time outside this weekend. Feel free to comment and give some other suggestions, us at TWIF would love to hear them! And as John Denver would say…sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy :) So go soak up what’s left of this year’s vitamin D resource and have some fun in the sun!

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What better way to set a project up for an epic fail than give it an acronym that is pronounced “Whoops”? Last week during my trip with my parents I had the opportunity to visit the now defunct Washington State Public Power Supply System (WPPSS) plant number 5.

A few days before our trip I learned about this place and I wanted to check it out myself. Words cannot describe how eerie a feeling you get when you’re driving down the highway outside of Satsop when all of a sudden there are two massive owers peering out of the woods.

As it turns out, these nuclear cooling towers were never even finished in a public works project run amuck. Way back in the 1950’s, well meaning officials believed that building nuclear power plants would be the answer to our growing need for power and they believed that without doing so we’d eventually run out of resources and not have enough to go around.

Nuclear power was believed to provide clean (ahem) and cheap power. Instead, the events and human faults of this project produced the largest municipal bond default in United States history.

During the construction several factors combined to kill the construction schedules and drive up costs to around four times the original estimates. Design changes happened regularly and builders often got ahead of designers who would then have to modify their drawings to conform to what had already been built. The entire project was very poorly managed. The management had little or no experience with a project this size, or a nuclear projects at all for that matter. In a well-publicized example, a pipe hanger was built and rebuilt 17 times.

In January 1982, the WPPSS board stopped construction on the plant when total cost for the 5 total plants they were building was projected to exceed $24 billion. Because these plants generated no power and brought in no money, the system was forced to default on $2.25 billion in bonds. This meant that the member utilities, and ultimately the rate payers, were obligated to pay back the borrowed money. In some small towns where unemployment due to the recession was already high, this amounted to more than $12,000 per customer. The bond holders sued and the matter wound it way through courts for the next 13 years.

On December 24, 1988, the parties in the various lawsuits reached a settlement of $753 million. Some of the 30,000 bond holders would receive 40 cents on every dollar invested and others got as little as 10 cents. Because a court found that some of the bond monies for Plants 4 and 5 were spent on Plants 1 and 3, participants in those projects were held liable for the default. Seattle’s share was $50 million, of which $43.2 million came from insurance companies. The last settlement was reached in 1995.

The Satsop WPPSS plant now appears to be privately owned and is being converted into a very unusual industrial park.

Read all the details at HistoryLink.org.

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I’m still recovering from last weekend. From August 7th to the 11th the Mosquito Fleet hosted out-of-towners from all over and as far away as New York and Cincinnati for the 6th annual Blood Drive Moped Rally. I was on the planning committee and doing a lot of the logistical stuff but even so, it was quite a fun (and exhausting) weekend.

Thursday night started out with a fire at Laurelhurst Fire Pit. I had never been to this firepit before, even though the Mosquito Fleet frequents it, and I was impressed. A city park with a fire pit that’s open to 11pm? You don’t find them everywhere.

After 11 we headed to what everyone referred to as “secret bar” in Wallingford. Anticipating the busy day ahead, we didn’t stay that late.

Friday morning a group of us woke up early and made a logistical run for Saturday morning. The logistical run took us most of the day and upon our return most everyone had made it to town. From 4-6pm we met at Seattle Mopeds.

From there a long ride highlighting Seattle took place ending at the Marco Polo Bar in Georgetown. I didn’t have the opportunity to go on the ride (but really, I live here, I can go anytime) but I did get the opportunity to spend a little extra time at the MArco Polo. I have to say its on of my favorite bars in Seattle. Its a very humble bar, with good food and good service and such an eclectic mix of people. I think it was only 8pm when the first drunk redneck was thrown out all while screaming, “whooo hooo, I’m getting thrown out of the Marco Polo.”

From the Marco Polo the ride headed over to a warehouse party at the Cretin’s Warehouse. Again, running logistics, I got stopped behind a train along with about 20 mopeders for what seemed like forever. We did our best to make the side of the road a party.

The warehouse party was great. Everyone seemed to have a good time. There was a DJ and dancing. Surprisingly, the party wore down quite early as I think the day ahead played in the back of everyone’s mind.

So Saturday morning was an early morning. We all had a busy day ahead. We all met at Linda’s Tavern in Capital Hill for breakfast at around 10am.

After a delicious breakfast, it was time for the big ride – 85 miles-  from Seattle to Camano Island. Sadly, I was not on the ride although I was able to go on the ride previously in a car while planning for the event. I was at Costco buying hamburgers instead. But pictures from the ride speak for themselves….

About halfway through the ride we had a planned stop at Harborview Park near Everett. This park is gorgeous perched over the sound. When the mopeds arrived they were greeted with ice cold Vitamin Water or Vitamin Energy and a variety of treats all marked “Mosquito Bite.” I heard this was a big hit.

Arriving at the campsite about 5 hours later the mopeders were hungry and greeted with a full BBQ. We had a private campsite with a giant circus tent. The night carried on with karaoke, DJ Danny White, a fire and other campsite shenanigans.

In the morning we had a breakfast burrito bar to feed everyone before the long ride back.

Upon arrival back in Seattle we purposely scheduled some down-time for people to freshen up and nap. I had the Creatures from San Francisco staying at my house. I am very fond of the Creatures and they are amazing house guests.

After some down time we headed to King’s Hardware in Ballard to end the night. Since it was Sunday evening some people with long drives had to head out early. At King’s we voted on who had the best crash of the weekend, who was the most snuggly, etc. King’s was nice enough  to give us happy hour prices and I noticed quite a few people tried their bloody mary’s.

Monday, the official last day of Blood Drive lead to breakfast at Salmon Bay Cafe in Ballard (as always, DISGUSTING) followed by a pool party at Joel’s house.

The day concluded with the same thing we do every Monday: Moped Monday. If you have a moped (of the pedal variety) you should join us at the Mars Bar around 8pm on Mondays. We usually meet then ride someplace. This week we rode to a spot under a bridge.

Some of my favorite parts of making the weekend happen included stenciling Matt’s truck which served as the support vehicle for the weekend picking up broken mopeds and making rally packs that were full of all kinds of goodies.

We were also mentioned in two of my favorite local blogs! MyBallard.com and Phinneywood.com!


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Reflecting on last weekend in Forks…. the weekend was beautiful and fun. The Olympic National Forest and the surrounding area is one of the most beautiful places I have seen. Camping was fun… I slept in the back of the Honda Element ZipCar.

I should say, I was super excited about riding the ferry, but after waiting 2 hours for it, the thrill was gone.

The parade was a good old fashioned parade but the best part had to be the Demolition Derby. I can’t believe how excited I got over cars smashing into one another!

I headed back early and took the long route exploring Lake Cressent,  the Hood Canal and stopping at the Goodwill and a Yard Sale. Lake Cressent may just be my favorite lake ever. Its barely developed, surrounded by mountains and the most amazing teal color. It was a good weekend.

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