Last weekend, I flew back to my hometown in Washington State for a few days. One of my best friends tagged along and I had planned a perfect itinerary filled with beach walks, hiking, and beach walks. Oh, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
Mother Nature, unfortunately, had slightly different plans for us. Growing up in the PNW, rain doesn’t scare me. Strong winds are a daily occurrence. Snow? That will stop me in my tracks. So, it’s only natural that the worst snowstorm to hit the Pacific Northwest in 50 YEARS happened to fall over my little trip. Of course. Lucky me.
I kid! The Northwest is beautiful in the snow. I loved sitting in my grandparent’s living room watching the snow fall over the oak trees in the back yard. I loved the blustery winds coming off the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I hated driving on the hills, though. That was awful.
Our weekend started Thursday night- my friend, who lives in Austin- flew in on a different flight and we met at SeaTac to pick up our rental car. We didn’t leave the rental car facility until 11:00 and we still had a two hour drive up to Whidbey Island where we were spending two nights. I, the local, had volunteered to drive. My poor friend, who I’m pretty sure just wanted to sleep, instead listened to my slightly inaccurate but highly informative history of the North Puget Sound.
In the morning, we headed off to Port Townsend, Washington– a nearby coastal town with a really cute Victorian downtown. To access Port Townsend, we needed to take a thirty-minute ferry crossing. Port Townsend is a great destination in itself- the Victorian downtown is filled with shops and restaurants to stroll through. In the summer, accommodations and ferries tend to book up so reservations are advised. Fortunately, we had most downtown to ourselves.
We started at one of my favorite places: Elevated Ice Cream. Yes, it was snowing. Yes, I ate ice cream. Elevated is known for their homemade ice cream in a variety of traditional and regional flavors. I had the Ginger and Loganberry flavors. Another one of my favorites is their lavender ice cream which is made with flowers from nearby Sequim. We also walked through the downtown galleries and drove out to Fort Warden State Park for a beach walk.
Once back on the Island, we drove to Fort Casey State Park because I wanted to see the lighthouse in the snow. My friend was also really excited because we found 8 deer roaming around in the park (he had never seen deer in the wild before). In better weather, I love taking visitors here to explore the old bunkers from the late 1800’s. It was still snowing so we just threw snowballs at each other instead.
To warm up, we headed to Coupeville for an dinner. Most of the shops were closed but thankfully Toby’s Tavern was open. A local institution, Toby’s is famous for their fish & chips, chowder, and steamed mussels. I was feeling indecisive so we ordered all three (no regrets).
Coupeville, which is situated on Penn Cove, is famous for it’s historic downtown and world-famous mussels. Penn Cove mussels are harvested directly from the Island and sold in fine dining restaurants around the country. I always get really excited when find Penn Cove mussels at restaurants off-island; it makes me a little less homesick.
The next morning, before heading off to Seattle, we finished up our sightseeing tour of North Whidbey with stops at two mandatory places: first Whidbey Coffee and then Deception Pass Bridge. Deception Pass Bridge is the only bridge off the island. It’s also surrounded by the island’s largest (and most popular) state park.
We had booked one night at the Green Tortoise Hostel in Downtown Seattle before our flights back to Texas on Sunday (or so we planned…). It started snowing in the late afternoon. We returned our rental car to the convenient downtown drop-off location and walked a few blocks to our hostel. After dropping off our bags, we took off to watch the sunset, cutting through Pike Place Market, on our way to the waterfront.
Unfortunately, most of the businesses were closed but we found an amazing little place for dinner, Zig Zag Cafe, that had fantastic cocktails and even better food. We tried the greek fries, saganaki, and oysters on the half shell. I was ecstatic to discover the oysters of the day were from my favorite farm- Hamma Hamma Oysters- so naturally I had to order a whole dozen.
Back at the hostel, we were notified that both of our flights back to Texas had been canceled and we were rescheduled on flights leaving Monday. After the initial panic subsided, I was glad to have more time in Seattle. We celebrated with a bottle of wine during our hostel’s open mic night and then went to a few bars in Capitol Hill.
The next morning, we ate our way through Pikes Place Market. Most of the local vendors provide free samples of everything from jelly to smoked salmon. Unlike our quick walk-through the night before, the market was fully open and bustling. I may or may not have returned to Market Spice twice for extra samples of their delicious tea.
That evening, we took the Seattle Underground Tour that leaves hourly from Pioneer Square. I don’t want to ruin any surprises but I highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting the city! I’ve done it twice and honestly I would do it again if I had another friend visit.
I had planned to show my friend the other neighborhoods but because of the snow most of the city’s transportation was shut down. For dinner, we ate at the Alibi Room inside Pike Place Market. I had a few glasses of an Oregon Pinot Noir and we split a chorizo and potato pizza. We spent the rest of the night at the restaurant, leaving only when it closed at midnight.
The next morning, we went for a quick breakfast at Piroshky Piroshky before our flight. Fortunately, we had both rescheduled ourselves onto Monday morning flights- it started snowing again that evening and they canceled all the flights in the afternoon. As much fun as the weekend was, I was happy to finally get back Texas. I had a mountain of work waiting for me back at the office (boo) and my toes were finally warm (yay).
Looking back, it was a fun weekend with a good friend. Everything may not have gone as planned but we definitely made the most of it.