As a native of the Evergreen State (notorious for its apples, rain and bringing you Nirvana), my memories of Washington had begun to look a lot like stills from Twin Peaks
in the two years between my move to New York and my first venture back into the Pacific Northwest.
After a cloudless descent over a dark green landscape that appeared to creep out of the ocean and disappear into the sky by way of snow-capped mountains, I was reminded that nature isn’t just something recreated behind glass in the Museum of Natural History - I was home.
With a long wish list filled with places to see, fresh sea creatures to eat, and things to climb, I kicked off my adventure with a trip to Mount Rainier National Park. The two hour drive south of Seattle is filled with lakes, rivers, trees and hills, which made for pleasant ride as my father and I wound our way up the road to a part of the park called Paradise. Treated to a rare spell of sunny and warm weather, we worked our way up a series of paths that spend a greater part of the year collecting about 680 inches of snow. The hills around us were certainly alive, though no music was to be heard. Wild flowers, rivulets, and trees scattered the view, making feeble attempts to draw my attention away from the main attraction: Mount Rainier.
Whether it was the view, the steep incline or being nearly 6,000 ft above sea level, the experience was more breathtaking than I could remember. On our way back down the mountain, clouds began to roll in and I got to experience the only Washington rain of my trip - and it was great.
Having fulfilled my urge to plunge back into nature, my next stop was Seattle. Though the bars close at 2am and cabs are as hard to hail as mountains are to find in New York, the city that served as my home for 6 years did not fail to show me a good time.
During my trip to the Emerald City, I wandered my way through Pike Place Market
, where I needed to keep an eye out for two-foot-long fish being thrown. Over 100 years old and one of the longest running public farmers' markets in the US, Pike Place Market is a maze of restaurants, shops and stands (oh my!) perched atop a hillside overlooking Elliott Bay. After having my fill of donuts (made right before my tear-filled eyes), Ivar's fried salmon fingers, and salmon chowder, I passed by the original Starbucks and made a stop by my favorite cheese shop in all the land, Beechers
, to pick up some fruit nut crostinis and some of their Flagship Cheese, just in case I got homesick upon my return to New York.
After a couple days of visiting friends, making rounds at my favorite vintage clothing spots, bookshops, late night haunts, and eating at a few of my favorite restaurants, I met up with my parents and headed for an area of Seattle called Ballard. As one of my favorite neighborhoods and the home of my favorite weekend farmer’s market, I eagerly soaked up the autumn sun while sampling local fruits, breads and jams as we wended our ways through the row of tents selling local goods before heading to Golden Gardens.
Situated in the northwestern part of Seattle, a visitor goes to Golden Gardens and thinks to himself “I’ve died and gone to beautiful heaven” as he looks across the Puget Sound - dotted with sailboats, freighters and the occasional sea mammal - to the Olympic Peninsula, where the jagged silhouette of the Olympic Mountains sits like broken glass against the sky. It’s awesome.
With two suitcases full of treasures - some wearable, but most edible - I boarded my flight back to New York. As the city shrank below me after take off I couldn’t help but think to myself that really, there is no place like home.
Pike Place Market
Beechers Handmade Cheese