The Adventures of Anastasiya Didok

Life and faith in a nutshell.

Month: January, 2014

Why A Real Book Still Beats The Kindle and Other Readers

We’ve all heard about the romantic notion of picking up a book and the feeling that flipping through the real pages gives to a hardcore reader. It’s so romantic to curl up by the fire with a volume on a rainy or snowy day. Or to find yourself in a coffee shop, sipping on the java, with a novel in front of you. Or to lay on the beach, the warmth of the sun tickling your skin, sunglasses on, lost in the most recent tome.

My reason for the real book beating all the Kindle is way less sentimental than that. Although I’ve also harbored the romantic ideas of myself reading in the scenarios above, the reality is a bit different. I don’t think I’ve ever curled up by the fire with a volume. I’d be too lazy to start a fire on my own, and if there’s someone else who started it, chances are I’d rather talk to them than read. I also have no patience for reading in a coffee shop. I don’t think I’d ever actually push myself out of the house to go to a coffee shop just to read! Chances are I’m meeting up with someone at that coffee shop, which leaves no place for a book. And the beach scene… I’ve brought books along. I get too hot, the hair gets in my eyes, the wind blows the pages all over, and the sand that flies on the pages gives me this icky feeling like when you scratch your nails on a chalkboard. Brrrrr!!! So why do I still think the real book beats The Kindle?

My reason for the real book beating all the Readers is practical. The only place I read is in the bathtub. And if I haven’t dropped a novel in the water, I have at least made the edges wet by being too lazy to use a towel every time before turning the page. I don’t take my cell phone in the tub with me, so why would I take an electronic anything else (such as a Reader?) This is the same reason why I don’t like hardcovers and fat volumes. They are too heavy to hold in the tub.

This is why a real book still beats The Kindle.

52 Books series. Week 4. “Gone With The Wind.” Margaret Mitchell.

I don’t own Gone With The Wind, so I don’t need to make a decision to keep or toss it.

This is my favorite novel of all times, as well as another rare case of a film production as good as the book (although I hear it’s not that interesting to watch if you haven’t read the book first.) The book is based during the Civil War and the reconstruction afterwards in the southern state of Georgia, and follows the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, Scarlett O’Hara, through it. I have read the book cover-to-cover 4 times in two different languages, and to be honest I think I am due for a re-read as soon as 2014 rolls around the corner.

Gone With The Wind is magnificent in its colorful depiction of life in the South, as well as character development. From filthy rich to dirt poor, it covers the span of all life situations and classes. I love the book for its vibrancy and the vivid emotions that it pertains. The main character, Scarlett O’Hara, transforms from a young seventeen year-old with nothing but driving boys crazy on her mind with daddy’s wealth to back her up, to a scheming survivalist who is stubborn to learn her life lessons, to a mature woman who is evaluating the value of the life she has built for herself and finding it to lack substance. But in all situations, her drive is what keeps the story rolling. She never gives up, and it’s contagious.

I was in love with her when I was young. I wanted to grow up to be just like Scarlett O’Hara, so I could also drive boys crazy and get what I wanted by sheer drive and determination. I read the book again in college, and found that she now annoyed me because of her complete lack of consideration for the people around her, and unappreciation for what she has. It came as a surprise that what I thought was drive and determination, I now recognized as manipulation. I was somewhat disappointed that my favorite character in the world possessed a lot of negative traits. It was like realizing for the first time that your parents have flaws.

I would like to re-read the book again in the near future, because I believe that I can now relate differently to other pieces of the novel. A business that’s failing. Losing a child. A marriage that lacks communication. Displacement and longing for a place to go back to and recharge. Although I haven’t lived through those, I think knowing the value of everything when it’s going well will help me to discover a new dimension to Scarlett O’Hara and Gone With The Wind.

Response to the blogger who looks down on stay at home moms controversy

This is what I woke up to this lovely morning on my day off: some blogger somewhere basically said she looks down on stay-at-home moms because anyone can get married and have a child, and women should also get showers for promotions and taking trips around the world. Of course there are a million posts right now responding to her article, (as Matt Walsh pointed out, making her richer by the minute because of all the traffic going to her page). Even Fox news picked up the story! So I couldn’t resist also putting my two cents in.

To tell the truth, I am somewhat surprised that her post got SO much attention. This type of attitude is actually pretty common among single working women, although maybe not always spoken out loud or written down. To be completely honest, I had the same exact attitude before I got married, so I know that she is simply writing this out of ignorance (although she would disagree). Now that I’m a working mommy, I know the truth, of course.

To be a stay-at-home mom is difficult, brave, and daunting. When you get a promotion or take a trip around the world you’ve accomplished what a lot of stay-at-home moms only dream about: fulfilling their OWN desires and having the funds to do so. As some savvy commenters wisely pointed out, staying at home is a risk: you have to rely on your husband for income, you automatically cut your family’s income in half, and you really don’t get a break.

We are not in a position right now for me to stay at home, but we are working and strategizing towards that position. While I still wish to stay at home, it is purely out of the instinctual knowledge that it is better for my husband and child. When I did stay at home full-time during my maternity leave, I was depressed and saw no end to the tunnel because it was so emotionally draining! I returned to work and felt a bit more like myself again. That’s the thing about staying at home: you completely lose your SELF. Your focus shifts outside: I need to change the baby. I need to entertain the baby. I need to pump/feed the baby. My husband will probably want to come home to a clean house. I need to cook something for him to eat when he gets there. I need to show compassion for his difficult day at work. It all gets even more difficult because since you stayed home, even though you worked really hard as well, no such compassion will be allotted to you. In addition, you are constantly tormented by thoughts of being a bad wife/mother because you are not holding your baby 24/7 or being the sweetest self to your spouse when he gets home from work (because you are exhausted after a day of laundry, dusting, cleaning, putting things away, holding your child, cooking…).

Right now my mother-in-law is watching our child (bless her heart). I come home eager to hold him because I’ve missed him. There is normally already some sort of food for me to eat, since my husband gets home two hours earlier so either he will get some or MIL will cook. The house is typically spotless because she is nice and knows I’d like to come home to a clean house. And everyone is compassionate because I get back so late from work. Is my job stressful? Sure it is. But it is a desk job where I get to think creatively AND analytically, solve problems, and get patted on the back for doing so efficiently. Oh, and I also get a lovely paycheck twice a month that allows us plenty of wiggle room to pay off debt, take a vacation, or shop for new clothes. Stay-at-home moms do not typically get such luxury.

So there. Hats off to all the moms staying at home. The author of the blog does not know what she is talking about, but her point of view isn’t actually that shocking because from the early age our media creates this alluring image of a self-sufficient woman. That’s what I wanted to be growing up, although my instincts said otherwise, and I worked REALLY hard fighting against them until I started attending Mars Hill church and heard some sermons on women’s roles. That was the first time I heard that what I am feeling deep down inside is actually normal, structured that way by our Creator. I am positive that a lot of stay-at-home mommies today, in addition to the challenges of staying at home listed above, also are experiencing an identity crisis and feel torn between being  what society calls a “successful” career woman and dedicating her life to her children. I want to emphasize that you were created to be able to endure the never-ending boring daunting routines of the home. Your husband was created to make it in the business world. Although it is emotionally easier right now to work  full-time, I feel a little displaced. When I come home I don’t feel like I’m in charge. It is not fully MINE.

I do not believe what the blogger is saying is correct. But I do not believe it’s right to be bashing the blogger for saying what the media has been brainwashing us to think for at least a generation.

Things we still want to do in Seattle and WA state

Although we live here, WA state has as many things to explore as days in a lifetime! Below are a few items that we have yet to accomplish, but haven’t gotten the time or the finances yet! I will keep adding to the list as I come up with more things I want to do, and write about experiences that we already accomplished.

1. Visit the Museum of Flight

2. Climb Mt. Rainier

3. Take a hot air balloon ride over Snohomish Valley

4. Subscribe to Smith Brothers milk delivery

5. Select 50 restaurants, visit one each week, and write about our experience

6. Visit the car museum in Tacoma

7. Visit a show together at the Paramount theater

8. Go to a classical concert together at the Benaroya Hall

9. Jump from a parachute

10. Go Kayaking in the Sound

11. Have a photoshoot at Deception Pass

12. Take the underground tour in Seattle

13. Visit the animal safari in Sequim

14. Visit the lavender farms in Sequim

15. Go snowboarding together

16. Take an overnight trip to Sol Duc Hot Springs resort

17. Plan an overnight staycation at Hotel Bellevue and eat at Polaris

18. Hike to lake Serene

19. Hike the Monte Cristo trail

20. Attend a Seahawks game

21. Attend a Sounders game

22. Go to Wild Waves

23. Go to a horse race at Emerald Dawns

24. Ride Seattle Great Wheel

25. Take a train ride to Leavenworth

26. Go to a show at 5th Avenue Theater

27. Attend a rally at the capitol in Olympia

28. Do Seattle art walk

29. Go to the Museum of History and Industry

30. Go to Klondike Gold Rush National Park

31. Go to Seafair

32. Visit San Juan Islands

33. Visit Bellevue Botanical Gardens

34. Go to Kids Quest Children’s Museum

35. Visit Bellevue Arts Museum

36. Visit Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett

37. Visit the Flying Heritage Collection at Paine Field

38. Visit the Schack Art Center

39. Visit the Evergreen Arboretum and Gardens

40. Go to Historic Everett Theater

52 Book Series. Week 3: “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” Earnest Hemingway.

This is a pretty chunky book and, of course, a classic. It is going to go into my “If I don’t read it within 6 month, it’s gone” pile that I will begin to work on in the beginning of 2014 once I’m done with my New Year’s Resolution to not read for a year.

The book is about blowing up a bridge by an American who is warring in the international brigade. Of course there is a love story, as well as the vivid depiction of real life. But there isn’t really much action which is in Hemingway’s true character. I have to really force myself to read the book, so why is it going into the “to read” pile?

First of all, I’ve already started it, and I hate leaving books without finishing them. This is something that I will have to learn to do because I have quite a few volumes weighing me down that I started but haven’t finished (mostly because they just don’t pull me in!) Second, Hemingway is one of those authors who is a pain to read through, but whose stories are forever ingrained in one’s mind and actually make an impact. I’ve only read two of his other works: “The Sun Also Rises,” and a short story about a girl who is talking to her boyfriend who is trying to convince her to have an abortion. I remember both plotlines even though it’s been more than ten years since I’ve read the stories. I believe it’s the emotions that the books convey that stick with you through life. I’m not sure what emotions “For Whom the Bell Tolls” has me experiencing yet, but I also remember the plotline even though I’ve picked the volume up and put it down more than once over the past two years. I guess the good thing about it is that you never have to re-read from the beginning after not touching the book for a while, because you don’t ever forget what happened.

By the way, from my last two articles in this series I realized that I do not actually own the books that made the most impact on my life. I don’t own “Gone With The Wind,” even though I’ve read it four times in two languages. I don’t have the aforementioned “The Sun Also Rises” sitting on any shelf (and I don’t believe that either set of our parents does). Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” also somehow missed my personal collection. So I may have to deviate from my decluttering plan and write on those even though I don’t own them, because I probably have a lot to say and feel… This also makes me realize that I probably don’t need to keep books at all! I highly doubt that I will be unable to borrow a volume or find it at Goodwill for $0.99 if I am so inclined to read it.

I’m looking forward to the feeling of accomplishment that finishing this book is going to bring into my life, as well as sorting through the emotions and feelings that it will undoubtedly evoke.

Devising Good

As we know, I am currently reading Proverbs and highlighting verses that pertain to wealth, healing, and love. My takeaway from this morning was a verse about love. “Those who devise good meet steadfast love and faithfulness.” Proverbs 14:22

This is such a different take on love. We all search for unconditional love, and unfortunately often demand it in our marriages. This verse points out that sometimes a little bit of work might pay off when it comes to love! Different translations have the word love swapped with the word “mercy,” but “faithfulness” pretty much remains untouched, and we all know how important that is to a marriage. I believe that whatever is in the bible is a surer way to obtain what you need than any other plan, and apparently it gives a formula for faithfulness! Who would’ve thought? All I have to do to meet it is “devise good.”

What is devising good? To google I go. Devise — plan or invent by careful thought. This implies deliberation and time, but basically the definition can be divided into three parts:

1. Plan. What good can you plan today? Planning requires thinking about things ahead of time. This could be setting up a reservation for a night out with your spouse, or asking for some time off in advance to take a trip. This could be as simple (for women) as freshening up make-up on our way home from work because we are planning on seeing our husbands soon. This could pertain to bigger projects that require planning — such as a meal plan or time planned to exercise together. This part of devising good ensures that foreseeable troubles and opportunities don’t come unexpected, because we have planned.

2. Invent. This is a little bit more difficult than planning, as it requires for us to turn on our imaginations. Invention is something new, never seen before. Has your marriage gone stale and boring? This is a perfect time to invent something new! Inventing good would ensure that the rut that couples often get stuck in doesn’t happen. It could be a new way to spoil your honey, or a new way to help someone out outside the household. After all, helping others brings a couple closer.

3. Careful thought. This means that you have thought long and hard about the good. This also means that all angles have been considered. When you go out to buy your spouse a present, do you consider what they will think about it, or is it something that YOU think they will like (for no good reason)? Husbands, have you carefully thought about purchasing your wife a vacuum cleaner for Christmas and considered how that might make her feel (like she is only there to clean for you)? Wives, have you deliberated carefully before giving away your husbands “clutter” without asking him, and thought about how it may make him feel (like his stuff doesn’t have a place in the home)? Sometimes what seems good to us isn’t exactly so. When devising it, it’s a good idea to carefully think about it.

This principle, of course, can also be applied to friends and acquaintances. How deliberate are we about doing good? How much time to we spend carefully thinking about it and planning it out? Or is good just something that we do as the opportunity comes up?

My goal after this is to be more deliberate about doing good — to devise it, especially when it comes to my relationship with my husband.

How I started on my Minimalist tendencies

It all began when I was 10. We were moving from Latvia to the U.S. for a year, and I had very limited space allocated to my belongings in the family luggage. So I had to decide which toys to bring and which toys not to bring. I used to hate cleaning my room as a kid, and my preferred method was to stuff a cabinet that stood in my room full of toys until nothing more fit.  I think that when it was time to go I was just too lazy to sort through everything inside. My parents used to get together with their friends on a weekly basis, and all the kids would play in my room. So I let my childhood friends raid it. The joy that my possessions brought to my  friends was contagious. They practically devoured that cabinet. Each week prior to departure I would stuff more and more things laying around the house in the cabinet in order to see their reaction on the weekend when they came over. I let them know that everything inside was up for grabs, and boy did they grab! I guess I got addicted to how it felt to give things away, because by the time it was time to go I was left with only one stuffed animal and a couple Barbies and accessories.

After working in the U.S. for a year my family had to fly to Moscow in order to interview for permanent residency with a U.S. Ambassador there. Assuming that the process should only take a few weeks (after all, my parents were already working in the U.S. at that time), we packed 1 small suitcase for the three of us.  Well, in exchange for permanent residency, the Ambassador annulled our temporary Visas, so we were left stranded back in Latvia for an indefinite period of time while all the papers were processed. The indefinite period of time ended up being 2 years, in which time I learned that the items I packed for myself for 3 weeks were more than plenty to hold me over for 2 years! During that time our house sold, and we spent a few months bunking with relatives and then moving from place to place until it was time to go back to the U.S. Needless to say, there was no way to bring along loads and loads of stuff. I think that’s when I learned that it’s not the things you own or the place  you live that matters, but rather family, being involved in causes you love, and spending time with friends.

Although we didn’t have a permanent home or a lot of possessions, I remember those two years as a one of the best times of my life. My family had nothing but each other at that point, so through that I developed a pretty close-knit relationship with my parents. I didn’t go to school for a year, which gave me a new appreciation for it once I got back to the U.S. My parents got involved with camps held for orphans and street children in Latvia, and I got to experience first hand what it was like to be involved in ministry. Because we’ve already spent a year in the U.S., I was also frequently asked to translate at camps and other church functions. During that time I made a lot of life-long friends and memories.

Since our return to the U.S., we’ve moved several more times, including a cross-country move from the East Coast to the West Coast. Since then I’ve also moved out of my parents place and switched several apartments. The house that we bought was my husband and mine 5th move since getting married. It was the 20th move of my life. Every move was accompanied by a massive decluttering session, so only the minimum was brought along. It’s amazing how much stuff makes its way into our homes even within a couple months! I’ve moved enough to know for sure that I don’t miss a single piece of what I’ve given or thrown away. But now I face a new challange of keeping a permanent residence clutter-free. Read about my battle with clutter here.

Talking my way into healing

I’m going to make a new category on this blog called Discoveries in the Word. I’ve been feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and hopeless lately, with several very specific issues that bugged me, such as our marriage, my health, and our finances. I searched for answers in books (we already know how that went and why I decided not to read as my new years resolution), but then it hit me that the only place I could find them would be the word of God — my bible. So I decided to get serious about it, and instead of spending time on my phone in the morning, dusted off a physical copy of the bible and a pack of highlighters. I decided to assign a color to each issue that was a concern, and read the bible in search of verses that correlate to each issue.

I began in Proverbs and after only two days of reading discovered that although I’ve read this book many MANY times before, I didn’t connect certain dots. Putting color to the word gave me quite a different perspective. What I figured out today was this: the words you say and hear somehow directly affects your health and wellbeing! Now, I knew that what comes out of our mouth matters. I learned to apply that principle to issues of finances and relationships. I knew that it wasn’t nice to curse or to call people bad names. I knew that being negative lowers the mood around you. But somehow it never clicked until this morning that words are affecting my healing.

But it was black on white (highlighted in orange):

“Hear my son, and accept my WORDS that the years of your life may be many.” Proverbs 4: 10

“My son, be attentive to my WORDS… for they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.” Proverbs 4: 20, 22

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you CROOKED SPEECH, and put DEVIOUS TALK far from you.” Proverbs 4:23-24

“A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with CROOKED SPEECH… in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.” Proverbs 6: 12, 15

“The REPROOFS of discipline are a way of life.” Proverbs 6: 23

“With much seductive SPEECH she persuades him… he does not know that it will cost him his life.” Proverbs 7: 21, 23

“Who fails to find me (wisdom), injures himself.” Proverbs 8:36

“…he who REPROVES a wicked man incurs injury.” Proverbs 9:7

My goal: be attentive and deliberabe about what I say and what I listen to.

Things to do in WA state

This post was inspired by the author of Bucket List Publications blog. On her list of things to do in 2014 she mentioned visiting WA state. Since that’s where I live, and my husband and I also love traveling, I figured I will start the “travel” category of my blog with the obvious and closest — home. There are a million touristy things to do in WA in general and Seattle in particular. But there are also other, little known, off the beaten path places that are definitely worth visiting if you are in town. Below is a tour that I typically take my friends and family from out-of-town on when they come to visit!

Downtown Seattle:

If you are staying downtown, I would recommend the W, Hotel 1000, or the Four Seasons. All of those hotels are newer and have a cool vibe to them. If you are not staying downtown, I would recommend either taking a bus or a train downtown, because parking is expensive, and the best way to tour Seattle is actually by foot. If you do find yourself with a vehicle, the best place to park is at the garage on 3rd and Union, which has the best “early bird” special — but you have to check what the early bird hours currently are. I don’t believe there is a cheaper garage downtown, and you definitely do not want to be paying an hourly rate. Make sure you re-park before the designated time you need to be out. Street parking is free after 8p.m. There is also a bus system that runs in a tunnel under the city. Busses are free downtown during work days, so you can hop on any bus if you need to and will not have to pay anything as long as you stay within the ride-free zone.

Start in Pioneer Square.

1. Visit the viewing point at Smith Tower. It’s the oldest skyscraper (and was the tallest on the west coast for a while) in Seattle and is half-empty. The view is actually not that great from the top, but the feel of riding in an elevator operated by an actually human operator is pretty cool. Add to that original tile, mosaic, wood carvings and the mood is almost haunted. An antique store on the bottom of the Smith Tower is also where the infamous underground tour begins that I hear is pretty good but I’ve never been on it (on my bucket list!). The tour starts on the hour every hour beginning at 10:00a.m.

2. Go up to 5th and Columbia to visit the top of the Columbia Tower. This is the highest viewpoint in town, but it is only open during business hours: 8:30a.m. to 4:30p.m. On a clear day, you can see Tacoma, and Vancouver, B.C.! Admission is much cheaper than the Space Needle, since people don’t generally know that it exists. There is also a Starbucks on the 40th floor, which is just a cool place to hang out. Have a snack there.

3. Go down to 4th and Spring to visit The Public Library. It’s an architectural feat, it’s free, and it’s cool. Make sure to go to the very top viewing point by using the escalators (which have cool artsy… things… inside) and then take the elevator down to the red room on the 4th floor (it will seriously mess with your brain).

4. If it’s summer, stop by the Gelato place on the corner of 3rd and Union. Then head down to Seattle Art Museum one block down at 2nd and Union. Admission is free every 3rd Thursday of the month.

5. Go down Union until you can’t go any further. Take the stairs down to the waterfront and get on the Ferris Wheel.

6. Go back up and head to the first Starbucks at Pike Place Market. This is a “duh” place, but it’s actually pretty difficult to find. It’s also quite crowded. My favorite place to eat at Pike Place is Pike Place Grill. It has the best chicken wings downtown (the best chicken wings in Seattle are at Wingdome in Greenwood, but that’s too far for you to walk to at this point). I like it because you can watch the hustle and bustle of the market in a relatively down-to-earth atmosphere.

7. If you are a shopping type of person, head up Pike/Pine until you hit the stores. Don’t get scared by the block between 2nd and 3rd street — the shopping is on 4th-8th streets. The Pacific Center is actually a huge shopping mall that connects to Nordstrom and has stores like Tiffany’s, Coach and J. Crew. The more upscale shops are a few blocks up on 5th and University (Prada, Luix Vuitton).

8. After you are done shopping, take the monorail from downtown to the Space Needle and snap a picture by it. The monorail entrance is inside the Westfield Center. If you are a tourist, you will probably want to go on the top of the Space Needle. Although it’s probably wise to do so in order to be able to tell your friends that you have, the view from the Space Needle is not that great, because you can’t see the Space Needle from the Space Needle, and Seattle skyline is actually nothing special without the Space Needle. In addition, admission to the top is a robbery in broad daylight. The Space Needle also has a revolving restaurant. The food there is actually horrible, but costs a lot. If you want to experience a good revolving restaurant, I would recommend flying to Phoenix, Arizona, and visiting Compass on the top of the Hyatt downtown.

9. Since the Monorail is a round-trip ticket, do actually head back downtown to eat a fancy dinner. Remember to re-park your car before you head to a restaurant. You may actually want to drive there at this point. The best restaurants include El Gaucho, and Six – Seven Lounge at the Edgewater hotel on the waterfront. For a less pricey experience, choose Wasabi in Belltown. It’s Sushi like you’ve never tasted in your life!

Other areas of Seattle to visit if you find yourself with plenty of time on your hands and a car:

1. Fremont. It has a statue of Lenin and a troll under Aurora bridge on 6th Ave. The best place to eat is Paseo — an unmarked cuban sandwich place right on Fremont Ave. by 45th St. You will not see a sign, but you will see a line. It’s worth the wait.

2. Ballard. Ballard locks is a stinky place but pretty cool. It’s where the ships wait for the water to fill up to transition from the harbor into Lake Union. There are lots of places to eat in Ballard and it’s pretty compact so feel free to choose what suits your mood.

3. Queen Anne. Queen Anne has two hidden gems: a tiny viewpoint called Kerry Park, which has a cool statue and a breathtaking view of Seattle up close. If you head further down W Highland Drive, you will find a beautiful garden on your right. Not too many people know about it. Best time to visit would be spring or summer.

4. Discovery Park. Located on an old Ft. grounds, Discovery Park is as mysterious as it is beautiful. What you are trying to get to there is Westpoint Lighthouse. I believe there is a hike towards it, but you can also find it by driving all the way down (I don’t believe it’s legal to park down there though, so the hike is your best bet).

Washington

The Olympic Peninsula is an awesome place to explore. You could do an easy weekend trip around it. This is how I would do the trip — it can also be reversed:

From Seattle, head South towards Tacoma/Olympia. Take exit towards Rt. 101 to Ocean Shores. Then hop on Rt. 8 which will turn into Rt. 12. It’s a LONG drive to Ocean Shores. Ocean Shores is a tiny town with a beach. What people do there is fly kites.

From Ocean Shores, head north on Rt. 109. It will give you beautiful views, as well as a passing through a very charming town that is built old-style but was actually established in 1994. It’s pretty cool. Stop by one of their coffee shops for a break. Keep heading that way until you get to Moclips. Then turn right on Hwy 26/Moclips HWY towards 101. Do not attempt to proceed north on 109 because it turns into a dirt road, and although it does show up on google maps, it is pretty much impassable and you will not be able to cross the river unless it hasn’t rained in WA for the past 3 months (Haha! I’m so funny! No rain in Washington!). Merge with rt. 101 and keep driving. If it’s time to camp out, there are several camp grounds by lake Quinault, but you better get there early (like 7-8p.m.) to get a spot. Or you can keep driving until you get to the part of 101 that’s close to the beach. There’s a great camping site there as well.

Keep driving until you get to the sign towards Hoh rainforest. The rainforest is only worth visiting if it has been raining. (This comes from my experience there on a bright sunny day after a week of no rain. It looked unimpressive at the least…). After you are done with whatever length of hike you wanted to do at the rainforest, head to Forks. Congratulations! You’ve reached the Twilight zone, and there’s actually absolutely nothing there except one very tiny convenience store. Of course feel free to stop by anything that catches your eye on the way there.

After a bathroom break at the Forks convenience store, keep heading north until you reach rt. 113 towards Neah Bay. Head there. What you are trying to find is a 1 mile hike towards a viewpoint that looks out on a beautiful cave and a lighthouse on an Island across the bay. If you are lucky, you might see an Orca, or Indian canoers training for whale hunting. That hike is at the very tip of the Olympic Peninsula, and it’s going to take you a couple of hours to get there from rt. 101, but it’s definitely worth the trip. I’d say it’s one of my favorite places in WA state.

Head back toward rt. 101 the same way you got there — via rt. 113. DO NOT take Rt. 112 to Port Angeles. It looks like a beautiful scenic road by the coast. In reality, it is a ways away from the coast, which is hidden by the forest around, has absolutely no scenery around, is in horrible condition, and has so many sharp turns that by the time you get to Port Angeles you will be light-headed.

If you have an extra day, stop by Sol Duc hot springs off of Rt. 101. It’s a resort with natural healing hot springs, and offers camping and RV grounds as well as cabins. It also has a hike to a waterfall and the best massage! Or you can head to Port Angeles. If the night catches you there, and you are not a cheap Inn type of person (or have money to spare), head to Olympic Lodge a few minutes away from the town center. It’s the best place to stay in Port Angeles, but do not upgrade to their master suite. Although the fancy tub will be tempting, what you do not know is that the heater in that room is as loud as a tiger (it literally woke us up at night) and the bed is as soft as cardboard. They have a wonderful pool and spa to relax in, which is available no matter what room you stay in. The best place to eat in Port Angeles is Port Angeles Crab House located by the Red Lion hotel downtown. They have the most delicious crab I’ve ever tasted, and it’s well worth the $27.00 price tag.

If you have another extra day, you can take the 90 minute ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria, B.C. If you hop on the morning one (there are two), the town will have just enough things to do by the time the second ferry leaves back. Or you can make a dash for the ferry to Seattle.

Head towards Kingston. On your way there you will pass the town of Sequim. Sequim has a cool animal safari and lavender fields, which will be open or closed depending on what time of day you made it there. Unless you are attempting to catch the very last ferry, do not worry about being late, because you technically want to be. The reason for that is because there is a wonderful creperie at the entrance to the Ferry terminal. Once you leave your car in line, head up there and order a fancy crepe and a Nutella Latte. They are to die for! The place was rated best creperie in WA fo 2013.

Take the ferry across the sound to Edmonds. From Edmonds, follow the signs to I-5 towards Seattle.

Rt. 20 to Rt. 2 Loop

This is another cool weekend loop, but take note that Rt. 20 is generally only open during the summer months because of snow and landslides at the passes.  You can start on Rt. 2, head north on Rt.97 and then back on Rt. 20, or the other way around. Rt. 20 is a bit more scenic in my opinion. There are many stops to make, including Lake Diablo, the water of which is turquoise, Washington pass rest area, which will have blue birds and squirrels eating out of your hand if you let them, the apple orchards, and the historic towns of Winthrop on Rt. 20 and Leavenworth on Rt. 2. If you are an adventurous kind, you can look up Mountain Loop Road — a dirt road that connects the town of Granite Falls and Rt. 20, and go that way instead of I-5. It is as beautiful as it is haunting. It’s also where the hike to the abandoned Gold Rush town of Monte Cristo begins. That is a day hike and I believe is currently closed for road repair. I’ve never taken it, but have seen videos and they are pretty cool. That road is also where the ice caves form — frozen waterfalls that thaw from the bottom up, forming giant caves made out of ice!

Crystal Mountain

Since I am writing for a specific person who also wanted to try snowboarding, I would suggest this site. It has many different slopes of various levels of difficulty, as well as options for snowboarding lessons. Stevens pass on Rt. 2 also offers a snowboarding site if someone wants to tag this on to the loop above.

Mt. Rainier

Of course this place is a trip of its own. Climbing Mt. Rainier can be a pretty exciting adventure that I can’t have any input on because I’ve never done it.

Museum of Flight

Another cool place that I’ve never been to. It’s actually on my list of things yet to do in WA state.

I sincerely hope my trip suggestion helps someone have a good time here, and will be happy to answer any questions or provide more suggestions in the comment section. If you live in WA, is there anywhere else you’d recommend going for someone out-of-state?

Stay tuned next Saturday for my list of things we still want to do in WA!

The battle with clutter: why clutter won

As you know from my previous post, my last decluttering session went horribly wrong because I did not plan well. All I knew is that I wanted clutter gone. I did not prepare for actually getting rid of it. Here is a list of reasons why clutter won:

1. I didn’t figure out what I’m going to do with the things I don’t want anymore.
I should have thought ahead of time about whether I was planning on selling things, keeping them in the basement until the yard sale I aspire to hold in the summer, donating, or throwing them out.

2. I didn’t have proper containers to hold the clutter.
When we were moving, it was easy to get rid of things because we had boxes. While packing what we would keep, I also packed what we would take to Goodwill. This time around I didn’t have boxes. Or containers. Or grocery bags. Or anything at all to put things in. That’s how it all ended up on the dining table.

3. I didn’t plan enough time.
The amount of clutter was an eye-opener. It was simply impossible to tackle in one day! I kept putting off dealing with corners until I had a big chunk of time to deal with everything at once. When that time came, it became clear that it’s not chunky enough. Perhaps dealing with one corner at a time is a better idea.

4. I didn’t pace myself.
To be honest, before I ran out of time, I ran out of steam. The pile that formed on the table was so overwhelming that I didn’t have the energy to decide what to do with it, much less to actually do it.

Next time I plan to be better prepared! Stay tuned for how well I get ready for another decluttering session.