Whenever a bookstore register rings, an angel gets its wings

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Like I need an excuse to go to six bookstores in one day!  I definitely don’t.  I went to more libraries than that during The Great Library Crawl of 2015, an event made up and attended only by me.  When Sue brought Seattle Independent Bookstore Day to my attention I couldn’t have been happier.

For all you nerds out there that didn’t already hear about it and are currently perking up with happiness/disappointment that you didn’t go – yes, it was as awesome as you are imagining right now.  This says a lot because readers typically have very good imaginations.

There were 17 participating bookstores and if you went to all 17 that day you were entered for a year-long 10% off or something like that prize.  At first I was all for that plan but when Sue pointed out that we wouldn’t have time to hang out in the stores we changed gears.

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Our first stop was Phinney Books, largely because it is right up the street from where I live and it is nice to show some neighborhood pride.

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I must have circled these displays touching all the books a hundred times.  There were two things that Phinney Books was doing to honor the day that I thought was really cool:

  1. They had divided the day into time slots and assigned letters of the alphabet to them.  All books with an author name corresponding to that letter were 10% off or something like that.
  2. They had a little trivia contest and the winners were entered into a drawing.  There were either three or four questions and you had to guess the book.  Sue is bad with titles so she described the books she thought were the correct answers and I supplied the titles.  I got all but one of the questions right and Sue got all four correct.  She ended up winning one of the drawings.  Good for her! (Note: I tried to report that without emotion but I acknowledge that it still reeks of bitterness)

Our next stop was Secret Garden Books in Ballard.  They should get a medal for serving this cake:

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Let’s face it.  No one expects food at these things to be very good.  This was seriously the best cake I’ve had in recent memory.  Just one more reason to love independent bookstores!

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I grabbed A Constellation of Vital Phenomena with the intention of returning to participate in the book club but I ended up not reading it fast enough.  By that I mean I am still reading it.  It kind of seems like a sad, maybe-has-a-happy-ending book and I’m not into sad things lately.  I’m sure it is a great book.  Sad books and movies always seem to be good.  But also sad.  You get it, right?

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I am usually a very good planner but on this day my excitement got the best of me.  I bought a cookbook at Phinney Books so when we got to The Book Larder I was sort of already at my cookbook allotment for the month.  You might be thinking, get another cookbook! YOLO, or whatever.  Who can have too many cookbooks?  Someone like me that doesn’t cook.  I couldn’t possibly justify purchasing another cookbook to not cook with.  I thought about getting a food memoir and made my creepy circles around the store a million times but didn’t end up getting anything.

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Well, except the free samples.  I took one of those.

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Our next stop was Queen Anne Book Company.  I don’t spend too much time in this neighborhood so I had never been to this store before.

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They were also doing a cute sale – all the books with BOOK in the title were 20% off for the day.

By this time I was feeling pretty fatigued but there were two more stores that I really wanted to include in the day so we pressed on.

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The first of those two was Open Books.  I wanted to go to Open Books for a few reasons.  Open Books is a poetry bookstore and I had been trying to discover new poets on my own unsuccessfully for a while.  I had also been to the store previously for a poetry reading and it was a really good time.  And finally, Sue said that in the space where all the bookstores were reporting what they were going to do for the day Open Books said something akin to “We aren’t doing anything special!” which we thought was hilarious and deserved reward.

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I am so, so glad we went.  I gave the owners the lamest explanation of what I wanted – “I really like Billy Collins poetry – accessible and in full sentences.”  One of the owners pulled about four books for me and they were all great but I fell in love with two.  If you connected with my description at all, check out Tony Hoagland and Kim Addonizio.

By this time I was beyond hangry so it was a good thing that our last stop (Third Place Books Ravenna) has Vios.

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Doesn’t that look amazing?  If you’re not the kind of person that thinks that looks amazing then I am guessing you wouldn’t have gotten this far in the post, so I will just assume we are on the same page.  Ha.  Page!  Book jokes.

Anyway here is my haul for Seattle Independent Bookstore Day:

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Plus I ended up winning one of the drawings so I got to go back to the Book Larder and claim this prize:BookstoreDay14

All in all, pretty much the best day ever.

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Invisible blossoms and flower walls

“Isn’t it kind of late in the season for cherry blossoms?…What do you mean there won’t be any cherry blossoms at the Cherry Blossom Festival?”

Totally reasonable line of questioning, right?  Sue seemed to think it was perfectly normal for a festival to not have the thing it is named after.  It’s not but whatever we went anyway (note: by “we went anyway” I mean that Sue ignored several attempts by me to brush off the event and was eventually successful).

I arrived at the Seattle Center with low expectations and ended up having a really enjoyable time.  Isn’t it nice when that happens?

There were a few stars of the show for me but let’s start with this guy:

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Not the guy sitting directly in front of me whose head is arguably the star of this picture – the guy on the stage to the far right holding something up for the audience to look at the same way librarians show a picture book to a gaggle of kindergarteners during story time.  The reason this is an appropriate comparison is that he is in fact telling us a story and holding up illustrations for us to enjoy at the same time.  They were pretty funny/good I think although we were a bit far away to be looking at pictures that tiny.  None of these things are why he was a star.  I’m not even sure he made the illustrations himself.  This guy was a star because in this room filled with voices he told a story the proper way and gave each of the characters their own special voice.  Even the female character.  Awesome.  If you’re out there right now reading this, someone owes you a beer.  You were great.

The very nice, encouraging lady seated in the middle sang and played music for us.  This was awesome too but the best part was that she taught the audience to dance and wouldn’t take no for an answer.  When she wants volunteers she will stop the show until she gets them! This happened several times but by the last I finally mustered up the courage to dance like an idiot in this crowded room just so that she wouldn’t be left hanging.  Sue did not participate.  I’d like to hear a chorus of “booooo” right now as punishment.

The girl on the far left was pretty cool too, mostly because I really liked her hat.

Next stars:

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These ladies were aaaaadorable.  And this is coming from someone who has watched hours and hours of puppies and kittens on youtube, so I know adorable.  In case you’re not sold here is another picture that is more obviously adorable:

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Look at that cute wave.  If you don’t wish she was your relative you are soulless.

There were more cool things that happened after this point apparently but you’ll have to wait for Sue’s post to hear about that.  By this point I was pretty hungry and headed to the Plum Bistro stand to get food.  I got some reading in which is nice for a sometimes introvert like me 🙂

After we were done at the event we headed over to SIFF Cinema for the NFFTY festival.  I guess it was a festival kind of day for us.  Anyway that was our intention but what actually ended up happening was this:

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I felt bad choosing Dior over student work but…

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Right?  Isn’t it gorgeous?  Who can walk by this poster without changing plans?  For the record, it was awesome.  And the flower walls alone were worth it.

Why there are no sculptures in these pictures of the Olympic Sculpture Park

Seattle rarely sees the sun, so when a sunny day does occur the number of people in the local parks is so drastically inflated from the norm that it is almost disturbing.  For me it is actually disturbing.  Have I had this many neighbors this whole time? What are all these people doing the rest of the year? Get out of my park!  And so on.  To tell you the truth I prefer the partly cloudy mid-to-low 60s days and part of that has to do with the desire to be in an outdoor space that doesn’t look like a parking lot right after a major sporting event.

So in order to combat this drastic change in park attendance I have come up with a few park visiting guidelines that (for the most part) do the trick.

  1. Time of day is incredibly important, eat a snack and go to the park during dinnertime.  The major offenders at super crowded parks are families.  Of that massive family unit there is bound to be one (or a few) who will start whining that they are hungry and everyone will have to leave.  Then you will be left with this guy:OSC1

And guess what?  He doesn’t like crowds either.

2.  Visit a park at the end of a nice day.

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Unless you’re camping or in a national park there is a limit to the length of time a person will hang out.  Everyone goes during the peak of the niceness and is exhausted by the sun towards the end of the day and goes home.  This is the perfect time for a visit! Going early works too but that involves being awake early.

3.  Enter the park using the least convenient entrance.  In the case of the Olympic Sculpture Park it might be this bridge in the middle of an industrial area.

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Hard to take a bridge jumping picture on a bridge that isn’t empty!

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Actually taking a picture of a person jumping in the middle of a crowded bridge might be more interesting.

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Now might be a good time to mention that when I say “bridge jumping” I mean jumping while on a bridge not jumping off a bridge.  When I told Sue I thought this would be a good spot for bridge jumping it took me a minute after she started looking over the edge to judge the distance to the ground to understand that I might get misunderstood.

4.  Find a park that has a name implying cool things can be found there.  Olympic Sculpture Park, Something Something Falls.  You get it.  Go to the park and hang out as far away from the cool things in the name as possible.

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That does not mean that you will not see cool things!

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Look at how cool these things are!

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You just have to be open to seeing the things that maybe aren’t advertised.  You’re actually probably missing a lot of cool things if you aren’t already doing this.

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5.  By the time you get to the more popular areas of the park you will have them to yourself.

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6.  Then reward yourself with a late dinner and adult beverage.

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Living that island life…okay well, sort of.

There are a lot of things that I like but I have a short list of things that I love – taking walks, touching books, eating yummy things, and hanging out near large bodies of water.  In reality I love more things than that but those things don’t fit quite as nicely into this blog post.

The other weekend Sue said she didn’t feel like spending money and that we should just walk around somewhere.  Jackpot!  I always jump at the opportunity to walk around aimlessly with another person.

I pulled up the Google map and decided it’d be nice to go somewhere close that didn’t feel so Seattle.  Sue had never been to Mercer Island and despite the name it is actually very accessible by car so I picked her up from a sketchy Seattle bus stop and we headed a short 15 minutes east.

I was hungry (that happens a lot) so our first stop was at a very regular non-islandy QFC supermarket.  We spent some extra time making sure our food would be instagramable and then headed to Pioneer Park to find a bench and scarf it down.  Here is what Sue came up with because I am hopeless at making things pretty.

Picnic

The thing is that food was actually pretty good.  We took a break from the park and wandered into a neighborhood to take advantage of the Little Free Library system.  The one we found was especially adorable and included this cute little note:

note

Sue found a book that she told me 6 years ago she wanted to read.  I freaked out about the chances.  She didn’t seem that impressed.

We wandered back into the park and walked downhill for a very long time.  If you’ve ever been in nature around Seattle you can pretty much imagine what the park looked like but I will include this picture anyway because it has a bridge in it:

Pioneer Park

After all the hill up and down business we decided that was enough exercising and we could use a little more relaxing in our day.  We headed to a different park more suited to laziness.

mercer island water

Nice, right?  It was dinner time for normal people so we got front row seats on the dock to do a combo of stare at water, sit next to books and not read them, lay next to books and not read them, watch teenagers crawl all over each other, and wonder if we will ever be the kind of person that throws on a wetsuit, climbs onto their kayak and paddles out just far enough to get in a good swim.  That last part was just me.  Kayaker from Groveland Park if you’re reading this, sorry for so unapologetically staring at you.

There’s a lot of ArtUp in here

Art Up

I studied art history in college so it is a bit embarrassing for me to admit that these days I don’t give art that much attention.  But even though I am not the art enthusiast that I used to be I still enjoy a good time, so when Sue suggested we check out Art Up PhinneyWood I didn’t hesitate to jump on board.

The night started a little slow.  We used the Art Up blog to sketch out a little mental map of where we would head first.  Sue has been talking about gong baths for months now so when she saw it was included in the description for Ballard Healing Arts we decided to head there first.

Healing arts

No, that’s not a funky art installation.  It’s a locked door.  After triple checking the door, the address, the time, AND the blog we finally gave up and continued along.  Bummer.  Guess gong baths will have to stay on The List for awhile longer.

The next couple stops were our bad…the slogan of Art Up is, after all, Art Up and Chow Down.  I guess we just weren’t expecting the stops to be restaurants just as they appear on any other day, with art hanging on the walls like they do any other day.  It was a bit disappointing.  I’ve included the best of the best of restaurant row below:

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That last picture is from Munch Cafe and it was one of the most enjoyable stops of the night.  A really nice guy (I think he might have been the owner) came over to talk to us about the art and his place and it was really fun.  I’m not really into sandwiches or burgers but my boyfriend is so I ended up coming back here with him another day to check out the food.  Whoa.  It was freaking good.  Try the garlic fries.  They are the best.  I’m not even into garlic fries.  Try them.

We finally ended up at Greenwood Collective.

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Jackpot!

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This party space was awesome! There was live music and a ton of cute, cute rooms! Sue is better than me at capturing the cute things so be sure to check out her post on this when it is up.  The upstairs had live music and the downstairs had a DJ and a ton of little rooms filled with art.  Greenwood Collective pretty much made the night.

The Big One (I guess it is the Art Up event of the year) is coming up on May 8th and May 9th.  It’s in my neighborhood so I can’t imagine not stopping by.  If I see anything good I’ll let you know 🙂

You Probably Know More About Trees Than I Do

Here’s my conundrum with blogging about hiking – you probably know more about trees than I do.  And if you don’t know anything about trees, you’re probably reading a blog post about hiking so you can be impressed by how much other people know about trees.  If you’re into things that aren’t trees, I also can’t impress you with what you can only assume is my very knowledgeable review about my latest REI purchase (or should I say Patagonia? is Patagonia more popular than REI?).  I wouldn’t even know how to go about faking that.

The truth is I am a very average person, with a very average amount of experience in the outdoors.  I like trees.  I like walking around underneath them and climbing over them when they are blocking a trail but unless I get lucky and spot a quaking aspen I can’t name them.  I don’t think “pine tree” counts…does that count?

So why attempt to write about hiking at all?  Because I enjoy going on hikes and sometimes I let too much time go by without taking one and taking the time to put my latest hiking adventure in a post makes me prioritize taking another one.  In other words, for purely selfish reasons.  But then again, why else does anyone blog?

The name of the latest adventure is The Baker Lake Trail.

Lake Shannon

Don’t get excited, that’s not Baker Lake.  That is Shannon Lake, the lake you drive past to get to the Baker Lake trail head.  I will not be showing you any pictures of Baker Lake because Sue thinks it is normal to start a hike in the afternoon.

How did we get to the trail?  From Seattle, I-5 North to 20 East.  It took us awhile.  We stopped in Sedro-Woolley because it had a cute name and it was reasonable to think it would be a cute place to stop.  It was okay.

When we got to the trail head it was late but we plunged ahead any way.  I usually hike alone so one of the things I really like about Sue is that she lets me walk ahead if I feel like it or fall behind if I feel like it and she doesn’t say anything or make me feel weird about it.  In fact she probably likes not having to talk to me the whole time we are hiking.  This is why we make good friends!

Now for your reward:

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This was definitely one of the nicest trails I’ve been on in Washington and I am excited to go back to the North Cascades when the weather gets a little warmer.

Suggested Taglines for Seattle Vegfest 2016 and the 2015 Winners

Based on my experience at Seattle Vegfest 2015, I would like to suggest the below taglines for Vegfest 2016 – royalty-free!  Don’t spend all your liberated marketing dollars in one place.

“In case you are wondering whether to eat before you go, you shouldn’t.”

“We mean it. You are going to be so full.”

“You’re going to need both hands free and it is really hot in here.  Don’t bring a jacket.”

“DO bring your own water.  You will be so, so desperate for water.”

“Now is the time to taste all the things you are curious about but would never pay for.”

“Where Veg is meant to imply the absence of meat – not the presence of vegetables.”

“Whoa! That’s what kombucha tastes like!? That’s actually pretty good…”

Seriously though (not that I wasn’t serious about those taglines because I totally was), Seattle Vegfest was aaaawesome this year.  Who knew?!  Who!  No really did anyone out there know it was going to be awesome before getting there?  I set my expectations low.  Admission was $8.  How good could it be really?  Freaking fantastic.  That’s how good.  So if you’re the type to plan way ahead, you’re all set for next year.  Go early.  Go hungry.  Go prepared.  And have a meatless blast.

And now for the winners:

BEST BEVERAGE – RUNA CLEAN ENERGY

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BEST FAKE MEAT PRODUCT – GARDEIN FISHLESS FILETS

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MOST DESERVING OF YOUR MONEY – CHIMPANZEE SANCTUARY NORTHWEST

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MOST ENTHUSIASTIC – FIELD ROAST

Field Roast

TALLEST

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Congratulations to all the Seattle Vegfest 2015 winners!

Come for the fashion, stay for the coconut water.

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You know you’ve watched too many seasons of Project Runway when you see an ad for a runway show and think to yourself, “I hope I get to see dresses made out of material found in a pet shop.”  Apparently that is not what fashion schools are doing.

I asked Sue if she would go to this fashion show thing with me the other night and she said sure and then later “why didn’t you use the $10 ticket promo code that was all over their website?!”  I am the kind of person who needs to be told explicitly that there is a promo code readily available or I will always pay full price for things.

In hindsight I wish Sue had said something like “But Melinda, what about all the other things you could do with 20 something dollars?” but she didn’t so I headed to Pioneer Square* after work one day to meet her and watch fashion.

*Note: I DID head to Pioneer Square.  Sue likes to do this fun thing where she is so in love with the city that she drives around and around taking in all the sites.  She does this so consistently that we build an extra 45 minutes into her arrival time when she comes to visit.  This time 45 minutes was not enough so I met her outside of Pike’s Place and guided her to (a parking spot in) Pioneer Square.

Pioneer Square at night…I am shaking my head at my younger self for waiting for the bus there.  Was I insane?! How scary and dangerous.  Anyway, if you were expecting there to be cute little appetizers and sexy cocktails at this shindig you would have turned right around at the door and forced Sue to walk the rainy streets in search of food and drink too.  Which is exactly what I did.

We ended up at a cute place called Delicatus that served really yummy drinks.  I’m not really into sandwiches but I would definitely go back for the booze.  We hustled back to the show just in time to see the VitaCoco promo team wheeling empty barrels back into the VitaCoco van.  I meant to only protest in my head but ended up nearly screaming with disappoint in a very public way (whoops!).  Highlight of the night: 10 minutes later one of the girls at the front found us amidst the fashion gaggle and gave us each a VitaCoco – yeeeeesssss.  Thank you again!

So the Show:

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This was as close as I got to a crazy Project Runway moment.  Its blurry so feel free to romanticize it however you please.  Also if any Deadliest Catch fans happen to be reading take a closer look at the guy in the blue baseball hat.

The End.

Pi, Pie, and The Teacher’s Lounge

If you make it through an entire post without pictures, you get an A+!

I have always had a thing for local events, which is why I’ve marked them as a thing on the list.  But I don’t just have a thing for certain types of events, I pretty much like them all.  I have found that this isn’t necessarily the case with most people.  Most people have a few serious interests or hobbies and they gravitate toward events that fit that profile.  Makes sense.  It also makes sense then that people like me (and Sue!) will end up being a sort of voyeur at these events, observing the folks who are super into it every day and not just for the evening.

Such was the case at the local Pi day celebration hosted by The Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas.  I will save you a trip down Google lane and just tell you that if you’re ever in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle you can find it within the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co.

I thought, “Math is pretty cool, pie is more than pretty cool – sounds fun!”  I don’t bake (bake something is also on the list) and I didn’t bake that particular evening either.  I was sort of hoping Sue would so we wouldn’t show up empty handed (she didn’t and so we did).  I thought this would make me ashamed to eat the pie (it didn’t and so we did, A LOT).  We even got to vote on our favorites! There were all sorts of wonderful pies but (no surprise) my favorite was baked by Pie School’s Kate Lebo.

In addition to pie there was also pi (of course) and we got to hear some interesting math facts in between bites of the sweet stuff.  The non-food highlight of the evening was the recitation contest.  3.1415926535 something something.  That’s all I’ve got but a couple folks got up to 70 something numbers?  I guess this is the kind of thing other people spend their time working on while I re-watch romantic comedies.

I’d like to think that post-pie drinking at The Teacher’s Lounge was cleverly planned as the perfect way to cap a math-themed night but I didn’t even realize what a good fit it was until days later.  We just went there because there really is no other place to go in Greenwood (this was before I discovered The Cozy Nut Tavern which is aaaaaaawesome).

So anyway not much more to say about that night.  Sue’s post was way funnier AND it has pictures.

We’re basically Lewis and Clark

I’m not sure if this is still a thing but when I was a kid the key to following your dreams was to head either to New York City or the west coast.  Sue and I have already gone the east coast route a few times before so when we committed to this project together there was really only one choice – throw our guitar cases in the back of a beat up Volkswagen and hope it wouldn’t break down before we got there.

I’m just kidding.  Neither of us are musically inclined (although we both threw our hat in the ring of stringed instruments at some point) and we both drive very reliable vehicles.  Also the coast is only a few hours away and we had just decided on a last minute trip for the weekend.  Reason #471 it’s good to not be a teenager anymore.

On a gorgeous Saturday morning we headed out.  Pit stop – Astoria, Oregon.  Final destination – Cranberry Cottage in Long Beach, WA (I wanted to insert a cute hand sketched map in place of that boring description but I couldn’t find an app for that).

Astoria was beautiful and we spent our afternoon participating in the typical tourist activities – estate sales, seal watching, column hiking and distillery tasting.

Astoria Seals Astoria ColumnView from Astoria Column 2 Astoria distillery

You can probably guess what the star of the show was once we got to Long Beach.

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Airbnb provided the cute little hideaway called Cranberry Cottage.

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The next day was dedicated to a hike to the beach.  Sue covered this adventure extensively in her post so I will skip the details except to say that it was way more fun not getting to the beach than I think getting there would have been.

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Aside from the hike the highlight of the trip was a perfect surprise evening at the 101 Public House in South Bend, WA.  Honestly, I was just looking for a good enough bite to eat and a place to stop and use the restroom.  I had no idea how cute this place would turn out to be!

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Top 5 reasons I will be headed back to South Bend just to hang out at the 101 Public House:

1.  There is a filled-to-the-brim throwback beer fridge and the owner says “If you want another beer, help yourself.”

2.  The freshest cleanest oysters I have ever tasted.

3.  All the food that went past our table looked like it was worth driving 2 hours.

4.  The view was incredible and when it gets warmer I can’t think of a better place to relax than that deck.

5.  Even with crazy tech solutions available at my fingertips I am still struggling to find new music to add to my forever favorites.  The Sky Colony was playing at the 101 Public House and I have been listening to their new album nonstop.  I am convinced this place is magic and all my new music favorites will be found there.