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.

As cute as a blossom.

My ultimate #vacationgoals (in no particular order):

1) Go to Peru, stay at an alpaca farm and hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

2) Beyonce it up on the Mediterranean coast. Wear nothing but white, lay out on yachts, hang out with Jay-Z. This one may be more #lifegoals.

3) Visit Japan when sakura are in bloom. Picnic under the trees with specially made hanami bento boxes filled with pink onigiri and eat adorable sakura flavored cakes plus a package of those ridiculously expensive Japanese white strawberries. Shop for all the special edition pink sakura items while sipping on pink sakura lattes. Basically, I want to buy all the pink things, eat all the pink things, and be totally overwhelmed by the cuteness of it all.

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The Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival did not involve any actual cherry blossoms but there was plenty of cute.

What it involved is lots of Japanese culture, showcased at various areas of the Seattle Center. The annual festival spans a weekend in Spring, and has a full calendar of performances, activities, and exhibits to enjoy. We went in the afternoon on the last day of the festival so a lot of things were winding down but there was still plenty left to be entertained by. Upon arrival, we parked ourselves at the main stage in the Armory where there were a variety of performances (see Melinda’s post) ranging from folk stories to traditional dancing. My favorite performers were the Taiko and dance troupe, which Melinda missed because she got hungry (see my previous post).

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It was a big, impressive performance with a bunch of dancers and drummers of all ages and levels. The littlest drummers stole the show though- the kids were so adorable- especially the determined little boy who was always a half beat behind the others.

There were no flowers at the Cherry Blossom Festival, but it was still the kind of cute that makes a 33 year old woman who has resigned herself to be a poodle lady, to consider freezing her eggs. Not bad, for a free “trip” to Japan.

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.

And then we got hungry.

Despite what Melinda has led you to believe, we did not actually visit the Olympic Sculpture Park.

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As research for this post, I looked on Google maps to find out the name of the (jumping) bridge we crossed (Helix Pedestrian Bridge, for those wondering) and it turns out that we walked the Elliot Bay Trail which passes through two lovely parks- neither of them being the Olympic Sculpture Park. The parks we did visit are Centennial Park and Myrtle Edwards Park. So, that may be the better explanation of why our blog posts don’t have any pictures of sculptures.

I’ll start from the beginning.  I met up with Melinda in South Lake Union and we decided to take the scenic route and walk through Olympic Sculpture Park on our way to dinner in Belltown. As per usual, Melinda confidently led the way opting for an extra scenic route with a couple detours thrown in for good measure. She seems to only consult a map in dire situations (e.g., extreme hunger) and I don’t know if this is a reflection of a free-spirited-ness or because her phone seems to have the worst battery life ever. It really doesn’t matter, because I’m directional-y hopeless, so I have no choice but to continue to follow along.

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When we finally reached the green way, I just assumed we were at the back end of the Sculpture Park and maybe some Seattle dwellers consider this area an extension of the park- but Google Maps does not. To be fair, this trail eventually forks and can lead to the Sculpture Park. It’s a nice path that follows along the water with great views (as seen in Melinda’s post). However, when we finally reached the fork that led up to the Sculpture Park, we opted to skip the sculptures and continue strait on the trail. Not because the trail was exceptionally amazing, but because it was the quickest route to food. As is the case with many of our “adventures,” our plans were again thwarted by the desire to eat right away. Oh well, a park is a park, and dinner was delicious.

So if you’ve learned anything from this post, it should be that you shouldn’t trust everything you read on the internet.

You’re welcome.

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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Put on my pink suede shoes.

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Melinda and I have perfected the art of making loose plans. It usually starts off with an ambiguous “we should do something” text, followed by a painfully slow text exchange (on both parts), and then me just wanting to know where I need to be and what type of shoes to wear because as we have learned, Melinda likes walking.

While I, too, enjoy walking, I also enjoy wearing impractical shoes. It’s a shame that those two interests don’t work better together. For this excursion, I was told to wear shoes I can “walk around an urban park in.”

Dress code observed, I took the bus into downtown Seattle, picked up provisions at Starbucks, and then waited on a random street corner ’til Melinda found me. Upon entering her car, I learned that we were headed to Mercer Island and Melinda was bordering hangry.

For those unfamiliar with Melinda, you don’t want her hangry. Luckily, Mercer Island is only a ten minute drive from downtown. Yes, it’s an island, but since being surrounded by bodies of water is not a novel occurrence in Seattle, I’m more apt to describe Mercer Island as a small, quiet suburb – inhabited by rich people and their golden doodles.

Our game plan once we got to Mercer Island was:

1) Find food 2) Eat 3) Wander around 4) Check out a Little Free Library or two 5) Read

While we accomplished everything on the list, let’s just say we spent more time on the first item than the last..which happens a lot.

mercerisland3For the wander portion of the day, we walked through Pioneer Park and around some of the neighboring streets. It wasn’t nearly as difficult as the picture above suggests, but I would wear different footwear next time. I’m assuming Melinda and I have different concepts of what an urban park is. If you enjoy walking around and exploring fancy neighborhoods while making note of future house #goals, Mercer Island is a great place to do it. Y’all do that too, right?

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.

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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.

Patron of the arts…and donuts.

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Everyone equates Seattle with rain. Before moving up here, I thought that meant there would be daily downpours and I’d finally get use of all those cute rain boots that were collecting dust in my little drought-stricken section of the country. I quickly learned that while it most definitely is overcast and drizzly up here, Seattle’s rain really isn’t so bad.

So with that said, the weather on the night of the April’s PhinneyWood Art Up sucked- it was cold, with lots of wind and rain.  Although the art walk had initially been my suggestion, it required summoning up some real dedication to the arts to keep walking around from place to place to see it.

As Melinda mentioned, we started off at Ballard Healing Arts to check out Tibetan bowl singing. Back in December, I heard about healing sound baths and am assuming this is the same thing by a different name. What’s a healing sound bath, you ask? Well, I’m not entirely sure yet and since the door was locked to the Healing Arts center, I’ll have to get back to you on that.

After that initial disappointment, we headed to Greenwood Ave which is where most of the businesses participating in Art Up are located. The first few spots we hit up were restaurants, which made for an awkward art viewing experience. Restaurants are just one of those places that you walk into for a singular purpose, so it felt odd to go inside just to stand in front of seated diners and look at the walls behind them. Oh well.

Thankfully, there was Urban Light Studios which basically was a not-so-mini art walk in itself. Upstairs in their main event area, they had a few paintings up and invited guests to walk around the space which was a collection of themed rooms that were really fun to explore.

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Downstairs had a fun urban vibe going on, with a DJ and several artists showcasing their work in different rooms. The individual artists were present in the rooms and in addition to the art you could purchase small items like tees, post cards, prints, etc – basically mini Etsy shops. For refreshments, there was the requisite wine, cheese and crackers, but also beer, hummus, and donuts…because those things are delicious. For some reason, I couldn’t get myself to drink any of the free booze provided by the starving artists, but I did help myself to two donuts…

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After Urban Light Studios, we visited a couple more participating businesses but eventually ran out of time. Overall, this was a fun way to see some cool art and explore Greenwood in the process. PhinneyWood is having their annual “The BIG One” ArtUp event this coming weekend and the weather is supposed to be nice- so definitely worth checking out. If you can’t make it to that but still want some art in your life – check out this artist’s site. He’s the artist of the pieces in the first photo above and had my favorite work of the night.

There’s a lot of ArtUp in here

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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.

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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 🙂

A beginner’s guide to the Baker Lake Trail

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Many moons ago, planning for the weekend meant searching Yelp for brunch spots with a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar. Nowadays, I’m more likely to be Googling hiking trails. Sometimes life necessitates more trees and less vodka, and I’m okay with that.

Still, I’m never going to be the outdoorsy type who reflects on life in front of a crystal clear lakes, or feels centered only when standing amongst giant sequoias…that’s just not me. My main motivation for hiking is usually to burn calories and get some much needed vitamin D. Nature is just the cherry on top of those toned tan legs.

Consider this post a guide to hiking the Baker Lake Trail for the gal who feels more at ease overpaying for poached eggs than wearing polar fleece.

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First, purchase a Northwest Forest Pass before you leave. Pay for it online and print it out. You need a pass to park at this trail head and there’s no pay station at the lot.

Leave early! The trail is located about 2.5 hours from Seattle. If you’re driving up in April during the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, tack on another hour to that. If you have a small bladder and/or need to eat at regular intervals, add another hour. Plan accordingly, and maybe let your hiking buddy in on this info. *Cough*

From the trail head, the hike to Baker Lake is about 14 miles.

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Yup. 28 miles round trip.

Now, contemplate giving up and heading back home. There’s probably still time to hit the outlets. JK JK JK. Just get hiking! But if that number didn’t result in even the slightest side eye, why are you even reading this? And if you’re anything like me, chances are it’ll be way past noon when you finally start, but even if you never reach the end, I promise it’s still worth your time. Plus, you start off at a different lake anyways, how much better could Baker Lake be. Right? Convince yourself of that.

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So, now you’re hiking! Set your phone to airplane mode BTW, there’s no reception and you need to preserve your battery so you can take tons of pictures and post them on Instagram the second you get some damn bars again.

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Nature! Isn’t she pretty?

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Look at all the moss. That’d be the good kind of lush!

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And the shelf fungi! So cool! Don’t dwell too long on them though or that seasonal morel menu at your favorite restaurant may lose it’s charm.

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Go off the path and explore. Take more pictures. If you get bored with the trees, take some selfies. Take advantage of this awesome natural lighting! When you turn around and no longer see your hiking partner who had stopped to take pictures just a minute ago, don’t panic. Chances are she just decided to hike ahead, and did NOT fall off a cliff while trying to get a wider shot.

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Enjoy yourself and happy trails!

What’s the longest distance you’ve hiked? OR if you don’t hike, what are your thoughts on Clamato?