Sunday, March 15, 2009

Adventures of a New Decade

I spent my big 30th birthday on a new adventure in the Northwest: Seattle and Portland, two cities to which I've never been but have always wanted to go. So me and my best buddy and brother Ben (that's a lot of alliteration) drove to Washington Wednesday after work and stayed the night in Kennewick, then went on to Seattle the next day (I was sleepless before I got to Seattle. Maybe I was nervous about entering the new decade the night before at 2:56am.)
The weather was a little cool in Seattle but it didn't rain on us. We took the monorail into the city. The conductor told us to sit by him but warned us there was no necking up front (yeah, we got a lot of those kinds of jokes. I guess siblings typically don't travel together.)
We hit Pike's Market first - a cool place by the water where they have all these shops and the workers still throw fish, though they didn't do it when we were there. One of them did throw a stuffed fish at a lady who then spilled her coffee in her hair. That was the only fish-throwing excitement we got. We ate salmon and prawn sandwiches at a little grill in the midst of it all and then walked to a Starbucks which are pretty much on every corner since it all started there and got the only thing we really could get (hot chocolate).

We also walked into the first Nordstrom's - also started there - and breezed through all the expensive things we couldn't afford. Really, we just wanted to get warm. Then we headed back to where we started. I guess you know you're getting old when you have to sit down and rest in the middle of the day and take an Alka Seltzer from all the fattening food you ate the day before. Ben bought all my favorite sugar-laden treats for my big day.
Before dinner we went to the EMP - Experience Music Project - which happened to be free that night and open later than usual. It's a big music museum by the space needle which has interactive exhibits that lets you try different instruments, tells you about different musicians like Jimmy Hendrix and Kurt Cobain - both from Seattle, and just has a cool design and huge guitar/instrument tree in the middle of the floor. Ben and I also got to have our own band for 5 minutes. They put you in this room set up like a rock concert - flashing lights, a big screen projecting an audience, and instruments you can play. They had us make up a band name (We chose Fire in the Hole) and then we picked a song and jammed out on stage as if we were in a band. It was so much fun and we really got into it - Ben on the drums and me on this sweet white electric guitar. We bought a poster of us playing after (it's touristy, but we had to) and they printed out concert stubs for us with our band name on them and "price of admission $60.00" If only...

We had to hurry but we made our expensive dinner reservation in the space needle. The restaurant actually rotates every 45 minutes so you get a view of the whole city. Lucky for us it was a very clear night and Seattle was beautiful. What a great birthday! We stayed with my Aunt Kristy in Montesano for the night and on Friday headed up the Olympic Peninsula and to the Rainforest in Olympic National Park.

I was so excited to go, especially since my children's novel is set in the jungle and we don't really have anything like that in America except for the area in Washington. It was so green and pretty. We took a walk in the Trail of Moss too which was almost surreal. Loved it! Since Forks (the Twilight town for those who possibly don't know that) was only about 10 minutes away from the Rainforest, I made Ben drive up there so I could just see it and let my imagination run wild for a bit. It was touristy but I enjoyed it and enjoyed seeing the little things the town had done for sightseers even though the movie wasn't actually filmed there and the book wasn't written with that specific town in mind.

Apparently, they just picked out spots that matched Stephenie Meyers' descriptions in the book and labeled them as the houses and spots of interest. I did buy a button that said "Only a Vampire Can Love you Forever." La Push, the beach on the Indian Reservation about 20 minutes away, was very pretty and a good spot for pictures. We had our lunch there before heading back to the Rainforest and then down the coast past Ruby Beach. I love seeing the forest and ocean on both sides of me. How amazing.

Saturday morning we drove down the coast across the Columbia bridge into Astoria and then made our way down to Portland - also a cool city. It was a bit rainy but not bad. We just happened to run into a Trader Joes and stocked up (man I wish they had those stores in Utah!) Then we went to NW 23rd avenue where my friend told me we would find some cool boutiques and cool atmosphere, which we did. The city has a charming style and authenticity I really liked. I like the feel of the Northwest.

The houses were cool too and colorful with a kind of old-fashioned charm. Ben noted after experiencing both cities that there weren't many redheads around (which is unfortunate) and actually not many blondes either or maybe they just don't succumb to bottled hair as much as they do in California and Utah. We stopped at Jake's Famous Crawfish for dinner. I love Happy Hour. I'm sure they hated us for not drinking alcohol and still getting insanely cheap, tasty food but I feel zero guilt. The other wino's will make up for it. We also went to Powell's bookstore - the biggest bookstore I've ever been in - and bought a few books. I think I would be there a lot if I lived in Portland. We drove to the Portland temple to see it at night before heading to my cousin's house for another free night's stay. I'm so thankful for family and friends. Our drive home on Sunday was along the Columbia River Gorge (which almost made up for the incredibly boring drive through Idaho). We stopped to see Multonomah Falls along the 84 highway, and even though the weather was a little snowy, the scenery was beautiful. I would love to go back in the late spring or summer.
The trip was the perfect length and I'm so glad I could go and go with my brother. It's great to get along with someone that well. I reflected on what I've been able to experience and achieve in my 20s which ended up being more than I thought after I wrote them down in my journal. I learned a lot in school and serving a mission, progressed from writing poems to an actual book (with some screenplays in between) and traveled to Europe. I also learned a lot about myself and people in general and how I want to be better. My hope for this new decade - my 30s - is to pass on those experiences and give back what I have learned and will continue to learn. It's harder for me now than it ever has been to see what may lie ahead, but as Meryl Streep said in Out of Africa, perhaps God made the world round so we couldn't see too far ahead. I'll buy that one for now. (That's a great movie by the way.)
So on to the new adventures that await and to embracing life, whatever it may bring and whatever you may work with it to bring. Of all the things I'm most grateful for, it is the relationships with others that bring me the most joy and meaning and I am ever so grateful for that.