What A Year It Has Been|A Year In Review

Looking back on all that has transpired over the twelve months, I can honestly say it has been one adventure after another. Just like the picture on the left side, life takes you on some unexpected paths by the end of the year. Here is a recap of what all transpired over a year and yet, I still have a feeling it is just the beginning of another big adventure coming in 2019.

Graduation From University

Took three long years to complete, yet I persevere through it all and got it! Going back to school later in life is not easy, nor is it for those who want the easy route to a better life. There were a few obstacles in getting to the end, and yet when I look back on all that has happened, the obstacles made me a whole lot stronger for the next obstacle ahead (workforce). I am relieved to have a bachelor’s degree, and for the past few months, I have been putting it to great use.

Hiked Across Western Washington

New Job

After three years of further schooling and countless hours of searching, interviewing, trying to keep the faith, I finally got a job in October! Lately, it has come to my attention how competitive the job market is nowadays (in the Seattle biotech industry). There is so many applicants and not enough positions open, and recruiters are all trying to get as many people possible through LinkedIn to fill those positions. But after almost two months of searching, I now have a job, one that is a contract position, but nothing less a position with a great company. Will have to see in the coming months when this position will be permanent.

Friends and Family Moving

At the beginning of the year, my grandma decided it was time to move to Idaho to be closer to the family. All of my childhood summers were spent at her house in the southern part of Oregon. After a few years of close calls with wildfires burning in the area, getting older, and having a house located quite some distance from the majority of the family, she moved. Sometime next year I will be going to see her new home in Idaho and possibly seeing Yellowstone National Park. Also before the year was out, my childhood best friend move clear across the state of Washington to Spokane with her boyfriend for a new beginning. It has been a little bit sad since she no longer is just 10-15 minutes down the road anymore, but I am happy she finally found a place she is happy to live. Two weeks later after my friend moved, her mother got a new position in eastern Washington and moved as well. It seemed all of a sudden a huge migration with people in my life started. Slowly watching people moving on in life has been concentrated in the last three years of my life, yet there are always people moving into my life as well.

Celebrated 6 Years With WordPress!

6 Year Anniversary Achievement
Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
You registered on WordPress.com 6 years ago.
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!

Has it been that long? I read my first blog post, and I have grown since! After a long eight months of not blogging, it shows how much this corner of the interest has changed. Thank you to all of my readers for six years!

I Have Been To:

3 National Forests
2 National Parks
1 National Monument
5 State Parks
6 Campgrounds
2 Museums
8 Farms
1 Lighthouse
2 Military Forts

I Have:

Rode the Washington State Ferry 17 times
Watched full Sunsets
Watched 3 full Sunrises
Watched 3 sunsets on top of a mountain
Watched 3 Sunrises on top of a mountain
Watched 4 times Military jets fly over

Hiked 12 trails
Dipped my feet into 3 alpine lakes
Hiked 3 times in the dark
Peed in the woods 3 times
Smelled of Campfire 9 times
Up close to 3 volcanoes
Total of 30 bug bites
Sighted 2 bears
Seen 2 dozen deer
Seen 5 marmots
Seen 1 orca pod (J or L)
Done 2 field journals
Ate a total of 10 pieces if pizza after hiking 12 trails
Ate 5 smores
Ate 2 whole hiker dehydrated meals
Ate 3 really good hamburgers after a day of hiking
Ate 2 whole Costco size boxes of granola bars by the end of summer

Ate shellfish 3 times
Ate 4 different berries on hikes
Ate 6 meals cooked over a campfire
Ate 10 ice cream cones
Ate 3.5 whole watermelons by summer end
Slept in a sleeping bag for a total of 41 days
Slept in a tent 10 times
Slept under the stars one time
Been to Walmart 6 times
Seen a ghost 2 times
1 time climbing inside a cave
2 driving tickets

The Year’s Soundtrack:

Mausoleum- Seryn
Things We Lost In The Fire- Bastille
All Time Low- Jon Bellion
The Village– Wrable
I Will Wait- Mumford & Sons
Oh Brother- Saint Raymond
Yellow Lines– Brendan James
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) –Hillsong United
Wagon Wheel- Darius Rucker
Fuego- Eleni Foureira
Eternity- Yianna Terzi
Whatever It Takes- Imagine Dragons
Natural- Imagine Dragons
Believer- Imagine Dragons
White Flag- Bishop Briggs
Walk On Water- Thirty Seconds To Mars
Into The Wild-Wrabel

Cheers to a new year! 2019 is going to another fantastic year.

Christmas Of Years Past

This girl may have been watching too much Hallmark Channel Christmas movies and now it may have gone to her head… a little. Christmas time for some reason makes past eras (1800s anyone?) seem closer than any other time of year (except for baseball season).

Image result for Miss Bennet: Christmas at PemberleyLast year a friend told me about the Meeker Mansion being all dressed up for Christmas in a Victorian theme. Every year the Meeker Mansion opens its doors day after Thanksgiving through eighteenth of December to the public for a special holiday exhibit. This special Christmas showing raises funds for the Puyallup Historical Society’s upkeep and repairs of this old historical home.

It has been a very long time since I have been down in Puyallup (last remembered 2011). When you have all the Christmas shopping done early, and need to get out of the Seattle holiday madness, go further south.

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The Meeker Mansion sits in the old part of Puyallup as a relic from a time long gone, and every year the mansion is decorated for Christmas in the late Italianate Victorian style. Ezra Meeker the man the Victorian mansion is named for was a leading pioneer (physical parts of the Oregon Trail exists today because of him), first mayor of Puyallup and the “Hop King” of his day (Washington Hops).

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Photo Credit: bookwormhistory.com

During Christmas season the house is dressed up for a Victorian Christmas. Each of the seventeen rooms on the tour are decorated ready to receive guests for a Christmas house party at any moment.

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Even the kitchen is decorated for the holidays!

Today the mansion is still undergoing painstaking work to bring all the rooms back to original decoration during the time when the Meeker’s were in residence. At the time the first and second floors of the house are completely finished to include period era furniture with all the trappings of grand house at the turn of the century. The third floor, unfortunately, is not open for exploring.

20181123_133045.jpgThe house around the time of it being built had modern convenience of having electricity and running water. As you can see the tree is plugged into an outlet in the wall that is original to the house.

Cannot have a real Victorian Christmas without a piano. This one was waiting to for Silent Night to be played.

Scene out of many of those Christmas cards!

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A little crowed at the beginning to day, but my the time I got to the first floor most of the people were already gone. I would recommend coming a little later in the day as it is not so much crowed.

Avoid The Porch Pirates This Holiday Season

three beige colored boxes on the floor
Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

It’s the holidays and you know what that means? Presents go missing off the porch or even under the tree or whatever you put presents under! In the past you could have a package dropped off on the porch without a problem, but those days are long gone!

Porch Pirates or as you can call them……thieves have shown up in neighborhoods across the country!

Nothing can ruin the holiday cheer like a person walking up to your house and steal in broad daylight something from you. Here in the Seattle area there has been an increase of packages missing, outdoor objects disappearing, car and home break-ins, that have caused many neighbors to start installing security cameras and the Ring doorbell to deter or catch these people in the act.

Still, there are simple things to do to protect those packages during the holidays and year round.

1. Get a P.O. Box
It is a federal crime to steal someone else’s mail or packages. BUT, it has not stopped people! A few years ago I signed up for a P.O. Box at the local post office after mail started disappearing out of the street mailbox. Anything deemed to be important (bills, banking, birthday cards, etc.) is sent to the P.O.Box and anything not important (advertisements, catalogs, etc.) goes to the street mailbox. Any packages sent to the P.O. Box will be held securely in a locked box and the key along with the notification will be put in your P.O. Box for you. Anything that is too big would be held securely with a notification to pick it up put into the box as well.

2. Send It To Work
Some employers allow employees to send their packages to their work’s address. My current employer gives this option to all employees to send their personal packages (things consider valuable or health related) to the shipping receiving department. This option is only secure as the environment you work in. 

3. Amazon Lockers, Amazon Hub & BoxLock
Amazon Locker is a self-service parcel delivery service offered by online retailer Amazon. Amazon customers can select any Locker location as their delivery address, and retrieve their orders at that location by entering a unique pick-up code on the Locker touch screen. However, certain third-party sellers on Amazon may not be able to ship to an Amazon Locker, due to their use of other shipping services such as FedEx or UPS that require a signature. Amazon Hub is a delivery locker for apartment lobbies. The delivery locker accepts packages from all carriers (FedEx or UPS).

The BoxLock is a new app-based lock connects with delivery companies designed to prevent theft of delivery packages left by the front door. In addition to the anti-theft aspect, packages are protected from bad weather. When couriers get to your house, they scan the package for their system (they all use handheld mobile scanners) and then scan the label with the BoxLock. Once the label is approved by the lock, it opens and allows the driver to leave the package inside. After you get a notification of delivery.

4. UPS Stores
If you know the carrier is UPS, you can have it held at the UPS store location for pick up. Customers receive a notification telling them their package is ready for pickup at any of their 9,000 store locations.

5. Signature Required
By having a signature required, shippers cannot leave the package without a signature from you. UPSP recommends this for those who will not be able to receive the package at a certain location (home).

Or get a whole new security system

 Ring Doorbell System & Google’s Nest System
I have seen recent notifications on Facebook about neighbors sharing neighborhood watch videos from their Ring doorbell. If it was not for one said neighbor I may not have known there was a suspicious man walking up to people’s houses when no one was home on our block! The same goes for Google’s Nest system. I friend of mine recently installed on for her home and she has a peace of mind now after her house was broken into. I know there will be a security system in my stocking this year!

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Ring Doorbell

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Google Nest Doorbell

With these simple ways of protecting against package thievery from ruining the holiday cheer, you will have a merrier holiday season!

 

Disclosure: This post does not contain affiliate links or paid advertisement for the products mentioned above. I do not make a commission on any of the above products.  All opinion are my own!

Falling In Love With Bivalves

A long time ago I had some very bad mussels dish at a fancy seafood restaurant which was the reason I never touched certain bivalves. Clams where the only thing I would eat with a shell in this department. This all changed when I toured the Penn Cove Mussel Farm on Whidbey Island and Taylor’s Shellfish Farm in Bow. Not only did I get to sample fresh mussels, clams, and oysters, but I learned more about how each farm raises them in the most sustainable ways possible. I even was able to see a geoduck up close, something very few of us are afford in a restaurant.

Penn Cove Shellfish Mussel Farms

To get to the mussel beds out in Penn Cove, I had to board a boat at the old Coupeville Wharf. This is the famous wharf everyone has to take a picture of for social media, and on this morning, the wharf had a coastal seaport asleep vibe waiting to be awoken by the sun.

DSC00353Once in the boat, I sported the most stylish bright orange life vest and off towards the mussel beds we went. Once in the area, we saw mussel beds loaded down into the water with harbor seals lounging on top looking very happy. Most of the beds at the time had small mussels growing, but a few of the beds were big enough to harvest. It takes about a year for a mussel to grow the size for harvesting.

DSC00334DSC00311IMG_3299DSC00331Penn Cove Shellfish Mussel Farms grows more of a native mussel to the Pacific Coast-Penn Cove, but they also grow Mediterranean Mussels as well. The mussels are grown mostly in their Penn Cove location, but they also grow other shellfish like clams and oysters at their other location in Willapa Bay.

DSC00341After the tour was finished, our group received a 15lb bag of mussels to bring back to share with our friends.

DSC00395Interesting fact: mussels are more popular in Belgium, Netherlands, and other landlocked German-Franco countries. The first mussel farm on the west coast of the US was established in the 1970s and is Penn Cove Shellfish Farm.

Taylor Shellfish Farms

DSC00589When you hear Taylor Shellfish Farms, you may think of the Oyster Bars popping up all over the Seattle -Bellevue area of recent. But the real treat is to visit the location of the farm itself off Chuckanut Drive in Bow. Here you can have a taste of oysters while enjoying the view of the oyster growing beds and seeing first hand how those oysters are harvested.

DSC00593Here I tasted the different types of oysters grown and got an up close look at a delectably, the goeduck which goes for $70 lb which translates into $80-100+ at a seafood restaurant! I really wanted to try a small piece just to see why people want to eat this, but only if you buy one.

DSC00608DSC00611What does a person do with a geoduck? This even sparked some… let’s say.. inappropriate jokes regarding what a goeduck looks like. Even a shirt being sold in the market store played on this inappropriate joke. Pacific Northwest native the geoduck is known as “the good time clam.” Yep, I typed that!

IMG_3660IMG_3671The famous oyster shells are spread all over the ground outside which goes to show how close from tide to table really is.

Overall, I do believe I will be eating more bivalves in the future. Spending a whole day touring both shellfish farms was a treat, by had the opportunity to see how sustainable shellfish farming is and how it contributes to a healthy environment in our water ways, all the while eating homegrown shellfish in the process.

Tale Of Two Forts| Casey & Ebey

Forts are all over Whidbey Island and a few are even state parks! Fort Casey was located close to where I was staying making it an easily accessible place to explore on an early crisp sunny morning and Fort Ebey just a fifteen-minute drive toward Oak Harbor.

Fort Casey:

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Fort Casey is located five miles from Coupeville next door to the Port Townsend-Coupeville Ferry terminal. The fort was established around the 1890s as a World War I coast artillery fortification to protect the Puget Sound at the Admiralty Inlet area. The fort was decommissioned after World War II and made into a state park.

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On a quiet morning, I decided to explore the fortifications early before the crowds. In relative peace, I explored the arm structures, battlements and the iconic large guns reinstalled after becoming a historical site.

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For some reason, I found this funny!

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The iconic Admiralty Lighthouse built in 1903 was not open at the time. Maybe when I return for another visit to Whidbey Island I will have to stop by.

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Fort Ebey:

Fort Ebey just like Fort Casey was part of the World War II coastal defense system with smaller battlements. The old fort has a lot of hiking trails and beach access to explore.

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One such battlement had a series of tunnels to explore in the dark. With a flashlight and my phone, I walked around the dark rooms and passageways. I should have known that a walking around a dark secluded area would not be a smart thing to do. At one point when I was walking back down another semi-dark passageway, I caught a dark figure out of the corner of my eye off in a dark bunker. At first, I thought “oh hell! I saw a ghost.” But quickly realized it was a person and he was sorry to scare me, but I was already running down the corridor out towards light and to my car. This really should have taught me a lesson in not going to these places alone!

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After a scare just wanted to calm my nerves so I headed towards the beach to get some sea breeze. The waves were crashing in at an alarming rate. There were moments when the waves were huge, enough to boogie board or surf at one point.

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After what seemed like hours I headed back to my car and headed back to Camp Casey for a day of sunbathing at the pool.

 

Have you been to any of these forts? Did you find the Fort Ebey tunnel a little scary? Let me know in the comments!

The Island Life| Whidbey Island

For six weeks I called Whidbey Island home and became familiar with the slower way of life on the island. Here I was a part of the community on the island and found I really like this place.

Ebbey’s Landing National Historical Reserve:

The past meets present in a working rural landscape and community. This is what the National Parks Service says about this place, and it is where I became very familiar with for five weeks. In 1978 it was created as a 17,572-acre reserve integrates historic farms, a seaside town (Coupeville) native and pioneer land use traditions and ecologically significant areas.

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Here I got my first lesson in sustainable agriculture and a history lesson in why mega-mansions are bad business for land so rich with productive soil. Also spending a good part of my time on the campus of Pacific Rim Institute of Environmental Sciences is located in the heart of this reserve as part of Ebey’s Prairie.

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Coupeville:

The town has a small town historical charm with an agricultural community that is thriving with all the ties to the historical significance of Ebey’s Landing Reserve. It is the second oldest towns in Washington State with buildings dating from the 1850s and 1870s.

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First time I was introduced to Coupeville was to attend a root beer float party at the Compass Rose B&B. The house was an old Victorian-era home that when I took a tour, it was walking through an antique store or a museum. Everything inside was original to the era. I kept thinking how amazing this would be to live here! The kitchen had the largest collection of copper pans and utensils I had ever seen! Imagine cleaning all those!

The second time I had to go down to the famous wharf everyone talks about. This wharf was built in 1905 and the weathered boards could tell tales of a time long ago when it was the main transportation stop in the turn of the century.

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With a group of friends and headed for the shops. The main street had cute little shops to explore. I was disappointed with Kingfisher Books and the antique shop were closed. I really wanted to go inside. Ice cream soothed my disappointment really fast!

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Check out:
The Salty Mug-Coffee, pastries, soups and chowders. Inexpensive.
Coupe’s Last Stand– Need a hot dog, polish, brats, and veggie dogs with all the fixings.
Lavender Wind-the shop with items made from the lavender grown on the farm

Oak Harbor:

Cue Top Gun, Highway to the Danger Zone! 
As I have said before, the military seems to find me or is it the other way around? Sleeping in the old officers’ barracks at Camp Casey, you would expect some military activity to happen. For a total of two weeks worth of days, Whidbey Island Naval Station would do practice flying maneuvers over the area. I should be used to this by now with commercial air traffic flying over at all hours of the day in Seattle, but these jets are much more sonic loud then a Boeing bird. I can see why residents on the island complain about the noise. Yet it is part of living within an area with active military bases. I will never forget when one flew a little to close to the ground for comfort when touring Kettle’s Edge Farm. Coming close to one of those military birds is scary when you think of it. You think it may crash! Over the five weeks I started to tune them out, and by the last night at Camp Casey, I could sleep through the noise.

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Camp Casey Conference Center:

Camp Casey Conference Center was once a part of Fort Casey where the enlisted and officer barracks are located. There are a few beautiful historical officer houses build in the style known as “military Victorian” that can be rented for the weekend at either Fort Casey Inn or directly from Seattle Pacific University which owns the property next to Fort Casey State Park.

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The floor I was on

For Au Sable, the five weeks were spent living in the BOQ building between Captain’s house and another officers house near the beach. The rooms assigned had two navy issued beds with a mattress and chest of drawers. Military style! Some of the rooms had bunks where four people were assigned. I was lucky not to have three other people crammed into a room!

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Deception Pass:

Took a small hiking adventure up to Goose Rock in the Deception State Park. This 0.5-mile hike to a vista with breathtaking views of the Pacific Sound and Northern Whidbey Island.

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From atop of the summit you can see the San Juan Islands, Cranberry Lake and NAS Whidbey. IMG_3275

The island in the background is up for sale! If you have a cool 5.6 million dollars laying around it can be yours!IMG_3278

I have been over this bridge about a dozen times and the view never gets old. The summer heat and the sunny weather made it even more enchanting for some of the people in the group who are not from Washington.

After spending six weeks on Whidbey, it was hard to leave back to Seattle. I will be coming back in the future, and who knows, may move here.

If once you have slept on an island
You’ll never be quite the same;
You may look as you looked the day before
And go by the same old name,
You may bustle about in street and shop
You may sit at home and sew,
But you’ll see blue water and wheeling gulls
Wherever your feet may go.
You may chat with the neighbors of this and that
And close to your fire keep,
But you’ll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell
And tides beat through your sleep.
Oh! you won’t know why and you can’t say how
Such a change upon you came,
But once you have slept on an island,
You’ll never be quite the same.