The Fremont Troll Love’s Chocolate

The Fremont Troll loves’ chocolate. Apparently if you give him a Theo chocolate bar (dark chocolate one) he will let you pass over the bridge and not crush your Volkswagen Beetle.

I met the troll at last on a hot sunny day in Fremont. But before I adventure up the hill to see him I went for a tour of Theo’s Chocolate Factory for some much needed chocolate (and a bar for the troll).

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Theo Chocolates was the first stop in my adventure in Fremont. The tour is around an hour long explaining how cocoa beans are grown to the making of the chocolate bar. Since Theo is a fair trade company in the chocolate industry, part of the tour is talking about how the chocolate industry is run. The eye opening part was how in some places where cocoa beans are grown the industry mirrors the blood diamonds of the diamond mines in Africa. Sad truth, but at least there are companies out there giving a fair wage to the farmers of cocoa plants.

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Our tour guide was very passionate about chocolate and even worked on a cocoa tree farm in South America. While listening to the talk, I sampled an array of chocolate samples (Dark 85% chocolates, 70% dark with sea salt, Milk chocolate, and 70% dark raspberry) and found I do not like 85% dark chocolate. Still taste very bitter to me no matter how long I let the piece sit on my tongue.

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View of the factory and how the process of refining the cocoa beans to liquid gold (chocolate) started in an air-conditioned viewing room of the production floor. From here you can see how the raw cocoa beans are roasted like coffee beans and then processed into liquid chocolate. We did get to go on to the processing floor in sweltering heat registering little over 100° F. Dear goodness it was hard to breath at first, and then you realize how amazing the body can adapt to breathing in hot chocolate flavored air. Next was a tour in the kitchen where the chocolate ganache and other delicacy like chocolate marshmallows are made. If I worked at Theo this would be my job. We could not see where they wrap the chocolates because the heat from the production floor coming in the room would cause problems for the bars. Bummer since I wanted to see how this was done. In the store I picked up a few chocolates: dark chocolate coconut, dark chocolate ginger, moon-pie and you guessed it milk chocolate.

After all those chocolate samples, Nana and I decided to take a walk through Fremont to burn off the chocolate (and the calories). We walked over the Fremont Bridge and admired the view of Lake Union and the canal. Have you noticed the towers on the bridge look like London Police Boxes from Dr. Who?  I didn’t until Nana pointed it out to me. While walking back to the car we witness the bridge open for a sail boat. Amazing how graceful this bridge opens and closes at an average of twenty times a day!

Fremont Troll love’s chocolate, and that is what he likes when you visit. I finally after living in Seattle all these years have finally visited the troll. This 18 foot tall troll sculpture which has roots in the Norwegian folktale Three Billy Goats Gruff is crushing in one hand a California Volkswagen beetle. Apparently the troll dislikes Californian cars. Getting to the troll was a test of my Seattle driving skills in may ways. I admit I ran over a low level traffic circle (who puts a traffic circle in a middle of a narrow street/intersection?) and parked illegally on the street since the space was big enough to park my “normal” size car (I have no shame really!). At one point I tried and failed to park between two cars because who ever just vacated it was a Smart car instead of a normal size car. But at last I finally met the troll and he let me pass over the Aurora Bridge.

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Fremont, the center of the universe, and the only place where you can buy a $500,000 Stalin statue to display is really a fun neighborhood to explore. If possible, check out Theo Chocolate factory tour while in the neighborhood (I recommend this to anyone who is a huge chocolate fan). This is one quirky neighborhood to explore on a warm sunny day and a place you will never forget.

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Did It For the Hot Chocolate- First 5K Run

Sweetest race on earth was in Seattle this past weekend, and I rocked it! Ok I rocked my first 5k run and that in itself is an accomplishment for me. Don’t judge. Having a huge mug of hot chocolate and all sorts of editable to dip in chocolate fondue was worth it. Instead of saying “I did it for a Klondike bar,” I more or less would say “I did it for the European hot chocolate.” To top it off, I did this all with two wonderful friends. After all the sore muscles and getting up early was all worth it in the end.

For the past six weeks I have been training for my first 5K race. Running around Eastlake/South Lake Union during lunch got me to where I needed to be able to run the whole thing without walking the whole course. Saturday afternoon before the race a friend and I picked up our racing packets and sampled what would be in our finisher’s mug. We did raided the Larabar stand of all the flavors. They are coming out with a new flavor, and it is a good one too.

Race day started with me getting up at 4:30am on a chilly 37 degrees clear Seattle morning to get ready to rock this race. At 5:30am hopped into the car and drove down to the Seattle Center. The 5K part of the race didn’t start until 6:45am and we all got there just in time to line up at corral E with all the other runners in high spirits.

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Chilly morning with the Space Needle. Photo Credit: Kristina

We started off, and down the street towards Elliot Ave towards Pikes Place Market. As I was traveling down the hill on Broad St, there was a aw inspiring scene of the Puget Sound below and the sun casting a beautiful sight on the Olympic Mountains in the background.Looking around while running the course made a wonderful experience.

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Running down the hill. Photo Credit: Kristina

In the Battery Street Tunnel was the hard part of the race for me. The claustrophobia feeling, the loud noise from all the people running through along with cars passing overhead and the heat from all the bodies in motion made it one part of the run I really wanted to turn on the after burners, but could not. I walked/jogged/run through the part trying to get out of the enclosed space in a short amount of time as possible. The only fuel stop had lemon flavored water and chocolate chips. I will be honest I stuffed majority of the chips in my pocket and kept on running. I think I wanted the lemon water more than chocolate at that point and trying breath and swallow at the same time just wasn’t happening. Having all the spectators, volunteers, and even the Seattle Police cheering you onward was crazy in its self. People you don’t even know are telling you how proud they are of you and you have just one more turn left until the finish line.

I never thought I would ever finish a 5K race, let alone run 3.1 miles. This has been a goal of mine for a while now, and when I crossed the finishing line there was this amazing feeling of OH MY GOODNESS I DID IT!  I finished a 5K, I finished 3.1 miles, and I accomplished this goal! Something three months ago I though was a crazy idea and not possible for me. Complete excitement and one massive runner’s high! I completed this with two amazing friends who also were their first 5Ks too. End result of the race, I ran the 5K in 37.12 minutes at a 12:00 minutes per mile pace. I am very happy with this result!

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We did it!

Since this was the 5K race instead of the 15K, I didn’t get a medal, but I received a finisher’s mug with an overload of chocolate after running 3.1 miles on a chilly day. A banana, hot chocolate, rice crispy treat, marshmallow, cheese crackers, pretzel and dark chocolate fondue to dip all the stuff in. OMGoodness it was the best thing to eat after all that training, and a great breakfast!

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Finisher’s Mug

Going back home we all three were in high spirits about accomplishing the race, and decided to rock out in the car in downtown Seattle traffic. To onlookers it must have been quit a show, but to us it was letting loose and celebrating to old school music (circa. late 90s early 2000s). I chalk it up to the runner’s high. For the rest of the day it was taking a nap, and just relaxing (pigging out on chips).

After this experience I am running more races. I have found another hobby, and the runner’s high is the best feeling ever!