Runaway to: Seattle (and Canada!)

My 31st bday was getting closer and closer... and though I had made the decision months ago to keep my wedding calendar open that weekend, Emir and I still hadn't decided what we were going to do with it. And then one night... while screwing around on one of our techno gadgets, we decided that Seattle sounded good. Nebraska's humidity was wearing on us, and we both have friends to visit in the fabled rainy city, so... we booked our tickets and a couple weeks later, we found ourselves gearing up for an early (very. early.) flight. (Sorry love... I don't know what it is with me and the painfully early flights... seems like we're always having to wake up before 3am to make it on time!) We LOVE when we have the opportunity to travel with just our backpacks. No laptops. No roller bags. Just what we can carry on our backs... and all the freedom that comes with that. I thought it'd be fun to make a quick video about how we pack so much into such a small bag and make it work for weeks at a time (our first backpacking trip across Europe was 3 weeks and it was a piece of cake with these bags!)... but I kept forgetting (I blame the early morning flights!) and the next thing I knew, I was already home and had unpacked. Doh! Remind me for next time!

(For those of you wondering, yes... I still brought my camera. Two of them in fact. My big guns only captured a small handful of images included in this post... the rest were shot with my super ancient 'purse cam.')

After a crazy fast flight connection, Emir and I met up with his childhood friend, Dino, whom he hadn't seen since before he left Bosnia. Dino picked us up at the airport, gave us the royal European hospitality treatment (including Bosnian coffee and cevapi!), and took us for a drive around some great parts of the city. What a host! :)

Eventually, we ended up downtown where we thought we were going to rent a pair of bikes for the week... but that ended up not working out quite as intended, which was great... because we wandered over to the local farmer's market where we saw this incredible metal tree sculpture...

Caught this glimpse of Seattle's Space Needle...

Soaked up some sun...

and ate dinner and enjoyed the live band. Not bad for screwed up bike reservations! :)

After our farmer's market dinner, we headed to my friend Tamara's place to crash for the night. She's one of those fabulous friends that  you just can't get enough of (more from her family to come!). The next day was my bday, and Emir had plans for us! We took the bus back downtown and hung out at Seattle's food festival known as "Bite of Seattle." (Are you sensing the theme here? FOOD!) While enjoying the culinary delights of the festival in the park surrounding the Space Needle, we caught this hilarious photo and spent the rest of the trip laughing at it. It looks like a horrid Photoshop job... but alas... it was straight up captured like this. LOL!

Us... waiting for the bus.

Emir surprised me with reservations for lunch at the restaurant on top of the Space Needle. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. For one thing, I wasn't sure we were dressed appropriately... and I guess I was thinking it would be the same kind of cheesy tourist trap you encounter in places like the Rain Forrest Cafe or Planet Hollywood. However... I was very pleasantly surprised. Neigh, even impressed! (Well... after making it past all the Space Needle water globes and crystallized paper weights in the lobby...). Our meal was uh-maaaazing. My tummy is grumbling again just from thinking about it!

I don't know why, but I always assumed the top of the needle itself was what rotated... but actually, there's a track inside the needle that rotates within the restaurant (like all the guest tables are on a carousel). Kinda made my stomach turn at first (I'm a motion sickness wimp!), but... after the first few minutes, it was great, and I loved getting the 360-degree view of the city. And what great weather we had!

Of course, later, we ended up at Pike's Market. I couldn't get over all the fresh flowers... too bad my backpack didn't have a built in vase! How cool would that have been?

Ok... here's the purse cam pushing the limits of its hi-ISO technology from 2003. :) I love these large over-sized chess boards. Totally reminds me of both Puerto Rico and New Orleans. Interesting...

This street artist was a magician with charcoal!

We drank our weight in lattes on our trip! Here we are resting our feet while plotting our next java escapade when we noticed our sunburns... in Seattle of all places!

OK, super painful low-light/hi-ISO noise again... but look at this view from my friend's deck! That's Mt. Rainier. Let's just say I contemplated moving in with them... I couldn't get enough of this sight! :)

Phew! Back to well light situations the purse cam can handle!

One of my favorite countries of all 16+ that I've been to thus far... is Canada. It's an interesting cross of north America and Europe. Among the various provinces, British Columbia is especially close to my heart. During my beloved Up With People days, I spent nearly 2 months on Vancouver Island... and totally fell in love with the place. Emir had never been, so we caught the ferry up to Victoria from Seattle and spent 3 days in cool, but sunny Canada. I was in heaven!

We walked on our trip. A lot. Like I said, we were planning on a biking excursion... which didn't happen. But with only our backpacks... we had no problem walking. The hotel we stayed at in Victoria was called the English Inn & Resort. A charming English cottage nestled on 5 acres of gorgeous landscaping, we took advantage of the great weather and slept with our windows open, soaking up all the fresh cool air (the antithesis of Nebraska's nasty heat blanket that strangles you on a daily basis this time of year).

On top of our daily runs, we enjoyed walking the 3+ miles from our hotel to Victoria's downtown (which I'm told has the most restaurants in all of BC). We took the boardwalk along the harbor's edge and were treated to all kinds of gorgeous views.

Macro function on the purse-cam!

I think this is my favorite image from the whole trip. Courtesy of, you guessed it! The purse cam!

After talking with one of our waitresses, I became fascinated with the idea of living on the water. These houseboats are basically a platform (barge?), with a house built on top of it. It's not like a boat in the sense that it doesn't have a motor... so you'd have to tow it or have it towed... but then you just pay to 'dock' it wherever your heart desires. I had a host family once in Up With People who had lived on a house boat. It's times like these that make me wish I had paid more attention during those days of being a silly 18 year old.... *sigh*

Our final day in Victoria was spent finishing our books and drinking more coffee. :) During the trip I read Bart Yasso's "My Life on the Run" which was all kinds of inspiring. I was sad when I finished the book (it was truly that good!) so I capped it off with Seth Godin's "Tribes." Good (duh, it's Seth Godin!) but not worth keeping on my book shelf forever... so when we were done (Emir read it too), we passed it along to a young lady we met who wanted to read it. I hope when she's finished, she passes it on again. I love thinking that our book may have a traveling soul, crossing international boundaries. Besides, it was time for more coffee...

We finished it up with yet another meal at this awesome place we found (and later had recommended to us... after having already eaten there once), called Rebar.

That night, we caught a ferry back to Seattle, slept for a few hours, and caught a 6am flight back to Nebraska's humidity. It was there to great us with a familiar squeeze. :)