Category: Pacific Northwest

When you travel to the same place often, to visit family, it is important to have ritualized outings and to sprinkle in some new experiences each visit to keep things fresh. We are lucky, my in-laws live on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington and it is always fun to travel there.

We have our list of musts, which includes over-the-top breakfasts at the Oak Table, swims in Lake Crescent, visits to Lavender Farms, maybe a day trip to Victoria, British Columbia and walks on the Dungeness Spit to name a few. This summer we had a longer visit planned and decided to explore some spots farther from our home base in Sequim.

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Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, British Columbia, Budget Travel, Canada, Culture, Driving Trips, Family Travel, Hike/Backpack, Museum, Olympic Peninsula, Pacific Northwest, Sequim, Washington, art, wildlife

One of my favorite things in the world is to plunge into a lake, preferably in the mountains, fed by snowmelt. The Pacific Northwest drought and climate change have sadly warmed the temperature of many of these glorious lakes. The upside is that swimming is more pleasant. It used to be, numbness and a deep bone chill was assumed after a mountain lake dip.

This summer, as I embark on a big birthday, I was feeling a bit shy, or let’s say not really embracing the idea of a blowout celebration. I have never reveled in birthday glory, despite being a Leo, a theatrical being, and anything but a shrinking violet. It felt so dismal to ponder, plan and pretend to be festive when I wasn’t feeling it. Instead, I just said yes to a variety of unconnected plans and invitations, and inadvertently (perhaps a little by divine design) got to experience numerous lakes this summer. I’m choosing to call it “The Summer of Lakes“ and not my big birthday summer.

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Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, California, Canoe/Kayak, Driving Trips, Eco Friendly Travel, Family Travel, Hike/Backpack, Lake Tahoe, National Parks, Northern California, Olympic National Park, Olympic Peninsula, Oregon, Pacific Northwest, Sequim, Swimming, Washington, Yoga, national park, wildlife

Have you ever stumbled upon a cultural gem while traveling? It’s such a great feeling of discovery and often, some of the best vacation experiences happen without planning.

We drove from my in-laws in Sequim to Bainbridge Island, Washington this summer, to catch the ferry to Seattle. We have done this trip a number of times, and although Bainbridge Island is adorable and full of lovely shops and art galleries, we’ve never stopped, except to have lunch or grab some food at the chic local market.

This time, we had planned a lunch downtown, but were nervous about leaving our car too far out of sight, packed to the gills with travel gear. As we drove down the main drag, clogged with tourists, we saw a new eco-building with a Grand Opening sign saying it was the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. After much protest from my two boys and with the promise of a Mexican meal after, we decided to check it out. Brand spankin’ new, the pristine green building in itself had appeal with its recycled materials, solar power, denim insulation, Zero Waste, living wall and environmentally friendly carpets and paint. It was FREE, thanks to sponsorships, memberships, and donations! Continue reading »

2 Comments | Filed Under Culture, Museum, Pacific Northwest, Photography, Washington

A man jumped off the dock into the crystal blue, glacially carved waters of Lake Crescent and when asked how the water was, he replied: “Like butter.”

Like butter on a croissant, Lake Crescent in the Olympic National Park, just 17 miles from Port Angeles, on the Olympic Peninsula, is one of my most favorite spots on earth. Perhaps because of its brilliant blue waters and extraordinary clarity (caused by a lack of nitrogen in the water, which stunts the algae growth), perhaps because we make the ritual pilgrimage each time we visit my in-laws in Sequim, Washington. When we round the bend to the lake, my husband says in his best Inspector Clouseau accent “Lake Croissant!” Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Canoe/Kayak, Family Travel, Hike/Backpack, Olympic Peninsula, Pacific Northwest, Sequim, Washington, wildlife

I hate New Year’s resolutions. I like the idea of starting fresh, having goals, plans and renewed energy, but the cliché focus on resolutions is tired, in my opinion.  Yet, when I read this quote from Jay Leno, it got me thinking…

“Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people. So overweight people are now average…which means, you have met your New Year’s resolution.”

As Americans waistlines expand, there are so many ripple effects. From healthcare to clothing, design considerations to travel safety, more personal bulk means changing laws, rules and preconceived notions. I have heard sad tales of folks unable to squeeze into rides at Amusement Parks, being banned from bungee jumping, even forced to purchase two plane tickets because of size. That doesn’t even take into account self limitations because of shame or inability to maneuver. But, what about weight limits for boats, buses and other vehicles? More and more, places and companies are upping the average weight limit per person. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Air Travel, Cruises, Fishing, Food, New York, Overweight travelers, Pacific Northwest, Theme Park, Washington, Washington

This morning as I read my New York Times, I noticed a full page ad for a Harry Potter contest to coincide with the release of the latest film in the series.  My sons are such big fans and it seemed like a fun exercise to have them enter.

Getting sucked into a series of books can be a marvelous experience. You become so invested, almost intimate with the characters. Much to my surprise, I am completely taken by Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy and have been burning the midnight oil as I gallop through the three books. I keep putting the reins on my reading because I don’t want it to end.

This summer, on a trip to the Pacific Northwest’s Olympic Peninsula, I insisted we take a 50-mile detour to visit Forks, Washington, home of the Twilight saga. Twilight is a series of four vampire, teen romance novels by Stephenie Meyer. It follows a teenage girl, named Bella, who moves to Forks, Washington and falls in love with a 104-year-old vampire named Edward Cullen.
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Leave a Comment | Filed Under Books, Culture, Europe, Family Travel, Feature, Films, Museums, National Parks, Olympic Peninsula, Pacific Northwest, Romance, Washington

The Seattle area coffee is legendary. The birthplace of Starbucks has created a revolution in America, and I for one am indebted to the place. I used to cherish my NY Greek coffee-shop, take-out cup of Joe, but now I am somewhat of a coffee snob.

Brewed Awakenings, Roundup a Latte, Grounds for Perfection, Espresso Yourself and Mocha Motion are just a few of the catchy/kitschy names for coffee shops on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.  I love coffee, but more, I love the ritual of coffee and am a sucker for the drive-through. It’s still novel to me and is a treat every time. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Family Travel, Food, Hike/Backpack, National Parks, Olympic Peninsula, Pacific Northwest, Sequim, Washington

Before I start on this post — let me make a big apology to Walla Walla lovers. I too love this place but I  have gotten too casual about it (I go quite often) and so when I first wrote up this blog post, I really didn’t check my spelling, facts, etc. the way I would for most places. So, the result, predictably, was lots of errors. Fortunately, this site has keen observers and they have made corrections. I humbly put them in, grateful — and embarrassed.

My sentiments still stand…the names of inns and restaurants have been changed to their rightful spelling.

Very high on my list of romantic getaways is a wine country retreat. Most people have at least name recognition with the wine country of Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Rosa, and the contiguous valleys that go all the way up  Humboldt county — but little Walla Walla is a jewel that is less known — but no less worthy.

This town is in the wine region of Washington state and is home to more than over 100 wineries, about 80 of which are open to the public either on weekends or by appointment. The quality of the wine is superb, the scenery is stunning, and there are fine restaurants and places to stay. Continue reading »

1 Comment | Filed Under North America, Oregon, Pacific Northwest, Romance, Travel, United States, Walla Walla, Washington, Wine Tours

I have lived in Washington State since 1972 and skied Crystal Mountain during the winter. I’ve never thought about ski slopes in the summer.

But this month I was invited to a birthday party up at the Summit restaurant on top of the Crystal slopes and I realized there were new possibilities for love on resting ski slopes.

First there was the ride up. With the snow gone and the mountain temporarily ungroomed by the careful padding of ski machines, the actual contours of the mountain are easier to see and quite beautiful. It is also an adrenaline rush as you feel yourself go up the mountain and have a better idea of how high up you are. It took us two different lifts to get to the top, and then we were greeted by one of the most beautiful views on earth: Mt. Rainier undraped, no clouds whatsoever. Moreover there was a 360 view — we could see Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and Mt. Baker, all of them topped by glaciers. We were agog.

The Summit restaurant has a $79 gourmet meal but it couldn’t compete with the view. I am told they also have a very good brunch, but the view is what makes you hold hands, glad to be seeing this together. You might have gorgeous mountains you can visit during the summer too. I’m not sure they are as spectacular as this one, but if I were you, I’d go find out.

Pepper Schwartz serves as the AARP love and relationship ambassador and is the chief relationships expert at

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Pacific Northwest, Romance, Travel, Washington

I live in San Francisco, so when I think about skiing my thoughts never stray far beyond Lake Tahoe. After all, I can get there in three hours (if I time my departure to avoid heavy traffic), resorts such as Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Heavenly Valley, Northstar, and others offer slopes and facilities as appealing as just about anywhere (Squaw Valley, certainly, is recognized around the world as a great ski resort), and I have friends there to visit.

If it’s Nordic skiing I want rather than alpine, the Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area near Tahoe City on the north shore has 40 miles of groomed trails, fabulous views of the lake, trailside warming huts, and everything you’d expect in facilities. Many of the downhill resorts also have cross-country options, so why would I go anywhere else? Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under California, Cross Country Skiing, Feature, Lake Tahoe, Northern California, Oregon, Pacific Northwest, Skiing, Snowboarding, Travel