The Great Northwest

LAKE HOUSE

No no, this isn't going to be some horrid tirade about Keanu Reeves and the movie The Lake House. I have much more important things to share with the world you see.

My lovely parental units have been lounging at a lake house in Coeur d'Alene, ID since last Saturday. Since last weekend they have been living here.

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And every morning they stand on the back deck and look out at this.

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Every day I talked to them early last week they would tell me about how they woke up and had breakfast on the deck, or caught at 15" bass last night, or how they spent a few hours that afternoon swimming in the lake, or discovered a new cove, or SHUT UP I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR VACATION WHILE I AM AT WORK. 

But you see, I don't have to be jealous anymore and openly hate my family, because right now, in this very moment, I am at the lake house too. Hell, I've been here since Wednesday night. Who knows, as you read this I just might be lounging on the deck, or swimming in the lake, hell, I might be drinking a cocktail, in the lake, while catching a fish, ALL AT THE SAME TIME for all you know! The possibilities are endless.


It's ok if you want to hate me now.

Hell, I'd been openly hating my own family all last week.



Ashley, the Accidental Olympian


SISTERLY STROLL *UPDATED*

My little sister was in town this weekend. Saturday afternoon, disappointed that the weather refused to warm up and allow us to work off our hangovers by laying around in the sun on the lake, we instead took to my new favorite place in Olympia, the Chehalis Western Trail to walk away our last bits of remaining uncomfortableness. 

With the weather gloomy and drizzly we only ever saw one other person on the trail over the course of our 6 mile walk, the rest of our visitors were from the animal kingdom.

But I was ok with that.

Let's be honest, I'm not exactly all that friendly when I'm nursing the last bits of a hangover.

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*UPDATE* To anyone who thinks that we woke up hungover and headed right out for a 6 mile walk, do not worry your pretty little heads. Also, do not think even for a second that I am some crazy exercising away my hangover, nut job.

We woke up, consumed a greasy spoon-multi million calorie breakfast, watched 400 episodes of really weird shit on my DVR, and THEN went on a walk because I knew if we never left the house for the rest of the night I would melt into the couch and possibly never leave again. By 6pm we desperately needed some fresh air to whisk away the last remnants of hangoverness, before heading back to the couch of course.

Glad we cleared that up.



Ashley, the Accidental Olympian


ANOTHER CHECK OFF THE SUMMER 'TO DO' LIST

Guys, it is AUGUST.

What happened?

Normally when August rolls around I'm terrified because I realize the summer is almost over and I've spend 75% off it talking about things I want to do, instead of actually doing them.

This summer I've been better about being a proactive participant in checking off my summer 'to-do' list. So far I've BBQed, gardened like I've never gardened before, broken out the slip'n slide, boated, enjoyed happy hour with friends on outdoor patios, camped, sunbathed on lake Washington with dear friends, explored new parts of Olympia, planted flowers (even if the gardeners did kill them), and now to add to the ever growing list, I got Adam to go hiking with me.  

Now, you're probably wondering why I phrased it as "I got Adam to go hiking with me," instead of simply saying that, "Adam and I went hiking." But you see, the last time I convinced Adam to go on a hike with me I told him it wasn't going to be very hard at all. Rated a three in the guidebook for difficulty, and a five out of five for recommendation. Simple hike that was very well rated. Sign me up! 

Turns out I'm an idiot and it was actually rated a three on the recommendation scale, and was a five out of five for difficulty. Which basically means that we walked up the face of a mountain for 6+ hours. My bad!

So this time I had to show Adam the guidebook like 12 times, pointing repeatedly where it said that the hike I was interested in was a THREE for difficulty. Even promising him that if we arrived and it was actually the bottom of a mountain we were supposed to scale I gave him every right to turn around. And maybe even punch me in the shin.

Thankfully the hike was not only easy enough for all parties, it was absolutely beautiful and the perfect way to spend a late July summer Saturday.

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Tell me that doesn't look EXACTLY like an elephant.

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*If you live in the Western WA area and are interested in taking this hike (8 miles round trip, not too strenuous, follows a river the entire time) it can be found in the guidebook Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula by Craig Romano. It is hike #31, Upper South Fork Skokomish River. Fantastic hike.

Ashley, the Accidental Olympian




THE TIME I WAS ATTACKED BECAUSE OF MY SERIOUS LACK OF A TAN


A weird thing happened to me today.

You see, the weather in Western Washington this week has been FANTASTIC. 90's every day. Western Washington residents have been crawling out of their caves in droves, flocking to bodies of water, sunning their pasty white skin wherever they can and one or two might even be melting from this foreign heat.

Another thing people in the Northwest do when the weather gets nice is we shed our layers of Gore-Tex and fleece and bare our WHITE skin to the world with pride. Because you see, we're all usually the same level of white, and the ones who aren't you instantly know have either spent a fortune at the tanning bed, or went on a vacation somewhere that isn't the NW. Basically the tan people stand out as the freaks around here.

So you get it right?

I am white.

Blisteringly white.

Because this is what happens in the Northwest where is rains like 9 months out of the year. Simple science people.


So I am at work, in shorts, long Bermuda shorts mind you, and a t-shirt. Normal, 'gee it is warm out' clothes.

A man who works in the building next to me walks by while I am working outside, and we start chatting. But in the middle of our little chat this look begins to take over his face. As each second passes of our mindless chatter his face is moving from 'happy to see you Ashley' to complete and utter abject HORROR.

I finish my sentence and cock my head to the left, channeling my inner Oly because I'm a little worried. Is he having a stroke? Does he need water? Is he transforming into a werewolf? WTF IS THAT FACE?

Then he opens his mouth and with all sincerity says one of the weirdest things I've heard in a while.

"Ashley, you sure don't like the sun very much do you?"

Remember, as he is saying this he looks absolutely horrified. He isn't teasing me, he isn't being cute, and he's not just trying to keep the conversation going. His eyes are running across my bare legs, my exposed arms, my pasty face as if the act of skimming my body means that eventually he MUST find a part of me that is tan.

I can actually see that his poor brain is screaming, "WHERE IS HER TAN?" 

But I just laughed. Because what the fuck does that even mean? I tried to remind him that we live in the Northwest and that this is the first time all summer that it has reached higher than 72 degrees outside so therefore soaking up sunlight is quite difficult, but by the look on his face it still just wasn't sinking in.

Feeling I hadn't adequately explained my whiteness he continued to ask me questions about my tanning ability, the entire time holding onto an expression of complete disgust and maybe even a little disbelief. I won't lie, as the conversation continued I felt fairly interrogated, I was beginning to get the impression that he truly felt I hadn't been trying hard enough to tan. In his eyes I had FAILED at tanning.

I had to have missed something. Was there was a new law passed that said all WA residents must stay above a certain level of tanness to be allowed in public? It must be that by not complying to this new law I was telling this poor man that I did not in fact love Washington. Perhaps I did not even love America! Here I was, openly displaying my white skin in a way that was akin to throwing up my middle finger and proclaiming that, "I ASHLEY REFUSE TO TAN AND THEREBY SHOW MY LOVE FOR AMERICA. LOOK AT MY WHITE SKIN AND BE DISGUSTED!"

Eventually after a few more half ass attempts to explain my horrifying whiteness he finally hobbled away and I swear to you the man shook his head slowly back and forth in true sadness.




People, I am still confused.

I always knew I was fairly white skinned.

But I never realized it could actually cause others distress.

Ye white skinned folks be warned.



Ashley, the Accidental Olympian


LONG BEACH, WA ALSO KNOWN AS THE RAIN ZONE

I am an avid tent camper.

Mostly because I don't have an extra 20,000 dollars lying around to upgrade from tent camper to RV camper.

But honestly I do love tent camping. Camping in a tent forces you to spend your time outside in your site. Breakfast in the early morning air, lunch sitting around your picnic table, ending your long day lounging by the fire with friends telling jokes and listening to the sounds of the forest/beach/campsite/neighbors. 

Tent camping also ensures that when you wake to rain in those early morning hours you are going to spend the rest of your day completely and totally miserable. It's quite the double edged sword.




When Adam and I awoke in Long Beach, WA to the sound of rain on our tent Friday morning we did what any other tent camper would do. We cursed the heavens, ate our soggy breakfast standing upright in the rain, and then got in the car and drove an hour south to Cannon Beach, OR for lunch. Because we could. And because it was far dryer and warmer in our car than it was sitting at a wet picnic table in the pouring rain.

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach OR
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While we were in Oregon we decided that Miss Oly, the WIMPIEST DOG IN THE WORLD needed some kind of relief from the cold. She spent Thursday night shivering next to me making me wonder if I should have just tucked her into my sleeping bag with me, and Friday was basically a whine fest as she cowered in the rain and wind.

So what do you do when your skinny wimp of a dog is miserable and you don't want to spend a fortune keeping her protected?

You go to Fred Meyer, head to the children's section, and get your dog a super sale little boys small fleece jacket. Yes, she is going to look like Ellen Degeneres all weekend, and yes, when you take her on a walk people in your campground are going to point and laugh at her, but damn it at least she'll stop giving you the, "Please kill me now," eyes.

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Our weekend camping on the coast wasn't all rain and sogginess. As many hours as we spent cursing the weather we also spent equally as many hours happy for the sun breaks which would appear without warning. In typical beach camping fashion there were a few glorious mornings where we wasted an hour or two on a perfectly empty beach throwing the ball for the dog. We were enjoying ourselves sure, but Oly, she was in heaven.

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There were also plenty of tasty meals enjoyed around the campfire. Jokes played on one another, stories told, new memories made with old friends, and a tradition solidified. Lucky for us we also had one whole GLORIOUS afternoon of sunshine enabling us to have a fire on the beach, cook hot dogs off the back tailgate, and everyone even managed to enjoy a power-nap in the sun. Their Northwest skin felt the burn, but there wasn't a single complaint among the entire group.

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All in all it was an amazing weekend. There were times I will admit when I eyed the RV campers enviously. Times when I wondered how much easier it would have been to turn on a movie, crank up the heat and forget about the weather raging outside. But in the end tent camping in the Northwest forces you to be adaptable. Forces you to take impromptu road trips to a nearby state, forces you to dress your dog in hilarious outfits, and encourages you to scrap the idea of making breakfast in the rain on Sunday morning in favor of a lovely meal at the local diner.

Sure, you smell like hell and probably look 700 times worse than the average diner in the place, but who cares, you're camping.








 

Ashley, the Accidental Olympian






COASTAL BLISS

Right now, Adam and I are on the WA coast camping with friends. There is a 95% chance that right at this very moment I am hung over, smell like campfire, and have already used 700 baby wipes to clean my hands.

Having OCD is hard.


In honor of my vacation (whatever the hell that means), I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite pictures I've taken while on WA and OR coastal vacations in the past six or so years.

Manzanita, OR
2004, Freshman year spring break. My first ever encounter with a beach where you wear a rain jacket the entire time. And love it.

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Gorgeous-sunset

Manzanita, OR
2006, Junior Year spring break where apparently I thought I was God. And yes, I did have a friend in college who's parents had a beach house in Manzanita and it was fucking fantastic and made this poor girl very, very happy.

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Ocean Shores, WA
December 2008, the weekend I was laid off and life as I knew it seemed to crumble around me this beach made me feel better. I didn't realize that in three months this beach and I would become pretty close neighbors, and end up seeing much more of one another.

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Moclips, WA
Yes. That is an actual town on the WA coast. 2009 fishing trip with our brand new puppy. Bliss.


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Willapa Bay, WA
Memorial Weekend 2009. First clamming experience, where it turned out in a surprising twist that I was the master clammer in our household.

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Ocean Shores, WA
2009, camping with Adam's parents, and Adam's nieces and nephew. Watched as Adam's niece saw the ocean for the very first time.

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Ocean Shores, WA
2010, unusually warm February weekend lead us to the beach for kite flying, reading, and puppy inspired manic hole digging.



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I absolutely love Northwest coastal towns. Each time I visit a new one I envision my dream home, and my dream store. I'd open a seasonal bookstore/cafe even though no one buys books anymore. I wouldn't even care that it would have a high probability of failing, because I can already picture how deeply I'd love that little store. Maybe one day I'll actually make it happen.


You really must try this. I'll put a smore on for you if you promise you can make it here in the next couple hours.

Trust me, we've got plenty.



What are you doing this Memorial Weekend?



Ashley, the Accidental Olympian


PORTLAND

This weekend Adam and I had a few errands we needed to run that little o'l Olympia just couldn't assist us with. So we weighed our options. Seattle? Portland? Seattle? Or Portland? North an hour to run our errands in a marvelous city we know so well? Or head south an hour and a half and run the very same errands in a city that's all shiny and new?

After a healthy toss of the coin we decided we were feeling adventurous and headed south to Portland, OR. (By the way, can I mention how lucky we are to live in the middle of TWO fantastic cities? Gloriously lucky if I do say so myself.) You see, we needed a new tent, what with our plans to go camping over Memorial Weekend, and it so happened that the AMAZING wonder that is REI was having their anniversary sale. Us poor folks will go to great distances for a good deal. 


Having lived in Seattle for nearly 6 years, I thought I could forever proclaim that Seattle was the Northwest's grandest city. Yes, I just said grand. Move on. Then right as I was going to make it official between Seattle and I, I met Portland. And while I was weak with indecision, Portland introduced me to a wondrous place called Kenny & Zukes. And before I knew it I was all, "Seattle, who?"

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Do you like reubens? THEN GO HERE. And get the potato salad. And then buy an extra one for me and ship it to Olympia. I promise to pay you back. And you know what makes Kenny & Zukes even more amazing than the killer reubens, game changing potato salad and amazing atmosphere?

Powell's Books, THE Powell's Books is a block and a half away. If you've never heard of Powell's Books before, then all I can say is it is basically every book lovers biggest wet dream. Times 40. We only had 45 minutes inside and I swear we barely explored the caverns within. There are so many floors of books that they had to color code the staircases and hallways so you know where the hell you are. People, I want to live here.

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After indulging in mind altering sandwiches, and getting lost in rows and rows of books, I prompty put our house on the market and declared my love for Portland.

Ok, I wish that was the case.

Actually all we did after hitting up IKEA for some picture frames was come home and set our new tent up in our living room.

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We're toying with the idea of leaving it here permanently. Think of it as a guest room if you will. Or Oly's new crate. We're still undecided. 


Portland I miss you.

What's your favorite city? And more importantly, can I come with you next time you visit?



Ashley, the Accidental Olympian
 


 

READY TO RETURN

Are you feeling down?

Maybe a little tired?

Possibly beginning to feel as if the skin on your face is pulled just a smidge too tight and probably cutting off the circulation to your skull?

ME TOO!

At least I was.


Our weekend in Bend was lovely. The skin on my face feels a little less taught, my brain a little less frantic, and even though I lost out on the game of rock-paper-scissors and got stuck with Oly in my room all weekend and therefore was woken up in half hour increments starting at 5am (DAMN YOU DOG), I had a wonderful weekend.


When we went to Bend for Christmas I had crossed my fingers, toes, and extremities hoping this born in Southern Californian girl could finally have a white Christmas. And although there was indeed some snow on the ground and frigid temperatures it wasn't the fluffy snowman making variety I had been hoping for. This visit though, in APRIL apparently was trying to make up for what I'd lacked over Christmas. 

Touché Bend. Why ever did I doubt you?


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Adam likes to come to Bend with all sorts of toys in tow. Whether it is a fishing pole, a hunting bow, his dirt bike or a gun, Bend is the place to play with Man Toys. This visit being no exception. This trip Adam brought his newest tax return toy, a pistol. Apparently the same kind the police use. Can you hear the excitement in my voice?

No?

Gee I can't imagine why.

My therapist said maybe one of the things that might make me feel a little safer in our house when Adam is away and I find myself guzzling wine and hiding behind locked doors would be to get a gun. She told me that instead of feeling like a victim about what happened to my family I should instead get fucking PISSED.

After playing with this toy, I think instead of getting PISSED, I just sort of just PISSED MY PANTS.

Scary scary toy.

No. Thank. You.

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So, Adam's new gun is all scary and way too much gun for me. But this guy right here, this gun that has been passed down from Adam's grandfather, to Adam's father, and now to Adam, this little tyke is more my style.

Mostly because when it goes off it doesn't make a noise so loud that I feel like I just popped my eardrums.

Those movies where people are rapid firing hand guns and killing all these bad guys and looking all calm is just LIES. Adam's seemingly little pistol is way louder in person, the kick back is wild, and the idea of shooting at a moving target while also maybe tucking and rolling, IMPOSSIBLE SHIT MY FRIENDS.

Just saying.


Please note the mitten on one hand and the pom-pom hat.

BAD ASS.

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But enough about scary guns.

This man right here is Sage.

A wise old dude of 14 who wanders the neighborhood near Adam's folks house. He comes around the house a couple times a day and his favorite spot is on the back deck gazing those frighteningly blue eyes through the glass door at you while you try to enjoy a meal.

Talk about some pressure.

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And this, well this was just cute. What can I say, I think snow is adorable.

Probably because I don't live in it.

Now that I think about it, those of you who live places it actually snows are cringing looking at something like this. Sorta like, "STOP SHOWING ME THAT HORRIBLE COLD STUFF!" You're probably twitching right now the same way I do when I look on Facebook and see all of Southern California being all, "Oh I love the rain! I want to curl up with a book and some coffee!" and I'm thinking, "I'm going to punch you in the face if you tell me how cool rain is ONE MORE TIME CALIFORNIA."

Wow.

Sorry, look at the pretty picture and forget I ever talked about rain.




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The weekend wasn't all snowy goodness, or snowy badness if that's your cup of tea. On Saturday I put on my tights and my Oly Rollers jersey and took on the Lava City Roller Dolls. Compared to my first attempt at a this whole roller derby thing this time I didn't feel like I was going to vomit in my skate bag the entire time I was driving to the rink so in my book that's a serious UPGRADE!

It was a close game. Full of screaming, shouting, slamming about, and sadly a loss for the Oly Rollers. But, I learned a thing or two, had a ton of fun, and the Lava City Roller Dolls were great hosts (none of their fans told me to die this time so that was a serious plus). One of the great things is that when it comes to roller derby, even if you lose you can always count on the afterparty to be a HUGE success.

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In my book there is nothing like an afterparty to pick my mood right up.




Ashley, the Accidental Olympian

 


THE SYRUP BOTTLE HOUSE

Bend House

It's fairly difficult to return to the 'real world' after spending the weekend in this house.

It has been brought to my attention that Adam's parent's house looks quite like the house from the Log Cabin syrup bottles. And it only takes a night or two sitting by the potbelly stove, or soaking in the hot tub while snow falls on your face, or standing in the yard while your puppy frolics in snowy joy to make you think that it's entirely possible that you somehow left reality when you pulled onto that dirt road and actually entered a magical world of gooey maple syrup fantasticness.

And yes, I just made up a word. 

That's how amazing my vacation was.

It was so lovely it has caused me to attempt to create new words if only to better describe the level of AWESOME flowing through those doors.

I can go back next weekend, right? 



Ashley, the Accidental Olympian


VITAMIN D JUNKIES

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My plans were to continue all weekend as the worlds worst host, but when we awoke on Saturday to high 60's and gorgeous sun, I knew there was no more use in playing the sisterly slacker card.

I don't know what it is, but something about my sister coming to visit means the weather will be fabulous no matter the time of year, and so OF COURSE we'll need to go boating. It must be our Southern California upbringing that ensures that when we meet up in the Northwest we find ourselves with perfect weather even in March, and before we know it the urge to go into the world and soak up vitamin D is too strong to ignore.

I know Emmaly wasn't complaining though. Reality is that there are only so many episodes of Toddlers & Tiaras a person can sit through before their brain begins to turn to liquid and slide out their ears.



Ashley, the Accidental Olympian