Travel Bug: Washington

2018 has definitely been the year of travel for me: I spent a long weekend in the spring visiting beautiful, sunny Los Angeles, I've popped back and forth between Wichita and Kansas City several times (which is the norm for me, tbh), and as a glorious sendoff to this very strange year, I rang in November with one of my closest friends just outside of Seattle.

For most of my life, my mother told me, "Oh I could just see you moving to Seattle or London, somewhere busy and rainy, you're just the type." I can't say she was wrong: in the years I spent flying back and forth to London, I thrived on the culture and the glorious dampness that seeps into your bones in that city; my early-to-mid twenties is a blur of coffee, fourteen hour flights, and navigating Camden on rainy Tuesday mornings during rush hour. I wouldn't change a thing about the way I spent those years, but it's become apparent that my dreams of living in London may never be more than just that, and I'm getting to the point that I'm okay with it.

When H moved to Washington and offered to fly me out, of course I said yes. I may be okay with not making the big move, but I miss everything about that weather and those cool, breezy days, so I was hoping to satisfy my England nostalgia with a trip to the Pacific Northwest.

The flight from Wichita to Seattle was a breeze. The flight wasn't at capacity, I had the space next to me open so I could enjoy re-watching The Haunting of Hill House in peace, and the Alaskan Airlines employees even gave out candy. Hey, there are perks to traveling on Halloween.

Obviously I've done some traveling in my time, so I'm comfortable saying Sea-Tac was a nightmare of an airport - it's the one that's definitely making me consider paying for TSA pre-check. The layout is barely controlled chaos, getting through baggage claim was the hottest of messes, but I finally had the postcard airport reunion I've always secretly craved: the laughing, clinging, "oh my God you're really here" moment that comes from missing someone who is as integral to you as breathing. I arrived at night, so I didn't really get a good view of Seattle or the ride to H's apartment, but we did stop for Jack in the Box - the fast food of my dreams.

Cutters has this fantastic rustic vibe 💓
In the morning her fella greeted us with caramel macchiatos from Cutters Point - a small coffee chain that instantly replaced my love for Caffe Nero and Costa Coffee - and from there we spent the day exploring Olympia/Tacoma. I'll admit, I devoted almost no time to taking pictures because there's really no way to capture the beauty of that area of the state. You look off into the distance and see nothing but trees and mountains and so many clouds you feel like you're drowning in them - how does a mere mortal capture that level of majesty? I  couldn't even try, but I did have to send something home, so have my crappy highway pictures.

I won't lie to you, the traffic is insane. Everyone told me Los Angeles traffic was a nightmare and I thought, "Man, you haven't seen anything until you've been to Europe. The streets are narrow and there are entirely too many people on the road." And, for the most part, that's true - but man, Washington definitely gave them a run for their money. I thought Chicago was bad, but that's an isolated area, all of Washington is that way. To their credit, they have huge highways and pretty strict distracted driving laws.

The scenery definitely makes up for that, though.

We ate at Happy Teriyaki because I was dying for sushi - if I don't have it at least a few times a month, I get sad - and I was not disappointed. Wichita has a great food scene, so if I go anywhere else then I demand the same sort of variety I can get in my hometown. The fish was fresh and delicious, the restaurant was empty because we ate at a weird time, it's definitely a new favorite on my long list of sushi joints.

I won't bore you with all of the details of my trip, but here's the verdict: the Seattle area is green and smells like trees and fresh rain. Their grocery stores and coffee are some of the best in the country, there are all sorts of funky little shops to satisfy my thrifty soul, and I could probably spend a lot of time there happy as a clam. We even spent a day in Portland - my verdict on it is the same as Chicago: I like it, I have a few places to go when I'm there, but if I never go back that's fine, too.

Where to go:

There's nowhere else like Voodoo Doughnut. Some of you may remember my jaunt to Denver last year with one of my sisters, so of course I had to visit the mothership while I was within sneezing distance. The Denver store is bigger, getting into this one is a bit of a nightmare, but there's nothing more satisfying to me than seeing the weird, wonderful decor while I oh-so-patiently wait to get my mouth around one of those delicious doughnuts. Clearly I didn't bring a dozen of them home, they wouldn't have survived the trip even if I could get them through TSA. Wichita has plenty of doughnut shops, but I'm not going to stop campaigning for one because I know they'd wipe out the much-hyped, overrated Hurts in a second and I'm completely okay with that.

If you're in the mood for Irish pub food, definitely head to Kells. I haven't been more satisfied with pub fare in America than I was there. It had a nice, chill atmosphere and some of the best soup/stew/fish and chips that I've ever tasted. And the service was excellent, the waitstaff were competent, but not overly attentive. We enjoyed our meal in peace, a concept most American restaurants don't allow their waitstaff to understand.

I'm not surprised that most of my recommended places to go consist of food joints; like I said, Wichita is a weird melting pot with almost any kind of food you can imagine, it's a big part of our culture. 

Because music is also a colossal part of my life, I had to make them stop in at a record store for me. We only had time to get into one and, frankly, Jackpot Records was kind of in the middle of everything we wanted to do. It has that old, funky smell that only record stores seem to be able to achieve, and the selection was fantastic. I came away with so many band names that I've forgotten to look up until right this moment. If I don't go back to Portland for anything else, I'm going to that record store. I didn't buy anything (because I didn't have a checked bag to bring it home in), but I also didn't walk away disappointed. 

The last entry on my list of where to go/what to eat in the Olympia area is Norma's Burger Hut because, I promise you, it's the closest I've come to a religious experience in a long time. When I tell you that you have to get a shake, trust me, you have to get a shake. Their chocolate malt gave me chills and that was nothing compared to the eggnog shake H's fella made me try. And for Washington prices, it was pretty freaking cheap.

As always, I was disappointed with my flight home because I didn't want to leave. I've missed my friend, I got a good chunk of writing done there, and nowhere smells quite as piney fresh as Washington does. I definitely understand the PNW hype, I definitely understand packing up your life to move up there, and I have plans to go back very soon.

That'll be the last bit of traveling I do this year. I know I didn't cover as much as I wanted to, so I may do a end of the year wrap up before NYE. My travel plans for next year are equally as big and exciting, I cannot wait to take you guys with me.

Stay safe, I'll talk to you later.

See you,


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