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Laureen

    Adventure Travel  --  Everything Else Fabulous

    Travel Wardrobe for The Grand Adventure 3.0

    My Wardrobe for Nine Months of Travel

    It’s almost time to go again. I’ve been very busy restocking all my travel needs, including refreshing my travel wardrobe. After three years of traveling, I still feel I can do better with my clothing choices and pack less. So once again as we depart for the third time, I’m narrowing down the travel wardrobe. My goal is to carry the perfect mix and match wardrobe that fits my style, my schedule and my budget.

    Travel Wardrobe
    Black shorts (JJill) Black linen pants (Nordstrom) anchor many looks. White tank from TravelSmith, Black Duster from Sierra Trading, Black striped t-shirt from Macys. The teal sleeveless linen top is last year from JJill and the orange tank with crochet embellishment is this year from JJill. Red cardigan has been in my closet for years.

    Last year, my Travel Wardrobe blog was a big hit, so I thought I would write again about what I am bringing with me as we embark on our fourth year of travel. When we left the first year I had way too many things with me. It was a hard lesson learned. Last year for the Grand Adventure 2.0 I based my wardrobe around black and white with splashes of colorful mix and match items. But I’m doing it a bit differently this year.

    Travel Wardrobe
    Khaki linen shorts and khaki rayon blend linen pants both from JJill. Denim jacket is returning again, red sleeveless linen top JJill. Orange long sleeve linen top JJill. Coral floral top (lined and acrylic) JJill. Navy print t-shirt from JJill .

    For the Grand Adventure 3.0 I’ve chosen bottoms (both long and short pants) in black, khaki and navy. These staples will be the basis of most of my wardrobe. I have t-shirts, tank tops and blouses I can mix and match in dozens of ways with these bottoms. I have chosen bright colors that compliment my skin and hair color such as red, navy, coral, orange and turquoise.

    Travel Wardrobe
    Navy linen shorts returning from last year (Travelsmith) and Navy cotton elastic waist crop pants JJill. Navy striped t-shirt Macys. Long sleeve linen and rayon boho print top JJill.

    Because I wear dresses a lot, especially in hot weather, I have purchased four new dresses. These are also in blue/chambray tones, bright oranges and corals and one black plaid dress.

    Travel Wardrobe
    The best thing about this plaid black and white linen dress from JJill is it has pockets! Wide brim hat from The Vermont Country Store

    Our itinerary this year (blog coming about this next Friday) has us visiting several Muslim countries as well as Israel where thoughtful conservative dress is both important and respectful. I have chosen some dresses with longer sleeves and some long sleeve but lightweight tops that I can wear with the navy, black and khaki pants.

    Travel Wardrobe
    I already know this is going to be one of my favorites this colorful and comfortable bright print linen sundress is from JJill as is the orange blouse.

    As always my suitcase will include hiking clothes (long and short pants and tops), running clothes for both hot and cool weather, and yoga clothes, as well as a coat, sweatshirt, hat and gloves. I have one cardigan sweater (red), one pashmina (also red) and one scarf (teal blue).

    I often get asked why I like linen so much for travel, considering how much it wrinkles. But for me, in hot climates, linen is the most breathable and comfortable fabric on earth. I sometimes steam wrinkles out in the shower, iron them, or hey just wear them wrinkled. Because my own body heat works the wrinkles out in no time. Linen is the fabric for me and my Grand Adventure wardrobe.

    Travel Wardrobe
    I love this teal beach coverup (Nordstrom) and the colorful Kaftan

    I didn’t buy a new swimsuit, because both my one piece and my two piece are in good condition. I have a new swimsuit coverup that I love and a new Kaftan to replace the one I wore until it fell apart. The Kaftan and the coverup serve like a bathrobe or lounge wear, in addition to beach wear. Both are colorful and comfortable. I also pack one cotton nightgown.

    Travel Wardrobe
    I love this 100% linen chambray colored dress with ruching by Crosstree Lane. It’s lightweight and comfy and has pockets! I know I will wear it often.

    Underneath it all I have two running bras (Wacoal from Nordstrom) that are new. I have four everyday bras (Dominque and Victorias Secret). I purchased Chantelle lightweight quick dry panties from Nordstrom. I also have two pairs of bloomers (one from Bikie Girl Bloomers the other from Undersummers). I love both of these for wearing under dresses in hot weather to avoid that horrible thigh chafing so many women deal with (including me).

    Travel Wardrobe
    I can mix and match these items for yoga, running and even hiking. Shorts and pants are Brooks, yellow and pink tops are from REI and my Washington State Cougar shirt is from the Cougar Store in Gig Harbor

    And what about the feet? Well, as usual, deciding what shoes to bring is my most difficult task. I have my running shoes that also serve as hiking shoes. I have a very comfortable tan colored walking sandal by Vionic that I can wear with most things and is great for my plantar fasciitis. I have a black flat sandal and my Keen’s which are great walking shoes and can also be worn in the water. That’s four pairs. Pretty sure that is all I am taking. That’s the fewest pairs I have ever packed.

    Travel Wardrobe
    This coral crepe dress by Eileen Fischer is going to be my go to for dressier events but I could also wear it to the beach. Cool and comfy and I love the color!

    To top it off I have a wide brimmed straw hat, a cloth floppy brimmed hat, my hiking hat and a baseball cap. I also have several headbands that I like to wear for running or to the beach.

    So my entire wardrobe for nine months consists 29 pieces to mix and match (pants, shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, dresses, blouses, sweater and jackets), 7 workout pieces, 5 hiking pieces, 4 pairs of shoes, 4 bras, 7 panties, 1 coat and one sweatshirt. In one suitcase. Boom.

    Travel Wardrobe
    This Chambray linen shirt dress can be worn when I need to cover my arms but the weather is hot – cool and comfortable it also serves as a duster. By Eileen Fischer

    I’m packing fewer earrings and necklaces too…I have just a couple of each that are my go-to for both comfort and style. Everything else will stay behind this year.

    We’ve added a few new non-clothing items this year including a travel yoga mat, an REI nylon hammock that folds up tiny and a travel steamer/iron. These are all things we have discussed in the past we would like to have. These items join several other wonderful travel essentials such as our collapsible cooler, our titanium french press and battery charger. To see the entire list check out our newly updated blog What’s in My Suitcase.

    Travel Shoes
    The chosen shoes

    Speaking of suitcase – The Grand Adventure 3.0 continues with the REI roller bags we purchased more than three years ago. We had to replace the wheels on one bag but other than that these bags have been worth every penny, serving us well on 95 flights so far. In addition Arne has his backpack (also three years old) and I have a carryon roller bag that I purchased last year. I also have a large “purse” that I stuff full on flight day but use a small over the shoulder bag for every day. And finally we really like our day pack that folds up tiny and weighs nearly nothing.

    Travel Jewelry
    Five earrings and four necklaces. Significantly fewer than last year but I found I only wore a handful of the ones I brought with me last time. Simple.

    We depart in less than two weeks and I have begun to organize and sort all of the above as well as our medicines, first aid, toiletries and other items that we will take on our journey.

    PLEASE watch for a blog next Friday for our FULL ITINERARY for The Grand Adventure 3.0. We are so excited to share the incredible places we are going. Countdown to lift off 11 days!

    If you don’t want to miss a single blog about the adventure, please subscribe to the blog today – click here.

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    Travel Wardrobe
    Reading Wednesday

    The Birth of Venus (novel) by Sarah Durant

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    This is a beautifully rich tale of life and death, love and art in Florence Italy during the tumultuous 15th century. Told in first person from the viewpoint of a young Florentine girl, but told as her final life’s work as an old woman.

    The young girl, Alessandra Cecchi, daughter of a rich textile merchant in Florence, knows she isn’t like her sister or other girls around her. Her passion of art and learning overpowers her, and alienates her from the life of sewing and searching for a rich husband.

    Alessandra is also tall, awkward and not beautiful like her sister. Called a “giraffe” by her hateful sibling Tomaso, Allesandra searches for meaning to her life.

    Alessandra falls for “the painter” who has been commissioned to paint the ceiling of her families chapel. But she marries a chosen husband “Cristoforo” who turns out to only have married Alessandra to appear heterosexual, which he is not.

    During a terribly violent time in Florence as the church and the people battle for control, Alessandra lives a tumultuous life of her own not able to love the one she wants.

    After I finished the book I spent some time in a discussion group about the book, interested in what other readers theories were about if “the painter” in the story is supposed to be a real person from the era. Certainly the book weaves real characters with fictional ones, and towards the end of the book there is a reference to Michelangelo that made me think this is who it was supposed to be. In the discussion group there was a wide range of strong opinions, and nobody seemed to know for sure. Theories included Michelangelo, DaVinci and several other 15th century painters.

    Only Sarah Durant knows for sure.

    A beautiful story about a period in history I knew little about.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Four stars for The Birth of Venus by Sarah Durant.

    Read last week’s review of The Clockmaker’s Daughter.

    Everything Else Fabulous

    What’s In My Suitcase? My Travel Favorites.

    Location: Around the World

    When we head off again in September for another year of travel our suitcase will not look the same as when we left last year.  We have learned what works, what doesn’t and what are our favorite things.  So here are some of my travel favorites in my suitcase.

    We added a foldaway lightweight nylon hammock from REI.  We have seen many people using these on beaches or at resorts and we think we can put it to good use.  It’s big enough for two!

    Travel Favorite Hammock
    Eno Hammock REI

    For three years I have been using a beach towel as a yoga mat, but this year after much research I purchased the lightest weight yoga travel mat on the market.  It’s foldable and weighs just under one pound.

    I’m always in search of an iron so this year I purchased a travel size steamer iron by Steamfast.  Dual voltage is essential for international use. Review coming on this later.

    Travel Favorite Iron
    Steamfast Mini Travel Iron

    We have loved the collapsible colander we have had and this year added two small collapsible bowls with lids.  We think these will come in handy both in the kitchen and elsewhere.

    Battery Power Pack – possibly our most used and most valuable item. Mophie is the brand we have and we spent $40 on it. We use it everyday  it fits in a purse or pocket and holds enough charge to keep our phones charged for several days. Definitely one of my travel favorites in my suitcase.

    Packing cubes – not sure how I traveled all those years without packing cubes because they are now my best friend.  Especially as a fulltime traveler it’s so great to keep kinds of clothes and other items categorized in my suitcase.

    Travel Favorite Packing Cubes
    Packing Cubes

    Cooler – our collapsible portable lunchbox size Igloo cooler was a gift from our niece and it is just perfect for our travel life, picnics and beach days.   We have even used it to keep things (Mayo, cheese, eggs) cold as we traveled by car from one lodging to the next. A very handy item and portable and one of my travel favorites in my suitcase.

    Ice pack – purchased for $2 this ice pack fits perfect in our little cooler and really changed the way we travel.  Such a simple item with a big impact.

    Freezer Bags and trash bags – with endless uses for storage and packing we have used gallon size freezer bags and kitchen size trash bags to keep things dry, to keep things wet, to organize, to protect and to store. From wet shoes to dirty clothes and olive oil to medicines plastic bags make our life easier.

    Travel Favorite Collapsible Cooler
    Cooler

    Notecards and post it notes – having a package of notecards with envelopes and post-it notes has come in handy. I like to leave notes for our Airbnb hosts or tuck notes in a package I’m mailing or a multitude of other uses these small and simple items are one of my travel favorites in my suitcase.

    Packing tape – our roll of packing tape has done a lot more than wrap up boxes.  We used it to fix a splintered iPhone cord and to make a cardboard sleeve for our butcher knife. We repaired a book binding and even a hat.

    Clothespins – I initially packed these to use on the Camino but they have come in handy in so many ways.  As hangers when we don’t have any, to secure and close bags, to hold back mosquito netting on beds and of course to hang our laundry.

    Manicure kit – it’s not always easy to find a place to have a manicure, and I’ve learned over the years I need to care frequently for my nails or they get cracked and nasty.  So I carry a small manicure kit that serves my needs while on the road.  It takes no room at all and is one of my travel favorites in my suitcase.

    Scrabble – since leaving the USA in November 2016 we have played more than 550 games of Scrabble. Wow that sounds crazy!  But we love the game and the only problem is we are now both really good at it and we find ourselves occasionally in a bit of a stalemate!

    Travel Favorite Headphones
    Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones

    Noise cancelling headphones – this is Arne’s favorite item on this list.  We both have Bose headphones we use on the plane. Arne also uses his sometimes to listen to music off his iPad or watch movies.  He votes this as his travel favorite in his suitcase.

    French Press – we have a small REI VERY LIGHTWEIGHT titanium French Press and I love it.   Almost all the places we stay have a hot water pot and we love to make French Press each morning instead of drinking the usual Nescafé.  Traveling with a French Press is one of my travel favorites in my suitcase.

    Foldaway daypack – A few months into our journey we added this item and have used it a ton. It folds up into a little square but when open it is perfect for hikes or city walks when we want to carry a sweater, beach towels, water or just about anything for the day.

    We have a flat lightweight plastic cutting board and one small knife to use for picnics.

    Travel Favorite French Press
    Titanium French Press from Snow Peak for REI

    What’s in my suitcase? My travel favorites, the bare necessities and the tried and true.

    Watch for a blog this coming FRIDAY all about MY TRAVEL WARDROBE! Countdown to lift off 16 days!

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    My Travel Favorites
    At Home  --  North America Travel

    My Favorite Things in Washington State USA

    Location: Washington State USA

    How to talk about my favorite things in Washington State? There is NO WAY I can list all the wonderful things about my home state of Washington. No doubt someone reading this blog will think I have left something out. And so I encourage everyone to comment at the end of this blog with additional FAVORITE things about Washington State.

    Lake Chelan

    I was born in Washington 59 years ago and I know a lot of great places in the Pacific Northwest corner of the USA. As we travel the world I often reminisce about Washington, comparing other places around the world to her. We are about to embark on year number four of our world tour – but before we do I want to write about some of the things we enjoyed during our four-month visit back here in Washington, and during all the years we have lived in this state. My favorite things in Washington State.

    Tacoma

    If you have never visited the Pacific Northwest corner of the USA you are missing out on something pretty special. It is certainly one of the most beautiful places in the entire world. I feel quite qualified to say that, having visited 96 countries myself. Nicknamed the Evergreen State, it has both a very green side (west of the Cascade Mountains) and a gold side (east of the mountains) and I love them equally. Raised on the west side but going to college and spending a great deal of time on the east side, I have learned to appreciate and admire the beauty and diversity of this spectacular little piece of paradise – Washington State.

    Seattle’s Lake Union

    Cities

    Seattle – Washington’s largest city is cosmopolitan, delicious, cultural and ethnically diverse. It is the number one place to visit in Washington.

    Seattle’s Big Wheel

    Spokane – One of my favorite cities in Washington and the largest city on the east side of the state, Spokane has grown from a sleepy agricultural town to a wonderfully diverse and interesting city.

    Boundary Bay Brewery Bellingham

    Bellingham – Tucked in the Northwest corner of Washington State very near the Canadian border, Bellingham offers a waterfront location with wonderful history. Home to Western Washington University, the student life brings a mix of culture and dining to this medium size city.

    Tacoma – the second largest city in the state, Tacoma has long battled a poor reputation. But today’s Tacoma is a far cry from that of yesteryear. A cleaned up downtown and port area, multiple first class museums and a great selection of parks and restaurants makes T-town one of my favorites.

    Small Towns

    Gig Harbor – I lived in Gig Harbor for 25 years and watched it grow. And despite the traffic I still love this maritime village that has the single most beautiful view in the entire state.

    Gig Harbor

    Sequim – Much like Gig Harbor but without the traffic, Sequim’s location overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca and in the shadow of the Olympic mountains makes its temperate climate perfect. Throw in the amazing lavender farms and bike trails there is a lot to love about this town.

    Pullman

    Walla Walla – when I was growing up Walla Walla was just the town with the funny stuttering name. Today it is one of the premier wine regions in the world and has a wonderfully restored downtown.

    Pullman – home to my alma mater Washington State University, Pullman is an upcoming destination even if you don’t say GO COUGS. Today’s Pullman has parks and trails and a much larger selection of dining and hotels than it did forty years ago when I was in school. And I love the weather.

    Hikes

    Lena Lake – One of our favorite hikes in the Olympics, the hike to both Lower Lena and Upper Lena can be done by most hikers with minimal experience.

    Lena Lake

    Skokomish River Lower South Fork – This is always a great hike and mostly flat…easy to reach and makes a great day hike.

    Mount Rainier – If you can catch Mount Rainier on a sunny day any hike will be enjoyable. A wide variety of hike options can be found in the Mount Rainier National Park. This summer I did the Summerland Trail for the first time. I loved it.

    On top of Crystal Mountain
    Hiking the Lower Skokomish

    Crystal Mountain – hike up and ride the gondola down, or ride the gondola up and hike down…either way you will enjoy panoramic views of Rainier and on a good day, you can see four other volcanoes beyond.

    Cycling Trails

    Centennial Trail Spokane

    Olympic Discovery Trail – I love this cycling trail and rode on it twice this summer. The trail runs from Port Townsend all the way to the Pacific Ocean. However from Port Angeles west it is mostly on roads. Since we like to stay on trails, we usually start in Blyn and ride to Port Angeles and back, about 50 miles round trip.

    Centennial Trail – Spokane has several cycling trails and one of our favorites is the Centennial Trail that winds its way from Spokane into Idaho and Coeur d’Alene.

    Chehalis Western – I’ve spent hours and hours training for long rides on the Chehalis Western, located near Olympia. You can start and stop many places on this trail but if you ride the entire trail round trip it’s 90 miles.

    Chehalis Western Trail

    Interurban/Burke Gilman – So many options with this very popular cycling and walking trail. We rode the Burke Gilman this year from Gas Works Park in Seattle to Woodinville (forty miles round trip). If you really want a long and amazing ride start the Interurban in Pacific (near Auburn) and connect in Seattle with the Burke Gilman to Woodinville. This round trip is about 90 miles.

    Water

    Puget Sound – Western Washington’s beauty can be attributed to water, both that which falls from the sky and that which surrounds it as the Puget Sound. With several cities and towns perched on the Sound, access to it is plentiful, and it is certainly one of my favorite things in Washington State.

    Discovery Park Seattle

    Lake Chelan – Washington’s favorite lake is found right in the middle of the state, the 55 mile long, 1500 feet deep natural lake of Chelan. Both a summer and winter playground, Washingtonians from the westside flock to Chelan in the summer.

    Columbia River – Roll on Columbia still rings true, and visiting this amazing river that flows both south and west through the state offers a variety of recreational activities and history lessons along the way.

    Pacific Ocean – spending time enjoying the crashing waves of Washington’s Pacific Coast is a must when visiting the state. My favorite places to access the Pacific Ocean are Neah Bay or Ozette in the far northwest part of the state or Kalaloch or Long Beach further south.

    Green Lake – walking or cycling the 2.8 mile loop around Green Lake is one of my favorite things to do in Seattle. Greenlake is a wonderful little gem of a natural setting right in the heart of north Seattle…treasured by locals.

    San Juan Islands – To really see how glorious the Puget Sound is, taking a ferry to one or more of the San Juan Islands and enjoying a few days island hopping is sublime.

    Gig Harbor Gondola – if you visit tiny and scenic Gig Harbor on the Kitsap Peninsula don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a gondola ride in the harbor in an authentic Italian gondola.

    San Juan Islands

    Snoqualmie Falls – Just about 40 min drive east of Seattle you will find the amazing Snoqualmie Falls….higher than Niagara. Depending on the time year Snoqualmie falls can be a slender and beautiful falls or a thunderous monster of a waterfall. Worth the drive and also if you are fit the hike to the bottom is breathtaking.

    Gig Harbor Gondola
    Kalaloch Beach

    Food Experiences

    Tillicum Village – Visitors and locals should experience Tillicum Village at least once in their lifetime. The getting there is half the fun, but the food and authentic Native American entertainment is incredible.

    My first Geoduck

    Pike Place Market – known for the throwing fish, there is a lot more to enjoy a Seattle’s Pike Place Market, even if you don’t buy a thing it is a not-to-be-missed Seattle institution.

    Harvesting oysters and clams
    Delectable Dungeness Crab

    Geoduck Hunting – I went Geoducking for the first time this year on the Key Peninsula just west of Gig Harbor. If you have an opportunity, I highly recommend it. So much fun.

    Oysters – take the Olympic Peninsula loop drive and stop for oyster at Hama Hama Oyster Company. Or if you can’t drive the loop, pick up fresh oyster or order oyster on the half shell…usually available in a month with an R. Some of the world’s finest oysters come from Washington State.

    Dungeness Crab – If you grew up thinking Maryland Crab was crab you are in for a real shock when you eat Washington’s own world famous Dungeness Crab. Rich, buttery and delicious, Dungeness crab is best without any accoutrements…just eat it like nature intended.

    Boehm’s Chocolates – still hand made daily in Issaquah Washington you can have a taste of old European Swiss Chocolate just like the old country. Boehm’s has locations in Issaquah, Poulsbo and Yakima.

    Cafe Campagne – my favorite Seattle restaurant I go back to again and again with French food as good as any bistro in Paris.

    Steak Tartar at Cafe Campagne
    Scallops at Luna

    Luna – just discovered this Spokane gem this summer and I will certainly be back. Possibly the best meal I had all summer.

    Brix 25 – in my hometown of Gig Harbor, this little gem is always spot on. Try the Beef Bourgignon. You won’t be disappointed.

    Tony’s Fillipis Pizza – growing up in Bremerton this was the place to get pizza, and still today Tony’s Fillipis Pizza is my favorite pizza anywhere in the world.

    The Valley Cafe – tucked into an old drug store in Ellensburg Washington, I stop to eat here anytime I am in this Central Washington Rodeo town. And you should too.

    The Pink Door – my second favorite Seattle restaurant (and just down the alley from my first) I try to visit in the summer and get a table on their deck. I have never had a bad meal at this iconic Seattle restaurant.

    Black Cypress – Pullman isn’t known for fine dining, and yet, the Black Cypress is an absolute find, and a must dine when in the tiny college town of Pullman.

    Wineries and Breweries

    Washington has become an award wining wine producing state over the past several decades as well as one of the launching places for many now famous microbrews. Washingtonians are well-known to be entrepreneurial and creative (think Bill Boeing, Bill Gates, Howard Schultz, Jeff Bezos) and this local trait shows in the wide variety of first rate wines and beers. Here is a list of my local favs;

    Jones of Washington from Quincy

    Jones of Washington

    Seven Seas

    Bale Breaker Yakima

    Maryhill

    Gig Harbor Brewing

    Efeste

    Georgetown Brewing

    Resorts

    Since I live in the state part of the year I don’t often stay in local resorts, but over the years I have had the opportunity to visit several. Most resorts here focus on the beauty of the natural surroundings as well as the farm and forage to table dining Washington offers. Here is list of my favorites;

    Campbells Resort at Lake Chelan

    Suncadia Cle Elum

    Campbells Chelan

    Rosario Resort Orcas Island

    Historic Davenport Spokane

    Willows Lodge Woodinville

    Alderbrook Inn Hood Canal

    Gardens

    Point Defiance Rose Garden Tacoma

    I love gardens, and even if you aren’t a gardener yourself, you can’t help but appreciate and admire the beauty of some of these stunning gardens throughout the state of Washington.

    Point Defiance Rose Garden – Tacoma

    Olympic Sculpture Garden – Seattle

    Volunteer Park Conservatory Seattle

    Seattle Arboretum

    Lakewold Gardens -Tacoma/Lakewood

    Ohme Gardens Wenatchee

    Bloedel Reserve- Bainbridge Island

    Nishinomiya Japanese Gardens – Spokane

    Rhododendron Species Garden Federal Way

    Also seasonally don’t miss the blooming Cherry Blossoms at the University of Washington Seattle (spring), the Sequim Lavender Festival (July), Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens in Woodland (April May) and the Bob’s Pumpkin Farm in Snohomish (October)

    Views

    The Gorge

    Since one of the reasons people LOVE Washington so much is the beauty, finding the best views in the state is something visitors always are looking for. For me personally the list below offers amazing views, history and recreation from ocean beaches to mountain tops and everything in between. These are all great options that fit most, budgets, fitness levels and schedules;

    Green Mountain Kitsap County

    Dry Falls State Park Vista, Coulee City

    Washington State Ferry

    Kerry Park Seattle (cover photo)

    Space Needle Seattle

    Discovery Park Seattle

    Vista House at Crown Point on the Columbia River Gorge (technically in Oregon but with a great view of Washington )

    Dungeness Spit Sequim

    Kamiak Butte Palouse

    North Head Light, Cape Disappointment, Long Beach

    What else?

    Oh my goodness I have so many favorite things in Washington State! I know I have missed some things – I didn’t even touch on museums or tours. I could write an entire blog about festivals, art and music. But the things I have listed here are the things I have experienced and personally enjoy going back to again and again. My Washington from my point of view. Please add your favorites to the list in the comments below. Get out and enjoy surprising, diverse, beautiful, delicious and friendly Washington State. I sure have these past four months. Washington my home.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    It’s rare anymore that I read a real book I can hold in my hand. It’s a special treat and I always want it to be a book I love…one I can curl up and enjoy. The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton was one of those books.

    This story travels across decades and is told in multiple voices, traversing time and characters with one anchor to it all – Birchwood Manor outside of London.

    From 1854 to 2017 we follow the house and the cast of characters who occupy it, own it, love it, go to school in it, visit it, stumble upon it, search it and haunt it.

    It’s a clever way to inspire a story that spans multiple generations. I really enjoyed the characters and the twists and turns Kate Morton was able to generate bringing her readers into the novel and easily navigating the 160 year span of time the book covers.

    A great read.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five stars for The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton.

    Read last week’s review of Fall of the Giants

    North America Travel

    For Purple Mountains Majesty

    Montana’s Big Sky

    Location: Montana

    It’s a vast state, but one of my favorites. I’d like to spend more time here, and every time I visit I want to see more.

    Montana. Often called the Big Sky Country or the Treasure State both nicknames reflect the vastness and beauty of the United States’ 41st state. Montana joined a wide group of new states in 1889, including my home state of Washington which became the 42nd state three days after Montana.

    Glacier National Parki
    Lake McDonald Lodge

    I’ve mentioned in my blogs before that I wish visitors to the USA would come to places like Montana, instead of Las Vegas or Orlando because in my opinion this is America. America the beautiful. Amber waves of grain. Purple mountains majesty. I love it here. And admittedly there are things about the USA I am not proud of, but the rugged beauty of places like Montana remind me how grateful I am to be an American.

    Glacier National Park
    Deadwood Falls

    Our recent trip was a short one, but an inspiring one. We drove from Spokane Washington on Interstate 90 to Bigfork. The drive takes about four hours from Spokane. You leave Interstate 90 at Saint Regis and head north on 93 to Bigfork. The drive is spectacular and the only way to visit Montana properly is with a car. The last hour of the drive takes you north with Flathead lake on your right. Beautiful views of this enormous lake and the mountains and forests beyond.

    We have friends we were visiting in Bigfork and we wanted to spend a day in Glacier National Park, one of our favorites of the National Parks in the USA. The last time we visited Glacier we stayed three days in October. The park was quiet and we enjoyed having it nearly to ourselves. In July however it was very crowded with tourists from all of the USA and many from around the world.

    The crowds kept us from finding parking at the first two places we wanted to hike, so we continued on to two other hikes, which we enjoyed. The park is big, but there is really only one road “The Going to the Sun Road” so at peak season it can be busy. There is talk of making Going to the Sun a shuttle road (like they do in Zion). During peak season you would leave your vehicle and take a shuttle.

    Flathead Lake Montana
    Historic Ice House, Somers

    There are shuttles available as well as the historic Red Bus Tours. We have not done this but it looks really fun and you get a guide who narrates history, geography and wildlife topics. Worth the money.

    We really enjoyed our full day at Glacier with visits to Lake McDonald Lodge, Logan Pass, Deadwood Falls and Two Medicine.

    Glacier National Park Montana
    Young grizzly, Glacier National Park

    We spent another day in Bigfork, which has grown a lot and offers a variety of restaurants, shops and galleries in what used to be a sleepy cowboy town. Very walkable and beautiful. We took a hike along the Swan River Nature Trail just up the hill from the old town and enjoyed the views from there.

    We also drove to Lakeside on Flathead Lake, where families were swimming and sunning themselves in a lovely public park. The resort town offers many hotels and restaurants. We made a stop in Somers and visited the historic train station and ice house and learned some history of the region.

    Bigfork Montana
    The American, Bigfork Montana

    I’d like to go back next summer and head south and stop in Missoula, Butte and Bozeman…maybe go as far as Yellowstone. It’s a large state, worth the time it takes to see it, worth it whether you are from Montana or Morocco, Washington or Wales.

    Montana Wildlife
    Big Horn Ram, Glacier National Park

    Big Sky Country. Purple Mountains Majesty. Montana.

    Glacier National Park

    Where to stay?

    We recommend The American right in downtown Bigfork. Eight miles south try Sterling Ranch Airbnb.

    Where to eat?

    We recommend Rileys Pub and Flathead Lake Brewery. Outside of Bigfork in Esex we enjoyed dinner at The Isaac Walton Inn.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    This is my second Ken Follett novel. My first was Pillars of the Earth, one of the most brilliant books I have ever read.

    Fall of Giants is a great book as well but didn’t have for me the same spellbinding story and imagery Follett created in Pillars of the Earth.

    But I still loved it. The story begins in 1911 in a coal mine in Wales, and follows a series of families; Billy Williams and his coal-mining family of Wales; The Earl of Fitzherbert and his family – the wealthy land and mining family; the von Ulrichs – Austrian cousins of the Fitzherberts; American Gus Dewar; and Russian brothers Grigori and Lev Peshkov.

    These main families and characters are used to build an intriguing story of the years leading up to World War I and the entire war time for these characters. Additionally the novel covers in detail themes of working class people in the coal mines and poverty in Russia as that country finds itself falling headlong into a revolution.

    The brilliantly developed characters provide the story a platform to focus on important themes of the era including class structure and wealth disparity; women’s rights and the suffrage movement; aristocratic empowerment leading to the uprising of the lower classes; and the many poor decisions made by European leaders that made WWI so long and deadly – ultimately bringing Germany to its economic knees leading to the rise of Hitler.

    Follett is one of our generations most talented story-tellers and I am a big fan.

    Five stars for Fall of Giants. Read last week’s review of Stay and Fight.