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North America Travel

    North America Travel

    Miami Nice – Four Miami Neighborhoods to Visit

    Location: Miami Florida USA

    Miami is much bigger than I expected.  A shiny port city with lots of shiny expensive cars and beautiful people.

    I was pleasantly surprised – arriving without really any expectations.  It’s beautiful, but

    Four Miami Neighborhoods to visit

    Ceviche at Jaguar

    also expensive.  There is a lot of traffic too, but we enjoyed our six days and explored as much as we could.

    I’m pretty sure I couldn’t afford to live here – but apparently a lot of people can.  The city is growing, with construction of both sky scrapers and roads all around.

    Four Miami neighborhoods to visit

    Cigar rolling Little Havana

    We stayed in a cute little cottage Airbnb in Coconut Grove – one of my favorite neighborhoods we discovered during our visit.  Here’s our list;

    Coconut Grove

    The Grove has a nice neighborhood feel, although mega mansions are hidden behind high walls and in immaculately landscaped gated communities.  But still it felt like a

    Four Miami Neighborhoods to visit

    Cuban Sandwich Little Havana

    family place, although we never saw a public school – we did count six fancy private schools within the neighborhood we were staying.  Coconut Grove reminded me of Pasadena, with similar street shopping and restaurants and sidewalk cafe’s.  But it also has a beautiful harbor with hundreds of sailboats and yachts moored.   Coconut Grove also has a “low rent” district, but as a visitor you are likely to spend your time in the historic old town.                                                                             Favorite Spot – Jaguar Restaurant for delicious Peruvian ceviche and other specialities.

    Little Havana

    Historic and quit small Little Havana is easy to explore – pretty much all on one street,

    Four Miami Neighborhoods to visit

    Art Deco south Beach

    Calle Ocho (8th Street).  Here you must try the amazing Cuban Coffee (similar to Turkish Coffee – sweet and strong) as well as delicious Cuban Food.  We ate lunch at Old’s Havana Cuban Bar and Cocina where we had a giant Cuban Sandwich and a delicious mango mojito.  There are some small shops and some kitschy Cuban souvenirs.  Stop to watch the old men playing Dominoes at Dominoes Park.                                                                                                                                                       Favorite Spot – Cuba Tobacco Cigar Company, family owned and operated by the Bellos Family for 100 years.  Here you can watch the art of hand rolling cigars.  Of course you can also buy cigars (many kinds and prices) if you are in to that.

    South Beach

    South Beach is every thing you imagined.

    Four Miami Neighborhoods to visit

    South Beach

    White sand, blue water, tropical pink lifeguard station and lots of sunbathers glistening in oil.  We spent several hours enjoying the sun and the warm waters of the Atlantic.  Quit the contrast to the Atlantic we watched a few weeks ago in Spain.  South Beach is home to a lot of celebrities, as well as high-end shopping, hotels, bars and restaurants.  Choose a street cafe and sip on one of the fishbowl sized tropical drinks and watch the people go by.                                                                                                                                 Favorite spot – South Beach’s famous Art Deco Architecture is worth a visit.  You can take a guided tour ($25) or just walk around on your own to see the wonderful collection, most very well-preserved, from the 1920’s era of glitz and glam.

    Wynwood Art District

    This reincarnated neighborhood is really cool.  You don’t need a lot of time here, or you can

    Four Miami Neighborhoods to bisit

    Wynwood Walls

    make it a full day because there are lots of restaurants, shops, art galleries and a couple of breweries.  This old industrial neighborhood used to be no mans land.  Until a few artists started opening up art space. It grew.  Someone painted a mural.  Then another.  Today nearly every paintable space in the small neighborhood is covered with art – more than 70 murals as well as sidewalk art and more.  It’s definitely unique, fun and colorful!                                                                                                   Favorite spot – the Wynwood Walls, an enclosed area of spectacular murals you can view for free.

     

    There is certainly more to Miami than these four neighborhoods – in fact a lot more.  We will need to visit again, to enjoy the beautiful weather, history, water and restaurant scene.  Miami nice.  Yes it is. Fabulous!

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    North America Travel

    My Favorite Things in Key West and Everglades Florida

    Worth a Visit

    Location: Key West & Everglades Florida

    We had eight days to enjoy Key West and the Everglades.  We didn’t see everything, but we did enjoy many things in both locations.  I’ve been intrigued by this area since I was a kid – but had only ever visited Florida’s northern gems – Pensacola, Orlando, Saint Augustine, Cape Canaveral.  Our time in the most southern part of this fascinating state was well spent.  Here are my favorites and recommendations for a visit to Key West and Everglades Florida.

    My Favorite Things in Key West and Everglades Florida

    You can easily do these two locations with a week’s vacation, although 8-10 days would be better.  If you want to add Miami (which we are doing next), you will need a few more days.  It’s very easy to drive from Miami to both Everglades and Key West, but it will take some time.  The roads are good but often two lane roads with maximum speed limits of 60 miles per hour. You will definitely need a car to get around both regions.  We started with a three-hour drive from Miami to Key West.

    Favorite Things Key West & Everglades

    What the Fish

    Key West

    On our drive from Miami we stopped for lunch in Key Largo at the famous “What the Fish” fish shack I had read about on Trip Advisor.  I’m so glad we did.  It ended up being one of the best meals we had in Florida.  We both had yellow tail fish tacos and beer, sitting in the glorious Florida sunshine enjoying the view of the yachts in the channel (known as waterways).  The service was incredible too.  Such a great way to start our visit.

    On arrival in Key West at Stock Island Marina, about ten minutes from historic downtown Key West, we found our little sailboat Airbnb.  Super cute, but super small.  It worked out fine, but I sure wouldn’t consider an extended stay in a tiny space like this again.  The best part was enjoying the marina’s pool, laundry and bar with live music.  I enjoyed drinking my coffee and watching the sunrise from the deck of the boat

    Favorite Things Key West & Everglades

    The Little White House

    each morning.

    My Fav Six Things to Do in Key West

    1. The Truman Little White House This historic home is part of a military installation that became a favorite destination for Harry S. Truman both during and after his presidency.  It’s a fabulous neighborhood (be sure to walk around and see more than just the house) and on the tour I learned so much about President Truman I did not know.  Fantastic tour.
    2. Hemingway House – Having only recently grown to admire Ernest Hemingway, I was very interested in learning more about his life.  This gorgeous home and tour is a fascinating look into the life of this incredible man – and the architectural masterpiece and gardens alone are worth the price of admission.  The tour was a little too big for my tastes, and a bit rushed.  But I still highly
      Favorite Things Key West & Everglades

      Hemingway House

      recommend it.

    3. Get Out on the Water – there are literally hundreds of ways to get out on the water in Key West.  Sport fishing is a huge draw to this area and dozens of operators offer fishing daily. Additionally there are kayak, canoe and standup paddleboard tours and rentals.  There are jet ski tours and rentals.  Sailing is popular and there are sunset sails with music and drinks. There are diving and snorkel tours by the hundreds.  We did a three-hour snorkel cruise (one hour each way and one hour in the water) to the Barrier Reef with Fury.  It was simple and all we needed and not at all expensive.  We’ve snorkeled all over the world, so it’s hard to compare, but we did enjoy the warm water, the beautiful purple fan coral, and some amazing encounters with beautiful fish.
    4. Duvall Street and Mallory Square – this is where you go to people watch, shop, drink and eat at all hours of the day and night in Key West.  It reminded me a bit of Nashville, with live music all day long.  We enjoyed a couple of meals and
      Favorite Things Key West & Everglades

      Snorkle fun

      drinks, and we watched the Apple Cup football game from a bar here.  It’s got a nice old funky vibe and is a Key West must.

    5. Eat at Blue Heaven – we read that Blue Heaven is one of Key West’s best and most popular eateries so we headed there for lunch.  The Thanksgiving holiday crowd was out in full force, so rather than waiting forty minutes for an outdoor table we enjoyed a delicious (but not cheap) lunch in their indoor dining room.  There special was a lobster grilled cheese sandwich, that sounded delicious, but at $23 I declined.  Instead I enjoyed a really delicious yellow fin tuna sandwich.  And we had to try their famous Key
      Favorite Things Key West & Everglades

      Dining at Latitudes Sunset Key

      Lime Pie.

    6. Eat at Latitudes on Sunset Key – we splurged on our last night in Key West to celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary with a dinner at Latitudes.  Reservations are a must at this beautiful restaurant located a ten minute boat ride away, on Sunset Key.  The boat ride is included in your meal.  The setting was spectacular as was the service.  A wonderful romantic evening and a lovely farewell to Key West.

    Did you know?

    Favorite Things Key West & Everglades

    Key West Rooster

    Cock fighting was outlawed in Key West in the mid 1970’s.  Ever since, the descendants of these chickens roam freely throughout Key West.  Currently they are well fed and living happily ever after.

     

    My Fav Six Things to do in Everglades

    1. Shark Valley Tram Trail – this is the closest I ever want to be to an alligator. Holy Cow, we saw hundreds of alligators laying all around the trail just a few feet from us.  Seemed kinda crazy to me how close we were.  I guess they must not be too dangerous, but still…You can take a tram with a guide on this trail, walk it or ride bikes.  It’s a 15 mile round
      Favorite Things Key West & Everglades

      Mama alligator and three babies

      trip.  We rented bikes, although the quality of the bikes was disappointing for the price, but still enjoyed the experience.  Not only did we see hundreds of alligators up close and personal, we saw turtles and an incredible collection of bird life.  An amazing experience.

    2. Airboat Tour – you can’t visit the Everglades without taking an air boat tour.  These boats are uniquely designed for the terrain and waterways and it was a fascinating way to see the mangrove forests.  A bucket list adventure for me.
    3. Visit tiny historic Everglades City– we stayed in a darling Airbnb in Everglades City, a tiny town of only 500 residents.  Built in the 1800’s as a company town by Barron Collier (whose name is still everywhere including in Collier County), Everglades
      Favorite Things Key West & Everglades

      Airboat Tour

      (renamed Everglades City in 1953) has struggled through the depression, WWII and numerous hurricanes that have nearly wiped it out.  And yet this sweet little place embraces its heritage with some well-marked interpretive historic markers, a handful of restaurants and a thriving air boat port.

    4. Big Cypress Preserve is not actually part of the National Park. It’s right near Everglades City and the preserve is worth a visit. Two waysides provide amazing alligator viewing as well as interesting birds, trees and marsh.
    5. Eat Alligator – with so many alligators in Florida it’s no surprise you find it on the menu – although mostly for tourists who want to say they ate some.  As I did. Served to me like chicken nuggets and tasted very much the same as well.
    6. Visit Naples – we took the drive north to Naples, less than an hour from where we were staying in Everglades City, to visit some old friends who were on vacation in Naples.  I’m really glad we did.  Naples is a beautiful city chock full of mansions and yachts and high-end shops – a complete contrast to little old Everglades City.

    Did you know?

    The Everglades, called the River of Grass because the area is technically a river sometimes 60 miles wide, is not a marsh or swamp. Native Americans called it pahayokee, or

    Favorite Things Key West & Everglades

    Everglades

    the grassy waters. The ecosystem protects 14 endangered and nine threatened species, including the Florida panther, the Atlantic Ridley turtle and the American crocodile. (Credit USA Today Travel Tips)

    Next Time

    Next time we visit I would like to go to the Southern section of the Everglades where the Flamingo Visitor entrance is.  The geology of all of Florida is fascinating.  It is also changing, both geologically and weather wise, prone of course to devastating hurricanes.  We throughly enjoyed our visit, and I’d love to come again, before climate change causes too much more damage.

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    North America Travel

    Seven Things to do in Seabeck Washington

    My Summer in Washington State

    Location: Seabeck, Washington, USA

    Seven things to do in Seabeck Washington.

    Visitors to the west sound area of the Kitsap Peninsula rarely make their way out to Seabeck on the Hood Canal.  The little gem of a community has no hotels, malls or big

    Seven things to do in Seabeck Washington

    Sunset on the Hood Canal

    grocery stores.  It sits quietly as it has for generations, in one of the most picturesque spots in the world.  Less than 15 minutes drive from the overrun and out of control growth town of Silverdale where you can find services and stores to your hearts content, Seabeck is an anomaly – a fragile reminder of days past.

    Seven things to do in Seabeck Washington

    Historic Chapel Seabeck Conference Grounds

    A visit to Seabeck can easily be done in one day, but we were lucky enough to have 23 days to relax and enjoy this area at our spectacular waterfront Airbnb right on Hood Canal in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains. We found many things to occupy us, including our favorite seven things to do in Seabeck Washington.

    During our time here we did several hikes

    Seven things to do in Seabeck Washington

    Dungeness Crab

    around the parks and nature preserves, rode our bikes on the quiet and nearly deserted roads, enjoyed fresh Dungeness crab right from our front yard, went kayaking on the calm and beautiful waters of the canal and enjoyed pizza from the towns only food service facility.

    Additionally we made a point to learn some history about our surroundings, and were

    Seven things to do in Seabeck Washington

    Fascinating historic cemetery

    surprised to find that Seabeck was at one time a booming lumber mill town.  Little remains of that era now, nor of the generations of Native Americans who once spent their summers here enjoying the bounty of the sea and forest the area offered.

    Here are our favorites – the seven things to do in Seabeck Washington, nestled on the North Hood Canal in Western Washington. Visit soon.

     

    1. Scenic Beach State Park – a beautiful

    Seven things to do in Seabeck Washington

    Emel House Scenic Beach State Park

    waterfront state park covered in beautiful forests this park offers swimming, beach combing, camping, picnic area as well as the historic Emel home.  Events and weddings often occur here.

    2. Gillimot Cove –

    The Stump House at Guillemott Cove

    The 158-acre Kitsap county nature reserve Guillemot Cove located only six miles from the city center is a great place to enjoy the many trails that provide a pathway through this nature reserve. Visitors can also enjoy attractions such as a hollowed-out stump of a red cedar referred to as the Stump House, or simply enjoy the scenery provided by this preservation of nature.

    3. Seabeck Conference Grounds – built in

    Seven things to do in Seabeck Washington

    Meeting House Seabeck Conference Grounds

    1914 by Lawrence Colman and Arn Allen originally a YMCA operated camp, the camp is now a faith based non-profit camp and  is alive and well more than 100 years later.  You can stroll around the grounds and admire the many historic structures and the glorious view.

    4. Anderson Landing Preserve – once upon a

    Seven things to do in Seabeck Washington

    Puget Sound from Anderson Landing

    time this was the site of a boat landing for supplies and lumber.  Today you can walk around the forested preserve and cautiously peer over the cliff to the Puget Sound below.  Trails take you down to the location of the old landing site.

    5. Seabeck Pizza, General Store and Historic Landing- at this location once a booming

    Seven things to do in Seabeck Washington

    Seabeck General Store

    lumber town operated.  Today the four small buildings house a nice general store, massage studio, espresso stand and the popular Seabeck Pizza take-away pizza joint. Take time to stroll out on to the marina pier for a nice view back at the historic old town.

    6. Seabeck Cemetery- just a half a mile south from

    Seven things to do in Seabeck Washington

    Seabeck Cemetery

    the old landing watch for a tiny sign pointing to the historic Seabeck Cemetery. Graves dating back more than a hundred years are now overgrown with salal but an effort is currently underway to refurbish and preserve the site.  Many of Seabeck’a founders lie here. Including some of my own ancestors.

    7. Get on the water – you can arrive by boat

    Seven things to do in Seabeck Washington

    Kayaking on Hood Canal, Seabeck

    and make use of the marina at the landing.  Or bring your SUP or kayak. Both are very popular pastimes in the summer when the canal is calm and warm.  Fishing and crabbing are also popular.  Seals, otter, porpoises and the occasional orca whale can be spotted as well as bald eagles, osprey and much more wildlife from the water.

    Seven things to do in Seabeck Washington

    Wildlife

    Seabeck – a hidden gem seemingly stuck in a bygone century. Worth a visit. Fabulous!

    North America Travel

    Favorite Hiking & Cycling Trails in Puget Sound

    My Summer in Washington State USA

    Location: Puget Sound, Washington State, USA

    I’ve spent ten weeks in the beautiful state of Washington in the north-western United States.  This is where I grew up and where my family is.  It was fun being back, if only for a little while.  There were so many things I wanted to do and see, and I didn’t get it all done.  But I did manage to spend time enjoying my favorite hiking and cycling trails in Puget Sound.

    Favorite Hiking and Cycling trails in Puget Sound

    On top of Buckhorn pass

    I absolutely love cycling, and even though I started this sport rather late in life (48), I have embraced it.  I ride a road bike (‘Specialized’ brand) but prefer to ride on paved trails rather than out in traffic.  And there are two of my favorite trails less than an hour from where I have been staying;

    1. The Chehalis Western Trail is a fantastic trail on an old railroad bed, well maintained and very beautiful.  It is located south of Tacoma Washington beginning in Lacey.  You can start or stop at several locations along this 50-plus mile trail.  You can make the ride even longer by continuing
      Favorite Hiking and Cycling trails in Puget Sound

      Lunch break on the Chehalis Western Trail

      on the Yelm-Tenino Trail.  If you do the entire length of both these trails it’s more than 80 miles of paved bike path (with the small exception of about 100 yards of gravel). The trail includes views of Mount Rainier, bucolic farmland, the city of Olympia, and the Deschutes River. I was able to ride the Chehalis Western Trail three times while I was in Washington.

    2. The Olympic Discovery Trail is a spectacular trail on the Olympic Peninsula.  You can ride more than fifty miles round trip on this trial, including a newly added section to Discovery Bay.  There are a few sections of the trail that take you out to
      Favorite Hiking and Cycling trails in Puget Sound

      The Olympic Discovery Trail

      ride short distances on the highway, but for the most part the trail runs along the old highway and well maintained paved trails and bridges.  Highlights of this trail include crossing Dungeness River at the historic Railroad Bridge Park, riding through beautiful lavender fields in Sequim, enjoying views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and more bucolic farmland.  Simply spectacular and my favorite by far.  Unfortunately I only made it up to ride this trail once, but it was a beautiful day and I loved it.

    Both of these trails are for non-motorized vehicles only, and walkers are also encouraged.

    Speaking of walking, that is another of my favorite pastimes.  Last year when we walked the 486 mile Camino de Santiago from France to Spain we trained for more than a year.  Three months from now we plan to walk the 250 mile Camino de Santiago from Portugal to Spain and we have barely started our training!  So during these ten weeks here in

    Favorite Hiking and Cycling trails in Puget Sound

    Hiking on the Big Quilcene Trail

    Washington we have tried to get out and do urban hikes as well as two beautiful hikes on two of my favorite trails in the Olympic Mountains;

    1. Upper Big Quilcene / Marmot Pass Trail has a lot of elevation gain, but if you take it slow most anyone can do it.  And what does elevation gain mean?  Well of course it means spectacular views when you get to the top.  It’s about five miles to Marmot Pass and another steep scramble if you want to reach Buckhorn Ridge.  On a clear day you can see Seattle, all the Cascade mountains and for miles of the Olympic range as well.  The trail is well maintained, although you will need to walk through a rocky section where a slide has taken place.  This hike round trip if you go all the way to Buckhorn Ridge is 14 miles.  Or to Marmot Pass about 11 miles.  Be sure to have a Northwest Forest Pass (purchase ahead of time at many area locations).
    2. Lower Skokomish River Trail is one of my favorites.  We usually do a ten-mile round trip on this trail, but you can go further.  This well maintained trail takes you through
      Favorite Hiking and Cycling trails in Puget Sound

      Our lunch spot on the Skokomish River

      beautiful old growth forests and then along the Skokomish River for miles upstream.  There are a couple of places where you can get down to the river bed for a picnic or to camp.  The start of this trail is pretty steep, but once you get through the first mile it flattens out into a beautiful meandering trail where you hike through forests and cross creeks.  There is another climb but its easy and then again a flat and Favorite hiking and cycling trails in Puget Soundenjoyable walk from there.  This trail is rarely busy and I feel safe enough to walk this trail alone.

    So there you go, some of my favorite active pastimes in the Pacific Northwest where I have been since May.  We are now just days away from parting the USA again.  We will return to Washington for another visit next June.  Hopefully I’ll have more free time then, to cycle and hike around this spectacular state.

    Departing in T minus 11 days.

    North America Travel

    I Made That!

    Do It Yourself Glass Art

    Location: Silverdale Washington USA

    Making your own glass art project is surprisingly simple, fabulously fun and a great activity for kids young and old. Do it yourself glass art might be my new favorite craft.

    I spent a couple of hours this week at Lisa Stirrett Glass Art Studio in Silverdale Washington USA.  This was one of my Wednesday With Mom outings that I have been doing with my mom all summer long.

    Do it yourself glass art

    My mom getting creative Click and hold for larger image

    I didn’t know what to expect exactly, but I had seen some of the large and incredibly stunning works of art that come out of the Lisa Stirrett Glass Art Studio so I was looking forward to it.

    The glass studio offers classes (they were having a summer camp class while we were there) for both adults and children.  They also offer a DIY

    do it yourself glass art

    Our teacher Tara demonstrating technique Click and hold for larger image

    class.  You just call and let them know the day and time you want to come in to make your own creation.  Then they will have the supplies and someone on hand to guide you.  This is what I did with my mom.

    do it yourself glass art

    Mermaid phase one adding the first color Click and hold for larger image

    The sitting fee for the DIY is $8 and

    do it yourself glass art

    A wide selection of colors Click and hold for larger image

    you can make up to three pieces for this one sitting fee.  You then choose what you want to make and the costs for each project (cost covers glass, preparation, guidance and firing) varies depending on what you choose to make.

    Mom and I are both beginners so we started with something simple – small glass cutouts that could be used in a window or in a garden or as a ornament or maybe as a gift.  My mom chose a frog and I chose a mermaid. These each were $38.

    We learned how the process works – first you clean the glass carefully.  Then you chose your glass color that you will apply on top.  The glass is very fine sand-like granules and you sift it on to the different areas of your

    do it yourself glass art

    Lisa Stirrett owner and glass artist Click and hold for larger image

    piece.  The mermaid had a bit more detail than the frog.  I chose a teal blue for the mermaids body.  I then used a stencil to apply a glittery gold pattern over the top (the glitter was an additional $10).  Finally I put a silver glitter on her hair (you know, because I am the Grey Goddess and

    do it yourself glass art

    Mermaid phase II – all the color has been applied Click and hold for larger image

    all).  There are several tools you can use to clean up your mistakes, or to pinpoint a small area or to define a certain part.

    On the frog my mom chose to do a pale yellow-green lightly all over the body of the frog.  She then used larger glass chunks in a

    do it yourself glass art

    The frog warts and all ready for the kiln Click and hold for larger image

    bright pistachio green to make the frog look like he had bumps and warts.  The staff at the studio helped apply black paint for the frogs eyes.

    All of this only took about an hour and half.  We left our masterpieces behind to go into the kiln for the firing. Before the glass goes in the kiln it is placed on a soft paper that looks similar to quilt batting.  In the kiln it absorbs into the glass and gives it a multi-dimensional look.  I picked our pieces up several days later and it was amazing how different it looks after its been in the kiln.

    DIY Glass Art

    Mermaid Final product Click and hold for larger image

    Someday when I am back in Silverdale I would love to tackle a larger piece and really create something memorable so I can say I Made That!  In the meantime, if you are in the area I recommend checking out Lisa Stirrett Glass Art Studio to make your own project or to pick out a gift or something for yourself from their beautiful gallery.

    Another successful Wednesday with Mom!  Fabulous!

     

    North America Travel

    Seattle Ride the Ducks For A Quacking Good Time

    Location: Seattle Washington USA

    Full disclosure – I always thought this whole Ride the Ducks thing looked pretty silly.  Even though I love Hop On Hop Off busses and walking tours in cities around the world – I had never done a Ride the Ducks in any of Seattle Ride the Ducks the countries or cities I have visited. Until last week when I joined Seattle Ride the Ducks for a Quacking Good Time.

    Additional full disclosure.  My son was our Ducks Tour Guide (alias Kirk O’Bane).

    Seattle Ride the DucksIf it wasn’t for the fact that my son has joined the Seattle Ride the Ducks team as a tour guide, well, I probably would still be a Ride the Ducks virgin.  But of course we wanted to see our son in action so my husband and I took our two moms to Seattle for a day on the Duck.  So much fun.Seattle Ride the Ducks

    And seriously, my son was a great guide, but now that I have done a Ducks tour I am sure it would be awesome no matter who your guide is.  We didn’t stop smiling the entire time.

    Seattle Ride the DucksThe tour is high-energy and interactive with lot’s of cheering and clapping and singing along.  But of course it’s also interesting and informative.  We learned a lot about Seattle, its history and current rapid growth.  The tour included fun facts and figures, and interesting little known quirky bits about the city.Seattle Ride the Ducks

    It was particularly fun to get out on Lake Union and see the very Seattle lifestyle of living on a houseboat (Remember Sleepless in Seattle?) as well as seeing the Seattle skyline from the lake and watching a Kenmore Air floatplane fly low over us and land on the lake.

    The 90 minute tour is worth every bit of the $35 ticket price.  I highly recommend checking out Ride the Ducks of Seattle if you are a visitor or a local.  You will have a quacking good time.

    Be sure and ask for “Kirk O’Bane”.  Proud Mama.  Fabulous.

    North America Travel

    A Wednesday in Gig Harbor Washington

    Day 44 in the USA

    It’s day 44 in the USA, the longest we have stayed in one place in the last two years.  It’s starting to feel like home again.  But today on Day 44 we really played the tourist card and enjoyed a Wednesday in Gig Harbor Washington.

    Wednesday in Gig Harbor

    The beautiful Cushman Trail

    Wednesday in Gig Harbor

    Kayaking in Gig Harbor Bay

    We used to live in Gig Harbor, a beautiful town in South Puget Sound.  So we know it well.  And yet much has changed in the two years we have been gone, and it’s a lot of fun to get out and enjoy the community from a tourists point of view.

    I got up early this morning and decided to do my morning run ending at my dentist appointment.  I began running at the farthest North point on Gig Harbor’s Cushman Trail, a 6.2 mile paved trail that runs through the heart of Gig Harbor.  I love this trail for how peaceful it is.  As I ran four miles of the fairly hilly trail I saw bunnies, a deer, a squirrel and so many birds including a Pileated Woodpecker, a Flicker, an Osprey and a beautiful Goldfinch (the Washington State bird).  It’s a beautiful and peaceful trail and one of the best things about Gig Harbor.  A great start to my very full Wednesday.

    After my dentist appointment I walked back home via Soundview Drive, aptly named for the spectacular views of Puget Sound, Point Defiance in Tacoma and Vashon Island.

    Wednesday in Gig Harbor

    Colorful kayaks Gig Harbor Yacht Sales

    Wednesday in Gig Harbor

    A perfect day on the water

    Then we headed out to Kayak Gig Harbor Bay.  We usually spend Wednesday’s with our Moms, so Arne’s Mom joined us for a lovely hour and half on the water.  She had only kayaked once, and it was really a nice calm day so we sliced through the water and circled the bay on our kayaks we rented from Gig Harbor Yacht Sales.  It was very enjoyable.  Just like the Gondola ride I did with my Mom a couple

    Wednesday in Gig Harbor

    The Trolley at the Boat Yard

    weeks ago, getting out on the water is one of the best things to do when you are in Gig Harbor.  And kayaking gives you a work out too.

    Wednesday in Gig Harbor

    Making our project at AR Workshop

    Next we headed to lunch at the outdoor Trolley at the Boat Yard, a fun little spot right in the middle of the historic downtown. It wasn’t a hot day, but it was dry and comfortable so we ordered up and enjoyed our lunch on the outdoor picnic tables at this popular and affordable spot.

    Wednesday in Gig Harbor

    My canvas pillow in the works

    But our Wednesday in Gig Harbor didn’t stop there!  Later in the afternoon my Mom arrived at our cottage and we headed out to AR Workshop in downtown Gig Harbor.  This darling little shop is new to Gig Harbor and worth a visit.  AR Workshop is a do-it-yourself craft paradise where you can make wooden signs, canvas art and more.  My mom and I had a really great time making stenciled canvas pillows.  It took about two hours and anybody can do it, yet it turned out very professional looking.

    Wednesday in Gig Harbor

    All done!

    I hope to go back again to AR Workshop and make one of their wooden signs. It was a great activity.

    So that was my Wednesday in Gig Harbor – where you can enjoy nature, the harbor, exercise, lunch and arts and crafts all in one day – a perfect Wednesday or anyday.  Gig Harbor, Washington – Fabulous!

    Watch for more USA blogs coming soon.