A Travellerspoint blog

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

sunny 75 °F

I come from a family of all girls. My mom was one of three daughters, her sister had two girls, and my mom joined the girl brigade with three daughters of her own. This past week my 15 year old sister, Brianna, joined me in the city for some much needed quality girl time. Now, before you start picturing us basking in a happy spa glow with brightly polished toenails and terry cloth robes, be aware that our visit included foul balls at the Mariners game, heavy Russian fast food, and a visit to the Viking Days Festival. Yes, you heard right… sports, food, and Vikings.


Ok, so I’m not exactly sports savvy, nor do I consider myself an athlete. My greatest sports achievement was kicking a soccer ball into the wrong goal in second grade, and my athletic abilities are pretty much limited to a haphazard game of badminton. Competition drives me crazy, and the pressure of any team sport is enough to evoke a full on panic attack. Put me on the other side of the fence however and suddenly I become that passionate, maniacal fan on the sidelines screaming obscenities, only I really don’t know why I’m riled up or who I am yelling at.


The Mariners were playing the Rangers on this sultry Saturday evening, and my sister and I were right alongside the action. In fact, our seats were the ones that come with those little warning labels to stay alert for incoming balls and bats. We watched as several fans were pelted with foul balls, and luckily for them, no one was seriously injured.


The gravest threat to our well-being wasn’t in the form of errant balls however, but rather it came delivered in little cardboard trays. Garlic fries…or as the fans fondly call them, Rally Fries. Fearing that I may likely become addicted to these heart attack inducing trays of goodness, I have yet to try a single garlic fry, and the odor reeking from those consuming them is reason enough to stay away. Cost is another factor. Why is everything so astronomically priced in a ball park? If I attended any more games than I already do (which would be two a season instead of one) I would have to sell a kidney to finance my food consumption at the stadium. Nevertheless, we splurged on lemonade to ward of the hunger pangs until after the game.


The thrill of watching a live sporting event will never grow old. The sounds of cheering fans, the smell of deep fried food, and the action of the game entice my senses and evoke excitement. In a way, it makes me feel like more of an American. I mean what really spells out America and patriotism better than gluttony, monetary wastefulness, and good old fashioned team rivalry?

Stay tuned for Russian eats and Viking Days!

Posted by Jennylynn 21:28 Archived in USA Tagged events Comments (0)

Road Trip Reunion

sunny 80 °F

We have all been told to separate personal from professional. As a nanny, this can be extremely difficult and in my case hasn’t always worked so well. Several years ago I found myself working for a family who completely swept me off my feet. Despite the warnings of the wise, this family with seven children stole my heart and I cherish and love them all. Unfortunately, my job ended when the parents were required to relocate to Canada for work. Now, several times a year we all get together for lots of laughs, love, and fun. Last week my husband and I headed to Vernon, British Columbia where we met up with my extended family as they were enjoying a leisurely summer vacation on Lake Okanagan.

The drive from Seattle into the Okanagan Valley was spectacular. Clear skies and beautiful scenery greeted us at every turn in the road. Along the way we passed dozen of fruit stands where cherries and apricots were displayed directly in front of the farms where they were grown. In the fall these fruits will be replaced by what the Okanagan is perhaps best known for, apples.


Vernon, a city of 35,000, sits in South Central British Columbia and was a good seven hour drive from Seattle. We arrived to great fanfare and much rejoicing as the kids excitedly gave us a tour and filled us in on everything we missed over the last six months. The house they rented was perfectly situated right on the lake and much of our visit was spent relaxing by the waterside, that is when we weren’t being bombarded by a handful of kids armed with squirt guns.


After everyone settled down from our arrival, we went out and explored Vernon together. We first visited Planet Bee, a bee farm, where we learned about honey production and the multitude of substances produced by bees. Honey as it turns out is not the only product of bees. Royal jelly, produced by the bees to hold the hive together, is supposedly quite beneficial for a laundry list of health ailments. Before leaving we tasted dozens of honey varieties, some which are made when bees pollinate different varieties of flowers, others the company produced by mixing in various herbs and flavors. Next to Planet Bee we visited Davison Orchards where we indulged in some of the most delicious apple cinnamon muffins and apple crumble pies. Davison Orchards hosts all kinds of activities and tours but we found their bakery to be the highlight of our visit.

Planet Bee



Davison Orchards



The next day we took some of the kids into town where we walked through the city center and toured the Vernon Museum. We also went searching for some of the dozens of murals painted throughout the city center.


Vernon is quite small and somewhat touristy, but overall a great place for a vacation devoted to rest and relaxation. The hot summer days are long and the lakes are always cool and refreshing. I found myself escaping realty as I lounged by the lake, but my attention quickly alerted as I saw a seven year old running toward me with a bucket of water…ahh...kids!


Goodbyes are difficult. Hugging the kids as I leave is always the worst as each of them cling to my legs with death hold grips. I hate to say goodbye, but I always know that I will return. I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful, intelligent, and humorous extended family and in this case, I am very thankful I risked blurring the lines between personal and professional. In doing so, I have developed seven lifelong friendships with seven amazing kiddos.


Posted by Jennylynn 21:01 Archived in Canada Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Fremont on Father's Day

sunny 65 °F

With all the Alaska blogging, this entry was put on the back burner. Now almost a month later I am finally sharing it with you, enjoy!

On Father’s Day I spent the day at the Fremont Fair with my Dad. Every year thousands of people gather in Fremont on the weekend of the summer solstice for food, drinks, music, and the famous nude bicycle parade (which we missed!). Fremont is a unique corner of Seattle, filled with residents who defy normalcy and think outside the box. It is an artsy, intelligent community with weird quirks around every corner. From a statue of Vladimir Lenin, a giant rocket ship, and the Fremont Troll you never really know what you will discover next.


We spent the day strolling through the heart of Fremont enjoying all the sights and smells of a true street fair. Colorful booths lined the roadways and hundreds of people mingled and browsed the stands. The atmosphere was inviting and carefree as live music filtered through the crowds, children with painted faces chased one another, and the smells of deliciously fattening food wafted through the air.


We decided to skip out on the street food and ate lunch at Silence-Heart-Nest a fabulous vegetarian restaurant. Waitresses in saris greeted and served us, and the food and atmosphere hinted at an eclectic mix of cultures and tastes. Growing up my dad was vegetarian and has since returned to the dark side (no hard feelings Dad!), but my husband and I are both veggie and I think we all found the food to be deliciously unique.

Finishing off the day we made our way back through the crowded streets, enjoyed several late afternoon concerts, and relished the flavors of fresh strawberry shortcake. Nothing beats good music and food on a sunny summer day in Seattle with the people you love most. Never hesitate to enjoy these moments just as you would if given the opportunity to roam the streets of a Parisian market. Travel can take you anywhere, even your own backyard. Get out there and enjoy it!


Posted by Jennylynn 20:38 Archived in USA Tagged events Comments (0)

Moose, Caribou, and Bears...Oh my!

Wildlife encounters in Denali National Park

sunny 70 °F

We finally made it to Denali – our ultimate destination to top off the packaged tourism sold on the cruise. We couldn’t wait to head off into the mountains, check into our rugged cabin, and start exploring, but first we had to make the nearly five hour journey from Anchorage. The drive was incredible through the most beautiful scenery imaginable. We could have easily doubled our travel time by stopping at every picturesque stop to take photos and walk around, but the allure of Denali was calling and eventually we made it to our final destination.


With only one full day to enjoy the wonders of Denali National Park, we utilized the 20 hours of daylight experienced in Alaska by setting our alarms for a modest four am. The sun however decided to wake us up at three am, and although we were exhausted after just several hours of sleep (going to bed at eleven when the sun is shining is very surreal!) we got up and headed for Denali. Being one of only several on the road we took advantage of the quiet and solitude and searched for wildlife along the first 15 mile stretch of road open to the public. Everything after that can only be visited in one of the parks’ green school bus style shuttles. Although there was not a cloud in the sky, the temperature was near freezing as we made our way into the park. After driving for just about ten minutes we got our first glimpse of Mt. McKinley, North America’s tallest peak. We were completely shocked to see this majestic mountain rising almost four miles in the sky as it is almost always covered in clouds. In fact, McKinley is only visible about 20 percent of the time due to the extreme weather patterns surrounding the mountain.


Touring around on our own we spotted lots of snowshoe hares, arctic ground squirrels, and even a fox, but the most impressive sight was coming across a lake with two moose basking in the morning sun enjoying their breakfast. We were utterly intrigued by the wildlife spotting opportunities and we had to see more.


We then reserved a spot on the next shuttle bus heading into the park. A word of advice, we were very fortunate to land spots on this shuttle, apparently, seats sell out far in advance and if planning on visiting Denali, I would recommend booking your seats as soon as possible. The shuttle we reserved only went about 60 miles into the park and back, but would take us eight hours roundtrip to complete. Denali only has one road leading into the park and it is unpaved and slow going. Passengers are encouraged to yell “stop” at any time wildlife is spotted. This makes for some very slow progress as the bus stops for all things resembling animals, including trees, rocks, and other inanimate objects. It didn’t take long before we spotted our first grizzly bear, right alongside the road. I was awe struck. I have always feared bears, but in the safety of the bus I was mesmerized by the beauty of this magnificent animal. Shortly up the road we spotted three more grizzly bears, two adults and one cub. They were perched high up on the hillside, and unfortunately I was unable to capture them on camera as they were too far away.


Continuing on we spotted several caribou and dall sheep in the distance, but having sighted all that we hoped to see, we got off the bus at Polychrome Overlook just shy of our original destination. Here we wandered about and found an amazing spot for our picnic lunch overlooking an enormous valley and snowcapped mountain range. This moment had to be one of the most inspiring as we sat and contemplated the enormity and beauty of not just Denali but also of the limitless splendor the world has to offer. Somehow during this moment, all the issues and stress of life just melted away as we realized how small and insignificant life’s “problems” really are.


Leaving Denali National Park was bittersweet as every trip or journey seems to be. I am eager to get home and get back to my routine, but at the same time I can’t help but want to constantly live on the open road with no plan or destination in mind. This trip leaves me inspired to embark on our next journey. For our wedding we received many wonderful gifts, but we are most looking forward to using our gift card to a bed and breakfast of our choice anywhere in the United States. We look forward to planning this journey and any suggestions are welcome! I hope you enjoyed my latest entries from the beautiful state of Alaska.


Posted by Jennylynn 19:58 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Cruising Glacier Bay and College Fjord

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On the final two days of our Alaska cruise we sailed through the narrow straits of Glacier Bay and College Fjord taking in the breathtaking views of mile wide glaciers and snowcapped, craggy peaks. The morning we arrived in Glacier Bay our cruise boat embarked several National Park Rangers who provided commentary and lectures throughout the course of the day.


A highlight of the scenic cruising was watching the calving of the glaciers as they broke apart and created a spectacular splash as they crashed into the ocean.


While touring between the glaciers the on ship naturalist broadcasted commentary as we sailed through areas dense with orcas, humpback whales, seals, otters, and birds. He even pointed out several grizzly bears on the shore but without binoculars we were unable to spot them. I now really regret that we didn’t bring binoculars as there were so many great wildlife spotting opportunities that we missed.


Overall the scenic glacier cruising was a fantastic way to get close and personal with glaciers and wildlife. Interestingly enough, researchers studied the effects of boats on wildlife in Glacier Bay and surprisingly, kayaks have the most damaging effect on sea otters and seals. Apparently a person sitting in a kayak looks an awful lot like a killer whale and many of these animals have stopped frequenting areas with kayakers. Apparently this disrupts the natural habitat and food chain and all species are then affected by this migration. Who would have thought?


As these were the last days on our cruise, tomorrow we will make our way north through Anchorage into Denali National Park. We are thrilled to finally get out and explore on our own pace. Denali here we come!

Posted by Jennylynn 11:42 Archived in USA Tagged cruises Comments (0)

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