April 14, 2016

Portland/Seattle trip recap

I'm home! I had SUCH an amazing time in Portland and Seattle, but I was missing Jerry and the kids (and the pets) quite a bit, so it feels nice to be back. This was my third time visiting the Pacific Northwest over the last year, and it has become my favorite spot for a fun trip! Taking the train to Seattle was awesome.

My friend Laurel picked me up from the train station. Laurel started reading my blog several years ago, and I met her in person when I went to Portland for the first time. She and Thomas were best friends/roommates in college, and she is the one who introduced Thomas to my blog. She now lives in Seattle, but she goes down to Portland very frequently. So that's how I met her and Thomas.

Laurel took me to this gorgeous waterfall right after she picked me up

I won't recap my entire trip, because that would probably take up several posts, but here are a few highlights...

On Saturday, Thomas, Brandon (Thomas's "little brother" from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program), and I went hiking in Ape Cave at Mount St. Helens. I had never seen a cave before, so I wasn't sure what to expect; but I'm kind of a scaredy cat when it comes to adventure, so I was pretty nervous about it! I'm not necessarily claustrophobic, but if there were any really tight spots to crawl through, I wouldn't be happy about it ;)

I'm so glad that I went! At first, I thought I made a big mistake, because I was shaking so badly (nerves) and it was hard to find my footing. The cave is completely pitch black (without a flashlight, you can't even see your hand in front of your face), and there are tons of huge boulders to climb over, through, and around. I was scared of falling off the boulders and breaking my leg (the day before my race!), so I was being extra careful.

As we went deeper into the cave, though, I got more confident with my climbing. Physically, it was a tough workout! At one point, we even have to use a rope to climb up about eight feet of solid rock wall. I kind of impressed myself that I was able to do it. I don't have many pictures, but here are a few:

This is the opening where we started

Boulders everywhere

Brandon and me (I was covering my headlamp);
He's taller than me now!

Almost too claustrophobic at some parts ;)

The cave was 1.25 miles long, and I'm not sure how long it took us to do it, but my legs were tired after that! I was worried it would affect my race the next day, but how often do I get a chance to hike through a cave? It ended up being one of my favorite parts of the trip.

I had two reader meet-ups--one in Portland on Saturday morning for coffee, and one in Seattle on Monday night for drinks. I love doing these meet-ups! I met some really fantastic girls. Here is a photo from coffee on Saturday:

Samantha, Mary, Katie, me, and Margaret
I'd met Mary and Katie the last time I had a meet-up in Portland, so it was great to see them again. And Samantha and Margaret were super sweet! Samantha had just gotten off working a night shift, so I was honored she came. And Margaret was going to be running a half-marathon the following day (she hit her goal of sub-2:30!).

On Monday night, Laurel, her husband, Dan, and I went to McMenamins Queen Anne in Seattle for the other reader meet-up. I invited my friend from high school, Allison, to come meet us before everyone else got there, so I could catch up with her. I hadn't seen her in about seven years! I thought it may be a little awkward, but we talked as if we'd seen each other just last week.

I was so very excited to meet reader Melisa, and she showed up next. I don't read many blogs, but I adore Melisa's writing style (she's very witty and hilarious), so I was really looking forward to meeting her in person. And she is just as great in person as she is on her blog! We laughed (a lot).

Rounding out the meet-up was Amber, a sweet-as-pie girl (with a voice to match) who loves cupcakes so much she has a tattoo of one on her arm; and Laura, a very busy mom of three kids, all under age three! I am so sad that I forgot to get a group picture of everyone (likely due to the vodka tonics I was drinking! ha). It was a super fun evening, and meeting Laura, Amber, and Melisa was awesome. I hope to see them again if when I go back. (Laura, we didn't get a picture together! sad face)

Amber and me

Just before the meet-up on Monday, Laurel, Dan, and I went up in the Space Needle. As touristy as it is, I just had to do it! It had an amazing view of the city. Thankfully, I'm not afraid of heights, because it was pretty high in the sky.

Laurel happens to love cupcakes, and she obviously knows I love my desserts, so she suggested a "cupcake crawl" in Seattle--going to several cupcake shops and taste testing. I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate my new 10K PR! So, Tuesday, we spent the day eating cupcakes and walking around. We went to four different cupcake shops, and Laurel actually took notes at each one about my thoughts--which comes in handy now, as I write this.

At each shop, Laurel and I each ordered a cupcake, and then we split them in half to share. That way, I could try eight cupcakes, from four different shops. Here is the gist...

Stop #1: Pinkabella
We tried the Cookie Dough and the Chocolate Peanut Butter. I loved both of these! The cake itself was good, and the frosting was sweet, with enough frosting to cake ratio (I prefer a 50/50 ratio, but none of the shops were THAT generous with the frosting, haha). I can't really decide which of the two cupcakes I liked better, but I think I am leaning toward Cookie Dough just a smidge.

Stop #2: Trophy
We tried the Chocolate Peanut Butter and the Samoa. The peanut butter frosting wasn't quite as sweet as I would like, but it was very peanutty, which made up for it. The cake itself was a touch drier than the Pinkabella cupcakes, but it had a very deep chocolate flavor, which was good. The toasted coconut on the samoa cupcake was amazing, and we both declared the samoa the winner there.

Stop #3: Yellow Leaf
We tried the Pancakes & Bacon cupcake and a vanilla cupcake. These were my least favorite of the day, and I actually didn't even finish eating mine, because it wasn't worth it to me. I believe the frosting was whipped, and not buttercream, because it wasn't sweet at all (so if you like whipped frosting, you'd probably like these cupcakes). The cake part of the Pancakes & Bacon cupcake was the only thing I liked--it was almost like a pound cake texture, with some maple syrup soaked into it. I thought the vanilla cake was dry.

Stop #4: Cupcake Royale
We tried the Lemon Drop (lemon cake with lemon frosting) and the Kate (chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream). You all know that I love frosting, and these didn't have nearly enough for me. I took off a lot of the cake part, so I could have a more preferable ratio of cake and frosting. The cake part was a little bit dry, but the frosting was delicious. I liked the Lemon Drop one best.

Overall, my favorite was Pinkabella, hands-down. They had the whole package--good cake, good frosting, good ratio of cake and frosting. Following that would be Trophy, then Cupcake Royale, and then Yellow Leaf.

To avoid sugar overload all at once, we spread out the tour throughout the day, which worked out well. In between, we shopped Pike Place market, which was AWESOME--I could have spent all day there. I bought a couple of souvenirs for the kids and Jerry. We also met Allison for a ginger beer at Rachel's Ginger Beer. She told me it was a must-try, so I was glad she was able to meet us there during a break from work. I have to say, the ginger beer (I got the original) was amazing! I love ginger and lemon, so I knew I'd like it, but I can't even describe how good it was.

My entire trip went by so quickly! I am thrilled to have met my goal at the 10K (it still hasn't really sunk in, yet); I made some amazing new friends; I tried lots of delicious food and desserts; and overall, just had a really great time. Now, it's back to reality ;)


  1. This trip looks like it was lots of fun! I will have to remember this post if I ever go to Seattle or Portland-- the cupcakes look so delicious!

  2. The cupcake with cookie dough looks amazing! 😍🍪

  3. Ha, all those cupcakes make my teeth hurt. Glad you had a wonderful trip and enjoyed yourself!

  4. Sounds like such a fun time! I've always wanted to visit the Seattle area. Hopefully some day I make it out there! I definitely have to try Pinkabella when I go now :)

  5. I love to see you in an OSU sweatshirt! :) Glad you had such a great time in my neck of the woods!

  6. I love to see you in an OSU sweatshirt! :) Glad you had such a great time in my neck of the woods!

  7. I'd love to do a cupcake crawl! What a genius idea! thanks for sharing the photos :)

  8. Sounds like a wonderful trip Katie. I was in Seattle back in the early 60's, and I remember driving by the Space Needle. As a kid, I wanted so badly to visit it, but my Dad was driving, and was directionally challenged (we got lost a lot when we took vacations, on that same trip, we were lost in LA for 5 hours!), so instead of stopping anywhere in the big city of Seattle, we drove through, getting lost several times of course, on our way to Bellingham, WA, to visit my Aunt. The Space Needle IS impressive, at least as you drive by.

    I too have claustrophobia (developed that phobia in adulthood) and detest caves. I have been to several however, and I just have to fight off that closed-in feeling. I hated to keep my whole family from experiencing the cave because I was afraid. But it cracked me up when you talked about your fear of falling and breaking your leg. Your biggest concern about breaking your leg was not the pain, or the inconvenience, or the pain (which would definitely be my biggest concern, you can tell that since I mentioned it twice), but NO! Your biggest concern was the race the next day. You really crack me up. Such dedication to your running. You are amazing!

  9. WOW!! that all looks amazing! Great job on all the pics, I am definitely wanting those cupcakes now! Glad you had a good time :)

  10. If you ever go to Grand Rapids check out the salted cupcake!! Best cupcakes hands down!

  11. It was so great to meet you and I'm so glad you enjoyed your trip/explorations in Portland and Seattle. Hope you make it out this way again soon!

  12. Pinkabella is my favorite, too!

  13. Hey Katie, this is Laura, of three kids fame. It was great to meet you. Sounds like you had a good time. I hope you can make it out here again sometime soon!


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