a non-running vacation: seattle and portland

It’s been almost three weeks since I posted about quitting a few things and how running seems to be quitting on me.  I pondered leaving it out there as a cliffhanger, maybe quitting the blog and having people wonder if that was it.  (All seven of you who might notice if I never blogged again, ha.)  Mostly my writing slumps come around when I’m not running much, and I definitely haven’t been running much…so not writing much.  Here we are.  I missed Nurse’s Week this year as well.  Although I usually do a week of nursing-related posts, I sat down to write and didn’t feel too compelled on anything.  I always have some ideas floating around in my head, but putting my thoughts into words didn’t quite come to me…so I didn’t.

So anyway, yes, I’ve been on hiatus from the blog.  And from running.  And from New York, as I headed to the Pacific Northwest for about ten days.  Originally, I planned on running the Eugene Marathon and hanging out in the PNW afterward, but injury led me to DNS the race and instead just have a non-race-related vacation.  Of course, I’m really sad about not being able to run, especially since Eugene is on my bucket list, but I know it’s for the better.  This also allowed me to enjoy delicious food and beer without second thought.

Recapping the entire vacation isn’t really my thing, so I think I’ll just do a top five from the two cities/areas we visited, and probably not in any particular order.


My brother lives just outside Portland, and my parents flew out to visit as well.  (They planned to watch the race, oops.)  It should go without saying that hanging out with my family was certainly a highlight!  After a bit of a rocky start where I learned that I’m still allergic to cats (hello, swelling eyes and emergency 11pm trip to CVS…), we had a lovely time.  Highlights include…

1.  Voodoo Doughnuts


I’ve heard of the famed Voodoo Doughnuts from other people who have traveled to and/or live in Portland.  On Friday, we had some time to kill between my mom’s flight and my dad’s flight landing, so we took a quick trip into the city for deliciousness.  Then we happened to be nearby the next day and stopped by again.  I don’t love doughnuts, but they do have a ridiculous variety…although I stilled opted for vanilla with sprinkles.  We waited in line for awhile the second time, but they entertained us with trivia, and Eric and I both won tshirts.  HOORAY.

2.  Portland Saturday Market


The Portland Saturday Market (which also runs on Sundays, ha) is basically a gigantic craft/food/random clothes fair.  It was a nice day (read: almost 80!) which was excellent for wandering.  At the first booth, we found this elephant tank and my trip was complete.  The market was also great for people watching…Portland is certainly keeping it weird.

3.  Portland Sightseeing! – Forest Park, Pittock Mansion, Japanese Tea Garden

forestpark Urban hiking…ish.

Many people mentioned Forest Park to me as something to do in Portland, and I wasn’t quite sure what it entailed…but I loved it.  We went on a hike (and ended up visiting the International Rose Garden…which will be really pretty in a week or two!) and kept commenting on how tall the trees are!  I’m used to tall buildings, but not so much all the tall trees.  Some people were running on the trail, which basically made me want to move out there and run there all day every day.  Although I’m sure people who live there don’t do that…


IMG_8223 Our new house!  hahahhahaha.

Pittock Mansion is a huge house that overlooks Portland.  It’s quick to go through (maybe an hour-ish?) and was pretty cool…it had some furniture from its original time period and some neat gadgets.  Worth a trip!

IMG_8286 Just hanging with the family in the tea garden.

The Japanese Tea Garden was something we kind of added in just do it – but it ended up being really cool!  Apparently Japanese ambassadors have said it’s the closest they’ve seen to a real tea garden in Japan, so it must be good.  It was really quiet and tranquil, as noted by the picture of my family staring at a waterfall.  Thanks to Eric for capturing the moment.

4.  The Coast

In Oregon, they don’t call the area where the land meets the ocean “the beach” as anyone else would, since you don’t really go sit on the beach.  The water never gets warm enough, so it’s just “the coast.”  While I certainly enjoy a day in a swimsuit in the sun, it’s still pretty even though it was a misty rain most of the time…

We headed to Cannon Beach, home to the Haystack Rock…and apparently where the Goonies was filmed, but I’ve never seen the movie.  (I know, I know…)

IMG_8371Mom and I at the coast!

Just taking a picture of my elephant…

5.  Hanging out with Portland friends!

I have no pictures because I’m a terrible blogger.  Oops.  Anyway, after “knowing” Jen for almost seven years, we finally met!  Jen had one of the first running blogs I ever read, and it was one of the blogs that inspired me to start my own.  She stopped blogging a couple years ago, but I get to keep up with her adventures (and cute kids!) on Facebook/Instagram.  We chatted about my upcoming trip to Portland, and she invited Eric and over to dinner, and it was lovely!  It was great to meet her and her family, and we chatted for hours.  It’s always a little strange to “meet” someone you feel like you know, but it’s pretty cool too.  I had a lot of fun – thanks again to Jen and her family for having us over!  I hope to see you again before another seven years pass by…

I have another friend, Jason, who lives in Portland, who I also met on the internet.  (I’m so cool, I know.)  We met up with him at 10 Barrel Brewing for dinner and some of the local craft brew scene…then headed over to Rogue to try to find one of Eric’s favorite beers.  It’s been three years since I’ve seen Jason, and hopefully we’ll be able to catch up in person in less than three years as well.  (This whole east coast/west coast thing makes it rough!)


After five days in Portland, we dropped my parents off at the airport before Eric and I headed up to Seattle by train.  I would definitely recommend train travel – it was about 3.5 hours, $29/person, and such a beautiful trip!  We only had one rainy day in Seattle (the first day…), so we lucked out.  Most days we spent playing tourist and then hung out with Eric’s friends in the evening – nice to have the local touch.



I don’t know how you feel about Duck Tours, but I think they’re great.  It’s a fun way to see the city and learn a little bit about it.  Eric and I splurged (ha) for the quackers, and we were the only people on the tour with them.  Our tour guide was full of puns, which was hilarious because I have a terrible sense of humor.  Highlights of the tour including driving by the Brooks headquarters (it wasn’t part of the tour, but I still got excited…) and seeing the houseboats on the lake.  They’re super cool and will cost you a pretty penny…yikes!

2.  Chiluly Glass Museum


I think my mom talked about going to the Chiluly Glass Museum every day we were in Portland.  I didn’t know much about him, but he does some mighty fine work!  He had all sorts of glass projects, from the balls in a boat pictured above, to vases/baskets, to gardens made of glass, to huge chandelier type things.  Super impressive and pretty.  At the end of the museum, they had a glass blowing demonstration…based on how long it took them to make one vase, I can only imagine how long it took to make some of his displays!  He has work in a bunch of cities across the world – check it out if you have a chance!

3.  Swinging by the Nuun office!

Nuun Platoon Van 2!

The two other things I’ve been in Seattle were compliments of running Hood to Coast with Nuun, which are experiences I still hold near and dear to me.  The picture above is of my original vanmates – including our awesome driver, Casey!  Eric and I stopped by the Nuun office in hopes of catching Kim and Casey, but Kim was out – but it was good to see Casey and how Nuun has grown since the last time I was there!  Big things are happening, as they just released Nuun Plus and just keep gaining speed.  With the summer heat heading our way, the visit was definitely a good reminder to stay hydrated.

4.  Hiking – Boulder Canyon River

I knew the PNW was a good spot for hiking, so I did some research before heading out.  Fodors had a list of “10 Best Spring Hikes,” and Boulder Canyon River was on there.  Done!  Eric’s friends like to hike (and have a car – double win), so we headed out  with them.  It was an easy hike, and we only did about the first 1-1.5  miles of it…as the waterfall was right there, and we spent some time climbing down/around the water fall.  Plus, it was misting a bit and apparently there isn’t too much past the waterfall.


Hanging out with Eric in a giant tree…

Ah, the outdoors.

5.  Baseball!


Last year, Eric and I headed to California for the California Baseball Tour, hitting all the stadiums in the state.  You may remember my epic reviews of each stadium, and I still dream of Taco Tuesday at Petco Park.  One of the main reasons for heading up to Seattle was that Eric had never been to SafeCo Field, and when you’re THAT close, you might as well make the most of it.  So we did!  It was a rainy day, but luckily the field has a cover so we stayed nice and dry…and didn’t get rained out!  Smart move, Seattle.  The Mariners lost, but we had some awesome seats about six rows from the field…no foul balls came to our section, but maybe next time.

6.  BEER!

I’ll add in a sixth point for Seattle, as it happened to be Seattle Beer Week, so that was a win!  Plus, Eric’s friends happened to really like beer, so they had the inside scoop.  We checked out a bunch of different places, but Black Raven had a special at a bar, and their Kitty Kat Blues took the cake.  A pale ale with blueberries, vanilla, and catnip (yes, catnip), it tasted like a blueberry pancake, but not too sweet.  Give it a try!


So, that was that!  We ended up with a redeye where I didn’t sleep at all…thanks to the airplane being a bit like a sauna and a four year screaming behind me.  (Please don’t let me suggest that a redeye is a good idea ever again…)  Otherwise, a relaxing, not too crazy vacation with family, friends, and fun times!  Luckily, the next trip is right around the corner…stay tuned!

Inaugural “We’ll Run for Beer” 2010

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…this blog has been to key to meeting people around the country and especially in NYC.  At the tweet-up before the NYC marathon, I had the pleasure of connecting with Claire, who blogs at Will Run for Beer.  Given the name of her blog, it was inevitable that a BEER RUN would eventually be planned…and today was the day!  Claire got some interest going on twitter, and last week an itinerary and specific instructions (don’t sue her…) were sent out and plans were made.  Excellent.

After spending the morning virtually tracking runners at the Philadelphia Marathon, I headed over to 90th and 5th to meet up with the group.  Per Claire, we had about eighteen runners, including our youngest member, a nineteen month old daughter of a participant…why not?  After a little greeting by our fearless leader (which led to the couple behind me saying, “I think they’re going to run and drink…”) and a shout of “BEER RUN!,” we were off.  Our route was as follows:

image Map compliments of Claire.

image Perfect day for a beer run!

After a nice stroll across the 102nd transverse (which I ran across six times yesterday), we headed down the west side (hills working to our advantage) and hit up our first bar:  Dive Bar.  A fairly small bar with a huuuuuge variety of beers, but I decided to go with the Dive Bar Amber Ale.  Good start to the beer run.

image Michelle and I at our first stop!

image That’s a lot of beer!

image Entire group at Dive Bar.

After enjoying our first round of beer, we gathered up the gang and headed to our next destination, which took us on a run back through the park before arriving at Firehouse.  I ended up having a Bud Light (bottled…they said they ran out of it on tap, which is a bit hard to believe since it was about 2pm on a football Sunday…) and we enjoyed the plywood floors.  This bar had a bit less character than the first bar, but it had plenty of room for us to mingle and drink between runs, so no worries there.  Didn’t spent too much time there before we headed to destination number three.

image Outside Firehouse.  Thumbs up for beer socks!

I’m not sure whether it was more the beer or the running…or the beer + running, but everyone was definitely a bit more chipper after the second bar, and we set off terrorizing the poor Upper West Side on our way to bar #3, although we were just attempting to recruit more people to join us!  Lucky enough for the UWS, it was only a little over half a mile to the Amsterdam Ale House, so the shouts of “BEER RUN!” were kept to a minimum.  My beer selection here was called “Cold Hop,” picked purely on the name and design on the tap…clearly a good way to select a beer.  I still can’t place exactly what kind of taste it had, but it was a bit…floral.  Who knew!

image My apologizes to the UWS.

image Beers at Amsterdam Ale House.

image Third bar!

The Amsterdam Ale House wasn’t the best for socializing, as the bar space was a bit narrow and I believe our sweaty selves got a little too close to some of the patrons…oops?  After our beer, it was time for the last leg of the beer run.  This leg a bit longer than the past leg, taking us back through the park on our way to PJ Clarke’s near Lincoln Center.  Apparently beer gives people energy (or Baker is just crazy), as Baker (closely followed by Carlos) led us on a speedy tempo run through the park en route to our last bar.  Claire, Neal, and I kept up close and soon we were at the final stop.

image Final stop at the beer run!  We made it!

The rest of the group soon arrived and we headed into the bar.  I opted for water here, as my lightweight self was feeling the beer and I needed to do some grocery shopping after these shenanigans!  The water was tasty, and we hung around and chatted a bit before being seated for some delicious burgers.  (Hey, runners like to eat too!) 

image With our fabulous organizer!

image Last group photo.

So…the first ever “We’ll Run for Beer!” was quite the success!  I admittedly didn’t know too many people before showing up for the running bar crawl, but it was a fabulous time with some great people.  Thanks to Claire for organizing (check her recap!), and I believe more events such as this will be planned…so many neighborhoods to explore in this city, and what better way to do it than running?

The numbers:  I decided to leave my Garmin at home, as this was purely an event for fun, but with my run to the meet-up, the run, and my run to Trader Joe’s after, I believe I ran about 7.2 miles.  Not too shabby for a beer run.  :)

In case anyone was wondering, that puts me at about 65 miles for the week.  Crazy!  Probably one of the most fun weeks of running I’ve ever had.  Gotta love it!

Note:  All photos stolen from Claire and Maura…next time, I’ll bring my own camera.

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