Most people who know me can attest to the fact that I have wanted to visit Washington State for many years. Well, this is the year where I decided to finally follow through by visiting the place that has intrigued me for so long.
I had initially made plans to stay with a friend from college, but that quickly changed when he informed me that I wouldn’t be able to stay with him in Washington anymore. This information was gleaned from a text where he said something along the lines of, “Hey, just so you know, my wife and I no longer live in Seattle because we recently moved to Milwaukee. Sorry!”
I had already purchased my tickets but considered canceling the trip. However, after some thought, I decided that I wasn’t going to let the loss of housing spoil my plans. So doing my best to be adaptable, I figured that this would be the perfect opportunity for some mother/son bonding, and I invited my Mom to join me.
Ever since my Mom sent me a video of a son helping his mother complete her bucket list by traveling the world with her, we have wanted to go on a trip together. So I figured that this would be the perfect chance for us to do so while completing one of my goals. She was beyond thrilled at the suggestion, and we were soon making lists and planning every detail of our impending trip.
Before I knew it, the time to head to Washington arrived, and I was soon making my journey across the country. Tip from a lightly seasoned traveler: try flying Southwest at least once in your life. Sure, their Hunger Games style approach to boarding can be nerve-wracking, but I ended up with some incredible seats as a result of the process.
Since Mom was flying in from New York, we met at the Seattle airport. And after grabbing our luggage and rental car, we headed to the most exotic Washington restaurant that we could find: Panda Express. Per usual, the food was fantastically mediocre, but it was a properly filling way to kick off our travels together.
Following lunch, we spent some time touring the city of Seattle. This included a stop at the downtown library (a book-lovers dream), a few antique and plant shops (who knew a vase could cost as much as my car), and Pike Place Market (a place where I consistently got in the way of people trying to take hip photos of fruit).
My favorite part of our city exploration was when we went into a small wine and chocolate shop and purchased a pricey truffle tasting. We didn’t do this because we are chocolate connoisseurs; rather, because it allowed us to sit at the windows that framed an expansive and beautiful view of Elliott Bay. We grimaced at the “fair trade, organic, and authentic” chocolate flavors but thoroughly enjoyed the stunning view that the pretentious sweets afforded us.
After ending our self-guided city tour, we drove to our Airbnb rental. It was a beautiful tiny home with a private entrance, and it could not have been any more perfect for our stay. As an added bonus, the beds were luxuriously soft and perpetuated our frightfully early bedtimes (we didn’t want to adapt to the three-hour time difference).
The next morning came early (our body clocks were apparently still living on the east coast), but I excitedly got ready because it was the day that I had planned to go skiing. I won’t bore you by reiterating the ski trip details that I described in my previous post, but I would highly recommend reading my searing take on skiing in the Pacific Northwest if you haven’t done so already.
The following day entailed another early morning, but it was oh so worth it. Mom and I had gone back and forth about whether or not we wanted to see the ocean (it was a four-hour drive from where we were staying), but in the end, we chose to make the trip.
We loaded the car up with granola bars and audiobooks and set out for the beach. We made a few pit stops, which included in a tiny bayside town called Port Gamble (they had neat topographical maps of the bay), a massive gas station alongside the highway (they had deliciously greasy, hot sandwiches), and at a lookout point (they had a breathtaking view of Crystal Lake).
After our long drive, we finally arrived in La Push (yes, the beach from the Twilight franchise). We parked our car at the edge of the forest and began our hike down to the water. When most people hear the word “beach,” they tend to imagine palm trees, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth at La Push.
Instead of breezy palms, we walked through a majestic forest of hardwood and evergreen trees. Everything was moss-covered, and the sunlight filtering through the trees created vibrant hues of green that made me feel like I was walking through a masterfully saturated nature photo.
After a moderate hike, we broke through the trees and took in the vast beach that stretched before us. The sand was perfectly smooth aside from the rock formations that rose from the beach. It was a view that truly took our breath away and left us standing in awe of the expansive beauty.
We spent our time wandering the beach, taking photos, and picking up shells and rocks for my nephews. It felt perfect, and neither of us wanted to leave. But we knew that we had a long drive ahead of us, so we reluctantly said goodbye to the beach and hiked back through the idyllic forest to began our drive back to our tiny home.
My favorite part of that day wasn’t the hot sandwich at the gas station, the fact that I was on a beach that was referenced by Stephanie Meyer, or that I walked through the most beautiful stand of trees to get there. It was the time that I spent with my Mom. Our long drive afforded us quite a bit of time in the car to fill, and we did so in some memorable ways.
One of the ways was by playing a game where we would share memories from our past that we didn’t think the other person had ever heard. It seems like such a simple activity, but it will stand out as one of the primary factors as to why that day was so incredible.
Our final day in Washington was pretty relaxed compared to our previous days. We started out the morning by saying goodbye to the tiny home (something that resembled an Oscar-worthy, tear-filled death scene), getting breakfast at a dive of a diner in a nearby suburb (sometimes the dirtiest restaurants make the best pancakes), browsing the local Goodwill (when in Washington…), and having coffee at Starbucks (the coffee shop that is apparently the lifeblood of Seattle).
As I made the return journey home, I reflected on the past few days. The trip was full of adventure and memorable times, and I cannot adequately express how grateful I am that I was able to spend it with my Mom. It takes a more concerted effort to spend time with one’s parents as life begins to pick up speed, so I relished the chance to have such quality time while experiencing the most beautiful state that I have ever visited. I am not sure where we’ll travel in the future, but I am confident that it will be a place that is just as awe-inspiring.
And to lean into the whole millennial thing, I have included the pictures that were posted on my Instagram Story throughout the trip. Enjoy: