Life at Midlife

This one says it all! Once again, Roda has found an answer to one of my many life questions πŸ™‚

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Half Marathon Training, September Update

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It’s October! We are running the TMC Get Moving Tucson Half Marathon in about 4 Weeks! We chose this run because we just bought a second home in Tucson and thought it made sense to run in our new community, and it would be a new challenge to run in the desert environment. It does make sense, but we really underestimated how much of a challenge it would be to run in the heat, at elevation (Tucson in 2200 ft) and the hills! Oh my, the hills! But I am getting ahead of myself, let’s take the month in order!

This was the plan for September.

September 2017
Monday Tuesday Wed Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 2 3
Run 8
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Run 5 Run 4 Run 9
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Run 5 Run 4 Run 9 10k fun run
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Run 6 Run5 Run10
25 26 27 28 29 30
Run 6 Run5 Run10

The first part of September went as scheduled, we ran our 8, 5, 4 and 9 miles here in Washington and they went quite well.

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The weather was mild and the temperatures were perfect in Seattle.

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After this 9 mile run we flew to Tucson to start setting up the house and train in the new environment. What a culture shock! 98F, hills, less oxygen at elevation and this:

 

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Running was hard. We had to start right at sunrise to avoid the high temps, which was gorgeous, and still 70F!

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We signed up for a local 10K to get a feel for what it would be like to run a race in Tucson. Bottom line: It was tough! 80F at the 7am start, and 400 feet of elevation gain! I was happy just to survive! Here is my Instagram post that day.

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I ran another 6 and 5 miles and my hubby did what he could, as he was working remotely during the whole trip in Tucson, and then we flew back to Washington for the 10 mile runs on 9/23 and 9/30. This gave me a total of 89.33 miles for the month.

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Now we are heading into the home stretch and our schedule for October.

October 2017

 

Monday Tuesday Wed Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Run 4 Run 5 Run 11
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Run 5 Run 4 Run 12
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
Run5 Run4 Run6
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Run 4-5 Run 4-5 Carb load 13.1
30 31

The tricky part here will be running while we are in Kauai from 10/6 to 10/11. We are not sure how many times or how far we will be able to run while away, but we will try to be ready for the half marathon on the 29th. Again, the goal will be to survive! No PR or crazy goals with this one!

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Roda’s “Critter Connection” Challenge

The amazing and efferveiscent Roda has issued a challenge! Check out her inspiring blog and this post:Β https://growingself.blog/2017/09/19/critter-connection-challenge/ Β Β if you want to play along at home!

I was not sure that I was following the spirit of the challenge as it is to capture critters through photography, while they are interacting with nature. But I checked with Roda first to approve my photo for the day, and she said to go for it! This black, male Arizona Desert Tarantula decided to pop through an impossibly small drainage hole near our pool. This was just the second night in our new home here in Tucson and we had no idea that these even existed!Β I am by no means a squeamish girly, girl but I will confess to hopping on top of the nearest bench when this started toward me!

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I guess you could say this arachnid was interacting with nature, if you count my husband as the organic life form since he was the one to use the broom handle to coax this little beast back into the hole.

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We quickly jumped on the computer, once our heart rates slowed down, and found out that these are really quite docile and not prone to attacking unless aggressively provoked. It was true that this guy just turned around and lumbered back down the hole with very little persuasion. We figured we had dodged that bullet until the next morning!

My hubby told me that he had a “surprise” in the other room and I should look under the cup in the middle of the floor. Fearing a scorpion (that post is tomorrow!) I did not take the bait. This is what he had trapped early in the morning.

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This little lady, we know it is female due to the color, decided to get into the house! She was smaller but, UGH! Not what I wanted to see first thing in the morning! She calmly walked into the waste basket and was released outside to continue (hopefully) feasting on the scorpions! This was not the only “interesting” and potentially harmful creature we have encountered in the desert, but those pictures will have to wait for the next Critter Connection installment!

Have a wonderful and tarantula free day everyone!

A Submission to Guest in Jest, for you Linda!

The wonderful and hilarious Linda, from Everybody Else Has the Best Titles asked for submissions for her “Guest in Jest” series. If you have not met Linda, aka mainepaperpusher, you really should check out her blog! She has some fun series and great, edgy sense of humor that I really appreciate! I decided to post this on my own blog because it gives a little snapshot into my past and maybe some mom out there can relate.

 

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My name is Dee Dee, and I go by Dtills on WordPress. I started my blog, Invisible-no-more.com because I felt, well, invisible! I had entered that magical time known asΒ β€œthe midlife crisis”, sort of fell into it really, and couldn’t figure out how to begin the painful process of pulling my life together. My youngest had gone off to college, my husband and I were not connecting well and I felt alone and isolated. My blog is a chronicle of those activities, actions and connections formed that have helped me piece together a future that I now feel is hopeful and engaging. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have helped me as I work through this transition!

As for an amusing story, well this was not all that amusing at the time, but with the passage of 23 years, it has taken on a warm and satisfying glow! In 1994 I was a graduate student working on my doctorate degree at USC in Los Angeles. At that time, the process required the Ph.D. candidates to finish a series of written exams, which, after the successful completion, then required an oral exam. The oral had to be completed within eight weeks of finishing the written tests, or the candidate would have to start over from the beginning. These are the kind of exams that take months to prepare for so starting over is not something anyone wanted to do, I assure you! I was deep into studying for these five written exams, when I found out, in February of 1994, that I was pregnant with our first child. Honestly, the timing could not have been less ideal as I would have to take the exams at the beginning of October that year, and Alex was born October 28th. This meant that my oral exam had to happen in mid November, or I would have to start over, effectively loosing a year of work in my program. The crux of this β€œamusing” story is that I was breastfeeding my new daughter during this time. Now, all of you lactation survivors know that producing pints of milk all day long comes along with a unique set of challenges. For one thing your milk doesn’t just flow for your little one, a number of triggers can cause milk to β€œlet down”, as the specialists call it. My personal triggers were ANY child crying, my crying, Hallmark commercials and once a dog barked scaring me so much that my shirt was soaked before I could run home. Oh yeah, and stress. Standing up in front my oral testing panel, which was made up of five men, and two women, who choose not to have children in order to focus on their careers, while they fire questions at me was, indeed, stressful.

That day I felt prepared, not well rested with a 4 week old at home, but I had my presentation and had done my research. I also had two sets of nursing pads on and a thick knit sweater. I could have stacked books on my huge, busty chest. The exam started and everything was going well. I was almost done; just a few final questions and I could go home and feed my daughter. Then it happened. The committee member that I feared the most asked me a question and I had absolutely no idea how to answer. I could feel the cortisol rushing through my blood stream and hitting my lac glands. I was starting to sweat and the room went eerily silent as the milk raindrops started hitting my feet! All I could think about was β€œI am going to fail and my shoes will be squeaking as I walk to the car”! That same committee member, after what felt like a month, gently asked me if I would like to take a break. Hell yes, I wanted to take a break and die! As I was walking through the door I heard him tell the others β€œshe just had a baby a couple weeks ago” and I thought, great now I am done for sure! I took a few minutes to wring out my pads and blot my sweater, as best I could, and most importantly, I figured out the answer to the question. I mustered up what little dignity I could find and entered the exam room. I was expecting them to tell me to pack up and head out but instead they took pity on me. That same, scary committee member told me to just write up the final questions and submit them the following week. He was so nice to me! I had passed on the contingency of submitting the final write up! I didn’t wait around for them to change their minds and got the hell out of there. I guess I didn’t really learn my lesson because I had my final doctoral defense in December of 1996, after giving birth to our son the preceding April. But this time I kept my milk tightly in my jugs!

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My daughter and I on graduation day!

Cobh, Ireland

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Our first stop, after Southampton, England and our visit toΒ Stonehenge, was in the port city of Cobh, Ireland. Cobh is a little town on the south side of Ireland and part of Cork County. It is a quaint, little area with farmlands and homes. It is important to the history of Ireland as it is the biggest harbor for transport of goods and assisted with the mass emigration during the tough times suffered by the Irish. It was also the last port of call for the Titanic, where 123 passengers were picked up for the fatal voyage. It was a beautiful day and we had some pretty views as we approached the port.

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These home almost look like toys, they are so close together on the hillside and so colorful

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Cobh Cathedral was stunning!

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This ivy covered home really stood out on the hillside

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My traveling companions! Hubby and his parents.

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We had a limited amount of time (a common theme for any cruise) so we chose to see the Blarney Castle and Gardens in the town of Cork, which was nearby. Our bus dropped us at the visitor’s center and I was surprised at how large the estate was. We began to walk toward the Castle itself.

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I have no idea why these trees are wrapped like this!

 

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This was our first view of the Castle

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It seems that every monument I saw on this trip had some sort of restoration or repair in progress, of course it was built over 600 years ago!

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Every good Castle needs a moat!

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I love how nature invades these ancient buildings

The Blarney Castle is most famous for its Blarney Stone, which people stand in line to visit. I had no desire to kiss a stone that had seen the lips of thousands of my fellow tourists. Β I had doubts that doing so would give me the “gift of gab”, which I have never coveted anyway, but was sure that I would contract the gift of herpes! What I did not know was that the line to kiss the stone, and to gain entry into the Castle, were one in the same. So, unfortunately I had to settle for the outside of the building.

First stop was the dungeon area and the network of tunnels that were below the castle.

 

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Not much of a view from this cell

I took in as much of the perimeter as I could. Love these old walls!

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There were a number of gardens on the property and one of our favorites was the “Poison Garden”.

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There were some truly nasty plantings in here like: Ricin, Opium, Mandrake, and Wolfsbane. There were also some lesser “poison” items that we know today to be not quite as life threatening, like Cannabis and Rosemary (yes, culinary Rosemary was thought to cause miscarriages in the 1800s!)

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I love the cage concept!

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This was a beautiful garden and located just behind the battlements of the castle. See that stone wall above? We had some excellent views from over that wall across the valley.

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The wall itself was home to many plants.

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The wall led up to a turret of sorts which could have been for storage or for imprisonment.

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It was fairly deep and also well covered with plant life.

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We left the Poison Garden and started down one of the many pathways on the grounds, taking in the beauty as we went.

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This tree was huge, I can’t even guess at its age!

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Then we saw Blarney House-WOW! I regret not going inside this home, I am sure it would have been stunning!

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This was from my Instagram feed

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Got my husband in this shot!

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This garden is smaller but no less impressive

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I would have loved to see the view from this little room

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Some stones found along the path leading to the house.

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The Blarney home was definitely a high light for me. We needed to return to the village to meet our tour bus, and grab a quick Irish coffee, so we ambled down another path to circle back to the start.

And we ran into this….

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We are from the Pacific Northwest where ferns and moss were practically invented! But this was a new fern species for us to be sure! It is tall and the leaves are produced at the top of the stalk.

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I was expecting a dinosaur to come strolling along, they look so prehistoric.

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As the path continued it wound down into a gully where this waterfall showed up out of nowhere.

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Our final sights as we left the grounds were the residents of the manor. Both cattle and sheep were taking in the warm sun and grazing nearby.

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The estate was glorious (and the Irish coffee was pretty great too)! If you go, make sure you have your expectation set. There will be a line, it will take the better part of the day to see it all and yes, it is worth it! I am already plotting my return!

Up next on the travel portion of my blog: Dublin and Belfast

A Ferry Ride, A San Juan Cottage and an Amazing Dinner: Day 2

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If you remember from the first post, we had just finished our wonderful dinner and were feeling pretty groggy the next morning from our food coma, that actually started the night before. We decided to head over to American Camp Beach for an early hike to clear our heads. This park has some rather impressive historical roots dating back to the mid 1800s when the military established its presence during the British/US occupation. Today it is just a pretty place to hike around.

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A group of kayakers are getting their safety lecture before heading out.

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The entire shoreline is covered with fort structures made from the huge supply of driftwood.

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We don’t get huge breakers on the sound, but look at the mountains in the distance!

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We saw several bald eagles and tried to get a closeup of two of them before they pecked our eyes out.

We were feeling considerably more awake as a result of dodging eagles and tourist with paddles, we headed back to the cottage to get ready for a round of golf.

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I promised a tour of the cottage in the first post, so here it is!

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The front, and only door, is on the left and the “kitchen” is to the right. The door has a gorgeous window!

 

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If you turn to the right from the “kitchen” you see the bathroom and bed. Look at that window!

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Then you turn back, and that is pretty much it!

Like I said before, it is small but the architecture allows for a lot of light, and it is really cozy. What is really stunning about the property is the location and views-more on that in a moment. Another bonus is that it is just 1/4 mile from the only golf course on the Island. We had a 1pm tee time.

I did not take a lot of pictures of the course because, well, it ain’t that pretty! I warmed up in the putting and chipping areas.

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It was a good course for me, the beginner, because there were not too many trees, water features or sand traps. But, this was an 18 hole course with some long drives, so I did not play every hole. I did drive the cart and managed to sneak some action shots of my hubby.

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He looks like he is going to crush this ball

It was fun and very hot! We went back to the cottage and I took some photos of the beautiful property.

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I absolutely love these trees. They surround the cottage.

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We are up on a hill overlooking the water.

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This is the view from the deck on one side.

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And the view from the other side.

The woman who owns this property has a second rental right next door and a beautiful garden, I had to take pictures of that as well! All the islands in the San Juans grow lavender. There is so much of it I would say it is the primary crop here. There are lavender baked goods, soap, bath salts….anything you can think of will have been infused with the scent.

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The bees love it so there is plenty of lavender honey for sale!

The owner has many wonderful and unique plantings throughout the garden.

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There was a trellis that caught my eye. As I swung my camera up I spotted one of the largest bee hives I have ever seen.

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I got a little closer

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At this point we believed it was an abandoned hive and I tried to talk my husband into climbing up and using his head for scale. Then we saw this…

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Obviously there were occupants at home and my hubby said it was a “no go” to the climbing up part. We estimate that the hive is just a little smaller than an adult head!

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The rest of the garden was not as scary!

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We ended this day with a light meal and happy hour at a beautiful spot over looking the ferry dock.

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We watched the float planes, which were constantly present, land and take off.

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Sorry about the quality of these photos, the planes were fast, I only had my cell phone and the happy hour drinks were starting to kick in!

The next morning it was time to head back home. We parked our car in the ferry line and set out on foot to find some breakfast. Cafe Demeter is the best bakery on the Island and just a few steps from the ferry dock. We have been here before and the wait in the long line is completely worth it! Highly recommend this one!IMG_2691

After my breakfast pizza, which I ate before I took any pictures, we wandered around town and checked out a few other places that are near the dock.

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This houses many little shops to browse or pick up a last minute souvenir-probably something with lavender!

 

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Also a great place for coffee or breakfast. It is also open for lunch and dinner.

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We have not dinned here but I have heard good reviews.

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Remember the ice cream we had on day 1? This is that shop but if you go remember they only take cash!

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We had lunch at this spot last year, it was ok.

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On the look out for our ferry at this pretty spot

Our ferry arrived right on time

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We said good bye for this year.

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Friday Harbor is just one side of the Island of San Juan. Roche Harbor is on the opposite side of the Island. It is just as pretty but maybe a little more effort to get there. Abbey from abbeyco is a boater who lives here in Seattle and happen to be visiting Roche while we were in Friday Harbor. If you would like to see more about that side of the Island, check out her post. She has great pictures and an adorable little girl too!

So it is good bye for now, until next year…..

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A Ferry Ride, A San Juan Cottage and an Amazing Dinner: Day 1

When people think of the Pacific Northwest they often conjure images of rain, coffee, the Space Needle and salmon flying through the air at Pike Place Market. All thoroughly acceptable iconic images that we deserve here in Seattle. But the true gem of Washington State is our ferry system and the many beautiful islands that we have spread around the Puget Sound. We patiently wait out the constant deluge from the clouds and near constant dark skies from October to May to get to the holy grail of summer. From June to (if we are lucky) the end of September the clouds part, the sun beams down and anyone with a dingy or inflatable tube hits the water. Β We PNWs live for the promise of summer and then we take full advantage of the precious time we have until we all are forced back into Starbucks to wait out the winter.

My hubby and I have our wedding anniversary at the end of July and last year we went to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. We had such a great time that we did it again this year, and me with my camera in hand this time. We set out early Sunday morning which was quite foggy as we made our way to Anacortes to catch the ferry.

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This ferry was running on a different route nearby. The camera saw more than my eye did!

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Then the fog started to lift about half way through the hour long boat ride.

As expected there were many boats out on the water despite the early hour and foggy conditions. And the views from the our ferry deck were spectacular.

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He is covering the logo on his jacket but it looks like he is saying the pledge of allegiance with the wrong hand!

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Another ferry docked at nearby Lopez Island

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I have Β no idea why these boats are single file, looks like a parade

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I wold love one of these homes on the beach!

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The fog has cleared and you can see the mountains in the distance

 

We were approaching Friday Harbor on the big Island, San Juan.

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More beautiful homes along the waterfront

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Approaching the Friday Harbor Marina

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The ferry dock is on the left of the marina in this shot

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These homes and condos are to the left of the ferry dock, on the opposite side of the marina

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We have arrived!

We were too early to go to our cottage and check in so we decided to mill around the waterfront for awhile. We began at the small park near the marina.

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I love this tree

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Really love it!

 

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This is the Pacific Northwest after all, we do lots of totem poles here!

We made our way down onto the dock where the boats are tied up for the day and there are a few places to buy snacks.

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All boats are great, but I have a preference for these older wooden sailboats.

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One can not stop at the marina and not look for the harbor seal at the Seafood store. She has been coming to this exact spot for 30 years and recently brought her young pup by for a snack. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the baby this time.

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It really doesn’t get fresher than this! They sell amazing seafood and prepared meals as well

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This guy was staring me down!

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She showed up right on cue!

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Some kids bought her lunch!

By now, we were getting hungry too but dinner was not for awhile yet.

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There are many great places to get ice cream, but this is our favorite one. By the way, you rock climbers will love this shirt!

We wandered around a few more of our favorite stores, I do love this bookstore! And, marveled at the spectacular views until it was time to check in and get ready for our anniversary dinner.

This is the cottage that we have now stayed at twice. It is small, secluded and adorable. The view can’t be beat!

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I spent some time photographing the cottage and surrounding garden but I will save that for the day 2 post, as this one is long already! We got cleaned up and prepared to head to the other side of the island where the Duck Soup Inn is located.

Our dinner last year was delicious and this year did not disappoint! We had high expectations and were so happy we returned this year.

We started off with cocktails, I don’t remember what these are exactly but isn’t memory loss the sign of a good drink!

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We ordered two appetizers, the cured beef carpaccio with arugula pesto, parmesan, charred onion cream, toasted hazelnuts and berry gastrique

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And Wescott Bay smoked and baked oysters. Both were fantastic and I don’t like oysters! These were not raw, which helped me greatly, and were served with fig aioli, bread crumbs and parmesan.ds3

We both had the corn and spot prawn bisque, and loved it!

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My husband went with the Seared Weathervane Scallops-this was good! The shellfish was flavored by braising in pork belly and served with a summer succotash and red bell pepper sauce-yum!

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And I had the Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi-this was better! Really tasty! How can this be bad when it is served with cherry tomatoes, garlic, summer herbs, browned butter and Midnight Moon aged goat cheese?

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We finished off with more cocktails and a chocolate fudge sundae-yes, more ice cream! The dinner was outstanding and just the right amount of food. Their portions were perfect and we cleaned our plates.

It was a wonderful day and even better evening! Day 2 will have more pictures of the town and the property where we stayed! Thanks for reading this far.

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