November 9th-13th, 2018

During early 2018, I was experimenting with video production and vlogging. I think the proliferation of video as a communication medium is drastically changing the world, and my goal was to learn more about the video medium, editing, and filming. I had a blast doing this, but producing a weekly vlog was very time consuming and I eventually reached a bit of a learning plateau.

One of my favorite parts about vlogging was the opportunity to document memories and adventures from my travels. I'm hoping to continue this via a different medium, long-form, multimedia-rich blogging and journaling…

Flying over California, through a thick haze, one day after the Camp Fire begins

Two days before leaving on this trip, a high fire danger warning starting making rounds through my neighborhood Facebook group. California had yet to see any significant rainfall and strong winds coupled with low humidity were in the forecast.

Early the next day, a friend from Northern California posted a foreboding message about a fast-moving wildfire kicking up in the mountains near Chico. Sure enough, it ended up being the Camp Fire which ravaged the town of Paradise, killing dozens and leaving a trail of ashes in it's wake of destruction.

Roughly twenty-four hours later, I boarded a plane and flew over what would become the most deadly and devastating fire in California history. Flying over the Camp Fire smoke was like rubbernecking a car wreck on the highway. I couldn't take my eyes away from the window and the apocalyptic haze blanketing the upper half of my home state. I'd be lying if I said I didn't recognize this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness, from above, the sheer magnitude of nature's most destructive element.

Eating around Seattle Washington & Pike Place Market

TL;DR: Radiator Whiskey, Jack's Fish Spot, and Pasta Casalinga were my “would go again” spots for food and drink.

I'd never been to Seattle and it was near the top of my US city bucket list. I was excited about fresh seafood, clear weather, and the opportunity to see a few good friends from the area. After ditching my bag at the hotel, I walked over to Pike Place Market for some grub. I had a chowder craving and was directed towards Pike Place Chowder.

I laughed under my breath as I followed the novelty-long line, trying to make my way to the end. When I finally found it, I noticed Jack's Fish Spot across the way with some fantastic looking live Dungeness crabs out front. I opted to grab a chowder at and it was choice!

Pro Tip: Skip the line at Pike Place Chowder and pop by Jack's Fish Spot instead.

I kept exploring the market. It was teeming with tourists and locals alike. All sorts of sights and smells. There was a spectacular florist and many people were carrying lovely flower bouquets. I grabbed a pasta dish at Pasta Casalinga and a spirit-forward whiskey cocktail at Radiator Whiskey. I'd highly recommend anyone to do the same.

WordCamp Seattle 2018

I used to poke fun at people who went to lots of WordCamps. I'd joke about how they got any work done; now I am one of those people. At the time, I didn't realize how isolating remote work can be. Camps are an opportunity to get out from behind the computer screen and meet with the people we interact with daily face-to-face.

WordCamp Seattle was an amazing camp thanks, no doubt, to the stellar organizing team, volunteers, speakers, and everyone that attended. I spent most of my time in the “hallway track” chit-chatting, but I did manage to squeeze in a few sessions.

One of my favorites was Chris Tiezel's session about data responsibility. The talk was about the responsibility developers have to consider unintended consequences of their work. One example explained how the fitness tracking application, Strava, accidentally disclosed the location of a secret military base in the Middle East due to base personnel using Strava and their data subsequently being published on Strava's Global Heatmap.

My new favorite WordCamp story happened after a slightly-rowdy group dinner. We were at an Italian restaurant on a third floor. On our way out, we saw, through a window, flashing lights and tons of people dancing in the building across the way. It looked like a perfect “next spot” for our group to keep the party going.

We made our way over and discovered the party was happening on the third floor of a hotel. I know how to play the game, but I've never been good at sneaking into places. Not knowing how to make our way from the lobby to the party upstairs, I walked into the hotel lobby like I owned the place, casually walked up to the concierge and said something this…

“Hi there. We met some new friends at the bar earlier and they mentioned they were hosting a party here. We didn't catch their name, but they invited us to join them and I was wondering if you could please point us in the right direction?”

The woman gave me a long and suspicious look. With a raised eyebrow, she informed me that the only “party” happening that evening was a high school dance. Whoops! I quickly told her we must have the wrong place and gave the “abort mission” gesture to the rest of the group. We scurried outside, laughed, and looked back up towards the “party” to see, sure enough, they were all teenagers! We decided to call it an evening and go our separate ways, but, around this time, we noticed we were missing one from our group.

We did our best to find our friend, but we couldn't contact him. His colleague assured us he would be okay, so we left it at that. The next day, we found out he had snuck off to the use the restroom in the hotel lobby. He came out to find we were all gone and assumed we'd gone upstairs. Naturally, he made his way up to the party and did a few dances before he realized we weren't there and he was the oldest person in the room beside a few chaperones.

An epic Airbnb in Anacortes & San Juan Islands

The next stop on my itinerary was a visit with my grandparents who live on an island in the San Juan Island chain. I decided to stay on the mainland in Anacortes, then wake up early and take a ferry out for a day trip to the island.

The drive from Seattle to Anacortes took about two hours and I stopped by Deception Pass State Park on the way up. I was hoping to find some hiking, but Deception Pass was more of a drive-through, enjoy-the-view sort of park.

My Grandma warned me that Anacortes wasn't her favorite place to spend a night, so I didn't expect to find anything spectacular in terms of motels and lodging. As I was browsing Airbnb, I found a stunning in-law cottage on a bluff directly above the Pacific Ocean. Not only did the view look amazing, but the price was right also!

What I found when I got there was by far and away the nicest Airbnb I've ever stayed at. The view of the ocean and the islands were far better than the pictures led on. The cottage was quaint and tastefully furnished. The host even left a plate of fresh-baked goodies for me to enjoy during my stay. I arrived right before the sunset and took some pictures of hummingbirds dancing around a feeder with a west coast ocean sunset in the background.

That evening, I found a seafood restaurant and went to check out the local dive bar scene. I wasn't disappointed. I wound up at the Brown Lantern Ale House for a few pints, then went in for an early night so I could wake up the next day.

The last time I'd been on San Juan Island I was eight years old. At that age, I wasn't allowed to roam around without supervision but, because it was a small town on an island, I had free reign to go wherever I pleased. The only rule I was to follow was to stay out of the ocean…

I quickly made friends with a few local kids. We were playing around on the beach and found a huge piece of styrofoam that presumably drifted in from the ocean. The styrofoam was shaped like a raft and it certainly appeared seaworthy. Naturally, I launched the vessel out for her maiden voyage into the surf. As it turned out, it was not seaworthy. It quickly capsized and I wound up in the one place I wasn't supposed to be, the ocean. My grandparents were not amused.

Visiting them 20 years later was a much different experience. I rode the ferry on to the island and was greeted with beautiful weather and my grandpa waiting to pick me up. Apart from the great company, the highlights of the visit were culinary. We popped into the San Juan Brewery for lunch and a drink. Two thumbs up! Later, my Grandma, who is a phenomenal cook, put together a fantastic dinner of Dungeness Crab and salad.

My last stop in Washington was back in Seattle where I met with a good friend and fellow traveler for lunch. She is an avid backpacker, climber, and outdoors-woman and I always enjoy hearing tales of her adventures. After a Cubano sandwich and some story trading, I headed back to the airport to continue to the next leg of my journey, Alaska!

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