Weekend Road Trip to…Montana!

A 10+ hour road trip from Washington to Montana and back in 3 1/2 days? That’s over 20 hours of driving. Normally I would try to extend a trip like this but since my husband and I only had a couple of days and had the urge to travel, we decided to go for it! Oh, and there was a special reason why we chose to road trip to Montana…our friends who live there were getting engaged!

We left Thursday and started the 10+ hour journey. Tommy made a little bed in the back of the car with an air mattress, pillow and blankets to trade off napping. Our first stop was Ellensburg for some lunch. We discover THE BEST little sandwich place. If you ever find yourself passing through Ellensburg, definitely stop at Daily Bread and Mercantile. We had the Very Veggie and the Mean Green Panini. So, so good.

We continued to drive until we reached St. Regis Travel Center where apparently they have the best huckleberry milkshakes. **One thing to note, Tommy started filling up the gas tank and then we went inside to grab a bite to eat. We were so excited to get back to the car and eat our tater tots that we forgot to put the gas nozzle back. So Tommy drove off and the entire gas thing flew off dangling from the car!! 😂 Luckily it was able to go back on and reattach but this was definitely a first for us.

The next day, we explored Helena where our friends Kevin and Mary live before setting off to Livingston, Montana where Kevin was going to propose! (Livingston is a former railroad town in southwestern Montana along the banks of the Yellowstone River. It has this old western charm and a small town vibe. They stayed at Livingston’s famous historical hotel called The Murry, which is the place to stay if you are visiting the area).

The day of the proposal we went to this little restaurant called Faye’s Cafe in an old school building called The Shane Center. I cannot recommend this gem of a place enough! Customers pick out 2-3 words from the menu to describe the meal you would like. Then the waitress takes the words back to Faye (the cook) and she will whip something up just for you! The words I chose were potato, veggie and cheesy and this is what I had. Poached eggs, cheesy hash browns, green beans with balsamic, pesto and hummus on naan bread and citrus orange corn bread. Incredible. So rich and so flavorful. I’m still dreaming of this breakfast.

Next we set off for our hike to Pine Creek Falls where our friend Kevin was planning on proposing! Around 2.5 miles, this hike was short and sweet with beautiful views all around us. (But be careful if you go in late October. We were slipping all over the place since it was very icy. A couple of close calls on my end but no major falls).

We got to the falls and it couldn’t have been more perfect. There was this little bridge where Tommy and I stood to take photos. Kevin proposed and Mary said YES (She also had no idea and was so surprised)! Then we popped some champagne and enjoyed the moment before making our way back. The most special and memorable hike with great friends.

Next was the second part of Kevin’s proposal plan, to go to Chico Hot Springs! This resort was established over 120 years ago in 1900 and is located in the heart of Paradise Valley. It definitely didn’t feel like our typical cold Halloween day in Seattle. We felt like we were on a mini tropical vacation with the warm hot spring water and pool side drinks. So much fun!

We ended the day by going out to dinner in Livingston to celebrate the newly engaged couple! (I really enjoyed taking photos of all the neon signs that lit up the streets).

Then on Sunday Tommy and I started our long journey home back to Washington. I was so grateful for that extra hour we got with daylight savings. And the bed in the back of our car really came in handy for naps. Not to mention the scenic drive was absolutely beautiful.

This was one epic Halloween weekend to celebrate our friends’ engagement and an amazing quick little road trip to Montana!

Big Lake, WA – Quick Cabin Weekend Getaway

When thinking about a weekend getaway in Washington, Big Lake is often missed or forgotten, but it’s one of my favorite places to go! Only about an hour north of Seattle, it’s the perfect place to travel to if you are looking for a quick vacation where you want to get away from it all without the long drive.

I have been there several times over the years (my friend has an enormous family cabin on the lake where a bunch of us always stay). You can find many affordable houses/cabins to rent on Vrbo or AirBnB and I suggest finding one right on the lake.

We typically spend a weekend at Big Lake in the summer, but just went there for President’s day weekend and had the best time (this was a last minute trip but it’s alway so quick and so easy to get to). We started our weekend by stopping in Mt. Vernon at a cocktail bar called Valley Shine Distillery for some drinks before heading to the house (definitely recommend checking this place out if you like delicious cocktails). There really aren’t any restaurants or shops close or within walking distance to the lake, but you can find shops downtown Mt. Vernon which is only about a 10 min drive from Big Lake.

We spent our weekend with 15 friends and 7 dogs….(yes, 7 pups!). We had a blast playing games all night, making delicious food (yummy taco bar), playing hide n go seek in the dark (the best house for this with so many sneaky spots to hide), playing with the pups and spending time with each other. We also had a bomb brunch at C-Square (great food but skip the bloody marrys – too spicy) before making the short drive back home.

Big Lake is a fun, affordable place to travel to for a quick weekend getaway with a big group of friends or family. And it is even better in the summer! There are hiking trails nearby and places to explore. On July 3rd there is a beautiful firework show right over the lake. It feels like the fireworks are going off right above you and you can’t beat the views. People bring out the grills to BBQ, boats, paddle boards, kayaks and jet skis for some summer fun. If you have never heard of Big Lake or have yet to go, definitely check it out this summer!

Leavenworth Weekend Getaway

If you are looking for a quick and cozy weekend getaway that’s not too far from the city, Leavenworth might just be the perfect place. About a 2 hour drive from Seattle, Leavenworth is a Bavarian-styled village in the Cascade Mountains. The village is of full of incredible buildings, great restaurants-featuring many German style foods and beer, local wineries and shopping boutiques, making this stop not only unique but also beautiful. We’ve traveled to Leavenworth a handful of times and always have had the best experience. This time we went to celebrate our friends 30th birthday, and it did not disappoint.

Tommy and I hit the road around 2pm. On the way to Leavenworth, we stopped at Sultan Bakery to pick up some sweets for the car ride. They have the BEST cookies (we got three) and amazing desserts. Highly recommend if you have never been.

We arrived in Leavenworth around 4pm and went to our first stop, Icicle Ridge Winery to start our weekend. From there we went to Icicle Brewing Company (definitely an icicle theme here) and had some German beer and a hot pretzel with cheese sauce…so good! They recently remodeled the brewery to make it more comfortable to sit inside (Tommy sat in a ski lift/converted to chair swing-loved it). They also have live music every Friday and Saturday night!

Even though we came to Leavenworth in February, all the Christmas decorations and lights were still up throughout the town. It felt like a little winter wonderland.

We rented a beautiful, secluded cabin that was about 10 minutes from town and stayed there with 10 of our friends to celebrate. We ate a lot of food, played a bunch of games, went hot tubbing, went on a little hike, played with our friends pup-Knox, watched movies in the theater room and enjoyed hanging out at the cabin with each other.

On Sunday we packed up, checked out and ventured back to town for breakfast. We went to Louie’s Cafe (amazing bloody marry) and took a short scenic walk along the Wenatchee River. Overall, a great place to celebrate a 30th birthday and a great place to travel to for a quick weekend getaway!

Orcas Island Mini Honeymoon

If you are getting married and thinking about planning a later honeymoon (a couple of weeks/months after your wedding) I definitely recommend it!

My husband and I got married in the middle of August 2019 (because August is one of the few guaranteed months of sunshine in Seattle) and decided to postpone our honeymoon until my winter break in December. We did this for a couple of reasons:

1. Timing- I moved to a brand new elementary school and needed some time to unpack my boxes and set up my classroom before starting school in September. Also we went to 5 (I think?) other weddings this year and had one to go so we wanted to wait until we were done with the wedding and could just focus on us.

2. Weather- Seattle summers are beautiful so we wanted to be here to enjoy them instead of traveling during that time. We chose Thailand for our honeymoon and it’s rainy season in August so another reason to wait.

3. Convenience- Orcas Island is so close (about 3 hours to get there with ferry) and so beautiful! Also, adding a mini moon is basically like going on two honeymoons and who wouldn’t’ love that. 🙂

Here is what we did!

Day 1: We caught the morning ferry, ate some ferry chowder and drank some beers, went to a lavender field on the island (because summer 2019 I couldn’t get enough lavender), checked into our hotel at Rosario Resort and Spa and settled into our room. We went to the spa that night and had dinner nearby.

Day 2: Drove to Moran State Park in search of a short hike. We went to Orcas Island about 8 years ago on a weekend getaway when we first started dating and wanted to try a different hike than the one we previously did. This was a mistake because we ended up on this 11+ mile hiking trail and had to turn around after about an hour in (I was not so fun to be around). We decided to drive up to the view point and explore the tower instead since we had never done this. Later we went to town and explored the shops. Went to the outdoor pool (even though it was pretty chilly) and drank a ton of margs. Then had a bomb dinner at Mijitas Mexican Restaurant.

Day 3: It was pouring down rain so we did what anyone would do on a rainy day…go to the local museum and learn about the log cabins. Oh and more importantly we found a place to go wine tasting, Orcas Island Winery. 🙂 Later we had a “picnic” (really we just brought some bottles of wine) outside our hotel room near the beach and watched the sun go down. We had another bomb dinner at the hotel restaurant that night.

Day 4: We decided to go on another hike (one we were prepared for with a better view) and went to Turtleback Mountain. It was beautiful! We met a sweet couple who was celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary and I told Tommy we have to come back here on our 40th. We took the afternoon ferry home, stopped at Snow Goose Produce in Mt. Vernon for the biggest ice cream cones (homemade waffle cones, over 50+ flavors, seriously just so amazing) and then heading back to Edmonds to pick up our pup.

Again, I would definitely recommend a mini moon before taking a big honeymoon trip after a wedding! Easy to travel to, easy to plan, less time off work, something else to look forward to after the wedding, and still an amazing weekend away with the hubby to soak in the newlywed bliss.