Confessions of a Traveler

Dear Emerald City,

You’re a gorgeous city. You are green and urban and chic and hip and everything I could ever ask for in a city. You know that when C and I had to choose a place to honeymoon, we chose an urban staycation in the lap of your luxury; stayed in Belltown, dinner at SkyCity, toured the Sound, the whole nine-yards.  But even so, I have to confess something:

I cheated on you.

I cheated on you with Hawaii.

I’ve never been one of those girls who yearned for the tropics to work on her tan. To be honest, “tan” is a bit of a dirty word to those of us who need extra Vitamin D more than melanin. Pale is Pretty after all, Seattle. That’s what you taught me. Even so, when you are offered an opportunity to spend a week basking away in the Hawaiian sun with some of your awesome family, you just dont say no. You just buy a Costco-sized multipack of sunscreen and reapply every 2 hours religiously.

So I left you in the rain, dear city. I took a plane to the island of Hawaii, a place that alternately looks like a lush rainforest, a dry brush cattle ranch, and the lava-flow encrusted surface of the moon. And beaches. Gorgeous beaches that frankly do not compare to the wind swept Washington coast.

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This is not Ocean Shores

And I gotta say, it was an incredible week. I mean, where else in the world can you see a gorgeous black sand beach covered in sunbathing seaturtles?

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They’re just chillin’

Even more so, where can you find a gorgeous black sand beach with sunbathing turtles and then turn around and see a gorgeous fresh water lagoon covered in lilypads and banyan trees?

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Unexpected: everything in this photo

It might be good to note, dear city, that the black sand didn’t really love us back. Somehow, tiny pieces of lava rock are like the pumice stone that would end you to your feet. Getting shiny baby-skinned feet wasn’t really part of the plan, nor was stepping on rusty metal outcroppings, but sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.

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Enjoy our hilariously pained expressions.

Turns out that Hawaii grows lovely caffeinated crops of our local drink of choice. Visiting a shade-grown coffee farm in Kona is a bit of a Holy Pilgrimage for a barista. So is impressing the crap out of the coffee tour guide with your coffee knowledge and passion.

So score one for you, Seattle. You don’t grow coffee, but you sure as hell drink it with the kind of religious fervor that even coffee-growing locals can be impressed by.

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STILL – this is coffee growing on a tree!

Speaking of plant life – I know we have incredibly large trees here in your native forests. The Pacific Northwest has some of the most incredible old-growth forests a girl could ask for. But you know what you don’t have? Banyan trees. These trees are so big that C and I approached one in the city of Hilo in completely silence because it felt like we might disturb the tree if we didn’t. And in hushed whispers, we noted that the two clumps of trunks about 20 feet away from each other were indeed starting to grow together in the sky, branches intersecting branches until each tree, though separate in structure, seemed to become one giant entity.

The marriage analogy was not lost on us.

Absolutely nothing will give scale to the enormity of this experience, but this comes close:

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The Deku Tree IRL

Of course, you do share an ocean with the Hawaiian Islands, dear city. And in these waters there were wonders to behold. Honestly, seeing an angelfish right in your face while snorkeling is a bit disconcerting. You find yourself thinking “Shouldn’t you be in a dentist’s office somewhere?” But after the initial shock wears off – the crystal clear water, the schools of fish right beneath you, and doing it right beside those who you care about – it’s pretty incredible to explore the reefs in Hawaii. (Sorry, mom, I know these pictures will freak you out).

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Underwater cameras are pretty cool

Now, Seattle. you definitely take the cake as far as dormant volcanoes go. We all know that if you wanted to blow up a four state area with the powerfully majestic Mt Rainier, you sure as hell would do it (please don’t). All I’m saying is that the slow ooze of Kilauea was pretty cool. Especially at night. Especially after the crust caved into the caldera, creating a bright fiery lake of lava that light up the whole sky.

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C looks cool in a ring of fire

You know what’s not cool, though? Belching out tons of very very toxic sulphur dioxide. We don’t need any of that. Hawaii can go ahead and keep allllll of that.

It seems that there’s no end of the wild adventures you can have in Hawaii, but you know the best pastimes are sometimes? Just hanging out with the people you came there to be with. Cracking open local craft beer.Trying out a Lava Flow frozen cocktail down at the resort. Buying fresh local ingredients at the Waimea Farmer’s Market and then figuring out what to do with all the amazing stuff the bought (The answer was Hawaiian bruschetta with local bread, grilled street corn, and macadamia nut crusted chicken. That’s a post for another day.) Searching for just the right Koa wood item to send home to mom and dad. Waking up before seven am to enjoy local Kona coffee on the beach. Laying in a hammock and watching the sun set through the palm trees.

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These are some awesome people

We’re back now, Seattle. You welcomed us back with a sunrise that rivaled anything we saw on the islands. We slept off the red eye and woke to a beautiful (if not slightly bluer than I remembered) sunny day. The first thing we did was walk to Old Ballard and treat ourselves to craft cocktails and pork dips at the local gastropub, because you know what? Hawaii has nothing on you in the food department, Seattle. You keep doing that delicious, affordable food thing.

My vacation in pealing off slowly and painfully, like the sunburn I (almost) avoided. What’s left is this:

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It’s always good to come home to you, Seattle.

Always Love,

(Slightly-less Pale) Bonnie

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