Friday, October 22, 2010

Seattle Times

This week found me headed south of the 49th parallel to visit an old and dear friend in Seattle. And by old, I mean in terms of the years of our friendship not her actual calendar years! Both the weather and the scenery were amazing on the drive down. This picture was taken on my favorite stretch of the Coquihalla Highway. It never fails to impress.

My border crossing experience was unique. The border guard asked me if I had travelled outside of Canada or the US in the past year. When I said I had been to Korea he quipped, "Hopefully South Korea, not North." I said South, but then commented on the fact I had technically been in North Korea as well. Here is the unique, never been seen at the border before and surely never to be seen again moment. He actually smiled as he said, "Oh, you were in the building at the DMZ!" I have been crossing the border for years and have never once witnessed such a thing. My assumption had been that the US government only hired people whose facial nerves had been severed, but there it was, proving me wrong. An actual smile. It turns out that this gentleman had served in the US military and during that time had been stationed in Korea. We chatted for a few minutes about what a strange place the DMZ is before he waved me on through.

The drive through rural northwest Washington was picturesque with scenes such as this. You can just make out Mt. Baker in the distance.

After spending what seems for me to be my obligatory "lost time", in which I drive around the point I am actually trying to reach in concentric circles, I finally arrived at my destination. However, all the frustration of the concentric circle thing faded away the moment Hilary spoke these seven magical words. "Would you like a cup of tea?" In case you are wondering how seriously my friend takes her tea, here is the picture that decorates her kitchen wall.

Wednesday we did some shopping, then went for tea and cupcakes. In an effort to make the decision making process as stress free as possible we picked two cupcakes each. It was a sacrifice, but clearly we were were going to be there for hours if we had to narrow it down to a single choice. You can see from this picture the dilemma we faced.

We brought cupcakes home for Hilary's son Sam, who I must say is an all-around great guy.

It was a lovely fall day, so after fortifying ourselves at the cupcake store we went to Green Lake for a walk. This heron, carefully camouflaged behind a fallen tree, also appeared to be enjoying the beautiful fall weather.

Thursday started off with a cup of tea, followed by more tea at Starbucks while we met with a friend of Hilary's to discuss some business. Then came The Event. We picked up Hilary's lovely daughter Rachel from her dorm room at SPU so she could accompany us on this great trek. As we approached our destination even I, perennially lost person that I am, knew we were closing in on our goal. I might be missing my inner compass, but there is nothing wrong with my sense of smell. The air around us was thick with the heavenly smell of chocolate. We had arrived at the Theo Chocolate Factory, the only place that makes organic, bean-to-bar, fair trade chocolate in the United States. Here are Hilary and Rachel soaking up some of that amazing chocolate scent in front of the building.

The tour was fascinating, filled with interesting facts and trivia about chocolate, interspersed with samples to illustrate the points the guide was making. Here is our tour guide. She might have been a wee bit on the quirky side, but she had personally chosen salted chocolate caramels to be one of our samples, so I thought she was wonderful in spite of her eccentricities. And let's face it, so far my eccentricities haven't landed me a job at a chocolate factory, so I'm reserving all judgment.

There are two pictures that did not get taken because I am trying to avoid being publicly humiliated. First up would be the one showing all my purchases from the gift shop at the chocolate factory. Crossing back North of 49 the customs agent asked me what I purchased and when I said some chocolate he didn't even ask to see the receipt, obviously thinking "some chocolate" meant a couple of Hershey bars. Clearly he had never been to Theo's Chocolate Factory.

The other picture that is missing is the one of our kitchen upon my return. Really people, and by people, I mean the ones living under this roof, if I feel the need to sterilize the sink so it is clean enough to put your dirty dishes into- those would be the dirty dishes left on the kitchen counter where they don't belong- there is something seriously wrong. Ditto the fact that the same kitchen towel and dish cloth that I took out when I left on Tuesday were still being used on Friday. Actually I retract that last accusation. From the looks of things I don't think they had been used a single time while I was away.


  1. Tea (with honey???), cupcakes and chocolate! That would have been a great trip even without wonderful company, but I'm sure you had that too.

    I'm a big fan of eccentric people, but the hair net and the guide's uniform brings to mind an Oompa Loompa. Perhaps my mind went there simply because it's a chocolate factory. We've never been to Theo's, only Hershey Park--the free sample there was a not-so-good white chocolate bar they were trying to promote. But it did have a special something that made it edible--it was free.

    Thank you for the encouragement and the website. I'll check it out.

  2. PS - I meant to ask if you had a mini-Mt. Baker rising up out of the trashcan when you returned home? My kids have gotten really good at balancing items on top of an already full can rather than empty it--they'd be great at Jenga.

  3. Cupcakes and a chocolate factory?!? That would make it a best trip ever in my estimation!

  4. It was great to have you here! Tea, cupcakes, chocolate, and walks around Greenlake await you when you come again. Miss you!