Give me that sun | Mexico.

We are back from a week in Punta Mita, Mexico, a small Pacific peninsula north of Puerto Vallarta. Kyle and I went a few years ago, but I knew going into this trip that I would need to adjust my expectations with Caden joining us.  A good friend had some insightful perspective, to think of vacation with kiddos as a change in scenery with a chance to have some focused time together as a family without all the normal responsibilities and stressors of life at home. We still had to coordinate naps, change diapers, and address the occasional fussing, but overall the trip was a wonderful and much needed break from the tired, grey winter in Seattle.

I think I'll be advocating for a sunny vacation every winter! 

Summer Dreaming | 2017.

About this time of year, I'm getting tired of Seattle's rainy gray days and eager for the summer's sunshine to return!  I have made a bucket list of sorts every year since Kyle and I got married (2014, 2015, and 2016) to plan for and make the most of summer sunshine!  I know our adventures will need to be tamed a bit, as we will be spending them with a new baby, but I still want to dream of summer! 

2017 Summer Bucket List:

Spending time with visitors in town to meet baby Z! 

Cousin's wedding on Hood Canal 

Strawberry picking 

Weekend in Walla Walla 

Hopeful for one camping trip

Road trip to Bend, OR

Mikkelsons in Seattle.

Casey (Kyle's sister) and her husband Bryce came out to Seattle and spent a week with us.  We had a blast exploring and eating our way through the city.  The highlight was a short trip to the San Juan Islands.  It was great to spend quality time together and we're so glad they could come visit!

Glacier | Banff | & Jasper.

We just returned from a two week trip exploring Glacier, Banff and Jasper on what we've called our #zabelGBJadventure!  Each national park had such unique beauty.  Photos can't do justice for the magnitude, brilliance and complexity of the landscapes.  Here are a few photos and memories from each of the parks we explored.

Glacier National Park (Montana):  

  • Taking a dip in Lake McDonald after a hot day of hiking
  • A full day of rain meant: 1) morning breakfast at Eddies while strategizing how to effectively pack up camp to keep our gear dry, and 2) hanging out indoors at Lake McDonald Lodge
  • Going to the Sun road - epic beauty (when the clouds stay away!) 
  • Exploring Many Glacier: lunch at the lodge, hiking to Iceberg Lake and seeing a moose! 
  • Hiking the Highline Trail (we attempted 3x due to weather... and finally on our last day were able to make the 13 mile trek along the ridge line).  This hike included a gorgeous view of Grinnell Glacier, a close encounter with a mama grizzly and her cub, and so many beautiful flowers
  • Campfires (and s'mores) in the evenings

Banff National Park (Alberta, Canada):

  • That first shower after a week of camping... heaven!
  • Ski-lift ride up Mt. Norquay + lunch with a spectacular view
  • Hiking to the two tea houses around Lake Louise: Lake Agnes + Plain of Six Glaciers
  • Camping at a site with a bear proof electric fence (i.e they had had six grizzlies around the perimeter the day we checked in) 
  • Sunrise view of Lake Louise from our room (thanks for the upgrade Fairmont!) 
  • Canoeing on Lake Louise: the baby blue water is unreal!

Jasper National Park (Alberta, Canada):

  • Driving the Icefields Parkway from Lake Louise to Jasper.  We spent 5 hours taking in the breathtaking sites along the drive, but definitely could have taken more time! 
  • Dinner at a local brewery
  • The Miette Hot Springs after a long day of driving 
  • Celebrating our 3rd anniversary: relaxing by the pool, time at the spa and date night dinner with a view!

Summer Dreaming | 2016.

Each spring, as the rain slows and the days lengthen, my heart begins to long for summer here in the PNW.  It's our favorite time of the year.  I like to make a bucket list before summer begins because without a plan the season can slip away so quickly! Here are the lists from 2015 and 2014.  What are you dreaming up for this summer? 

Summer Bucket List 2016:

Family trip to Prescott (Zabels + Benadoms)

Hike to Camp Muir at Mt. Rainier 

Camping in Winthrop

Anniversary expedition: Glacier + Banff + Jasper

Italy.

In early October we set off on an Italian adventure!  We spent two weeks exploring, indulging and soaking in the culture of Italy.  It was an unforgettable trip.  Here are some photos and a few highlights from each of the places that we visited.  

Venice.

Highlights: 

  • Wandering the back streets and the maze of canals.
  • The Peggy Guggenheim Collection - a modern art museum along the Grand Canal. 
  • Gelato.

Cinque Terre. 

Highlights:

  • Trekking along the coastline.  
  • A sunset boat ride to see all five cities from the sea.
  • Delicious local pesto. 

Florence. 

Highlights: 

  • Climbing the Campanile for a view of the Duomo.
  • Seeing Michelangelo's David at the Academia.
  • The best pasta dinner at Gusta Osteria. 

Tuscany.  

Highlights:

  • Winding roads, rolling vineyards and medieval hill towns.
  • Bike riding on the ramparts of Lucca.
  • Delicious wine in Chianti and Montalcino. 
  • CaffĂ© and croissants. 

Rome.  

Highlights: 

  • Such rich history (Colosseum, Pantheon, Roman Forum, Vatican).
  • Exploring Trastevere. 
  • Cured meats and cheese (multiple servings per day).

Camping | Larrabee State Park.

Spent the weekend camping in the Chuckanut Mountains.  We met some friends on Saturday and hiked Oyster Dome, made s'mores by camp stove (no campfires due to burn bans), and fell asleep to rain drops on the tent. Sunday was a slow relaxing day walking around Bellingham and grabbing dinner with friends. Love exploring the Pacific Northwest one camping trip at a time. Here are some photos from the trip below. 

Backpacking | Silver Lake.

Kyle and I had been gearing up for a backpacking adventure over the past several months and we finally decided on the weekend and route!  We took a ferry from Edmonds to the Olympic Peninsula and to the Mount Townsend | Silver Lake trailhead.   

The initial 3.5 mile climb with 3,400 elevation gain was exhausting in the heat of the day (not ideal).  But the views along the route were beautiful!  We set up camp at Silver Lake and went to bed early; we were eager for some rest.

Around 1:30am we woke up abruptly to a growl!  Our hearts were racing as we waited quietly for the animal to pass.  There was some sniffing and heavy footprints around our site for a couple hours.  Needless to say we didn't sleep very well!  

While making coffee in the morning we heard thunder in the distance.  Our plan for a slow, relaxing morning was ended as we scrambled to pack up our campsite, eat breakfast, and get on the trail amidst scattered raindrops.  Fortunately the rain was light and the cloud cover was a refreshing change of pace from the previous day's heat.

I learned that backpacking isn't glamorous.  It's hard work, uncomfortable, exhausting, and can bring out your best and worst, but it's also invigorating and rewarding.  A friend recently asked me how the trip was for our marriage and I've been thinking about it.  I think it reinforced the importance of communication and how to love sacrificially amidst challenging circumstances.  So here's to more adventures and life lessons!  

Here are a few photos from our trip:

Portland | Getaway.

I needed to be in Portland this past weekend for a work-related conference on Saturday, so Kyle and I decided to make a weekend trip of it!  Whenever I'm in Portland, I feel like there just aren't enough meals in the day to enjoy all the delicious food the city has to offer.  A few of my favorites from the trip were Stumptown Coffee, Blue Star Donuts, and Olympic Provisions for date night.  The weather was perfect on Sunday for exploring the city.  Kyle and I grabbed coffee, stopped in Powell's to stock up on a few books, and spent time wandering in the Rose Gardens which were in full bloom.  We even ventured out to Multnomah Falls (along with what seemed like the entire population of Oregon).  Hope you had a great weekend!    

ITALY.

Time off in October has been approved.

Travel guides have been purchased. 

Flights have been booked.

Let the planning begin.

Please let us know if you have any Italy recommendations:

Things to see | Places to eat | Where to stay

COMMUNITY RETREAT.

Last weekend some members of our new community group spent time at a cabin on the Olympic Peninsula.  It was great to get out of town, eat, hike, build a campfire, and share stories with one another.  Here are a few photos from a hike that some of us took up Mt. Ellinor.

SKAGIT VALLEY TULIP FESTIVAL.

Kyle and I aren't normally very spontaneous.  Planned and methodical tend to describe us a bit better.  But this weekend we found ourselves itching for a little adventure and spontaneity!  Sunday after brunch with some friends we decided on a whim to drive up north to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.  It was refreshing to drive through farm country and walk in open fields (although some were packed with tourists) viewing the beautiful flowers in full bloom.  Spring is here and summer is on its way!  I hope you had a wonderful weekend!