Pura Vida

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The Wine is Beautiful

Washington State has become a growing leader in the distribution and making of magnificent wines. It wasn’t until Washington wineries began competing in California wine competitions that they were able to show the world they could produce a fine wine. Today, Washington is the second largest producer of wine in the nation.

Woodinville, Washington holds as Seattle’s playground for wine lovers, with nearly 100 wineries within a 5 mile radius. It is separated out into three separate districts, the Warehouse Winery District, Hollywood Winery District and West Valley Winery District.

My favorite of the districts is the Warehouse Winery District, where all of the wineries are literally a rock’s throw away from each other, with 48 wineries in this area alone.

But of course, the most notable winery of all, the Chateau Ste. Michelle, is a must see when wine tasting in Seattle. Upon entering, you are immediately greeted by beautiful grounds, a grape vine lead driveway and colorful peacocks. This winery offers guided tours of the facility every half hour, ending in a wine tasting of the vineyard’s most popular wines. Most importantly, do not forget to have a taste (or bottle) of the Sweet Harvest Riesling!

 

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Chateau Ste. Michelle Main House

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Wine Tasting Love

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Chateau Ste. Michelle Entrance

For more information on Seattle wine tasting visit www.woodinvillewinecountry.com 

 

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How I Travel For Free

Pier 39 - Fisherman's Warf

Yes, travel can be expensive. No, I do not let that stop me. I have worked hard to figure out how to avoid spending money and going broke to experience the things I enjoy. If money is your excuse for not doing something, you better start looking for new excuses.

In additional to what I have done, I know lots of people who have created many fun and unique fundraising events for trips from volunteering in Mexico for a week to moving to Africa for four years. No matter the duration of your trip, friends and family often get excited about helping you achieve your goals.

1)   Let your parents pay. Yes, this sounds like a cop-out, and I am fully aware that not everyone’s parents can afford to pay for their plane tickets, etc. All I am saying is that if/when the opportunity for them to buy you a ticket someone, do not hesitate to turn it down.  For example, my parents are not very big on traveling, but whenever they go to Hawaii, I make sure and weasel a ticket out of them as well.

2)   Complain. I definitely do not condone taking advantage of people or companies, but that does not mean there are not situations that warrant voicing your opinion. My most recent trip to Hawaii was to surprise my family for Thanksgiving. I was flying solo and the flight got delayed overnight after hours of waiting ON THE PLANE. Needless to say I was frustrated and unhappy about wasting an entire day and eventually ending up fly alone on Thanksgiving Day.  So yes, I complained. I got angry. And I ended up getting free flight, which I guess made it worth it.

3)   Work in the travel industry. One benefit of my job is excellent hotel discounts.Many of the most popular hotel brands offer wonderful discounts to their associates for more accessible trips. And I certainly make it a point to take FULL advantage of this benefit!

4)   Build up those airline miles. I make all my purchases on my United Airlines credit card, along with building up frequent flyer miles through their reward program when purchasing plane tickets. Using my credit card for necessary items such as food and gas really adds up in the accrual of airline miles, which is pretty nice getting rewards for purchases that need to be made.

5)   Take advantage of travel programs (i.e. volunteering /working abroad). Find programs that pay for you to travel (or even better PAY YOU). One of the most popular programs is Peace Corps, along with many other government organizations. However, this isn’t the only option. There are many organizations that pay for educated Americans to work in other countries, provide housing, or even simply offering small food incentives. Some of my favorite sites are:

  1. www.PeaceCorps.com
  2. www.WWOOF.com – Live and eat for free while volunteering on organic farms around the world. Volunteers can stay anywhere from two weeks to several months and you do not need to have any experience or farming knowledge.
  3. www.goabroad.com – This database that allows excellent search options for finding exactly what kind of international experience you are looking for.
  4. www.grassrootsoccer.org – A nonprofit that offers paid internships in Africa. This is one of MANY international internship organizations that offers incentive for educated Americans to work abroad.
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Hiking with a Side of Ocean Views

Maui is full of some of the most beautiful hiking trails, including spots with waterfalls, through jungles, trekking on lava rock and front row views of the ocean. My most recent visit to Maui, I decided to check out the Kapalua Resort Hiking Trails, adjacent to The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua and the beloved Kapalua Golf Course (a favorite of PGA Tour Champions). With the trails proximity to some of the most luxurious destinations on Maui, its views were sure to live up to its location!

An excellent trail for beginners, you can opt for several distance from a little over one mile to several miles leading up into the mountains.

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Oceanside Hiking in Maui

Kapalua Resort Hiking Trail

Kapalua Hiking Trail Lava Rock in Maui

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When in Washington, Do as the Washingtonians Do

Hiking is to Washington as wine is to my roommates. With the ease of accessibility, it’s no wonder it has recently become one of my favorite past times. Hiking trails from the Canadian border to the South of Seattle, I have fallen in love with a few trails in Western Washington.

The Oyster Dome

Located in Bellingham, this is the staple trail of the area. With a couple starting points to choose from, one can spend either a couple hours or an entire day making it to the top. No matter where you start, you will definitely want to go all the way (for many, proving nothing worth having comes easy). With picturesque views of various islands in the surrounding bay, you can even see some of the San Juan Islands on a clear day.

  

Cedar Lake, Pine Lake, Raptor Ridge

This is by far my favorite hike that I have yet to explore. Starting off with a half-mile direct incline (intended to separate the wheat from the chaff), followed by several interlocking trails to choose from. This trail has everything, from lakes to mushrooms to squirrels to mountain and bay views. There is so much to see and do on this trail, every hike is a unique experience.

Raptor Ridge  Pine and Cedar Lake Foliage   Pine Lake

Wallace Falls

Described as being one of the most beautiful hikes in Washington, the waterfalls on this trail are what make this trail so unique and majestic. Side note: After this hike I was so exhausted, I accidentally locked my keys in my trunk without thinking. So keep an eye on those bad boys!

Gold BarDJ at Wallace FallsWallace Falls

Mount Si

Arguable the most popular hike in Washington (due to its beauty and proximity to Seattle), this is the most difficult hike I have done. At the top, it is interesting to see the rush of vehicles speeding along I-5 while you are thousands of feet about them, basking in the (hopefully) sun and nature.

Mount Si

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Lá Fhéile Pádraig – St. Patty’s Day!

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On the eve of Green Beer Day, I could not be more excited for the holiday that honors the country that I lived in for a summer. For the joyous occasion, I have a few simple rules:

  • Drinking any and all combinations of Guiness and Jameson with the occasional Magner’s chaser
  • When drinking Guiness, make sure it has been poured correctly; hold the glass at a 45 degree 3/4th full, let sit until the beer has settled, then hold the glass perfectly straight, fill to the top, and enjoy!
  • Wear my special St. Patricks’ Day shirt (that two of my best friends have as well)
  • Talk in an Irish accent (albeit, not well)
  • If a bar doesn’t have bagpipes, it doesn’t have my business

This year, my celebrating has already begun, starting with spectating the Saint Patrick’s Day marathon, followed by a very green parade with a horde of bagpipes, beer and shamrocks that was sure to capture the essence that is Ireland.

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Adventuring Around the Bay

As luck would have it, the first year I make a point to go to FLEET WEEK, the government decides to shut down. But that is still not enough to sully my feelings for the wonderful San Francisco. Between the salty sea air, plethora of Irish pubs and unique architecture, what’s not to love about this city?

Although I was admittingly disappointed not to be spending several days surrounded by sexy sailors, the city itself did not disappoint. From exploring all the piers to checking out their celebrated Chinatown, I managed to leave more in like with the city than when I arrived.

Even the outskirts of the city have plenty to offer. We went to check out the coast, visiting hippie beach town Santa Cruz and my personal favorite, Capitola. From exploring the beach to walking down Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz, there’s never a dull moment in the SF Bay Area!

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Computer History Museum

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Catching Up on the Good Stuff

It’s been over a year since graduation, and as far as blogging is concerned, I have nothing to show for it. Luckily, in all reality, that is certainly not true. I have learned show much in the last year, it’s a wonder why I ever paid for an education (Just kidding, but seriously)!

Here are a couple things I have been working on the last year:

1) Enjoy the sunshine!

Even though Bellingham gets about 50 days of sunshine a year, there are still so many outdoor activities to do. Everything from biking to work to hiking to snowboarding to kayaking to dog parks! All the outdoor activities available in this area are the best part of living here, so it’s important to not take them for granted.

2) Give back!

I love being busy, and I just don’t feel that a 40 hour work week really cuts it. So I have decided to fill some extra time volunteering. Nothing extreme, but making the time to get involved in the community and give back is a great way to gain some personal growth. Most of it, it has been one of the most interesting things I have ever done. I spend some mornings volunteering at the Puget Sound Blood Center where I basically spend a few hours talking to donors. Hearing about how Bellinghamsters spend their weekends and events that happen in there life has been an interesting experience… to say the least. Whatcom residents sure are interesting, for better or worse, and each second is more entertaining than the last!

3) Awareness is key!

Lastly, some may say I am turning into a bit of a hippie, but if that’s what you want to call it I’m fine! Working towards becoming sustainable and healthy has been a full time job. Knowing the importance of what is going into my body, surrounding me in my home and making sure all these things are having as low an impact on the environment as possible have made a vast improvement for both body and mind.

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Reliving the Irish Days

A year ago I was packing up my stuff and getting ready for a jet-set trip to Ireland. It was the most amazing experience I have ever had, and in the spirit of my one year anniversary of this excursion, I am going to reminisce through blogging about it.

I stayed in Dublin, which for being Ireland’s main city still seemed relatively small. Fortunately, that made it easy to navigate through and explore Dublin entirely. There is so much for to this city than the tourist-centric Temple Bar area (but like so many popular things, it definitely is worth checking out).

Since I knew there would be plenty of time to explore the more touristy areas, we started out going to more local places to really get the feel of the Irish life. We started out living like true Irishmen, meaning drinking beer. Lots and lots of beer. Before going to Ireland, I had tried Guinness before, but drinking it in Ireland is so much better than anywhere else you can get it. Especially when you get it nice and fresh from the Guinness factory (where you can learn to pour the “perfect pint”). When poured just right, the foam almost tastes like vanilla ice cream, making the beer itself a Guinness-beer float!

Guiness on Top of the World

As good as the beer was though, I was introduced to the newest love of my live: Bulmer’s Irish Cider. I love apple juice and sweet drinks, so when I was introduced to hard cider, I thought I died and went to heaven. Especially since, aside from beer, alcohol is so expensive in Ireland (at least more expensive than I’m used to spending in Bellingham). I could get a pint or bottle of Bulmer’s for just €5. Needless to say, from the moment Bulmer’s and I met, we were best friends.

From Dublin to Galway, the way to the Irish’s hearts are through a nice cold pint. So I say, let’s raise a pint to the Irish and say “Cheers!” Of course there is more to Ireland than drinking, but more on that to come.

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Is it a fish? Is it a razor? It’s Razorfish!

This last weekend I took a tour of the digital marketing agency in Seattle called Razorfish, where I had the opportunity to experience what a large marketing agency looks in operating.

Not only was I lucky enough to ride the elevator among floor in a history, downtown Seattle building with a breathtaking view, I also got a glimpse of what it could feel like to work in my dream job. Razorfish is more than just a company that has been previously owned by Microsoft, declared number 4 on the Advertising Age A-List, the winner of countless awards and locations in over 10 countries. They’re atmosphere is everything a grown-up in touch with their inner child could dream up! Complete with foosball tables, a Microsoft Kinect, colorful art all around (including paints of fish on the windows), an inflatable killer whale, a cafe, several kitches and, best of all, a Kegerator. Furthermore, they house the space for creative thought such as “think tanks” for collaborating and open spaces that make for innovative cubicles.

Here’s what I learned:

  • TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OPPORTUNITIES that are available, especially in school
  • GET AS MUCH EXPERIENCE AS POSSIBLE! Whether that be internships, clubs, organizations, volunteering or (for the lucky one) jobs
  • DIVERSIFY YOUR SKILLS: working in a marketing agency requires more knowledge than just marketing. It’s essential to be a great communicator, writing, social networker and creator
  • BE PERSISTENT: you will never be penalized for making it known how much you want something
  • ASK QUESTIONS: find people with the jobs and life that you want and find out what they did to get where they are
  • Lastly, TAKE CHANCES: you will never know how something is going to work out if you do not take action

All in all, I had a wonderful time learning more the path to finding the perfect job. Now I just have to actually execute this advice! It’s a work in process, but I’m working on it.

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