Washington, D.C

Here's to another trip out to the east coast! I did not expect my first time in DC to be so abundant in sight seeing. Hubby and I tagged along with my MIL and SIL for this trip and explored all the ins and outs of the capital including the White House which was like, "WHOA, I'm actually here!" I love visiting historic sights and museums when I'm in a new town so the Smithsonian's were perfect! We didn't make it to every one of them because there were just too many but I am relieved I brought comfortable walkings shoes. I didn't realize we walked so many steps in just a day alone, so you can say we definitely got our workout in. We're big foodies too so we made sure to get our bellies filled! A few of favorite spots to go back is the Founding Farmers for brunch and The Bazaar by José Andrés for dinner. Overall, it was a wonderful first experience and ended it with a last segue visit to Ashland, VA for a little family reunion. We didn't catch the right timing for the famous cherry blossoms but I highly recommend this experience to first timers!

Vashon Island

As a late anniversary/Valentine's day gift to each other, hubby and I took a trip out to Vashon Island for a little weekend getaway. We stayed in the cutest little rustic farm house which reminded me so much of a Disney princess cottage. Super fairytale like, totally my vibe! It was the perfect peaceful tranquility escape, away from the city, completely remote, and literally "unplugged!" Since it's still winter here and on the colder side, we were very lucky to have had the sun peak out the whole weekend. The trails were pretty muddy but great walks to a private beach and a nearby light house. I'm pretty sure our dog enjoyed this trip more than we did! This is the few times out of the year where our Nala gets all this freedom to roam, run, and be her hyper self without a leash on. She even surprised us by learning to dig up her own clams! I'll say this again and again, nothing beats the views here in the PNW, no matter what season! Vashon was small, but a lovely visit overall. We'd definitely visit again during the warmer seasons, especially re-dropping by the Lunetta Pizzeria and Snapdragon Bakery & Cafe for some good cravings!

Kirkland Heights Rec-Hall Center

A few weeks before Christmas, I received a call from Al that our beloved rec-hall center was going to be torn down. I was immediately hit with a wave of memory lane. My family lived at Kirkland Heights for most of our childhood and we were literally right next door to the rec-hall center. Every time we see Al or Gisela drive up, we'd run over to see what was happening and offered to help with anything for the upcoming event. This may not sound like much but growing up in low-income housing, this was a safe haven for the kids. Each year Al and his church, the Antioch Bible Church, would provide for the families here. It ranged from small events such as Jesus club, homework club, and movie nights to larger events like Thanksgiving Turkey basket donations and going back to school hair cuts with backpacks and supplies! This was also where I received my camera to go to college, and the list goes on. When I was asked to come take some final farewell pictures, it was bittersweet. Upon walking in after 10 years, I remembered exactly where everything was. I started in Gisela's corner, made my way over to the mural, kitchen, and then the famous supply room where all the games and toys were kept. As a few of Al's main helpers, we were the famous gatekeepers of this door! It was a very important role back then and I'm still proud of it (says the inner child in me). All the floor games were still in place too, right where I last saw them. Not much has changed and I was thankful for that...for this very moment. It just brought back so many precious childhood memories and I was overwhelmed with the fact that this place, this special place, was going to be demolished after 12/15. Even though it will be rebuilt, it just won't be the same. As I snapped away, I prayed that each picture would leave a permanent bookmark in my memories. I want to thank Al, Danielle, and Gisela for showing the kids here all the love in world and how they opened our hearts ever so endlessly. I would not be who I am today if it weren't for them being in my life. This rec-hall center will always hold a special place in my heart. I will forever cherish these last memories.

Seattle Hmong New Year

Nyob Zoo Xyoo Tshiab, 2023! This is the first New Year event in over 5 years that all my sisters were able to attend together, so it was extra special. We also participated in wearing our traditional Hmong costumes as well as our significant others. My mom was in an extra good mood on this day as she excitedly dressed us all up, so we made sure to wear them proudly. We all know Seattle rains this time of year, but we did not anticipate the immense down pour would be so harsh the morning of, fortunately we all made it safety to and from. Upon arriving, we went to cheer on our cousin and her group who performed a traditional Hmong dance. We then feasted on delicious Hmong food, shopped a little bit with the various vendors who came out, visited the little Hmong history museum on the upper level, and reunited with close friends and family. The best part was that the weather turned out so lovely for the rest of the day! The second we parked, it stopped raining, it was 60 degree weather which was quite warm, and the sun even came out to celebrate with us. Very unexpected but we'll take it! What a pleasant Autumn day it turned out to be.

Olympic National Park

We've been talking about visiting our beautiful PNW parks for some time now, so we finally made it happen this year! There were 3 parks we had planned to see, the Hoh Rainforest, Ruby Beach, and Hurricane Ridge. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to embrace Hurricane Ridge's magnificent views due to full capacity of visitors. But we still wanted to make the best out of this trip, so we pivoted to Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge instead. Sometimes we get so flustered with work and city life and forget that the little things in life are free. Nature has always been one of our to go to "peaceful escapes," so we were thrilled to make it out! I lived in WA all my life and yet, this is my first time visiting the Olympic National Park. For the record, I was blown away! To top that off, this roadtrip/drive was so beautiful and scenic, a constant reminder that the PNW will always be home.

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