Venturing into the Pacific Northwest

How it started:

For fall break, my best friend Harrison and I decided to travel to the other side of the country. Back in mid-June, we had found a direct, nonstop flight on Delta from Raleigh to Seattle for only $164 roundtrip. We had both never been to Seattle—all we pretty much knew about it was that it rained a lot. But it was certainly on our bucket list of places to visit in the United States. We immediately booked our tickets the day we found the ridiculously cheap flight. Over the next couple of months, we had booked our Airbnb and planned a loose itinerary of places we wanted to visited and see.

But exactly 12 hours before our flight departed, I had a crazy idea—on top of going to Seattle, what if we went to Canada, too?

After doing some research, I found out that Vancouver was only a two-hour drive from Seattle. I proposed this idea to Harrison—quite possibly the most spontaneous person I know other than myself—and he was on board. We were going to Seattle AND Vancouver in just four days. It took some pivots to our plan, such as canceling a couple of days of our Seattle Airbnb and setting up a rental car. But Harrison and I thrive off change, so it was no big deal.

Here’s a rundown of our epic adventure across the Pacific Northwest.

Day 1: Tuesday, October 16

Our flight departed early in the morning, at 7:30 A.M. I slept through the entire 4.5 hour long flight, and because of the time change from East Coast to West Coast, we arrived at 10:30 A.M. We had the entire day ahead of us!

At the airport, we got the keys to a cute little red car from FOX, the only rental car company that rents out to 20-year-olds. Although there was a hefty fee for being under 21, it was completely worth the freedom of being able to drive wherever and whenever we wanted to.

The first thing I noticed about the state of Washington was how beautiful it was. The air was crisp and the leaves were various hues of orange and yellow. And best of all, there was no rain in the forecast for the entire week. It was 65 degrees and sunny every single day.

We parked in downtown Seattle, and Harrison and I grabbed coffee from Starbucks (I mean it’s Seattle—we had to) and wandered around the city. We immediately did what we know how to do best—go shopping. We popped into random stores as we went along and tried to restrain ourselves from draining our entire bank accounts.

Afterwards, a quick walk took us to Pike Place Market, the most well-known public market in the country. There were hundreds of stands of beautiful flowers, artisan soaps, and interesting foods. We stumbled across this jewelry stand that sold the most eye-catching rings and necklaces. The artists explained that they were a couple that handmade them from copper and rare gemstones. Harrison and I bought matching rings to symbolize our friendship and the spontaneity of this trip.

It was already nearing dinnertime, and we wanted to get on the road before it got dark. We got in the car and started driving. We listened to lots of Florence And The Machine, admired the scenery around us, and kept each other laughing. Before we knew it, we were showing our passports to the border patrol officers in Canada and entered a new city.

As if we hadn’t already packed the most someone can possibly do in one day, we decided to explore downtown Vancouver. We were old enough to drink in Canada so we went to different lounges and had a beer. The nightlife wasn’t too exciting because it was a Tuesday night, but we still managed to make it fun.

Day 2: Wednesday, October 17

Good morning, Canada! Vancouver was a bit chillier than Seattle was, but we still enjoyed the same autumn breeze.

The backyard of our AirBnB.

The Canadian dollar is worth less than the American dollar, so we felt like we were really getting our money’s worth in Vancouver. We had a delicious breakfast at Nemesis Coffee, where artsy professionals gathered with busy young professionals.

We continued to explore downtown Vancouver with no real plan in mind. We shopped, snacked, and saw some cool stuff. This exact day in Vancouver happened to be the same day that Canada legalized marijuana across the entire country, so we even saw people celebrating in the streets.

After a few hours, we decided to check out Stanley Park, a huge park that reminded me of Central Park. At first, we really didn’t know how big it was. We walked the entire park, which took us about four hours. I was carrying multiple shopping bags with heeled booties—I was definitely not prepared to go on a hike. We finally got to the main attraction, which was the Lions Gate Bridge overlooking a huge body of water and mountains.

By the time we got back to our Airbnb, we felt the height of our exhaustion. We wanted to go back into downtown at night, so we decided to recharge with an hour-long nap. An hour turned into five hours, and we woke up fully confused at 11PM. We decided to listen to our bodies and call it a night by ordering Domino’s and going back to sleep.

Day 3: Thursday, October 18

We checked out of our Airbnb around 9AM, but we couldn’t leave without doing one last “Canadian” thing—go to Tim Horton’s. It reminded me of Dunkin Donuts, but the quality was definitely a lot better. I got a coffee and egg and cheese muffin for only $3.

We got back to Seattle and checked into our next Airbnb, which was located in Capitol Hill, a hip and trendy neighborhood. We then visited the Space Needle, another must-do. The views were absolutely phenomenal.

At 7 P.M., Harrison and I went to the Hozier concert! It was held at Paramount Theatre, which was a really cool venue with decor from the twenties. We were in the standing room section, so we were only about fifteen feet away from Hozier. He sounded even better than he does on tape.

Day 4: Friday, October 19

Harrison and I had a late start to this day after letting our bodies get the rest that it needed. We had brunch at Glo’s Cafe in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, which was the best breakfast that I ever had. I ordered a Southwestern-style breakfast with a bowl of fruit. If I ever go back to Seattle, Glo’s is the first restaurant I want to go back to.

We spent the rest of the day thrift shopping and wandering around the city. Today was the last full day before we had to return to North Carolina, so we wanted to soak in the last bits of Seattle as much as possible.


Afterthoughts

Overall, this trip was one of the most fun and jammed-pack adventures I had ever been on. I am so glad that I had Harrison to accompany me. Our personalities are so similar: we are extremely risky, spontaneous and carefree. Sometimes it can be dangerous, but most of the time, it makes for some awesome memories.


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