Eat. Hike. Beer.

Middle school nerds: reunite.

I recently reconnected with one of my old bad-hair-era friends from Marietta, an intelligent, east-coast transplant who is also happily making her home in the Pacific Northwest. Lisa and her husband Ian (a fiendish chef and food-y: check out his witty food critiques here) have quite the adorable brood: one chunk-o-munk baby, a vivacious, viciously bright four year old, a fluffy, spot-tongue chow mix, and a tail-less cat who likes to drink water out of the bathtub. In March, they migrated north to Seattle from the Bay Area. Lisa has been pursuing me for a hiking date, so I obliged her this Friday afternoon by throwing myself and my weekend gear in the car for an impromptu road trip up to Seattle.

It's intriguingly irritating how short-sighted I can be. I've lived in Portland for fourteen years, yet I have rarely taken the opportunity to visit our sister city three hours north.

And Seattle rocks.

It rocks even more with good company, great conversation, homemade food, microbrews (insert here Chuck's [killer] 85th Avenue Market, i.e. microbrew heaven, right down the street from their house) and hiking. I would never move.

cheerios are nummy

Kurt Cobain bench

I arrived Friday night to paella (seriously, Ian? Paella? nom, nom, nom) and, still feeling well-fed, set off for a low key hike and good catch-up conversation with Lisa on Saturday.

Wallace Falls State Park, Washington
5.5 miles, 1200 feet elevation gain

Welcome to the Puget Sound human superhighway.

I try to make a concerted effort to limit my contact with humanity while hiking. While the hike description for Wallace Falls does warn that you will not be lacking company, Washington Trails Association fails to convey exactly how much humanity.

It was like a giant game of hiking frogger. Rush hour traffic on a paved dirt interstate.

Still, the trail is a lovely, sunlit forest walk, meandering along the banks of Wallace River and visiting three waterfalls along the way. This is the type of hike I would schedule for a rainy and fog-laden Pacific Northwest day; the details of trails like Wallace Falls are somehow more intimate, the mossy forest more vulnerable and quiet when hiked in the rain.

At home, we set the table with a delicious spread of sliced baguette, cheese and Italian cold cut appetizers accompanied by a microbrew parade: Lazy Boy's Dumb Luck Pale Ale, DogFish Head's 90 Minute IPA and Pike Street's XXXXX Stout. Ian followed up with a Japanese-inspired bento meal of tofu/eggplant stir fry, rice, salad, miso soup and black cod.

training chopsticks

Seriously, Ian?

Yeah, I ate really well this weekend.

Cheers to friends.