Studio Musings

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Birthday Adventures

Have I mentioned recently that I love where I live?  Seattle Summers in particular.  And since I have a summer birthday, I always feel like I should take advantage of the amazing weather and do something outdoorsy.  Something different, or at least different from what I normally do.  

Last year Joe and I played hooky in Seattle, one memorable year Joe even surprised me with a hot-air balloon ride.  This year was one of those happy, lucky years when my birthday fell on a Saturday.  This past Saturday to be exact. 

But recently, Joe's been absolutely swamped at work and traveling almost nonstop.  Case in point - last week he flew down to San Jose on Monday, back to Seattle on Wednesday, up to Toronto on Thursday and back home late Friday night to be here for my birthday (yesterday evening he flew out to Calgary).  So I knew I wanted to do something fun, but I also knew that it would have to be something easy.  And then the perfect little adventure fell into my inbox in the form of a Living Social trip!

The caption read "River Tubing and Beer Garden Cookout".  Hmm...  maybe, maybe not.  But the fine print was more interesting - 'Imagine taking a tubing trip down a scenic river in the German countryside, and at the end of your journey, relaxing at an authentic beer garden. Turns out you don't have to fly 5,000 miles to enjoy the vibe, simply sign on for this adventure: a river-tubing trip and cookout in Leavenworth.'  Oh and it included round-trip transportation from Seattle!

So my Saturday went something like this:

Start the day with a trip to El Diablo's, our favorite coffee shop.  Warren added a special side of whipped cream to my Mexican hot chocolate, complete with sprinkles and marichino cherry.  Yeah Warren!

Then a quick city-bus ride to meet the Living Social group, and a longer bus ride (in a really nice bus) out to Leavenworth.  The bus ride itself made the trip worthwhile.  We hit a really bad patch of construction traffic, but it was easy to ignore. Chelsea, our intrepid tour guide, led us in several rounds of trivia while the driver negotiated through the traffic with impressive patience. We might even have won the trivia game if I hadn't been a scaredy cat in the 'Final Jeopardy' round.  No living social cup-cozies for us!  :-)

Scenery along I-90 through the Cascades

stock photo from Living Social
The river was prettier than this, but I didn't want to chance my iPhone in the river with me, so I don't have any photos of my own.  Good call as it turns out because just after we pushed off we went through a nice set of ripples, with dips and waves over our heads.  Wet, wet, wet!!!!  I heard that earlier in the year, the ripples are true rapids, but for our trip they were just enough to cause some excitement. 

The river was filled with people in rafts and inner tubes, or simply wading in the shallows and the atmosphere was just so happy and festive. We were each given two frisbees to act as 'paddles' to help us steer where we wanted to go, but Joe lost one of his in the ripples.  So he acted as oarsman for both of our tubes while I lounged and enjoyed the scenery.  Yeah Joe!  (I did pitch in a few times).

We'd never been to Leavenworth before and all I can say is the scenery is gorgeous - pine trees and rugged rock outcroppings with meadows interspersed here and there.  We even saw a fawn grazing. 

One of the streets of Leavenworth - note the mountains in the background!

After the river, Joe and I ditched the beer garden pretty quick to go exploring.  The town is touristy and filled with cars.  We ducked into exactly two shops - to score chocolate for me and ice cream for us both.  At Schocolat, they offered us a pre-packaged assortment of their most-popular flavors, or we could select our own.  I opted for the later and when I was done making my selections, I asked if mine bore any resemblance to their assortment.  The young man helping us simply shook his head. 

My birthday chocolates from Joe

Wandering over to the park across from the ice cream parlor, we were just in time for a concert on the lawn, where we enjoyed German folk music until it was time to reboard our bus. 

I think the accordion player was the model for the painted cutout at left

heading up the hill to the bus

Back on the bus, Chelsea offered a choice of five movies for the trip back (Leavenworth is about 2 1/2 hours from Seattle without traffic).  The hands-down winner was "Sixteen Candles".  I hadn't seen the movie since I was a teenager myself, and Joe and I both laughed our way through it.  And before we knew it, we were back in Seattle, thus ending out little birthday adventure. 

This was a first time for us, doing a day-tour bus trip from home and I have to say that we were both really impressed.


  1. Happy Belated Birthday Karen,
    It sounds like you and Joe had a wonderful time on your Birthday Adventure. It is always a good thing to live your life to the fullest and have fun doing it.

    1. Thank you Therese! The trip truly felt like summer. :)

  2. Happy Birthday.

    I am going to repeat what Therese said- it sounds like you had a wonderful time. That was a great way to spend the day. It is even better when you do not have to do the driving.

    1. Thanks! Not having to drive ourselves was definitely the icing on the cake.

  3. Happy birthday, Karen -- your birthday adventure sounds like a blast and I'm glad you and Joe were able to enjoy some time together. What a great way to celebrate your special day!

  4. What a super birthday adventure!!!

    I have been to Leavenworth: My husband's from Cashmere (near Wenatchee).

  5. What a great birthday! Sounds like something I will have to try! Happy Birthday!