Thursday, August 1, 2013


Meet Barry, the newest addition to the Ochoa family! He's our $4 basil plant and we adopted him from HEB. We haven't figured out the daycare situation- inside he doesn't get enough sun but outside he tips over from the wind. He's very delicate. Suggestions for Barry's care would be appreciated. His lower leaves are browning a bit. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Vacation 2013 Part 3 - Whistler and Back to Reality

The best is yet to come, friends! Whistler was absolutely gorgeous and a great way to end our trip. We drove from Vancouver along the Sea-to-Sky Highway, and took a gondola to Whistler mountain and then across to Blackcomb mountain.

Day 5: Our car rental was set for 10 AM and we got there at around 9:45 thinking we'd get an early start. Well, many others had the same thought and we ended up waiting in line for about 45 minutes! The car rental employees were doing the best they could and by the time we got to the counter, we killed them with kindness! Because were only renting for the day and planned to return the car that night, the guy upgraded us to a Volvo S60 with a sun roof and leather seats... FOR FREE!! We were riding in style.

We hit the road and in no time found ourselves on the Sea-to-Sky highway. It was the most beautiful drive that we've taken (so far). Chelsea navigated and took pictures of the beautiful mountains and lakes around us. We arrived in Whistler around noon and decided to eat before going up both mountains. Now, a trip to Canada wouldn't be complete without some Poutine. I used Yelp to help us find some good Poutine in Whistler and we ended up at El Furniture Warehouse. The picture below says it all.

All is well in the world when you have french fries covered in gravy with bacon and cheese curds... good thing we biked and walked a lot!

A picture from the passenger side of the car.

The gondola ride up to Whistler mountain was both beautiful and terrifying. We decided to take the ski lift up to "The Top of the World". The 15 minutes of terror were totally worth the views from the top: glacier lakes, snow capped mountains as far as the eye could see, and the feeling of being 7,000 feet above sea level. The gondola ride across to Blackcomb mountain was also beautiful. We were in a gondola with a glass bottom and unfortunately did not see any bears...
View from the ski lift. It was really scary!
From the Gondola
The Olympic Rings!!

Glacier Lake

The lovely Chelsea
Now, a trip to Whistler also wouldn't be complete without a fashionable souvenir! Chelsea found a neat hat that she can use to disguise herself as a real Canadian. At the end of a long day, we were ready to say adios.

We hopped in our in and drove back home. We stopped at the Southside Diner for some comfort food and then watched the sun set over the mountains as we drove back to Vancouver. Words cannot describe how beautiful the drive back to Vancouver was. It will live forever in our memories and in our hearts.

Day 6: How do ya top that, eh? Well, on our last day in Vancouver we ate breakfast at a waffle bar (they serve waffle sandwiches and flavored milk), I ate a Japadog (a hot dog that is Japanese style. It was a pork sausage with mayo, teriyaki sauce, seaweed, and fried onions), we visited the memorial for Cory Montieth (the Glee actor who died in his hotel room), walked to Gastown for an afternoon drink, learned about Canada's involvement in the war of 1812 (we skimmed a couple of statues), and stocked up on snacks for our train ride back to Seattle, and back home.

Memorial for Cory Montieth
Waffle Sandwich for the Miura Waffle Bar in Vancouver
View from the Amtrak
Lunch was at a Mexican restaurant where the staff all spoke Spanish and made delicious food. English is not the first language for 52% of the population in Vancouver, so we heard all kinds of languages during our trip which was cool.

The train ride back to Seattle was beautiful. We could see Mount Baker from the train and the sun setting over the pacific. What a way to end the day, eh. 

We got into Seattle at around 10:30 PM and made it to The Moore Hotel. Apparently, this is a haunted hotel (I didn't tell Chelsea until the morning) but we were so tired that all of the ghosts in the world could not have woken us up. Before going to bed, we decided to have one last hurrah at this place called Rocco's. It's a pizza place with a neat bar and really friendly staff. The guy who checked us into the hotel recommended it. We ate slices of pizza and recalled our favorite moments of the trip.

Day 7: We went back to Seattle Coffee Works in the morning where the barista remembered us! We gave Pike Place one last tour and ate the BEST Greek yogurt. It was homemade and topped with berries and streusel. The breakfast of champs! We took the monorail to the airport and got to see other parts of Seattle which was nice. Unfortunately, a woman on the train had an odd episode where she started yelling, as if she were arguing with someone, but there was no one next to her. I think she got upset that the train was stopped but she settled down after a while. We hope that she got to her destination ok.

Beautiful Latte Art from the Moore Cafe
The BEST Greek Yogurt

Well, folks, that was our trip. It was incredible. Seattle was full of life and excitement. Its attitude was very laid back and was home to very delicious restaurants, friendly cab drivers, ghosts, unforgiving hills, and a breeze that took me back through all of the beautiful moments in life. Vancouver was clean, very chic, and vibrant. It is a city of contrasts. High peaks next to a Marina. A plethora of (expensive) high rise apartments and a sizable homeless population. But I suppose that's true for most cities. We felt as though we were just beginning to scratch the surface of Vancouver... which means we'll have to go back and explore some more! Until next time friends!

Lovebirds at the Top of the World!!

This is "Ilanaaq, the official mascot of the Whistler Winter Olympics. It is an Inuksuk: a man made structure made by the Inuit people.

View of the valley from the Gondola

View from the Sea to Sky Highway on our way back to Vancouver

Ms. Chelsea posing for a photo
Isn't she lovely!!


View from the Sea to Sky Highway

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Vacation 2013 Part 2 - Vancouver

We didn't want to keep you waiting too long! That, and we know that if we put this off for another day it'll never get posted! So we left you at the train station in Vancouver. This was definitely the highlight of our trip. It's a city that has everything we love: good food and drinks, bodies of water, mountains, and plenty of outdoor activities. Below is a snapshot of our short, but quite memorable time in Van City.

Day 3: We arrived around noon and checked into our hotel. We didn't realize how fancy our hotel actually was. Apparently, Justin Timberlake stays there! Our room was awesome and luxurious (they upgraded us for free) and it came equipped with a soaking tub, a Keurig coffee maker, and an iPad! We walked over to Gastown for lunch at The Salt Tasting Room. It's a small restaurant that specializes in cured meats, cheeses, and homemade condiments. It was delicious and our waitress gave us some insight into the neighborhood and some of the challenges that the city is facing (homelessness, gentrification, lack of affordable housing, and bed bugs).

The lovely Chelsea enjoying a welcome beverage in our roon

Me, wearing my tourist/vacation outfit. I go for comfort over style! Our kids are going to love me/make fun of me for this some day. 
The tub! 

The Salt Tasting Room.

The view from Granville Street Bridge

Vancouver is the most densely populated city in British Columbia and I think all of Canada. These high rise apartment buildings are everywhere.

Walking our bikes over the bridge.

View of a beach on our way to Stanley Park. We dipped our toes in the water... it was really cold! A triathlon was taking place on this day as well!

Us in front of the Iconic Hollow Tree in Stanley Park

Prospect Point

Ms. Chelsea at Prospect Point

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Maple Walnut Ice Cream

The Teahouse. Former mess hall for gun crews in WWII! So much history. 

Lemon parfait dessert at our favorite meal of the trip- Fable in Vancouver. The top was basically marshmallow fluff and then there was lemon pudding and graham cracker crumbles in the bottom. Super sweet but yummy.

We continued our day on our bikes and found out that Vancouver isn't as bike friendly as Seattle. We trekked to Granville Island and also checked out a Hipster festival that our concierge sent us to. It was cool, but a little too cool for us! We went to the Yaletown Brewery for dinner and ended our night back at The Opus Hotel.

Day 4: The cool thing about Yaletown is that there are so many restaurants that are nearby. We had breakfast at an Italian Cafe and split pastries and an omelette. It was our fuel for the bike ride that was to follow. Because it was a gorgeous day outside, the only bikes that we could rent were a beach cruiser with back-peddal brakes and a mountain bike. It was an adventure biking to Stanley Park and up to Prospect Point. We were rewarded with beautiful scenery... and Maple Walnut Ice Cream! On our way back we stopped by the The Teahouse which had a nice view of the water and mountains from Stanley Park.

For din-din we made our way to Kitsalano (former working class neighborhood not too far from the University of British Columbia, now a trendy part of town with nice cafes, restaurants, and shops) and ate at Fable. We sat at the bar and watched the kitchen cook. We had "canned tuna" (poached tuna with olive oil and potatoes), Pea Gnocchi with Pork Belly (the peas were grown on the roof of the restaurant), and a Lemon Meringue Parfait for dessert. This was the best meal of our entire trip. We worked off our dinner with a nice walk back to the room where we rested up before our trip to Whistler.

We will leave you here and pick up in part 3 of our trip, which was Whistler and our trip back to reality. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Vacation 2013 Part 1 - Seattle

Hello friends,

It's been a while since we've blogged. We figured this would be as good a time as any to post another entry. Every year we try to take a big trip somewhere. The past 2 years we've been to Costa Rica and this year we decided to explore the northwest. It was an incredible trip that we both enjoyed and we're really excited to share this trip with you. We did so much which is why this is just part 1. We hope you enjoy!

Travel day: Holy moly, the Austin airport was unusually busy! It took us about 45 minutes to get through security, when normally we spend no more than 15. Our plane arrived on time but when we landed in Denver (layover), I got an email saying our plane was delayed... by 2 hours!! Fortunately, the Denver airport is awesome and we didn't mind... until we got really tired and realized that we wouldn't be arriving in Seattle until about 3 AM, which would really be 5 AM for our internal clocks. Anyways, we arrived at our condo (we rented a condo from Home Away) at 3:15 and were sound asleep by 3:16.

Day 1: We were up by 9 AM and figured that we should get out and see the town. We took a bus to Pike Place Market and explored all of the shops and even saw some fish get tossed around! We met a nice, quirky owner of a bookstore who sang when he spoke, and he recommended a good sandwich place for breakfast. We got coffee at the original Starbucks and then walked to the waterfront. We didn't have many activities planned out, so we made up our trip as it went along. We decided to rent bikes and to check out the baseball stadium. For $15 a pop we got nosebleeds to watch the Seattle Mariners play against the Angels for Friday night. Our bikes were really comfy and we biked about 18 miles around the city! We saw so many cool sights and built up quite an appetite. For dinner we went to Ballard (a neighborhood just north of downtown) where we ate at Staple and Fancy. We chose their tasting menu, where the chef chooses the dishes that you eat for the night. We had anchovies, home made mozzarella, home made ravioli, a delicious pork chop, and a chocolaty velvet cake. Not a bad way to kick off the first day of vacay! (We didn't like the anchovies but the rest was delicious)

Our first morning at Pike Place Market

At a park we stopped at while biking- great views of downtown Seattle!
The original Starbucks
Day 2: We still had our bikes and explored more of the shops around Pike Place. We ate some really good pastries and a crumpet. We also stopped by a coffee shop that made some really fancy coffee (our friend Ted recommended this). They had a coffee from El Salvador!! At the end of our trip when we went back in for coffee, our barista still remembered us, which we thought was cool.

Off to Bainbridge Island we went, where we biked around, bought a book at a used book store, and walked into some cool shops. Lunch was delicious and we were ready for our big night at the ball park. A shout out goes to Adam who informed us that Safeco Field had awesome food. Chelsea investigated and they did in fact have really good food. We ate tacos right behind 3rd base and then went up to our seats and sat there until the 7th inning. We walked back to our place to get some rest for Saturday, which was when we were going to ride the Amtrak up to Vancouver.
The view from our ferry from Bainbridge
On the ferry deck headed to Bainbridge Island
Edwin chose pizza at the baseball game
Day 3: The Amtrak was great! It was my first time on a train and I really enjoyed it. The sights were breathtaking and the seats were comfy! We sat behind this really loud family which was a little off-putting, but we walked over to the dining car and enjoyed the rest of our trip from there.

View from the Amtrak
More views from the train
Though we only spent about a day and a half in Seattle, we did as much as we could to get a feel for the city. The weather was great and we found the city to be very walkable and easy to get around with a bike. We definitely want to go back and explore the other neighborhoods of Seattle. Our next post will be about Vancouver. We both agree that Vancouver (and our day trip to Whistler) was the highlight of our trip. We're starting to realize that our kind of vacation is one that involves a fair amount of physical activity, delicious food, and incredible scenery (mountains and water). Stay tuned, and until next time enjoy the photos!
One of many fish stalls at Pike Place Market