When Family Visits the Island(s)

I have waited for this week to come since my family booked their flights nearly 3 months prior. It’s hard to live so far away from family at times but one of the best part is being able to show them a new part of me and a new country.

This wasn’t just a normal family trip however. This was my younger brother’s FIRST EVER time off the continental United States, and it would be his FIRST time receiving a PASSPORT STAMP.  I mean he’s 26 years old and has only ever traveled within the US and Mexico, so this older sister was beyond stoked. Alright, I get that you might not understand why this is a big deal, but I LOVE being able share travel adventures with my favorite people in the world!

I was eager for my parents too, Read more

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Family Travel: Rocky Point, Mexico

THIS IS MY 100TH POST ON MAPLESS ADVENTURE. 100 POSTS.

I honestly can’t believe I have posted on my blog 100 times in the last few years. I’ve been on so many mapless adventures and have experienced quite a few highs and lows over the last few years but I wouldn’t change any of it, so let’s get started on this next adventure…

I know I’ve said this before, but living away from my family can be hard a lot of the times. One thing is for sure that I have an amazing family who is very willing to travel with me south of the border to our condo in Puerto Penasco, Mexico all because I wanted to go. Living in Seattle for the last three years, means I haven’t been to our condo in 3 years.

I knew that since I was planning a week long vacation to AZ for the end of October, it was a good time to travel to our condo. You can call it a little “international refreshment” to my heart and soul. I absolutely love traveling and don’t get to do the amount of “true” traveling that I’d wish to be able to do, so when this type of adventure presents and works out with my family, I really jump on it.

The actual journey to the condo was filled with many firsts for me as I drove down with my sister and her 5 and 2 year old, and well if you’ve traveled with children before you might not have sympathy for me.

For starters, my flight was delayed 3 hours so instead of hitting the road at 4:30PM we got started at 7:30 PM. My sister tried to keep the boys awake for most of the day as to allow them to sleep on the car and it may have back fired. My 5 year old nephew complained of a headache the ENTIRE drive and NOTHING was helping him. My 2 year old nephew got car sick 40 minutes aware from the condo resulting in projectile vomit, which of course, I had to clean because my sister was driving. THEN, my 5 year old nephew had to pee which it being late, middle of nowhere Mexico and only 3o minutes away meant we were stopping, so I proceeded to hold an empty cup to allow him to pee.

You can imagine that by the time we arrived in Mexico and unloaded, I ABSOLUTELY cracked open a Pacifico and couldn’t help by smile and laugh at the experiences I just had.

I woke up the next morning to an adorable 5 year old talking to his grandma, my mother, and then getting cuddles that lasted maybe 30 seconds. But I’ll take it as a morning wake up. It didn’t take long for the crew (included my mother, my father, my sister, and 2 nephews) to eat delicious chirzo breakfast burritos my dad made and then get ready for a day of pooling and beaching or laying out, sleeping, and relaxing for me.

The one thing I should tell you about my 5 year old nephew is that he can swim in virtually ANY water temperature and though October in Mexico may have been 85-90 degrees, the pool water WAS NOT. The ocean was however bearable and actually quite warm.

We proceeded to spend the majority of the afternoon in the water before heading back up to get ready for a trip in to downtown for some shrimp ceviche and wandering. I love shrimp ceviche and no place has better shrimp ceviche then Rocky Point. We didn’t spend too much time in downtown because “we” wanted to Tide Pool explore and enjoy the sunset on the beach.

Rocky Point has one of the largest tides I have every seen which makes it perfect conditions for sunset tide pool exploring. That’s exactly what we did for a good 2 hours. I think I spent more time taking pictures of my family then actual exploring, but it wouldn’t be me otherwise.

My dad left us Monday morning, and our next two days included nothing but being lazy by the pool relaxing, drinking margaritas, watching the boys swim and play, and venturing over to the other pool area which has a waterslide, by day; and by night: eating dinner and watching movies (which I can NOW say I have watched Jurassic World about 6 times, though truly only once). We didn’t leave our condo area either day and honestly I didn’t mind. These two days of nothing but relaxation were ideal and much needed.

Traveling South of the Border has been a part of my life for 20 years, as evidenced of a family picture located in our condo dated October 1995 and will continue to be apart of my life for hopefully another 20 years. Hard to imagine my first trip was so long ago at the age of 9 and I still love going down there. Hopefully, I’ll be able to have friends of mine join me next year on another adventure south of the border.

Daddy-Daughter Adventure #3

If you would have asked me that when I agreed to go on the back of my dad’s Harley Davidson cycle, we’d continue that tradition, I probably would have laughed. I never thought that we’d be blessed with opportunity after opportunity to spend quality time together. This adventure however kept me at home as my dad decided that since mom was in Nashville, TN, he’d venture to the PNW to visit me! It was a quick weekend but it was packed full of fun and adventure.

It started with a jog around my favorite location, Green Lake, which is also where I spend majority of my time with my running group, Seattle Green Lake Running Group. We didn’t go very far because as a spontaneous purchase, my dad and I decided to run the Rock-n-Roll Seattle Half Marathon. We weren’t alone in our short jaunt. My roommate had one of his good friends from college in for the RnR Seattle, though he was running to win it, and he decided to come join us. There was a “HUGE” pace differences: my dad and I were closing in at 10:30 minute miles; he was at like 5:10 minute miles (or some crazy fast pace). You can imagine our faces when moments after we arrive he took off like a deer. My dad and I just started laughing because in less than 10 steps we couldn’t even see him. After our run, we grabbed some breakfast and coffee before heading home to get ready.

I knew Friday was going to be our one main day to spend in and around downtown but it was also our only chance to pick up our race packets. So that’s exactly what we did. I don’t drive into downtown because, well, driving a manual into the hilly center of Seattle is not a fun or easy combination. My dad didn’t mind taking the metro system and walking a little. We walked near the stadiums, took a few selfies with my new selfie stick (laughing while doing so), and wandered around the Expo enjoying the loves of runners.

After the expo, we headed through Pioneer Square, which was a first for him, and enjoyed a “Pre-Race” beverage at the Oldest Saloon, “The Central”. From there, it was to Pike’s Market Place for another selfie, then up towards Capitol Hill to the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room, a first for the both of us.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room opened in January 2015, located 9 blocks from the original Starbucks, and is a place for people to come and enjoy/taste/learn about unique blends of coffee.  Starbuck Reserve are rare and exotic micro live coffees that are unique to this location. I really had no idea what to expect, but I did learn that this roastery is responsible for roasting all of the Reserve label beans sold in all Starbucks. My dad and I did get to try two of the reserve labels, which in his words “the most expensive cup of coffee” and yes, he would be correct. This isn’t for the cheap at heart person, but it does offer a unique experience. We headed home for an early night after our tasting, but it wasn’t over yet.

A few days prior to my dad arriving, I received a WhatsApp message from my high school friend Blaine, who was going to be in town this same weekend and on a spur of a moment, decided he wanted to run the RnR Seattle Half Marathon too. So, after he landed at SeaTac, he taxied to my place to join myself, my dad, my roommate, and my roommate’s friend. Talk about a house full of runners.

We were able to catch some ZZZ’s before waking up and beginning our race day prep. This half marathon took me on a different training plan, which included adjusting my nutritional aspect to add a few supplements and this morning was nothing different. Luckily, my dad is the one helping me with my supplement/nutritional changes and so our mornings are fairly similar.

We made it to the meet up location for the SGLRG RnR crew for our typical race day photo before heading to the start line. I was pretty excited as this would be Blaine’s first official half marathon and my dad’s first big adventure through Seattle. My dad and I had a plan to run the first 5 miles at 9:30 pace then change to a 3 min. run/1 min. walk. However, at mile 5, I was feeling great and my dad told me to rock it. Which I did. I PR’d by 6 minutes finishing at 2hr 13minutes, a 10:13 minute mile pace. I was so extremely happy with this finish time and proud of my dad who didn’t finish to far behind me (2hr 27 minutes). Blaine finished at 1:54, my roommate came in at a 1:35, and his friend Roosevelt rocked it with a second place finish at 1:09. Do you know what it feels like to be standing at the start line knowing someone who is half way done before you even start? Let’s just say it provided some early morning laughter for my dad and I.

After the race and after-race party, we headed home to shower and re-get ready for another afternoon on the town before the Sounders game. I mean my dad couldn’t come to Seattle without experience a Sounders game. Blaine and Roosevelt joined us for a Ballard experience (one of my personal favorite). We enjoyed some good brews, good food and good company. Blaine parted ways with us as we head back to Pioneer Square for the ECS March to the Match experience.

One of my favorite parts of traveling with my dad is watching his face during new experiences. This was one of them. Between him and Roosevelt’s facial expressions, I was quite entertained. I think the biggest shock for my dad was the amount of people and the fact that we STOOD the ENTIRE game. We won 3-0 and the night still wasn’t over. It was time for dinner and we headed to another neighborhood close to home for some pizza and ice cream.

We crashed that night and woke the next morning a little stiff but ready for another adventure. We headed north to Mt. Vernon, joined by Roosevelt, where we were blessed with the chance to meet up with our Mexico/Canadian friends and spent the morning catching up. Instead of heading directly back to Seattle, we took a road trip detour to Lake Stevens. Reason is because this is the place of the Lake Stevens Half Ironman hosted in August of each year. I’m trying to convince my dad and his tri-group to race it. Another new place checked off for my dad and I together.

The night was less busy. We spent it relaxing, BBQ’ing, and enjoying each other’s company. It was a semi early night for both my dad and I, as he was jetting back home dark and early (like 3AM). I was absolutely blessed to be able to spend this weekend with not only my dad for our #3 adventure, but with my friend Blaine, and new friend Roosevelt. These are the moments in my life I cherish and love. AND my dad is already registered for next year’s RnR half marathon. Maybe I can convince my brother, sister, and mom to join in :-).

Stay tuned for my next mapless adventures.

Family Travel: Little Brother Visits Seattle

It’s been nearly two months since I turned 28 years old and that means it’s been two months since my little brother, Joel, came to visit me from his summer in Chicago. My brother, who was interning with his company at their head quarters in Chicago, was given the opportunity to fly out for an extended weekend. It would be his first time in the PNW and only my second family visitor since moving to WA in 2012. We have been discussing this trip pretty much since the moment I found out his company provided each intern with a free flight. In all reality, it was pretty much me telling him “You’re coming to Seattle”. My parents were also onboard with this plan to use the flight to visit his big sister, because we all knew he’d never come otherwise. I know I shouldn’t say never, but it’s hard for ue Lang siblings to travel to visit each other. So I was so excited when he actually booked the ticket. Plus, it was my birthday weekend too!

He landed pretty late Thursday night and I knew Friday was going to be an early morning so we didn’t do much once he landed. I love playing tour guide so I packed our weekend full of “typical” WA adventure starting off with a beautiful drive and hike in the mountains.

I’ve mentioned this before that the Cascade Mountain Range takes anywhere from a 45 minutes to 2 hour drive northeast/east/southeast from Seattle. For our hike, I selected one that I have been wanting to go on for sometime but haven’t been able to go. This summer has been all about alpine lakes and what better “Welcome to Washington” gift to my brother then to take him 4.1 miles up a mountain and make him jump/swim in one. This particular hike, called Lake Serene, is quite popular to many Seattlites and Washingtonians.

It’s a 8.2 mile round trip hike that climbs 2000ft, reaching the alpine lake at 2521ft. We started off on an old logging road before starting the climb up through  overgrowth forest, crossing over waterways and ascending upwards with the use stairs (yes, physical stairs built along the trail) until we finally arrived at the lake. We took a short break to refuel and then took a dip into the lake. The dip started off freezing, as the sun was beyond the mountain ridge and left us in full shade, but after several minutes became refreshing and much needed.

After the decent, we ventured to a local brewery in Everett, called Scuttlebutt, for some burgers and beers. It didn’t take us long after our arrival home before we crashed, as we knew another long day was waiting for us upon waking.

Saturday came quickly and before I knew it, my brother, my roommate and myself were heading down to CenturyLink Field for some pre-gaming at Pyramid Alehouse, where we met up with several other friends. This was my “birthday celebration” and what better way then to celebrate watching my beloved Seattle Sounders FC. The whole concept of our weekend together was to show my brother what it’s like to live here, and Seattle sports are a huge part of that. I don’t attend the Seahawks games ($$$) and rarely attend the Mariners, but the Sounders are a whole other story. My brother has never been to a professional soccer match and I loved being able experience it with him. The game was against Tottenham Hotspurs, a member of the English Premier League. Not only was this his first MLS game, it was both of ours first European match. It was a high scoring game of 3-3, but did end in a tie. I guess a tie is better than a loss.

After the game, the group ventured to a local pub for some grub. We didn’t last long before exhaustion set in, so we headed home for some RnR. The night was still young and as we were celebrating my birthday, we got ready and hit up the local bar scene in my favorite neighborhood, Ballard.

Ballard is a fairly popular night life spot that is only 10 minutes away from my home. It has one fun bar/dance club that my roommates and I are fond of, so after grabbing beers at King’s, another bar, we decided it was time to dance and DANCE we did, all night long.

You could imagine what Sunday consisted of after dancing all night long. If you’re thinking eating and lounging then you’d be correct. Joel and I left for brunch at popular joint called Portage Bay Cafe, per recommendation from one of my roommates. We weren’t disappointed and came home stuffed to the max. My original plan for Sunday was a microbrew tour throughout Seattle but being completely hungover (not going to sugar coat that fact) we didn’t make it very far from the couch. We did move later the evening and drove down to Tacoma to enjoy a delicious dinner at one of the local breweries and met up with our brother-in-law’s little brother, Joe, who is currently stationed at Fort Lewis. This particular day, we were blessed with meeting his new wife and her daughter. I have spoken with his wife on the phone very briefly but I loved being able to finally met her and we enjoy each other’s conversation. After dinner, we decided that we wanted to relax but still do a little brew tour. Luckily, many of the local brews bottle their beers, so we did a “stay-at-home” brew tour with 6 local brews and watched movies.

Monday, his last day, was our “tourist” day. We drove past the Fremont Troll, wandered around Pike Place Market, stuck gum onto the Gum Wall, visited the Space Needle via the monorail, and walked along the boardwalk. Before his final departure, we ate lunch at The Pike Brewing Company, located in Pike Place Market and brewing since 1943. I “made” him get the beer sampler as one last good-bye from the Emerald City.

It was a hard, sad good-bye at the airport, but I couldn’t have asked for a better packed-filled weekend with my brother, Joel. We hiked, watched sports, drank local craft beer, and saw the sights. Hopefully, someone else will want to come visit me next summer so I can show them the Seattle Experience. I love my city! Until next adventure…

Family Vacation in Texas

January came and went very quickly with not many adventures taking place. I’ve been so focused on getting healthy and preparing for my Mexican Adventure including working 6-days a week, that this Dallas trip snuck up on me. I’ve had this trip planned for sometime but when it came time to start packing, I was in quite the tizzy. I’ve had very little downtime in the last 5 weeks and was ready for my 10-day long vacation.

The vacation started out a little busy as my 4-month of nephew was getting baptized the first weekend I was there. From my nephews’  view point, there were parents (2), both sets of grandparents (4), 2 sets of great grandparents on my brother-in-law (BIL) side(4), 1 uncle, 1 aunt , and 1 cousin-aunt (Brother-in-law’s cousin). Yes, 13 people trying to fight for attention of a 3 year old and 4 month old. See what I mean when I said “CRAZY”. I don’t think my oldest nephew slept the entire weekend. Luckily, I didn’t land until mid-evening Saturday and I knew I was going to have the entire week with them, so while the pizza dinner I tried to sit off to the side as much as possible. I did okay until I took out my camera 🙂

Baptism Sunday was quite a wonderful day . We spent the morning at church honoring baby Gavin  and the afternoon together as a family eating Texas BBQ, socializing, and swimming for Jacob (along with his dad, grandpa, and uncle Joel). What I wasn’t expecting was for my Great-aunt and dad’s cousin to show up. I tend to forget where all my family on my dad’s side lived and as she and her son both lives in Dallas, they came to the after-batism celebration. It’s always a wonderful surprise when things like this happen. You could say I enjoyed every minute of my family-filled Sunday Funday!

By Monday things were starting to slow down. My BIL’s family all left Sunday evening so it was just my family remaining. We spent this day lounging around the house, which was much needed as my sister had the entire week planned out for us and the kids. I don’t get to be around my entire family often so when I do I take in every second I can get and I’m always sad to see them go.

The remaining of the week was just me, my sister and my nephews (BIL had a busy work week). Our week started off with a trip to the Ft. Worth Zoo on , where we met up with Jacob’s best friend Zak and his mom, followed by lunch at Central Market- huge grocery store. Now, growing up in Arizona the zoo wasn’t always fun to do (I mean it is 90+ degrees for most of the year), but the Ft. Worth Zoo is a whole other story. The Ft. Worth Zoo is home to nearly 5000 animals, 435 different species of animals/insects, will be celebrating 105 years of service and is named one of the top zoo’s in the nation. What impressed me the most about this zoo was that they had an entire exhibit about the wildlife found in Texas. I love being able to see what this state offered and what could be encounter in the wild of the desert. I would diffidently check this place out if you are ever in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

Another outing was to the Ft. Worth Science Museum. This was the first visit for my nephews and sister and we didn’t really know what to expect. We initial planned on going because they have a huge DINOSAUR exhibit and Jacob LOVES his dinosaurs. What we weren’t expecting was for my nephew to fall in love with the kids exploration play area which had a huge train set (he loves trains too), a grocery store with 100s of food items, and an ambulance that played the siren with a push of a button. There was also an outdoor area with water and blocks. I loved watching my nephew run around this play area as his mind was learning and exploring. There is just something fascinating about they way kid’s minds work. After a good solid hour (or more), we finally pulled my nephew away from the play area to go see the dinosaur exhibit and ending our afternoon at the Wizard of Oz exhibit.

Following the science museum, my sister took us to a restaurant called Twisted Root Burger Co. located only in Texas (well, now 1 in Louisiana) known for flavored root beer and burgers. Their root beer of choice during my visit was Butta Rum Root Beer and boy, oh boy was it DELICIOUS!  I think I drank 3 glasses (the most soda pop I’ve had in months). My sister said she once had a Blueberry-flavored Root Beer here. I love going to eat a these types of restaurants when I travel because it’s not something I can get anywhere else and I try to avoid chains. Support the Locals! This is a must-eat place when traveling to Texas!

Next stop was to the Dallas World Aquarium, located in downtown Dallas. I can’t tell you the last time I went to an aquarium (as I fear the ocean) but this aquarium was not what I was expecting at all. The DWA is divided in to 3 main exhibits including the Orinoco Rainforest, Mundo Maya, and the aquarium. Starting off the journey, you enter into the Orinoco Rainforest-Secrets of the River designed as an aviary and home to many different bird and mammal species including a manatee, a giant otter, and the only public display of three-toed sloths in the United States. This combination highlights the unique bio-diversity of this important South American rainforest ecosystem. Designed as an open aviary, it’s best to keep your eyes opened in all directions.  As you continue along the path, you enter into the aquarium section which houses 10 main tanks feature the aquatic life of Japan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, British Columbia, the Bahamas, Fiji, Palau, Southern Australia, Lord Howe Island, and the Solomon Islands.

Up next is the Mundo Maya exhibit, which opened in 2004 and houses plants and animals (including a black panther) prevalent in Mayan folklore. The main attraction in this exhibit is the 400,000-gallon walk-through Cenote exhibit filled with sharks, rays and sea turtles of the Yucatan Peninsula. Did I mention that the Yucatan Peninsula is where I’ll be scuba diving in one month (this exhibit didn’t erase my fear)?!? I think we spent a good 20 minutes watching turtles eating lettuce and carrots and sharks swim around our heads (not my favorite part but I survived). With the pathway design in a giant circle, you are able to walk through multiple times helping with checking out each and every exhibit. It is also helpful with a 3 year-old who is impatient, headstrong, and determined to see the sharks as fast as possible the first time through, missing half the exhibits, but we survived!

One night out of the week, my sister and I met up with two of her best friends at a restaurant  called Brewed, a coffee house, pub and eatery located in Ft. Worth. Brewed specializes in craft drinks including kombucha and has a variety of Texas brewed beers on tap along with a chef inspired menu featuring “Duck Fat Fries” and “Goat Cheese Queso”. And yes everything mentioned above is as delicious as it sounds and I give this place a 5 Star Rating!

The remainder of the week was spent running errands, attending doctor appointments, working out, eating at restaurants not found in Seattle (i.e. Schlotzsky’s) and playing at the park. Although I was exhausted by the time I was dropped off at the airport, I wouldn’t have changed anything. I am so grateful I have a wonderful and hospitable sister and brother-in-law who let me stay for an entire 10 days. I can’t wait for my next trip to Dallas so my nephews can take me to the Ft. Worth Stockyards and maybe check out the Dallas Zoo. Here’s to the next Mapless Adventure- i.e. SCUBA DIVING IN MEXICO!!!!