Kristen and I flew to Seattle in June so that I could participate in my graduation ceremony from the University of Washington. I just finished up my Master's of Sustainable Transportation degree that I have been working on for 3 years. We then turned our trip into a multi-state tour to see friends and fit in an Alaskan Cruise. There is something really special about having so many fantastic family and friends who are willing to celebrate your accomplishments. Thank you first and foremost to Kristen who really outdid herself with the planning and coordination. It is impossible to appreciate how much thought and effort she puts into planning a trip unless you are there to see her do it. Also, thank you to everyone who made this event feel so special for me. It really was an honor.
Cullen and Heather were the first ones to meet us in Seattle. We landed close together, picked up our Dodge Caravan and rolled to the apartment. We booked a place for 8 because my mother Mitzie, her friend Deb, Darlene and Bob joined us in Seattle, and we needed a place to host a celebration dinner. Seattle was a great start to the trip. Our first Friday night in town also included being joined by our friend Greg and turned into a 3 a.m. event. Saturday morning one of my classmates organized a tour of Seattle utilizing bikeshare bikes, in spirit of our degree program and I was able to meet most of my classmates in person for the first time. Awesome job Brian. It was a great time.
Saturday afternoon when Mitzie and Deb arrived, the party really started. We did a pub crawl around the Ballard district hitting up 4 breweries all located within a few block radius. Mitzie was really leading the charge early on. The night didn't go so late for Kristen and I as the jet lag finally caught up with us, but some others pressed on. Our friend Jochen and his girlfriend Sandy join Cullen and Greg for some pool.
Sunday morning everyone luckily was in good form, and we spent some time in Green Lake Park taking family photos and enjoying the sunshine. Whoever said Seattle is rainy? Zach had joined us on Saturday night and was kind enough to serve as family photographer. He even created an awkward family photo for us.
Graduation finally arrived in the afternoon and I must have had the biggest entourage at the entire ceremony.
Our celebration moved from the University to the apartment, where we had 20 people by my count and gorged ourselves on Thai food and micro-brewed beer. Friends we have met in Arizona, Japan, Hawaii, and Germany traveled in from California, Wisconsin, Florida and quite a few locally. It is really amazing to have friends all over the world.
My niece Jessica made this beautiful wrapping paper for my graduation gift. Thank you Jessie.
I was having a really good time celebrating, and I loved having all the attention for my accomplishment, but we had to leave Seattle. We left Seattle on Monday morning and drove to Vancouver to board our Alaskan Cruise. I will admit right up front that we only proposed a cruise to entice our families into a longer joint vacation, and in the end, we ended up having a great time. Judge all you want, but an Alaskan Cruise is amazing. As soon as we boarded our ship, there was a nice surprise for Kristen and I that Darlene had planned.
There are too many things that we saw and did to detail each one, and the pictures should do more justice than I can do anyway. What I didn't capture in photos was our kayaking day in Ketchikan when we saw whales surfacing 60 meters away, harbor seals playfully watching us and bald eagles diving for fish. During the remainder of our time and our stops in port, we cycled to a glacier and a brewery in Juneau, rode a gold-rush era train to a trail head for a hike to a glacier in Skagway and glided through Glacier Bay as if our cruise ship were a 16 foot fishing boat.
Our first day started out with a clear sky, a fantastic sunset, and a creepy fog that rolled in and engulfed the ship.
Shots from the ship and glacier bay...
Each day the stewards would fold the towels into animals, and it was a great thing to look forward to.
The food on the ship was quite good as well, but I didn't spend much time taking photos of it. However, the entire pig being roasted was a surprise.
Upon arriving at our final destination in Seward, we were greeted by our Friend Casey and his girlfriend Lisa. From this point of the trip onward, we had to do very little planning of our own. Casey and Lisa had prepared quite the itinerary. We were in Alaska for 3 days, and spent some time in Anchorage at Casey's house, and in Talkeetna at a cabin they had rented. Along the way we visited an aquarium, a spectacular animal sanctuary with all of the large animals one would expect to see in Alaska, a mud flat where the tide varies by as much as 23 feet per day and people have gotten stuck when the tide is out, and we even saw surfers riding the boar tide as it was coming into the bay. An act of humanity that must also be mentioned is the free coffee stand that we happened upon in Anchorage. Jim was a really incredible person who started this stand because he wanted to offer coffee to the neighbors who picked up litter in the mornings. That was 6 years ago.
Here are the guys on standup paddleboards riding the boar tide
Our time in Alaska seemed much too short when we hopped a redeye to Denver. Thanks again Lisa for the comfort touches along the way.
Right from the landing in Denver, we were on the go. Megan picked us up at the airport and took us to their beautiful new home where Ian was taking a small nap, but rallied like a champ after working an all nighter. They have done a great job turning their new house into a place I greatly envy. We did a tour of Denver on bicycles after we fueled up for the day with the biggest biscuit sandwich I've ever had. I also had a sweet roll that I carried around with me and snacked on all day. I love hearty breakfast food. Denver is full of breweries and distilleries, and is making real progress on being bike friendly. We had a really good day exploring. Denver has some great graffiti art as well.
Megan's mom Susan really made our day by treating us to some sushi when we stopped in to say hello after our ride.
We continued our night out with drinks and dinner on the town. Luckily we didn't go too hard, because Andrea arranged bikes for us to go mountain biking. After a flat tire and an innertube search, we got down the trail and had a fantastic day. The sunshine in Denver certainly helps with enjoying the outdoors. The best thing about Denver is that all rides end with a good brew.
Our Denver friends really went out of their way to keep us busy. We had group dinners, cocktails at an awesome speakeasy, a backyard barbecue at Megan and Ian's and a night out with all the speechies that Kristen knows in Denver. One of the other husbands, Ray, and I were lucky to have each other, because even though I love SLP's, they really love to talk about speech. To cap off the outdoor adventures, we took part in our first 14er as well. It was not as physically demanding as I thought it might be, but it was really beautiful.
Can you spot the marmot guarding the mound from his post on the roof?
Of course all good trips have to end, and we spent our last morning at the botanical gardens with Megan and Ian. What a great way to end our trip. Thank you everyone.