Summer Escapes

July has been full of pleasant summer evenings, adventurous weekend getaways, and piping hot weather for this part of the country. Busy with work, I've been taking full advantage of any second to soak up the sunshine, and smell the sweet summer air.  In lieu of a project, here are four places, some old and some new, that have delighted and inspired me this season.

1) Pike Place Market, Seattle

I've grown up going here. It's one of my favorite places in the whole world. On a cold and drizzling winter morning, the place is practically abandoned, and you can lazily drift from stand to stand. In the summer, it's packed with tourists, especially from cruise ships. You become one with the crowd, like a school of fish, as you travel the serpentine path of vendors. I love it either way.

This happened to be a perfect Sunday morning when the skies were crystal clear, and Puget Sound was calm and glassy with the ferries gracefully floating by.  As I walked down the hill, the smell of fresh baked croissants, from the french bakery across the street, wafted through the air. The stands were overflowing with fresh summer produce at its absolute peak, fragrant sweet peas and vibrant floral arrangements in every color imaginable, as well as elaborate and artistic showcases of seafood. Sandwiched between the vendors, with every sense heightened, this is home to me.

2) The Lake

Summer isn't summer without dipping my toes in the warm, fresh water. I've spent every Fourth of July that I can remember here, and it never disappoints. From swimming across after a long day of work to enjoying a delicious summer salad on the deck, it's tranquil and refreshing. There is nothing better than watching fireworks sparkle across the shore with the moon shining above.

3) Copalis Beach, Washington

Two weeks ago, I took my spirited 2 year old Golden Retriever Lizzy to Copalis Beach, on the Washington Coast, for swimming and tennis ball wrangling. She's a water addict, and couldn't get enough of  jumping through the waves after a toy, or romping across the sand after a ball. The beach was practically deserted, and the waves inviting. Watching her gleefully zig zag across the sandy stretch brought a big grin to my face.

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4) Walla Walla, Washington

Last weekend I adventured across the state to my friend Haley's wedding in Walla Walla (Eastern Washington). It's about a five hour drive through rolling hills, tumbleweeds, and vast expanses of farmland. Walla Walla is full of gorgeous wineries and quaint shops. The wedding was held at Mill Creek Gardens -- a picturesque outdoor venue with big grassy fields, arbors with cascading white lights, and a lazy creek that trickles down the back of the property. The meal was a delicious pairing of seasonal produce and the best local wines.

These pictures are courtesy of my fabulous travel buddy and friend Amanda, who was nice enough to snap a few shots as I drove. They truly capture the varying terrain and impressive views of the other side of the state.

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Hooray for summer in the Pacific Northwest!