2019 Traveling (part 2) Fall groups, Vancouver and Seattle

So part 2 of this story starts of 9 days after the last one ended, I finally made it home from Malaysia about 30+ hours later. The next week or so was spend preparing myself to go back to the States to work at the summer camp that I love so much. I knew that I was going to be away from home for at least 5 months and definitely a possibility for longer. Knowing how I am living my life now there was honestly no telling if I was going to go home after, so that was in the back of my mind when on the 18th of May I had to say goodbye and go to the airport. All of my experiences, stories and memories from camp can and possibly will be a blog on it’s own so I am not going to tell you about what my job was like or what responsibilities I had just yet. What I am going to tell you about is the interesting and fun ”travel” stories I have gained after leaving home on the 18th. I have seen many of different places in between but this story will start about 3 months later when the summer has already come and gone and most of the counselors are no longer there.

Fall groups:

It’s towards the end of August and it’s time for fall groups to start, the summer has come and gone at this point and that’s when all the exploring starts. Fall groups is a 7 to 8 week long period after the regular camp season has finished and where a group of counselors stay behind to work with school groups and wedding parties that come in. For a lot of schools that come in this is there first activity of the year so our job is to let them get to know each other and work together better, all by means of being in nature and doing team bonding activities that we provide for them. For the weddings it’s a completely different story, instead of just hosting the ceremony and reception there, we provide them with a full on weekend where we literally do everything for them. We set /clean up everything from start to finish, we set up and clean our dining hall about 7 different times over the weekend for different meals and events, we have kitchen staff preparing delicious food for them, we serve them food, we build their campfires, we lifeguard, we make sure their living spaces are ready and clean, we set up their cocktail hour/ party area, we clean up everything and about another 100 other jobs that make their weekend so special and beautiful. It’s honestly a great time, I get to work and live out in nature with a lot of people that I can call some of my closest friends in life. One of the best parts about fall groups is that we get a significant amount of time off during some weeks so we can hangout together, travel, explore etc.. Knowing that this could very well be my last time working at camp I wanted to take advantage of every single day that I could. You have got to imagine that this camp is in the woods already so I can literally hike into the woods straight from camp. There are a lot of small hidden gems around camp and I like to pride myself in that I know about and have seen a fair few of them. My goal this fall was to explore new paths, visit old ones and do cool activities away from camp too.

The first activity we wanted to do during fall groups is go to this harvest festival that was about 2 hours away from camp. Harvest festivals occur during the fall and are a pretty big thing in some parts of the States. The one we went to had a cool vibe to it, a lot of different people all wearing fall type of clothing (flannels and jeans), good food and beer/ cider. Ciders are a big thing at these festivals because the apples that they harvest are used to make cider out of. After having a good burger and a beer we snuck behind the festival into one of their apple orchards to pick and try some apples ourselves. I picked one apple and it might have been the best apple I have ever had (some would call i destiny).

Mount Killington

Mount Killington The next big trip we did during fall groups was hike Mount Killington, it’s the 2nd highest mountain but the one with the biggest elevation gain in Vermont. Mount Killington is about 2 hours away from our camp in New Hampshire and we wanted to start our hike decently early. We woke up at 4:30, the 6 of us got in the car around 5:15 and got to Mount Killington around 7:30 to start our hike at 8 AM. The hike was pretty cool, it had a slow start but then all of a sudden went pretty steep up for about an hour or so. The last part of the hike was super cool, there were big boulder that you had to climb up and over which added a nice finish to the hike up. The view was amazing and I always like to soak that up, because that what you do it all for. After free climbing an old sketchy fire tower we made out way down to go to a cool brewery. The Alchemist brewery in Stowe, Vermont is special because they have a certain beer that is pretty hard to get outside of the brewery itself. They have a delivery schedule where they only deliver to a shop or restaurant once a week to keep the quality up. They only sell a certain amount of that beer to one customer because they really care about keeping the quality of the beer once you buy it ( the longer you go without drinking it, it will decrease in quality). It was a cool experience getting to taste a beer that is different from so many others and that the brewery puts a lot of effort into to keep the quality high.

The rest of the fall groups I tried to indoor climb, bike, hike and kayak as much as I could. I think I biked every possible direction in a 45 minute radius, I tried to take advantage of it all, after all how often do you get live in an area where all the activities are so accessible. During fall groups we have a lot of amazing and big campfires and we have events that we organize for our group, like our annual Christmas party.

One morning Curtis and I decided to do an early morning hike up to a spot called ”trout pond”. I had been there before but it’s a place not a lot of people have been to and Curtis basically grew up in these woods so it was a great opportunity for me to explore some other paths this time. It’s about an hour and a half hike from camp and we went a different route from what I had done in the past, which is exactly what I wanted. We started our hike at 5 AM, it was pitch black outside and we knew bears must have been close on our way up because we saw some fresh tracks on the ground. Unfortunately we didn’t see any bears but we did hear a group of wolves howling on the other side of the lake towards the end of our hike up. On our way down we saw many of game trails that we would have loved to follow if we had the time that day.

Trout pond

After all the hiking, biking and seeing the same people for 5 months straight it was time to say goodbye to camp for now and get on the road again.

Vancouver, Canada

I woke up at 2 o’clock, got ready and a friend of mine drove me to the bus station at 3AM so I could get the bus to Boston airport before 4 AM. After 16 hours of traveling I got to Vancouver and the very first thing my friend D and I did was go to a bar and get some Canadian beers and some pretty good poutine. I had no idea that Vancouver is home to so many different beers and breweries. I don’t know how it happened but Pretty soon after I found that out it became clear that our goal was to hit up 10 different breweries over the time that I was there. The first morning we got some great breakfast at a cool diner and took a water taxi to the other side of Vancouver to explore that area (and get a beer). Later on in the day we visited our first 2 breweries.

A water taxi

Something I like to do in every city that I go to is do a big walk around a part of the place to check out some good views, get some movement in, eat some different food etc.. A couple weeks before I got to Vancouver I planned out this 4-5 hour long walk through some of the woods, along the coast and through the city. The fact that it was raining and me definitely not having the right gear for that day was not going hold me back, especially since my friend had to work so I had to go do something productive. About 8 hours later I picked her up from work but on my way there I stopped to check out this bar I noticed on my walk earlier, once I had picked her up we went to another bar to have some post work/walk beers. We eventually ended up going to 2 different breweries, had some really good beers and then we headed off to a comedy show somewhere in the area. It was an all female group called the ”Nasty Women” and they are hilarious, I would definitely recommend seeing that group perform if you’re ever around Vancouver! The next day was the day we planned on doing our brewery crawl, we started that day off by driving to this little place called Granville Island in the middle of Vancouver. It was a super cool spot to walk around, they had an indoor market place where they sold all types of baked goods, foods and a lot of other things, I bought some peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and they were so good!. All the shops besides the market sold really cool stuff too, I definitely recommend going here too. Afterwards we made our way over to Stanley park via water taxi and walked around for about an hour or 2 before heading over to do our brewery crawl.

There’s a strip in Vancouver that has 5 different breweries literally right next to each other, towards the end of the afternoon food trucks open up too so you can take a break and eat some good food. We spent the entire afternoon just hanging out in all the breweries that were there, we ordered a flight (a tasting of 4-6 beers) at every single one of them. After the 3rd one the food trucks had opened up so we could get some food in before continuing. It was a great afternoon with some good tasting beers. Our favorite one was the yellow dog brewery, just because of the taste and atmosphere in the brewery, if you enjoy drinking beer absolutely go here if you are around.

Seattle, Washington

The SHORTEST flight EVER, that’s what this part of my trip started of with. If you read my last blog, you probably remember my return trip from Malaysia, this was the complete opposite! I had to be at the airport around 6AM to get my flight, I love flying early on in the day but now I had to because I was going to my first Football game later on that day. I said goodbye to my friend the night before and got the bus around 4:00 to go to the airport to get on my flight that was 30 minutes long. I am not lying when I say that the you can take your seat belts light were off for 5 minutes until the announcement came through that we were going to start our landing process already.

I only brought carry on luggage with me so I could get an uber as soon as I got through customs. Which was a little bit of an interesting situation since I had to explain that I just got done working at this summer camp all the way over in New Hampshire for 5 months and now I am coming back into the country to watch an NFL game and jump on a cross country road trip that starts in the middle of nowhere Indiana (interesting story right?!). Thankfully the custom agent was a nice guy and let me come back in, I got my uber and went to my hostel. When I got to the hostel I realized I had made a mistake, I booked a room from the 20th of November on not from October the 20th. For some reason I got lucky that day and I had not paid upfront and they a had a room with a bed in it, so I booked that one for the next 3 nights.

Seattle Seahawks If I would begin to describe how great of an experience the rest of the day was I would not do it justice, but here’s to me trying anyway. As soon as I dropped my bag in the room I went out and started doing what any Seattle Seahawks fan does on a Sunday, drink beer, eat food and support our favorite team. Weeks before I even got to Seattle I had done research about what things I should be doing on game day when visiting Seattle, things like: what are the right spots to eat food, where are the fans ”tailgating”, where should I go?. So before I even got there I had a list of a couple spots that I could go to, my main priorities were, hang out and drink beer with other fans and buy a Seahawks jersey. I went out at 10 AM and checked out some of the spots on my list, eventually I settled for this crowded bar and ordered a Coors light (because why not?). This bar had a cool atmosphere but it wasn’t my favorite place, however someone did get me another free Coors light (which was the first sign of how nice these fans really are). After my first 2 beers I moved on to find a Seahawks jersey of one of my favorite players named Bobby Wagner, he’s one of the best players in his position in the entire NFL. I walked towards CenturyLink Field Stadium and I could not believe how big this stadium looked from the outside, it was huge! The atmosphere was great, Seahawks fans and great energy everywhere. I walked towards the fan shop and after some thinking I pushed myself to buy a jersey. I was so excited, this was the moment I had been looking forward to for years now and it was finally here, I went outside and bought one of the best hotdogs I have ever had (buy a hotdog from any stand outside if you go here). While finishing my hotdog I got in line for this game where you could win tickets for another home game, I got so close to winning that the people hosting it were actually surprised I got that far. I did not win but I did get a free Seahawks beanie, which was pretty cool. After receiving my beanie I went over to the spot I was super excited to visit, I knew that all the old school and ”hardcore” Seahawks fans but also fans from the other team would come together here and have a good time. The bar that I went to is called ”King Street Bar & Oven”, I was lucky again (a very familiar pattern today) to get in because it was so packed that people had to wait outside, but I got there at the right time. I thought this was a cool place because it has a lot of history when it come to the Seahawks fans but it’s also cool to see that fans from both sides can come together and have a good time before rooting for opposite teams. If I could go back this weekend to go here and enjoy the atmosphere all over again I definitely would. If you don’t know me you don’t know that I am a huge introvert so starting up conversations with people is hard for me. So when I entered the bar the minimum amount of money you could spend if paying by card was 15 bucks. That was the equivalent of 2 tall boys of bud lights(never said it was cheap), so I bought 2 and for a while I was just soaking in the atmosphere and taking everything up until I decided to join a table that 2 guys were sitting at. These guys were at least 30 years older than me but I could see that they were long time fans, so carefully I started up a conversation with these 2 guys. This was the second moment when I realized how nice these people were, they accepted me as a fan which was cool to me because these guys had been coming to Seahawks games for over 10 years. They asked me why I was here and when I explained to them I flew to Seattle to see the Seahawks play they got so excited and started to buy me a shots. Unfortunately I don’t remember their names and they will never know how cool that experience was to me. After my 4th tall boy of the day it was time to head over to the game I had been so excited to see. This was a 5 year long dream coming true for me, I was so excited and happy to attend and in some weird way I felt like I was representing my country as a fan. I won’t dive into the results of the game because it wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for, but what a cool experience it was. The people sitting next to me (or rather standing) were super nice and again were shocked when I told them I flew in just to see the game. The jersey in my closet is a reminder of this great day and all the amazing experiences that came with it and I will never forget how I felt that day.

The remainder of my 3 days in Seattle were spent at a climbing gym where I spent about 2 hours trying to figure out one route. I dropped in at a CrossFit box and did a cool workout there and the last day I did my usual long walk through the city. I love food so before coming to Seattle I checked out some of the famous food places that people recommended online. One of the things I like to do on these walks is plan the routes so I pass some of these places. This day I walked through the sculpture park, Kerry park where they have an absolutely amazing view of the city (see photo below), Dick’s drive in because this is a staple cheap burger place in Seattle and if you know me I do love my burgers! The 3 other main spots I walked through on my back were the Japanese garden and a spot called: Ezell’s Famous Chicken, this is famous because Oprah apparently loves this place so much that she let’s the fried chicken and rolls fly in whenever she has a craving (it was pretty good). After the fried chicken it was time to walk back towards the hostel and go to the airport, but not before hitting up another brewery called ”optimism brewing company”. My next stop and where the story will continue during the next blog is a little town called Peru, Indiana.

Kerry Park

Writing and thinking back to all of these moments make me relive them all over again. It makes me even more aware of how blessed I was to do all of this stuff. I hope you enjoyed reading these stories as much as I did living them and I also hope these inspire you to do your own travelling an explore the world. My take on travelling is that I love hearing other peoples stories but I want to make my own stories and memories along side other people. 40 years from now I want to be able to remember all of these crazy stories, share them with other people and talk about them with the people that I experienced them with.

Next up: Peru, Indiana

%d bloggers like this: