travel Thursdays: Christmas in the Pacific Northwest

Since we’ve celebrated most holidays the last few years here in Houston, we decided to fly up to the Pacific Northwest to celebrate Christmas with my family last December. My grandma lives on Orcas Island, a small island off the coast of Washington State about 90 minutes from Seattle, and she was delighted when we announced that we’d be visiting for Christmas.

I always love staying at my grandma’s house on Orcas. She’s an artist, and her house is filled with paintings that span her 82-year lifetime. She and my grandpa also collected Danish mid-century furniture (back when it was new 😉 ) and her home is one of the coziest places I can imagine.




On three sides, her home is surrounded by lush gardens, and the fourth side has a fantastic view of the Pacific Ocean.

We spent some time at my grandma’s best friend’s house, and I snapped a couple photos of her deck. I mean…. I can’t even.



We got incredibly lucky with the weather – typically it’s dreary and rainy in the Pacific Northwest in December, but the sun came out a couple days, and we basked in it.







The evenings were spent playing Settlers of Catan. If you haven’t had the good luck to play this game, I highly recommend it – we’re kind of obsessed.



My grandma’s house is situated less than a mile from Cascade Lake, one of the five freshwater lakes on the island, so we bundled up and went for a long hike around the lake one evening at dusk.





It’s taking every ounce of self-control for me not to post 2,389 photos of the sunset that evening. It was spectacular, and it made my heart hurt from missing the Pacific Northwest so much.

Another day, we hiked around Mountain Lake. This was more of a typical overcast winter day, but it felt great to work off some of the turkey and mashed potatoes.



Naturally, we played on all of the overturned trees and big boulders that we came across. #typical



After several days on Orcas, we bid my grandma goodbye and returned to the mainland, where we stayed at my parents’ house in Bellingham for a couple days. The highlight for me, as always, was walking along Boulevard Park with its sweeping views of the bay. If you ever find yourself in Bellingham (off of I-5 between Seattle and Vancouver BC), make time for Boulevard Park!





One of my college friends was getting married down in Portland, Oregon the week after Christmas, so we spent one night in Seattle before taking the Megabus down to Portland. We couldn’t resist wandering over to Pike Place Market and the Space Needle, which looked pretty as ever in the cold winter night.




We have a lot of trips booked to Seattle this year (weddings, bike rides, etc. – always looking for an excuse to go home!) and I can’t wait to return to the woods and mountains and lakes and beautiful outdoors that I miss so much.


  • Reply
    March 6, 2015 at 3:44 am

    OMG, your Grandmother’s house looks magical. That deck, that view… omg. And the little stove and high ceilings! Love it.

    I’ve been meaning to buy a copy of Settlers of Catan at some point… we finally bought a copy of Cards Against Humanity, but it’s really hard to find people to play with. Nobody has time for a get together with enough people to play!

  • Reply
    March 6, 2015 at 9:39 am

    That sunset looks absolutely magical! Wouldn’t mind at all if you posted more of those 😉

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