Thursday, April 14, 2011

Twin Peaks Revisited: Mount Si WA

Just because I read the Sunday New York Times Travel section doesn’t mean I have to do what it says.

Especially when it implies (as it did a couple of weeks ago) that you shouldn’t avoid going someplace just because it’s scary and dangerous. So, last weekend, instead of seeking the undiscovered pleasures of Libya, or the northeast coast of Japan, I hopped on Interstate 5 and drove three hours north to visit a friend in Seattle. On Saturday we got our city fix, but on Sunday she suggested we head 30 miles east and hike Mount Si, just a hop, skip, and jump from Seattle proper.

Mossy Mount Si

At Mount Si, we hit the trail with good intentions, but due to melting snow pack, we turned around before we reached the top. (Note to Self: when hiking in early spring, leave the light hikers at home and wear the heavy-duty hiking boots.) Despite the slush and mud, we did manage to get a sense of the trail. In my unscientific opinion, it has a quasi prehistoric Northwest rainforesty feel (i.e. lots of big gnarly moss-covered trees and ferns.)

I’d definitely attempt this hike again on a drier day. Although something tells me it’s not the trail for a warm, sunny, weekend. Since it’s so close to Seattle, I bet it gets pretty crowded.

After we had our fill of tromping through mud, ferns, and melting snow, we explored the surrounding town of North Bend, WA. Apparently, North Bend has the dubious distinction of having been used as a backdrop for Twin Peaks, David Lynch’s surreal TV series from the early 1990s. Although it was a moody, overcast day, North Bend feels more cozy than creepy, and there were no finger-snapping dwarves to be seen.

For me, the town’s stand-out feature was Scott’s Dairy Freeze, which has been around since the 1950s. It’s managed to retain an old-school ice cream stand/burger joint look that is getting harder and harder to find. I just had to order a soft serve in honor of their great sign. And you know what? A small cone was only a dollar (also hard to find). I found this delightfully refreshing after all that artisan gelato I’ve inhaled at $3.50 a scoop.

Scott's Dairy Freeze

It’s a fun little package – this quaint town, with its twin peaks and soft serve ice cream. I look forward to next time, when I’ll hike to the top, check out the view and reward myself with a root beer float.

Scott's Dairy Freeze Ice Cream
234 East North Bend Way
North Bend, WA 98045

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dare to Bare: Popina Swimwear, Portland OR

Portland is more like a town than a city, and in this neck of the woods, six degrees of separation is more like two. That’s how through a mutual friend I came to know Pam and Will Levenson, owners of Popina Swimwear. Truth be told, I was eyeing Popina’s well-designed, retro-inspired swimwear long before I met this dynamic duo. Cruising through one of their stores or surfing their website will make even the most swim-wear adverse want to buy something.

Popina, Eastside location
Ladies – I HIGHLY recommend checking out Popina. The suits are adorable, and thanks to Pam’s exquisite design skills, they have a certain classic modesty that personally, I find very appealing. Plus, the sporty, amphibious designs lend themselves to both aquatic and non-aquatic activities.

In particular, I absolutely LOVE the Popina swim skirt, and finally purchased one. It’s so stylish and versatile. You can pull it over your suit – or heck – just swim in it! Ladies, in my humble opinion, the swim skirt has the potential to banish the cellulite conversation forever. I can already picture myself proclaiming, “Yes, waiter, I WILL have the Fettuccine Alfredo. Bring it on, because I’ve got a swim skirt!”

A cute little ensemble
Besides the array of suits and swim skirts, other stylish items found at Popina include adorable, high-quality flip-flops, and bathing caps dotted with flowers (the kind mom wore in the pool while doing the breast stroke, remember?) It’s true ... everything you’ll need for that Caribbean cruise (or maybe just a trip to the local beach) is right here.

Popina Swimwear (Eastside)
4831 NE 42nd Avenue
Portland, OR 97218

Popina Swimwear (Pearl District)
318 NW 11th Avenue
Portland, OR 97209