Birthdays, and Hiking the Gold Creek Trail, Kitsap Penninsula, WA

We flew out to the pacific northwest this last weekend for what was probably the most fun weekend ever. (A bit of hyberbole, maybe, but its always exciting to be able to visit friends who live far away.)

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Even the flight out was exciting. I’ve never flown over the Rockies before, and the clear view from the plane was stunning. As we went west, the cloud deck grew thicker, and we had fun trying to name the highest peaks that rose above the clouds. (I think this is Mt. Ranier in the pic below.)

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As a side note, our Fiat 500 rental (which was the cheapest car we could find) was pretty cute (and Kevin had no trouble fitting inside, with both enough head and leg room). Aside from its fun styling, it has a hilariously small turning radius.  Kevin’s pretty sure you can do a u-turn on a two lane road without backing up.

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The weekend was jam-packed with two birthdays in three days. Birthday number one meant a chance to view the amazing spectacle that is Cirque Du Soleil. AmaLuna is the touring show currently playing in Seattle. If you’ve never been to a Cirque show, I think its a fantastic choice for a special occasion. This is the second show I’ve ever been to, and I will definitely go again. We loved it. (No photography allowed, so you’ll just have to go see it yourself). (Also, Kevin missed out on this, as he decided to come on this trip last minute for business reasons, and thus missed out on our special tickets. This was fine with him, as he doesn’t care about the circus, even a fancy french circus. I, however, loved it.)

Cirque du Soleil Amaluna

Day two of this adventure provided the gift of unusually beautiful sunny weather, which we spent outside hiking the Gold Creek trail on Washington’s Kitsap Penninsula. Kevin and I are 2 for 2 right now on fantastic hiking trails in the pacific northwest, and 2 for 2 for having non-stereotypical pacific NW weather to enjoy it. The 50°-ish and sunny weather made the hike up to the overlook the perfect way to spend the free day in our schedule.

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Photo Mar 08, 7 00 33 PMs          Photo Mar 08, 7 05 25 PMs

The top of the vista trail provided the expected spectacular view of Seattle in the distance. The gold creek trail itself is nicely maintained, and a beautiful walk through the woods. If you aren’t carrying an extra 30 pounds on your back, the elevation gain is moderate, with the occasional brief level section to provide a break. Compared to the last trail we hiked “out west,” this seemed quite manageable, and entirely worth the effort.

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Total distance: 8.2 mi
Elevation Gain: 1980 ft
Min elevation: 589 ft
Max elevation: 1640 ft
Difference: 1051 ft
Average speed: 2.1 mi/hr
Average moving speed: 3.7 mi/hr

We did not start out with the intention of hiking 8.2 miles. Had we not missed the turn off, I think the total would have been less than six miles. As it turned out, we walked an extra mile along a nice wide and level path along the stream in the valley, and saw a couple of beaver dams and trees felled by beavers, before we realized we weren’t on the trail we wanted any longer. After the two mile round trip diversion, we saw the clearly marked turn off, and headed up to the top. Kudos to anyone that carries a 1-yr old 1000 ft up a mountain. (Our diversion also caused a delay in reaching our planned lunch stop at the picnic table near the top, which did not work out so well for the one year old, who can’t be expected to wait at meal time. Everyone was much happier after we’d eaten.) Despite this small mistake in timing, all four of us enjoyed the hike, with one even getting in a nap on the way down.

Most of us, however, waited until later. As it turns out, jet lag from the time difference between coasts, a late night out, plus an 8 mile hike takes a bit out of you.

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Day three meant birthday number 2, and a trip to the zoo. Kevin missed out on this excursion as this was actually a business trip for him as well, but I don’t think he minded. The rest of us love the zoo, so we had a good time, despite the crowds.

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The return of rain on Sunday signaled it was time to leave. (These trips are always too short, no matter how long you stay).

I’ve never driven over the famous Tacoma Narrows bridge before, and managed to snap a quick pic on our way back to the airport:

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The bridge is pretty unremarkable now, just like many other suspension bridges. If you aren’t familiar with its history, the original bridge built in the 1940s collapsed and is one of civil engineering’s most famous failures. The short version is that wind blowing across the bridge was able to cause such a violent excitation (the whole bridge moved up and down like a ribbon fluttering in the wind) that the bridge shook itself apart. That failure has had a lasting influence on science and engineering. (Reason number infinity why I love the internet, you can watch a video of the collapse on youtube.)

I sort of wish this were more of an educational tourist attraction today. Not many people seem to know about it outside of civil engineering circles, but there really isn’t much to see there today.

We returned home late Sunday night, and this week its back to work, always looking forward to the next trip. Happy birthday girls! We had fun, thanks for having us! :)

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