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Take A Hike! | An interview with A Serial Hiker

This is Amanda and her friend at the top of mailbox peak.

Anyone who’s been to the Pacific Northwest (PNW for short) understands that it really is a beautiful place. There’s so much green, so much nature, so many sites to be seen. Because of all this it’s not hard to believe that hiking is a favorite pastime to many who call the PNW home.

Even if you live in the city you’re never more than an hour away from a good hike. With nature being so close to more urban areas, it’s common to see people wearing their outdoor gear (Patagonia, North Face, etc.) even while walking around the streets downtown. There are many avid hikers who are in the city during the work week and in the mountains when the weekend rolls around.

I have a friend I consider a serial hiker who I have interviewed to get her opinion on the best hikes near us. Whether you’ve never hiked before or if you consider yourself a serial hiker as well, hopefully this interview will point you in the direction of your next hike. This rundown should also give you options of hikes both near and far so you can plan for either a quick trip or a weekend away.

(Forewarning, anything in parenthesis is my commentary.)

What is the most difficult hike you’ve been on in the PNW?

Mailbox Peak near Northbend, WA. The original trail is 2.5 miles long with extreme elevation. They’ve since put in a longer trail with more gradual elevation. When coming back down the trail the incline/decline was so steep that if we wanted to stop we needed to brace ourselves with trees to keep us from falling. Although it’s a difficult hike, it’s definitely worth going; the view is great!

Least difficult?

Snoqualmie Falls is pretty easy and kid friendly, but it’s still worth the trip because once you get down to the bottom of the falls it’s beautiful. (It’s not too far of a drive and there’s a really nice viewpoint overlooking the waterfall.)

For those of us that love fun hikes, what would you suggest?

Twin Falls near Northbend, WA. There are a couple of viewpoints of the waterfalls, a cool bridge and this hike gives you a workout without being too hard.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve seen while hiking?

Cute dogs in hiking gear (I imagine hats and cargo vests), old bridges, old overgrown forests and cool looking vegetation on trees that have fallen.

What hike would you suggest for those of us looking for beautiful scenery?

Mount Storm King near Port Angeles, WA. This hike overlooks Lake Crescent, the Strait of Juan De Fuca and parts of Canada. (I’d like to see this view in person.)

What is your favorite hike in all of the PNW?

Cape Flattery near Neah Bay, WA is the northwesternmost point of the contiguous US. There are amazing views at the end of the hike overlooking an island with a lighthouse, cliff sides and where the Strait of Juan De Fuca meets the ocean. (I want to visit here and be on the northwesternmost point of the country, especially with all those views. This is definitely on my bucket-list.)

Why do you love to go hiking?

It’s challenging and it’s rewarding. Hiking sets your mind at ease and reminds you how much there is to see on earth. Would you rather go hiking or be stuck inside a gym? (I’d much rather be free outside than confined to a treadmill.)

Any tips for new hikers or visitors to the PNW?

Mud! Beware of mud. Wear the right shoes and check the weather before going. Once when visiting Shi Shi Beach it was so muddy that I had to jump from twig to twig to avoid getting stuck and losing my shoes in mud puddles.

Additional comments:

Be careful not to get lost. Just a few weeks ago I tried to go on De Leo Wall trail for a short afternoon hike and ended up in a loop with no view for 2 hours. (Do your best not to get lost. Amanda was able to laugh while telling this story now, but I’m sure being lost wasn’t very funny at the time.)

Thank you so much for visiting our blog! We hope this interview has inspired you to get outside, plan your next hike or two and add a few adventures to your bucket-list. Let us know what you think about these hikes and any other favorites you have. And be sure to follow us on social media!

Amanda at Cape Flattery, her favorite hike!

Hotel Restaurants | The Hidden Gems of the SeaTac Area

If you’re a foodie like me, you’re probably on the lookout constantly for new restaurants to try. In my searching and consistent interest in restaurants and food, I’ve discovered something fascinating. Because this Seattle Southside area has a substantial airport smack dab in the middle of everything, there are lots of hotels. Hotels have restaurants. Often times these hotel restaurants are fairly unique to the hotel and the area. They range in style and cost. They are often of great quality and they are close by. Here’s the problem: no one knows they exist. (Ok, well maybe some people, but not many.) These hotel restaurants can be hard to find even online. Even when they are found, there is yet another issue; many people don’t know that these restaurants are open to the public outside of hotel. In other words, you don’t have to be staying at the hotel to go there. Some of you may have already known this, but this was exciting news for me. There’s so many great places to try. But wait, what about parking? Don’t most hotels charge for parking? Yes they do, but the restaurants typically validate parking for those who dine with them! This has opened up a whole new world. I’ve looked into a few places to try: Basil’s Kitchen at Embassy Suites in Tukwila. I had lunch there recently. I had a burger with grilled onions and balsamic vinegar. They had great service and I didn’t get to try them but they have zucchini fries! Overall, they were unique and had great food. NW Landing at the Double Tree Hotel in Southcenter. I have not eaten there personally, but the owner of CeSI has been there a few times before. She adores their brunch, and if a restaurant has great brunch, I think it’s pretty safe to say they’re just great. I have been to a few weddings at that hotel previously, so I can say that it’s a nice location and definitely worth checking out. The Bistro at the Courtyard Marriott. I have not been here myself. The hotel is nice and I have taken a look at the menu and while they a nice variety of choices, overall I’d say there menu is light and fresh. If you try it out you’ll have to let me know! Copperleaf Restaurant & Bar at the Cedarbrook Lodge. This is one place I’m really looking forward to trying. The resort itself is fairly tucked away. I’ve lived in this area my entire life and up until a few years ago I had no idea there was a high end lodge a few blocks from my house. I’d say that’s pretty fancy. From everyone I know who’s been there I’ve heard only good things and between that and looking at their website I would describe them as elegant. Seaports Restaurant & Lounge at the Double Tree Hotel in SeaTac. I’ve lived right around the corner from this hotel for the majority of my life and have never been here. But it looks very nice. This is another one I’d like to try. They serve lunch and dinner daily. Their menu definitely looks really good. Gregory’s Lounge at the Red Lion Hotel in SeaTac. I want to go here, because it seems casual and inviting. Often when I drive by I think they must have god food, I see people there frequently. They are almost directly across from the airport which is nice too if you’re to or from Seattle. Spencer’s for Steaks & Chops at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center in SeaTac. Spencer’s is a high end restaurant, they have steak and seafood options. I have not been here yet, but I’m looking forward to it. Their menu looks great! These are just a few examples of hotel restaurants in the area. If you can think of any others or if you have anything more to add about the restaurants above let us know! Find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! P.S. Writing about all this made me hungry.

Business Success on the Web

Business owners often ask me, “How can my business be successful on the web?” My response is, “Your business will be successful on the web when:
  1. People can find your business’ website easily,
  2. The text on the website is persuasive and easily understood,
  3. The design of the website is attractive and professional looking,
  4. The website loads quickly and is easy to get around and easy to use on a handheld as well as on a PC,
  5. The intent of the website is clear,
  6. The website offers something that the visitor wants or needs and
  7. The action you are seeking from the visitor is clear and easy to take.
The next question invariably is, “How do you make a website do all those things?” I tell them: research and proper coding. It is necessary to understand what the business wants the website to accomplish whether that be get more customers, sell more products, educate existing customers, and/or support customers. Understanding what the business makes or does and how these products or services differ from those of competitors is also an important element. Keyword research is the next step in making a website successful. The actual words and phrases that people enter into the search engines when they are searching for the products or services offered by the company must be found. It’s best to identify two sets of phrases (those used by the business and those used by prospective customers) and then test these phrases to identify the text that will best represent the business on the web. Studying the competition – what are they selling and how are they marketing their products and services – to see how a client can best represent themselves on the web is a necessary step as well. Visiting competing websites shows how they are doing their marketing. It’s important to report findings to the business owner/executive. I like to include good news, opportunities to improve, statistics regarding keyword phrases and a web plan that details the names of the web pages I would build and the metatags and text content for each page. Based on a discussion with the owner or executive about what is learned through research, it is then possible to proceed with drafting the website design, securing approval of the draft design and building the site to incorporate all of the above. This process is known as web development and search engine optimization. The job doesn’t stop there. It’s necessary to set up traffic tracking for the site. Monthly reports of search engine rankings and traffic to the site show where updates need to be made and points to possible recommendations for further improvements to the website. Sometimes I am asked “Once the website does all these things will my staff be able to update and maintain the website in-house?” “Absolutely,” I respond, “at any point in the process, I can and will train internal staff to make, maintain and improve the website. My philosophy is that the website is a dynamic tool that belongs to the business. As a teacher-type personality I take as much enjoyment out of training in-house staff to successfully maintain and improve a website as I do in doing this work myself.” Helping businesses find success on the web is a passion for me. It is work. There is no magic involved, but when all goes as hoped the happy result feels like magic.