Seattle is not unique in the fact that it’s magical during the Christmas season. Unless you’re plight in life is residing in a town inhabited by Grinches, I think anywhere has a decent chance of being fabulous over the holidays. The lights, the music, the seasonal beverages – all of it make Christmas (everywhere) the most wonderful time of the year! That being said, Seattle does have some factors that I’ve found elevates its winter game.
The aspect that Jarred and I have come to enjoy the most is Seattle’s proximity to the mountains – which offers multiple skiing destinations all within driving distance. To be fair, it is possible to drive from Oklahoma to a skiing destination, but it takes close to ten hours. The trip from our apartment to Crystal Mountain is approximately one hour and forty-nine minutes. There is a closer ski area located less than an hour outside of the city, but we took Shawn and Kelsey’s advice and purchased passes at the mountain that isn’t quite as overran with Seattleites on the weekend.
On the first day of December, which happened to be a Friday, we piled into the 4Runner with all necessary equipment and headed southeast towards Mt. Rainier. Jarred had cut his workday short in order to maximize our time on the mountain, but unfortunately the rest of his team didn’t follow suit. This (combined with the fact that I do not drive in Washington) meant that I got some very hands-on experience being Jarred’s scribe for a couple hours. If anyone has any debugging issues, specifically back slash commands – hit me up.
As we ascended Crystal it welcomed us with impressive views of the surrounding mountains including glimpses of Mt. Rainier. We parked the car, layered our gear and began the trek towards the base. For anyone who has ever skied before you know that ski boots were created to inflict as much pain as humanly possible on the poor soul’s feet locked inside. I was optimistic now that I owned my own equipment again (this hasn’t happened since before I was a teenager and my siblings and I had matching K2 skies adorned with Donald Duck) that my ski boots wouldn’t be quite as excruciating.
Jbabe is a boarder, which means his feet were cradled in the equivalent of a heavenly cloud during our walk, whereas the torture chambers on my extremities were already agonizing. After walking for a couple minutes Jarred turned to me and grumbled that his boots were stiff because they were new. This would be the point at which I glared into his eyes and retorted, “Know your audience.” Translation: “Don’t you dare complain about snowboarding boots when I’m strapped into these monsters!”
Our initial skiing/snowboarding adventure got off to an interesting start when we were locked in the gondola with three retirees. I won’t bore you with details, but let’s just say between Geoff (who likes to be called Geoffy) being hard of hearing, the language barrier that presented itself with the sweet Korean couple, and multiple references to machine guns; Jarred and I were more than ready to exit the enclosure at the top of the mountain. When that time finally came posing for pictures was high on my list of priorities, but immediately following we spent the remainder of the afternoon enjoying Crystal (mostly) to ourselves.
I wish I could tell you that once my boots were in use the torment they were imposing subsided, however that was anything but the case. Throughout our first two ski trips I was convinced losing some, or all, of my toes was inevitable. This resulted in wiggling my feet out of my boots (which is not an easy task) every opportunity I could just to verify that all ten toes were still connected before slipping them back into their prison cells. By our third outing I finally decided to substitute my padded ski socks for regular athletic ones and I’m pleased to report – made a world of difference. I’m pretty confident all of my phalanges are now going to survive this ski season.
Another wonderful contribution this area brings to the Christmas season is Leavenworth’s (AKA The Village of Lights) Christmas Lighting Festival. If you’re a devoted fan of cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies like myself, picture the setting in every single one of their films – adorable, quintessential, holiday-themed towns – and that is the real life Leavenworth. After spending the entire Christmas season sans The Hallmark Channel (it’s been a rough month resorting to pirated, low quality versions of these seasonal classics on YouTube) I informed Jarred that under no circumstances were we missing the festival at this festive, Bavarian themed village.
On a snowy Saturday Kelsey, Maddy, Jbabe (obviously the most excited passenger) and I drove to Leavenworth to make all my Hallmark holiday dreams come true. During the drive we sipped on lattes, jammed to Christmas music and created our very own movie storyline for our time at Leavenworth. Jarred would play the part of a Christmas-hating IT guy that relocated to the most Christmas spirited town on earth for work, thus transforming his distain into a fondness for the season. Maddy would find true love in typical Hallmark fashion by running into/over a dashing young gentleman determined to purchase her family owned business. Kelsey and I would be in charge of production. Clearly our plot has every element to deem it an instant Yuletide classic.
I believe every person in the Pacific Northwest had the same idea, as we were by no means the only visitors in Leavenworth that day. Nevertheless, we had an incredible day catching snowflakes, looking at lights, drinking hot cocoa and pretending we were living and breathing a real life Hallmark movie. This was our first trip to the hidden little gem of a town in the mountains, but it will not be our last.
Seattle has offered it’s fair share of Christmas lights from the top of the Space Needle to charming neighborhoods like Magnolia. Bellevue even goes so far as offering a nightly performance on Snowflake Lane, which is basically the equivalent of a Christmas float parade complete with fake snow. To be honest, I think it should be mandatory that fake snow be blown through the streets of every city during December. Kelsey and I loved Snowflake Lane, whereas the boys were not quite as interested. To be fair, there was a Thunder game that happened to coincide with the holiday production.
All in all, we’ve loved our first winter in Seattle. We’ve enjoyed the season and already compiled a bucket list of holiday adventures we want to conquer next year – like SantaCon. Washington is definitely a winter wonderland, but we are excited to get back to Oklahoma and continue celebrating the advent season with our family and friends.