Thursday, November 18, 2010

My New Blog Site is Live!

Serendipity on the road strikes again!  During my road trip stop in Boise, I met a creative and warm woman named Shanti Sosienski.  Shanti and her extraordinarily talented web design team at SOS-Communications have just built a website for me:   The new blogging platform will allow greater freedom for creative expression in my blogs.   I'm excited and so very deeply touched that they did this for me.

Please visit the new site to see my recent blog post:  "Wyoming & Nebraska:  Dark Night of the Soul."

All future posts will be on my new please bookmark it and join the Seeking Shama Facebook page to receive alerts when new blogs are posted.

Thanks for sharing in my journey!

Much love to all,  Kee Kee

Monday, November 15, 2010

Serendipity on the Road Strikes Again - Huffington Post

"Leap, and the net will appear" (John Burroughs)

I was standing on the ledge.  I was lost, alone, confused and scared.  I had completely lost control of my life and, for the first time ever, I couldn't at all see the light at the end of that dark, black, lonely tunnel.  Where was the endless optimism that I have always carried with me?  Where were those many dreams that always had me eagerly leaping forward towards the future?  They had all disappeared and nothingness had taken their place. 

Realizing I had to do something in order change my life, I decided to take a loooooong road trip with Yoda.  This alone was completely out of character for someone who has always shunned being trapped in a car for hours at a time.  But then, I decided to go a step further and blog about my internal journey.  I've always been a fiercely private person.  It's a rare friend to whom I open up and share my most raw and personal thoughts, fears, and emotions.  Yet here I am doing just that in a very public forum.  I have no idea why I have this burning need to share.  But the hunger is there and I'm feeding it.  And you are listening.  Really, this is the most beautiful experience of my life.  I'm exposing my truths and people aren't turning away.  The feedback, support and enthusiasm for my journey leaves me touched in a way that I can't possibly find the words to express.

A writer friend told me that my journey is speaking to people and I should consider sharing it with a broader audience through a forum like The Huffington Post.  On a whim I shot an e-mail off to the travel editor at midnight one night, and by 7am the next morning she e-mailed me back with an invitation to blog for them.  Really?  It still shocks me that I may be interesting enough for people to actually want to hear what I have to say.  Yet I jumped at the opportunity and my first Huffington Post blog has just been published.  My Huffington Post blogs will supplement my personal blog.  I'd love for you to read them both, or one, or neither.  After all, my blogs ultimately are really just a place for me to work through my pain as I discover my new life. 

So John Burroughs, thanks for the advice.  I've leapt.  I left my life behind and I've taken to the road.  I can't honestly say I see the net, but with each new experience, I'm beginning to have faith that it will one day appear.

Read me on Huffington Post:

Salt Lake City: Facing Fears

My arch nemesis

Kee Kee & Holly in the 70s
(I don't get it either)

Blake, Kee Kee & Holly
Salt Lake City, Utah.  It spoke to me in some ways.  In other ways, it didn’t.  I faced some fears.  I ignored others.  I’ll start with the best part:  Holly.  I’ll end with the worst:  chickens and snow.
Holly was my first real best friend.  We met when I was 4 years old and my family moved in next door to her family in Bettendorf, Iowa.  We were the exact same age, so it was a given that we were going to become best friends.  My memories of Holly range from dressing in costumes and charging a nickel for the grown-ups to watch us perform dance routines, to eating her mom’s home-made jumbo pretzels, to wearing matching halter-tops made by my mom, to sitting in the tree in my front yard and arguing about whose dad was stronger (I still think my dad wins). 

Blake & Holly toasting with the last of the traveling bottle of wine
We fought hard and we played hard.  She even bit me once.  I told on her.  For years after I moved away in the 3rd grade our families continued to vacation together in Northern Wisconsin.  However as time went on, Holly and I talked to each other less and less, until we finally completely lost touch.  This was simply a byproduct of living in different places and first becoming self-absorbed teenagers and then becoming young adults consumed with the pressures of finding our place in the modern day world (if you haven’t noticed, I’m still stuck in this phase!).  The last time I saw her was when she was working at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin.  She went on to become an Aviculturist and I lost track of the different places she moved as her career progressed.  A year ago Holly found me on Facebook…and yes, the magic that made our childhood friendship so special was still there.  It was for all these reasons that I made her new home, Salt Lake City, the next stop on my road trip.
Freshly laid eggs from Holly's chickens
Holly, her delightful husband Blake, and their enchanting daughter Samantha all made me quickly feel part of the family.  There was a first night dinner party with some friends, a second day hike at Mill Creek Canyon on the Pipeline Trail, a lesson on exotic bird feathers, s’mores over the bonfire, and, best of all, an impromptu family dress-up party that sent me back to the carefree joy of childhood playtime with Holly.  Remember that traveling bottle of V.Sattui Angelica wine?  Well, it is with my oldest friend that that the bottle was finally drained.  Perhaps it is also fitting that it was with the safety of my first best friend that I faced two secret fears:  chickens and snow.    
My first secret fear, chickens, began when I was a toddler in North Carolina.   I was TERRIFIED of chickens (specifically roosters).  Keep in mind, I had no idea what a chicken was, but in my young mind they were the enemy and to be avoided at all costs.  One day my dad brought home his bounty from a hunting trip, and while I was holding the dead pheasant, he told me it was a chicken.  It seemed he cured my fear of this bird…until we moved in next door to Holly in Iowa.  You see, Holly’s family raised a flock of chickens, complete with one bad-ass rooster.  I have a vivid memory of sitting on my tricycle in the driveway watching Holly run past screaming, followed a couple seconds later by the angry squawking rooster.  I don’t recall ever being pecked by a chicken, but it has been a fear I’ve carried with me into adulthood.  I saw on Holly’s Facebook page that she had a peep of 4 fuzzy chicks living in her yard.  What I didn’t quite process is that these chicks would be adult-sized chickens by the time I arrived. 
Toad in a hole with freshly laid eggs

On the one hand I was thrilled because we ate Toad in a Hole one morning for breakfast with eggs freshly laid by their chickens.  Talk about eating locally!  On the other hand I was terrified:  THERE WERE CHICKENS ROAMING FREE IN THE YARD!  No, the irony of me being chicken of chickens is not lost on me.  Especially these chickens.  The flock of four were very friendly and acted like loving and loyal pets of the family.  They’d follow Holly around the yard and would nuzzle up to her. 
Deep breaths, don't scream....

Determined to help me face my fear, Holly introduced me to the most affectionate of the four:  Charlotte.  She plopped Charlotte right into my arms and then proceeded to document the monumental moment with a series of photos.  Charlotte couldn’t have been more accommodating despite the fact that my heart was racing and I couldn’t turn her back over to Holly fast enough.  I also tried, for all of two seconds, to participate in feeding the flock their mid-afternoon snack of carrots and bread, but the fear of being pecked on the hand made me quit almost before I started. 

My second secret fear is driving in the snow.  No, the irony of this is not lost on me either:  I learned to drive in the snow when living in Wisconsin.  Yet, after 15 years of living in weather-free perpetually sunny Southern California, I become paralyzed at the mere thought of getting behind the wheel when snowflakes are present.  For this reason, I cut short my visit to Salt Lake City because snow was forecast later in the week and I wanted to ensure that Yoda, Princess and I cleared the mountain pass before even a speck of weather was present.  Imagine our surprise when, right as I was pulling out the driveway, cold rain and a bit of hail began.  This wasn’t in the forecast, and after being reassured that it is typical in Salt Lake City for this to happen for a few minutes and then stop, I decided to brave the roads.  Unfortunately, by the time I got to the mountain pass the cold rain had turned to slushy snow.  To an average driver, the weather wasn’t really that bad.  Although it was accumulating on the hood of my car and visibility was a bit low, it melted the minute it hit the freeway.  However to me, this was my worst fear materialized:  I was driving the mountain pass in snow and there was no way to turn back.  Freeway signs said that slow moving vehicles should flash their hazards, so I obeyed and was that annoying Prius moving at a snail’s pace in the far right lane.  I kept hearing Holly’s calming voice in my head telling me that when driving in snow don’t think about what other cars are thinking, just go as slow as you need in order to feel in control.  For me, that was SLOW.  Yet, I did it.  I made it over the mountain pass.  In the snow.
I can’t say my fears of chickens and driving in the snow have been conquered, but I did face them and survive, and really, that feels damn good.  Facing fears may be as simple as holding a chicken and driving in light snow, or it may be as complex as leaving one’s life behind and hitting the road for almost 3 months in search of a better tomorrow.  Whatever it is, real growth cannot begin until we look fear in the eye and tell it we are not going to let it control our life.  And this simple and obvious realization was my latest lesson of the road. 
Kee Kee & Yoda on hike
Samantha on Hike
Learning about birds
More dress up

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Idaho: Hot Springs & Ligers

Skinny Dipper Hot Springs

Hot Mineral Springs.  I’ve been all over the world in search of them.  Why?  Because they have always revived my body and spirit.  Many tout the health properties of steaming mineral water, which they say can provide relief for arthritis and digestive issues, give speedy recovery of wounds, increase blood flow and circulation, increase metabolism, and allow for absorption of essential minerals.  I’m not sure if they do any of that.  But what I do know is that soak in a hot spring is one of the few things that can release my gridlocked shoulder muscles and quiet the traffic jam of my noisy mind. When I was planning for my road trip, I was hoping I’d find some hot springs on my journey.  That wish was granted in the State of Idaho.
Shanti taking the waters
By far my favorite hot springs to visit are those hard to reach ones that take a bit of creative energy to locate.  Directions might be something like “park your car at mile marker 4 beside the river, then hike a quarter mile up the hill on the unmarked trail” or “walk through the RV park, crawl over the boulder, and hike up the hill along the river bank until you see the steam rising” (yes, both of these sets of instructions were given for springs I visited in Idaho).  On my last full day in Boise, my new Boise BFF Shanti Sosienski took me to one of those off-the-beaten-path springs about an hour outside of town.  It is called Deer Creek Hot Springs, or, as the locals call it, Skinny Dipper.  Easily one of the most beautiful springs I’ve visited, it involves a series of 3 pools that vary in temperature and have a spectacular view of the Payette river.  Unfortunately, Skinny Dipper wasn’t all relaxation.  While attempting to take a photo I stepped on a slick spot and took a major wipe out.  By major, I really do mean major.  I have cuts and bruises in places you should never ever ever have cuts and bruises.  Clearly I needed to heal those cuts and bruises and what better way than to visit more hot springs?  So I headed straight to Lava Hot Springs, Idaho for 3 days. 

Lava Hot Springs was originally a sacred gathering place for the Bannock & Shoshone Indians who designated the area as a neutral ground to be shared in peace by all tribes.  The town now has a population of about 500 people. However, in the height of the summer tourist season up to 15,000 people visit per month.  For once I was happy that I arrived during the off-season because it really did feel like I had the place to myself.  I stayed at the historic Home Hotel which was built in 1918 and is the only hotel in the city that has private hot spring tubs in the rooms.  
Historic Home Hotel
The heart of the town is the World Famous Mineral Pool Complex, which consists of five pebble-bottomed hot pools with temperatures ranging from 104 to 112 degrees.  About 3 1/2 million gallons of water bubble out of natural underground springs and course through the pools every single day.  

Lava Hot Spring pool

Although these were the nicest commercial hot springs I've ever visited, my favorite part of Lava Hot Springs was discovered through a conversation with Levi, the front desk clerk at my hotel.  I asked him if there were any secret hot springs in the area about which only the locals know.  After pausing briefly, and then slowly giving me a sly smile, Levi told me about a spring which bubbles up next to and then flows into the Portneuf River.  

Chicken Soup Hot Springs

The locals call it Chicken Soup Hot Springs because, legend has it, in the 1920s women would put their chickens in the hot waters to help with plucking feathers.  Early one morning Yoda and I found it  with the intention of enjoying a private soak as the sun rose.   Of course, I'd be lying if I said that soak was pure relaxation.  You see, that same conversation with Levi the desk clerk told me about another local legend:  ligers.  Yes, you heard me, LIGERS - that mythical hybrid of a lion and tiger that Napoleon Dynamite so loved.  Levi swears they live in the hills around Lava Hot Springs, but that their existence is kept under wraps so as not to disturb tourism.  A search on Google does indeed show that in 1995 ligers escaped from Ligertown, an illegal breeding operation near Lava Hot Springs.  Although the authorities claim they captured all of the ligers, Levi said the locals still have occasional sightings.  I'm not sure what I believe, however while attempting to soak, I couldn't stop thinking of the large animal droppings on the trail leading to Chicken Soup Hot Springs.  They could be from elk, deer, moose, bobcats, or...THEY COULD BE FROM LIGERS.   And with that thought, I quickly grabbed my clothes and bolted back to the safety of the hot spring tub in my room.
Hiking in Caribou National Forest

World's happiest cows:  on ranch at
edge of Caribou National Forest

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Boise: Shanti-Shama-Peace

Shanti's Tattoo

Boise, Idaho.  A place I haven't known much about, and admittedly, a place I've never had a desire to visit.  I thought my stop would be a quick one-nighter on my way through Idaho, but happily, I was hit with yet another dose of serendipity on the road.   My pie-baking goddess friend, Beth Howard,  came through again and connected me with a Boise friend who recently relocated from Los Angeles.  That friend turned out to be Shanti Sosienski

Meeting Shanti was profound and symbolic to me in many ways.  First, her name.  "Shanti" in Sanksrit means "peace."  The name of my blog, and of the yoga rug I invented, is "Shama," which also means "peace" in Sanskrit.  I have a peace tattoo on my lower back.  The purpose of my road trip is to find inner-peace.  Shanti - Shama - Peace.  The connection couldn't be ignored.  The second thing that gave me shivers was discovering that Shanti wrote an inspiring book called "Women Who Run."  In her introduction to the book she writes that she took up running just as her life was falling apart. She explained to me that she initially felt she was running away from her life and then, as running helped her heal, she realized she was running towards a new life.  I recently blogged about how this road trip was initially a way for me to run away from my broken life, but that I am discovering that I may actually be running towards something.  Finally, she has tattooed her forearm with my favorite Gandhi quote about change.  My mantra for this road trip is plastered on my dashboard in the form of a decade-old Post-it Note that says "I Welcome Change."  Okay Universe, I'm listening! 

California Transplants: 
Heather, Meredith & Shanti
The night I arrived in Boise, Shanti immediately whisked me off to her friend Heather's house for wine and homemade pickled vegetables.  Heather is from California and I took an instant liking to her...she and her dog even took Yoda and me for a fantastic hike in Boise's scenic Rocky Mountain foothills the next day, which are also a paradise for mountain bikers.  We were joined by another California transplant, Meredith Clark, whose company Chandi Design makes the most beautiful and unique chandeliers I've ever seen.  Over the next 2 days I met a total of 8 people through Shanti who are from California.  Then, when I had Princess' flat tire (!) fixed at Boise's Toyota dealership, 6 of the service people were also from California.   Seriously, I think Boise is some big fabulous secret about which all Californians but me know.  I can understand why people in the know want to keep it under wraps:  it is an affordable mixture of urban sophistication and outdoor playground with a mild climate and small town charm.  In fact, Outside Magazine just named Boise the Best Overall Town in the West.  

Boise Guest House
Shanti introduced me to her artist friend Eve-Marie which resulted in Yoda and me staying at Eve-Marie's charming Boise Guest House, which features 6 comfortable and artistically decorated hotel suites in a renovated historic home from 1895.  I was so happy to have a kitchen, and craving greens, that I bought some organic kale at the local Co-op and ate the entire head for dinner one night.  Each room is decorated with Eve-Marie's original art, and the place radiates magical, healing, happy energy.  I was thrilled to discover a "guest book" in the lobby in the form of an antique typewriter on which guests can type their comments.  If you visit Boise, you must stay here!

Yoda makes a friend in a Boise bar
(he's from California!)
Shanti and her friends made a well appreciated pitch for me to move to Boise.  To demonstrate that Boise has many available bachelors, Shanti even lined up 3 dates in one day and let me tag along!  I gave her my seal of approval on each of them.  Knowing my restrictions with Yoda's separation anxiety, the first night Shanti took me to a bar where they welcome dogs (the highlight of Yoda's Boise experience).  I was very impressed by the sense of community in Boise.  I think everyone is so dang happy because they make a point to take a break in their lives and have FUN.  The North End is filled with professionals: doctors, lawyers, firemen, nurses, entrepreneurs etc., and they all gather together every 6 weeks for some sort of theme party.  For instance, in March it is the Sensory Illumination party in a warehouse, where fire dancers and ceiling dancers entertain the costumed crowd.  In June it is the Esthetic Evolution party, which is 3 days of camping in the woods.  In December it is the Santa Rampage party, where everyone dresses up as Santa and elves and goes bar hopping through Boise.  The Boise crowd realizes that life is more than titles, working long hours, or pretentious parties.  To them, it is about putting on false glittery eyelashes, feather boas, and crazy costumes and just having a good time and connecting with others.  I've always been a bit of a wanna-be hermit, so although I doubt I could keep up with them, I do admire their desire to have fun and forget about work now and then. 
Flying Yoga
The morning I left Boise, Shanti, a flying yoga instructor, gave
the perfect parting gift for a road tripper:  flying yoga back traction.  I've never heard of flying yoga, but after this blissful stretch I'm sold!  It's interesting that my visit with Shanti ended with partner yoga.  Being supported in the air by a partner's legs is an exercise in trust.  Trust that she won't drop me.  Trust that I won't fall on my head.  Trust that I should just let go of my fear and be in the moment to enjoy the stretch.  It was a gentle reminder as I continue on my road trip that I need to carry that same trust with me in life.  Trust that this road trip is leading me to where I need to be.  Trust that I'll be okay. Trust that if I just stay in the moment then I'll eventually find peace.

Thank you Shanti, from the bottom of my heart, for these important lessons of the road.

Shanti - Shama - Peace

Shanti and the traveling bottle of wine

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bend, Oregon: Revitalized by Nature

Yoda's first snow - he wasn't happy!
Although it has been nice spending time in bigger metropolitan areas, it was with a small private sigh of relief that Yoda and I loaded up Princess the Prius and hit the country roads again.  The quiet beauty of nature truly does rejuvenate one's spirit, and mine certainly has been in need of a kick-start.  We left Portland on a welcome sunny day and headed to Central Oregon via Mount Hood.  The mountain had received a fresh blanket of snow the day prior, so the air was crisp and the view spectacular. 

Three Sisters Coffee, Government Camp
After stopping in the charming alpine village of Government Camp for organic coffee at a quaint coffee shop named Three Sisters (I miss my 3 sisters so it was an obvious choice), I decided to drive 5 miles up the mountain to Timberline Lodge

Timberline Lodge

Timberline is a historical monument surrounded by the Mount Hood National Forest.  Built in the 1930's and rich with history, it even served as the exterior of the Overlook Hotel in the movie The Shining.  

Snow at Timberline Lodge
Although we didn't have time for snowboarding, Yoda had a personal first at Timberline:  SNOW!  Keep in mind, Yoda the dog is always channeling his inner-cat. Constantly grooming himself, he would rather walk around a puddle than get his paws wet.  Needless to say, I think I traumatized my poor Southern California boy by our brief walk in the snow.  Before we left, I closed my eyes and inhaled as slowly and deeply as possible to fill my lungs with the clean, cool, mountain air.  Ahhh. Something about winter air makes me feel awake...turns out I didn't need that coffee from Three Sisters after all. 

Hiking at Smith Rock
Continuing on towards Bend, we stopped for a hike at Smith Rock State Park.  The grandiose rock spires in Smith Rock overlook the windy Crooked River.  It's a very different terrain than what I've seen in Oregon.  Although I am not a rock climber, the park's several thousand climbs up the welded tuff (rock formed by volcanic ash) and basalt cliffs makes me want to become one.

It's alive!
It was within this dramatic high desert volcanic wonderland that I looked around me and saw life everywhere.  Really, everything in the world is alive, yet sometimes it takes the quiet and solitude found in nature to really feel the energy.  The rock seemed to be pulsating with life force, so much so that I had to reach out and touch while I said a quiet thank you to the Universe for creating such beauty on our planet.

Hike along Deschutes River in Bend, OR
We ended up staying in Bend for 3 nights, in part because I needed to recover from a lingering sinus infection, and in part because I wanted to harness the area's love-fest with nature and outdoor activities.  In true Kee Kee road trip style, we landed in Bend during the off-season (an on-going theme for this trip).  Given Bend is a gateway to both the mountains and the high desert, it is a popular launching pad for both summer and winter sports.  Autumn, well not so much. 

That said, we still enjoyed a drive through Newberry National Volcanic Monument (of course most of the roads on the volcano are now closed for the winter).  We also took a couple hikes along the beautiful Deschutes River.  I need to come back during the summer months as this river screams an invitation for kayaking and white water rafting.
Newly invigorated by the power of nature and the battery charge received by spending a few days alone, Yoda, Princess and I left the heavenly State of Oregon on Monday in search of our next lessons of the road. 

Deschutes River hike

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pacific Northwest - Seeing the Sunlight Behind the Raindrops

Kee Kee and Janine at Seattle's original Starbucks
Okay.  I confess.  There was a small (fine, big) part of me that was initially using this road trip as a way to run away from the crumbled mess that my life has become.  Everything in my life seemed broken and I didn't know how to fix any part of it, so it just seemed easier to leave it all behind.  Not only has my career fallen to pieces, but I've also been nursing wounds from misleading and broken promises from "friends."  The latter is commonplace in LA.  It's a city that breeds a certain "bright shiny object" mentality.  Many people are BFFs with whomever can get them somewhere.  One minute they profess undying loyalty FOREVER to you, but then when it is clear that someone else (aka the new bright shiny object) can actually get them further ahead, that promise of loyalty is conveniently forgotten.  It's these types of broken promises that stab the deepest and leave the most permanent scars on my back.  I've never been able to wear the necessary armor to protect myself.  Nor do I really want to because the hometown Wisconsin girl in me still wants to believe there is an innate goodness in people. 

Blackberries at freeway rest stop
My time in the Pacific Northwest really helped to begin to center me again.  Despite the fact that it rained every day but one the entire time I was there, people are genuinely nice, helpful and optimistic. 

Picnic tables & hiking at freeway rest stop
Seriously, even the freeway rest stops are happy places.  My standard routine at the rest stops was to grab a free coffee, snack on a handful of wild blackberries, and then have a short hike with Yoda on the well groomed trails through the pines.

Portland street:  I love fall colors!
Portland in particular really stole my heart.  I've never seen so many people on bikes in a city - and they are doing it in the rain!  If it rains in Southern California things pretty much shut down.  Southern Californians don't know how to deal with weather because we never have it.  Portland was also a dog's paradise. It seems that everyone and his uncle carries dog treats in their pockets.  Yoda was constantly having his fill of everything from smoked salmon, to leftover filet mignon to Milk-Bone dog biscuits.
Kee Kee & Josh - it's been over 20 years!

I had my fill too - of friends old and new.  And with that, a bit of travel serendipity came into play.  My Monday lunch with Josh, a high school friend whom is now a professor at Portland State, led to a meeting with a headhunter, which led to a meet and greet interview with a cutting edge company that may be hiring in January.

Ted & his dog Jack
Portland's food trucks

Time was also spent with my friend Ted, with whom I've worked on too many movies to count.  Ted has figured out the winning formula for survival in the film business:  live in Portland and work on location when producing movies.  Ted gave me a mini tour of the city, ending with a snack at one of the many food truck pods for which Portland is famous. 
Sweet Pea's Brulee food truck

We chose Sweet Pea's Brulee and ordered tiny, melt-in-your-mouth creme brulees.  It turns out we were their very first customers.  So, not only did I take a picture of them to commemorate the occasion, but they also took a picture of us for the same reason.  Perhaps my favorite part of Portland were my new friends Alison and Thomas, who generously opened up their home to Yoda and me for two nights.  Alison and Thomas are lovely, warm, interesting, athletic and grounded.  They make me want to move to Portland just to be able to hang out with them all the time. 
Alison & Thomas with traveling bottle of wine

Yoda and I also spent a couple days in Seattle with my friend Janine, with whom I formed a sisterly connection this past summer while backpacking through Italy.  The wet drive from Portland to Seattle was terrifying white knuckle driving.  The rain at times was pounding so hard that I couldn't see the car in front of me.  At several points I pulled off at those magnificently friendly rest stops just to collect myself before continuing the drive.  The mentally exhausting drive was worth it because the next day we were blessed with one of those few and far between crystal clear Seattle autumn days.  We had sparkling views of snow capped Mount Rainer, the volcanic Cascade range, and the Olympic mountain range.
Pike Place throwing of fish
  After a photo opp at the original Starbucks (which opened its doors in 1971), we wandered around Pike Place Market, the nation's oldest farmers market.  Pike Place offers everything from fresh seafood (make sure you see the throwing of the fish at Pike Place Fish), to produce and cheese to fine arts and crafts. 
Flowers at Pike Place Market
A bit of a fish and chips junkie, I squealed with delight when I discovered Spud Fish and Chips, which offers freshly caught fish with fast food service and prices.  Yum. 

Seattle's Spud Fish & Chips
Now that I've left the Pacific Northwest to continue on my road trip, I'm beginning to realize I'm no longer running away from my life. More often than not I'm hit with a powerful feeling that I'm running towards something.  I'm not sure what that something is, but it's whispering my name and I'm beginning to listen.

Janine with traveling bottle of wine
Pike Place Market

Pike Place produce