We exercised our independence with an escape to the Pacific northwest last week for some long overdue R&R and to celebrate Peter’s birthday. He called it our “mini-vacation” because most of our trips tend to be overseas for three weeks at a time (European style). Regardless, it turned out to be the perfect itinerary to explore the area, which made it feel longer than it was. Isn’t that what we all want from a vacation?

Here are the highlights of our trip:

We spent one full day in Portland to start. We loved exploring Mississippi Ave, Alberta Street, and the Pearl District, where we escaped a sudden shower by visiting the Museum of Contemporary Craft, but lingered well after the rain subsided. We toured Mudshark Studios and picked up a couple of their ceramic growlers for our homebrew. Our favorite meals were the seafood dinner at Woodsman Tavern and Scandinavian brunch at broder, where we celebrated Peter’s birthday. The pastries at little t american baker were also outstanding, and so was the space.

From Portland we drove up to Anacortes and took the ferry over to the San Juan Islands for a three-day “glamping” trip. We stayed in the very stylish tent cabins at West Beach Resort on Orcas Island. We took in gorgeous sunsets while sitting in front of the bonfire roasting marshmallows. We had a blast digging for clams on the beach (a first for both of us) and kayaking the west coast of San Juan Island. We were bummed we didn’t see any orcas, but we did have a pretty spectacular view of the Canadian mountain range from the water. Our favorite discovery was Island Hoppin’ Brewery, the island’s first brewery, run by a friendly British expat and his crew.

Our last stop was Seattle, our first stop in which was the iconic Seattle Public Library. Peter had worked for the library’s architect, Rem Koolhaas, early in his career and spent well over an hour geeking out over the architectural details throughout the 11-story building. From there, we stumbled upon the Seattle Art Museum’s newest exhibit, Future Beauty, the first comprehensive showcase of leading avant-garde Japanese fashion designers from the last 30 years. It was one of the most impressive fashion exhibits I’ve seen. I hope it comes to San Francisco so I can see it again.

At dusk we headed over to the Chittenden Locks, which was interesting, but not nearly as much as watching the salmon make their way up the elaborate fish ladder across the way. Afterwards, we spent a fun evening cruising around Ballard and strolling through Fremont in the morning. Our last meal was a Korean brunch at Revel, which turned out to be the best meal of our entire trip. My “jook” with browned buttered shrimp and fish sauce was out of this world, as was Peter’s sausage quiche. It was the perfect ending to an awesome vacation. It made me want to do this trip all over again for my birthday… next month.