Life since the Ironman has been great! Right now, I'm drinking wine for the 3rd time in 4 days. But that's not all. We also used the opportunity to take an AMAZING vacation in Pacific Northwest. Let's face it... I'm not nearly qualified to be any sort of travel blogger. However, I'm going to post about my vacation with my recommendations, because it's 1/8 my blog and I can.
The day following the Ironman, we took a couple of days in Vancouver. What a cool city. The first day (we got there in the afternoon) was mostly spent staggering around, searching for booze and Ramen. We found both and it was great. The second day we took a touristy bike ride around Stanley Park. This is evidently one of the most obvious things to do on a beautiful day in Vancouver, since pretty much every tourist and their mother was also doing it. But it's an awesome way to see the park when you're pretty much otherwise immobile, and it may have actually helped our recovery along.
Everyone keeps asking what my favorite part of the trip was. I really don't like choosing because the whole thing was amazing, but if I have to pick it would probably be Vancouver Island/Victoria. When we first arrived (Wednesday after the Ironman), we drove out to Sooke (coastal place 40 min from Victoria) and went for a hike. It was beautiful minus many complaints (rock climbing in the blistering heat in tight, sweaty jeans, and the fact that I had only eaten a tiny salad for the day 3 days post-IM and we didn't finish the hike until 2:30). But assuming you are dressed and fueled appropriately, this hike is a winner.
Then we spent some time in Victoria, which is much older than Vancouver and a very European-style city. We walked all around the paths and took a boat tour of the area to learn more about it. Highly recommended. I would love to go back and explore more of the island. I noticed that there is a Victoria 70.3...someday maybe :)
Before leaving, we took an obligatory trip to the Butchart Gardens. It was pretty spectacular if you like flowers, but I doubt I'd visit again if I return.
San Juan Islands
Another winning decision. The Pacific Northwest islands were AMAZING. Even the ferry ride felt like a huge treat.
We stayed two nights (but really only one full day) in a tiny town called Friday Harbor. It was very small and super chill- the exact slow, beachy lifestyle you'd want on a post-IM vacation. Earlier our first day there we drove around the island which is only about 20-30 miles, getting an awesome mix of short easy hiking and other random stops (alpaca farm, for example).
That evening we went on a whale watch and saw SO MANY orcas! I also saw some bald eagles for the first time in real life. I didn't get any great photos because I spent most of my time watching rather than trying to get a picture, but here's a small taste:
After the island relaxation portion, it was onto Seattle. To me, Seattle was sort of a mixture of San Francisco and Oakland. We somehow fit a ton of activities into a very small amount of time, including the space needle, underground tour, and boat tour of Union Lake and Washington Lake (where we saw Bill Gates' house!).
Olympic National Park
After our quick urban stop, it was onto the wilderness. We had two days in Olympic National Park. I've recently taken a liking to National Parks, and while Olympic had some pretty awesome things, I think from what I saw I'd rate Zion higher. One of the activities I highly recommend in Olympic Park is Hurricane Ridge.The only caveat is that it's up a decently big hill. Big enough that I had to question whether I had lost all my fitness, or if I was still recovering, or if my problem was just a general don't-operate-so-well-at-high-elevation issue. But I made it and it was really worth it.
Then we went on to Sol Duc falls. It was pretty nice, but I'm not sure it was worth the long drive to get there. The out-and-back hike was pretty easy at 1.6 miles or so total.
We stayed at Log Cabin Resort on Lake Crescent that evening and it was AWESOME! It was basically like your classic childhood lake vacation but with way nicer scenery. They served soft serve in the lodge lobby for $2/cone, and offered boat rentals and cornhole/various other games. It was a PERFECT way to spend an afternoon after hiking. After a short open water swim (like.... 300 yards short), Chen and I rented kayaks while Travers drank beer.
The next day we started at the Hoh rainforest. I'm not sure if this is a much cooler experience when it's not in a drought, and again I'm not entirely sure this was worth the long drive.
Finally, we ended up at Kalaloch Lodge and beach. While it was pretty nice, I would say that the California beaches are as good or better and there wasn't nearly as much to do here as at Log Cabin. We did get a beach run in though...my first exercise that resembled a triathlon activity!
We spent very little time here- just enough to eat ice cream + 3 meals, drink, go for a quick run, then bounce. It seemed to me like a place that might be a lot cooler to live than visit. The neighborhoods are quirky and neat but it's tough for a tourist to navigate in terms of knowing what to do. As a side note, Travers expected to see way more hipsters than we actually did.
The most important meal of the day
We initially added this stop partially because it sounded like a cool place between Portland and Crater Lake, but mostly because we have friends that live there. However, it turned out to be an awesome place to drink. Unfortunately I had developed a cold, and because I don't like beer much and wasn't feeling well anyway I ended up as the DD. But in terms of consumption, I did eat a full pretzel (all to myself) for both lunch and dinner, which was a huge win. It seemed like there were a lot of outdoor things we could've done here if we hadn't spent the day drinking. I'd visit again.
I thought I was only mildly interested in Crater Lake, but now it's on my 'highly recommended' list. We spent one full day there. Earlier in the day we hiked up Mt Scott, which was the tallest peak around (I think) topping out at 9000 ft. I was worried about this hike given my cold + weariness of high elevations + poor air quality (nearby fires and a lot of dust), but it was surprisingly enjoyable!
If you end up visiting Crater Lake I highly recommend taking a boat tour. You can see a lot of neat geological features from the lake that you'd miss from above.
And that, sadly, concludes the story of our vacation! I think this looks longer than my Ironman post, but it's really mostly pictures. I think.