Monday, May 30, 2011


As far as groceries are concerned, for the most part Matthew and I shop at Smith's. For most of our marriage we have bought gas at Maverick, but recently Smith's has opened up a few gas stations in our area and they have a program that allows you to use the points you collect from shopping at Smith's towards your gas purchases. Today when we went to fill up our car with gas, we got the news that we had earned enough points to save $1.00 per gallon on gas. Yep a whole dollar!! We were VERY excited to say the least!

Matthew lifted the nozzle, put it in the car and started pumping the gas. He then noticed a peice of trash that was in the gas pump and, in the spirit of cleaning up this world he tried to retrieve it. By so doing, within a few short seconds of starting to pump gas the pump stopped and a receipt was printed...$1.16. We were dumbfounded, we saved a dollar per gallon for less than a half a gallon of gas.

We were bummed, but then Matthew looked on his Rewards card and saw that there was a customer service number and he decided to call and see if we could get our rewards back and start over. Lucky for us, the customer service representative was very kind and did in fact reinstate our points. Matthew then proceeded to fill the rest of our tank with a dollar per gallon cheaper gasoline!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Seattle Vacation

Matthew and I have been debating for a long time about where we should go for a "I completed PT school" vacation. I haven't been out of the country but once in my life and it is something I desperately want to do. We thought about going on a cruise and I had one picked out, but it cost a little too much with the plane tickets. We thought of going to San Diego and the beach, but then I received a job offer in Seattle and we thought that it was a great idea to go visit a place we had never been before and scope out the job while there. So we spent 4 days in Seattle.

Above: Matthew with the Seattle center sign and the EMP building and Space Needle behind him

Before leaving, Matthew and I were pretty certain that this trip would lead no where in terms of the job. I already had a job offer in Salt Lake and we have friends and family and comfort here. We saw this trip like we have any other vacation we have taken.

When we arrived in Seattle it was misting a little, but it was late and we were just headed to the hotel anyway. When we arrived at the hotel we were pleasantly surprised. We booked our reservations online through a package deal and had never heard of the hotel we were staying in, but it was quite comfortable. The hotel was called Coast Bellevue Hotel and was attached to a little restaurant and they were still open so we went in for a bite to eat before bed. When Matthew glanced at the menu he saw they served Monte Cristo sandwiches, but they were described differently then how his family made them. It intrigued him, so he order one. It was described as a sandwich filled with turkey, ham and cheese on egg bread, dipped in egg batter and fried. It was then served with strawberry preserves. It was spectacular!

Thursday morning we headed towards downtown Seattle. On the way we stopped at the University of Washington to get more information about attending for Matthew. As we were driving we noticed a lot of cables along the streets and then we saw a bus connected to the
cables. We thought it was cool that the city has buses that run on electricity rather than gas. Then I was even more impressed when I saw the bus change lanes. I was under the impression that they had to stay in the lane where the cable was, but the connector on top of the bus is somewhat flexible/stretchy and allows the bus to move between lanes.

The counselor at the university informed us that in order to be accepted after already receiving a degree was actually more difficult. She said that Matthew would need to take all the entry level classes at a different school first and when applying to the University of Washington would need to show that he had immense concentration and focus in one area to even be considered.
Above: Matthew and I in front of the tornado tower of musical instruments at EMP

After our meeting with the counselor Matthew and I were even more turned off to moving. Too much of a hassle. If we stayed in Salt Lake, the U of U had already accepted Matthew back in.

So we left the University of Washington with Mandy as our guide. As we approached the on-ramp to the freeway we had a slight scare because although Mandy was telling us to enter and there were no visible "Do Not Enter" signs, there were arrows on the on-ramp facing the opposite direction. Matthew and I panicked because we were sure we were headed towards opposing traffic, but we weren't. The arrows must have been old.

Our first stop once we got downtown was the Experience Music Project (EMP) building. We weren't sure how much time everything we wanted to see would take us so we were a little hesitant to buy a "City Pass" which would give us entry to 6 different attractions around the Seattle area, but when one of the employees at EMP explained how close and how long some of the attractions would take, we were in.

Above: Kara at the sound board and Matthew at a guitar

The EMP was a pretty cool place. It had exhibits on Jimmy Hendrix and the group Nirvana. Now Matthew and I are not diehards for either of these, but we were intrigued that these along with several other artists had originated from the Seattle area. The exhibits explained how the artists came about, what and who inspired them and how they shaped music. It was very interesting. EMP also had a room with different instruments such as the drums and guitar that you could try out. There was also a music/sound board that you could play with. There were little tutorials that would take you through some of the basics and let you create music. It was fun. We were a little bummed that we were missing the Avatar exhibit that wasn't going to start for a few more weeks, but we did get to experience the Battlestar Galactica exhibit. Neither Matthew or I have ever watched the show and so we didn't really know what it was about, but it was interesting to read the background story and see how the new version compared to the older version.

After our fun at EMP we walked over to the Space Needle, which is on the same property as EMP. In the line to the elevators the staff took pictures of us in front of a blank wall and gave us a password so that when we reached the top of the Space Needle we could look at our picture with different backgrounds of the Space Needle. The elevator ride up to the top of the Space Needle was cool because during part of the ride there were windows and you could see all around the Seattle area. It was a clear beautiful day so the view was amazing.

Above: Matthew and Kara's backdrop photo from the Space Needle (I know if I didn't label it no one would know which one it would be). The view from the bottom of the Space Needle. Kara and the view of Downtown Seattle from the top of the Space Needle.

After our visit up the Space Needle Matthew and I hopped onto Seattle's Monorail and headed towards Pike Place Market and the Piers. We enjoyed taking silly pictures as we wandered around. We didn't spend much time at Pike Place Market because we were planning to go to the cheese festival there later that weekend. We headed down to the pier to go on an Argosy Cruise. When we got to the pier for the tour we had 30 minutes or so until the next cruise set off so we got an ice cream cone and then walked around the piers and some of the shops while we waited. We posed for some pictures with a couple of new friends that we met and I got my fortune read.

Above: Kara waiting to board the monorail and Matthew excited to be on the monorail.

Above: Matthew and his new furry friend Sammy the Sea Lion. Kara and her new friend Paul the Penguin.

Above: Kara was expecting Lady Estelle to actually tell her her fortune, but was instead given a card with a reading on it.

The Argosy Cruise was fun, we had a great view of Seattle, saw a group of sea lions and learned many interesting things. A couple of the things that we learned are that Puget Sound is home to the world's largest octopus, the giant Pacific octopus, which is also the world's largest invertebrate. We also learned that no one really ever goes swimming in the sound because of how cold it is. One of the most interesting things we learned while on the tour was about the harbor cranes. There are tons of these cranes along the Seattle skyline. The tour guide informed us that it is one of the most coveted jobs in the area because it pays six figures and employees only work 20 hours a week, but it demands precision and speed. The best crane operators can move a container (the size of a semi-truck) from a ship to the dock (or vice versa) in 90 seconds.

Above: A great view of Seattle and the sea lions on a buoy

Above: Kara and a picture of the cranes. Matthew and downtown Seattle

After our cruise we stopped for dinner on the pier. We ate in the bar of Ivar's Seafood Restaurant. We had their crispy calamari with a chipotle lime dipping sauce, the seafood cocktail which included a small assortment of seafood with mango, avocado and horseradish and Matthew's favorite by far, their Blackened True Cod fish tacos. I had never dared to try a fish taco before, but I had to say they were way better than the cocktail we ordered. I still have to say that the calamari with the dipping sauce gave the tacos a run for their money. We also ordered a Thomas Kemper Root beer that was a little too bitter for my taste, but Matthew enjoyed it to the last drop.

After we finished eating we planned on heading back over to the Space Needle to get a view of the city at night, but we still had a lot of time so we wandered around the pier and found a couple more silly pictures to take. Once we did get to the Space Needle we were still a bit early, but we were excited to see the sunset from so high up. To entertain myself I played "Angry Birds" on the iPod Matthew bought me for graduation. We really enjoyed the sunset, unfortunately we didn't get great pictures because the windows inside the Space Needle were dirty and by the time we got outside the clouds were completely covering the sun. After the sun went completely down Matthew and I headed down to the base of the Space Needle to take a few more pictures and then we headed back to the car.

Above: Kara posing with one of the "Pike Place Pigs" (there are several of these piggy banks around town and they raise money for Pike Place. Matthew posing with a wooden whale sculpture by the pier

Above: Kara sitting on a random bench hanging on the side of a building in downtown Seattle

Above: Matthew making fish faces with one of the creatures in the sea sculpture I am posing with on the right

Above: Kara in the middle of a huge maze in the middle of the Seattle Center grounds

When we first got to downtown Seattle we found parking right next to EMP in the Seattle Center parking lot. We were excited that the fee was only $8 for 10 hours and we went happily on our way. In the middle of the day we reviewed how many hours we had until we had to be back and continued exploring. Well, when we started back to the car we both realized that somehow we both counted our hours wrong and so our $8 turned into $16. We were a little bummed, but more amused with the fact that neither of us could do correct math.

Above: Matthew was really impressed with the nuts and bolts of the Space Needle

Friday we slept in a little and then headed to West Seattle to meet with a potential employer. Neither Matthew or I were really sure we wanted to move, in fact, I think before the trip we were both leaning towards staying in Salt Lake City, but when we met with Lee we both were energized. We had a great conversation about the job and then Lee recommended a sushi restaurant. When we left the meeting, Matthew wasn't sure what he thought we should move or not to move. Several times over the last week or so I have made pro and con lists for each decision and every time I felt like both decisions were equal and I couldn't choose.

After leaving West Seattle Matthew and I headed back to Bellevue to go to the Seattle Temple for an Endowment session. The session was wonderful as usual, but I couldn't get my mind off the decision Matthew and I needed to make. I knew that both of the companies that had offered me jobs were waiting for an answer and I had no idea what to do. After the session Matthew and I sat in the celestial room and talked about what we thought we should do. We went over my lists and were still struggling. Then jokingly I told Matthew that he had to make the decision. He then looked at me and said that during the session he actually got a feeling that this decision was his. He then took a moment and prayed, then looked up and said, "We should move to Seattle." To be honest, I was completely floored. I really didn't think Matthew was open to leaving, but we talked and both agreed that although it will be hard to leave all the people we love, it will be the greatest opportunity for growth.

With our decision made, we left the temple and I called the recruiter for the job in Seattle and took the offer. We took longer in the temple than we had originally planned so after changing into something a little more comfortable we headed straight over to the sushi place for dinner. We made reservations ahead of time and boy am I glad because otherwise the wait would have been over an hour. We arrived a little early so we enjoyed looking at all the interesting creatures in the fish tank. We decided that our experience would be the most exciting if we sat at the bar so we could see all the food being made and easily order more food if we wanted more or saw something that looked appetizing. It was a good decision. The gentleman next to us was a fisherman and brought in a few of his catches and the sushi chef used his fish and other watery catches to make him a few dishes. We also tried a dish that was recommended to us by Lee and we both enjoyed it. Matthew and I wouldn't proclaim to be sushi experts by an stretch of the imagination, but it is something we have definitely enjoyed exploring in our marriage. We mostly stick with the rolls and don't really try anything extremely weird, but we love trying new things and love to discover how something that may not sound like it goes together, really tastes amazing...I guess the best way to say it is that Matthew and I are foodies. Almost everything we do involves food and we like it that way!

After dinner Matthew and I took a drive down Harbor and Alki Ave which are right on the Sound and have a great view of the downtown Seattle skyline, then we headed back to the hotel for some RNR.

Above: Picture of downtown Seattle from a West Seattle Beach

Saturday morning we headed out relatively early so we could more fully explore Pike Place Market, the Aquarium and the Pacific Science Center. We decided to park in the same lot that we found on Thursday and double and triple checked what time we arrived so as not to make the same mistake twice. We started our morning exploring Pike Place Market and enjoying an assortment of cheeses and bands playing in the streets. This band Morrison Boomer sounded phenomenal.

Above: Kara following the hoof prints of one of the Pike Place Pigs

After enjoying ourselves at Pike Place we headed towards the Seattle Aquarium on the pier. The aquarium was awesome. Right in the front lobby there is a huge tank called the Window to Washington full of coral reefs and other sea life. We walked in right as a diver was starting a education exhibit at the tank. It was a good exhibit. There was an eel that wouldn't leave the diver alone and even tried to eat one of the sea cucumbers as she was holding and talking about it. After the exhibit Matthew and I really enjoyed exploring the rest of the aquarium and taking lots of pictures both of the fish and each other.

Above: Matthew with the Pacific Giant Octopus and a picture of the octopus being fed

Above: Matthew the jellyfish. Kara the Diver holding Matthew the Eel. Matthew enjoying the Salmon.

Above: A cool Sunfish (relative o the Star fish)

Above: Matthew and Kara riding on the back of a whale. A blowfish mocking Kara.

Above:Left- Matthew admiring the sea life of the Sound. The pole is from the piers. Right- We were outside of the aquarium and we saw a wild bird sitting at the top of this little waterfall.

After our fun at the aquarium we we starving, but we had had a lot of seafood during our visit and I was in the mood for some Mexican cuisine. You couldn't imagine how hard it is to find a Mexican restaurant near the water, but eventually we found the only one in the Pike Place area and it as delicious! As we were leaving Pike Place Market we passed by an alleyway where there were a lot of spectators gathered. I was tired and if I was alone I would have just walked right on by, but Matthew was intrigued and convinced me to explore with him. As we got closer to the crowd we realized that we found the famous Gum Wall! It was both amazing and disgusting.

Above: Yummy Mexican food at Pike Place

Above: A giant game of chess in downtown Seattle

Our last stop for the day was to the Pacific Science Center. It is an amazing center with so many different exhibits we didn't have time to finish exploring before they closed. It is

definitely a place that our nephews would love. Along with admission into the science center, the Seattle City Pass also included admission to a movie at the IMAX theater inside the Science Center. After great debate over which movie we should see, Matthew and I chose "Born to be Wild." Matthew really wanted to watch a 3D movie, but I was a little skeptical because in the past when I have tried to watch 3D movies the 3D glasses never quite fit right over my own glasses and sometimes I have been known to get a little nauseated, but Matthew lets me choose the activities we do most of the time so I thought he deserved a turn. I was really happy that we chose that show. I learned that technology has been enhanced and found a way to make 3D glass that fit over glasses of all shapes and sizes and I got to watch some video of really cute orangutans and elephants.

The exhibits that we did get to see included a bug exhibit which creeped me out and some props that were larger than life.

Above: Kara in an acoustic guitar. Matthew next to a giant electric guitar. Kara in a giant dining room. Matthew and Kara looking larger than normal thanks to a wacky mirror.

After leaving the Science Center, Matthew and I headed back to the hotel. We lounged about, watched a little TV and packed our bags for our trip home in the morning. Around 9 or 10 at night we were hungry again and decided to go to the Denny's right next to our hotel. We were a little surprised when we walked outside to find a rain storm where we had left sunny, blue skies, but we still ran to the Denny's and enjoyed a few appetizers and a milkshake.

The next morning we woke up early, got dressed for church and checked our of the hotel room. We headed towards a chapel near the airport and went to part of sacrament meeting before "leaving on a jet plane" knowing we would be back again soon.