The Heritage


My father’s lands and those of his father & his father’s father are still in my family.  We own mountains, rivers and trees as much as men can own nature and our name echos thru the history books of those wild places.  We were pioneers in the forest and explorers in the rugged, rocky landscape which surrounds the little patch of mountain dirt where I was born.  It is a place where a child can run free through the cedars, where seasons are strongly defined, and where everyone who knows anyone, knows us.

It is a legacy we struggle to hold onto~as we venture out of the shadow of the mountains and scatter throughout the rest of the world.  Yet, that untamed terrain has shaped us, and the same pioneering spirit which sent my great grandfather trekking across a dusty wagon trail flows through all of our veins, sending most, if not all of us, on our own twirling adventures across this great earth.  Yet that piece of mountain, that patch of blue, that dash of green holds us all captive and inevitably, we all return.  Whether that’s for a lifetime, a day, a month, a year or only for a fleeting moment, there’s something in that mountainous breeze which heals us, for it’s the place our blood calls home.

Carkeek Park


Hidden in Greenlake’s backyard & mere blocks away from bustling highway 99, Carcreek Park is as quintessentially Seattle as a park can get.  From Puget Sound beach access, to hiking trails and a plethora of picturesque picnic spots, there literally is something for everyone in this park.


Named after Morgan J. Carkeek, an English building contractor who was also an accomplished stone mason who built many of Seattle’s early stone buildings, the park is 220 acres of green space with over 6 miles of hiking trails.  There are plenty of climbable trees and salmon berries galore, so a jaunt through these moss covered woods is never a bad idea.  London delighted in showing off his green ninja forest elf skills every time there was a gnarly root or stump that caught his eye.  Needless to say our jaunt turned into a rather long one hour snail hike but there was plenty of time to eat those salmon berries.


Speaking of salmon, the single coolest thing about this park is that it does in fact have a salmon slide.  I mean, can you get any more Northwest than that!? Kids literally climb into the salmon’s mouth, speed their way down it’s concrete belly and shoot out like a pile of roe in a stream bed! It’s fun and vaguely educational; playgrounds really don’t get better than that.


There is a nautical theme to most of the playground, including mosaic “tide pools” and sea caves.  While you absent-mindedly push your kid on the swings, you’ll be rewarded with great views of Puget Sound and on a clear day, you might even spot the Olympics. There is also a historic apple orchard somewhere in the park, which was planted by the Piper family near the turn of the century and which lay forgotten under sticker bushes and brambles for years until it was rediscovered in the 1980’s.  A volunteer group was put together and now it hosts a yearly Festival of Fruit celebration complete with apple pie contests and homemade cider made from apples grown in Piper’s orchard itself.

Northwest views, a salmon slide and heirloom apples? Sounds like Washington at its best and Carkeek Park has it all.


Carkeek Park

950 NW Carkeek Park Road

Seattle, WA 98177


Open Daily from 6AM-10PM


Sky View Observatory


Initially purchased as a date night adventure with my husband, my tickets went unused & nearly disappeared into the dark abyss that is my purse, until my son found them and graciously offered to be my date.  Well, he’s four so it actually went more like this:

“Mama? Maaama? MoM! What are these!?”

“They are tickets. Now get out of my purse.”

“Tickets? For what? For an airplane? A boat? A dinosaur ride?”

“No, they are tickets to a big building. Now please stop dumping my purse out.”

Barely able to contain his excitement, London ecstatically shouted “I want to go with you!!! Let’s go right now!!!” while the final contents of my Mary Poppins sized purse scattered across the floor.


Though we didn’t leave that minute, I was swayed enough by his unbridled enthusiasm, which was the exact polar opposite of my husband’s reaction when I had first mentioned the tickets to him; to plan a day date with London that week.  Of course Grandma and baby Huck tagged along too and somehow we miraculously picked a day without rain.


Getting to the Sky View Observatory was not without its’ mishaps however.  Firstly, there was the usual two hour get-out-of-the-bloody-house departure, the oh-shit-I-forgot-I-needed-gas moment and then the requisite I-am-hungry chant coming from the back seat.  Once we finally did arrive, being the fugal being that I am & refusing to pay for parking when there is free street parking just 8 blocks away, we found a spot & began hoofing it downhill towards the observatory.


No sooner had we made it a block or two, when Huck and I turned to the commotion suddenly unfolding behind us, and we see both my mom and poor little London literally rolling down the steep sidewalk much to the horror of the street cleaner who was standing guiltily to the side with his broom clutched to his chest.  In an effort to avoid his extended broom handle, my mom swung to the right but the happily skipping London wasn’t so graceful and in a tangle of arms and legs, he took them both down. My mom had valiantly attempted to take the brunt of the fall herself, which she primarily succeeded in doing by bloodying up both her palms and one knee. After recovering from our sidewalk trauma and bravely brushing themselves off & carrying on, we finally made it to the Observatory with two of our party bruised & bloodied but ready to take in the view.


The Sky View Observatory is located in the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle & was completed in 1985.  At 902 feet tall, the observatory, located on the 73rd floor, is the tallest public viewing observatory in the Pacific Northwest.  It offers unparalleled 360° panoramic views of  Seattle itself, the Puget Sound and the outlying wilderness.  We could see the Olympics off in the hazy distance the day we went as well as the Cascades.

The Columbia Center has over 8,800 windows and 48 elevators and since it was built to withstand earthquakes and hurricane force winds, it claims to be one of the strongest & safest buildings ever built in the Pacific Northwest.  Looking out of the 73rd floor windows that day, I certainly hoped that this engineering claim was indeed true.  It’s a beautiful view for sure, full of picturesque photo moments and floor to ceiling windows; but those Seattle sidewalks sure are a long ways down.

Sky View Observatory

20160622_134637_HDR701 5th Ave 73rd Floor
Seattle, WA 98104



Adults $14.75

Kids 6-12 $9.00

Kids 5 and under FREE

TNT Taqueria


One of the things I miss most about my hood living LA days, is the vibrant street food culture.  Though I am sure its varieties pale in comparison to some cities like Mumbai or Bangkok, LA’s plethora of street vendors seemed like an exotic and slightly dangerous way of eating compared to the refrigerated snacking of my youth.  The food on those makeshift carts was real & authentic and though maybe lacking in sit-down restaurant ambience, they made up for it with pure flavor and refreshing simplicity.


So when I stumbled across TNT Taqueria, a hip walk-up taco shop on 45th street in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle, I was transported back to the streets of Hollywood, with the smell of sizzling tortillas in my nose and shouts of “champurrado” echoing in my ears.

20160716_163010With locally sourced meats and five unique homemade salsas made daily, TNT takes taco truck grubbing up a notch.  It’s street flavor with a not so street feel.  The menu is uncomplicated, as tacos should be, and the bottled Coke is ice-cold. There are a few other items on the menu, from tortas to quesadillas and lets not forgot the pretty killer breakfast menu.  And good news here;  if it takes me 2 hours to leave my house due to my kids playing hide & go seek with my car keys and then another hour and a half to reach the restuarant due to London’s pea sized bladder and the million stops that that requires, TNT Taqueria will still be serving breakfast once I actually arrive. Yes!! Breakfast all day, you heard that right Mamas, you might actually eat a warm egg again in your life!

As London and I clamored up on the outside stools, ready to munch down on my burrito, a breakfast burrito I might add, we were surrounded by festive music, bright colors and delicious smells.

20160716_163311Though he ended up eating pretty much only his cheese quesadilla, he at least tried mine, even hesitantly dipping a corner of it into the creamy avocado dip.  Perhaps someday when he himself is out exploring the world & he comes across unfamiliar culinary terrain, I hope he remembers moments like these and drives right in & tries it. And though his cultural awareness began not on the streets of Hollywood, but in the slightly less diverse Pacific Northwest, I hope it stays with him, evolving year after year, pushing him to seek out those unknown flavors and challange his tastbuds every chance he gets.





TNT Taqueria

2114 North 45th Street

Seattle, WA 98103


Open Daily 8am-10pm


Samoa Cookhouse


When I was 9, my grandparents & great grandparents took me on a roadtrip to California. It was just me & the four of them, cozied up in my Grandpa Sugar’s blue minivan.  I had a library copy of “On the Banks of Plum Creek” on the seat beside me, Grandmas’ who had a seemingly endless supply of gum in their purses and Grandpas’ who would let me order steak for dinner.  I was queen of the road for those two weeks and I loved it.

We would stop here & there on our way down south; to play miniature golf or read a historical marker about the Oregon Trail.  Yet no place held my Grandpa Sugar’s attention long enough to veer too far off course from his true destination, the Samoa Cookhouse near Eureka, CA.  For days before we reached it, my Grandpa could talk of nothing else it seemed, until the cookhouse was built up in my mind as this mythical roadhouse full of the fluffiest bread on earth and never ending portions.

When we finally did reach it, I ate so much of that infamous bread that I fell into a brief carb induced coma.  It was some damn good bread indeed.


Serving up one daily menu, family style, the Samoa Cookhouse is the last operating cookhouse in the West.  Opened in 1890 as the Hammond Lumber Company Cookhouse, it kept the loggers fed with three square meals a day & prided itself on “never sending a man away hungry”.  This philosopy still holds true today, so its always best to arrive with an empty belly & a voracious appetite.

The cookhouse is not for those delicate eaters who boast about their not-so-special dietary restrictions of one kind or another.  You get what’s on the daily menu be it pork chops, pot roast or fried chicken.  Between the soup, salad, bread and side dishes though-one would be hard pressed not to find something to grub down on.  And there’s always dessert.

Adjacent to the dining room is a well stocked logging museum, packed with local logging artifacts and pictures.  It’s a good place to stroll around after gourging on the lumberjack sized meal from next door.  I remember the musuem being my Grandpa Jim’s favorite part of the Cookhouse, though my 9 year old self could only appreciate so much logging history before my eyes started to glass over.


It was the entire experience though that I think made my grandparents love that place; from the family style comradery & the heaping portions, to the pure history of the place itself.  I’ve never seen someone have a bad time there.  Besides offering road weary travelers a place to eat,  The Cookhouse serves up a chance to be a part of something, to feel what it must have been like to be a logger, a waitress, a cook when life was simpler but by no means easier.  A world which my grandparents were familar with and which they tried to share with me all those years later.

Today, three out of the four of them are gone but whenever I return to the Samoa Cookhouse; whether as a young college student, a newlywed or now as a mom, I remember that trip & I feel the memories of my time with my grandparents flood back to me.  Now it’s my turn to pass on a little bit of history, to show to my sons that era in time which defined my grandparents generation and to share with them some of the fluffiest damn fine bread around.

 Samoa Cookhouse


908 Vance Ave, Samoa, CA 95564

Open 7 days a week 7AM-8PM

North Creek Park


My favorite thing about this park is undoubtably the fact that it refers to itself as Earth’s kidneys.  I’ve heard the saying “heart of the Earth” & “soul of the planet” but Earth’s kidney’s?  Not to serve kidneys an injustice; they are an incredibly important and vital organ after all, but what an unglamorous body part to liken something after. Whomever decided to reference the functions of the human body’s built in filtration system to the parks environmental standing was of course referring to the role wetlands play in cleansing surrounding eco systems.  Just as kidneys filter blood, cleaning it of impurities before sending it back out on its pulsating journey, wetlands distill water of all the crap that we people let seep into the environment.  Its a clever little comparison, and if lacking in romantic prestige, it makes up for it in pure nonchalant functionality.


My second favorite thing about this park is the mile long floating boardwalk which allows for an up close wetland experience without getting all soggy & wet.  These boardwalks literally float atop the grassy marshes, and though smack daub in the middle of suburbia, once out on the path, it feels as if you are miles away from humanity.  Its quiet and full of animal life, with everything from snakes to birds and weasels making an appearance.


Its perfect for London to cruise around on atop his little ripper of a bike, as long as he doesn’t braff off the edge into the murky water.  So far he hasn’t but I suppose that’s what a helmet and a washing machine are for.

20160609_113920The 81 acre park was once owned by the Bailey family, an early prominent dairy farm family in the Bothell area. Besides the floating boardwalk, North Creek also boasts a pretty killer playground, complete with a climbing wall and triple decker slides.  There are plenty of picnic areas, both covered and uncovered, which can be a welcome respite in our fickle Northwest weather.  Though the entrance is a bit tricky to find; a tiny little numbered road off the bustling Bothell-Everett Highway, it is well worth the trip.  Earth’s kidneys will thank you.

20160609_110814                                 North Creek Park

20160609_1112571011 183rd Street SE

Mill Creek, WA 98012

Open 7 days a week 7am~Dusk

Contact: 425-388-6608

A Tangled Nest

I’ve long held the belief that everybody has at least one physical trait that others find beautiful. It could be the eyes, a finely turned ankle or a dazzlingly white smile, but there is always something. For me, it seems to be my hair. Long, thicker than a horse’s tail, and honey colored; I’ve always been a bit partial towards it. It’s embarrassingly easy to maintain and I suspect that my husband even married me because of it’s golden hue~after all, what true-blooded Latino could ever resist a blond?

All in all, I have been truly blessed by the hair gods. However I realize now that it really was never created for my benefit but rather for my son London’s; for my hair has become his nest, chew toy, blanket, teething ring and worry doll. Not a day or night goes by when he doesn’t burrow himself down in it, entangled in it’s golden tresses, and sooth himself to sleep. This process however, is not as gentle as it sounds, and my scalp as well as any loose strands are ripped and pulled in a most unpleasant way. In the dark of the night, when a violent tug has awoken me from a deep sleep, I often wish I could find a silky haired, lactating doll which I could easily switch places with.

Yet as my baby sister so graciously reminded me, this time is fleeting and it won’t be long before he’s 18 years old and I would give anything to have him small again, wrapped up in my arms, contentedly chomping on my split ends. So I’ll endure the nesting, the aching head and frazzled morning hair for now because I know that she is right.