July 5, 2011 - Posted by Erin in Travel, Trips to the US

Vashon Island, just a ferry’s ride away from Seattle, is and always will be my ultimate sanctuary. Frozen in time, nothing ever really changes there – not the landscape, not the picture-perfect sunsets, not the row of stationary bikes taking in the view of the water, not even my 92-year-old grandma. Vashon somehow seems like a parallel universe where everything slows down and moves with the tide. In fact, I often spend my days there measuring the hours based on the shifting sea. Relaxation is inevitable.



I’m thinking pictures might get the point across a tad better than words, so without further ado, here’s handful of shots from my recent trip.



Never a dull sunset.

Clams I dug from my grandparents’ beach. I’m pretty much a professional clam-digger.

Peonies in the garden.

I moved the crab’s rock. He wasn’t happy about this.

Ukulele lessons – the strum-in is tempting, but I think I’ll pass.


Life ring or peace sign?

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June 18, 2010 - Posted by Erin in Traditions, Travel, Trips to the US

A few blogs back, I introduced you all to some of the very uniquely fantastic jobs that can be found in Spain. One of them was the mariscadora (best described as an awesome shellfish digger lady) – a job that I’ve had my eye on for awhile now because I believe I am particularly qualified. Why? Well, it just so happens that I’ve perfected my shellfish hunting skills after a lifetime of digging clams on my grandparents’ beach on the island of Vashon in Washingon’s Puget Sound. Yes my friends, I like to hunker down in the rocky island mud with my rake and bucket and hack away at the land to find those happy little shellfish – clams.


It’s an especially gratifying task on so many levels. You aggressively scrape at the pebbles, shells and crabs using your “where’s Waldo” eye to spot the ribbed texture of the clams. There’s something about the rhythmic raking of the land, the peaceful lapping of the tide, and the resulting pride of conquest, that make the experience a soothing one. Never mind the muddy hands, burning hamstrings and aching back – it’s a labor of love! When you see your bucket full of shellfish grinning back at you, you can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment.


I’m reminded of this as I’ve spent the last couple days in the US taking in the expansive view of my grandparents’ harbor. I can hear the beach calling my name – to dig that is. It’s not a tropical beach by any stretch of the imagination – and not just because it’s in Washington where sunny days seem to be far and few between. These beaches are rocky and covered in a blanket of barnacles and muscles. Walking along the shores during low tide, the only sounds you hear are those of the shells and rocks crushing beneath your feet, the peaceful ebb and flow of the water, and the constant chatter of the seagulls. These are the sounds of tranquillity, but not of piña coladas (although I could go for one right about now).


Vashon proudly considers itself weird – no joke. Many cars brandish a bumper sticker declaring “keep Vashon weird.” It’s a flash back in time – virtually nothing has changed in my lifetime of making trips here. And there’s something about this that is so refreshing. Considering you have to take a ferry just to get to the island, you are truly isolated in a land unto itself. All the more reason to focus and hone your clam digging skills, don’t ya think?


So yes, as I sit here stranded on this weird little island, I find myself relishing in the opportunity to build my shellfish-digging resume in hopes that one day I can be a mighty fine mariscadora.


With that, I do believe it’s time to go check on my happy little clammies and change their water.

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May 23, 2009 - Posted by Erin in Trips to the US

I am really, really lucky. I was able to spend the week before last in Seattle for a conference for work. But the really lucky part – I was able to go back home to SF, then go to Seattle – one of my favorite places on earth.


My trip started with a stop in SF in which I was able to spend Mother’s Day with my mom and my family…and even do a little shopping :). After my one-day-visit to the Bay, I arrived in Seattle, where my grandma picked me up. Having lunch one on one with my soon-to-be 90-year-old grandma (mother of six kids, 11 grandchildren, and now six great grandchildren – to be seven within a couple months), is special enough, but I was actually able to spend three days with her. A real blessing.


On Monday after lunch, we went to visit my cousins’ then six-day-old daughter (who is also their first child). My goodness what a treat that was. She’s absolutely miniature, but perfectly adorable. I feel so lucky to have seen her at such a fleeting stage of her young life. Later that night we had dinner back on the island, where my grandma lives, with my aunt and uncle (and newly anointed grandparents).


The days passed with me commuting to and from the island on the foot ferry, which dropped me off right in front of the hotel where my conference was being held. Each day I couldn’t help but look out the window of the ferry at the choppy water, just feeling so incredibly lucky to have somehow ended up with lifestyle that has allowed me to travel the world to such special places. Going for a run one night on the quiet little island full of lush green trees and views of the water at every turn, I just smiled the whole time, thanking my lucky stars for sending me on such a trip.


On top of it being my favorite place on earth, it is especially refreshing because it is so completely different from Spain. Being around the laid back, down-to-earth people there just made me want to throw on my Ugg boots, wear my fleece jacket, get my Northface backpack, and just get comfy – no more uncomfortable shoes, impractical purses, and skirts with tights. There’s something so relaxing about the lifestyle and mentality there. Between the people and the scenery, I found that despite my incredibly busy week, I was totally at peace.


Thursday evening after the conference, I made a quick jaunt back to SF before hopping back on the plane to Madrid to begin yet another adventure. The travel may get tiring, but it’s worth it!

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