Sitting in Our Tree


Charlottesville, VA | Pt. 1

travel, fallKelsey Bethune

We decided when we moved to DC (read: when money got crazy tight) to spend money for birthday, anniversaries & holidays on experiences rather than gifts for each other. It's been one of my favorite decisions we've ever made & I think it will carry over even after the eventual someday arrives where we aren't pinching pennies on every budget line. Our dream of traveling for our anniversary every year is still alive, even if we don't go very far.

This year's anniversary would count as one of those "not very far" years, which seemed fair after last year's cross country travel to Vancouver & Seattle. We hadn't put much thought into what we were doing to celebrate 7 years of marriage (!), especially since we have a baby now & babysitters are scarce. I think it was maybe 4 days out that we decided to just get out of the city for the weekend & booked a cabin in the Shenandoah Mountains.

Our anniversary, through no coincidence, falls on what is typically the most autumnal of weekends. Right when the leaves are beginning to change color but are still on the trees, right before apple picking season ends, right when all the pumpkin everythings show up on menus & grocery store shelves. Some years it's cooler than others, though this year it was still pretty warm. 

After a bit of crazy Sunday DC traffic (hence baby-in-sunglasses entertainment), we kicked off our trip with a stop at an apple orchard that we had all to ourselves. Crew was 10% interested in apples, 90% interested in eating leaves that gave Jared 100% of a heart attack. It was a perfectly quiet afternoon in the orchard for our tiny little family.

Rounding out this first year of Crew's "firsts", I can't help but think that even though this was his first apple picking trip, or his first Christmas, it's going to see like firsts all over again next year & the year after that as he becomes more aware of the places we're going & the things we're doing. & thank goodness, because these little "first" moments make my mama heart explode as we introduce him to the things we love & the traditions we keep.

I mean, look how proud he is of the leaf he picked. He's trying to kill me with cuteness, I know it.

It was our first trip of just-the-three-of us, & honestly, it was a dream. No distractions of laundry or grocery shopping or apartment cleaning... Just pure, unadulterated family time. Lots of face staring. Lots of baby loving. Lots of good conversation & talks of the future for Jared & I. I'd say a trip to the mountains is just what we needed. 

Pictures from Day 2 are up next!

Seattle, WA

travelKelsey BethuneComment

Good gravy, it has taken me for-eh-ver to get this post up. I've been slooowly composing it since November, isn't that ridiculous? These types of posts honestly take so so long to put together, so I tip my hat to the full time bloggers that are constantly putting up travel guides. Phew. Part 2 of our Not-Quite-Mexico anniversary trip was a quick jaunt down to Seattle. We crossed the border in our rental car & made our way into downtown Seattle, where we checked into, where else? The Ace Hotel. It's like a rule if you're a millennial visiting Seattle, I'm pretty sure. It started raining right as we drove into the city, so we cranked up the Bon Iver & relished the PNW-ness of it all.

We took some time to settle in & rest up (#pregnant), but realized that what little light was left on that cloudy afternoon was quickly dwindling, & checking the Space Needle off the to-do list of our tight itinerary got us back in our boots & jackets & sprinting over to the Needle with borrowed umbrellas. Definitely walking distance, so that was nice!We made it to the top with just enough time to catch a sliver of sunset off in the distance. It was perfectly drizzly weather, which made it such a quintessential Seattle moment. I LOVE doing all the cheesy, touristy things in new cities, but this is really a must-see, even if you're anti touristy things. It's such a striking view & so breathtaking for East Coast folks like us to soak in that West Coast horizon. It reminded me a lot of visiting the top of Montparnasse in Paris -- Pictures that I would link here if I had ever gotten my life together & blogged our 2014 European trip. *hangs head in shame*

I maybe forced Jared into taking this picture, if you can't tell by his grimacing smile, but omg worth it. We are mildly obsessed with Frasier & I just feel like we're in the opening credits. NO REGRETS, JARED.

We trekked over to Serious Pie & seriously stuffed our faces with their amazing pizza. It was just a short walk from the Ace, so completely perfect for tired, waterlogged travelers. It's a pretty intimate little restaurant, so I didn't bust out the camera, but trust me that it was good.

The next morning, we headed out to The London Plane for brunch, & boyyyyy was that a good idea. I continued my PNW Avocado Toast tour, & this spot did not disappoint. I don't know if it's a West Coast thing or a PNW thing to include a flower shop in your cafe/restaurant, but I wasn't mad about it. Such a cute little treat everywhere we went.


After brunch, we snuck over to Kerry Park to take in the view that had been recommended to us by my cousin .It was a super bright day, in contrast to our previous rainy evening, so it was really lovely to take in Seattle horizon in the daylight.

Next up, the infamous Public Market! We wandered for awhile (mostly reenacting parts of Sleepless in Seattle, let's be honest) & made all the obligatory stops, like the gum wall, the ferris wheel... So fun to see this place in person!

Jared's inner former-barista sprang to life when we passed the OG Starbucks, so we of course stopped there. Not pictured, & I can't figure out for the life of me why, is the best macaroni and cheese I've ever had in my life from Beecher's Handmade Cheese. I've seriously been dreaming about that mac n cheese since we left Seattle. SO GOOD.

HI CHELSEA! We met up with my sweet friend Chelsea (of Truelane fame), who gave us the Seattle-ite tour of the city, & insisted we take a trip on the ferry for a full Seattle experience. It took me a minute to get over her & Jared FINALLY meeting, but once I did, I made sure to play the Grey's Anatomy theme song as we sailed across the water. Super stunning.

After a quick pit stop at Street Bean Coffee & Moorea Seal, we drove over to the OTHER Capitol Hill for books, dinner & ice cream... Basically, my favorite kind of evening.

We popped into the Elliott Bay Book Company, where I finally purchased my French parenting book, then enjoyed dinner at Oddfellows... Which I cannot recommend highly enough. Super delicious food & super cool vibe. I think I was just too entranced in conversation with Chelsea & Jared to take photos (& the lighting was real low), but trust me. It's great. & conveniently close to Molly Moon's Ice Cream, which is just around the corner. Early Grey ice cream of my DREAMS. We definitely found a lot to love about the other Capitol Hill.

& honestly, just like that, it was time to head home! Yes, our stay in Seattle was pretty short, but we managed to pack in a lot of great stuff. It was a perfect taste of the Pacific Northwest, especially for little ol' me, who has never experienced the West Coast. I mean, I've been to Hawaii, but I've been told that doesn't count. We're definitely ready to plan our giant California excursion now. Someday!

Serious Pie
The London Plane
Molly Moon's Ice Cream

Coffee & Records

Stumptown Coffee
Street Bean Coffee Roasters

Moorea Seal
Elliott Bay Book Co.

Space Needle
Kerry Park
Fremont Troll
Public Market
Ferry Ride

Our time in Seattle was pretty quick so our itinerary was pretty tight - Check out these other Seattle Guides for some more insight on local spots to see!
New Darling Seattle City Guide
Local Wanderers Seattle City Guide
& of course, follow along with Chelsea on her blog and Instagram and Twitter and all the things for a look at a local's life in Seattle!

Vancouver, BC

travelKelsey BethuneComment

Our five year anniversary was supposed to be marked with a giant trip. A tropical trip. It was going to be great. But 2015 was an intense year for us, & as October 23rd grew closer, we had neither the time to research nor the money to book a big trip. We settled for a day trip to Philadelphia, followed by a day in the Virginia mountains, & honestly, it was exactly what we needed. But we promised ourselves that Year 6 was going to be the year for that tropical vacation. The kind where you arrive at a resort, & spend your days on the beach, with a waiter putting another margarita in your hand every time your last one is empty. The kind of resort that you pay extra not to deal with kids in the pool. The kind with a swim up bar & 6 restaurants to choose from. We dutifully put money away all year, & I planned our entire trip. For about a month, we went back & forth sending resorts to each other over email. We settled on Mexico, & debated if we cared about the Zika factor, but decided that by the time we were ready to try to have a baby, we'd be safely out of the hazard window. We'd get tested, it'd be fine.

You can imagine that it was a little ironic, a little comical, & very unreal when about 48 hours before Jared was going to officially book the trip, I took a test that read, "Pregnant." So! We regrouped. More than ever, we needed to get away together. We read all about how Zika could just be a big pharmaceutical conspiracy & blah blah blah, but neither of us were comfortable risking it. With our anniversary falling on a consistently gorgeous autumn weekend, we decided to finally take the Seattle/Vancouver trip we'd heard a family friend gush about a few years back. Bonuses including 1) another stamp in our passports & 2) seeing my dear friend Chelsea, whom Jared hadn't met yet.

We flew into Seattle & immediately hopped in a rental car, making the trip to Vancouver in a little over two hours. It was a really pretty drive (confession: I slept for part of it), & driving through border control was a bit of an andrenaline rush for Jared. Based on advice from my Twitter friends over at Treasures & Travel, we found an amazing Airbnb in the Vancouver neighborhood of Gastown. Perched in a super eclectic, modern loft, we were really in the heart of Gastown, with seemingly every shop & restaurant that had been recommended to us a very short walk away.Perfectly cool & a little drizzly, we got into town around 5pm & wandered the streets a bit, orienting ourselves & deciding where OH WHERE to eat. We happened to be staying about a block away from Tacofino, a taco spot that at least 45 people plus 90% of the internet said we needed to try. & guys... I'm so glad we did.

It's pretty hard to impress a margarita connoisseur that can't currently drink, but between their mocktail menu & (I am not exaggerating) THE BEST FISH TACO I'VE EVER HAD EVER, I was one happy pregnant lady. Tacofino was also the first time we stopped & realized that everyone in Vancouver is basically a model, & that every brick & mortar had perfect styling & branding. We decided this is a town filled with graphic & interior designers, who get married & then open really cool shops together.

One thing we did notice is that Vancouver is a sleeeeeeepy town. Or at least Gastown is a sleepy neighborhood. Maybe we were staying in the Georgetown equivalent of Vancouver, but we were up the next morning & hitting the sidewalk at 8:30am, & there was not one single spot open. The clean up crew was out, cleaning up the streets from the night before, & we walked around the neighborhood until Nelson the Seagull opened at 9am, then partook in the first of many avocado toasts on this trip. The PNW loooooves its avocado toast.


My lovely Instagram friend @adrianasinke was so kind to make some recommendations of spots for us to visit in her former city, & brilliantly directed us to Lynn Canyon Park. When you start investigating Vancouver, you see all of these insanely gorgeous photos of a giant suspension bridge, called the Capilano Suspension Bridge. We were really excited about it before we realized that it costs $45 a person to go! Not quite at that point in our traveling lives. Fortunately, Lynn Canyon's suspension bridge is FREE (though not quite as big/extensive) & has trails that kept us busy for a solid three hours. It was a beautifully scenic hike.


(Even though we switched our swimsuits for beanies, my margaritas for bottled water, & our search for Mexican ruins for continual searches for the nearest bathroom, this was still our best anniversary yet.) 

After our trek back to Gastown, we explored the shops in the neighborhood, where I tried to capture the impeccable branding on basically every window & we managed to only buy one thing: A 100% Canadian blanket for the baby. It's very cute. You'll see.

I can't think of a single thing that DC is obsessed with the way that Vancouver was obsessed with butternut squash. Nearly every restaurant featured a seasonal item with butternut squash, & I feel like I ordered that item every single time. This sandwich & tea from The Birds & The Beets was a perfect pick me up. SUCH a fresh food scene in Vancouver.

We ran down to Crab Park, which was basically directly behind our loft, to try to watch the sunset, but the cloudy skies had different plans. Still a pleasant walk, with the sound of seagulls & bells dinging everywhere. This is also where it seems like all the dogs hung out. I had been very concerned about the lack of dogs up to this point.

Right around the corner, but not pictured, was Alibi Room, where Jared got to try a flight of Canadian beers. Having frequently visited Toronto over the last year, he'd been convinced Canada didn't have great beers, but Alibi Room's selection changed his mind. So there's that. I had a ginger ale & it was great, thanks for asking

We finished our actual anniversary off with a fancy dinner at L'Abattoir, which was insanely delicious. In case you can't tell, my meal came complete with an apple rosette, so like, sold.

We spent our final breakfast in Vancouver at Le Marché St. George, which a shop kid had tried to discourage us from visiting the day before, but we were SO glad we ignored him. As the weird kid that grew up with crepes on Saturday mornings instead of pancakes, this little corner spot won me over with their quiche and crepe selection, topped off with a nice spicy chai.


The golden doodle parked right outside out window waiting dutifully for his mom also helped in my decision to move to Vancouver & stay forever. I've since changed my mind, don't worry, but between the neighborhoods & that brie + apple crepe... It was close.

We got back in our terrible Mitsubishi rental & started our journey back to Seattle, but not without a fond farewell to Vancouver, its autumnal glory & surprisingly incredible food scene. Not going to lie, I was expecting more CANADA than I got (maple syrup & poutine were simply NOT a thing in Vancouver), but I guess that means we just need to head to Montreal next!

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Tacofino Even though you don't think you're heading to Vancouver for tacos, you need to stop here. Best fish tacos we've ever had, with a really great drink menu, including mocktails. Bumpin' on a Saturday night, but plenty of space at the bar & a great aesthetic.
The Birds & The Beets A gorgeous shop tucked away in the heart of gastown, this little cafe had the most beautiful organic vibe & a bonus flower shop in the back. Featuring a small salad/sandwich menu & the right amount of mid-afternoon-pick-me-up drinks, it was a perfect refuel stop.
L'Abattoir A little on the pricier end, this restaurant was a perfect fit for our anniversary dinner. Just the right amount of comfortable & fancy, the interior was gorgeous, with an indoor courtyard that you see from the outside & assume a $300 tasting menu awaits you. Not so! Super friendly service & perfect portions from this French-inspired menu.
Le Marché St. George This is a tiny spot right in the middle of a neighborhood that will make you second guess if your directions are correct, but they are & you will be so glad you made the trip. Savory quiches, the best spicy chai I've had in a long time & crepes made by employees with accents (try the seasonal) make this place a must stop. Heads up: It was empty on a Monday morning, but we could see this getting a little cramped on a busy weekend.
Other spots that were recommended that we didn't get to try:
Guilt & Co.Juice Truck
La Mezcaleria
Field & Social
Cafe Medina

Meat & Bread
& "any Asian place." We were told this multiple times.

Nelson the Seagull This little coffee shop was right around the corner from our Airbnb, & had a small breakfast menu - Just enough of a morning boost to get us through hiking for three hours.
Alibi Room After a walk through Crab Park, Alibi Room is right around the corner for a flight of Canadian beers. Though this stop would have been slightly more fun if I were able to drink, their small bites were a perfect late afternoon pick-me-up for the pregnant lady with a 8:30pm dinner reservation.

They're all delicious, according to Jared who drank way more than my allotted 12 oz. a day ;) But also aesthetically pleasing, which is what I'm here for.


Old Faithful Shop
Luke's General Store
Parade Organics Baby Co.

Lynn Canyon Park Smaller but FREE suspension bridge with a super scenic hike.
Crab Park Waterfront park on the other side of Gastown, for those who enjoy seagulls & dogs.
Other spots that were recommended that we didn't get to:
Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
Lighthouse Park
Stanley Park
Granville Island

Local Wanderer's Vancouver City Guide
Design Sponge's Vancouver City Guide (A little dated, FYI.)
Treasures & Travel's Perfect Vancouver Day
Vancouver Dinner Restaurants


  • RENT. A. CAR. I learned after Chelsea & I visited Nashville not to assume that every city is a walking city like DC... Or London/Paris. We were so grateful to be able to get around where we pleased, but be sure to look into overnight parking before your trip!
  • Just prepare yourself to lose cell service once you cross into Canada, unless your plan makes sense to pay for international service. (Ours did not.) We got a lot of use out of pulling up walking/driving directions on Google Maps while we were on wi-fi, then leaving the app open. Even though you don't have service, GPS will still follow you/show you the directions. Thank goodness Vancouver is all about some Starbucks, & thank goodness even Canadian Starbucks is all about some free wi-fi!
  • Gastown is a super cute little neighborhood that felt very central to the places we wanted to visit. Our trip was short, so we didn't run out of things to do in this area, with its shops, parks, restaurants & cafes. If you've ever visited Norfolk, VA or Philadelphia, this is very much a mash up of those two cities. However! There is definitely an intense sidewalk population, just to be aware of in the late evenings/early mornings. East of Columbia St. definitely has a different vibe. We never felt unsafe, but a heads up if you're not used to that!