Happy New Year, Seattle!

A snap, a crackle and then a…splash…that was the start to our 2015. Snap as we took down our very dry Christmas tree and strapped it to the hood of our car.

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Crackle as we put the Christmas tree in the fire pit at Golden Gardens (an annual tradition for many Seattle residents) and then splash! Our third annual polar bear plunge.

It was a much colder day than last January 1, so the turnout at Golden Gardens for the annual tree burning/polar bear plunge was not quite as large.

37 degrees outside!

37 degrees outside!

But the diehards (like us) were there. Ok, secretly I was hoping Chad would come to his senses and we would spend New Year’s Day snuggling under warm blankets. But when we got to Golden Gardens (with the temperature at 37 degrees), I got in the spirit of the event.

Lots of people had brought their Christmas trees. They were congregated around fire pits, but few were actually burning their trees. One group of onlookers who had already burnt their tree invited us to join their fire and burn ours.

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It’s amazing how treeborn pyrotechnics and the insanity of jumping into the frigid ocean brings out the warmth in Seattleites. We love it!

Chad hoisted our large (and did I mention extremely dry?) tree up and into the fire pit.

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It rapidly caught fire and the flames swept quickly up the tree as it toppled to one side and fell out of the fire pit.

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I was picturing the worst – what started as a lovely way to get rid of a tree turns into a raging forest fire. But thankfully, we weren’t in a forest, we were on the beach and the sand was not about to catch fire. Shortly after placing it in the pit, the tree was burnt to nothingness.

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Relieved, we took in the amazing views of the Olympic mountains. It was a crystal clear day and the Sound was incredibly calm.

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Soon, the head of festivities from Ballard’s Lock and Keel, announced that the plunge would be happening soon.

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First, he wanted anyone in a costume (oh yes, there were those wearing costumes!) to come forward for prizes. Father Time is an annual participant and this year, there was someone wearing a full pink bunny costume (think the kid from Christmas Story, but as an adult). Our money was on a guy in a full penguin costume – it seemed fitting considering the cold.

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Once the prizes were doled out, everyone (except the penguin) stripped down to their bathing suits and waited in cold anticipation for the countdown. Surprisingly, the only thing that is really cold is the sand beneath your feet, so, you’re almost eager to jump in.

Are we really about to jump into freezing cold water?!

Are we really about to jump into freezing cold water?!

5-4-3-2-1! We ran quickly into the icy cold waters of the Puget Sound and ran just a quickly up to dry land to grab our warm towels.

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It was invigorating as we once again bathed away the prior year to start this new year afresh.

Success!

Success!

After the plunge, we drove over to Bad Alberts in Ballard for some brunch. Bad Alberts is one of the few remaining restaurants that has survived the gentrification of Ballard, so you know it has to be good. Chad and his brother have been to Bad Alberts many times over the years, but I had never been. I was glad to bucket list this restaurant and was pleasantly surprised by my tasty dungeness crab and shrimp scramble.

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Chad had the veggie scramble that was equally as delicious. The service was great and we were able to take in some of the college football.

Because it was so beautiful outside – clear blue skies and lots of sun – we decided to spend part of our afternoon at the driving range at Interbay Golf. Chad was practically hitting his golf balls out of the park.

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I needed a little more practice. This nice man golfing next to us named Norman lent me his club and gave me some tips from recent lessons he took. Between Norman and Chad, I had two great coaches and my swing improved.

After golf, Chad and I returned to Ballard to dine on some Mexican food at El Borracho el Norte.

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I enjoyed their cucumber and honeydew melon margarita as well as the pork tacos. Chad enjoyed his fish tacos. The food is very authentic and they have a salsa bar where you can try and taste numerous homemade salsas, yum! We will definitely be going back here to try some of their other dishes, some of which included duck carnitas, Coca-Cola braised Shredded pork shoulder, spice rubbed lamb and a wide selection of vegan options.

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It was a fun day filled with various fun activities to start off the new year. We plan to take our first hike of the year this weekend and we’ll keep you posted on where we end up going! Meanwhile, we wish everyone a happy and healthy new year!

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