Photo: Andrew Albertson

“It’s really beautiful up there.” “Yeah, it’s, like, green.” “Really green.”

Ultimately, this is all I had to go on before I boarded a plane to Seattle last Saturday. Sure, my genius friend Josclin created an eight-page Google Document itinerary for our trip, I listened to a lot of Sleater-Kinney, and I’d oohed and ahhhed at Instagrammed pics of La Push, but none of that can replace actually being in a place.

Our trip took us to Tacoma, Olympia, Forks (TWILIGHT), La Push (and four beaches), Port Angeles (where we slept on a sailboat), the Hoh Rainforest (really green), and, finally, Seattle itself. I got home late Saturday night, jet lagged and eager to pore over every photo with my kind, exhausted parents, who picked me up from the airport.

Seattle was cool and sunny. The flowers were more vivid than anything I’d ever seen on the East Coast. I touched the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I slept on a goddamn sailboat. Washington, I love you. I really missed my cat and my boyfriend, but it was hard to say goodbye to the West Coast.

1. “What I Gained From Having a Miscarriage.” (Angela Garbes, The Stranger, April 2016)

Our first stop was Tacoma, and I lost it a little bit when I saw The Stranger in its newspaper box. “I’ve only read this online!!!!!” I shrieked at my friends. “It really is in print!!!!!” “My” issue featured a beautiful cover illustration of Prince and this astounding essay by Angela Garbes. I read it on the plane home.

2. “As Sales Boom, Pot Shops Have Become The New Face of Gentrification.” (Sara Bernard, Grist, April 2016)

Pair with coverage of the Uncle Ike’s protest from The Stranger and this essay from BuzzFeed: “How Black People Are Being Shut Out of America’s Weed Boom.”

3. “Women in the Trades.” (Susan Kelleher & Bettina Hansen, The Seattle Times, 2015)

A beautiful series of black-and-white photographs and mini-essays about women of industry who work in Seattle and beyond.

4. “Amazon is Killing My Sex Life.” (Tricia Romano, Dame Magazine, May 2014)

The skeleton of the Amazon Biosphere loomed over our bus as we slowed at an intersection. Amazon is everywhere in Seattle—including, of course, the antiseptic IRL Amazon Bookstore. Much has been written about the tech boom’s influence on Seattle, financially and culturally, but Dame Magazine has one of the funniest/darkest essays yet.

5. “National Parks are Used Mostly by Older White People. Here’s Why That Needs to Change.” (Lornet Turnbull, Yes! Magazine, April 2016)

National parks in the United States have been sites of oppression and segregation. Can we come to grips with their fraught history for the sake of conservation?
(I also recommend following Rahawa Haile on Twitter. She’s hiking the Appalachian Trail currently, and her insights and photos are lovely and important.)

6. “Can Kshama Sawant Build an Actual Socialist City in America?” (Sarah Jaffe, The Nation, June 2015)

Meet the highest-ranking Socialist government official in the United States. Spoiler alert: She’s in Washington.