Friday, June 23, 2017

Cannon Beach, OR

After our foggy trip to Mt Saint Helens we headed into Oregon on the Pacific Coast Highway and headed south. It was spectacular right from the start. Giant trees that had to be over 200 feet tall lined the road. Quaint little seaside towns clustered along the coast. Our first stop along the way was Cannon Beach, which if you are heading south is one of the first places to really see the ocean. We pulled off the highway and found the first ice cream shop, got ice cream for the kids and headed to the beach.

What a beautiful place to see the ocean for the first time! I could see coming back to Cannon Beach as a destination for a future trip. It was truly breathtaking. It wasn't too warm, a nice 65 degrees and the water wasn't freezing. I found out that three movies were filmed on this beach (or the beach right north of this one): Goonies, Point Break and Twilight. I can see why!

The town wasn't too touristy, very quaint and cute. Lots of fun little shops and easy access to the beach. We found a good place to eat rather easily and there were even several vegan options on the menu. When we got home I got onto Airbnb and found several cute houses for under $150 a night. I'm ready to go back!

Here is the video I took of us walking up the block to see the ocean for the first time. I'm pretty annoying so you don't have to turn up your speakers. I'm pretty sure I was the most excited person in the family to see the ocean. The kids were pretty excited to eat their ice cream.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Watershed Park and Mt. Saint Helens

Before we said goodbye to family and started our road trip down the coast we had to go on a beautiful nature trail called Watershed Park. It's just a couple of blocks from my brother-in-laws house and is utterly spectacular. Randi and Rich try to walk it daily with Hilde their dog when they visit. Sean told me often it felt like we were on the planet Endor from Star Wars. I wouldn't even be surprised to find out it was filmed here.

We rented an SUV like a Ford Edge for this trip but when we got to Seattle to pick it up they were all out and upgraded us to a Ford Flex. We had no idea what it was going to be like but were thoroughly impressed by the end of the trip. It was top of the line and had not one, not two but three sunroofs which proved to be really cool for seeing all of the views. Plus with the third row seating we were able to fit six adults in it for the graduation (we left the three kids with a sitter). It was like a fancy little school bus.

After leaving Olympia we headed south to go see Mount St. Helens. It was an overcast and drizzly day so we weren't expecting much. Turns out it's good to keep your expectations low, the mountain was hiding in a giant cloud. We drove all the way to the Johnston Ridge Observatory which was quite a ways off of the highway. It was a beautiful drive none the less.

Above is the picture from the observation deck. We laughed. Here is a picture of what we should have seen from this point.  The Observatory itself was full of information about the 1980 eruption with a movie and detailed accounts from the survivors. Wish we could have seen the mountain, perhaps another day. The lady at the observatory said it's only visible for about 100 days out the year.

Down the road is the Forest Learning Center which is even more informative than the Observatory with beautiful views of the valley. Plus it has a nice gift shop which is always a hit with the kids.

 More tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Olympia, WA

We just returned from a fabulous trip to the Pacific Northwest and boy are we tired! I've heard of the term "jet lag" but have yet to experience it until now. We are all just lying around trying to recoup our energy. We flew out last Monday to Seattle. It was the first time the kids had been on an airplane. They were super excited and a little apprehensive. They did great!

We got to know several airports and learned how to wait with the delays. I couldn't get over how many people were flying with their dogs. We flew Southwest and apparently a dog was considered a carry on item. This, of course, led me to wonder how dogs went to the rest room inside the terminal (because who wants to take the dog outside and have to go through security again?). After a little searching I found this door next to the public restrooms.

I actually photographed it because of the epic logo (the kids laughed and laughed). But then curiosity made me go inside to see what a dog bathroom looked like. I was not disappointed. Inside was a fire hydrant and fake grass to do the deed on. Then you flip a switch to turn on the sprinklers to wash it all away. Almost makes me want to travel with a dog. Not really.

On the flight north from Phoenix the pilot told us to look out the window to see the grand Canyon. Sure enough, there it was! We all thought that was super cool.

We got to Seattle and had our rental car by 10pm. Then we drove the hour to Olympia where Sean's brother and his family live. His parents drove up from New Mexico too. It was lovely to see everyone in such a beautiful place. The next morning we went to the bay area to eat lunch and walk around. It was gorgeous! So lush and green and cool. We went from the sunny upper 80's to overcast 60's. I was glad I brought a sweatshirt. I lived in it the whole trip.

The barnacles and mussels on the piers were of interest to the kids and I. It was low tide so the piers were low, exposing all the critters living on them. As the tide rose the piers went up and all the barnacles were back in the water. We liked brushing our hands across the barnacles and watching them move and retract into themselves. This is definitely something these midwest kids are not exposed to. I think their cousin Berkley was curious why we were all touching the stuff growing on the piers.

The main reason we went to Olympia was to celebrate my niece Claire's graduation from high school. She had a large graduating class with 400 kids and it took about 2.5 hours. It was nice seeing her graduate. She was 9 years old like yesterday, it's crazy to think she's off to college. Congrats Claire!

More trip posts to come.

Thursday, June 8, 2017


We've been at our current church for a little over a year now and apparently that was how long it took for people to feel comfortable enough with me to ask for help with vacation bible school. I was thrilled to help out but knew nothing about vbs. They weren't worried and asked me to run the arts and crafts. Sure, why not?

It's been a fun week, although I'm excited tomorrow is Friday and the final day. I'm exhausted! There are 124 kids enrolled (45 of those are pre-schoolers). They rotate around in smaller groups and we make a fun new craft each day. I'm happy they asked me to do this, it's nice to get out of my comfort zone every now and then.

My Mom and friend Jessica were nice enough to come help me during the week, even though they don't go to that church. I'm not sure I could have done it without them! Here are some pictures of the week.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Flowers, Goats and the Runaway Pup

One of my favorite things in spring is all of the beautiful flowers. I love planting flowers that we can all enjoy throughout the year. I'm kind of a cheapskate so I love to carouse the discount racks at the back of Lowes. You know, the racks where the not so pretty flowers go? It's a great place to find some real bargains, and save them before they end up in the trash can. I scored four new Knockout Roses (carpet roses that bloom all summer) for $5 a piece, originally $19. They were back there because they weren't blooming anymore. I also got several of the flowers to go in the pots on the deck from the discount rack. They all perk up and look beautiful in no time. Here is my sweet Greta helping me plant the pots. She's quite the helper.

I was out taking pictures and the goats beckoned me over to their pen with their loud hollering. I let them out in the small fenced off area of the walnut grove to keep that section mowed periodically.

They are usually in the dirt pen with the horses and I make them come out into their pen to eat the weeds and poison ivy. They stay out there for about 10 minutes and then cry to go back into the horse pen. Strange animals. They would rather curl up on the old hay mound in the sun than eat grass in the shade. Oh well, I try.

Winston has gotten into the bad habit of running outside whenever anyone opens a door. He lies in wait until you barely open it and then shoots out before you even know what's happening. He only runs into the fenced in backyard so it's not a matter of him running off or anything. But it is super annoying. He also won't let you catch him. He trots around and evades the kids as they try to catch him. I've been doing a lot of research on how to train him not to run out and also not to run from us. We'll see how well he can be taught. Little stinker.