Archive for November, 2009

Gig Harbor
November 12, 2009

Can you guess who picked this town as a stop?

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Gig Harbor is a quaint little town surrounding the water, very much like Charlevoix or Harbor Springs with the rolling hills and homes of Walloon. It is on the Olympic Peninsula, across Puget Sound from Seattle. Logging, fishing, crabbing and boat building have been a way of life here for many generations.

We took a stroll through small, hilly town, and expected to find t-shirts, fudge and ice cream…and would have bought some had we found them — a taste of home. But instead we discoverd “light-up crosswalks,” and a very majestic Mount Ranier glowing with the setting sun.

Morning Run/Gig Harbor

Morning Run

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A Rainforest in the USA?
November 11, 2009

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The Olympic  Peninsula is in the Northwest corner of Washington State, which is rightfully nicknamed the evergreeen state. This region is quite unique, in that it contains five major landscape settings: temperate rain forest, rugged mountain terrain, large lowland lakes, cascading rivers and saltwater beaches.  DSC01513

 We spent a very rainy aftenoon driving through the Quinlault Rainforest, inside the Olympic National Forest.  For all of you Twilight fans, this is the peninsula is where the town of Forks is located. We drove through these dense woods expecting to see Edward Cullen around every bend. The evergreens are amazingly tall, the woods incredibly dense and mossy, the slopes very steep, and all of it is lush, green and (well, it’s a rainforest) very wet. DSC01501

This is one of two huge waterfalls that we saw, along with many little ones. This water comes completely from rain run-off, unlike the next one that comes from a lake up in the mountains.  After the second waterfall we were completely drenched from the pouring rain and mist from the falls, and my camera lens had so much moisture inside, I couldn’t take any more photos. That was not upsetting to our driver, who was incredibly patient with the three female photo snappers in the vehicle. “Stop dad!” “Back up!” “I’ve got to get a picture!” “Oh my  gosh!” “Look at that.” “Oh, oh, oh!” Although inside the car it was quite comical, outside it was amazingly beautiful!

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The Pacific Ocean
November 10, 2009

Pacific Ocean

After a few hours of school and work for Scott, it was time for a short drive to the airport to pick up Hilary. We were all very happy to be reunited! After many hugs and loading the car we were off to cross over the bridge into the state of Washington. Our drive today was not too long, leaving time for a late afternoon adventure. It wDSC01471as raining at our new campsite, but sunny to the west, so we decided to head to the ocean. I asked the kids what they thought it might look like. Amber said “The ocean mom, we’ve seen one before.” Tyler was a little worried before we got there. “Are there going to be sharks?”  “No son, no sharks…” Little did I know!

While we did not see a glorious sunset, it was still  beautiful. The clouds gave everything a silver-blue cast. The fine black sand and huge sections of driftwood were not at all what they were expecting, and something they won’t soon forget.

Tyler is getting good at impromptu videos… I love these. There is no coaching, just Ty guy and his amazing brain…and love for being an entertainer!

http://youtu.be/SSqOCCnf2ao

 

An Oregon Trail of our Own
November 9, 2009

Oregon has completely surprised me. While I really didn’t know what to expect, the beauty of this parDSC01425t of the country makes me realize why Lewis and Clark sang it’s praises in the early 1800’s and why so many pioneers set off to claim their own piece of this land.  The beauty of the Cascades with the backdrop of the rivers, and lush forests…while there is no free land in it for us, it was worth the trip.

 We spent a good part of our day touring PortlanFloating Housesd by car. I feel like we have driven by so many cities without really finding out much about them. So today, without an official agenda, we set out to see what we could see. Besides the beautiful landscape, we were also intrigued by the floating neighborhoods. Upon closer inspection Scott discovered that each individual home is built ( and floating) on top of logs 3 to 4 feet in diameter. We told the kids it would be the perfect neighborhood to move into. Dad could have his boat in the front or backyard and mom could still have a house. Don’t worry friends and family in Michigan, they didn’t go for it.

DSC01447We also ventured downtown to find their famous Powell Bookstore that fills an entire city block, and check out the downtown market that they have each weekend. Part of the park and town square are full of vendors selling clothing,  pottery, mosaics, jewelry and toys, made by local artisans. Plus there’s live music, and an international food court. It was a lesson in culture for our kids; quite different from Charlevoix! DSC01451  I guess you could say we have been on our own “Oregon Trail” for a while. We have been counting the days until November 9th. Tomorrow we will  pick up Hilary at the airport and head north. We cannot wait for her to join our adventure and for our family to be whole again.  We thank God for our family, friends, teachers and coaches at home who have taken care of her these past few weeks!

Columbia River Gorge
November 7, 2009

This was an attempt to capture more of the beauty that takes my breath away. Scott and the kids laugh at me each time I say “Wow! I need my camera!” They have heard it A LOT! I now have hundreds of photos of mountains, but none do justice to what my eyes are taking in. The landscape got even more beautiful after this, but our view of Mount Hood disappeared as we got closer and the rain started falling.

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This is my first attempt at linking a You Tube video…they will get better. If the video “freezes up” as you watch, let it play through one time (walk away) and come back to it. It will play smoothly after it downloads.

Pepper the Traveling Cat
November 6, 2009

DSC01283A number of friends have asked how our cat is traveling, especially since most cats seem to get completely nerved up over a short ride to the vet. Pepper has been no exception, but he is a very smart cat. He knew something was up as he followed me for days from room to room, and from house to motorhome as I was packing. If I had an empty bag he climbed inside, if I had a bag packed, he climbed on top.  Amber made sure he knew where the “kitty facilities” were a few days before we set off, and Pepper even took it for a test run before the trip.

He was suprised by the roar of the engine and complained for the first few minutes, but found comfort right next to Amber (his favorite human) in a chair. He prefers smooth roads at 55mph (we all do) as opposed to bumpy roads, city driving,  slow driveways or parking lots.  And while he has found a really great hiding spot for super rough travel days, most of the time he is completely content, sleeping soundly while we travel.

On days that we are set up at a campground, the kids walk him on a leash several times a day (for fun) and he will spend time outside with us (on the leash) if we are outdoors, but he prefers to be inside the RV.  At home it is the opposite. He is and inside cat, but when he hears the car pull in, he hides just inside the door to escape, and roam, and protect his territory. He thinks he  is a “guard cat” and has protected our yard and home from big dogs, little dogs, racoons, rabbits and rodents…that is, when he is sly enough to get out. I was very concerned about his history of trying to eat dogs… knowing that we will probably camp next to dogs…but yesterday Amber walked him right past a dog at a campsite and Pepper completely ignored it. She also dropped his leash at one point (on purpose) to see what he would do and he stayed in step right beside her.

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Didn't someone say it was time for school?

I mentioned earlier that he is a smart cat. He knows how our doors and screens open at home (thankfully he doesn’t have a whole lot of muscle to put behind it) and in the middle of the night he pushes the book off from the top of my water glass (that would be the book I placed on the water glass to keep middle of the night kitties from drinking my water) so he can drink fresh water.  Of course that wakes me up, and I, like a good cat mom, get up and get us both fresh water. He is even smart enough to know not to mess with dad’s water…

With all of their recent time together, Amber has decided that it was time to teach him some tricks. Now, between Pepper’s smarts and Amber’s determination, we are the proud family of  a cat that “sits” on command and “touches” (much like a dog’s shake) in order to earn a treat…… No kidding!

A day at the zoo…
November 6, 2009

DSC01299Amber started out the day extra early in order to “attend” her English class via “Skype.” She loved seeing her friends as much as they loved seeing her on the “Smart Board” at school. After a number of “Hello’s” and letting the novelty wear off slightly, Mr. Prescott jumped right into the lesson and later paired the kids up to complete a challenge; coming up with as many unique collective nouns as possible with a partner.DSC01353 She found more collective nouns today at the zoo. Can you find them?

Since we got such an early start on school for the day we were finished earlier than usual. After one more round of double elimination air hockey… and Tyler proving to us that he really is the family champ, we set off for the Iowa Discovery Center and the Boise Zoo. The Discovery Center was completely “hands-on” and each of walked away with dirty hands and full brains.

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Tyler’s favorite exhibit was the Whisper Dish.  While he was sitting in front of one dish, Amber walked completely across the building to another. Sitting back to back, they were able to speak to each other, even whisper, as if they were very close. As we walked away Tyler said “Mom, you know we could make one of these pretty easy at home!”

Tyler also loved the robots they had on exhibit.  Amber,  on the other hand was completely intrigued by the powerful microscope, and spent a good 30 minutes looking at all the slides. Animal lover, tender heart, naturalist, scientist! Fits her perfectly.

  After lunch we headed to the Boise zoo.  Amber (who speaks cat…really) played hideDSC01354 and seek with a snow leopard. We were all amazed at the enourmous size of the Siberian Tigers, the playfulness, grace and speed with which the Whited Handed Monkeys swing from rope, to branch, to bar… They were Tyler’s favorite, and I enjoyed them too until he explained, and Amber verified, that they sometimes throw poo at each other. While I didn’t witness that (thank God), we saw plenty of it flying and I did leave with monkey poo in my shoe…….(no photos for that one!) And though we have seen lions,  zebras and giraffes before, they are always intriguing,  beautiful creatures.

  

What makes a perfect day?
November 5, 2009

Today was a perfect day in my book. We had no agenda. No place we had to be. We did not travel. We did not see one of the seven wonders of the world. Yes, my husband spent time in his “driver’s seat office,” but still managed a bike ride, a run, a few repair jobs…

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My kids played outside for hours on end.
Tyler did 347 laps around this campground on his bicycle.
Amber sang, walked her cat, and made movies.
The sun was shining.
Tyler proved to each of us that he is the air hockey champion of the family.
We ate chocolate chip cookies.
We sat in the hot tub.
We laughed.
My husband and son wrestled on the floor.
We played games.

What is your idea of a perfect day?

Tomorrow there will be work to do, schoolwork to be done, places to go…but today was perfect. That’s why I’m here. That’s how we get through the days that are not perfect. We remember and give thanks for days like today.

Life is a gift. Children are a gift. Children grow up…Live every day.

Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, STOP!
November 4, 2009

I am loving Boise already!

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ENOUGH SAID!

Writer’s Block
November 3, 2009

This morning I told Scott that I think it’s time that he learned to update the blog. He said “No problem. I’ll start blogging right after I teach you to drive!”

 So here I am, with writer’s block trying to think of something exciting to share…but reality is that we have grocery shopping, laundry, cooking and cleaning to do, just like we would if we were home. Our last 24 hours have been filled with all of those basics plus an RV wash, a haircut for Tyler and schooling.

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Amber's 55mph Science Test

Today we are on the move again; just one day and one town closer to Portland Oregon, where we pick up Hilary. Each, one of us misses her for different reasons. She is often my right hand man and my favorite shopping partner. She loves to help her dad out with things like loading the car, and directing him as he backs up to the trailer, and she is more than capable…Amber said, “I can’t wait to have here to ride bikes with and do “girl stuff” like paint our nails.”

Ty Lego GuyTyler is much too busy at the moment building Lego ships to think about it. But he’d love it if she were here to be his audience for the explanation of what he’s constructed today. “The master blaster is under this secret compartment… you have to flip this up and then the control panel… and wait until you see what happens when you push the power eject button…”

Hilary will be packing her bags soon…we’ve reserved two small drawers, one third of a closet and one cupboard (more than anyone else!) and we will be adjusting to life with a fifth person in our one bedroom home on wheels. Having us all under on roof (no matter what size) and this time that we have together, is not something I’d trade for anything!