Archive for July, 2016

Shane and I aren’t the spontaneous type.  Never have been, really, and since we had Juliette, we’re even less likely to leave Seattle without at least ten days of careful planning.  But when Jason and Nancy asked us on Friday night if we wanted to head to the coast with them the next day for an overnight trip, we threw caution to the wind and said YES!  Somehow, in the 11 years we’ve lived here, we’ve never seen Washington’s view of the Pacific Ocean.  We rolled into Westport shortly after noon and spread out our blanket on the sand at Half Moon Bay.

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Jason recently took up kite boarding and was eager to capitalize on the wind (I was thrilled just to feel the warm, soft sand between my toes).

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As we watched Jason zig-zag across the bay, Shane asked Nance, “Did you see that thing splash in the water out there?”.

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Indeed, there was some sort of water-borne creature circling the bay.  Something with a big flat fin and a long gray body.   After conferring with Google and some nearby beach-combers, we were pretty sure we were seeing a gray whale!  Wild.

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See that splash?  See Jason obliviously galavanting about the water?  This was the moment when Nance started yelling and waving her arms, motioning him to please come back to the safety of dry land!

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He came in for a bit, but was back at it once the waters had quieted…

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Isaiah scampered around the driftwood fort…

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And these two settled in for a snuggle.  Juliette has fallen into the role of Gryff’s sometimes-sweet, sometimes-completely-annoying kid sister.  She hardly let this guy out of her site throughout the entire weekend.  Whenever Gryff would try to break away for a moment of peace, Juliette would beg, “Gryff!  Hold my hand!”, at which point he would just sigh and say, “Oh, Ju-Ju…” and let her tag along.  He’s a softie, that kid.

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Ahhhh, ocean!  We’ve missed you!

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I see you, Bups!

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We checked into our condo late in the afternoon and scoped out the view from the living room and deck.

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There was a beautiful ocean-front paved path just steps from our condo, so I took Jules out for a walk in the stroller, hoping she’d grab a much-needed cat nap.

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She did!

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We spent the evening at the condo’s pool, swimming and jumping and hot-tubbing.

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We ate burgers on the deck and promptly sent the kiddos to bed – they were tuckered out.

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While Shane patted Jules to sleep, I snuck away for a sunset walk.

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That PNW beach wind makes for some awfully lovely terrain.

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I mean, seriously!

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Goodnight, sun.

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Jules was up a little earlier than usual, which meant I woke up earlier than usual and needed coffee, stat.  Juliette and I walked over to Tinderbox for a tall latte and a short milk.

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And then it was off to the pool to soak up that warm morning sun.

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Juliette became bolder and bolder with each passing minute, eventually jumping off the edge for a full “dunker”, gasping but smiling when her head popped up out of the water.

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We eventually hung up our wet swimsuits and took one last stroll on the beach.

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And then we headed back inside, packed it up, grabbed a fish n’ chips lunch, and hit the road.  It was a pretty grand 24 hours – we really should fly by the seat of our pants more often!

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We woke to the sound of raindrops on Saturday morning, which meant we stayed snuggled into our tent as long as Jules would allow.  I sighed at the thought of the mud and the chill and the weak, smoky campfire.  Once we emerged from our cocoon, though, I was consoled by the beauty of the misty, serene lake – this was worth getting damp for!

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And the rain was short-lived – a few minutes after I snapped those misty photos, the skies cleared and everything was bright and fresh and ultra-green again.  Camping has its challenges, but gosh – a view like this for $16 a night?  What a steal!

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Shane’s shoulders were begging for a break after Thursday’s and Friday’s hikes, so we decided to lay low on Saturday and take advantage of all the offerings right outside out tent’s front door.  Like Brian and Nicole’s hammock!

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Jason’s slack-line…

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Some miscellaneous sporting goods:

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The mud (Jules whipped up a lovely batch of mud meatballs):

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And, of course, more paddle boarding!

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Jules proved to be an excellent first mate.

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Jason’s paddle board gymnastics had the girls squealing with laughter.  “Fall again, Jason!  Fall again!”

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It was pretty idyllic, all of us just kind of wafting in and out of the water, maybe with a kid or two in tow, while the rest of the gang set up their camp chairs on shore.

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The Hickory’s needed to get back to Seattle on Saturday afternoon, so we snapped a group pic and then bid them farewell.  So glad their crazy clan could join us for a couple of days!

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The Rusts headed out for a hike after lunch and Jules and I joined them for about a quarter-mile.  Which took about 30 minutes.

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Back at camp, Shane and Juliette took a solid nap while I read by the lake.  Nance returned and brewed us a pot of coffee, sipped while we enjoyed a kid-free (chaos-free) conversation.  Those moments don’t happen too often anymore.

The rest of the evening was spent back out on the paddle boards (surprise!), but Shane and Nance upped the SUP game by doing some pretty impressive gymnastics.  It took all the balance I had just to get from kneeling to standing on the thing, so I bowed out of this little competition.  These two are studs!

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Saturday night’s sleep was fitful at best – we had some rowdy neighbors that partied until about 1 am, and at 3 am we awoke to a horrible screeching sound that sounded on and off for over an hour.  We’re pretty sure it was some kind of bird, but unlike anything I’d ever heard before – poor Juliette just laid there silent and wide-eyed and tightly clutching Shane’s and my hands until the dang thing flew away.  We awoke on Sunday morning definitively ready to head back to the comforts of home.  I had loved snuggling up with these two for the past few days, but I missed my bed.  My shower.  My walls!

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One last campfire meal…

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Once last gaze at the lake…

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One last ride on the paddle-board…

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One last dip in the freezing cold lake (these two must have been polar bears in another life!)…

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And then we packed it up and hit the road, making a brief stop at Ladder Creek Falls before putting the pedal to the metal (we were beat!).

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Sayonara, North Cascades!  You can bet we’ll be seeing you again next summer.

Shane, Jason, and Brian were up bright and early on Thursday morning to sneak in a guys-only adventure, hauling the inflatable paddle boards two miles up-river for a ride on the rapids.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the plan, given that parts of the river were pretty fast and log-packed, so it felt awfully good when I eventually saw these three floating back toward us on the horizon!

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Apparently there was a brief moment at a log jam when Shane feared for his life, but other than that, they nailed it!

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Meanwhile, back at camp, Jules was gettin’ her baby-fix with little M before he hit the road back to Seattle.

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I wish my hair looked like this after three days without a shower!

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We packed lunches and headed east late in the morning to check out the Washington Pass overlook.  I read this was one of the best places to take in the view of the North Cascades.  Not too shabby…

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All this beauty had these guys feelin’ the brotherly love!

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She fits right in, doesn’t she?

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From Washington Pass, we made the short drive over to the Blue Lake trailhead for another trek through the woods.  We got off to a roaring start, as Jules was determined to keep pace with Gryff (whose nickname is “The Mountain Goat”, since he’s such a stellar little hiker).

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Soon enough, though, Juliette was tucked into the backpack with a treat, where she could enjoy the view from Shane’s shoulders.  This was my favorite part of the trail, where we came out of the woods into this rugged, tree-lined meadow.

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Back out of the backpack and into my arms.

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And…back in.

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The final ascent to the lake took all we had, but finally, we caught site of the water.  And snow.  It was freezing up there!

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We all huddled together on a rock to eat a quick lunch, wolfing down our sandwiches just as raindrops started to fall.

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This guy (Gryffin’s namesake) watched us from a distance.

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We hightailed it down the mountain after lunch, eager to get to warmer, dryer ground.

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Juliette was pooped – by the time we reached the car, she had completely slumped against Shane’s back, out like a light.

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We made a quick trip into Newhalem for firewood and ice, and then spent the rest of the afternoon back at camp, out on the water.

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Friday happened to be Jason’s birthday, so we toasted to him with campfire margaritas.

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And s’mores, of course.  Shane’s eyes in this picture!  Can you tell that his marshmallows were whisky-soaked?

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Coming up:  a whole lotta pictures of us doing a whole lotta nothing!

Since our first attempt at family camping was a rather damp disappointment, we figured we needed a re-do.  Shane did some sleuthing on Washington’s most beautiful campgrounds and we settled on Colonial Creek in the North Cascades as our Take Two destination.  We turned on our out-of-office auto-replies, played a few rounds of cooler Tetris as we struggled to get all our gear into our car, and on Wednesday morning, we were mountain-bound!  We rolled up to camp shortly after noon and snagged one of the last water-front sites – this place was hoppin!  I mean, of course it was – check out the view…

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Jules and I scoped out the bathroom situation and paid our fees at the ranger station while Shane set up camp in record time – this guy was clearly Jonesin’ to get out on the paddle board we had borrowed for the weekend.

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Juliette was wound up with the excitement of it all, but quickly crashed once we settled into the tent for naptime.  Snuggling up to this sleeping kid has become one of my favorite parts of camping.

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I’m glad she rested, because that evening her buddies joined the party – all aboard the camp chair choo choo train!

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This girl looooooves the babies.

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And this guy loves the water.

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We cooked a mondo steak over the campfire for dinner and then capped off Day One with toasted mallows.  I figured we could push back Juliette’s 7:30 bedtime, it being vacation and all, but was a little surprised when I checked my phone as we tucked her into her sleeping bag – it was after 10:00!  Ah, well, carpe diem – how often do we get to completely lose track of time anymore?

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Thursday morning was sunny and glorious – the guys got back out on the water, the kids played in the mud, and I took my time drinking my large cup of coffee.

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Paddle board yoga!

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Once Shane and Brian were properly zenned, we packed up a few PB&J’s for lunch and hit the Thunder Creek trail right near our campsite.

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Jules can be a tricky hiking companion, often darting ahead or lagging waaaaay behind.  Hence the lollipop bribe to get her to hang tight in the backpack.

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Juliette asked if a dinosaur broke this rock:

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We told her yes.

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The woods were dense and lush, Shire-like with the abundance of moss.

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We were bound and determined to make it to the bridge, even if that meant carrying Jules the last half mile (see previous two photos).  Finally…voila!  The river and lake are this amazing aqua blue, colored by the minerals from the glacial melt.  Incredible.

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We grabbed a river-side log for lunch and took a much-needed load off – that may have been the longest two miles I had ever walked.

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The water was freezing, but too tempting to resist a quick little splash.

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Eventually I told Jules it was time to hit the trail back to camp.  She just shushed me.

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We eventually coaxed Juliette into the backpack and high-tailed it back to camp for naps, pausing only briefly along the way to take in these colors.  THESE COLORS.

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We dozed a bit in the afternoon, and then these speed-racers rolled into camp Thursday evening – welcome, Rusts!

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This is the face of a kid sister that just can’t quite keep up…

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Meanwhile, Shane was…

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We chowed down on another campfire meal and then walked/biked over the amphitheater for the 7 pm ranger talk, which turned out to be a rather dry discussion of the concept of wilderness, spiced up only by folk tales about salmon women and demon elk.  Not quite the bedtime story I’d planned for Jules, but we went with it, hoping the ranger’s monotone voice would tee us up for an easy bedtime.  No such luck – this girl was pumped!

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Up next:  a lookout, a goat, and lots more paddle boarding!  Stay tuned.

July 1st was the beginning of what turned out to be a pretty grand four-day weekend.  We toasted to the new month on Friday evening with beer and tacos at Chuck’s Hop Shop, and then headed over to Miller Playfield for a romp in the evening sun.  I couldn’t tear these kids off the swings…

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Until I muttered two magic words:  ICE CREEEEEEAM!!!  Meet Hello Robin’s happiest customers:

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The kids burned off their sugar rush with a quick yoga session on the lawn and a game of “Ding” Around the Rosy near the car, and then we called a day.

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Saturday held adventures of the indoor variety, as we met up with several of Juliette’s buddies for her very first movie.  She’s been a huge Nemo fan for awhile, so the chance to watch her experience Finding Dory on the big screen was pretty irresistible.  She sat through the whole thing, happily munching on popcorn and then exclaiming, “that was fun, Mommy!” as we walked out of the theater.  We hadn’t even hit the sidewalk before she asked to go again (not happening!).

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Mitch, Kathryn, and the girls rolled into Seattle on Sunday afternoon.  Shane grilled steak and veggies for lunch, I filled our glasses with white wine and beer, and then we settled into the patio chairs for a long, leisurely lunch.  Morgan and Juliette were thrilled to be reunited after several weeks apart.

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These girls and their babies!

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After a total naptime bust, Shane offered to haul all three kids to Seward Park on the bike.  Uncle of the Year!

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We spent a couple of hours down by the lake, tossing the frisbee and playing in the sand and eventually soaking a couple of pairs of pants.

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I know, I know, why do I wait until her clothes are soaked before putting on the swimsuit?!

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I ducked out in the evening for an art class I’m taking while Shane put our over-tired wound-up kiddo to bed (no small feat).  I met up with the guys after class for a late-night drink at Raconteur, followed by a late-late-night drink at Union Bar.  Mitch and I haven’t been out together past midnight in years.  Many years!

We spent Monday morning eating pancakes and watching Stage 3 of the Tour de France, then eventually rallying for a stroll through the Cheasty Greenbelt.

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We made plans to head up to Jefferson Park and Morgan begged Uncle Shane to take her in the bike trailer.  It’s quite a climb to the park, and we’d had those late-late-night drinks, so I wasn’t sure he’d be up for it.  But he channeled his inner Tour de France-r and went for it – somebody get this guy a polka dot jersey!

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We hit each and every piece of playground equipment in that big, sprawling park.

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Several times.

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We grabbed an afternoon cup of coffee in Georgetown and then the Jarrells hit the road.  Jules bawled her eyes when we said our good-byes.

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I barely held it together myself!

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Luckily, there was more fun to be had that day, as we spent the evening at the Rusts eating and drinking and playing.

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You’re cute, Jules.

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Brian showed up with a bucket full of fresh-caught live crabs.  We all had a good laugh while watching Jason ever-so-anxiously transfer them from bucket to pot.

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This scene looks so sweet and serene, doesn’t it?  It sounded like pure chaos.

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Isaiah keeps a pretty good beat, though!

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Happy Independence Day from this crazy crew!  Looking forward to more summer shenanigans with you all!

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