Archive for the ‘shane’ Category

Welp, I guess that’s a wrap, huh?  School has started, the skies are gray, and I wore a turtleneck sweater yesterday – summer is O-V-E-R and I’m memorializing it with one last photo mash-up…gosh, I’ll miss these lazy lake days!

Juliette and the neighbor kids asked me one morning last month if they could have a campout in our backyard – I said, “Sure, we can do that sometime!”  The words had hardly left my mouth before Rees was rolling up the sidewalk in the ol’ Arctic Cat, backseat loaded with pillows and sleeping bags and flashlights.  I guess we were doing this!

Shane set up the tent and the kids played in it for the better part of the day, coming out for hot dogs and s’mores before tucking themselves in for the night.

Sweet, sweet summer dreams, kiddos…

We spent a lot of time in the yard, trimming and weeding and mowing, but also jumping through sprinklers and grilling with friends.

Gratuitous freckle shot!

Juliette and I spent a glorious wide-open Friday at Coleman Pool – I thought we’d ditch the arm floaties and test her swim skills, but she had a such a good time floating freely back and forth across the pool that I didn’t push it.

That same evening, we traded a damp swimsuit for a dry one and biked down to Alki Beach for a birthday party.  From Pool to Sound…summer livin’ in West Seattle is so, so good.

We ventured a little farther from home on a Saturday to swim at Anderson Pool in Bothel – this place is great, though swimming inside felt like a waste of sunshine!  You can find us back here in November.

There was a quick trip to Portland to pick up Juliette after her few days in Idaho with my parents – I didn’t take many pictures, but these couple with Morgan and my parents deserve a spot on the blog:

Summer ain’t summer without a visit to the ball field, so we headed to a Mariner’s game on a Sunday afternoon to cheer on the hometown heroes and run the bases.

And…the fair!  After our visit last year, this has officially become a Mama-Jules annual tradition.  Farm animals and ice cream and roller coasters, OH MY.

The ferris wheel was fun, though a bit tame for my speed-loving kiddo.

So we strapped ourselves into the mini roller coaster, which made Juliette wild with joy.

The kiddie-coaster was so much fun that we decided to level up and try out the Wild Cat.  Juliette cleared the height requirement by a half-inch, so ready or not…

Truth be told, she vacillated between laughter and near-tears with each terrifying dip, but we lived to tell about it!  This was our last real Friday off together before settling into our new school schedule, and we most certainly made it count.

And outside of all this boppin’ around, there was the simple sweetness of a PNW summer.  Family bike rides down to the water…

Neighborhood bike rides with the West Seattle biker gang (Juliette’s knees have never been so scraped up!)…

Basement dance parties when it’s just too hot outside to ride yet another loop around the block…

Shady walks through Schmitz Park…

Evenings next to our new fire pit…

And watching Juliette live her very best life, literally playing from sun-up to sun-down on some days and falling into bed at night with pink cheeks and tired legs.

Now pardon me while I fire up the indoor fire place and drown my post-summer blues with a spicy Chai and a slice of pumpkin bread…bring on Fall.

A Spokane contractor I worked with on a project once described Priest Lake to me as “heaven on earth”, so when I saw that there was a lakefront site available there for two nights during our week in Idaho, I snagged it and asked Mitch to pack his tent and sleeping bags before leaving Portland.  It’s a bit of a trek up to Lionhead Campground at the north end of the lake, but we arrived mid-day with plenty of hours left for swimming and sunning.  Except…RAIN.  RAIN!  Big, fat drops started falling just as we unrolled our tents, so Shane and Mitch made very quick work of getting the rainflies up, and then we all huddled in our tents, crossed our fingers and toes, and waited for the gray clouds overhead to pass.  And pass, they did!  The storm blew over after a couple of hours and we dashed into the lake even before peeling off our rain jackets.  The shore was sandy, the water was clear, and the beer was cold.  This. Is. Camping.

The evening was a haze of hot dogs and paddle boards.

The water was super-calm, perfect for paddlers-in-training.

Even little Bina went for a ride!

The girls grudgingly changed out of their swimsuits once the sun set and then joined Mitch at the lakefront for fly fishing lessons.

Seriously you guys – this was the view from my camp chair!  Heaven on earth, indeed.

We woke up to a misty lake on Thursday morning, demolished a pan full of breakfast sausages, and then were right back out on the SUPs.

 

It was toasty that day and by mid-morning I think everyone had taken a dip.

Show off!

My mom and dad joined us for the day and settled into the camp scene quite nicely.

Lake life 4-eva.

I had planned on a hike, maybe a ride to the general store, but we only made it as far as the campground ranger station for ice cream bars before heading right back to our little stretch of paradise.

We closed out the day with a sunset paddle to a little cove around the bend, where Morgan and Juliette hopped off the boards to grab a couple of special stones to bring back with them.  Sealing that evening away in the memory bank: sitting back on the board while Juliette paddled us, Mitch and Morgan to my left and the mountains to my right, the water shimmering and golden all around us…it was somethin’ special.

…And then, bedtime.  I took one last peek out our tent at the velvet blue sky before zipping it up and calling it a day.

Friday was go-day, but we squeezed in one last paddle, this time over to Upper Priest Lake, which was as quiet as quiet can be.  Shane and I aren’t shopping for retirement homes just yet, but the quaint lakeside cabins that dot the shore there sure are tempting.

Ahhhh, sayonara site 133…  This place was a dream!

The next couple of days were spent back in Post Falls at my mom and dad’s house, playing catch…

Visiting the biggest wagon EVER…

And checking out Farragut State Park, which was gorgeous but quite windy.

Juliette and I set out on the SUP, but turned around once I realized I was rowing in place.

The girls served up imaginary cherry Cokes for my dad at the playground, and he proved to be a very difficult customer…

But Elise got even.

We busted out the Bean-Boozled jelly beans on Saturday evening and shared a good laugh when Shane thought we was getting Peach, but actually ate Barf (and seriously, it tastes like barf).

My mom wondered aloud why we’d subject ourselves to such horror, but her face says it all.  There’s just so much delight in watching your son ingest a Spoiled Milk jelly bean.

Once we’d dried our tears and cleansed our palettes, we took a walk through the neighborhood to enjoy the evening’s stellar sunset.

And then, all too soon on Sunday morning, it was time for Shane and I to hit the road and leave Juliette with Grandma and Grandpa for a few more days of Idaho fun.  While I was the feeling the need to get back to Seattle and back to work, I certainly wouldn’t have minded another week of puzzle-doing and paddling.

Until next time, I guess!

I’ve been itching for a return visit to Idaho ever since we ventured over there last October to visit my mom and dad. North Idaho is rich with summertime lakeside hangouts, so we spent a week there in August, paddling and camping and hanging with the cousins, whose visit happily coincided with ours.  Together again and it feels so good!

We laid low our first couple of days, doing the playground and park circuit with the kids.  Post Falls has no shortage of places to play, and Falls Park is one of my favorites.

Juliette is a monkey bar machine these days – just tonight I noticed the thick callouses that have formed on the balls of her hands.  Girl’s got grit.

After the playground, the kids dipped their feet in the Spokane River at Q’emiln Park.

And then spent the afternoon romping through the spray park that’s right across the street from my mom and dad’s new house.

 

Elise is 11 and almost too cool for school, so I reveled in these moments when I saw the goofy girl I’ve known for the past decade emerge from her pre-teen shell.  These three!

We headed into Couer d’Alene Monday morning for coffee and muffins, then hit the trail at Tubb’s Hill for a mini-hike.  First though, a photo op with Mudgy the Moose.

We rewarded our little hikers with treats and balloons from the Main Street candy shop.  Mitch grabbed a box of Bean-Boozled jelly beans, but more on that later – I’m still recovering.

We cooled off in the evening back at Q’emiln Park…

And then set the kids free at the park across the street from the house.  We joked that my mom and dad have the biggest front yard ever!

I got out for an evening solo stroll and felt that beloved country vibe as I cruised past cows and goats and horses and sheep.

We were back on the lake circuit Tuesday afternoon, this time testing the waters at Honeysuckle Beach on Lake Hayden.

The water was nice, but the ice cream truck was the real standout of the day.

A few of us headed over to Corbin Park after dinner for disc golf, fishing, and rock-skipping.  The course here is not for the novice golfer, as most holes require you to thread your disc through a gauntlet of pines.

That said, Juliette wasn’t gonna let a few measly trees get in her way!

Th stretch of river here is gorgeous – golden and serene and sprinkled with plenty of perfect, flat skipping rocks.

Mitch caught a four-inch trout that he promptly threw back.  When Shane joined us after his round of disc golf, Juliette excitedly shouted, “Daddy!  Uncle Mitch caught a fish and it was FOUR inches!”  Size is relative, I guess.

On Wednesday we headed to Priest Lake, and Idaho leveled up.  You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

In another stroke of superb timing, the rain stopped falling on Friday morning just as we emerged from our tents.  Look at these lucky ducks!

Juliette has loved, loved, loved having our buddy Jordan around this summer – he’s got such a gentle, silly soul that really speaks to the spirit of our five year-old.

We truly had nowhere to be on Friday, so breakfast was extra-long and followed by a La Croix chugging contest between Jordan and Jack.

This is what you call “making your own fun” for the 40-and-over crowd, I think?

Jordan was strangely amped-up after downing 12 ounces of seltzer water in 15 seconds flat and challenged the guys to a swim across the lake.  “Across the lake” is a loooong way, so Juliette and I tagged along on the paddleboard to keep an eye on them.

They actually made it quite a ways out there before turning around.  Nance, Isaiah, Jules and I herded them back to shore.

I don’t know that there was a single moment over the next several hours when there wasn’t someone out in the water, paddling or floating or swimming or wading.  We had all found our happy places.

Oh, Jordan.  Always good for a laugh.

These three-dollar Target floaties are by far my best bang-for-the-buck summer purchase!

This is summer, folks.

We brought the party back to camp late in the afternoon, where we changed into dry clothes and popped open a cold bottle of rose.  First though, ice cream appetizers at the general store.

Remember that job interview Shane had to stay back in Seattle for on Wednesday?  It went well.

La Verne and I went for a sunset stroll after dinner along the trail to the Lake Quinault Lodge, and ho-ly golden hour, this place glows.

The Rust clan headed out to the Hoh Rainforest on Saturday morning while we stayed back with the Chens for a nearer-by hike.

This icy little creek was the perfect place for Shane to cool his heels.

 

Buddies!

…and buddies!

We scrambled over some roots, crossed a bridge, and then bee-lined back to camp to change into our swimsuits.

We did more paddling and floating and played a few rousing rounds of log-jousting, which the kids thought was hilarious.

By this point in the weekend we had depleted our beer and wine rations, so we headed to the lodge before dinner to sip margaritas and watch the kids play tag on the nicest lawn ever.

We convened at camp for one last sunset, one last round of s’mores, one last night at what was shaping up to be my new favorite spot to pitch our tent.

Hard as it was to leave our idyllic lakeside compound, we were all in pretty desperate need of a shower by Sunday morning, so we packed it up right after breakfast, snapped a few pics, and hit the road.

Juliette’s goodbye with the Rust family was drawn-out but so sweet.  Bunch of huggers, these five!

‘Till next year, you crazy cats.  Quinault 2020?

Though Shane was up at the crack of dawn back in October trying to secure us a summer campsite on Orcas Island, he had no luck – I thought he was the only guy that planned camping trips nine months in advance, but apparently there are other people that wait with bated breath for site reservations to open up.  Foiled!  We weren’t just gonna roll over and give up our lakeside dreams, though. Nancy and I did a bit of research and found ourselves four nights at a lovely waterfront site at Lake Quinault on the Olympic Peninsula.  Pack that paddleboard!

Juliette and I met the Rusts at camp on a Wednesday evening at the end of July – Shane had stayed back in Seattle for a job interview, with the promise that he would join us by the end of the week.  Juliette barreled down the road on her scooter with the boys while I set up camp.

Our tent turned out to be a bit big for the site, but Jason and Jordan came up with a totally solid workaround.

It had been a long day of packing and driving and missing Shane, but I washed away any residual angst with a sunset paddle.

We lounged around camp Thursday morning, enjoying the water view and a poetry reading by Jason around the campfire.  This is about as mellow as it gets!

We eventually rallied for a mid-day hike at Graves Creek, where we strolled among the Sitkas and crossed paths with a couple of llamas.

Juliette lost steam mid-way through the hike and I was fresh out of Skittle bribes to coax her along. MAJOR kudos to Jason for somehow getting her to skip-jog the two miles back to the car!

We returned to camp hot and tired and ready for a dip.  This stretch of beach next to our site turned out to be headquarters for the rest of the week.

These PNW lakes!  Nothing better.

I love this kid’s summer uniform.

The rest of the gang, including Shane, rolled up Thursday evening.  Shane got right to work moving our tent (he was having none of that propped-up corner business) and then settled in for chili and s’mores.

We zipped ourselves into our tents on Thursday night just as the rain started; before long the gentle pitter-patter had turned into a full-on all-night downpour.  I burrowed deeper into my sleeping bag, crossing my fingers that the storm would pass by morning – we had so much more paddling to do!  I thought we had paid our rain-dues at Rainier!  I know the weather-gods actually don’t keep track of such things, but Friday was…magic, actually!  Those pics coming up next.

I fell down an Internet rabbit-hole late one night when looking for the best campsites in the PNW and tip-toed into our bedroom as Shane was just starting to doze, my laptop balanced on one palm as I leaned over him and asked quietly, “Think you could take a couple of days off in July to camp at Mount Rainier?”  Thus, a reservation at Cougar Rock Campground was secured for one of the last available sites on two of the last available nights.

We wound our way down Paradise Road on a Sunday afternoon, stopping at every turn to ooh and ahh at the panoramic views…

And then settled into camp with some hammocking and reading and game-playing.

After we’d fully chilled-out, we drove down the road to the rushing Nisqually River for more mountain-gazing.

We went for a short hike but soon circled back to the river to perch on a couple of rocks to take in the day’s last rays.

This has gotta be as good as a summer evening at the base of the mountain can get…

Sunday’s sunshine made us hopeful that the drizzle we’d seen in the forecast would stay at bay.  Shane was so bold as to leave the rainfly off the tent that night, but I woke at 2 am to a damp pillow, so he awkwardly (expertly?) strung up our rainfly in the dark, snuggling back into his sleeping bag just as the rain stopped.  It was just a passing shower.

Or so we thought.

We heard the pitter-patter of raindrops around 6 am and burrowed deeper into our sleeping bags, hoping it would let up by breakfast.  At 8 am, as the rain fell harder, we dashed from our tent to the car and zipped up to the Paradise Inn for waffles and bacon.  We would wait out the rain from the cozy interior of the lodge.

At 10 am we were still waiting!  We left the lodge and drove down the mountain, hopeful the rain would let up by the time we hit the hiking trails.

The mist made for some magical landscapes, but was really starting to dash my paddle board dreams!

We eventually found ourselves back in our tent, where we ate lunch and played games and took a monster nap.  Surely the rain would let up later that afternoon.

We heard the pitter-patter stop around 3 pm and hopped into the car, eager to get out and stretch our legs.  We drove toward Snow Lake, stopping along the way to check out gushing Christine Falls.

We pulled up to the Snow Lake trailhead just as the dang rain really started up again.  Of course this couldn’t last all day, so we had a snack in the back of the car while waiting for the skies to clear.

And…the skies didn’t clear.  It was around this time that Shane asked if we should just call it and hightail it back to Seattle and our warm, dry house, but I remained optimistic in denial.  We’d been wanting to explore Rainier for years!  This was our chance, dammit!  I knew I was being entirely unreasonable, but Shane sensed my determination and so we headed back to camp and managed to start a campfire in the drizzle.

Bright side: this weather was good for snuggling.

Dinner was only slightly misty and then Juliette and I managed to get out for a quick stroll around the campground.  It seemed the skies were clearing – Tuesday would be AMAZING!  PLEASE GOD LET TUESDAY BE AMAZING!

The clearing skies clouded over again on Monday night and spilled forth a several-hour downpour, but finally, the rain let up on Tuesday morning as we were breaking down camp.  Juliette declared this the “worstest camping trip ever”.

But when I asked her if she still had fun, she said “of course I did, Mommy!”

We crossed our fingers and headed east toward the Naches Loop trail for that elusive mountain hike.  These misty roads weren’t reassuring…

But we took our time, popping out to take some pictures while the fog burned off (burn fog, BURN!).

We landed at Tipsoo Lake and the Naches Loop trailhead mid-morning and while it was hardly a bluebird day, it wasn’t raining, so we seized the moment and set out into the white abyss.

I love gray and green, but it felt so good to see some new colors along the way.

The mist didn’t lift, but no matter – it was warm and not raining and still all kinds of magical.

We stopped for lunch at the crest of the loop, which apparently offers epic views of Rainier on clear days.  I’ll have to take the other hikers’ word for it.  However, we did manage a brief, beautiful glimpse of Dewey Lake.

These Rainier wildflowers!  They’re the real deal.

This was most definitely worth a full day of rain.

Cheers to these two for sticking it out with me – there’s no one else I’d rather be trapped in a tent with.

I love a long a weekend.  I really love a really long weekend, which we were graced with when the Fourth of July fell on a Thursday and I was off on the following Friday.  We awoke on the Fourth itching for a little adventure and were pulling our stuff together for a ferry ride to Vashon Island while Juliette played outside; I had just packed our snacks when she burst through the front door and said, “Mommy!  There’s a parade and the neighbors are going!  Can we go?  Please?  Please?  Pleeeeeeeeease?”  Ah, Vashon.  I guess we’ll visit you some other day.

It turns out the West Seattle Fourth of July Parade is just a million kids riding their bikes and scooters around the block while their parents walk behind them, but still, a good time was had by all.

Juliette is in the midst of a deep Star Wars infatuation and was stoked to see R2D2 taking a stroll down the street.

And then we found our beloved neighbors (who brought extra accessories!) and Juliette’s excitement quadrupled.

We ended our trek at Hamilton Viewpoint Park, where I stretched out on the lawn while the kids played frisbee.

We gathered the kids for a group photo and then tossed Juliette and her scooter in the bike trailer for the short ride home.

The rest of the day was spent in the yard, alternately pruning bushes and sipping beer while the kiddos zipped up and down the block on their assorted vehicles.

And then…fireworks!  We started on a tame note, with sparklers and smoke bombs.

…and pooping dogs.

Once the sun set, a portable wood stove appeared, along with a bag of for-real fireworks.

These were legit!

Happy Fourth, y’all.

Juliette and I picked berries on Friday and then joined the Chens on Saturday for a hike at Lake Talapus, off I-90.  The misty morning made the woods feel particularly magical.

We arrived at our destination two miles in and perched on some lakeside logs for cake pops and water.

Good Lord, I love this land we live in.

Shane lulled the kids into a hiking trance on the way back to the cars with his usual recounting of The Lord of the Rings.  They ate it up and finished the 4.2 mile journey with minimal foot-dragging.

Made it!

Four cheers for a four-day weekend.

Summer!  It’s here, and we are livin’ it up, as evidenced by the prevalence of ice cream and swimwear in my photo backlog.  Jules and I are loving beach days…

And buddies…

And bikes!  Bicycle Sundays on the Boulevard are better than ever.

When we want to bike a little closer to home, where Juliette can’t quite navigate the hills, Shane pulls her around on his e-bike while I bring up the rear.

We pedaled down to Alki one weekend and feasted on waterfront kimchi fried rice at Marination…

…and then I slogged it home on my non-electric bike, up what felt like the Everest of West Seattle.  Seriously, I had no idea biking could be so hard.  But I made it!  Barely.

I think I’m better at paddling than pedaling.  We headed to Rattlesnake Lake a few weeks ago for a lazy spin in the water.

This place is somethin’ else.

And this kid?  Best-ever first mate.

And finally, after beaches and buddies and bikes and boards, there were berries!  Juliette and I made our annual trip out to Remlinger Farms last week to comb the rows for fresh, juicy raspberries.  She has become quite the little harvester.

Get ’em, Jules!

Ahhhhh, summer.  Tastes so good.

SO GOOD.

In addition to our annual pilgrimage to Fort Flagler, we’ve made a tradition of spending a weekend roughing it on Bainbridge Island with the gang.  Since the campground is just a few miles from the ferry terminal, Shane usually opts to get there by bike.  This year he brought a buddy:

Look who we found on the boat!

I was ever-so-slightly anxious about these two biking on the hilly roads, so I was extra-happy when they rolled into camp (with big ol’ smiles on their faces).

Tent: check!

Best bud: check!

Bunny ears (they had no idea): check!

Everyone had arrived by evening and we gathered around the campfire for s’mores.  No matter what we’re doing, Jordan always seems to up the ante – this time, it was with whiskey-soaked marshmallows.

Scrolling through these pics makes me a little misty eyed.  These folks.  These are my people.

We went down to the beach after dessert and watched the kids haul wood into their fort for a pretend campfire as the sun set.

We woke to gray skies and a chill in the air on Saturday morning, so after breakfast and more log-hauling, I was ready to head toward civilization for a little pick-me-up.

The guys decided to go to town by foot while the moms and kids went by car.  We pulled up at the tail end of their very public glutes and quads workout.

Ah…camping!

We took over Fletcher Bay Winery, ordering wine flights from the bar and pints of beer from the next-door brewery.

We returned to camp just as the clouds parted, so La Verne and I headed out for a paddle.

In hindsight, this looks not-so-safe…

Dinner on Saturday was family-style, with chicken and hot dogs and tacos and twelve different kinds of chips.

Emily and Daniel saw a slight chance of rain in the forecast for Sunday morning and used that as their excuse to high-tail it back to Seattle on the 8pm ferry.  Ah, well – all the togetherness was good while it lasted!

Isaiah did us the service of reading the kiddos their bedtime story.  Next year, we’re just going to throw all the kids in their own tent for the whole night and see what happens.

While Shane broke down camp on Sunday morning, I took the kids down to the beach so that Juliette could hide the special treasure-rocks she had decorated at home.

Some kid is going to be so excited to discover this carefully-hidden hand-painted stone (or so Juliette believes).

We closed out the trip with a little Spike Ball, a little fireside chatter, and a round of hugs.

Jules, your chariot awaits!  Catch you on the flip side.

It’s officially summertime in the PNW, which means it’s time for us to pull our trusty tent and sleeping bags from the recesses of our closet and get our camp on!  As has been our tradition for the past couple of years, we celebrated the season opener with the Rusts at Fort Flagler, near Port Townsend.

I love this campground, as you can bounce between forest in beach in the space of a couple of minutes.  We’ve spent a lot of time on this ol’ log.

Juliette was given a Junior Ranger workbook when we checked in and when asked to draw her favorite place in the park, she made this sweet little picture of herself in the hammock.

This was the first year we all brought our watercraft and we lucked out with especially calm waters and sunny evenings.

Meanwhile, back at camp…

The boys are so good at letting Juliette join their games – she can’t throw as far or run as fast as the two of them, but they let her have a go at it (and if I do say so myself, she holds her own pretty well!).

Happy place!

I lingered a bit too long over my s’mores and missed the dip of the sun below the horizon, but no matter – I still managed to get away for my pre-bed “serenity walk”.

On Saturday morning we set out for our usual hike along the bluffs.  I asked Nance if we should look for a new trail to explore, but we ultimately decided that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Juliette came prepared this year to explore the dark, spooky bunkers – headlamp, check; walkie-talkie, check.

We ate our trail mix at the half-way point while the kids played stick-ball on the lawn.  A game with a view!

I wasn’t sure how Jules would feel about being relegated to catcher when Shane stepped in to pitch, but she was into it, still super-jazzed just to be part of the game.

We hit the trail back toward camp…

..and then Nance and I pulled our camp chairs into the sun and sipped our afternoon coffees while Shane took the kids to the beach.  I walked down to see how they all were faring and found this posh set-up – I tell you, this guy is the master hauler-of-gear!

She knows how good she’s got it.

We beach-combed for awhile before heading back to light the evening fire.

I grabbed the paddle board after dinner and asked Juliette if she wanted to take a spin around the bay with me.  We saw jelly fish and a seal and a log that we pretended was a shark fin, just for the thrill of it.

Goodnight, sun.

While the days were warm, the nights were cold, making it even harder for me to crawl from the warmth of my sleeping bag.  Juliette, however, popped right up at 7 am and started doing the Macarena.

We ate our lazy breakfast on Sunday and then the kids and dads played an intense game of football on the campground loop.  This was one of those moments when I felt keenly aware of how thankful I am for the childhood that Juliette is living.  Nature and surrogate big brothers and a dad that plays hard – she’s so freaking lucky.

“What are we gonna do next, coach?”

We hopped in the car around 11:00 to catch an early-afternoon ferry at Bainbridge Island.  First though, hugs for Z.

Cheers, crew!  Way to ring in the most wonderful time of the year.