Thursday, August 29, 2013

My kids didn't actually do this (so they are a little right)...Portland (Tillamook and Newport)

So the conference ended on Wednesday. I settled into his grandparents home (who I now simply adore), and on Thursday we took a day trip to the coast.

Ah! The coast! I couldn't even stand it. We went through the beautiful Tillamook Forest and spent some time with Marcus' lovely friend Amber. We explored a little around her cute little house in the forest, and then headed into Tillamook itself... a town well known for its cheese.

This was the Blue Heron, and specialized in brie. So that was yummy. Lots of samples and cute little gifts.

And the cheese factory! With samples to spare. We went through the line twice. And we bought fudge. And ice cream. I gained 5 pounds before we left.

And I just like this picture.

So then we headed down the coast toward Newport where my cousin Russ lives (he's in the Coast Guard and is stationed there).

My first views of the ocean. I melted. I love it.


So the first place Russ took us was to the tidepools. We had to walk over this smooth lava rock that was really hard to walk on. But it was very cool. So when the tide is high this area is covered. But when it recedes, it leaves little pools of water caught between the rocks that act as home to all kinds of life.
Looking back toward the rocks.

Looking out into the ocean.

The anemones and starfish and mussels. 

When you touch an anemone, they grab hold of your finger. I squealed. The boys laughed. Rude.

We hiked back up the stairs and to the point where we saw the lighthouse and this rock covered in sea birds. It was windy and cold. 

Then we went to the downtown area to grab some clam chowder for dinner and to see the sea lions. They can be loud. And they get annoyed with one another and start barking. Russ said they are kind of annoying sometimes.

Russ also took us on a quick tour of his station and the boats he drives. Definitely cool.
This was the bridge you could see from the station.
We also watched a video about Surfman Training. Russ is a Surfman, which means he can pilot boats when the waves are really rough. Comes in handy in that area.

This is one of the oldest boats and only 1 of 2 in existence of its size.

The men check out the mechanics of it all. Because they're men.

 We went back to the house. Dinner was wonderful...and Russ's 2 daughters thought Marcus was pretty awesome. We enjoyed our time with them quite a bit.

And then we played "Ticket to Ride" before heading home.

My kids actually didn't do this (so they are a little right)... Portland (The Journey and Downtown)

So while my 2 oldest were in Ohio, and my 2 youngest were in Colorado, I was participating in a really cool adventure of my own.

It was a game really... a game called "Can your best friend still be your best friend after 28 hours in a car together and a week all up in each others business?"

Happily the answer is yes.

And it was fun.

It all started because we wanted 2 people from work to go to the AIRS Conference. And the conference was in Portland. Which meant Marcus could just stay at home. And save United Way money. So we decided to drive instead of fly and hang out a few extra days after the conference.

The conference was nice I guess, but doing stuff with Marcus was my favorite. We mostly enjoy doing the same things and have a high tolerance for each other's quirkiness (weird stuff we accidentally say and moods no one else would put up with) that makes it easier.

The Journey

So...interesting. Marcus can put both of his feet on the dashboard while driving.

Yes, this has safety written all over it.
And I hope his feet are clean. 
Although its a dashboard so I'm not sure it matters.

We listened to music, talked, slept (not the person driving) and listened to books on tape (at accelerated speeds...which I found odd and he found necessary. This is where my naps became very useful. He could listen to the books he really likes and the hyper speed reading didn't give me headaches. Win all around!). 

The drive is either really beautiful or really dull and ugly.
Again. This is where my naps became very useful.

When we got close to Portland, we stopped at Multnomah Falls. It was so green and so gorgeous!

And yes that is a picture of a random person at the base of the falls.
The picture of us together I hated.
Because for some reason I looked like I'd been sitting in a car for 13 hours.

And then we stopped for dinner before he dropped me off at the hotel and he headed home.
The Original Pancake House!
Totally a dive, but totally good.

Exploring Downtown

So the conference was in a hotel downtown, so during breaks and in the evenings, we had a chance to explore a little. He got to show me things he remembered from being a kid in the area,things he loved. And we ventured out a little as well and looked for new things and new places.

This? Well this is the best...and one of the first things we did. Its a tram up to a higher point in the city...and you can see Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood. They look really different from one another. Because one is kind of a peak, and the other one looks like the top was blown off of it.

Pioneer Courthouse Square

Well at least I know how far it is!

This is a statue of Portlandia...who we found out was born the exact same day as Marcus.

We ventured a little further out, too, into some adjoining neighborhoods. We went to the Pearl District where we explored a very large bookstore (sadly no pictures). And I found a place he had never been before but was willing to go and check out. It is an area called Nob Hill. It was full of super quaint streets with interesting little independent stores (including a little place called "A-lot O Gelato" that we stopped and grabbed a treat at). And we were so taken by the whole ambience that we walked and wandered up and around the streets looking at really cool houses and buildings.

We started up a conversation with two ladies sitting on the steps outside this beautiful Victorian. It now houses classes for addicts of all kinds...and they wanted to know if we were there because we were addicts as well. But since its a public building, we got to go inside and check it out anyway.

This is an old firehouse. 

And a stop we made sure to include was this little place with the line out the door...VooDoo Donuts. They are known for their tasty but never typical hole-in-the-center-of-a-circle confections. We bought a dozen and took it back to West Linn to share with his family. There were toppings like Cocoa Puffs and Bubblegum.  All of their employees had random piercings and fierce tattoos. And abnormal hair coloring. Totally quirky. Totally cool.

I'm trying to think under what circumstances one would feel the need to purchase this...

We were good with a dozen. And yes, they made it to their destination.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My kids said we did nothing this summer...Part 2

So the second thing we didn't do was take Paul to the airport to spend the summer with his dad. And then shortly after that we didn't get ready for some vacation time. Apart. But vacation time nonetheless.

Since I was headed to Portland for a conference, I thought the 2 little ones would love some time somewhere new and fun. So I asked my wonderful Auntie Angela if they could pay her a visit in Grand Junction Colorado. She said yes! The trick was getting them there first.

So the Saturday before I was supposed to leave, I talked my nice friend Erin into accompanying me on the 8 hour round trip to my aunt's. And decided to add something fun... a drive through the Colorado National Monument!

The road that goes through the park is 2 lanes and right up against the edge. Conner was freaking out. He never even got out of the car. But the rest of us were fine with it. And were able to have some little adventures.

Erin on the Edge

Monument Canyon

Coke Ovens

This was just a cool tree. We liked it.

Something else cool. I'm sure there's some awesome geological something or other...but I don't care too much about that.

On the way back Erin and I stopped in Price for Taco Bell and Cold Stone. Apparently that's where everyone in Price goes on a Saturday night.

Here are some pictures Angela sent me of some of their adventures.
Angela and Ashlyn.

Ashlyn said her face looks like this because of the sun. 
I guess I'll take her word for it.

Ashlyn was a little more brave than Conner. As usual. She was willing to climb a little and be adventurous.

See? They're getting along :)

Conner...about as adventurous as it gets.

They also spent some significant time at Angela's rec center pool. And loved it.

So you can see how much they didn't do. Nothing. Nothing at all.