17 December 2009

catching up: washington vacation

Since we're leaving on Friday to spend Christmas and New Year's in Washington with Greg's family, I thought it was about time I got around to posting about our summer vacation there.

It had been three years since the last time we'd been to Washington in the summer, and we'd almost forgotten how much there was to do there in warm weather. Such as horseback riding:

And trips to the beach:

(I believe that was Evan's first time at the Pacific Ocean.)

We went to the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park, one of the few temperate rainforests in the world. It's full of giant old trees all covered in hanging moss, which, on a sunny day, is quite lovely. I've actually never been there on a rainy day, so I can't speak to that experience, but I'm sure it's neat then too.

Icidentally, the drive to the rainforest takes you through the small town of Forks, which is now well-known as the setting of the Twilight books and movies. It's amusing to see the Twilight mania in this little logging town -- every business with a sign out front welcomes Twilight fans to town, there is a store on the main street selling only Twilight merchandise, and we even saw some teenage girls posing in front of the "Welcome to Forks" sign as we drove into town.

Anyway. This photo is of one of the more memorable parts of the trail through the rainforest, and gives you a bit of an idea of the size of some of the trees.

Greg and I were able to take a couple of days to ourselves to go hiking and camping in the Olympics (thanks again to Greg's parents for watching the boys for us!). We hiked to Royal Basin, a lake that is only reached after climbing a seven-mile trail that rises over 2500 feet in elevation along the way. Needless to say, we were sort of useless in the movement department for a day or two after we got back. But that view is worth it, don't you think?

We also saw our first wild bear on that trip, although we didn't get any photos. We saw him only because he heard us coming and started crashing through the underbrush trying to run away from us, so even if we had gotten a photo it would have been of his rear end. So.

We went to Salt Creek, which is a very pretty beach and a great place to look at tide pools. We've been there many times as well, but it never fails to amaze us with its beautiful scenery and the interesting creatures you can find there. In addition to all of the tide pool animals we've seen there (such as sea stars, mussels, crabs, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, snails and fish) we've seen bald eagles, sea lions (or were they seals? I can never remember), sea otters and whales.

It's also just fun to play in the sand and water there:

We hiked out to the Devil's Punchbowl at Lake Crescent, along the Spruce Railroad Trail, a trail that actually used to be a railroad. We've done this hike many times in the past but it's a good one for kids (relatively short and flat), plus it's beautiful, so we keep going back again and again. Here's James on the bridge over the punchbowl:

And here's Evan along the shore of the lake during the hike:

In addition to all of these day trips we took, we also had a lot of fun just hanging out with Greg's family, playing games, watching movies, berry-picking, walking the dogs, building with Legos, eating fresh seafood, and just generally being on vacation.

Last night I finally got around to posting some of my photos on Flickr, so click here and take a look if you're interested. Those are maybe half of my photos from the trip, but it took about eleventy-zillion hours to upload and label them all, so I think that's all there will be. There are more photos of horses, hiking, the beach, the rainforest, and tide pools, among other things, so check it out.

We're headed back to Washington tomorrow morning, and can't wait to spend the holidays with Greg's family! And hopefully it won't take me quite as long to post photos from this trip once we're back home again.


12 December 2009

trivial pursuit for kids

My kids love to play games, any kind of games. Video games, computer games, pretend games, guessing games, board games. James, especially, love games so much that he's constantly making up his own or playing games by himself. If he doesn't know the rules to a game he'll invent them. His games are always terrifically complicated.

He's certainly passing on his love of games to his brother. This morning I came downstairs to find them deeply involved in a game of Trivial Pursuit. Evan can't read yet, and most of the questions are outside the limits of their young knowledge, so they make up their own questions. Usually their questions are about Star Wars or Pokemon, but this morning they actually created their own categories to work with: Animals, Water, Sand, Air, Candy and Plants. Evan was The Questioner.

Evan: Why doesn't sand evaporate?
James: Because it's not made of water!
Evan: Good!

Evan: Why don't all birds eat fish?
James: Because they don't all live near water!
Evan: Good!

Evan: Why can't you eat sand?
James: Because it's not food!
Evan: Good!

Evan: Why doesn't water go upstream?
James: Because hills make it go downstream!
Evan: Good!

It's so much fun listening to them.


04 December 2009

friday photos: thanksgiving edition

We spent Thanksgiving at my mom's house, as we do every year. Only one of my sisters was able to come, and we had a slightly shorter vacation than usual, due to both of my sons having school on Wednesday, but despite those things we still had a fun long weekend.

My sister and I made Thanksgiving dinner for 13 people, which was less work than I expected, and utterly delicious. (I didn't take any photos of the food, but my sister's turkey was one of the most perfect-looking -- and delicious-tasting -- main courses I've ever seen.) We took the kids to see Fantastic Mr. Fox, which was a big hit for both kids and adults (Wes Anderson + Roald Dahl is like a dream come true for me). We played a lot of Rock Band:

On Saturday we went down to the Cooperstown, NY area (famous for being home to the Baseball Hall of Fame) to go to a local cider mill and to a historical museum and village, the Farmers' Museum. Believe it or not, the kids were not enthralled with this part of the afternoon, but there were some parts they enjoyed. The highlight for them was the carousel ride:

I am in love with this carousel. The animals are all animals native to New York State, and they are both adorable and hilarious in carousel form. Some of the animals included a bear, a loon, a goose, a skunk, a frog, a cow and a fish, as well as the pig, raccoon and beaver shown below:

The historical village was really pretty. It would have been nicer to walk around there on a sunny day, but even with a chilly drizzle it had its charms:

In other news, a few days ago we woke up to the first snow of the season, which we were actually pretty excited about. We have a holly bush outside our front door, and I loved the look of the white snow, red berries and green leaves together:

The trees edging our apartment complex looked beautiful topped with a little snow:

And Evan was thrilled to make some snowballs:

The snow has since melted, but its brief appearance has helped get us in the mood for the holidays. We have a Christmas tree (which we'll hopefully have time to decorate soon), we've taken our Christmas photos, and we've started diving into Christmas books and movies and music. And in two weeks we'll be on our way to the west coast to spend a couple of weeks with Greg's family -- we can't wait!

Oh, and by the way, I've started uploading many of my photos to Flickr -- so far I've mostly put older photos up, but I'm hoping to keep up with posting newer photos there too. Check it out if you're interested!