Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

You don't want to take any more photos...

What a stinkers! That was an actual quote from my son Jedi. Good thing I was done taking photos when I was.

Both kids were excited, to say the least, that Halloween had finally come. Ian was a Jedi, complete with lightsaber. Leah originally didn't want to be a princess, then she saw the outfit and was squealing with glee at the thought.

And a final parting photo (I'm immune to the Jedi mind trick) of the kids right before they went to collect their loot.

Have a wonderful day everybody! Cheers,


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rialto and Second Beach, Camping in the Olympic National Park

After my last camping trip a couple of weeks ago to Mt. Rainier, I promised the kids that we'd go camping after our Disney Vacation. That weekend was this past weekend. Some people would call us me crazy for taking the kids camping in a rainforest during the rainy season in late October. You'd be right.

Luckily, I came prepared. Our first day we drove past Forks, Washington out to Mora at Rialto Beach on the Pacific Ocean. We set up our campsite, which consisted of our 10x10 canopy to cover the tent, as well as a ground cloth to go underneath the tent. Then the tent with a rainfly. Even with all that, it was still a bit damp. The tent was small enough for me, Ian, and Leah that it stayed cozy the whole night. It was definitely warmer than the first night that Ian and I spent here much earlier this year.

We tried to make it out to Hole in the Wall, about a mile north of the parking lot at Rialto Beach. The river that Ian and I log walked and jumped over earlier this year had completely re-routed itself. It looks like a massive storm shoved a ton of trees and sand up onto the beach causing the river to move. I couldn't find any way to cross, and Leah didn't want me to take my shoes off to carry her across the river. So we got skunked.

The next morning, after a fun breakfast of hot cocoa and pancakes, we made our way to Second Beach just south of La Push. It was a fairly easy walk through the forest and then down to the beach. The beach itself was very pretty, with the various sea stacks making up "Giant's Graveyard".

Finally, during the walk in, we passed this giant tree. The exposure was pretty tough, so I've juiced it up a bit so you can see it better (I hope) in photoshop. The kids spontaneously shouted about the Whomping Willow as we came upon it, and asked if I would take their photo next to it. Luckily this particular tree was neither a willow, nor whomping. So this one is for all you Harry Potter fans!



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Columbia River Gorge

Christina's trip is rapidly coming to an end. She basically has all day tomorrow with us, then she flies back home. There are so many different outdoorsy paradises here, that with unlimited time is very hard to decide where to go and what to see. Do I want to see the wild Pacific Ocean, or a temperate rainforest? Mountains? How about waterfalls?

Well, when forced to decide, Christina chose waterfalls. So off to the Columbia River Gorge we went.

There are already plans underfoot for a return trip next summer, where a trip to the Olympic Mountains, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Rainier will be a much better prospect. The mountain passes have already had several inches of snow this week, which means that the higher elevations had even more. It would have been an even colder trip had Christina decided on either of the other options.

We've had a very nice time with Christina here, and I'm pretty sure she has had a nice time too. Cheers,


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Leavenworth Oktoberfest

So after a few short days home from our Disneyland vacation, we drove up to Seattle to pick up Catherine's sister, Christina, and drove out to Leavenworth, WA for their Oktoberfest festivities. I'm looking forward to a bit of relaxation after a bit more than two weeks of go-go-go!

Someone turned on the rain here, and I'm guessing they won't turn it off for several months. But we didn't let that stop up. The trip to Leavenworth was rainy, and we didn't get to see much fall color. The town of Leavenworth reminded us of many of the smaller towns in Bavaria, Germany. Outside of a candy shop there was this giant stuffed bear that the kids just had to have their photos taken with.

And here is everyone enjoying a slight lull in the human crush.

The rain kept some folks away, but not everyone. This shot below is of the main street, showing the shops all painted up in the Bavarian style.

We took a different way home than we did there, to make sure we saw some nice color. We weren't disappointed!

This is the Wenatchee River from some random pull-out along the way. Cheers,


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Vacation is officially over!

Like the title says, vacation is officially over. Boooo!!!!!

So after Disneyland, we did a day at Knott's Berry Farm just down the road. The next day we headed north to visit some family in San Francisco. Since it is a very long drive from LA to SF, we stopped at Big Sur for the night, staying at a state park cabin. A quick internet search the night before let me figure out that a waterfall that I'd been wanting to photograph was just a couple of miles down the road from where we were staying. Catherine chooses the best places to stay!

The waterfall actually plunges straight into the Pacific Ocean when the tide is up. It is McCay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Beautiful!

The next day we drove to San Francisco and enjoyed a walk around Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square. The Pumpkin Spice Caramel Chocolate squares are to die for. We had a very nice time with Melissa, getting to tour the art gallery where she works and then having a nice dinner.

The following day we made the very long drive from San Francisco to Crater Lake National Park. Despite an early start (we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge at about 8:30 or so) we didn't arrive at the Park until just before sunset. We literally drove straight to the rim for some photographs, and then made our way back down to our cabin for the night. Part of the delay was our own fault, we stopped at Regusci in the Napa Valley to go pick up some of our favorite wine along the way.

The photo above is from sunset and the one below is from a bit after sunrise the next morning. I'd really love to come visit when the rim is cloaked in snow. It would make for an excellent winter camping trip...

Catherine's sister, Christina, is visiting us for the week. I'll have some photos from our Oktoberfest adventure posted in the near future. Cheers,


Thursday, October 11, 2012

More Disney Fun, Revisited

So I'm going to delete my last post with the same photos since my post was pretty lame!

The kids had a great time at Disney, as you'd expect. They got to ride the rides they wanted (with some cajoling at times), but better than that they got to meet the characters. While they aren't the biggest Mickey Mouse fans, they did thoroughly enjoy getting to meet him and getting their photos taken with him.

Ian had his big day with the Jedi Academy, so Leah deserved a bit of time with her favorite Disney character: Tinkerbell! She got to meet her sister, Periwinkle, too. But Tinkerbell was definitely the highlight of her trip, more so than any of the other princesses.

The Disney photographer was busy with another family for this photo. I ended up taking the photo of another lady and her child, and she kindly took our photo in return.

I tried to take another photo Leah-style, which worked out okay. What can I say? I'm a work in progress!

After three days at Disney we took a day to go visit Knott's Berry Farm. It was ridiculously under-crowded! I waited a maximum of five minutes for each of the major rollercoasters. And I have two new rollercoaster buddies. Leah will ride anything that she can fit on. Ian likes the metal twisting/flipping coasters. Either way, I don't have to ride alone!!!!

At one point in time, after a particularly fun ride, Ian said "I have never felt so alive in my entire life!". That pretty much sums up our Disneyland/Knott's Berry Farm/Southern California adventure.



Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ian's Best Day Ever

Disney really does think of everything. Their attention to the most minute details, and their immersive interaction with kids really make the parks they run quite amazing. 

So everyone that reads this blog is probably pretty aware that Ian is a huge Star Wars fan. Disneyland has a ride here called Star Tours, which Ian loved. Disney also ran a show of sorts called the Jedi Training Academy. That is where the video comes in.

They got about 20 kids out of the audience  (much less than half of how many showed up, all chosen at random). Ian just so happened to get picked, much to mine and Catherine's immense relief. Mace Windu (sp?) did all the picking. All the chosen kids go up to the front where they are given their Jedi robes and lightsabers. They then go through some lightsaber training, when all of a sudden Darth Vader and Darth Maul show up and tempt all the young Jedi to turn to the dark side. They all say "no", of course. So then they all have to individually fight either Vader or Maul. Ian got in the Maul line, so that is who he got to fight.

Ian did a great job with his fight. All the training at home really paid off ; )

If you get a chance to speak to Ian, be sure to congratulate him on becoming a real Jedi! Cheers,


Friday, October 5, 2012

Having fun at Disneyland

Well, the internet was down yesterday when I was going to attempt to blog, so I'm running a bit behind. We've had several early mornings and late evenings while here, trying to make the most of the time that we have here. I have a ton of photos from yesterday and today to go through, as well as some video that I'll be uploading in the next couple of weeks.

Below Ian and Leah are sitting in the comfy chairs provided in the hotel lobby. We'd later go on the spinning tea cup ride which I got spinning to a ridiculous rate. Ian and Leah both wanted more, but Catherine and I were both fine to just let the ride spin itself out without any more assistance from me once I was done.

I tried to take many photos of us on the rides. Just like the last time I tried this, I am nowhere near as good at this as Leah is. I had to cull through a bunch of these to find one with all of us in it. Somehow I am out of focus, but I like the pure joy on Ian's and Leah's faces. To say they've had a blast at Disneyland is a wild understatement.

Cars Land opened up a couple of months ago at Disneyland. The race they have there is a huge hit with the crowds. It was one of the few rides that we did twice, and we won both times. Someone we ran into at the park has a theory that the car with the loudest cheering is the car that wins. Ian and Leah probably won those races all by themselves if they go by volume!

We rode several of the rides at Cars Land, including Luigi's Floating Tires, where I took this Hall of Mirrors-type photo. Only on this one I tried to be a bit more sneaky!

To finish off our first day at Disney, we wondered over to one of the entrances where a kind employee offered to take our picture. This was not the first time, I think it must be a part of the customer service training that all of their employees cast members go through.

We are moving on in our California vacation. Tonight is our last night at Disneyland. Tomorrow we will visit Knotts Berry Farm, where hopefully I can talk Ian or Leah to ride some of the rollercoasters with me. Have a wonderful day everybody!



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

We're in Disneyland!

We've made our way to Disneyland! We went to southern Oregon on the first day, and then went to spend the night with some friends (from Germany) in Sacremento. It was so much fun having dinner and catching up. Catherine and I are both so grateful for good friends, and their wonderful hospitality!

It was a big day driving from Sacremento to LA, but we made it.

We are staying on Disneyland at one of the hotels. So far, it has been a quick trip through Downtown Disney for dinner and some entertainment.

Then it was back to the hotel for a quick touristy photo, followed by some swimming in the pool. They have a water slide there, and we rode it. It was a fast slide with some tight spirals that I could actually feel in my stomach, which means we'll be back!

We have a character breakfast tomorrow, so I should probably close up shop and go get some sleep, since we'll be up bright and early. Have a great day everybody, I know we will. Cheers,


Monday, October 1, 2012

Seattle Skyline

The weekend before this last one I had a continuing education class up in Seattle. The weather was gorgeous, so I took the opportunity to head over to West Seattle and take a look at the skyline from the west.

The forest fires we've been having here in Washington managed to obscure the Cascades and Mt. Rainier. I had a nice time anyways. West Seattle is a beautiful town, with great views of, and easy access to, Seattle.

This past weekend I took part in the Tough Mudder race in Seattle. It was a group effort with some other physical therapists as well as some orthopedic surgeons from where I work. I joked that we were in good hands if any of us broke any bones - which we didn't. We all had a good time until the final obstacle - the electric eel. Electricity and water just don't go well together!

So now we're on the road, currently in Oregon, on our way to Disneyland. This should be a great trip for the kids. Have a great day everybody. Cheers,