July - August 2017
  • Day10

    Salt Lake City, UT

    August 5, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    August 5, 2017

    Weather: 92 and sunny

    Hours Driving: 4 hours 49 minutes

    States Drive Thru: Idaho and Utah

    Miles: 341

    Restaurants: Rumbi

    Movies: Lion

    Games:

    Books: Dunkirk (Matt)

    Hotel: Fairfield Inn Portland South Marriott

    I have to say that we really enjoyed Boise Idaho. We thought it was going to be a drive thru, check it off the list destination but we really liked it and wished we might have stayed another night. This morning we grabbed breakfast at the hotel and headed to camel's back for a hike up to see the city from a different vantage point. You should have seen this park. It was green and happy with lots of people playing soccer, playing on the playground, doing yoga, riding bikes in some sort of bike club, working out in this cool workout playground and the giant hill mountain that we intended to climb. It was reminiscent of camelback in Arizona that Paul and I climbed but smalller. No less challenging. It was nearly a vertical incline up a sandy rocky slippery slope. It was not easy and with every step was a chance for serious injury. At the top you can see the whole city including the capital building. Nice hike in a very nice park.

    We heard about a Farmers market downtown so we decided to see what it was all about. It was your typical market with fruits and vegetables, artists and food vendors. We ordered some pizzas from a vendor with a brick pizza oven. I can't tell you if it was good because I couldn't eat it but I had a nice warm kale, chicken, cranberry and goat cheese salad with blueberry dressing. Very tasty. We bought some lavender products, some gluten free treats and some meat sticks. It was a nice morning in Boise. Paul met a vendor who asked where he was from and she said, "don't tell me, you love it here?" She was from somewhere else, went to Boise once, loved it and moved there. Paul and I would like to go back. I think its a hidden treasure.

    Off we headed to Salt Lake City. Another uneventful drive. We arrived around dinner time though we got to the hotel and vegged a bit before running out for a quick bite. After dinner, we hooked up Netflix and watched the movie "Lion". That is the book we listened to on the way out to Seattle. The movie is good but the book is a hundred times better. There is so much more detail that is critical to the story. Read the book first.

    We have two nights in Salt Lake City. Tomorrow we will go out and explore.
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  • Day9

    Boise, ID

    August 4, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    August 4, 2017

    Weather: 105 and sunny

    Hours Driving: 6 hours 39 minutes

    States Drive Thru: Oregon and Idaho

    Miles: 431

    Restaurants: Boise Fry Co.

    Movies:

    Games:

    Books: Dog On It (Biddy), Dunkirk (Matt), Tuesdays At Morries (audio-everyone)

    Hotel: Springfield Marriott

    Today, we ate breakfast, found a post office to send postcards to themselves, and set off for Boise Idaho. Uneventful drive. It took us almost 7 hours. We listened to Tuesdays at Morries. Everyone seems to like it.

    We arrived a Springfield Inn Marriott to 105 degrees and it felt like it. Boise is a really nice, clean, updated city. We really like it. Lots of restaurants and nice places to be outside. We are impressed. The kids swam a bit, then we headed out to dinner to a place recommended by my sister-in- law Missy's friend who live here (i think). First of all, it is on the same street as the capital building which is gorgeous. Boise Fry Co. is a burger and fry place that is eco friendly and diet/health friendly. first you choose your burger type like bison, beef, vegan. Then you choose your style with various toppings. Then, you choose your potato for your fries. I had a burger on a gluten free bun. We ordered 5 different kinds of fries: purple potato, sweet potato, a fry cooked in rabbit fat and sprinkled with truffle salt (yummyy) and a couple of other potatoes. Then you pick a house made sauce. All different kinds that complement the kinds of fries. Pretty neat place and when in Idaho....eat potatoes.

    On the way back to the hotel, our car was making a weird noise. At first, we thought it was the tire. Ugh. Not again. It wasn't thank goodness. Some piece of metal under the bumper by the tire came loose. We just took it off. I let you know if the bumper falls off tomorrow. The kids swam again and now everyone but me is sleeping. Tomorrow we will hang out in Boise for a bit and then on to Salt Lake City.
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  • Day8

    Cannon Beach, OR

    August 3, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    August 3, 2017

    Place: Portland, Weather: 107 and sunny, Cannon Beach 80 and sunny

    Hours Driving: 3 hours

    States Drive Thru: Oregon

    Miles: 106 miles to beach and back.

    Restaurants: Slappy Cakes, Yami Sushi

    Movies:

    Games:

    Books: American Born Chinese (Ben), Gravity Falls journal (Matt), Dog On It (Biddy)

    Thump, thump, thump. Creak, creak, thump. Bang, bang, bang, 5:30 AM? WTF? What's the Flipside? Us on the other side of the noise. This went on all morning. I would have sworn they were doing construction above our heads. I was so mad. I got up and hammered on the wall. We all tried to sleep longer. Finally, I just got up to take a shower. Grrr. Once everyone was up, we headed out for breakfast to a place called Slappy Jacks as recommended by our friends Wendy and Kevin. What a cute place where you choose your pancake batter ( I chose gluten free), then choose your ingredients (like chocolate chips, bananas, bacon) and then choose final toppings like whip cream. Then you cook it up at your table on a griddle. So cool. The pancakes were good too.

    After breakfast we took the kids to Powell's books, a six story book store. Pretty soon it will be like a museum since there aren't many books store anymore. The kids all chose books. Matthew who loves to read had to travel to all floors. Neat place. We walked around downtown Portland a bit and took the boys to the Nike store. Oh, they also have bike rentals here like Seattle (more expensive) but they are called Biketown (place nike swoosh here). Clever. Say it like Nike. See pics.

    Yes it was 107 in Portland today but we didn't really think it felt that hot. Maybe its a dryer heat. Regardless we had already decided to beat the heat by driving to the coast to a beach called Cannon Beach where it was in the 80s. Before we left, we grabbed our suits and such. Paul went upstairs to talk to the people banging around. Strangely, he found a little old man reading a book. He said something about the noise and the man said, "Its just me reading my book." He's lying or something. On our way down, a gaggle of young children came bounding up the stairs bouncing a basketball. Ah-HA!! He was lying. They went right up to that room. Grrrr. We went to the car but forgot something so Paul went back to get it. Along came grandma noisy. He stopped her and told her our dilemma. She was very nice but astonished that the kids were making such noise up in the loft. Seriously. I am not kidding how loud they were. We will see at 5:30 tomorrow.

    Off to the beach. We are so glad we did. It was gorgeous on the coast. What a nice little town with restaurants, shops and awesome looking houses and hotels on the beach. We really liked it there. We spent the afternoon on the beach. We headed back to Portland for dinner. We agreed on sushi so we hit a spot by our hotel. Not-so-much. When you walk into a warm restaurant with a sushi bar in the middle and a conveyer belt of sushi traveling around it past all the people sitting around it (lets say 30 or more people and 75 different sushis), turn around quickly and get the heck out of there. Eww, yuck, unsanitary, disgusting. We called our friend Mike Erb who lives here and he recommended a place to us near where he lives. It was much better. No Dave's sushi. After we ate we went to the park with a fountain and kids got their feet wet. Mike and Jen met us for ice cream in the park. It was a nice visit. Now we are home and exhausted. Remember, home is where the van is....I mean, clan is.

    Tomorrow we are off to Boise, ID.
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  • Day7

    Portland, OR

    August 2, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    August 2, 2017

    Place: Portland, Weather: 77 and sunny

    Hours Driving: 4 hours

    States Drive Thru: Washington and Oregon

    Miles: 238

    Restaurants: Subway

    Movies:

    Games:

    Books: Arf (Elizabeth), Dunkirk (Matt), El Elefante sin Memoria (Ben-for Spanish)

    Last night was our last night on the houseboat. We all slept very well on the boat. I'm a little surprised seeing that it wasn't the greatest mattress and Paul and I felt a little like our feet were higher than our heads just slightly. Yet, we boat slept well. Maybe it was the ever so gentle rocking. I mean gentle because any more than that might have had me at the Lake Union Courtyard. I woke up and brewed my coffee and went to the roof to watch the scullers (rowers) silently cutting through the water just as the sun is lighting up the lake. So peaceful. Matthew joined me, followed by Elizabeth with two plates of blueberry pancakes with peaches on top. We took in our last mental photographs to hold on to. We love Seattle.

    On our way out of Seattle, we drove the kids through the University of Washington campus. My sister went there after going to U of M (booo) and moving out to Seattle. What a gorgeous campus. The kids liked it too. We had to quickly start spilling out the negatives before all three of kids decide move to other side of the country and double our tuition bills. Then, off to Mount Saint Helens. It was pretty smoggy today I think because the temps were rising to 90s in Seattle and 100s south. It was still blue skies but a haze fell over Mount Rainier so we couldn't see it on our way out. Boooo. It likes to play hide and seek. We could not see Mt. St. Helens either due to forest fires and the direction of the winds. We stopped at the visitor center to watch a movie and see their little museum. We decided not to go all the way to the observation center because it was about an hour up and the rangers said visibility was poor. So we headed to Trail of Two forests. It is also about an hour but it is 30 minutes south toward Portland and then 30 minutes in.

    This was a place my sister took me and I loved it. Super cool and super weird. I wanted to share it with my family. I reassured everyone it was worth it (at least I hoped). We got there and we were the only ones there. I don't think anyone really knows to go there. I like it that way. There are wooden paths going through the forest where hot lava scorched the forest and burned trees right out of their holes. Now vegetation is lush again after 37 years since the volcano erupted but you can see lava rock peeking out from under the green. I believe the paths are there because you could very easily fall into some very large and deep holes where trees used to be. Speaking of holes, they have a spot where they put a ladder down into one of the holes so you can crawl inside and through the root system and come out 40 feet away. I did it with my sister long ago and swore not to do it again. You MUST do it once. It's creepy, rocky, chilly and small. Each kid started down the hole and peeked into the dark labyrinth of root tunnels (lava tubes). None of them wanted to go first. I told Paul to get down there and go first. So being the abiding husband and father that he is, he headed down and started into the unknown (trusting me all the while). The kids were still hesitating until Paul's voice traveled out of the hole, "Lets go, I'm not at all interested in being in here." Ben was last and still hesitating while laughing at his dad's comment. I said I'd go in after him so I climbed down the hole and watched his foot disappear into darkness and I climbed right out. I said that once is enough.

    They were all laughing and having fun even through the discomfort (as did my sister and I laughing hysterically going through it). I ran the boardwalk so I could get to the exit hole before they came out. One by one they came out smiling. They loved it. Even Paul. I don't know if any of them want to do it again but they all said it was an awesome experience. My question is...who was the first person to think it was a good idea to crawl in that hole in the first place? I also decided to take them to the Ape Caves (named after the spelunkers who found it). There are no apes in the Ape Caves. It is a giant cave formed by lava flowing in and receding out. I hiked all the way in with my sister and I knew they wouldn't really want to do it. There really isn't anything deeper into the cave that isn't near the front. It is a cold 46 degrees today, bumpy, rocky and dark hike in. So we just went into the opening. We didn't have a lot of time either. They thought it was cool as well. They all said they were glad we went to Mt. St. Helens.

    We arrived in Portland around dinner time to another Residence Inn, made some spaghetti, garlic bread and salad and headed for the pool. I got some laundry done and now we are in bed. I am tired. Tomorrow I think we are heading to the ocean. It is supposed to be a record 108 tomorrow. By the ocean it's cooler. I will let you know what we decide. Goodnight.
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  • Day6

    San Juan islands, WA

    August 1, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    August 1, 2017

    Place: Seattle, Port Townsend, San Juan Islands and Friday Harbor, WA

    Weather: 77 and sunny

    Hours Driving: 35 minutes x 2 by ferrry and 2 hours 14 minutes driving (roundtrip)

    States Drive Thru: Washington

    Miles: 70 miles

    Restaurants: Downriggers

    Movies:

    Games: Pictionary

    Books:

    Hotel: Ginger Houseboat on Lake Union

    My eyes slowly opened at 5:15 AM as morning breaks over Lake Union and a pink light fills the windows of the boat. I slept well and I don't think I was anxious about waking up in time for the 6:10 ferry to Bainbridge Island. I waited for my 5:20 alarm to play The Cup song. The gentle clapping at the beginning of the song is a nice wake up sound. If you choose not to wake, "I got my ticket for the long way round..." Anyway, I started the coffee pot and roused the crowd gently so as not to conjure up the sleeping meemies who stick around with their grumpies for a while. Matthew carried a few complaining meemies right on to the ferry. You've got to love them away.

    Getting to the ferry on time was the only thing that worried me because I didn't know if it would be busy though I've been on the ferries many times with my sister and going to Whidbey Island to see my brother and MIssy (and Cody and Mitchell). If we missed the 6:10, we might not make the drive to our 8:30 appointment with the whales. It was actually easy-peesy. Rhea also reassured me the night before how easy it would be especially at that insane hour. There was no wait, we drove right in and headed for the deck for coffee and hot chocolate and a 35 minute ferry ride (and a hot chocolate spill by an unnamed child-probably the meemie did it). Now we are driving for a little over an hour to Port Townsend to make our 8:30 meeting time. We should be early.

    We in fact arrived early to a cool marina of big boats and little boats, sail boats and motor boats, old boats and new boats. The air was cool which led us to believe it might be even cooler on the water. We checked in and boarded our boat. We were assigned a 6 person table in a boat that probably holds, at most, 60 people. There were about 35 on today. Our hosts were great. They were super friendly and knowledgeable. They served their specialty Blueberry Buckle and various warm and cold drinks. If you purchased their mug for $5, you get unlimited drinks for life. We bought them and told the kids that they had to come back someday with their families and get a free cup o' Joe or hot chocolate. They were excited about that.

    We left at 9 AM with a chill in the air. We cruised out looking for whales. We spotted a few on the way out to Friday Harbor. So cool to see. We cruised through the San Juan islands and stopped in Friday Harbor for lunch. I would recommend this town. Super cute. Good restaurants and shops. Harbor town. Looked like Maine a bit. We had lunch at Downriggers on the deck overlooking the harbor. Ahhhhh. I had the most delicious mussels. Paul had a corn tortilla encrusted halibut salad. I loved that too. Elizabeth had clam chowder and a salad (and half of my mussels). She said this clam chowder doesn't beat her dads again. Matthew had a delicious looking chicken sandwich and Ben had spicy chicken wings (all over his face). Even the cute young girl cleaning away his mess giggled at the spectacle he made with the hot sauce. We had a great lunch and headed out for our second half of the day.

    We traveled to Anacortes and through Deception Pass at Whidbey Island. Seeing naval base brought back memories of visiting my brother, Missy and Cody and Mitchell. I listened for Prowlers. My nephews could hear my brother's planes from miles away and plug their ears before I knew what was happening. I digress. We found a pod of Orcas feeding on a seal or something so says the naturalist. We sat and watched them for a while. Super cool. We got back around 5:30. I should mention that the weather was amazing. It got warmer throughout the day on the water though like swimming through a warm spot in the water, we kept going through periods of air that was 20 degrees cooler. Also, the water was a calm as anything. Our typical luck like kayaking at Pictured Rocks on the calmest Lake Superior (unheard of). Our guide today said that last week, their were 6 foot waves (and people puking). Our water was near flat most of the time. Thank goodness because I'd be a poker. I get carsick looking at a car. Even though we had a great day, at the risk of bad weather or choppy water, you might considered the 1/2 day trip just in case. That is hard to say though because Friday Harbor is cool.

    It was a great day. The kids all said they had a great time. Even though we didn't see tons of whales, they really enjoyed the whole day trip. There were no complaints about getting up though we had two nappers on part of the trip (see pictures). We are heading back to the houseboat now to BBQ some steaks for dinner. Already getting sick of eating out. Our biggest issue. We got issues...but you got em' too. Tomorrow, we are off to Portland via Mount Rainier and Mt. St. Helens.
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