Gracing us with her presence…

August 26, 2014 Tuesday

My sister Pauline is in town for the week. She arrived today and brought with her plenty of California sun.  After picking her up from the airport, we went straight to business. We walked all over downtown Seattle.

image

Enjoying a ride on The Great Wheel on Pier 57.

image

Can you spot the Space Needle? This is the view from inside the Great Wheel.

image

 

image

Sisterly love. Just what I needed!

While the boys are on Pier 57, Pauline and I get lost (in purpose) at Pikes Place Chowder on Post Alley. We had clam chowder, sourdough bread and crab roll. It was really fun just hanging out with my little sister before she gets married in December.

 

 

August 28, 2014 Thursday

Today, Richard and I are on an overnight date. We bought burritos from a food truck, stuffed them in my purse and had lunch at the movies! Shhhh, don’t tell them. We saw “Lucy” (Scarlett Johansson) and was blown away. We had a lot to discuss the moment it ended!

Afterwards, we checked into Swantown Inn Bed & Breakfast.

 

This beautiful Victorian house is very elegant inside and out.

This beautiful Victorian house is very elegant inside and out.

The house has a lot of character and is very still and silent. The owners have homemade cookies for guests. We took a few to take home  to Owen and to pay our babysitter…

While away, my sister babysat Owen. Here’s what she did for him:

Eating s'mores while reading a good book.

She made him s’mores.

She built him a campfire.

She built him a campfire.

 

She & Owen went on the roof of our trailer. I just about had a heart attack whenI saw the picture. Look at him, all smiles and unattended.

She & Owen went on the roof of our trailer. I just about had a heart attack whenI saw the picture. Look at him, all smiles and unattended.

Thumbs up, no one is hurt, having a blast...

Thumbs up, no one is hurt, having a blast…

 

She roasted vegetarian sausages.

She roasted vegetarian sausages.

Owen loves Aunt Pauline.

Owen loves Aunt Pauline.

Advertisements

Bicycling & Blackberries

We went on a 1-hour bike ride just 5 minutes away from the campground. This paved trail was beautiful. We went under canopies of trees and saw many shades of green.image

 

 

image

 

 

 

image

 

 

The the next day, as we rode our bike around the campground, we discovered black berry bushes. We picked to our heart’s content and nibbled on them. I made blackberry jam and the boys enjoyed it on their toast.

 

 

 

 

image
image

image

 

 

 

 

 

Charming Towns

Carla from American Heritage Campground gave us a list of neighboring towns, highlighting shops, restaurants and fun things to do. We 86’d our hiking plans and explored instead.

STOP 1: Mima Mounds, Little Rock.

8-14 Mima Mounds

8-14 Mima Mounds (8)

These unusual and mysterious mounds are covered by beautiful prairie grassland with native wildflowers and bunch grasses.

8-14 Mima Mounds (7)

As we walked around the loop trails, we learned about prairie ecology. We ventured out a little bit and discovered they felt spongy and (a bit strange). It felt as if we were disturbing whoever was sleeping under it.

8-14 Mima Mounds (15)

We found these berries along the trail. My Jr. Ranger had his gear with him and we were able to pick up samples. We didn’t want to eat it without knowing what it is.

 

STOP 2: Rock Quarry Pool, Tenino. There’s a serene wading fresh-water pool with a waterfall for Owen to play in but we got sidetracked. There’s more to this gem we still have yet to discover and share with everyone.

8-14 Rock Quarry

The moment Owen saw these rocks, he didn’t want to do anything else but climb it. He said it was like climbing giant lego pieces.

8-14 Rock Quarry (4)

While he played Indiana Jones, Richard explored on his own while I had “alone time” with my phone. Happy hour.

 

STOP 3: Lattin’s Country Cider Mill, Olympia. This wonderful discovery led us to this charming farm-store with free petting zoo. It reminded us of Riley’s Farm back home. We look forward to returning in the fall.

 

8-14 Cider Mill (6)

 

 

 

8-14 Cider Mill (3)

They made fresh donuts. Our snack: custard-filled donut and cider. Upon walking in, we saw locals carrying strawberry cider by the gallon. We took the hint and picked up a quart. Smart move.

8-14 Cider Mill (8)
8-14 Cider Mill (5) 8-14 Cider Mill (10) 8-14 Cider Mill (13)

8-14 Cider Mill (17)

Owen wanted to play with the mountain goats in their climbing gym.

8-14 Cider Mill (22)

These furry cuteys followed Owen left and right. See video on facebook.

8-14 Cider Mill (26)

 

ALONG THE SCENIC ROUTE…

8-14 Charming towns 019

Abandoned structures interest me. Can you imagine my surprise finding this abandoned barn?

8-14 Charming towns 018

Houses along the road had these little covered-porches up close to the road. We later figured out it’s where children wait for the bus to take them to school. Like in Forest Gump without the stump to sit on.

Winter Plans

We have revised our winter plans. Originally, we were going to make our way down to New Mexico and stay there during winter; however, we’ve grown to love Washington and don’t want to leave yet.

We decided to hibernate for the time being. We want to see how the rain will affect us should we decide to make this our semi-permanent home state.

image

On that note: we found a house for rent here at Olympia, WA. It’s fully-furnished, 2 bdrm, 1 ba, 2-car garage and a backyard for Owen. There’s also a parking space for our travel trailer, in which Richard is very happy about.

There’s a biking trail nearby and this area we found is nothing but green. Our landlady is very kind and pleasant. We connected immediately upon meeting her. Marilynn Stephens from olympiafurnishedhomes.com owns other properties in the downtown Olympia area. She has tenants like a legislator renting out her homes within walking distance from the Capitol.

image

We are confident our stay here in Olympia is a good move. We look forward to settling in for winter. It’s even better that we’re close to our friends in Tukwila and new friends we made here at our campsite.We check out of American Heritage Campground September 9 and we move into our rental the following day.  I’ll be posting our mailing address on our facebook page for friends and family. We love keeping in touch with all our friends, by the way. It truly makes a difference in our days.

Owen says he’s excited to: have a new room, explore the neighborhood, play in the rain in the backyard that has trees.

I’m looking forward to being in an open indoor space where I can stretch out my arms when I sleep; watch TV and home-educate Owen for longer sessions. But mostly, I am looking forward to having kitchen space where I can cook and bake like a top chef. Blueberry muffins, roasted root vegetables and pumpkin pies are on my top list.

It’ll also be great to have family/friends over from California. If you’re looking to experience Washington during winter and spring, let us know! We’ll welcome you with open arms, hot chai tea and fresh-baked goodies.

Our Last Day in Alaska

 

 

What we did on our last day…

1. We learned about the history of Anchorage.
8-5 Alaska 145

8-5 Alaska 144

The Oscar Anderson House Museum is a historical museum. The structure was built in 1915 by early Anchorage resident Oscar Anderson. Anderson claimed to be the 18th person to set foot on what is now Anchorage. The structure was the first wood-frame house in Anchorage.

 

2. Went on a walk along the coast.

8-5 Alaska 150

8-5 Alaska 148

Owen is a fan of Survivor. We bought him this buff and he’s been wearing it since.

8-5 Alaska 155

I packed two things: workout clothes and clean underwear. That’s all you need.

8-5 Alaska 157

8-5 Alaska 158

Owen & Richard spot a bald eagle.

8-5 Alaska 159

I don’t see anything… Where’s Waldo?

8-5 Alaska 161

I did spot the bunk where Desmond from LOST was hiding in. He was the man who had to push a button every X-minutes.

8-5 Alaska 160

8-5 Alaska 162

8-5 Alaska 163

 

3. Eat at our favorite restaurant in Alaska!

8-5 Alaska 173

Owned and operated by a Hawaiian Family. Affordable and yummy food!

8-5 Alaska 172

Brunch- veggie skillet with home fries and hollandaise sauce.

 

4. Drove around neighborhoods to see what houses looked like. (I like houses.)

8-5 Alaska 174

8-5 Alaska 175

8-5 Alaska 177

8-5 Alaska 176

 

 

5. Last minute-souvenir shopping at Downtown Anchorage.

8-5 Alaska 169

Guess what everyone is in line for? Reindeer Hotdogs.

8-5 Alaska 168

 

 

8-5 Alaska 178

We get to the airport early so Owen can read…

8-5 Alaska 179

Waiting for our plane to pull up.

The drive to Denali National Park

Denali National Park and Preserve is a national park and preserve located in Interior Alaska, centered on Denali (Mount McKinley), the highest mountain in North America. The park encompasses more than 6 million acres.

The drive from Anchorage to Denali National Park and Preserve was a long 5-hour drive. This area in the summer is very green. We crossed countless creeks and rivers. It was flat, no reason to get car-sick. Aside from seeing Denali and learning about the early settlers, we came all the way here because Owen wanted to earn a Jr. Ranger pin from Alaska and this was the closest one.

If you want to see more pictures, click on the tab "Education on the go".

If you want to see more pictures, click on the tab “Education on the go”.

8-5 Alaska 083

8-5 Alaska 082

8-5 Alaska 086

8-5 Alaska 132

8-5 Alaska 131

8-5 Alaska 135

Tunnels, Harbors and pouring rain, oh my!

This was Owen’s favorite: the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel- the longest (2.5 miles) highway tunnel in North America, and the first designed for -40 Fahrenheit temperatures and 150 mph winds.

The one-lane tunnel must be shared by cars and trains traveling in both directions, and i t usually needs to be aired out in between trips with jet turbine ventilation.  This unique design that enables a single lane of traffic to travel directly over the railroad track saved tens of millions of dollars over the cost of constructing a new tunnel.

8-5 Alaska 052

 

 

8-5 Alaska 051

Here we are waiting for the tunnel to clear. The usual wait was 15 minutes. Cost to go through was $30.

 

The drive was only 10-minutes but it was the longest ride for someone who is claustrophobic. I had to “escape” the dark tunnel and look over my happy pictures in my camera.

And yes, there was light at the end of the tunnel….

 WHITTIER HARBOR

 This area originally was part of the portage route for the Chugach Indians of Prince William Sound traveling to fish the Turnagain Arm.

Later, the Russians and Americans exploring the region also used this passage. It was used by prospecting miners during the gold rush as it was the quickest passage from the Sound to the Cook Inlet and Interior Regions.

The City itself is a historical area, established by the US Army during World War II. The Federal railroad to Portage was completed in 1943 and became the primary debarkation point for cargo, troops, and dependents of the Alaska Command. (I love history and this was so fascinating to me!)

8-5 Alaska 058

8-5 Alaska 056

 

8-5 Alaska 059

 

8-5 Alaska 054

8-5 Alaska 055

8-5 Alaska 057