Tillamook Cheese Factory Tour

Here’s what we learned:
The original owners first came in the 1800s to Tillamook Oregon to farm crops. Harvest became an issue due to weather. They noticed a part of their uncultivated farm remained green with grass. Their cows were always happy and that became the start of the dairy farm.

The self guided tour of the factory was fascinating. There were plenty of posted information on the history, the cheese-making process and a farmer’s daily schedule.

They offered free cheese samples in which I had to decline because I’m lactose intolerant. There was a gift shop, cafe and small store that featured -you guessed it- tillamook cheese.

Detectives for a week

Owen & friend David are attending Summer Camp this week at the Hands on Children's Museum.
Owen & friend David are attending Summer Camp this week at the Hands on Children’s Museum.

Young Detectives Owen and David are all smiles. Not only will they get to play all week but also solve mysteries. They will dust for fingerprints, analyze hair fiber samples and mystery substances. They’ll examine evidence, extract DNA from a strawberry and keep a private eye journal to solve a crime.

In the mean time, Richard & I will have our own mystery to solve. Where to go after summer. Where to live and where to work.

Owen’s New Classroom



I found a volunteer opportunity here at a family support center (a homeless shelter). It’s specifically for families, providing them shelter and resources to help them get back on their feet.

For additional info: http://www.fscss.org

I was looking to do something to keep myself busy and at the same time, expand Owen’s homeschooling. This is the place where I can teach him what humanitarianism is.

I attended a volunteer training a few weeks ago for a host/greeter. It’s basically babysitting the front desk for 2 hours. I was supposed to sign up on the schedule but have been dodging their email because I didn’t want to do it. So hard to say no to such a good cause.

Finally, I wrote back and gave them an honest reply. I said it’s not what I had in mind for me and my son. I wanted to be more hands-on and use my talent. I explained that my personality type required me to be on the move constantly. Sitting at a desk at a quiet environment with nothing to do will be torture for me (& Owen). I asked the coordinator to please keep me in mind should she need help in other areas.

My honesty paid off because she wrote back and asked me what I had in mind. I proudly talked about my experience as a children’s event coordinator & host; providing arts & craft activities for the kids, hosting Lego nights, etc. this is where I would excel, I told her. I also emphasized that my son will be with me.

She wrote me back right away and Gave me two good news. One, she said its a family-friendly atmosphere and Owen is welcome to be with me.  Second, she had wanted to implement an arts and craft activity at the center on a regular basis. She asked me to come in to meet with her to collaborate.

The center is not like a homeless shelter you’ve seen in the movies. It looks and feels more like a center. It’s a place where I’d be comfortable hanging around with Owen, to be honest. They have offices there for the coordinators and an open lobby where the front desk is situated that overlooks the common area. The common area has a business corner, a TV/living area and a children’s section where I’ll be.

Our meeting was Monday and it went very well. I will be the center’s volunteer Arts & Craft teacher! Katherine the coordinator and I bounced off some ideas. We are going to have a sign up sheet to determine how many will attend. We’re also going to allow them to tell us what kind of activities they’d like to do. More importantly, we’re going to let parents sign up as helpers. Our first activity is decorating holiday-themed cookies.

Like I did at my community back in California, I will be taking pictures of the kids and creating collages and displaying their masterpieces and highlighting them on a bulletin board at the center. Starting January 2015, I will be volunteering twice a month. The best part is: Owen will be involved and meet children of different backgrounds. His humanitarian training starts here. The second best part is: I get to teach kids art and give them a sense of pride towards their creations.

Moral of my story: my goal was met when I started with being honest.

What I learned: My God-given talent is going to be used to make a difference in a child’s life, starting with my son’s.

Olympic Rain Shadow

We explored North Washington yesterday and had a great time! We educated ourselves on the Olympic rain shadow. Our family has a thirst for knowledge and here’s some really fascinating information on the subject.



the climate in rain shadow areas is relatively sunny, windy, and cool.
The climate in rain shadow areas is relatively sunny, windy, and cool.

The Climate in the area

source: http://www.olympicrainshadow.com/olympicrainshadowmap.html

Spring arrives early and lasts long. We notice distinct changes in the month of February; usually we mow the lawn twice during this month, and there are significant stretches of clear weather. By the arrival of months more typically associated with spring, say April, mornings are often in the 40’s and clear, and afternoons can easily be in the mid 50’s. Sunny stretches and beautiful, partly sunny days are common, with stormy periods frequent, but usually brief, a day or two at a time. Overcast, gray weather is possible, but not common.

By early summer, for example Memorial day, the length of the day, and increased sunshine have often already started to dry out the lawns, but other vegetation is growing in full force. Often we are surprised by a cold and windy storm in late May to late June, dropping new snow on the crest of the Olympics.

High summer, which includes July, August, and September, rarely have precipitation at all. There is allot of sun during this period, but it is not hot. High temperatures average in the 70’s with some days in 60’s and some in the 80’s. Evenings and nights are cool, with temperatures in the 50’s. The maritime location has a major influence during this period. The first effect is wind. Afternoon wind is quite common, and over the offshore waters of eastern strait it is often very strong. The next maritime influence is occasional AM fog, or late AM clouds. The days seem to come in three varieties: clear all day; clear sunrise with some clouds late morning followed by sun; and maritime fog till mid morning, then clear onward.

Fall is a relatively brief transitional period in October and part of November, with variable weather. Usually there will be a brief cold storm in early to mid October, which delivers the first blanket of snow to the higher Olympic mountains, followed by a clear night or two with temperatures close to freezing.

Winter includes late November, December, and January in rain shadow areas. The sun is lower in the horizon, and storms are common, but periods of sunshine are common too.  There are frequent crisp clear periods following the storms, and sometimes sunny periods during extended periods of high pressure in January. Storms can be very strong and windy in this period. There can also be periods of gray weather which can go on for multiple days at this time of year. This seems to happen during times with multiple weaker storms with less defined fronts. Snow and cold periods also arrive, more frequently than in the greater Seattle area, perhaps once or twice a year. But as most areas are right at sea level, the sun or a warmer storm usually melts things off in a day or so.


We explored 3 of the 7 region that is in the rain shadow.


9-3 Port Townsend (14)

9-3 Port Townsend (15)

9-3 Port Townsend (16)



9-3 Port Townsend
My good friend Taz used to live in the city and gave me her old address. The curious monkey in me had us driving into the street and taking pictures of the neighborhood.
9-3 Port Townsend (18)
We pretended we were guests. It was nice to see where my friend lived.



9-3 Port Townsend (7)
A few miles down the road, we stretched our legs and found a park via tripadvisor.
9-3 Port Townsend (4)
Chetzemonka Park overlooking Strait of Juan de Fuca. Approx 1 hr ferry-away from Victoria Canada.


9-3 Port Townsend (6)
The park had bench swings that made Owen want to take a nap.

9-3 Port Townsend (9)

9-3 Port Townsend (3)
This cabin was used for community events.
9-3 Port Townsend (10)
Along the edge of the park we spotted locals going down a trail. We chased after them and found this secluded beach where only locals knew about. Score! Yes, that’s Richard having quiet time.


Second stop: SEQUIM

We didn’t spend a lot of time here except for a quick lunch. We took notice of the weather. It’s very much like California. The sun was so strong that it was burning my ear. It was a lot warmer here.

9-3 Port Townsend (12)
I was fascinated by the traffic lights.


Third stop: PORT ANGELES

We decided to walk around town for an hour. We found an 80 yr-old stationery store, my favorite place in the world besides Target. It had art supplies, books, craft  and scrapbook items.


 Later, we found a corner bookstore inside this beautiful building.

Later, we found a corner bookstore inside this beautiful building.

A seahorse.
A seahorse. Street art scattered the town.
From 5RR
I learned that the bookstore owners had been in business since the 1980s. They talked about going through the technology-changes and the need to adapt to keep up.


What a wonderful day we had. Owen was so tired.
What a wonderful day we had. Owen was so tired.



Mount St. Helens, Washington

July 27, 2014

What a fun day it was! Our day started off slow with morning chores and finally got out of the city after lunch. Way too late to start the day, but Mount St. Helens was only 30 minutes away and we had nothing else planned the rest of the day.

Owen earned another badge at the visitor center by completing a Junior Geologist Booklet. There’s a great exhibit with detailed pictures and facts about the eruption that took place 1980. (Please stop by the tab entitled “Education on the go” to see pictures.) He learned a lot, but he learned more by going on this helicopter tour…


7-27-14 Helicopter rode Mt. St. Helens 064

7-27-14 Mt. St. Helens (11)

7-27-14 Mt. St. Helens (10)

7-27-14 Mt. St. Helens (13)
I nearly threw up when Richard and Owen suggested we go on a helicopter. My fear of heights wouldn’t get us far. So it was decided that they’d have a father & son bonding hour. I had my happy hour on earth with my feet planted on the ground. More about that later…
7-27-14 Mt. St. Helens (17)
Owen’s reaction is priceless!!

7-27-14 Mt. St. Helens (26)

7-27-14 Helicopter rode Mt. St. Helens 056

7-27-14 Mt. St. Helens (15)

7-27-14 Helicopter rode Mt. St. Helens 034

7-27-14 Helicopter rode Mt. St. Helens 037

7-27-14 Helicopter rode Mt. St. Helens 054

This is the pilot, Captain Soren who gave me a high five, thanking me for trusting him with my boys' lives.
This is the pilot, Captain Soren who gave me a high five, thanking me for trusting him with my boys’ lives.



This is where I was. Safe on earth.
This is where I was. Safe on earth.

I’m sitting under the umbrella making friends with the safety officer. He is from Juneau, Alaska and was giving me must-do and see during our trip to Anchorage next week. He told me about this funny story during his July 4th.  The entire block have front yard barbecues and fireworks go off in the sky and you can barely see it because the sun doesn’t go down. Still, the residents ooh and ahh at the fireworks even if it’s faint in the Alaska skies…

I also met a woman who happens to be Captain Soren, (the pilot)’s girlfriend. They are from Portland, Oregon. When I expressed that we’re interested in spending winter in the area, she gave me a lot of pointers. She told me what to expect in weather, job opportunities, apartment rental-locations, etc. I basically interviewed her.

Later on, we were talking about how nice it is to hire a maid to do our house chores. I told her I used to have a housekeeper and often felt guilty; but boy, did it feel good to come home to a clean house! I don’t know how we ended up talking about that out of the blue… It was great to have met her.  She kept me company while she waited for her boyfriend to be done for the day. It was nice to have met a friend…


Powell’s City of Books, Downtown Portland, OR




Nine color coded rooms house over 3,500 different sections, offering something for every interest, including an incredible selection of out-of-print and hard-to-find titles.
Nine color coded rooms house over 3,500 different sections, offering something for every interest, including an incredible selection of out-of-print and hard-to-find titles.
Powell’s City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books.





I roamed around Powell’s Bookstore admiring the 5×5 cards on the shelves. They were informative, eye-catching and humorous. I took pictures of my favorite ones to share with you.



Shelly, a shelf-talker maker. While walking around, I met an employee behind a desk. She was illustrating something on a 5×5 card. I introduced myself and we got to talking.
I learned about the art technique she was using with water color pencils. She gave me a few useful techniques using her fingers (or brush). It was just what I needed! I was so inspired! She let me take a picture of her and her current work.
I learned that all the employees made shelf-talkers. Some write out recommendations, some create book summaries while others illustrate to catch readers attention.

Scienceworks Hands-On Museum, Ashland Oregon

Interview with Owen and Richard and Lela

1. What did you think about the museum?
Owen: It was fun!
Richard: Very interesting, exhibits were original with the right amount of challenge. It was age-appropriate, all of it.
Lela: I’ve never stayed at a museum for 3-hours. I loved it! Richard and Owen were learning and bonding at the same time.

2. What was your favorite part?
O: All of it!
R: Very-little distraction. It was quiet for a few hours until more kids came in the afternoon.
L: The soft couches scattered throughout for moms like me! I liked the dinosaur exhibit the most because I knew it made Owen very happy.

Can you believe that this is made out of bottle caps?
Can you believe that this is made out of bottle caps?

7-14-14 Oregon 014

7-14-14 Oregon 016


7-14-14 Oregon 017


7-14-14 Oregon 018


7-14-14 Oregon 020


Hiding from the TREX.
Hiding from the TREX.
Sniffing my head.
Sniffing my head.

7-14-14 Oregon 028

7-14-14 Oregon 032


7-14-14 Oregon 033


7-14-14 Oregon 034


7-14-14 Oregon 036


The boys spent an hour building. Happy hour for me!
The boys spent an hour building. Happy hour for me!


Mt Shasta

In support of Owen’s homeschooling and our education on the go mentality, my good friend from La Grande Oregon created this informational article. Thank you Lee Ann Forrester!

7-10-14 Hedge Creek Falls 007

Mt. Shasta is a steep-sided stratovolcano peak, 4,317 m (14,162 ft) high, at the southern tip of Cascade Range about 97 km (60 mi) north of Redding, CA . It was discovered in 1827. It still has a sulfur spring near the summit. It is the largest of the Cascade Range volcanoes. Mount Shasta contains 5 glaciers and 4 distinct overlapping cones. Mt. Rainier in Washington State is the only volcano higher in the Cascade Range. The mountain’s glaciers hold the headwaters of the Sacramento River.

Shasta formed on the remnants of an older volcano that collapsed around 300,000-500,000 years ago. The collapse of that older volcano caused one of the largest landslides known to have happened on earth, covering 170 miles of the Shasta Valley. Black Butte and Shastina were built about 11,000 yag. In more recent times eruptions have happened out of vents on the volcano’s summit and upper east flank. The USGS believes that the volcano last erupted within a period of the last 200-300 years. By looking at the eruptions through geological records it is believed that Shasta averages at least on eruption every 800 to 600 years. Seismic activity on the mountain has been low in recent time.

Humans were first known to be in the area about 7000 yag and by 5000 yag there was a large human habitation of the surrounding area. Europeans first made contact in the 1820s. The tribes at that time were Shasta, Okwanuchu, Modoc, Achomawi, Atsugew, Karuk, Kalmath, Wintu and Uana tribes. The eruption of Shasta in historic times happened in 1786. The first substantiated sighting of Mount Shasta by those of European descent was Peter Skene Ogdon of the Hudson Bay Company in 1826.Shasta became a major landmark on the Siskiyou Trail. The trail was an ancient trade route for Native Americans between the Central Valley of California and the Pacific Northwest. The Union Pacific built in the area of the trail and now I-5 closely follows it. John Muir summated the peak in 1877. He survived a blizzard on Shasta by lying in a hot spring near the summit.

Mt. Shasta is considered a spiritual landmark by several Native American tribes. The Klamath Tribes believe that Shasta holds the spirit of Skell, the spirit of the above world. They believe that Skell fought with the Spirit of the Below World Llao who lives within Mount Mazama home to Crater Lake.

Non Native legends hold that an advanced continent of Lemuria lay beneat the volcano. Mt Shasta is a center for New Age beliefs today.

1. Do you remember what a stratovolcano is?
2. Can you find the names of the 5 main glaciers on Shasta?
3. What could possibly explain the fight between Skell and Llao? (geologically)


MEMORABLE MOMENTS during our stay at Dunsmuir and Mt Shasta area.

Memorable moments: Owen riding his bike around the campground.
Memorable moments: Owen riding his bike around the campground.
7-11 Dunsmuir
Memorable Moments: Swimming on a hot day at Dunsmuir Community Pool.


Memorable Moments: Discovering a waterfall and a cavern at Hedge Creek Falls.
Memorable Moments: Discovering a waterfall and a cavern at Hedge Creek Falls.



Turtle Bay, Redding CA











We surprised Owen with this outing. Turtle Bay is an aquarium, science and botanical garden. If it weren’t such a warm day, we would have explored the gardens.

6-29-14 Turtle  Bay
Owen was fascinated by the Sun Dial bridge. We watched the kayakers on the river below.

6-29-14 Turtle  Bay (4)

6-29-14 Turtle  Bay (7)
We wore stripes to match…

6-29-14 Turtle  Bay (5)


6-29-14 Turtle  Bay (8)

6-29-14 Turtle  Bay (13)

We're skipping along.
We’re skipping along.


Making friends wherever we go...
Making friends wherever we go…

6-29-14 Turtle  Bay (17)