Sunday, September 11

Washington Week Two: On The Road

Our second week of vacation was spent traveling around Washington in our truck and camper.  I had forgotten how much I love our camper!  Rewind a bit to life before Alaska and before kids.  Scott bought the truck when he graduated from college and moved to Alaska the first time.  He moved home a year later, and bought the camper a year or so after that.  We used it fairly frequently.  He worked construction, so summer camping was nearly impossible but we were able to camp in the fall and winter.  The camper was perfect--mostly loaded all the time, throw some food in it and hit the road.  Dry in the rain, warm in the cold.  We even honeymooned in it!  Then came two kids in two years.  We took Kelsey as an infant, but toddlers and campers 4 feet off the ground terrified me so we parked it.  We last used it in February of 2009--we spent a night in it 12 miles from home because Kelsey was 3 and infatuated by the idea of camping (Thank you "Micky Mouse and Goofy and the Big Bear Scare"!).

Fast forward to the summer of 2016.  We lived in this thing for a week and it was SO MUCH FUN!!  The girls are the perfect age for this!  We all had fun schlepping across the state with our shelter on our backs.  It was so easy to have our clothes and food with us.

Our first stop was Kennewick. My dad's two sisters live there with many of their kids and grandkids.  Since we had missed the family reunion in July as well as the 2015 reunion, we wanted to catch up with people.  Scott and I were so glad we made this stop!  We spent two days and nights in Kennewick.  The girls got to meet many cousins they hadn't met before or didn't remember meeting.  They got to form relationships with my aunts and uncles and hear stories about my grandparents that were different from the ones they hear from my dad or me.  My aunts and uncles organized two big family meals and several outings for us. We could not have asked for better hospitality!

While we were there we also visited The Reach which was quite an experience!  I grew up with all of this just a few hours away and had no idea!  I learned so much about the Manhattan Project in Washington.  The deep patriotism of that era still impresses me.  Whether you agree with nuclear weaponry or not, it is hard to argue that the sense of unity in the US was deep.

Leaving Kennewick we stopped in in Moxee to visit Scott's cousins.  They have three small kiddos in the heart of hops country.  It was fun to swing by and visit them and get to know them better.  They have a big backyard with a pool and a trampoline, so the girls made themselves right at home.  Passing through Yakima we visited the famous Miner's .  Somehow we had never visited there in our 4 years driving back and forth from Ellensburg to Washougal & Battle Ground.  It was fantastic...and HUGE!   Here is Scott packaging up our leftovers to store in the camper.

When you're in Eastern Washington you stop at a fruit stand.  If you're in Yakima you stop at THE fruit stand.  It's what you do!

Then you smile because no one else like Aplets and Cotlets so you get to eat them all yourself!  And there's antiques...and Pyrex...Andrea's happy zone right here, folks!

One person's antique is another person's day-to-day trash can.  We are still using these quite effectively at our school.  Maybe we are sitting on a goldmine??

We continued on into Ellensburg that afternoon.

Pictures cannot show the depth of beauty as you enter the Kittitas Valley.  The patchwork of fields separated by strips of asphalt. The Ellensburg water tower in the distance.  It moves me, even 20 years later!

We swung by Jerrol's which was the off campus bookstore when Scott and I were in college.  Since actual college textbooks are apparently a thing of the past, the inventory there looked a bit different.  We picked up sweatshirts for the girls, a shirt for me, and a hat for Scott.  I envisioned a pic of us rocking our CWU gear, but that hasn't happened yet!

We drove around campus, but the kids were too tired by this point to get out and hike around much.  These are from other points on the trip, but you get the idea.  Something about that Cummins diesel just lulls them to sleep!

That evening we went to Roslyn, where Scott and I had our first date 20 years prior.  We ate at Village Pizza and walked around a bit.

We spent the night at the Eagle Valley Campground in nearby Cle Elum.  It was truly a hidden gem--I'd highly recommend it if you're in the area.  The kids loved eating breakfast in the camper.  It's the little things!

The next day we headed over the pass and through Seattle.  We purposely took I-5 through Seattle, just so the kids could see and experience it.  We got stopped in traffic and everything...they weren't so impressed with that part, but they did like seeing the city out the window.  We stopped in Olympia to visit an old friend of Scott's who is now a Catholic priest.  It was so fun to catch up with him!  We also found a Sonic...

From Olympia we headed up to Mt. St. Helens.  We covered some ground!  It was late in the afternoon, but we pushed through and made it up to the mountain that night.

We got to Johnston Ridge after the visitor's center had closed for the day and needed to leave the next morning before we could get back up and back so we had to settle for some signs and an interpretive walk.  Luckily the signs were great and Scott and I have enough knowledge about the eruption and the area to make it meaningful for the kids.  We left planning to pop back up some time when we are down visiting.  It is really not far from Battle Ground, so an easy day trip.  We spent the night in Castle Rock and headed for the beach the next morning.  Our first stop was at Fort Stevens State Park.  It was a great experience!  We paid for the truck tour which is provided and hosted by the Friends of Fort Stevens State Park group.  The truck tour and the friends volunteers made the visit for us.  They made the experience memorable and connected it to history so well for the girls.  I vaguely remember visiting Fort Stevens as a kid, but I didn't remember that it had its beginning during the Civil War.  A deep history!

The base jail was another highlight.  The volunteers there were outstanding as well!

Ft. Stevens is also home to the wreck of the Peter Iredale which we visited.  Sadly people were climbing all over it, so I didn't take any pictures of it.  Here we are on the beach, though!

It was a beautiful afternoon in the park!  From there we headed north to Ocean Park to meet up with Scott's sister and her husband along with his parents at the beach house.  I'll tell you all about it next time!

Monday, September 5

Washington Week One--with the Godwins

We left early on the morning of August 2 and arrived in Washington just before lunch.  Following tradition, we ate at the Camas DQ, saying hello to our good friend who owns the place.  We spent the next couple of days having fun at my parents house.  They moved into a new house in February of 2015, so it was fun to see the place in real life!

We went on some runs with Uncle Kael...

And spent lots of time with all of the pups.  And the kitty!

That weekend we all went camping at Swift Reservoir.  We arrived on Friday night and set up camp.  Scott put our old friend the camper on our truck and the four of stayed in there. Uncle Carl and his pup had a tent, Kael, Kirstyn, and their pup had a tent, and Grandma and Grandpa and their pup had a tent.  We towed up Scott's dad's boat and my folks brought their boat as well.  Saturday we lounged around camp while it warmed up, then hit the water.  After we had some coffee from this fun machine of Uncle Carl's!

We also had our first pie iron experience...what fun!  We'll have to add a couple of irons to our AK camping gear, I think.  I must have been pie iron pics!

We did some swimming, some skiing, some jumping and lots of snacking!

That night we roasted hot dogs for dinner and Kelsey got to use a pocket knife for the first time...

Tired kids, cooking dinner...

We also made some s'mores that night.  The next day we packed up and headed home.  Just as we left the campground some sprinkles found us.  Perfect timing!  On the way back to my folks' house we stopped and dropped the boat off at Scott's parents where Stacy rigged up this setup...

A few more special images from our time in Washougal...

Sleeping under this quilt that my grandma made for my mom.  Listening to my mom point out patches of fabric and tell the girls about the garments represented.

Watching the girls try on this pioneer dress that was my mom's when she was younger.  I played with it as a kid and these kids loved it, too!  It may be making a Halloween appearance...

And this funny moment when Scott and I went to pick up my wedding ring from the jewler's and we each picked a snack...we laughed!

I'll be back (soon I hope!) to tell you about week 2 of our trip...on the road!

Sunday, September 4

Catching Up!

Hello there!  It's been a while since I posted here...don't worry, Whittier hasn't been swallowed by the ocean!  We were gone most of August and returned two days before school started, so it's been a bit of a whirlwind around here.

First things first.  We're back in school!  Life has sped up a bit and these girls have been very helpful as we've gotten back into our school year routine.

We have also started gymnastics up again, so that takes us to town every Saturday morning.  We are at a new gym this year, mainly for scheduling reasons.  The girls are very happy there so far!  Kelsey has progressed to the intermediate class while Stacy has some skills to work on in her beginner class.  Their classes are held at the same time with different coaches.  There are several other classes happening at the same time as well, but the gym is large and coaches have a way of spreading kids around so they get practice on a variety of skills without classes being right on top of each other.

That's what we're up to!  I'll be back to soon to write about our time in Washington...