Monday, August 7, 2017

Crane Beach - Aug 6

Camps and vacation were crowded right against school getting out this summer, so we hadn't had a beach day, yet. We're running out of time!

We've discovered that it can be fun to go late in the afternoon. The parking lot is emptying out by then and we can park right up front with no stress. The beach is also emptying out so there's plenty of space. And we get some wonderful light for photographs (although a little intense in tonight's photos!).

It was not quite hot enough for most of us to swim, but Charlotte swam a lot and loved it.

We'll go for a proper beach day in the next few weeks.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Seattle/Richland Vacation 2017

Last week we returned from our annual pilgrimage to our respective homelands.

We spent the first four days in Seattle and visited a lot with John's parents and sisters. We enjoyed dinner with Grandma Kay and Grandpa Doug and Aunt Betsy almost every night. We also had a reunion dinner with a great circle of friends from Seattle, including Kathy and Mark and their kids in town from Myanmar. This whole circle of friends met when none of us had kids; now we all have teenagers.

This year Audrey flew to Seattle two weeks before the rest of us and attended Hidden Valley Camp. John worked there as a counselor for two summers in college: 1981 and 1982. We drove to camp to pick up Audrey a few days after we arrived. The camp is still run by the same family and it was great to see them again, and to revisit camp. Audrey definitely wants to go back next year, and Charlotte is considering it.

The next morning we had breakfast with John's sister Tricia and her husband Frank. John's sisters and Frank are building a house together in Puyallup, to sell. We visited it when it was nearing completion. Tricia and Frank are also selling their current home in Puyallup and moving to Yakima. The girls helped them out by mowing their lawn with their riding lawn mower.

Then we headed over the Cascades to Richland to stay with Carol's parents. Richland is always very relaxing. We watched the entire 5 hour broadcast of the Tour de France every day (some of it through eyelids). Carol played cards with her parents every evening. And we had two wonderful boat outings on the Columbia River, one of which was with Carol's childhood friend Kim and her family. It's the second straight year we've done that and it might need to become a tradition.

One thing that does seem to have become a tradition is driving back to Seattle via Chinook Pass. It's a "minor" pass over the mountains that is closed in winter. It's very scenic, and there is a 3-mile loop hike that leaves from the summit that is very pretty. The kids thought it was a death march this year, but they survived.

Back in Seattle we turned into tourists for three days. We visited the Museum of Flight, Alki Beach and Pegasus Pizza, the Pike Place Market and the University of Washington.

We also enjoyed a lovely backyard feast with Carol's brother Bob, his wife Torii and cousin Alex and his wife Jade. Bob and Torii are foodies and the vittles are always fantastic. This year it was steamed clams and cowboy steaks - huge steaks that take special preparation and then everyone carves off what they want.

On our last day the girls got to swim in Greenlake, which is always a must.

This vacation felt nice and long, which is always a good sign. And by the end we were ready to head home.

But man, was it fun.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Winter Vacation 2017

Picacho Peak

Hey, it has only taken me a month to post the photos form our winter vacation in California, Arizona and New Mexico!

We flew to Los Angeles and arrived in the evening. We picked up our freakishly cheap rental car ($77 total for a week!) and hit the road for my parents' winter home in Palm Desert, arriving there about 10:30pm.

The girls had a great time hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa and Aunt Betsy, as they always do. Grandma and Aunt Betsy love to take them shopping for clothes. This year we made sure to arrive with suitcase space to spare. They filled it.

We celebrated both girls' birthdays with their favorite Grandma dinners: spaghetti for Audrey and Lasagna for Charlotte. And for a bonus, Grandma made a Thanksgiving dinner! It's also a tradition for us to go to The Old Spaghetti Factory so we did that, too.

Our trip is usually the week preceding the Oscars, so Carol and I try to go to as many nominated movies as we can. This year we saw Lion, Passengers, Arrival and Manchester by the Sea.

After five days we drove to Tucson to stay with Carol's parents. Carol and I love the five-hour drive across the desert. The kids tolerate it with devices and a wifi hotspot. We make them look out the window every once in a while. We also play a game where we guess the distance to the next mountain range. The girls are getting pretty good at it!

In Tucson we spend a lot of time relaxing. That's always very welcome.

This year we took a bonus trip. In the early 80s I became friends with Barry, a coworker at Boeing, and his partner Rabih. Two years ago they retired and moved to Las Cruces, NM, where Barry went to college. Last year they built a custom home in the hills overlooking the city and the Rio Grande valley. During our visit to Tucson in 2016, Barry & Rabih came to Tucson and they and Carol's dad and us all went to Kitt Peak Observatory and we all went to a lovely dinner. We pledged to visit them in NM in 2017.

We rented a minivan so we could all make the four-hour trip in one vehicle.Once in Las Cruces we had a delicious lunch at Las Posta de Mesilla, a restaurant in what was once a stagecoach station. Then we headed to La Cueva, a BLM property that was previously the site of a sanatorium, and also housed a hermit for many years in the namesake cave. After that we returned to their house for a wonderful dinner.

In the morning, after another delicious home-cooked meal, we drove east about an hour to the White Sands National Monument. We rented sledding discs from the gift shop and had hours of fun sliding down the white sand dunes. It's a spectacular place. Great vistas and sparkling light. The weather was perfect - warm enough for t-shirts but not broiling. White Sands was a highlight of the vacation for the girls.

We had a couple of days left after returning to Tucson. We went to the go-karts and laser tag place and had fun. And this year all four of us hiked Picacho Peak. Carol and Charlotte had never been past half way, but this year we all made it to the top. Charlotte loved the cables and catwalks and did very well.

Then it was back home to winter in Boston. Although Boston had been having a warm spell and on at least one day it was warmer in Boston than where we were!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Christmas 2016

We had a wonderful Christmas at home.

The girls noticed this year that as they get older, their gifts get more expensive and therefore there are fewer of them.

Santa brought an Xbox One and some new games. They've enjoyed that.

Audrey got a huge LEGO kit: the 2500-piece Parisian Restaurant. She spent the next couple of days assembling it.

Charlotte's big gift was a Chromebook all her own. It's a small one like she wanted. Bonus features are a screen that folds all the way over into a tablet, and a touch screen.

Carol received the Apple Watch she asked for, in pink. She loves it! Now she gets my texts on her wrist. She can even make phone calls on it - the Dick Tracy wristwatch phone is reality!

I got some great shirts: one for work and a couple of nice casual winter shirts; a wonderful book titled "The Eighth Day of Creation" about the birth of molecular biology; a science kit to do with the girls; and a bunch of other wonderful things. Thanks, Santa!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Charlotte Turns 11

Can you believe we have two tweens now? We can't!

Charlotte turned 11 at the end of November. These are photos from her first party with just family, at home. And from her second birthday party, with friends, that included an outing to play laser tag.