Thursday, August 4, 2016

Packing it ALL in!

We have been packing in the SUMMER FUN!  My sister Cathie and her six kids came to town for two weeks in July.  My kids love their cousins so much and we try to capitalize on every moment they are here.  I find it easier to plan outings and go do fun activities than to be at home cleaning up messes and trying to manage chaos.  We kicked off the two week "stay-cation" at one of our very favorite places, my Uncle Gordon and Aunt Anna's Hide-Away.  It never disappoints!!

We had planned to spend two days there for our family reunion.  When none of the extended family was available to come on Friday I decided to take advantage of the reservation and invite a few of our friends.  It was as fun as always!

Every six years my mom is in charge of the Romer Family Reunion.  This was her year and we had a redneck theme at the redneck "pool" and waterslide.  The Coombs ended up spending the night in the airport in Phonex, but we were so excited when they made it!  My kids constantly ask when they will be able to see their cousins.

My Aunt Lola brought candy bars to the reunion and the kids lined up to tell her who they were so they could get a treat.  Even the big kids (Shane) lined up.

Family reunions are so fun!  I love my cousins, and I love watching my kids get to know their second cousins.  Ali, Kate and Cali 

I had a long list of activities to keep us busy.  We packed it in!!  We took our Second Annual trip to Bear Lake.  It turned out awesome!!  The kids really wanted to get the water tramp and we were able to accommodate after a string of good luck.  The little ones enjoy the sandy beach and the bigger kids loved the tramp.  

Caleb was even a good sport about the girls dumping Bear Lake ice water in his "hot tub". 

We were lucky enough to take our friends kayaks.  They were super fun.  Johnny loved walking out and pulling people to shore.  

I especially love this picture because these are the cousins that will go to first grade this year.  
Ali, Kate and Dax

Another day, the first week we had a hotdog and marshmallow roast up Providence Canyon.  The kids LOVED going for rides on my moms 4-Wheeler.  Going up to the waterfall is always a fun ride! 

Another evening we went to the Aquatic Center to a fun party thrown by my dentist and our good friend, Dave Gordon.  It isn't every day that you get to hang out at the pool with Big Blue. 

The Coombs went with the other side of the family for the weekend and we continued to fill every moment with family fun!!  For the 24th of July we always help Josh's parents with a Navajo Taco Stand.  It is a ton of work, but the kids enjoy it.  Josh broke his back this year and hasn't been walking well ever sense.  Josh's sister Christina's husband, Ross's, family was here from Scotland so it was awesome to see them!

I also had a dear college friend and roommate, Laura, come to town for Connecticut.  It was so fun to see her and her family and have dinner at my friend Andrea's. 

Things didn't go quite as well the second week that the Coombs were with us.  First, our air conditioner quite working over the weekend.  The end of July is not the time to loose the air conditioner!  We were so grateful to get a new one up and running mid-week.  In the mean time I got REALLY sick!  I was in bed for a couple of days with body aches that were more intense than I've ever experienced before. I took two trips to instacare on Tuesday and my nephew, Dax, took one and found out that both bones in the calf area of his leg had been broken for 24 hours.   Needless to say week two got off to a slow start, but we were able to fit in some fun! 

We borrowed our neighbors bubble machine and giant slip and slide and spent an afternoon playing in our back yard. 

Cara and Emi are 10 and 11 and still love to bath together.  They were even playing my little ponies in the tub.  I love that they are so helpful but still little girls.

While we were home managing the craziness Caleb and my nephew Colter went on a four day handcart trek to Martens cove and one day they did a 15 mile trek over Rocky Ridge.  They left at 4:45 AM so the pictures are a little dark, but they had an incredible experience.  It was hard and hot, but they felt the spirt, they loved the food, and they learned that they could do hard things. 

Caleb is pictured here telling about the hand cart pioneer that he trekked in honor of, George Marshal.  He was the 4-year-old son of his 5th great grandmother Sarah Goode Marshal Chadwick who with his 5 sisters and widowed mother entered the Salt Lake Vally via handcart in the first great handcart company.  

The cousins just loved being together.  There were plenty of beds and bedrooms, but multiple nights the kids slept like this.  They were awesome about not waking each other up. (They know if they woke each other then they wouldn't be able to sleep together again) This is the six year olds and the three year olds. Ali, Katie, Lena, and John

Our time with the Coombs ended with a big bang, with the Preston Night Rodeo and parade.  Friday night is the night we get tickets to the Rodeo and go all out.  My mom even got the kids matching cloths.  They were adorable.  Caleb and Colter got home just in time to join us!  

The Preston parade is a kids dream with tons of candy!  Even though Friday was our big night we still hit the parade Thursday and Saturday as well.

At this moment I was watching all of the children.  I followed them to go see the live stock.  I was really proud of myself for getting this picture with no other adult help! 

By the time the Coombs left on Sunday afternoon we were totally exhausted. There is some excitement though as we begin our 10 day "dog-sitting" experience fore the summer.  Our neighbors have one of the best mannered, kids dog I've ever known.  She LOVES the kids, she doesn't jump, nip or bark so we are going to enjoy having a dog for a couple of weeks. I'm hoping the experience satisfies my kids obsession with getting a dog. I think dog-sitting a well mannered dog is really the way to go. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Olympic National Park

We spent that night before heading into the park at Deception Pass State Park.  We got there at sunset and had our fairy scheduled for first thing in the morning.  We wish we would have planned more time there.  Taking the bridges and the view around Fidalgo Island and Rosario Beach were incredible.  We only had time to drive through so we could get camp set up before dark, but the drive was incredible.  The kids were all glued to the windows.  We loved it!!

We were moving again the next morning before the kids woke up to get to the fairy.  We took the RV from Fort Casey to Port Townsend on a fairy to get to the Olympic Peninsula.  The kids LOVED it! 

Leaving early in the morning gave us time to explore Olympic National Park all day.  We went to Hurracane Ridge where we viewed glaciers through telescopes and saw wild life that didn’t seem so wild. Hurracane Ridge is a really scenic and steep drive.  We were above the clouds on the mountaintop. 

Lake Creasent was along the way and we stopped to jump in of course.  The beauty is indescribable.  

Our final adventure for the day was Sol Doc Falls.  It was about a mile hike through the rain forest to some beautiful falls.  The girls stopped every few minutes to ask for a picture.  It was really incredible.  It amazes me how it is so fertile that trees grow out of trees. 

I am a hug fan of daisy's and I loved that there were wild daisy's growing everywhere! 

Our camp ground for the next two nights was incredible.  We were parked about 100 yards from the shore at Quileute Oceanside Resort.  The amazing thing about the resort is that it is a tiny strip of Indian reservation between two incredible beaches in the national park.  We had full hookups with beauty of practically being in the park. 

One of the highlights of the trip for me was having campfires on the beach.  That was new to me, and I loved it.  I’ll admit, the north west coast is not an annual destination for me.  I prefer warm air and warm water, but it was incredibly beautiful.  For people who prefer to stay out of the water I can see how they would enjoy sitting on the beach listening to the waves crash at a pleasant 60-70 degree temperature.  For me I’d like the air and the water to be about 20 degrees warmer so I can get in.  The cold air and practical ice water didn’t deter the kids.  They got right in! 

When you camp on the coast of a rain forest I guess you should expect rain, and it did rain on our “day off” at the coast.  It was mildly inconvenient because we still hiked to 2nd beach and enjoyed more of the beauty of the rain forest.  We rested and watched some moves and still enjoyed exploring the beach.  It was the one-day of the trip that I didn’t feel that our schedule was full to the max.  It was good to catch up on laundry and enjoy some down time. I need to remember to plan a little more down time in my future road trip planning.

The rain forest grows big critters!  This slug was bigger than my hand!

On our way out of Olympic National Park we spent some time at Ruby beach.  It was well worth the stop.  We bribed the kids to not get wet so we had fun exploring rather than playing in the water. 

Our final stop in the park was to see this 1000-year-old humongous sitka spruce tree near Lake Quinault.  It was incredible.  The scenery and the magic of the rain forest did not get old for us.

We left Washington and headed into Oregon via this bridge that is just over four miles long.  Crossing the bridge was an event itself, but just after crossing we went to the to the Astoria Column where we enjoyed some incredible views of the Columbia River, the Coast Range, and Young’s Bay.  It was windy, but worth the time!

We didn’t realize we would be so close to the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park so it wasn’t in our schedule, but we took an hour or so to stop and see the replica of the fort where the Lewis and Clark team spent the winter before heading east.  We could have spent a lot longer there.  The fort was interesting, but the best part was that they had rangers dressed in time period clothing to answer questions.  The kids tried writing with real quill pens and ink.  It was quite the skill.

Personally I can’t stand the movie Goonies, but Josh is a HUGE fan and showed an edited version to the kids the night before we visited Cannon Beach, where part of the movie was filmed.  Cannon beach was the busiest place we visited the entire trip.  Of course it was 4th of July weekend, which probably contributed.  It was a beautiful beach, but the fun thing there was that we saw hundreds of Jelly Fish. 

We loved spending the nights of July 3rd and 4th at the Shorewood RV Park just outside of Rockaway Beach.  Once again we were a 60 second walk from the beach, and the caretakers of the RV Park were so good to us.  They let the kids choose from dollar store toys to keep every day.  They had beach toys for us to use and a fun picnic aria near the beach. 

Our first evening there the kids couldn’t get out to the water fast enough.  The groundkeeper was out there flying his kite and let our family take over.  Caleb and Josh especially loved flying the kite.  We also got out our bikes and rode them on the beach.  It worked quite well on the wet sand.  Andy loved hitting his brakes and falling off.  It was a beautiful evening.   It felt like and evening that would be straight from the movies. 

Caleb is so good at making friends with people.  He was particularly interested in kites so he struck up a conversation with two men flying kites.  It wasn’t long before he was flying one of their kites and after a while one of the men gave him a kite that needed a little string work.  Josh and Caleb had it up and going in no time. Caleb’s friendliness will likely get him far in life.  He and the rest of the family loved the kite for the rest of the day. 

We spontaneously decided to rent a boat and go crabbing on the morning of the 4th of July.  We had the boat for two hours and caught nearly a hundred crab.  Unfortunately they had to be male’s and quite big to keep.  We got a lot that were within ¼ inch of being big enough, but only one true keeper.  We did get to eat the keeper.  Cara was excited about it.  She held his bucket, licking her lips most of the morning.  We also saw two beautiful bald eagles and a beach of seals.  It was a really awesome way to spend the holiday morning. 

We spent the afternoon with my lifelong BFF, Misty and her husband Chad Bingham.  They only live about 90 minutes from where we were so they brought their family and joined us in some beach fun.  I regret that I only have these two pictures with their family.  Here our hubbies and kids were building a racetrack in the sand while Misty and I visited.  Everyone was so content.  They also played line tag in the sand, buried people, dug holes and enjoyed a little sunshine. 

The Bingham’s left around dinnertime so we spent the evening as a family.  I LOVED watching fireworks on the beach.  The air was a little too cool for me so we started a fire and roasted marshmallows while we watched fireworks as far as we could see in both directions.  It was really incredible.  People spare no expense in their personal firework shows and we were the benefactors. 

I felt like a trip to the Oregon coast wouldn’t be complete without some tide pooling.  We weren’t in a location to see the best of it, but we got up early enough on our final day to see many starfish at low tide.  It was just one final adventure at the beach. 

On our way out we passed the Tillamook Cheese Factory where they have self guided tours and samples.  We weren’t in a hurry so we stopped and enjoyed watching some of the cheese making process through glass walls.  Once again we benefited from having the RV by getting three quarts of ice cream and eating ice cream three times on the way home rather than getting a scoop each for twice the price. 

The scariest part of our adventure happened on our way home at the Columbia River Gorge.  It was the 5th of July and the waterfall parking lots were packed.  The roads were at a stand still and we learned the hard way that the bridges are not made big enough for two RV’s to pass.  Luckily the only damage we experienced was our mirror being pulled off.  I stopped and pulled as close to the edge as I could but the guy passing us scrapped along the edge on the other side the whole way.  It was quite the adventure.  We did luckily find a parking spot and went on a little hike to see some falls.  It was good to shake off the jitters.  

That night we treated ourselves to a beautiful Italian dinner on the Columbia River to celebrate our anniversary and our safe travels.  What a wonderful trip!!

We were all ready to see our friends and to get some rest when we returned home on the 6th.  July 6th was also our 14th wedding anniversary.  I will be the first to say how grateful I am for my marriage, for the dedicated husband and father that Josh is and for the way we are living our dreams together.  I feel blessed beyond measure!!