Flagstaff Trip

Lots going on this month. My father unexpectedly had open heart surgery – and he’s doing amazing in his recovery! He’s walking nine miles each day, getting stronger every day. The kids had the first two weeks of the month off (well, Sophia had only one week). We decided to explore Flagstaff for a couple of days, with a few days in Phoenix to visit family.

 

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We stayed in a little cabin at the Flagstaff KOA. It was tiny – a bed with two bunk beds, a small fridge and microwave. That’s it! It worked for us. The weather did not quite cooperate…it rained our entire trip. There went our plans to visit Wupatki National Monument and other outdoor hiking spots. Even with the rain, we had fun – in fact – any weather other than HOT was fantastic.

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We visited a couple of breweries in town. The Lumberyard Brewery had tasty food to go with their tasty beers. The Lowell Observatory didn’t have any hands-on activities for kids, other than watching a short film. We decided not to visit. We also visited Beaver Street Brewery after working up an appetite at the park during a lull in the rain, which was more like a restaurant than a brewery. But it was good too!2015-10-05 16.52.18

We ate breakfast at Crown Railroad Cafe one morning. Yummy pancakes and lots of trains!

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And we watched the many trains roll through town. Endless fun for the kids…2015-10-06 17.05.26

We stopped on the way back to Phoenix to visit my grandparents.

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And then back to Phoenix to celebrate my Mom’s birthday! It was so good to see everyone!

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PNW: The Journey Home

Jon flew home from our PNW trip that day after Sophia’s birthday. We began the journey on Monday, heading for Eugene. We stayed at the Armitage Park campground in Eugene. We met up that afternoon with friends we had made three years prior when we were last in Eugene. It was sweet to see everyone – and see how much older all the kids were. Gabe was only six months old last time! The camp ground was lovely, although our spot had little shade when we pulled in at 2pm. Luckily, I quickly set up the tent, and we went off to a park to see our friends and get frozen yogurt!

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The next day we headed for Mt. Shasta. I was worried a bit, since it began to rain on our drive there. We were going to camp again in the tent. Luckily, at the Mount Shasta KOA, they upgraded us to a two room cabin right next to the bathrooms. I managed to unload our stuff just before it began to pour! We settle in to wait a bit, and then during a brief hiatus from the rain, we went out for pizza. We ended up staying there for a couple of hours before leaving in the middle of a downpour. I am so grateful for the upgrade to the cabin – I still don’t want to imagine camping in a tent in a downpour after driving for five hours with two miserable kids!

 

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Next up, we headed south of Sacramento to the Brannan Island Campground, located in the Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta area. We have the campground practically to ourselves, which was good since the kids were exhausted. The kids were tired of the long drives, and so was I. They were able to ride their bikes, and I could unwind. We had one more day of long driving to reach our two-day rest place: Morro Bay.

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We stayed at the Morro Dunes RV Park, which is right across from the beach and the Morro Rock. The community had put in lovely bike and pedestrian paths since we last visited. After our respite on the beach, we walked along the boardwalk to our dinner at Tognazzini’s Dockside Too, a fish market right on the dock. We watched the seals and seagulls while being serenaded by a banjo player. It was pretty fun! After running errands, we spent the next day at the beach. By late afternoon, we were ready for some frozen yogurt and pizza!

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Our next stop was Playa del Reyes, where our friends Anne-Marie and her family live. We stayed for two nights. The kids hadn’t seen each other since last June, so they were all excited to see each other. It was lovely to catch up with my old friend. Not that we are old! The next day, more friends joined us: Trinka and her family, and my friend Drew biked over. We played at the beach.  Sophia learned to boogie board, and I tried surfing. We had a fantastic time – for our last day at the beach. Sad to say goodbye, both to our friends and the beach! We spend about 24 days at the beach this summer!

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Our last long drive was to Phoenix to see my sister, niece, and Mom. It was a good end to our trip, since we started out our trip with them. We stayed at my sister’s house and swam in the pool. It was hot! It still is in fact.

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Olympic Peninsula

Jon flew in for twelve days. We picked him up and headed for the nearest ferry to Bainbridge Island. We explored the cute town, and stayed in Fey Bainbridge, a park right on the water. The next day, we headed up to the Olympic Peninsula to visit Port Townsend, Sequim Bay, the Dungeness Spit, and of course the Olympic National Park. We visited Lake Crescent, hiked Marymere Falls, and played on the Juan de Fuca straight. It was a much needed time for our family together.

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The Redwoods

After a long drive, we made it to Benbow. We stayed at the Benbow KOA, which is part of the historic Inn on the Eel River. The KOA had a pool, showers and restrooms, a playground, and laundry. Perfect for the kids and me!

We drove the Avenue of the Giants until the visitor’s center. After checking out the center, we took a short hike down to the Eel River. Words cannot describe these massive trees. You feel so miniscule in comparison. They have interesting shapes (due to the forest fires they experienced), and after reading the kids this book so many times, they really loved it.

We drove a bit further down the Avenue to another short hiking spot. After our lunch, we explored the many fallen giants. A must visit!

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Julian

We spent ten days in Julian. We didn’t plan to do anything – except play and spend time together. It was fantastic not to plan every day out in advance. The kids played in the kid’s club area, doing crafts all morning and playing outside in the bouncy house. After lunch, we’d swim and do other crafts at our cabin. The days just had a nice flow to them.

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We did visit Dudley’s bakery in Santa Ysabel, as well as the Academy of Hand Weaving. We also explored downtown Julian, but the favorite place by far there was Mom’s Pie. The kids had pie and ice cream – and were ready for more swimming afterwards. Julian also has a lovely little library, where the kids read lots of books. We ate lots of pizza from Romano’s Italian restaurant – where Sophia lost her second tooth. We even took a train ride and panned for gold! And a trip to Julian wouldn’t be complete without a visit or two to the local brewery!

 

I taught the kids how to weave. It was fun to see them learning to do something I really enjoy. Even Gabe weaved – I made him a nature loom and placed some string on it. He did weave for a short bit, but cast it aside for a handmade bow and arrow made out of twigs and string. And of course, there was sewing! I made a rope basket and dresses for the girls.

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My mom and niece were with us for a week. The kids had a great time together – and I really enjoyed having time alone with my mom. Jon joined us for a couple of days, and brought Lucy too.

 

Julian was just lovely. I hope the rest of our journey is as much fun and relaxing.

Summer Road Trip

My sister-in-law finally moved to the States from Germany in January to join my brother in Washington. I really want to spend  a decent amount of time with both of them, so I thought about going to visit this summer for several weeks (provided they wouldn’t get sick of having two kids in the house!) I figured we’d take a couple of trips while we were there to give them a break from us too. So, the question became: do we drive or fly?

Flying means renting a car, adding to the expense of the trip. Driving means driving with two kids over 1,500 miles. Jon can’t take as much time away from his work… so I’d be alone. With two kids. Driving 1,500+ miles. Do I dare?

I thought about it. It does sound crazy, but in a fun, summer-time adventure sort of way. I made a few rules, like driving no more than 5 hours a day (and sometimes less than that), so we could explore the areas we were visiting. We would camp out, to save on money, and besides – kids plus camping should equal fun, right?

Well, we decided to do it! First stop, Julian, CA! We’ll be here for ten days. My mom and niece will join us for a week.

You can follow along on our adventures here and on instagram.

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