Archive for Adventures!

Pictures from our trip to AZ and CA – batch 1

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Step count has passed 5!

At the Seattle Gymnastics Academy indoor playground this afternoon. She randomly took a few steps earlier, and did this right before the hour was up. Peer pressure, I tell ya!

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Merry Christmas!

It’s been a while since we’ve had a high-res picture post, so I’m taking this opportunity – after everyone has gone to bed – to put one together.  First, a brief synopsis of our crazy week.

Christmas this year started the Saturday before Christmas, when we celebrated with my family.  Annie had a great time unwrapping presents for around 3 minutes before losing attention and deciding that the basket of toys was more interesting.  A few pieces of brightly-colored crinkly paper later, and she was back and interested in the new toys that were waiting for her.  Her favorite present was the set of large blocks from my parents.

After presents and dinner, the three of us (including the very not tired, but mostly happy, baby) drove around a bit looking at Christmas lights before said not-tired baby became VERY NOT TIRED baby and entered what we like to call the “meltdown stage.”  This is usually preceded by a brief period of silence which we call the “windup stage,” followed by large quantities of fussing.

On Thursday, we trekked up to my parents’ in the late afternoon.  I finished baking cookies for the bell choir while my parents ensured that Annie was not starved for attention.  We ate an early dinner of split pea soup, made with the leftover ham from our Christmas dinner the previous Saturday, before heading up to church for Christmas Eve services.  This year, we decided to only play bells at the two early services, foregoing ringing in Christmas day at the 11pm service.  I was really happy we did this, since I was nowhere near ready for Christmas.  I had a very productive 3 hours after we got back, getting 3 batches of dough rising for rolls, and framing a gazillion pictures of Annie for relatives.

Christmas morning was nice and relaxed.  We got out of the house much later than we had originally hoped, but that was fine.  I decided that the dough that I had started the night before for rolls would probably make quite tasty cinnamon rolls, while also letting me test the dough for quality control purposes.  After munching on our breakfast of hot cinnamon rolls, we had a nice, low-key present opening.  This year, Kristie and I decided that our gift to each other was going to be a trip to Victoria, BC.  (Victoria Clipper is running some great vacation packages, by the way – 2 nights for 2 people in a suite hotel is very affordable)  Annie chose a few small gifts for each of us, and in return received a few nice small gifts herself.  One of her favorites was the spinning top we picked up at a toy store in Ocean Shores during our August trip.

After baking around 82 dozen rolls (at least so it seemed), we headed south to Steilacoom for Christmas with the Albrechts.  I wish I had gotten a picture of the dessert table… it was full of all kinds of sugary goodness, and then Grant brought out his world-famous cheesecake.  Nobody left hungry.  Annie had fun walking around (with assistance) all over the place, and was even tricked into a nap at one point in time.  It was great to see everyone, and Annie enjoyed the attention.  Annie really enjoyed the books she received from people.

We ended up leaving after 7, which worried us a bit – we had a busy day ahead, with an early flight to Los Angeles to visit more of Kristie’s family, and Annie was already moderately over-stimulated.  We all got to bed way too late, but managed to get packed and out the door the next morning.  The flight was surprisingly smooth (no typical TSA over-reaction to security events like the one that had happened the previous day in Detroit), and on-time.  Since we used miles for this trip, we ended up flying first class – it cost us 5k extra per ticket, and with a lap child, first class is the way to go.  Annie was perfect.  She slept for around 1-1/2 hours right at the beginning of the flight (went down before we pushed back), and was happy and babbling the rest of the flight.  She seemed to really enjoy looking out the window on final approach, and REALLY wanted to go outside while we were taxiing to the gate.

Our rental car experience could merit another blog post.  Let’s just say that I’m glad we had a reservation… many car companies at LAX, including Avis (from whom we rented), were completely sold out (something about a Rose Bowl and Christmas travel).  We got to see some fine examples of grown adults acting like preschoolers while waiting for our car, including a woman who threw a temper-tantrum because she didn’t like the car she got.  We ended up with a giant Chrysler 300 (tip to Costco members:  look at their website for coupons… double class upgrades = really nice) that has worked quite well, and is surprisingly roomy when filled with 4 adults and one kid in a carseat.

Christmas in SoCal has been great – we’ve gotten to see a lot of people who haven’t seen Annie since last February.  They all remark on how much she’s grown, and are impressed with how well she’s getting around.  Yesterday, we had Kristie’s grandma and grandpa, and an aunt and uncle over for a late lunch.  Annie enjoyed seeing new faces, and consented to be held by someone other than Mommy or Daddy for quite a while.  She also got to have a little bit of mayo cake with ice cream.

Today, we headed over to Kristie’s grandma and grandpa’s house for lunch.  We spent a good chunk of the afternoon with them, which was really nice.  Annie crawled around in their backyard while I fixed a flower pot that had been hit by an errant golf ball, and got dirty knees for the first time.  She really liked the duck lights in her great-grandma’s backyard, and got a kick out of all the flowers that are still in bloom.  Oh, yeah – have I mentioned it’s been around 60 degrees the whole time we’ve been here?

Tomorrow we head home.  It’s been a quick trip, but we’ll be happy to be home, in our own bed,  getting back into our routine.

Merry Christmas!

Oh, yeah… the pictures. :-)  Quick disclaimer:  I, of course, didn’t have the camera with me during Christmas with my family, so you’re stuck with the pictures I did have.

We decided to do some 8×10 prints for the family, so got Annie into her Christmas dress for some nice portraits in the living room…  she was actually quite cooperative for me for a few minutes, and I was really happy with how the pictures turned out.

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The last two are the “I’m really not pleased that you are putting stuff in my hair and dressing me” pictures.

I love this shot…

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“Get your hands off me!”

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One of my co-workers crocheted a really cute hat and scarf for Annie.  Baby in a basket!

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Then we had to go and explore the gate after everything was done:

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3 generations…

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Annie with Soon-To-Be-Aunt Sara:

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… and Opa:

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… and Tante Kari:

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… and Uncle Twavith

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They went around and around and around and around…  Annie is SO close to walking, but thinks that she can get there much more quickly on her hands and knees.  She’s to the point where I can hold one hand and she’ll walk pretty well.  The second we let go, though, she sits and starts crawling.  She’s been a bit braver taking a couple of steps between Kristie and I, or between one of us and the coffee table.

… and Great-Aunt Cathy:

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… and Nana:

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More pictures are, as always, over on the Psychokitty Pictures site – http://pix.psychokitty.org.  I’m sure I missed some here, but it’s very quickly getting much later than I had originally planned on being awake.  Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

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As vacations with just the two of us will be a forgotten thing for a long while now, we decided that we needed to take one last vacation before the Sprox shows up. So we headed up to Orcas (pronounced OR-kiss) Island, not too far north of us, in the Straight of Juan de Fuca.

The largest of the islands in the San Juan archipelago physically, it has the second-largest population—a whopping 5000-odd souls. However, it’s not your typical small-town mix—according to something I read, 40% of the residents have college degrees, and fewer than 5% didn’t graduate from high school. As of 2006, 18% of islanders had an income of over $100,000. Living there is pretty pricey, and not just because it’s on an island. Because I’m a big dork, I also looked up figures on the school system. Shaw Island, the smallest island served by the ferries and with a population of under 300 people, has a single K-8 school with only 12 full-time students as of 2007. Lopez Island, with a population of 2300 people, had a K-12 enrollment of 240 in 2007. San Juan, the largest island population-wise (8000ish), had a public school enrollment of 903, and Orcas had a K-12 enrollment of 414. Several of the smaller outlying islands not served by ferries had tiny K-8 public schools as well, and one island’s school was closed due to lack of enrollment. Given that the middle school I teach (taught) at had 1200 kids in three grades, I find this small school thing fascinating.

Anyway, enough about education and population. Let’s talk about the vacation part of things.

Day 1 [Map]:
We had several things to do before we could leave the house on Thursday. Colin took the car for an oil change (the last time I was there, the dealer was trying to sell me some 15,000 mile service, and since I never know what the car really needs, I told Colin he could deal with it) and I finished packing and wrote instructions for my brother to deal with the cats. Since the first couple of days we would be staying in a rental cabin, I decided to pack us some food—oatmeal fixin’s for breakfast and popcorn, pudding, tea, cocoa, and cider for the evenings. Colin got back and we loaded the car and hit the road.

First stop was actually the barbershop—Colin wanted a haircut and hadn’t had time to get one. While he did that, I ran up to the library to get a book I had on hold. Because I was feeling slightly nauseous, I stopped at Burger King to grab some protein, at which point I discovered that their value menu onion rings only have four tiny rings. Whee. Went back to pick up the freshly-shorn Colin, and then we really were off.

Headed up the freeway for points North; the Anacortes ferry dock, to be exact. For those of you that have never visited the Puget Sound, basically it’s a large inland waterway dotted with islands both large and small and connected by ferries, which are actually part of the Washington State highway system. Where you want to go determines where you need to leave from, and the ferries will take you all over the place and even have a couple of routes to Canada. I can now check another ferry terminal off of my mental ferry map—I’d never left from the Anacortes dock before. It was bigger than the Port Townsend and Whidbey docks; probably about the size of Edmonds. Because the route we were on had so many destinations, loading was a bit different than the usual “line ‘em up and move ‘em on”—they put us in queues based on our destination, and each section of the ferry got off at a different place. I would imagine this has taken some practice to plan, as it’d probably be bad if, say, one whole side of the boat got off at the first stop, leaving the other side of the boat listing. The ferry crew was flawless, but after a while, we decided that the driver must be new. We had a few interesting moments, like when he backed out of the slip at Lopez but cranked the wheel in the wrong direction (or something) and when he reversed engines so that we were going forward, we were pointing the wrong direction. A few cranks of the wheel and another reverse/forward engines maneuver and we were off again, but it was amusing. Then when we went to pull into the slip at Shaw, he cut his engines so that we could drift in… but again he was a little off on the pointing thing, and we were pointed at the side of the slip, rather than into it. Another reverse/forward move and that too was accomplished, but by this time we were running about 15 minutes late.

That was okay, though, because we didn’t have anywhere to be. We made it to Orcas in one piece, got off the boat, and followed the line of traffic up the island to the main village, Eastsound.

Stopped at the market there (there are no chain stores on Orcas) to pick up something to heat up for dinner, milk, and french toast fixin’s for breakfast Saturday and then headed down the other side of the island to our rental cottage, making it there about 15 minutes after the scheduled check-in time. The owner showed us our cabin, which was lovely.

We didn’t even unload the car at that point, because we wanted to watch the VP debate. During this, Colin cooked (well, heated) dinner and lit a fire in the woodstove. After it was over we brought our stuff in, watched TV, and relaxed. It was lovely.

Day 2 [Map]:
Because I’m up at 7 every morning, yesterday was no exception. The nice thing was that after the obligatory bathroom stop and a banana for a snack (during which I watched a spectacular sunrise that I somehow failed to get a picture of), I went back to bed and slept until 8:30. Heaven! I spent a lot of time futzing around on the computer, knitted a bit, and made some oatmeal (Trader Joe’s has a mix of dried blueberries, cranberries, cherries, golden raisins, and regular raisins that is FANTASTIC in oatmeal!) while I waited for Colin to get up. We then proceeded to spend a nice lazy morning on our own pursuits (okay, we were both on the computer—C was reading the paper and I was plotting our first day’s track on Google Maps) during which time it started to drip a bit outside. I love this kind of weather when I’m up north like this, I really do. We’d decided yesterday that Friday would be low-key and we’d play it by ear. Saturday would be, by necessity, a little more structured, since we had to check out of our rental cabin by 10am and couldn’t check into the B&B we’d be staying at until 3pm. I therefore got to spend my Friday morning futzing on the internet while curled up on the window seat listening to the waves hit the beach outside the window and watching the dripping outside.

Kayakers going past our window

I think someone from the Set Design department left a sailboat outside our window… How else could it be so perfect?

The way the cabin sat above the water made me feel like we were on a boat.

Colin in the living room.

We finally decided to get going around noonish, knowing that we wanted to check out the main village in the town. On the way there (about a 25 minute drive), we stopped in the hamlet (there’s no other word to describe it, really) of Olga to get coffee for Colin at the cute little store, right across from the cute little (tiny!) post office. We were definitely the outsiders in the store—the rest of the clientele were several older people sitting around tables, drinking coffee, and (from what I could tell) discussing the previous night’s debate.

From there we took a bit of a drive, headed into Eastsound, parked, and spent a few hours wandering. Hit the bookstore, of course, but I managed to get away without buying anything (go me!) Hit a VERY nice chocolates place and picked up a handful of truffles in unusual flavors. I ended up with a cappuccino, a milk chocolate dipped caramel topped with sea salt (which I was assured was a delectable combination, and given that this is the third time this week I’ve read about chocolate and salt combined, I figured I’d try) and something that’s 65% Madagascar cacao. By the time we got to the yarn store, it was (alas) closed, so no luck there. Maybe it’s just because of the time of year, but it’s open 10-3 five days a week. Nice work if you can get it. :-p

Headed back to the cabin around 3:30 so that I could catch a nap. Had a lovely nap, woke up lazily, and we headed out for dinner at The Inn at Ship Bay, a place one of Colin’s coworkers had recommended. Food was fine, but there wasn’t a ton of it for the price and the service was slllooooooooowwww (45 minutes from the time we ordered our entrees until the time we got it). I think part of it was that we had a new waitress. How could we tell? She read the specials to us off a notepad, and when Colin asked what wines they had by the glass, she provided him with a scribbled sheet torn from the aforementioned pad. All in all, though, it was a nice dinner, just not necessarily for the price. C’est la vie. Live and learn.

Got home from dinner at 9ish to discover that although we had satellite TV, we didn’t get any network stations, which therefore meant that we (well, I really) was going to miss the season premiere of Numb3rs, the only show I really watch. Strangely, (maybe it’s the relaxed vacation thing), this didn’t bother me. We watched the Angels game until they decided to lose, and then turned on The Simpsons Movie, a Netflix we brought with us after having for an embarrassingly long time. Loved it. Got to bed around midnight, and life was good.

I did have to laugh—I’d changed my Facebook status to mention something about being on vacation, and one of my former students posted something like, “but you’re not teaching—haven’t you been on vacation?” I told him to ask his mom how being at home was different than being on vacation where someone else cooks and cleans, and get back to me with her answer. :-) (His mom is a para at my school, so I know her pretty well.)

Day 3 [Map]:
Colin’s cell phone alarm went off at 7:45, which means that neither of us woke up properly until 8:15ish. We’d decided that we wanted to be on the road by 9:45 so that we could catch the 10:45 ferry over to San Juan Island. We packed up, as we’d be staying at a B&B for the remainder of the trip, and hit the road after a quick walk on the private beach below our cabin. Got to the ferry in plenty of time to walk on (interisland travel for walk-ons is free, yay!) and had a pleasant journey over. The captain was more experienced than the one on Thursday, thank goodness, but he did get a little grief from the deck crew—apparently while the boat was loading, he ran over to the little store next to the ferry dock, and got back a couple of minutes late. Colin said he was carrying something that looked like lunch in a paper sack. Like we’ve said several times this weekend, though: time is relatively irrelevant—we’re on vacation.

It was a nice ferry ride, but quite windy, even for a ferry. I had to put my hat in my bag.

We got to Friday Harbor in a timely fashion and proceeded to stroll around the town.

Ferry dock

We had a nice wander around town. Hit a couple of galleries, hit a couple of junk shops, and got some Christmas shopping done. One of the things we usually end up doing on our various vacations is hitting the museums wherever we happen to be. Since we know this will happen much less frequently with a Sprocket in tow, we made sure to hit one on this trip too. We ended up at the Whale Museum. It was a nice little museum mostly about the local orca pods, and had some fascinating displays. Fun stuff.

On the way back to the ferry dock to catch our ferry back to Orcas, we needed to grab some lunch. I’d seen a fish and chips place earlier, and we figured we could just grab and go. It was your typical small-town little greasy joint, but the smell of the food… oh, that smell. We got it just in time and walked right onto the ferry to eat. Fries were perfect and my clams were perfect. Life was good.

When we got back to Orcas, we checked into the B&B. Cute place, wireless internet and satellite TV, pretty darned good chocolate chip cookies, and more hot water in the shower than the cabin we’d stayed at, which was a nice plus for me. ;-) We relaxed for a bit (I had a bit of a doze) and then we went to hunt up dinner. The B&B host had suggested a restaurant not too far from where we were staying, which was nice because going back into town required going on winding narrow roads through the state park. Also (I don’t think I’ve mentioned this), because the island has no natural predators larger than a raccoon, there is a pretty healthy deer population. Our sightings thus far had been limited to seeing them graze by the side of the road, but neither of us fancied hitting one while driving through unfamiliar roads in the dark. Coming back from dinner the previous night had been a double adventure—not only had it been dark, but foggy. So we ended up at the Doe Bay Cafe.

One thing we’d noticed the night before at dinner is that while the menu had some standard-sounding selections, those selections tended to be made with interesting ingredient combos. For instance, my scallops had come with leeks, not something I eat on a regular basis. The Doe Bay Cafe didn’t seem to be any different, and while the small menu had some “normal” (for lack of a better word) sounding dishes, they came with interesting combinations of ingredients. Upon reflection, I think that some of this was chef creativity (or over-creativity) and some of it was realistic—because of shipping costs, stuff on-island costs quite a bit more than on the mainland. We’d noticed this the first day while we were in the grocery store. The ingredients in both of our dinners (Friday night and Saturday night) were primarily locally-harvested—the leeks and other veggies that went with my local scallops on Friday, and the veggies in my risotto on Saturday, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the plums in the plum sauce were local too. What it added up to were some interesting flavors, and if nothing else, it showed me how limited my palate is. Having said that, I must just be pathetic, because I think I got more enjoyment out of the clams and chips I’d had for lunch. However, the restaurant was delightful and mostly peaceful, and it was a relaxing evening.

I was feeling… off… by then, though. Since then I’ve realized that the pregnancy nausea has returned, but that was really the front end of it, so it took me by surprise. We got back to the B&B and I hopped in the shower for a good long soak that was as hot as I could have wished it. Crawled into bed and we watched Ocean’s Eleven from the B&B’s collection, and then I think I crashed.

Day 4 [Same map as Day 2, mostly]:
We (well, Colin—I was up by 6:30) slept in and had a bit of a lazy morning. Breakfast at the B&B was served from 8-10am, and I think we made it downstairs right about 9:30. Colin had a yummy-looking smoked salmon omelet and I had plain scrambled eggs with cheese and consumed my weight in fruit. Good stuff. Happily enough, we had no particular plans for the day other than to go to church at 12:30. I think I dozed a bit again after breakfast to make up for my lack of sleep the night before, and then we headed out.

Church was an interesting experience. We often try to go to church wherever we are on vacation—apart from the worship, it’s an interesting way to get to see the community. The Lutheran Church of the San Juans was definitely one of the most memorable. It’s one congregation, but because of the small population, it’s split into three parts, each meeting on a different island. Apparently, for Sunday services, the pastor is flown from island to island on a charter plane; however, in an attempt to cut costs, the Orcas branch decided they would only have him come 2-3 Sundays a month. My mom tells me this is common in small rural congregations in the Midwest and elsewhere. We happened to be there on a non-pastor Sunday. The service was held in a really neat Episcopal church building that’s over 120 years old. That was fascinating enough, but the service was even more so—there were only eight people there. Yes, eight. That was counting Colin and I and the pianist. It was a neat service and a really friendly group of people; although all of them were over 60 (well over, in a few cases), we ended up sitting at a table in the community room and chatting for a half-hour after the service, until the (Episcopal) funeral that was about to start in the sanctuary hastened our departure. Colin and I wandered a bit (I think) and then headed back to the B&B again so that Colin could do homework and I could nap.

We’d decided dinner would be at the only pizza joint in town. However, when we got there, we discovered that there was some sort of club meeting going on, and it took up every table (this is not saying much—the place was pretty small). Who’da thunk you’d need reservations at a pizza parlor. It was too bad, too—it smelled great in there. We ended up wandering across the street to a Mexican joint, and again experienced the standard-not-standard food that we’d had twice before on the island. I ordered a chalupa, and it came topped with olives and guacamole… and fresh shredded carrots and red cabbage (amusingly enough, I don’t really care for red cabbage, but dinner all three nights had come with it). The Spanish rice that came with it was made with brown rice and had a really interesting flavor. Colin’s chicken and mole came with white rice instead of Spanish, and the mole sauce had a broth-y texture to it, rather than a thick sauce-y one. Both meals were tasty, just… different.

Then again it was back to the B&B, where Colin did HW, I futzed around on the internet and read, and then we watched Friday’s Numb3rs episode. We managed to get to bed by 11ish, which was really nice after a few late nights.

Day 5 [Map]:
Time to think about returning to civilization. Alas. Breakfast was killer waffles, and I again consumed my weight in fruit. There were a few other couples at the B&B, and breakfast conversation was lively. We got back upstairs and vegged a bit before packing and heading out. The ferry wasn’t until almost 2, but we wanted to take a drive up to Mt. Constitution. One of the women at breakfast had told us to dress warm as it was quite chilly, and I’m glad I listened. Still could have used a hat, but the extra sweatshirt helped. The view was gorgeous, even with the cloudy and misty day. There’s an observation tower at the top that was built by the CCC during the depression (as were most of the trails/roads in the park) and supposedly it’s patterned after a medieval fortress (having never seen one in person, I couldn’t tell you how accurate it is). I loved it.

The door to one of the rooms in the turret.

There was a neat interpretive display about the park’s history.

I don’t remember what direction we were pointing, but it sure was pretty. Heck, everywhere we pointed was pretty.

The view from one of the windows. I suppose if it were a fortress and you were locked up in it, there could be worse views to have.

Colin managed to get a GREAT shot of the exterior, not easy considering its size and the fact that there’s a huge communications antenna right behind it.

A random picture of a cute guy and a fat chick.

The aforementioned communications tower. Way to ruin the medieval ambiance.

And then… we headed for the ferry and home. On the way we stopped (again) at a farm which sold hand-spun yarn, and Colin indulged me. Got some VERY yummy stuff, including what might be the most buttery-soft alpaca I’ve ever touched. Ahhhh.

But… all good things must come to an end. Even a great great great vacation. So we got onto the ferry (I slept in the car) and headed home.

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The world is just awesome.

Yesterday was definitely what you could call a “boom-de-yada” day. (That may just be my new phrase for anything awesome.) I started blogging about it last night, but since I’m a geek, I had to sort through and upload my pictures from the day. And since I’m a big geek, I had to make a Google Maps track of it so that everyone could see where we went. So I think I might be ready with this post now. ;-)

Anyway, it was really the first Saturday we’ve had off together (not counting my family reunion over Memorial Day) since, oh, last September. And since it was going to be in the 80s and gorgeous (actually hit 91 in Seattle and 93 where we were!), we decided that we needed to do Something Fun. Something Fun ended up being a road trip, a real one of which we haven’t done in way too long. At first we were thinking to head out to east King County. Then we tentatively tossed Mount Rainier in there. But when Colin didn’t get home from his police ride-along (a work thing during which he got to go to Bill Gates’ retirement party, but that’s another story) until almost 2am and therefore slept until after 10, we thought maybe Mt. Rainier would be off the table. So we went out to breakfast, picked up some of my stuff from the library, got a car wash by a soccer team, filled up the gas tank, and then headed out to parts east. Got east and decided to keep going east. And south. And eventually we ended up doing Mt. Rainier anyway. I’d never been up there, and it’d been 15 or so years for Colin.

What a perfect perfect day to head out there in a clean car with a full tank of gas. Seriously, it was one of those days that we like to pretend we don’t get here in Seattle so people won’t flock here in even greater numbers. We started out with Parts Known — a drive Colin and I had taken before through the valley carved by the river that eventually runs through our town (and provides the largest sockeye salmon run in the lower 48), but instead of turning west when we hit Enumclaw as we’d done before (a trip which would eventually land us back on the freeway home), we turned east to the mountains. This was more or less a spur-of-the-moment decision. And then we started heading up and up and up, chasing The Mountain.

When we started out, it was pretty small. This is how we see it (more or less) on nice days from Seattle.

We headed up some pretty weather-scarred roads — it was a rough winter up there. I’d forgotten how cool it is to watch the terrain turn from lowlands to alpine. And The Mountain got closer.

We started to see wildlife at this point, real wildlife beyond just a chickadee or a squirrel. One thing we have a lot up down in suburbia are crows, your standard garden variety. This guy may look like a crow, but he was our first true bit of wildlife, because (although you can’t tell in the picture) his huge size made him a raven. Seriously, he was bigger than most of the hawks I see along the freeway. Not being urbanized, this was as close as he would deign to get to my camera lens.

After awhile, the terrain got very different — with one really big difference — snow.

After awhile we knew we were almost There.

And The Mountain got closer.

At one point we stopped to make sure we were going in the right direction and to take pictures. I, of course, built a snowman.

It was 87 degrees out — the snow was melting pretty quickly.

87 degrees is, of course, barefoot weather. Wherever you happen to be.

(I am resigned to the fact that I just look gross in this picture. The “pregnancy gives you beautiful hair” thing is a myth — my hair has never been so unmanageable, but it’s uncomfortable to have it pulled back in the car, so I had it down. And I’m running out of shirts that fit, hence the baggy tee that the ILs picked up for me a few years ago on vacation.)

In any event, we were definitely heading in the right direction — The Mountain was not only getting bigger, but was getting harder to see.

We got to drive through some very cool tunnels. Because I am a geek (BIAAG?) I have this thing for old masonry — I find it indefinably cool. So I had to take pictures.

This one was carved entirely out of the rock. It looked like basalt, but I wasn’t really close enough to tell. Given that we were heading towards a dormant-turning-to-active volcano, though, basalt was entirely a possibility.

And The Mountain got closer. The foreground to this is a frozen, snow-covered lake. Mucho cool. I’d forgotten what an amazing shade of blue glacial lakes are.

We saw more wildlife around this time. Some idiot tourist was throwing this mule deer cherries. Stupid people bug me, but I was on vacation, so I got over it quickly. ;-)

Shortly after that we saw a gray fox, but he moved too quickly (as did we) to get a picture. Alas. We also (well, I — Colin was driving) saw a bald eagle earlier, which pretty much rounded out our wildlife count. The only two things I really wanted to see that I didn’t get to see was a Roosevelt elk and a mountain goat. I’m just fine not seeing any of the resident bear.

We stopped at the Paradise Inn to look around — they finished a renovation in May, so we had to check it out. It looked nice.

The Mountain was quite close now, and this was pretty much the closest we got to it. Much closer would have required a lot of hiking.

It was definitely a big avalanche season — this picture shows a tree sheared by too much snow moving too fast, and its neighbor, who was flexible enough to escape a similar fate. Such scenes were not uncommon during our drive.

Following the path of the glacier. 120 years ago, the glacier on The Mountain came down past this bridge and close to where we were standing. Now you can just barely see the edge right along the shadow in the upper left-hand corner of the picture.

All I can say, though, is that the world is just awesome.

We had some random person take this pic, and it might be a good Christmas card shot except that a.) they got those weird shadows in there :-( and b.) we’re going to have another person for our Christmas card by the time we need to put those together. :-D Nevertheless, it’s a nice spot to take a photo, if you ignore the scary-looking chick in there. (As a note: I try to go barefoot during the summer as much as possible. Growing up, I was pretty much barefoot any time I wasn’t at school or in church, and my feet were really healthy. I now spend most of the year in shoes, and it makes my feet unhappy, so I try to avoid shoes when I can.)

Posting this one just because glacial melt is pretty and, well, it’s just cool.

This was looking up the glacial valley as we crossed the bridge in the photo earlier.

And that’s it for pictures for our trip to The Mountain. Awesome perfect amazing day. The Google map of our drive (BIAAG) can be found here.

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