Friday, September 5, 2014

Northern Cali

Hurray! Aubrey, Nate, and Grandpa Winter decided about 3 weeks ago that they wanted to take advantage of the long Labor Day weekend and come visit us.  Instead of meeting us in Albany and the surrounding area (which has plenty to see, don't let this deter any future visitors), we decided to meet up in Northern California and camp in the Redwoods.  I didn't object to the 4 hours drive because I am in love with the Redwoods, so I was completely stoked for the trip.  Plus, we got to squeeze in a camping trip for the year which just added to the whole family's excitement.  Brad got off on Friday afternoon at normal time and we drove down after work. We got to the KOA campground in Crescent City after dark.  The campground was on the outskirts of the forest and was a fun place to call our home base.  It had warm water, showers, a playground, and goats that the kids got to feed with Grandpa. We spent Saturday, Sunday and half of Monday exploring the Redwoods and the coast.  It was a complete blast.  Thank you so much Grandpa, Aubrey, Nate, Ainsley, and Hy for making the long trip.  We had so so so much fun.
We went on 3 short trails (Simpson, Stout, and Hiouchi) in Jedediah Smith State Park.  Here we are at the first stop, Simposon Trail.  
Grandpa made the mistake of climbing up this huge pile of logs, so of course all the kiddos had to follow his example.  It made for a fun picture since I wasn't willing to brave it with my preggy belly.

Taking a break on the trail to give some Grandpa hugs.  

Ainsley and Ellie were in heaven just being together all the time.  They spent every car ride in the same car and had many an adventure exploring the never ending playground of the Redwood forest.  

Hy-Guy and Christian sitting on the "turtle knots" as Ellie called them.  

Brad trying to carry these two rambunctious boys

We had many a log challenge.  A log challenge is walking from one end of a fallen tree to the other without falling off.  It was a fun game for the kids to play.

Here we area at Stout Grove.   After Stout Grove, we went to camp and had lunch.   After lunch we played at the beach in Crescent City before dinner.  I didn't have my camera so I didn't get any pictures.  

Sunday morning, when tide was low, we went to the Battery Point Light House to hike across the rocks and visit the ligthouse and  explore tidepools.  We had a lot of fun seeing crabs, starfish and anemones.    

We decided to drive down to Prarie Creek State Park after playing in the tidepools to see Fern Canyon.  We stopped off before entering the forest to see the Paul Bunyan statue.  

We took a scenic byway through Prarie Creek and stopped to see the Corkscrew Tree.  This little blue jay followed us all the way back to our car from the tree.  He must've wanted a treat.  

This is the only picture I got of my two kiddos together.  Ellie was too connected to Ainsley for me to get her away for a picture with her boring brother.  I couldn't even get her to focus enough to smile and look at the camera for the picture
We stopped for lunch at a picnic spot on Sunday before we drove up a dirt road about 8 miles to Fern Canyon.  When we got about 4 miles in, we stopped at the Ranger Post where we were informed that Fern Canyon and the beach near the canyon were both packed due to the holiday weekend and cars were backed up a half mile waiting for a parking spot.  We decided to not wait, so we turned around and headed back.  I felt bad recommending the site, driving over an hour to get there only to turn around and go back home.  Oh well.  The kids had fun in the car and the scenery was spectacular.  Back at camp we had a Sunday lesson by Grandpa, played at the playground, made dinner, and pretty much went to bed.  We woke up Monday morning and packed up camp.  After camp was cleaned up, we went to McDonald's for lunch since the kids had it in their mind that they were going to eat there since the appearance of Grandpa.  Christian and Hy-Guy even played at camp in the trailer pretending to be Grandpa driving to McDonald's.  We drove to the Jedediah Smith Campground after lunch and enjoyed one final trail before saying goodbye to our cousins.
In the summer at the Jedediah Smith Campground, a seasonal bridge is built across the river next to the campground to access a trail system on the other side of the River.  We took the Hiouchi Trail a short ways and enjoyed some additional magnificent trees.  The kids called this the teepee.  

Chris and Hy made sure to find some good pieces of wood to throw off the bridge on the way back.  

Here's Grandpa being a daredevil.  Actually, all the men had fun getting off this bit of wood.  I am hoping Aubrey will post the video later.  
We had such a great time and had a hard time saying goodbye knowing that it will probably be months before we see our cousins, aunt, uncle and Grandpa again.  We are so glad for the fun memories we made.  

Sunday, August 24, 2014

August

August has gone by so fast.  It is hard to believe that we have less than a week left.  We have been enjoying a little bit of a cool down here in Albany from the uncharacteristic heat wave we had in July.  The change has been very welcomed since all we have in our house is a single window AC unit.  It is still pretty warm in the day, but at least it has been cooling down at night for the past week or two.  
Some heat reprieve in the back yard
We've kept ourselves cool playing outside and eating otter pops

Enjoying the sun and an otter pop
This last weekend was the annual Air Festival in Albany.  We woke up on Friday morning and watched the hot air balloons from our front yard.  We decided to head over to the festival on Friday night for the night glow.  Ellie and Christian had so much fun watching the balloon crews set up and fill the balloons with air and heat.  It was a really fun activity for the family.


Christian called the balloons on their sides "cement mixers."  He loves his construction site trucks. 

The family enjoying the festival

Ellie loved to watch the balloons glow and was literally jumping up and down with excitement about the balloons.  She even gave her favorite balloons names like "America" "Star" "Dragon" and "Rainbow".

Ellie and me with "America" in the background


Here is the night glow.  The glow with all the different colored balloons was created a beautiful effect.  
 This morning we woke up early to make sure and catch the last launch of the festival.  We had a great view from the top of the swing set in the back yard.  I think we saw over 20 balloons pass over our house this morning.  It was so fun and the kids just loved it!
The favorite balloons by far were the family of 3 bumble bees.  I was only able to catch 2 of them in the picture today.  Ellie and Christian just thought they were so cute and silly floating in the sky.  
Cute picture of the kiddos after a walk at the Talking Waters Garden in Albany where we saw tons of frogs in the water.  

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Well... We Didn't Learn the First Time

The Tail of the Winter's Epic Camp Fail 2014

It is kind of sad that we have to start dating out camping fails because we have more than one!  Some may remember our last attempt at camping.  We forgot many important items but in the end we it was a successful family trip (click for the blog post).
We have been tossing the idea of a family camping trip around this whole summer.  A few days ago we suddenly decided we were going this weekend because some of the other times on our calendar got filled up.  We borrowed a tent and some supplies from friends (thanks Bluncks!) and loaded our car for the Willamette National Forest.
Teri called ahead to a fairly useless ranger station and learned that we could not reserve a spot, but that there were plenty still available.  As fate would have it, that was not true.  We left after Brad got off work and drove 1 & 1/2 hours, only stopping twice to get items we had forgotten, to find every camping spot occupied.
Very disappointed, we turned around and went home.  The kids were sad, but we compromised with a movie in the car on the way home, camping in the living room, and a late night.  Perhaps next time we will think to plan these trips ahead with enough time to reserve the spot and prepare all of the gear we need.  Until then we will enjoy our microwave smores!

 Eating on our new camp chairs!

 Setting up our campsite.

 Mmmm, smores...

 "Your killing me Smalls"

 Kids had a late night in their rustic tent.

We no longer needed the ice for the cooler, so they decided to make an ice sculpture.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Newport with the Christensen Family

Even before we were considering the residency program in Corvallis, my parent booked a week long vacation in Newport.  It was so nice that it worked out for us to be here and enjoy some vacation time with my family.  Brad was only able to take a day off of work, but the kids and I stayed in Newport all week with my parents, my brother Nathan and his wife Lauren, and my brother Lee.
My parents came a couple days early to spend some time in Albany before going to Newport.  The kids both received a coupon a free pound of blueberries as part of the library's summer reading program, so we took Grandma and Grandpa to a U-Pick blueberry patch in Corvallis and got a little carried away.  We ended up not being able to store all the berries in the freezer, so we made blueberry syrup.

This is a picture of our home in Albany.  I've had a couple people request that I post a picture.  

I have also been searching the internet for the perfect blueberry scone recipe, and I think I found it.  We made these the morning after our blueberry picking.  We made them again for the rest of the family up in Newport because they were so tasty.  

Visiting the tide pools by Yaquina Head Lighthouse.

Ellie and Christian's favorite beach game was locking people up with a drawn circle in the sand.  Here is a picture of Lee playing the part.

We went to the beach Monday morning while others in the group went crabbing. We found a tent erected from drift wood.  The kiddos had so much fun pretending to camp.

Brad, my dad, Nate, and Lauren went crabbing in the bay on a little boat on Monday morning.  They brought in 15 good sized crabs for us to cook up and eat for dinner.

Ellie and Christian inspecting the most recent captive.

We went to the Aquarium on Tuesday with out Brad.  I haven't been to the new aquarium in Utah, but this place was so so so much more fun in comparison to the old aquarium in Utah.  When we walked into the first room with a fish tank, Christian just stopped in amazement and whispered "fishies like at Grandpa's house!"  He really loved the fish.

Ellie has always had a thing for crabs.  She was so excited about these giant spider crabs.  They just creeped me out. 

enjoying a tank full of fish.

Jelly fish

Ellie also loves seals. We made sure to catch the seals and sea lions at feeding time where they did tricks for a fish treat.  Ellie was pretty mesmerized.   

A "must see" for Ellie was also the octopus.

Silly Lauren and Christian

a walrus friend

the kiddos and me

a group photo in front of the shark's teeth

We also visited a couple light houses along the coast.  This is the fam after touring one of the houses.

Ellie loves the ocean.  She had so much fun wading in the cold, cold water.  She wasn't afraid to go out deeper and deeper even after she got pretty wet.  
We had so much fun with my family while they were here. We also enjoyed a day trip to the Tillamook Cheese factory in Tillamook, OR and then to Portland to see the rose gardens and eat out of food carts for lunch.  Grandma and Grandpa stood in line for 30 minutes or so to get everyone Voodoo donuts.  We also enjoyed eating at Mo's, "the" seafood restaurant in Newport.  It was so good to see so much of my family.  As silly as it seems, the almost 2 months that we have been in Oregon has been the longest stint away from my family in my whole life, so it was sure nice to fill my bucket up while they were here.  We probably wont have any more visits until baby comes in November, so I  was glad for the visit.