Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Earning Your Ice Cream

I had another hare-brained idea for the tandem while we were at Depoe Bay.  The Oregon Coast is renowned for cycling, and a long hilly bike ride seemed as good an idea as any, in my opinion.  Not in the opinion of my extended family; most of them thought it was cah-RAE-zee, but kept their opinion largely to themselves.  We decided on a route from Depoe Bay to the Tillamook Cheese (and ice cream!) factory.  The map says 58.06 miles, but my GPS watch said 60.89.  I’m going with my watch.


Those two big hills?  Yeah.  BIG.  I’m glad I didn’t see them before we set off on the bike ride.  Coming back in the car with the tandem loaded on top, I was quite impressed that we made it up and over them!

The scenery was beautiful, and the company was fantastic.  It was a great way to spend the 15th anniversary of when we first met.


Say “cheese!”


And “ice cream!!!”


(just in case you’re thinking the boys did this crazy ride, ummm, NO.  The rest of the family came up in cars, and kindly brought our children, our bike rack, and our vehicle with them.)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Depoe Bay Family Vacation

At the end of July, our family set out for the Central Oregon Coast to spend a week with Grandma & Grandpa Black, the Andersons (Dustin, Liz, and Nolan), the other Andersons (Cindy, Dave, Nathan, and Lindsey), Ryan, and Deke & Dory.  We had a couple units at the Worldmark Depoe Bay.  We saw gray whales almost every day—the first ones within a half an hour of our arrival.


All the menfolk took a daytrip to the Evergreen Air & Space Museum in McMinnville.  The ladies opted to search for a pedicure (which ended up being back at the timeshare, courtesy of Lindsey).

Another day, we went down to Agate Beach to see the dock from the Japanese tsunami that had washed ashore.  Equally fascinating were the miniature sand dunes.

A family bike ride along the Yaquina River (the Andersons, Blacks, and Cools) was another highlight, complete with a perfect tractor photo op.


We also spent time exploring Newport.  Sean took the boys to the Newport Aquarium, where Guyan was eaten by a shark, and Sean was eaten by shrimp.

As I look through the hundreds of pictures we have from this trip, I am seeing the need to compartmentalize.  The next few posts will focus on some of the other big Cool Family highlights from Depoe Bay.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Boy, A Girl, and Their Bicycle

With the boys sent off to camp, Sean and I had to do something spectacular, something out of the ordinary, something we’d never done before.  How about taking our newly acquired tandem bicycle camping on Lopez Island?  No car, no showers, minimal supplies.  Just us, the open road, and plenty of scenery.  Sounds great, yes?

That’s why we did it for only one night.  To test out this crazy idea.

The benefits of bike camping are numerous.  For starters, you get to load onto the ferry first, and it’s much cheaper than the car fare.



You can fit a hammock in with your gear.


Solitude with your husband.  You can only fit two people on a tandem, especially if your kids no longer fit in one of those trailer thingies.


You can fit a hammock in with your gear.


It’s much faster and lighter than a John Deere tractor, and no diesel fumes.  The John Deere Club spent their weekend on Lopez as well—we only saw them on the ferry).


You can fit a hammock in with your gear.


Your husband, if he’s a regular cyclist, will look similar to this.  If you’re the stoker on the tandem (in back), you’ll get an up close view of his sexy back.


You can fit a hammock in with your gear.


The walk-in/bike-in sites have views like this.


Next year, when the kids go to Camp Orkila, I hope to do at least two nights of bicycle camping.  Highly recommended.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Camp Orkila—the Build-Up and Send-Off

I have always wanted to be one of those kids that went off to summer camp.  Sleep in a cabin, get dirty, make lifelong friends in one week.  It’s probably a little late for me, but for my kids, I wanted to make it happen.  With some help from Grandma and Grandpa Black, this year, it did happen.  The boys went for a week to YMCA Camp Orkila on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands.  I’m so jealous.
When we first told the boys in April about this grand scheme, Guyan was thrilled.  Owen, not so much.  He has problems with homesickness at Grandma’s house, so he wasn’t sold on the idea of a week away in a strange place.  In June, our whole family, plus Grandma and Grandpa Black, went over to Camp Orkila for an open house, so we could all check it out.
A cloudy ferry ride, followed by beautiful skies and scenery at Camp Orkila.
The campfire and stage…
A real stump house!
Goofy and his grandson.
The dock—site of the Polar Bear Dip, should the campers choose to accept the challenge.
At the end of the Open House (even before!) Guyan was convinced, and Owen’s nerves were calmed.  By the time it came for camp, they were both ready, with a bit of nerves, but more excitement than anything else.  After hugs and kisses (and wrestling), they were on their way.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Raptor Ridge

Some days, you just need to get out there with friends and explore your backyard.  That’s what we did on this somewhat chilly July afternoon.  Unfortunately Sean had to work, but he was with us in spirit.


Matthew, Kerry, Henry, Michelle, Guyan, Alice, Owen, Melinda, and Freckle…who much preferred the safety of the bushes to the heights of the overlook.


Girlfriends.  We rock.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Soon after we moved to Ferndale, we met another family, the Bergmans.  Our families have been friends for the past eight years.  Great times over the years.  Lots and lots.
Back in March, Dan made the decision to end his own life.  So much behind it, so much that we’ll never understand, so much that will never make any sense to anyone except maybe Dan.
Henry and Alice, Dan and Michelle’s kids, have been friends with our kids from the very start of our Ferndale days.  I’ve watched them grow up right beside my own kids, and will continue to for quite a while, I ‘d guess.  I asked Michelle if I could use some of Dan’s button-down shirts to make quilts for both of the kids.  Thankfully, she and the kids said yes.
IMG_0404The first shirt to be cut.
Some of the large quilts I’ve made have taken a year or so to complete.  These quilts helped me deal with my own grief from losing a friend and one of my husband’s best friends.  I was consumed, and they took me just over a month.  The quilts were completed just before the internment services for Dan’s ashes.  I hope that the kids find some comfort in these quilts in the coming years.  Many years from now, I hope the quilts are still around—well-loved, but used to tell Henry’s and Alice’s own descendants of their dad.  He was a great man with a big heart, especially for his kids, and he will be missed.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Preparing for the Home Stretch…and then some…

Over the past decade, Sean has competed in Bellingham’s Ski to Sea festival almost every year.  The race is an eight-person relay from Mt. Baker down to Bellingham Bay—cross country skiing, downhill skiing, running, road biking, canoeing, mountain biking, and kayaking.  He’s done every leg—the canoe leg twice—except for one.  The last one.  The one where he the racer rings the bell for their team’s finish.  The kayak leg.
He’s been saving the kayak leg for his last leg, and that will be next year in May 2013.  We have friends who have done the leg once or twice, or many, many times.  Some years, it’s a beautiful race in the bay.  Other years, it’s choppy and cold and you take your life into your own hands (or the organizers cancel that leg of the race).  We’re pretty set on the idea of Sean coming home in one piece from the race next year, so he took a Sea Kayaking 101 course.  He loved it, and soon after, bought a kayak to practice with until next year. 
And after the race is over, don’t expect him to sell this one.  I’d think it’s much more likely he’ll be trying to get the boys into some kayaks of their own (or who knows, maybe his fraidy cat wife, too).

Sunday, July 8, 2012

“Oh, a Cloud is Blocking Our View”

June was a sucky horrible wet start to summer. But true to form, summer started in July—a day early this year, the weather turned sunny on the 4th of July.

On the 5th of July, we packed up the car and headed out for our first camping trip of the summer, to Mt. Rainier. It’s a National Park right in our backyard…if it takes four hours to drive to our backyard. The drive down was yechh, but once we got there…oh so pretty. It was still a little early for the famous fields of wildflowers up at Paradise, but the skies were a perfect blue with minimal clouds—only a few here and there would block our view of the tip top of Mt. Rainier.

After getting settled in our camp, on Day 2, we started at Longmire, one of the first settlements in the Mt. Rainier area, named after the Longmire family. They had started up a spa and mineral springs hotel in the area—popular for a while, but now the “mineral springs” are much more mineral than spring.


From Longmire, we took a hike up to Rampart Ridge.  It’s about a 4.5 mile hike starting with a steep incline, and the boys did great (Sean and I held our own, too).  The views of Mt. Rainier were fantastic.  We found a beautiful tree for our tree pose (lots of opportunities for tree pose on this vacation…).


And the mossy carpets weren’t near as soft as they looked.  I had to touch.


On Day 3, we took a drive up to Paradise.  Best weather on this day—the clouds were giving Mt. Rainier a bit of a toupee, but other than that, it was perfect.


This waterfall was Narada Falls.  LOTS of water coming over the falls, and we were getting sprayed generously with mist while another tourist tried to get the “perfect picture” for us.


Up at Paradise, it was pretty, but there was too much snow to see the “most luxuriant and most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens” that John Muir had ever seen.  We probably saw a lot more tourists than he saw, though.


From Paradise, we continued on to the far side of the national park to see the Grove of the Patriarchs.  It’s a short little loop trail with cedar and Douglas Fir trees over 1,000 years old.  And it had a cool bridge.


The trees were awesome, and lots of opportunity for tree pose, again.IMG_2296IMG_2299IMG_2302IMG_2303

On the last and final day, Sean took the kids down to explore the river by our campground while I stayed with Freckle.  They saw where the river with silty run-off from a glacier met up with the clear run-off from recent (i.e. this winter’s) snowfalls.  It was neat to see the colors blending.


A little more yoga and some rock balancing…

…and one last effort to prop up Mt. Rainier, and we were headed back home.