Monday, December 26, 2011

Summer Back in Washington

We had a few other summer adventures. Justin's mom moved to the Olympic Peninsula a few years ago. We don't get over there too often, but made a trip to see her shortly after we moved back. She currently lives in Ocean Shores and what a beautiful place.

Beach combing
Looking for marine life. We did see a seal but were unable to capture a photo.

Weatherwax Park

We had a nice time visiting, checking out some local hot spots and seeing Keitha's library.

My good friend Heather and her family made a visit to the US in early August. Heather is the dear friend I moved to Washington with back in 2003. She was my roommate for as long as she was living in WA and she was the maid of honor at our wedding. She moved to Australia the summer of 2007 to be with her now husband and they welcomed sweet baby Savannah in May. The visit was too short but it so much fun to see see Heather and her family.

One of the things Justin and I really missed while living in PA was the beautiful mountains and lakes of Washington. We tried a few hikes there but they paled in comparison to the PNW. With work schedules and getting settled, we were only able to make 1 backpack trip, but what a doozy. I am always amazed at the hoops we have to go through to be legal when in the great outdoors (dogs vs no dogs, parking permit, park pass, overnight permit, etc. . .) but we persevered and had a nice overnighter in the North Cascades. We hiked the Thunder Creek Trail in the morning and then headed up to the Fourth of July Pass for the afternoon and overnight. As usual I struggled with the steep climb, but its always worth it once we make camp. About an hour into the hike Justin and I were both stung by wasps. I got stung on my finger and upper arm, Justin got stung on his arm. Thank goodness Scout wasn't stung and neither of us are allergic, but holy smokes. My hand swelled and got really stiff, losing range of motion in several joints. Neither of us wanted to leave but I became increasingly concerned. I hadn't been stung in a long time and never by a wasp so I didn't know what other medical concerns I could look forward to. I trudged along for the next couple of hours with my hand raised over my head to try and decrease the swelling without much benefit. It became less bothersome as the weekend progressed, but for the next 2 weeks I experienced redness and swelling. And oh the itchiness! It was unbearable at times. When at home I could treat it with caladryl but at work I have to wash my hands like 100 times a day so topical medicine wouldn't do. But look at the scenery! Totally worth it.

Camp and a tired dog

My guys relaxing

Time to cool off

The trailhead after the hike

Justin thought he got a nice tan, turns out it was just dirt.

Where did you go this summer? Any recommendations for moderate overnight backpacking trips?

Summer at the Cabin

We were able to make 2 trips to the family cabin on lake Wenatchee this summer. The cabin is always a good time. Good food to eat, peace and quiet, lots of activities and ways to just relax.

A few years ago Justin purchased a bow and arrow. Since there aren't many places to set up a target in Kirkland, Justin has been bringing his gear to the cabin to practice. Here's my archer down on the beach.

The first trip to the cabin included my friend Amy and her dog Sammy. Justin, Amy and I, plus the the 2 dogs, took a nice day hike to Twin Lakes. We ran into some snow as we got into higher elevation but were able to easily forge through. Beautiful views.

What a gorgeous day for a hike.

Here we are at an old Department of Game office.

Scout after a swim. That dog knows how to cool off.

He also knows how to relax in the warm sunshine. He insists on having his own lounge chair, as long as its right next to ours.

The second trip to the cabin included more friends and water activities. Here is Justin headed towards the dock after a wakeboarding trip around the lake.

Matt and Justin chillin'.

The Drive Back

As you all know by now, the East Coast was not for us. I guess you never know until you try something like that, and it was definitely a learning experience, but Justin and I are so happy to be living in Seattle again. We had so many challenges and obstacles living in Philadelphia. We never found community or felt like it could be home, albeit as temporary as it was supposed to be. It really made us evaluate what we loved and appreciated while living in Washington, and how much we took that for granted. It was nice to be closer to my family (we got to see them 4 times in 1 year, a record!), and I know it wasn't easy for my mom to say goodbye to me again, but we made the choice to "come home" to Washington. We know how blessed we were to have made that move one time, and how much more to be able to do it two times (financially). We thank God for the opportunities we had and feel especially fortunate that we could come home. We will continue to trust him in all we do.

The morning of the move started out a little rough. Like 10 minutes after getting the truck, I took a corner too short and crashed the side of the trailer into a wall, bent the tire rim and then had to wait a total of about 4 hours for it to be repaired. Justin and his dad took the moving truck to the apartment and I waited at the storage unit for the repair guy. It was already like 80 degrees and humid by 8:30 in the morning (get us out of here before another hot and humid summer). When the repair guy arrived, he didn't have a new rim, despite the fact that I told them that was what was broken. So he had to go back to the garage, which was like 45 minutes away. Needless to say, not the start we were looking for. I felt terrible for crashing the trailer and delaying the start of the trip, but did feel a little better when I heard I was the first of 4 trailer accident calls that garage had that day. Guess a lot of people underestimate those turns. The guys had the truck loaded before the trailer was ready so they came to relieve me of my waiting duties so I could go back to the apartment and clean. When all was said and done, we got on the road 1-2 hours later than originally planned. We had a few more obstacles along the way, but it was worth it to get back to the Pac NW.

We drove through the Badlands National Park on our way through South Dakota. Such beautiful landscape. And we might have seen a herd of bison, but they were too far away to know for sure.

Our National Park Travel Dog

We stopped at Wall Drug again and I can't pass up a photo op with a buffalo. Go Milligan Buffs!

Gas stop in Montana. Almost home!

We stayed in Spokane our last night on the road. My father in law suggested we leave in the middle of the night to ensure we would have time to unload the truck, return the rental and things like that. I was a little skeptical at first, but was so happy that is what we did and were home and unpacking everything by mid afternoon. And what a pleasant surprise to get to our condo and be welcomed by a card, some balloons, cupcake treats for us and a toy for Scout. Thanks Matt, Lauren and Gwen.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New York City

For our 3rd anniversary, Justin and I made a special weekend trip to New York City. I had never been there before and was excited to take advantage of its proximity before we moved back to Seattle. And boy, did we get there just in time. We went Memorial Day weekend, got back to Philly Monday, May 30th, and then packed up the moving truck and started our trek back to Seattle on the 31st. Needless to say, we were trying to see as much as we could in a very short amount of time.

We had a great time in NYC. And I think we packed in just about everything we could in the 2.5 days we were there. We got there Friday afternoon, grabbed some lunch and then checked into our hotel, which was in Times Square. We walked around Times Square, checked out some fun stores (including the Hershey Store and M&M World). Then we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner and our Broadway show, Wicked. We ate dinner at Shula's Steakhouse. Justin had the best crab cakes he's ever had and I had the best garlic mashed potatoes, ever. So delicious.

Here we are outside Gershwin Theater. I strongly recommend Wicked, it was fabulous.

Saturday started with a walking tour combined with The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour. Here we are posing with the Wall Street Charging Bull.

Statue outside of Rockefeller Plaza

911 Sculpture made from scraps of the Twin Towers

View of Lady Liberty from the ferry

Ellis Island

The Statue of Liberty

Carriage ride through Central Park

Central Park

Sand Sculpture created in Times Square to honor our armed forces for Memorial Day

View from the top of The Empire State Building. We went first thing in the morning to avoid the long lines (we were packing as much in as time allowed), but the fog hadn't burned off yet. Bummer. At least we got to go up, and we had some pretty good views from our corner hotel room on the 32nd floor.

Me in Times Square

The Met (yes, we did the Met too)

I think that is a good summary of the highlights of the trip. We also went to St. Patrick's Cathedral and saw Trinity Church, from the movie National Treasure. It was a fantastic anniversary and I'd say we left the East Coast with a bang.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Its About Time

Well, I'm back. It has been quite awhile since I've written here, many of you (I mean all 2 or 3 of our followers) probably thought I might never return. The last 8 months have been eventful to say the least. I am going to try to catch you up on what has been going on in our lives, maybe an entry or 2 a week, hopefully.

The first entry is our trip to Valley Forge. This was another Philadelphia tour we wanted to do before moving back. I must say is was almost surreal to walk on the same ground our soldiers walked on. And to walk through the home where George Washington's headquarters were located. What an amazing glimpse into some of the most amazing history of our country, our freedom. We ventured out on a gorgeous day, Scout in tow for the hiking and exploration.

A replica of the living quarters for the soldiers

George Washington's headquarters

A view of the grounds

I hope you check in occasionally over the next several weeks and I'll try to be a better blogger. Merry Christmas!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Tour of the Town

Today Justin and I headed downtown for a walking day tour of Philadelphia. We've lived here almost a year so decided it was finally time to see some of the things the city has to offer its visitors and residents. We hopped on an early train and headed straight for the Historic District. First on our list was the Independence Hall Tour. This is a National Historical Park and is considered the birthplace of the United States. This is where the Declaration of Independence was created, as well as where the Constituion was drafted, debated, and signed. It was fascinating to hear some of the history of our nation. Parts are under restoration but we were able to walk through the East Wing, the first courtroom, and the actual Independence Hall where many of our founding fathers met. The chair in the back of this picture is where George Washington sat. It is one of the few original pieces of furniture still there.

After the Hall tour, we made our way to The Liberty Bell.
Next we went on a tour of The US Mint. So many commerative coins. They have a part where you can actually see coins being stamped and made, but things weren't too busy while we were there. Did you know it takes 60 tons of pressure to stamp a coin? Crazy! No pictures permitted in the Mint.

Here is a picture of Philadelphia City Hall. William Penn is atop the structure (although you can't see him in this view). A pretty massive, and beautiful building.
We asked an innocent bystander to take this picture for us, guess he had a hard time getting the whole scene. Thanks anyway buddy! This was taken at Love Park, a.k.a JFK Plaza, outside of City Hall. It apparently is an attractive and popular park for skateboarders.

Our final stop was The Mutter Museum. Justin and I both have an obscure and sometimes morbid curiosity of things, especially when it comes to the medical field. The museum contains a collection of medical oddities, anatomical and pathological specimens, wax models, and antique medical equipment. Once again, no cameras were permitted. Although interesting and a bit strange, don't think its a place we need to visit twice.

So there you have it. A one day, whirlwind tour of Philadelphia. Obviously there are many more things to do here, but I think we hit some pretty good highlights.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Zoo Part 2

My husband requested I add a few more zoo trip photos. Especially of this rhino. Apparently not many zoos have a rhino exhibit.