Friday, July 29, 2011

Best road trip ever!!

On Sunday afternoon of last week Holly flew into Seattle. We were finally all together as a family. We had a great time exploring Pike Place Market and downtown Seattle. In the evening we went and saw the final Harry Potter movie. It was great! Then Holly and I dropped my parents off at the airport. When we got back to the house it was really late and we still had to finish packing everything into the car. (I couldn’t pack much beforehand since I needed room for everyone to fit inside.)
When we woke up the next day we began the first day of our “sister” road trip. Our first stop was Portland, OR which I have heard a lot of good things about, but I have to admit that Holly and I were not very impressed. It was old and dirty and there were not a lot of cool looking places to walk around. However, the farther outside of the city we got the better the scenery. We stopped at a little state park and walked the trail. It was a beautifully cool day and everything about it was perfect.

We continued onto the coast and where the day only got better. We stopped at a place called Cooks Chasm where the rocks have been worn away by the sea for years and there are a ton of tide pools to explore. The show at sunset was spectacular and I am so glad I got to share those moments sitting on a log with my little sis. Could not have gotten any better.

 We never wanted to leave Oregon. It was the most beautiful and peaceful ride down the coastline. There were many lighthouses along the way and cute little towns. 

But eventually all good things must come to an end, and for us, it was when we crossed the boarder into California. It was amazing how the landscape completely changed immediately upon crossing. Of course, there are pretty parts in Cali, but we had to get into the Redwood National Park before we liked what we saw. We went to a couple tourist traps as we passed through the redwoods. One was the "Trees of Mystery" where we learned a lot about the redwoods and got to take the Sky Trail up past the tops of the trees. The other was the "Drive -Thur Tree."  (that's pretty self explanatory)

We took a brief jaunt into San Fransico and then back to nature in Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks. There is no way we could see everything there is to see in all those parks in a few days so I definitely would love to go back someday, but we did get to see all the major attractions:
Yosemite falls, the General Sherman tree and the Kings River. Just the drives through the parks were spectacular though. We stopped at so many of the look outs and at every one we were just blown away!

 My plan was to drive through Death Valley National Park before heading into Vegas, but the more I researched it the more it sounded like a bad idea. With temperatures reaching above 115 degrees, my car fully loaded, and climbs of 5,000 ft around mountain curves... I don't think so. We decided to go to another desert instead :). The Mojave National Preserve. It was only safer cause it did not have the steep climbs and the temps were a tad cooler. It was so hot! Everything about the place reminded me of the beginning of that movie, "Australia." The dust flying around and the quietness. That is what was most startling...the only noise was the wind and the sound of the huge crows. It was so totally cool. Holly and I also learned that the sand on the dunes can have avalanches just like snow, and when all that sand gets moving it makes a deep rumbling sound like nothing I have heard before.

We learned all about the Union Pacific Railroad that came through that area in the visitors center and then as we were leaving a Union Pacific train drove by. Perfect timing.
We finished our trip in Vegas. We drove down the strip and around the town to look at potential places for me to live. I was so happy to have Holly with me the whole way and the only thing that could have made it better would be if it were two weeks long!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Washington vacation with the parents

Last week my parents flew into Washington for a whirlwind vacation with me. We began our trip by heading to Mount Rainier. Our plan was to walk the Paradise trail at the top of the mountain which is supposed to be covered in wild flowers. Sunday morning we drove up...up...up... and what did we find... 10 feet of snow covering all the trails. In JULY! Come on!
So then we drove down...down... down to the trails below the snow line. It was still beautiful to get all the pictures with the big mountain in the background.
 The very top of the mountain stays white all year round due to the glaciers.
Where the Paradise trail should be...

On Sunday we traveled to Mount St Helen's. I have always wanted to see this mountain ever since my grandmother gave me some ash from the eruption as a souvenir when I was really young.
Both of my parents celebrate their birthday in July so I surprised them with a helicopter ride over the crater. It was amazing!! We learned that the mountain is still growing everyday as the pressure continues to build once again.

Our path then led to Astoria... a city on the northern coast of Oregon. Astoria was a cute little coastal town where the Columbia River ends. We walked all the way up the Astoria tower where you can see out over the entire city and we drive out on the docks to check out all the cool sail boats.

 We had such a whirl wind adventure where everyday held a new adventure and a new zip code.
We went to Cape Disappointment and saw a couple of lighthouses and a museum chronicling Lewis and Clark's expedition. We drove on Washington's longest beach. We stayed in a "Yurt" which is a little hut at a campground, and had a fire, made Smore's and played guitar.

On Tuesday, we made it to the Olympic National Park where we saw the Hoh Rainforest and Crescent Lake. Even though it was raining the whole time it was beautiful and it kind of fit the setting anyway.

 As if all that I have already written about was not enough for one vacation we are only half way done :)
Wednesday, we took a ferry over to Victoria with my friend Sue. We walked all over the city and were completely beat by the end of the day!

The following day we took the ferry back and made our way to Port Townsend. We looked around town a little bit that evening, but the main sight seeing was the on Friday when we could not get off the island cause the ferry was full till 1:30pm. We spent the morning window shopping in the downtown area and we stopped for coffee in this totally hip underground coffee shop.

Once we got on the ferry we just relaxed cause we knew once the ferry was done we were off to the Boeing Factory for a tour of the facilities where they build the huge commercial planes. It is the largest commercial building under one roof. Just one of the hanger doors was bigger then a football field! We got to see the new 787's being built and learned all about the new technology going into them. 40 have already been sold to various companies, but they are still waiting on FAA approval so it may be a little while till we can start flying in them. (And they are most likely going to be used for international flights.)
On Saturday and Sunday we spent our time in Redmond and Seattle. I don't have the pics from this part of the week, but my mom already posted them on facebook. We did a wine and beer tour/tasting just a few minutes from my place and Sunday we picked up my sis from the airport, went into Seattle to see Pikes Place Market and the first Starbucks (the highlight of my mom's vacation.) That evening I dropped my parents off at the airport which was sad. But I knew that I had another exciting week ahead of me with Holly traveling down to Vegas. Watch for that post next!  :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Gig Harbor (great vacation spot), Vancouver (great bike-able city) and Sand Point (great sailing)

Got a few things going on in this post. Two weekends ago I went to Gig Harbor which is a little south of where I live. It was recommended to me by a friend from Tennessee who said she saw it in a magazine as a top vacation location. Well, in my opinion, the magazine was right! It was a quaint harbor town with lots of cute shops and beautiful sail boats docked along the water. I went to a bunch of different shops but the one I enjoyed the most was "Emilies" it was definitely a shop for girls with lots of dresses and hats and sparkly things! The owners husband, Tom, happened to be the one running the shop for the day. He and I got to talking about what I do and all of his PT experiences with knee replacements and such. I learned that he is a pilot and so, of course, we got to talking about how I want to get my pilots license. He told me that Nevada was probably one of the best places to learn since there is still, dry air and a, relatively, low population for the square footage of the state (so less little planes flying around). I think I just might do that... :)As you walk along the harbor there are lots of grassy park areas that you can sit and read. There were people walking their dogs and children playing down by the water...all in all it was a super fun, relaxing day at Gig Harbor. The perfect place for a vacation if you want to do nothing more then relax.

Later on that week I met up with the Tomlinson family. They were good friends of mine from church who I haven't seen for quite a while. They were out here to visit their son/brother who lives in Seattle. I had the best time visiting with them at a seafood restaurant called "Rays" which is right on the water in Ballard. They also gave me tips on what to do in Vancouver. Which is where I went this weekend.
I wanted to bike around Stanley park so Jess and I packed up our bikes and headed north across the border, where you get to play 20 questions with the border patrol, and into Canada's third largest city.
We stayed at a hotel in downtown which I thought would mean having to drive to the park, find parking, unload the bikes...etc. But I soon learned that the city is very bike friendly. There was a bike path that started a couple blocks from our hotel. It was set off from the road and went straight into and around the park. Sunday was the perfect biking day not to hot and just a mild sun. We biked the whole park stopping at every sight along the way.
Olympic torch..

 View from our hotel room on the 31st floor.

                                                                                                  Lions Gate Bridge...

 The rose garden...
 Heading back home....

About a month ago I bought a Groupon online for half off a beginner sailing class. So, on Wednesday I cashed in on the deal. :)
It was so much fun! I have never been sailing before and it was so cool to learn how the boats work and how to actually catch the wind and the different angles you have to turn the boat. I learned how to "tack" and, at least the concept of how to "jibe". The wind was pretty shifty and it was hard to stay on a steady course, but eventually I got the hang of it. They tell you to bring a change of clothes because you will get wet and they were right. The little catamarans we were on were so close to the water that any little wave would splash right up onto the pontoons we were sitting on and up through the trampoline in the middle. By the end, I was soaked from my waist down with 58 degree Lake Washington water, the wind was blowing and the sun was covered by clouds. Needless to say, I was cold, but still having a blast!  I would totally do it again. There is still a ton to learn. I barely got the basics, but unfortunately, I don't think they have a lot of sailing in Nevada...