Thursday, September 26, 2013

Family Vacation: Part Two - My Favorite Moments in Washington

The second half of our grand adventure was spent in and around Seattle, Washington. My grandpa lives on the Olympic Peninsula, just across the Puget Sound from Seattle. In fact, if you could drive, it would be a really short trip from his house to downtown. Because of the complexities of driving over water, it takes a bit longer. Because the trip between the two takes about an hour and a half, we didn't want to go into the city every day. Most days, we spent our time exploring places closer to his home.

Here are some of my favorite memories of our days in Washington:

Hiking in Olympic National Park with trailblazer Will

Will actually walked by himself for the entire hike back from the waterfall to the car! It was only .2 miles, but he was sure proud of himself!

Port Townsend Park at sunset
It's a quaint little town right on the north eastern tip of the peninsula, and I fell in love. I want one of these porch swings when I'm old. I've always wanted a porch swing, but this one is awesome! You can actually swing it by pushing on a foot board (which got cut off in the picture). So cool!

Will loved the rocks...again.

See, I wasn't kidding. The kid loves rocks. 

There's something magical about the moon rising over the ocean. We would have stayed there until the stars came out too, but our parenting consciences kicked in and we decided Will needed to sleep. 

Oh, but we couldn't leave town without stopping at an ice cream parlor. I did marry a Harr boy after all. So I sent Graham in to pick something quickly that we could eat in the car on the drive home. Boy, does that man know how to deliver! He came back with a slice of chocolate orange ice cream pie. So good. I want to go back to that town just for that pie. 

Pike Place Market
We went there first thing in the morning on a Thursday, so it wasn't super crowded. We ate yummy food, watched some great street performers, and I stared longingly at the gorgeous bouquets of flowers. If we had gone at the end of the day, I totally would have bought some. They were so cheap! A whole bouquet for $5??? Gorgeous.

This picture makes me laugh. This was not the first cute Asian lady to fall in love with Will on our trip. Several times in both Vancouver and Seattle we were asked by a friendly lady if we would allow her to take a picture with Will. After it happened several times, I decided to take a picture myself, too. Traveling with a baby turns many strangers into friends, especially since Will has no concept of personal space or social norms.

Just adorable.

Riding the ferry with Will
 He was completely giddy the moment we took him on deck. See the yellow and black poles in the picture below. He would run to a pole, grab onto it, sit down, get up, run to the next pole, and continue the process down the entire side of the ship! I get a kick out of this boy. It was fun to watch him take in all the new sights and sounds, completely in awe of the experience.

Morning view of the city:

Evening view of the city:

Will trying to jump into Lake Washington
Seriously. The kid would have been in the water in two seconds had Graham not grabbed him. And he threw a tantrum because we wouldn't let him go swimming. And I'm such a good mom that I took pictures instead of helping. :)

Will loved trying to push the stroller everywhere, including into Lake Washington.

Will and Graham playing in a modern art sculpture like it was a playground. 
Outside one of the museums at the Seattle Center (by the Space Needle), Will saw another kid playing with his dad in this sculpture. Of course, he wanted a turn, too. Who are we to deny him?

Playing with Grandpa Wright
It was so great to spend time with my Grandpa while we were in town. His house looks exactly the same as I remember it from twenty years ago (the last time I visited). Perfect. I loved watching Will interact with him. We couldn't ever get Will to sit on his lap, so this is the best we got.

It was a great trip! Will was so exhausted by the time that we got back to Utah that he fell asleep in the car on the way home from the airport (he didn't sleep on the plane). I tried to wake him up when we got home, but even when I sat him up, talked to him, and set him down on the couch, he just flopped over and went to sleep on the couch. Poor boy! 

Resting up for the next adventure.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Family Vacation...With a Toddler

Parenthood has changed my life in a lot of ways. Most of them wonderful; some not so glamorous. One of the difficulties we've encountered as parents has been planning vacations. It turns out that kids thrive on routine, and when you upset their routine, the world sometimes explodes a little bit. So, Graham and I debated whether we really wanted to go to the effort of planning a big vacation this year. We both love to travel, and we haven't gone many places since Will joined our family, so we wanted to plan something this year. We wondered though if it would really be worth all the time and money since we didn't know how Will would react to plan rides, sleeping in strange places, and basically having his whole schedule blown to pieces.

Adventure won out in the end, and we booked tickets to Seattle, Washington.

I'll write more about Seattle in my next post, but this time I want to focus on the first half of our trip, which was actually spent in Vancouver, B.C.

We flew into Seattle on Saturday and drove up to Graham’s uncle’s house, where we spent our first night. They were incredibly hospitable (especially considering that that they were total strangers to me) and were super understanding of our crazy busy child, even when he pulled a glass pan of newly made dessert off the counter and broke it. 

They live in a town called Surrey, which is right next to White Rock. Their house was literally on the border of the USA and Canada. If you walk down the street, you can actually just hop a little ditch across the border (but we were told not to try it…apparently they have pretty sophisticated technology that monitors the borders). It struck me how artificial the lines between countries are. Just a little ditch, and you’re in a completely different country.

On Sunday, we went to church with them, and then walked along the coastline in White rock a bit. Will LOVED playing with the rocks on the beach (a trend throughout the trip). 

We had dinner with a bunch of Graham’s cousins and uncle, then we headed up to West Vancouver where we stayed for a few nights with his cousin.

I didn’t really know what to expect of Vancouver. I knew it would be wet, green, and have some big buildings downtown, but I didn’t know what there was to do there. We found some awesome places to visit though, some off the touristy path, which I love. 

Our first stop was Whytecliff Park. You can walk down to the beach and at low tide (below) you can walk out on the peninsula to a little "island". 

There were tons of star fish and mussels, and even a couple of harbor seals lounging on the rocks! See that cute little guy on the left below? He was super calm, even when I got close to take pictures.

Will loved riding in the hiking backpack. It's a pretty great view from up there, after all. 

Next, we drove to Lighthouse Park. It was a beautiful hike through a quintessential Pacific Northwest forest complete with moss covering just about every surface and ferns blanketing the ground. I found this giant leaf that Will became intrigued by (Graham liked it a little less after Will wiped its dirt all over his sweatshirt...oops).

Eventually, we got to a view point of a lighthouse, the first one Graham had ever seen in person. We could also see across the water to a nice view of downtown Vancouver.

After lunch and a nap in the car for Will, we headed to Stanley Park in Vancouver itself. What a cool place! I know most big cities have a large green space (ala Central Park or GOlden Gate Park), but this one really stood out to me. It's basically an island that they've turned into a great community gathering place. There is a petting zoo, trails that criss-cross the island for bikers and pedestrians, along with several other attractions, including an aquarium, which we visited.

Here's a GIGANTIC plant we passed on our way to the aquarium.

At the aquarium, Will enjoyed the touch tanks, trying to touch the fish on the other side of the glass, and playing in the kids' play zone they had (a welcome break for Mom and Dad).

By the end of the afternoon, we were all ready to take a break. We had a nice evening with Graham's cousin, before heading out in the morning for our final day in Canada.

Tuesday, we went to Lynn Canyon to see the suspension bridge there. Super cool! I felt like I was in Costa Rica or something (except it was way colder).

Then we spent a little time waking around Gastown in downtown Vancouver. We found this neat steam powered whistle clock (think cuckoo clock, but bigger and with steam and whistling sounds coming out instead of a bird). There were lots of tourists, including some cute Asian ladies who wanted to take a picture with Will, not the only time that occurred on the trip. :)

We had lunch, and waved goodbye to the city, looking forward to returning again someday.

Stay tuned for part two, where we survive a 5 1/2 hour drive to Bremerton, Washington, where we stay with my grandpa for the rest of the trip and explore the wonders of Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Magic Moments

There are so many times as a mom when I wish that I had my camera ready, or that I could whip it out just a few seconds faster to catch that perfect smile, hilarious face, or some crazy antic of Will's. I try to capture as many as I can, but there are many that will live on only in my mind.

Like on Sunday when Will and three of his cousins were all lined up on top of a flattened Graham, waiting for  their horsey to resurrect and give them another ride.

Or when I caught Will with a car cell phone charger pretending to straighten his hair because he'd been watching me while I was getting ready a few minutes earlier.

Those are the times when I have to just laugh and memorize the joy...because I can't capture all the moments on film, or an SD card or whatever. And, for that matter, sometimes I consciously choose to just experience those moments rather than breaking the magic by scrambling for the camera.

This Monday though, I caught a moment. This one...

For Labor Day, Graham and I decided we wanted to go on a little adventure as a break from all the yard work we (and especially HE) have been doing lately. He had never been to Red Butte Garden (and neither had Will), so we packed up, stopped to pick up some sandwiches for dinner, and headed off on a picnic. Will LOVED the freedom to roam in the garden.

Our last stop of the evening was the children's garden, which has a little splash pad in the entry. Will is usually hesitant at splash pads and mostly prefers to watch other kids get wet rather than get wet himself. Until Monday, that is. He started out the same as always, tentatively touching a gentle stream of water before backing off to a safe distance.

However, he quickly realized how fun it can be to get wet.

Too bad he wasn't really dressed for the occasion, but who needs clothes for the car ride home anyway?

Here is another magic moment from the evening:

Will heading confidently off on an adventure down the oak tunnel, where he became obsessed with acorns.

We even managed to get some shots of Will with his parents. We have hundreds of pictures of Will, but I'm trying to get better about making sure he will have proof he had parents along for the ride on many of his adventures. Here are a couple with Dad:

And even one with Mom, a rarity, since I'm usually taking the pictures:

Oh, and a little friend we made along the way...yep, that's a the wild.

What a day, what an adventure, what a wonderful life!

P.S. - If you've never been to Red Butte Gardens, go now! Oh, and take your camera.