Feb 22 2009

We Ore Gone!

We’re finally back and trying our best to unwind from the trip and get ready to slip back into the normal swing of things. The last couple of days have been all driving, so I’m rather beat. We didn’t end up stopping any place other than a couple of rest areas and places to eat. We stayed overnight in Sacramento and then continued driving this morning. I wish I had something more interesting to write, but I really don’t.

We had a great time on our trip and got to see so many interesting things along the way! The 3 nights we stayed in Seaside were relaxing and much appreciated. Sam and Rece are growing up so fast, so trips like these are all the more important. They might act as though they didn’t find much of it exciting or interesting now, but speaking from the experiences of my own youth and the many trips our family took, they’ll remember these trips as being mostly fun and something worth repeating the with their own kids.

With so many people living in their own isolated little worlds, it’s good to know that Rece will grow up knowing that not every street is paved. That cell phone service wasn’t available everywhere. That sometimes not being able to do much more than stare out the window and watch the passing scenery is actually a good thing. Most of all, he’ll grow up knowing that people are different and that it’s not only OK that they are, but that it’s one of the best parts of living.

This entry remembers staring out the car window, too.

Feb 20 2009

Portland and Haunted Pizza

We loaded up around 60 geocaches into our GPS receivers to possibly find along our trip. Time and the elements – or just lack of interest – prevented us from going after nearly all of them. The only geocache we were determined to go find was the Original Stash Tribute Plaque, where the game of geocaching originated. It was located rather out of the way, outside of Oregon City, Oregon. We found the plaque, snapped a couple of pictures, found the cache, and were quickly on our way to Portland.

First Geocache Tribute Cache

Downtown Portland is an interesting place. It has many of the oddities you’d expect a big city to have, just a bit smaller in scale in most regards. The river walk was pretty busy, probably due to it being an unusually pleasant day for February, but the city itself wasn’t too much abuzz with cars and people, which was nice.

Williamette River

We stopped in to Old Town Pizza, an establishment that’s been reported to be haunted and a local favorite. We sat in the back booth where it is rumored a girl named Nina died after being thrown down an elevator shaft (and is now the booth we dined in). None of us could claim that we experienced the spirit of the girl visiting us, but it did make for some interesting conversation while we dined.

Old Town Pizza

Keeping in theme with the unusual, we stopped into Voodoo Doughnut, where they claim that “The magic is in the hole.” They have some rather interesting types of doughnuts such as the Voodoo Doll Doughnut (a voodoo doll filled with red berry filling, impaled with a pretzel stick), the Bacon Maple Bar (a maple bar topped with bacon), and the Cock-n-Balls (shaped like, well … as it sounds).

Voodoo Doughnuts

While none of us were brave or hungry enough to order the Cock-n-Balls (it was rather large, after all) but we did enjoy our choices as we walked down the street in search of Powell’s Books. After wandering a bit and asking directions (it wasn’t on our map!) we found the book store. There’s a reason why this place is so well known. Not only is it huge, it houses an incredible variety of books!

Baby Daddy

Our day ended with a feast at Christine’s sister’s home. Her husband is an incredible cook and made us a delicious meal that would have taken us days to finish, had we the time. Tomorrow we depart on our return trip to California.

Check out the trip photo set.

Memorable quote: “I can’t believe that I’m saying it’s warm while walking around Portland in February!” – Gabe

This entry is going back to Cali … I don’t think so.

Feb 19 2009

Lewis & Clark

Today – yes, I’m actually posting on the same day for once – we left Seaside and drove up to Fort Clatsop. This is the area where Lewis & Clark finally came to the Pacific Ocean and stayed the winter of 1805-1806. We learned a lot about the expedition and found some new respect for the men and their journey.

Fort Clatsop

We went on to Astoria, Oregon where we tried to climb the Astoria Column only to find it was closed for maintenance. The tower itself was quite interesting, though. After the tower, we visited the Maritime Museum and learned much about the history of sailing and the coast guard – we even got to tour an old light ship that was used to help ships find the mouth of the mighty Columbia River.

Light Ship Columbia

With the long Astoria-Megler Bridge in sight, the decision was clear that we’d be driving into Washington and taking the northern route to Christine’s parent’s home. This also happened to be the reported general route of the Lewis & Clark expedition. Wouldn’t they be astounded by how easy it is now to cross the country now?

Check out the trip photo set.

This entry probably isn’t rugged enough to have made the journey on foot.

Feb 19 2009

Three Nights in Seaside

Seaside is a sleepy little town in winter. Our arrival on President’s Day deceived us, as there were still plenty of people about town. The next morning, as we walked the downtown area, the town seemed almost deserted – not that we minded. After our first restful night, we visited with Christine’s family who had rented a house a few blocks from where we were staying. We checked out the local aquarium and fed the sea lions there.

Feeding the sea lions

Most of our trips don’t allow for Sam & Rece to have much time to pursue their own adventures. We felt that Seaside would be a good place to let them roam freely. They enjoyed spending time away from our watchful eyes and to do whatever they felt they wanted without having to worry about them getting into trouble. They seemed to enjoy their freedom and looked like they were enjoying the vacation even more.

Seaside, Oregon

One morning we rented some beach cycles and had fun riding them around on the beach. Christine’s nephew hadn’t much experience riding a bike, but took to these without any problem.

Beach Cycles - Traffic Jam

Christine and I checked out Cannon Beach to take some photos and to watch the sunset. With the large rocks on the coast and a setting sun, it wasn’t difficult to take a lot of great pictures and enjoy the view.

Cannon Beach - Near Haystack Rock

We spent 3 nights in Seaside and left feeling rested and ready to move on to more adventures.

Check out the trip photo set.

This entry would love a cabin at the beach.

Feb 18 2009

The road to Seaside

The drive between Newport and Seaside is only around 3 hours, if one were to drive straight through. In our ordinary fashion, we nearly doubled that time by stopping at a few places along the way. The first of these stops was the Tillamook Air Museum in Tillamook, Oregon.


Within this emense wooden structure you can find a large collection of vintage aircraft. The history of the place is intriguing and the building itself is incredible (the world’s largest wooden structure). This is definitely worth a stop for anybody traveling through the area.

Our second stop was the Tillamook Cheese Factory. We’d all driven by this place before on various trips of our own – and we all really liked yummy, delicious cheese – so we planned to go on the tour of the place. We enjoyed a lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and cheese and broccoli soup at their cafe. If you’re like us, and like good cheese, this is a great place to check out!


We arrived in Seaside, Oregon and checked in to the Tradewinds Motel, our home for the next 3 nights. As daylight faded, the colors of the sky shifted from blue to orange, then warmed up to red. I grabbed my camera and ran out on to the beach to take some shots. The peaceful feeling that came over me warmed me, even in the brisk evening air.


Check out the trip photo set.

Memorable quote: “My lips feel like lizards!” – Gabe

This entry will never get tired of watching an ocean sunset.

Feb 18 2009

<- Big Tree

The magic hour of photography refers to the hour after sunrise and hour before sunset, when natural light appears warmer and more diffuse. It was for this reason that I decided to wake up at the early hour of 5:45 am on Sunday morning. What I didn’t know was that sunrise this far north wouldn’t occur until shortly after 7:00 am. So fully awake, I looked out of our cabin door into darkness.


What was nice about the darkness was that it allowed me to see the moon – which meant that the sky was clear and that it wouldn’t be raining this morning. This was good news after yesterday’s dark and wet drive.

We went down to the Seascape restaurant for breakfast, which had an excellent view of Trinidad bay. Breakfast was excellent and very filling, thanks to some very generous portions. The morning sun rose and literally brightened our day.


Due to the hour that we had arrived the night before, we were unable to take pictures of our cabin, so we made a point of doing that when we checked out.


Christine has talked about elk and Elk Radio – “All elk, all the time” – often enough that I had planned to stop at a couple of locations along the way where they were known to graze. We happened upon a group of them and managed to get out of the car and snap some pictures before scaring the herd away.


The next stop on our list was the last bit of the redwood forest. The weather was perfect for a short walk through the giant trees and the lighting was good for some pictures, even in the shaded groves of redwoods. The 9-mile drive through Prairie Creek Redwood State Park is a great way to check out the redwoods if you’re driving along highway 101, but don’t have the time for an extended excursion into the forest.


Another quick stop was just as we were driving into Klamath, California, where we got to drive the car through a redwood tree.


With the redwoods behind us our next destination was Newport, Oregon. The drive along the coast was beautiful, with the improved weather conditions. We made good time and still got to stop at a few places along the way that we found interesting.


Arriving in Newport, late Sunday afternoon, we checked into our hotel and got in touch with my friends, Melanie & Brian. We decided on a place to eat and met them there for dinner. We decided to send the kids back to the hotel to watch a movie while the 4 of us went out for a few drinks. Melanie had it in her mind to get me to sing karaoke, which I only agreed to do after having a couple of beers. We had a lot of fun watching Brian and others sing, and enjoyed some good conversation before it was time to call it a night. It was good to finally meet them in person.


Check out the trip photo set.

Memorable quote: “Look, ponies … oh, they’re elk!” – Christine

This entry is gonna love you forever and ever, amen.

Feb 14 2009

Entering the Redwoods

After a rocky start, we managed to get on the road last night and made some progress north and then checked into a motel. With a fresh start in the morning we progressed through central California and then into Oakland, before crossing the bay into San Raphel to catch the 101.

As with most of our trips, we front-loaded the driving on the first day. Our goal was to get up to the Redwood Forest with enough daylight left to be able to enjoy them. Mother Nature decided to dampen our plans, literally, but we did still manage to get a good look at some mighty redwoods along The Avenue of the Giants.

Fallen RedwoodOh, how the mighty have fallen!

The clouds hung over the mountains, dropping sporadic showers on us as we traveled. The dark sky and drops of rain did not deter me from trying to take some pictures! Late in the afternoon, we stopped as a shower broke a bit and walked amongst the giants – and even encountered a couple of deer!

“Damn paparazzi!”

With a cloudy sky and progressively fading daylight, I snapped one more picture of the gang to help show the scale of these mighty redwoods.

Big Redwood
Are we done giggling yet?

Our adventure in the redwoods isn’t over just yet. We’re staying in a cute little cabin at the Emerald Forest of Trinidad (they even offer free Wi-Fi!), with a good chunk of the redwood forest left to explore! Hopefully the weather will be a little better for pictures tomorrow.

Check out the trip photo set.

Memorable quote: “Barstow is the gateway to fun!” – Christine

This entry likes to wander the forest primeval.

Dec 26 2008

Merry Christmas!

Here are 2 pictures, taken on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, respectively. Hope everybody had a wonderful Christmas and that they were surrounded by those people that they love most, as I was.

December 24, 2008

Shirley was snug as a bug in a rug in her dog coat. Greyhounds have very thin skin, almost no body fat, and only a veneer of fur – so they get cold much quicker than most other dogs.

December 25, 2008

I tried taking pictures of a rubber ducky, but they didn’t turn out, so I decided to try catching a match as it was lit. This was the only shot out of 23 to be in focus and luckily it was also in mid-light. This turned out to be more complicated than anticipated, meaning that I’ll have to experiment with it again someday … preferably after my head has cleared from dizziness of inhaling sulphur fumes.

This entry wants it’s two front teeth.

Dec 21 2008

Early Christmas

Christine’s daughter, Sam, flies back to New York every year to spend winter break and Christmas with her father. For the last 3 years Rece and I have had the pleasure of joining them for their celebration of Christmas the day before she leaves. We share their tradition of orange cinnamon rolls and exchanging gifts and spending time together doing some fun things.

Despite how it may appear, Sam wasn’t tired or in a bad mood – I just caught her off-guard.

 December 20, 2008

To be honest, the original shot wasn’t very good at all. When I opened it in Photoshop I didn’t have a clue as to what to do with it, so I just fixed the red eye and let Photoshop auto correct the tone, color, contrast, etc and then I cropped it to what you see here. I think it turned out pretty good.

This entry now understands that a bad shot can sometimes be a good one.

Sep 1 2008

Back to nature to escape the heat

It’s been too warm and humid lately for me to feel up to doing much physical activity. The result of remaining sedentary for so long is that I’m finding myself pretty out of shape. Christine recently asked if we could go up to the mountains to get away from the city life and to reconnect with nature. Seeing how this was the last weekend before Sam and Rece began school, we decided to go.

We drove up to the San Bernardino National Forest and made our way from Lake Arrowhead (or at least above it) to Big Bear. With some quick checking the night before, I had found a couple of hikes that we could do and downloaded the coordinates for a half a dozen caches that sounded interesting.

The part we’ll likely remember the most is the hike up to Castle Rock. It’s a short hike of about 1 mile each way. What makes this hike interesting is the steep incline – about 600′ in 1/4 mile. Our not-so-top physical condition and the higher altitude made this short hike seem like quite a workout. When we finally did reach Castle Rock, gasping for breath, we were rewarded with a beautiful view and plenty of fresh air. Rece and I decided to climb to the top of Castle Rock and had a lot of fun climbing the rocks. The view from the top was definitely worth it. We enjoyed a hearty lunch of MREs and relaxed for awhile.

After finishing lunch and making our descent, we drove around Big Bear Lake before heading back home to feast on nachos and beer. A good day, indeed!

We snapped a few pictures along the way. Here’s the photo gallery from the pictures taken with my camera.

This entry’s legs feel just the right amount of ache.