Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fun on the Water

On my 35th birthday last year I made a vow to myself that this would be the year for trying new things. One of the things on my list I knew I wanted to do was kayaking. What better way to experience something new than to take some friends along! So, before the Shrums headed back to Nashville, we kayaked with Anacortes Kayak Tours, near the San Juan Islands, and we had a blast! I will definitely be doing this again!

The guide didn't know quite what to do with our rambunctious group... Can you blame her?

Here we are in action.

We spent close to 2 hours on the water and even rowed one kayak at a time into a cave. While we were out we got to see a lot of sea life. The coolest things were the 2 porpoises we watched for awhile, but we didn't get any pictures of them because as soon as they were coming out of the water, they were diving right back in.

Here's Big I with a moon jellyfish.

A giant purple starfish

A blue heron

There is a TON of kelp in the Puget Sound waters. Our guide not only showed us that it is edible (and yes I did try a bite - why not? I wouldn't make a meal of it, but it wasn't that bad actually), she showed us how it can be made into a musical instrument. Here is Kevin giving the kelp horn a good blow. He looks like he came straight out of The Lord of the Rings here!

After our kayak adventure we stopped off at Deception Pass, one of our favorite spots, to see the beautiful scenery and climb on the rocks

Another exceptionally enjoyable day!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Camping (Day 3): Pacific Coast

We stayed two nights at the rain forest and then packed up on the third day. We were only 40 miles from the Pacific Coast, so we had to pay it a visit on the way home. And, no we did not skip ahead to fall. This is Rialto Beach on a late July morning!

The temp was probably in the upper 50's/low 60's that morning and it's always windy on the coast. And the wind and the water is always cold, especially when there is no sun to take off the edge.

I think these people, however, were a little confused. They had their swimsuits on and were diving & playing in the water as if they were in Destin, FL!

We were quite comfortable in our multiple layers!

The amazing amount of driftwood on the shore can easily provide hours of entertainment... Here's Hannah drumming.

The guys batted a few rocks out into the waves.

We found Fred Flinstone...

... a hair dryer...

... and a giant slingshot!

And, as is the custom on beaches up here, Hannah found a fort to play in.

In the distance is the town of LaPush, where we went to eat lunch, before making the nearly 4-hr drive home.

Here's a sign you don't see in the south! Poor little tsunami guy. It just doesn't look like he's going to make it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Camping (Day 2): In the River & Through the Woods, Exploring We Must Go!

Our camping trip was full of exploration. And, wow, did we have a lot of beautiful territory to do that in! We decided to walk a trail called the "Hall of Mosses". It should have only taken an hour, but with our 2 kids, I'm sure we at least doubled that.

Here they are climbing in the background. Hannah, especially, wanted to scale every large climbable tree we happened upon, and in a rain forest, there are a lot of those!

When we saw this tree Hannah exclaimed that it looked like a dinosaur - a pteranodon to be exact - and we all agreed.

Isaac amusing us with his moss beard.

The rain forest offered us amazingly old & huge trees of all shapes that we climbed on, over & through as well as ferns the size of people. We walked on logs over a clear pond where Hannah tried earnestly to catch a tadpole. After all that adventure we needed a break, so Kaitlyn napped and we refueled on campfire-roasted hot dogs for lunch.

After lunch we decided to explore the Hoh River, which was a short walk from our campsite. The girls had a blast playing in the icy water...

... and so did the adults. Janet & I didn't let the guys have all the fun, I just wasn't about to post pictures of us dunking our heads in! But, it was extremely refreshing!

One thing about camping - you can't be afraid to get dirty, and thankfully our girls have no problem with that! There was so much mud on Kaitlyn's pants they just came right off of her!

One great thing about our afternoon at the river was the herd of elk that was sunbathing down the bank aways. We all kept our eye on each other while we were out there! You might have to click on the picture to get a better view of them.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Camping (Day 1): Crabs, Elk & Deer Oh My!

We really enjoy camping, so we were excited to share some camping adventures with the Shrums while they were here. We took a ferry over to the Olympic Peninsula and camped in the Olympic National Forest. Half the fun was the journey there though! We passed through the lovely town of Sequim (pronounced Squim), where there are fields and fields of lavender. You could smell their wonderful fragrance just by rolling down the windows. I wouldn't mind living here...

The drive was beautiful with the Olympic Mountains to our left and a body of water known as the Strait of Juan de Fuca to our right. It connects the Pacific Ocean with the Puget Sound and on the other side of it is Canada, which we could see in the distance. We found an out-of-the-way lunch spot right on the water overlooking Canada called 3 Crabs. The food was great, but it made us kind of crabby... I blame my dad for my corny sense of humor! Oh well, it's all I got! Had to get a picture of this sign:

Funny: "Sorry, if you're not a crab, or crabby maybe :), you can't park here." Irony: ONLY for "3 Crabs" - as if there were a lot of other reasons to go down a long dirt road in the middle of nowhere, the only destination being this restaurant. "Sorry, if you meant to go to McDonald's 50 miles in the opposite direction, you can't park here." Thanks, sign, for giving us some good laughs!

Part of our journey led us along Lake Crescent, the most sparkling crystal-blue lake I think I've ever seen. The picture doesn't do it justice. It was stunning.

I'll include this for any Twilight fans... or non-fans. Forks was the last town we went through before our turn-off to the campground. Yes, we were in "vampire" country. And, oh my, has Forks gotten in on all the hype! On one of the guys' trips out for ice they spoke to a store employee that said there are people from other countries traveling to Forks just to take their Twilight Tours. Aside from some pretty scenery, there is absolutely nothing out here! And it's not even like they're traveling to some historical setting. It's not real. Hard to believe what some people will do.

Several hours after departing from home, we finally arrived at the Hoh Rain Forest campground. It had been a fun day, but the girls especially were ready to be at our final destination! At our brief stop at the ranger station to pay our park fee we read about the danger in getting too close to the elk, which apparently were there in abundance. A distance of less than 100 feet could cause them to charge. With that in mind, before we could even begin unloading our vehicle at our campsite, Mr. Elk came sauntering up. Most of us cautiously got back in the car, while Kevin captured some great pictures, as he passed slowly through our site. It was exciting to see one this close. The girls still haven't stopped talking about the elk they got to see!

As we put up the tents and prepared for dinner, this deer joined us. Our trip had only just begun and we were excited to have already had these visitors! (I was fine as long as I didn't think about the possibility of something bigger and not-so-cuddly coming around at night!)


There's just something about food cooked over a campfire that tastes so good! (Especially when it involves marshmallows, chocolate & graham crackers - got to be my favorite part of camping!)

And the girls haven't been quite this excited to go to "bed" in a long time! It was sweet listening in from outside the tent as they talked & giggled before falling asleep, which they did do - eventually. Good memories I hope they'll keep with them!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Mountain

Seattle is surrounded by mountains - the Olympic Mountain Range to the west and the Cascades to the east. But everyone in Seattle knows which mountain is "the" mountain and that's Mt. Rainier. Standing at 14,410 feet, Mt. Rainier is the largest active volcano in the continental U.S. It's peak is covered by more glaciers than any other mountain in the U.S. as well. So, we had to take the Shrums to see it!

Check out this picnic spot!

Hannah & Kaitlyn took a quick break from our group snow-ball fight. Hannah sure was vicious with the snow!

We found access to this stream on one of the trails we hiked. It was so refreshing to stick our feet in the ice-cold water!

Hannah got a bit carried away - oh, but what fun she had!

Here we all are at Paradise Point.

Little Hop-Along with her Daddy crossing over the waterfall seen in the previous picture.

A deer almost joined us on our second picnic of the day...

... along with a silver fox!

What a fun day we had playing on the mountain!