Our second year diving in Turks & Caicos, and it was as beautiful as the last! My oldest daughter got dive certified, and we spent much of the trip on the boat with Big Blue Diving Co, exploring the islands and spending as much time as possible in the water.Pin It
A photo essay of our pre-Christmas ski trip to Whitefish, Montana via Amtrak:Pin It
Every year, for almost twenty years (with a few exceptions, especially when the girls were really young), we’ve traveled to Washington’s San Juan Islands for our summer vacation. It is so much like home to us that we got married at Roche Harbor, and we return there every year now. We stay in the same place – Heron House – and make sure to observe our many traditions:
* ice cream from the kiosk on our way to watch colors from the dock
* dinner out at McMillans over the water
* boating to Stuart Island for a hike to (and picnic at) Turnpoint Lighthouse, the westernmost point in the United States
* doughnuts each morning from Lime Kiln Cafe
* wandering around the sculpture garden, to see what new art has been added and to check whether Alfred the Alligator is still there
* a quick (hah!) stop at the candy kiosk to stock up for the day ahead
* boating with Grams to Jones Island to hand feed the deer and have a hot dog roast and s’mores
* getting lucky enough this year to see orcas – not once, but twice – including the once-in-a-million chance of seeing them from Turnpoint Lighthouse
* kayaking in the nearby bays, and visiting a kelp bed that was home to over a dozen very curious seals
* watching the local theater company’s outdoor presentation of a Shakespearean play – this year it was Twelfth Night
On our way home, we always drive over Deception Pass onto Whidbey Island so that we can stop at Knead and Feed in Coupeville – the best breakfasts in the world! Then we catch the Keystone ferry to Port Townsend and drive to Bainbridge Island, where we spend an afternoon and I can make my annual pilgrimage to Churchmouse Yarns & Teas (and don’t forget the world’s best ice cream at Mora!) Then, the long drive home.
Here’s a photo essay of this year’s trip:Pin It
A fun three days in San Francisco and the bay area – although the 14-hour drive on either side of those three days was a little much!
Day 1: Walk to the Golden Gate Bridge, shop and browse along Chestnut Street, eat at Super Duper Burger and stop at Kara’s Cupcakes for dessert.
Day 2: Day trip to Monterey Bay Aquarium, eat fish and chips on the waterfront, visit Stanford (my alma mater) on the way back.
Day 3: Breakfast in Haight-Ashbury, then on to Golden Gate Park – the California Academy of Sciences museum, hot dogs while sitting at the bandstand, then a stroll around Stow Lake and a visit with the lake’s extensive population of painted turtles!
A lot of wonderful things to see and do, although I had forgotten how crowded it is EVERYWHERE in the Bay area . . . I confess to being glad to come home to the peace and serenity of our country housePin It
It’s really hot this week here in Oregon, so I biked early yesterday, leaving the house at 6am. My ride followed the Willamette River for over an hour and a half, from Oregon City to Milwaukie to Sellwood, and finally into downtown Portland, where I arrived just in time for the start of the weekly Farmer’s Market. What a beautiful morning to ride, especially when my destination is someplace as breathtaking as the river walk in the early morning!
We spent a gorgeous day at Smith Rock, in the high desert of central Oregon, learning to rock climb. It was a lot of fun, and not as difficult as I had feared! All of the girls gave it a try, and I even managed to climb all the way to the top of the “beginner” route. What a spectacular day to spend outdoorsPin It
A couple of beautiful days (and evenings) at Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast . . .Pin It
I can never wander into a garden or flower shop without finding something I can’t live without – like this succulent, which goes so well with this vintage-looking milk glass jar:
Or this unique, perfectly spring and perfectly pink flower arrangement, that complements the milk glass jar-turned-vase perfectly:
The store is Starflower on SE Belmont in downtown Portland – just a little nook of a shop, but so many beautiful things to choose from!Pin It
The beaches on Turks & Caicos had an amazing variety of beautiful, teeny-tiny seashells – so small that dozens of them would fit in your hands. The girls filled their pockets and we brought home some of the really special ones as souvenirs. When we got home, I didn’t want them just sitting in a drawer, or dumped in a jar where we couldn’t look at them individually and appreciate each one.
So, I used some authentic Turks & Caicos sand and created a candle centerpiece. The best thing about displaying them this way? You can see each shell, marvel at its miniature perfection, and be transported back to the moment when we were on the beach at Turks & Caicos.Pin It
It’s so ironic that it’s already April, and only just now is the snowpack getting really good on Mt. Hood! We took advantage of a break in the spring rains for a late-season family day on the slopes.
The results of our traditional heading-up-the-mountain stop at Joe’s Donuts.
We can already tell on the drive up that it’s going to be a beautiful day to ski on Mt. Hood!
The crew crests the top of the hill on the Express Lift.
Ready to head down the mountain!
I’m loving the bluebird sky up on Cascade . . .Pin It
Although rain clouds threatened during my run along the Portland waterfront yesterday, it still afforded me a beautiful view of Waterfront Park’s flowering cherry trees, from the east side of the river:
And the west side:Pin It
We just returned from a week in paradise – the Turks & Caicos Islands in the Caribbean, to be precise. I’ve traveled fairly extensively in the South Pacific and around Hawaii, and nothing can compare to this beautiful place! The sand is white powder, so soft it feels like powdered sugar . . . because the water is shallow along many of the beaches, the color of the water is an unearthly turquoise, and there are only small waves to stir up the sand and cloud the visibility. As a result, you can walk out into the water for hundreds of yards without getting in too deep, and once you start to swim, the water is calm and a warm 80 degrees or so.
We rented a villa this time, opting to get away from the busy hotel strip, and as a result, we had the entire beach in front of our villa almost entirely to ourselves for swimming, kayaking, and lounging.
We day-tripped to Malcolm Road Beach twice – both times it was almost completely deserted and we had the entire stretch of miles of beach all to ourselves.
We spent three days out on the water with Big Blue Diving, whale watching, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Our oldest daughter accomplished her first solo dive to 40 feet, and we dove past 100 feet – although the water was so clear and warm, it hardly felt like half that depth. We saw sting rays, reef sharks, nurse sharks, giant groupers having their mouths cleaned by tiny little fish, six-foot grey snapper, barracuda, countless flying fish, a beautiful array of angelfish, butterfly fish, and tiny iridescent fish in all sorts of colors.
The highlight was a chance encounter with a thirty-foot whale shark – not a native to the area, he was just passing through, but stopped to swim with us for over an hour. He was as curious about us as we were about him, and oftentimes we had to swim away so that we didn’t end up on his back or pushed into his gigantic nose!
During one outing, our boat anchored at shell beach on one of the cays for a snack, shell-hunting, and the world’s most gorgeous view.
We also ventured out to Long Bay Beach – not a great place for swimming, but we loved watching the kite boarders, and there were so many conch shells washed up, we lost count.
We all agreed that this was the best vacation that any of us had ever had, in one of the most beautiful places on earth!Pin It
A photo journal of my run this morning along the Clackamas and Willamette Rivers:Pin It
We took a wonderful family vacation to British Columbia this past week – here’s a pictorial journal of our trip:
The first leg of our trip was to Vancouver, B.C., where we spent the day in Stanley Park:
We spent several hours at the Vancouver Aquarium, where we got to see beluga whales, many different kinds of jellyfish, dolphins, penguins, otters, and a great sea lions / seals show:
The Aquarium also had an impressive Amazon rainforest exhibit, that included blue macaws and scarlet ibis:
We rented bikes for the girls and rode the entire circumference of Stanley Park – a perfect ride with kids, because it’s flat, great views, on a separated one-way bike path:
We stopped for lunch partway around the island at the Teahouse, then walked along Ferguson Point to admire the northwest views:
We also stopped to watch a mama river otter bring up crabs for her two babies to eat – they were on rocks right off of the seawall, no more than ten feet from where we stood:
The next day, we traveled by water bus to Granville Island:
We visited the artists’ studios and grabbed breakfast at the amazing public market, with an untold number of food and art booths:
There was a quiet park at the end of Granville Island where we took a few minutes to relax, enjoy the view, and escape from the crowds:
The next day, Rich and I went for an early ride all along Vancouver’s amazing bike trails, with multiple stops to admire the views:
Then we drove to Tsawwassen and boarded a ferry to the Gulf Islands:
We stayed at Poet’s Cove on Pender Island – this is the sunset view from our cottage:
Here’s the water view of Poet’s Cove, as we traveled by boat the next morning to the Saturday Market on Salt Spring Island:
On our final day, we went kayaking around the island:
We saw so much wildlife, including a buck grazing at sunrise right off our deck, many blue herons, and this huge unidentified jellyfish:
One of our favorite sights was the abundant bright purple starfish:
We returned to Pender Island’s bookstore, bakery, and the Cafe at Hope Bay – a wonderful place to sit out on the dock and have lunch – we were buzzed by a bald eagle, flying right above our heads:
Our final leg of the journey was to travel by boat to Roche Harbor on San Juan Island – every year we hike Stuart Island to Turnpoint Lighthouse and take some gorgeous pictures, but this year we visited Turnpoint Lighthouse by sea:
Rich and I were married at Roche Harbor 15 years ago, and always enjoy returning to see the chapel:
and the 1920s-style resort:
Every time we visit Roche Harbor, we walk through the sculpture garden – the girls love all of the different art, and find some very unique ways to interact with the sculptures:
Finally, we celebrated our last night in the islands with ice cream on the dock:
We even enjoyed our drive home, going to Knead and Feed in Coupeville (with the world’s best breakfasts and cinnamon rolls the size of your head), taking the ferry from Coupeville to Port Townsend, then spending the afternoon on beautiful Bainbridge Island, and driving home via the Olympic Peninsula.Pin It
It’s never a good idea for me to wander into an arts festival – I always see so many things I love, it’s hard for me to get out of there without racking up the purchases! This time, my purchases wouldn’t even fit in my Mini Cooper, and I had to come back later with a bigger vehicle
The Lake Oswego Arts Festival is one of my favorites, and I always find so many beautiful things to admire and fall in love with. This year, my dad and I made a summer morning of it, going to the farmers market for pastries and coffee, and then wandering over to the arts festival when the morning was still cool and before the crowds descended. I bought hand woven tea towels from Whimsey and Tea; it was so nice to get to chat with the weaver and look at her color inspirations, and I loved her philosophy around using beautiful things in everyday life, instead of storing them away for “some day.”
I also found artwork for the blank space above the bed in the master bedroom, which has sat vacant since we remodeled this past winter. I have always loved photographs of nature, but I was looking for something a little different, and this fit the bill: these photos are printed on aluminum plates, and as a result, they glow, almost as if lit from underneath. The photography and the media give these photos of grasses such an artistic look, almost a cross between a photograph and a painting. I love how saturated the color is, and how something as simple as grasses is transformed. The artist is local to us, and he sells his work online under the name Elemental Images.
My major purchase from this year’s arts festival was new outdoor furniture; I had thought I’d hold off on replacing the heavy, metal upholstered furniture by the cottage until next year, but these pieces were so perfect I couldn’t pass them up. Classic, simple, color-saturated, and affordable, what more could you ask for? It was incredibly difficult to choose from all the wonderful colors, but I went with two of the lime green chairs, and an eggplant love seat and end table. I love how these two colors go together, and the eggplant is almost an exact match to the aubergine of my new trellis.
The chairs are a very clever design – just two pieces, and you can break them apart so that they fold up, then quickly re-assemble them. There are no hinges or metal parts to rust or break off, and they’re designed and painted to withstand the wet Northwest weather. Best of all, if they start to look a little shabby, a coat of paint will re-brighten them.
The furniture is from Laughing Creek Productions in Seattle – check out their website, the different chair designs and all of the custom colors are fabulous! And, they’ll be at art shows all around the Northwest this summer, so check their schedule to see if there’s one coming near you.Pin It
Our family’s “urban hike” this past weekend included time in the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, in the Eastmoreland neighborhood near Sellwood. Right now is the height of the rhodie bloom season, and the bushes are gorgeous, but there’s so much else to see, as well – ponds, a lake, waterfalls, countless ducks and geese, and this time of year, there are even baby goslings We were excited when we saw a critter swimming around in the lake that we first thought was a beaver, but then concluded that it had a long, skinny tail so it was more likely a nutria. The girls love any chance to spot wildlife, so they never tired of finding another creature they could point out.
Because we had such unseasonably warm and beautiful weather this year, we celebrated Easter by hiking in the Columbia River Gorge. I found a “secret” hiking location in this article which, because it’s on private property, is not well-known; as advertised, it was almost deserted, even on such a beautiful weekend, and we didn’t see a single other person during the entire hike (my kind of hike!) We were hiking in the foothills of Mt. Hood, above the town of Hood River, and the view from the top was unbelievable.
We saw many different kinds of wildflowers, already in full bloom (I wish I knew their names):
Amazingly, from the summit if you looked one direction, you could see Mt. Adams (look closely and you can even see another mountain in the background, maybe Mt. Rainier):
Then turn another direction, and you have this gorgeous view of Mt. Hood:
I love how all of the farmland is spread out at the foot of Mt. Hood – most of these acres are planted in pear, cherry, and apple orchards, in a month or so, the blooms will be gorgeous!
We’re walking down off of the bluffs here (if you look closely, you can see us – the tiny dots – near the top of the hill – this gives you some idea of the scale of the panorama!) This would be the perfect location to re-film the opening credits from Sound of Music:
After our hike, we stopped for a much-deserved ice cream cone at a funky little house on Oak Street in Hood River:Pin It
One of our ongoing family activities is “urban hikes” – a chance to get out and about, and introduce the girls to all of the different neighborhoods in Portland. There are so many cool places that even I’ve never seen, and I’ve lived here most of my life! Each different part of the city has a different feel, and it’s fun to talk about what it must be like to live there, how it’s different (and the same) from where we live, and to explore the shops, parks, and foodstuffs (we’re particularly always on the lookout for cupcake shops!)
Last weekend, we chose NE Alberta Street – known in Portland as a hip, kinda edgy, up-and-coming neighborhood with a lot of young people. We found Green Bean Books, an awesome independent bookstore tucked away in a tiny little house that specializes mainly in children’s books. We also found a crafting mecca, in the form of Collage, Modern Domestic, Bolt, and Close Knit – I’d died and gone to fabric and yarn heaven! We passed up Salt & Straw
(and the long line, even on a chilly day in March) to visit Random Order Coffeehouse and Bakery – an interesting combination of a (liquor) bar and a (pie) bar owned by someone we went to law school with (a much better career choice than becoming a lawyer, I’d say!) The pie was AMAZING – of course, we only sampled the chocolate cream (my entire family being chocoholics), but the many other varieties looked incredible, too.
We rounded out the day by getting my oldest daughter’s ears pierced (well really, just one ear – she got them pierced for her 12th birthday, and one had closed up, so we rectified that) and window shopping up and down Alberta between 12th and 26th. The weather cooperated – just barely – but it was too cold for a longer walk to one of the nearby parks. There were several restaurants along the way – all pretty much hole-in-the-wall establishments – that I’d love to come back and try another day.
The giant pacific octopus was very active during our visit to Newport this week – apparently he knew it was feeding time! Usually, because they’re nocturnal, whenever we visit an aquarium the octopus is holed up in a cave or crevice in the back of the tank, so we were very excited to get to watch this one “in action.” He was zooming from side to side in the tank, popping up to the top of the water, and then spreading out his tentacles and floating down like a large, upside-down umbrella. When the caretaker fed him, he scratched his head like a dog and handed him clams.
I think that octopus are fascinating creatures – supposedly very smart, and so ingeniously made! I could have sat and watched this one for hours . . .
We loved our trip to Hualalai on the Kona side of the Big Island so much last year that we returned same place, same time this year – and Hawaii didn’t disappoint! Gorgeous weather – perfect temperature, no rain, light winds. Many afternoons, the rest of the island would have big clouds hanging over it, but the thin strip of coastline stayed clear and blue all the way up and down the beach.
My routine each day was to get up at sunrise and either run a five-mile loop on the coastal trail, or swim laps in the oceanside pool. By then, the girls would be up and we’d all walk over to the coffee bar by the fitness center to get smoothies for breakfast.
By 9am, we’d head out, either to our “secret” beach at Kue Bay, or for a boat dive / snorkeling trip. Back by noon, we’d grab lunch at the oceanside restaurant only steps from our rooms, and then I’d nap or read on the chaise lounges around the pool or oceanside, while the girls swam in the pool or snorkeled in the ocean right in front of the resort. We’d take a mid-afternoon “break” for a frozen yogurt treat at the Surf Snack oceanside. Clean up, a dinner outside on the restaurant deck at sunset, and then off to bed early to do it all over again the next day! This is a routine I could definitely stick to for a LONG time without getting tired of it.
I can’t recommend Four Seasons Hualili highly enough – the resort grounds are beautiful, our rooms were wonderfully appointed and just steps from the pool and beach, there were no crowds, and the staff is so kind and helpful, it really helps you relax and enjoy your vacation. I also loved diving with Lobo Del Mar – a family-operated charter boat company that took us on a night dive last year to see the manta rays, and this year took us out to dive while the girls snorkeled. On the first day, we ended up diving (and snorkeling) right in the middle of a pod of dolphins, who kept circling around that playing near us the entire time we were in the water. Lots of baby dolphins, too . . . there’s really nothing more amazing than being underwater and literally having a pod of dolphins swim above and around you! I’ve found that diving is like that – you can never predict what you’ll see, and sometimes you get lucky!
We saw lots of other wildlife, as well, including the giant sea turtles that pull up on the beaches every afternoon to rest – we saw the turtles while out swimming, too, in fact there was one cruising through the breakers at Kue Bay and we followed him the entire length of the beach. We also liked the geckos – wicked fast, and check out the greens, blues and reds on these guys!