Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Just an average day of crushing dreams

Once upon a time, like on Sunday, I covered the fire district memorial ceremony for the newspaper. I always feel bad when I'm sent out on these kinds of missions because I'm a writer, not a photographer (we have a great photographer, so I really suffer by comparison), and also because I only partially know what I'm doing a great deal of the time.

Eh, what could happen? Besides getting fired for being a sham, I mean.

Simulated fire truck.

I was only slightly late, and anyway it didn't matter because the ceremony hadn't started yet. I set up next to some friendly faces and started to shoot. I walked around like I knew what I was doing (when in doubt, just fake it, you guys. Totally works), trying not to block anyone because I'm more a door than a window. (Well, you would be too if you were 6-feet tall. Even if you're shrinking.)

Here's what I learned: It is HARD taking photos and notes at the same time. I'm usually interviewing at my desk via the phone. Less chance of tripping, that's why.

Part way through I see two boys standing at attention by the fire trucks, mimicking the stance of the large group of assembled firefighters there for the memorial. So I snap some pictures and quietly ask their names, and then go about my business.

When the ceremony was over, one of the boys came up to me and started telling me all kinds of great stuff--how he's 11, and he wants to be a firefighter as soon as he's old enough, and how he actually goes on calls now with his dad, who's an EMT, but he has to stay in the car.

"Although one time, I did help a lady because she fell down and there wasn't anyone around to pick her up," he said earnestly. "But then I went right back to the car."

So much awesome.

Anyway, so as we're talking and I'm taking notes, he asks if I'm with the news. When I told him I was, he immediately yelled to his buddy, WE'RE GONNA BE ON TV!

Seriously, I loved this kid. But I didn't love telling that adorable face that we're talking print, not television.

Ah, well. I'd say it's not every day I get to crush dreams, but it kind of is. (That's called "parenthood.") And P.S., there wasn't even room to print the picture. Anyone else have a dream they'd like crushed? I'm on a roll over here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

School supplies, or alternatively: I feel a rant coming on

So you guys, I really hate shopping for school supplies. I hate the whole ordeal. It's one big gimmick, and it's stupid and wasteful and dumb. We get a new list every single year and you're expected to buy it all new. Even if your kid comes home with a backpack AND grocery sack filled with leftover supplies at the end of the previous year, most of which is still perfectly usable.

It just drives me nuts.

Well, I was going to step off that train THIS year, thank you very much, so at the end of last school year, I had the girls put every single reusable thing into a box. The Box of Awesome. I figured it was just a matter of organization, really--if you have a stash, that should logically cut down on the shopping and waste, right? I even included the fourth grade list Johanna brought home (although I failed to actually read it because hello, summer vacation. I don't like to think about that kind of thing until the very last possible second. True story). Then I put the top on and let everything stew for roughly three months.

Since school starts next Tuesday (for Johanna, at least; I just learned Abby doesn't start until Thursday. High school is awesome), Johanna has been very anxious to get her supplies nailed down. She cares not one iota for new clothing, but wow, all she could talk about is the calculator she needs.

It was time to open the box is what I'm saying.

Why does Jo look like she's expecting something to jump out at her?

Hey, there's that aforementioned school list right on top! Um, what does it say again?

English and Spanish 'cause that's how our school rolls.

One glance through and it suddenly occurred to me that all the folders and markers and paper in my Box of Awesome are not even listed. 

Well, damn.

Johanna was more than happy to reuse her scissors from last year, and her pencil box was in surprisingly good shape. She had two used pink pearl erasers in various degrees of disrepair that she claimed, even though the list called for white polymer (we're rebelling). The earbuds threw me, but Johanna ran to her room to get an extra pair Abby had given her earlier this summer. 

So four things crossed off a list of 14. Let's compare piles:



P.S. The top photo does not include her old lunch bag; the bottom does not include her new backpack. Oh, or the bottle of hand sanitizer she wanted because, and I quote, "What if there's a booger emergency?" It's hard to argue with that logic.

I'm trying to be grateful for the fact that Johanna is able to reuse things at all, but it's hard not to get too bogged down in the utter failure that was my brilliant Box of Awesome idea. I really thought I'd be able to write an amazing post about how great we did on the zero waste school supply front this year, but instead, the box is still full and is taunting me. I guess Abby might end up using some of it, but for now, she's thinking as long as she has a pencil, earbuds and a pack of gum, she's all set for the first day of her sophomore year. Sounds legit.

So I failed is what I'm saying. Ah, well.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Packing light

I haven't bored anyone with my Project 333 rambles in a while, so hey, it's your lucky day! Because I'm endlessly fascinated by this whole ordeal, I like to see just how far I can go on as few clothing pieces as possible. Our mini-vacation was the perfect opportunity to pack light and see what happened.

Our trip was three days, two nights. In the mountains, kind of, with temperatures ranging from low 50ºs to upper 80ºs. And a nighttime performance of The Sound of Music on the docket.

What I wore:
Repurposed multi-colored t-shirt skirt*
Black tank
Black cardigan
Black shoes

What I packed:
Beige capris
Black t-shirt
Black long-sleeve t-shirt
Blue multi scarf
Swimming suit
Black thrashed sandals (that I refuse to replace because... I don't want to)
Black coat, gloves, and a hat

On Day 2, I wore my t-shirt, cardigan, capris and shoes in the morning and afternoon (it was rainy but not as cold as I expected); that night, I put on the long-sleeve t-shirt, cardigan, scarf and jeans... and my coat/gloves/hat combo, which I was grateful to have. And on Day 3, I recycled my capris, tank and cardigan. I can't say if anyone noticed, but I can tell you that no one cared. ;)

The only things I didn't end up needing were my swimming suit and sandals; I chose to read instead of sit in the hot tub on Day 1, mostly because my hair starts puffing out when it gets wet and I was trying to avoid it. But that was stupid because then it rained and was humid and poof! My hair just got bigger and bigger. So the moral of this paragraph is that I should have just soaked in the hot tub.

Big hair aside, I'm calling this a win.

*My birthday present from Eric. I love this thing. Observe:

Cool use for old t-shirts. Mara, we could totally make these, couldn't we?
That's a question 'cause I'd need your mad sewing skillz...

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Very Minimalist Christmas II

Not that I expect you to remember, since it was ages and ages ago, but for Christmas this year, my parents gifted our little Walker 4 with a three day, two night stay in Leavenworth, Washington. This is because A) My parents are awesome and generous and 2) As minimalists, we prefer experiences over objects, which brings us back to A) My parents are nice enough to plan really fun adventures for us to share instead of complaining that we're weird.

P.S. I love that my girls get to have Grandma and Papa vacations. When I was growing up, we spent many a summer in Leavenworth (I turned both 15 and 16 there), and seeing my girls experience the same things I did at their age? I don't know, it makes me happy. They're going to have wonderful memories just like I do.

Here's a brief summary of our little trip (I'm sorry about the four part Washington State Adventure post and I'm trying to redeem myself) for those of you who've never gotten to experience the joy that is Leavenworth and its environs:

Day 1: August 13
Out of town by 9:30 a.m.! We had lunch at some rest stop along the way (we're not going to even THINK about what diseases we picked up in the bathroom. Washington needs to embrace Idaho's awesome rest stop policy. So does Oregon, for that matter), and rolled into Cashmere around 1:30.

What's so great about Cashmere? Ah, my friends, what isn't? This is the home of Aplets and Cotlets! There's a free tour and everything. (Fun fact: I fainted on this exact tour circa 1988.) It's pretty quick, but you get to wear fantastic hairnets (we donned paper caps in the '80s) AND there's free samples in the gift shop! This place is full of win.

So. Much. Beauty.

After purchasing gift boxes for our respective offices, and maybe a box for ourselves, it was a fairly quick drive to Leavenworth. We were too early to check into the Bavarian Lodge (that had to wait until 3 p.m.), so we just parked in the lot (after clearing that with the front desk, of course) and hit the town.

Check it out! My kids are getting along!

Leavenworth has kind of an interesting history. It was a railroad town... and then the railroad left, and the town was dying, and the people got together to figure out what to do next. They settled on a Bavarian theme, added in a good dose of yodeling, and wouldn't you know it, people from all over visit now.

As they should, because it is awesome.

Anyway, yadda yadda yadda, we looked around the shops, we had dinner, and we hung out at the pool. So basically just your average, perfect day.

Day 2: Aug. 14
Did you know the Bavarian Lodge puts out a really impressive continental breakfast? We're not talking cereal and bananas. It was like, food. And coffee! I brought my own organic plain yogurt in glass jars (sweetened with homemade jam because I am all kinds of poser)*, but did get to at least enjoy the coffee and smell what was on everyone else's plates. (Is that weird? Do I care?)

So after our fab breakfast, we headed out into the world once again. We've been H.O.T. lately, so the fact that it was overcast and kind of drizzly was sort of a nice change of pace. We hit the Ohme Gardens first (it also has an interesting history), which turned out to be a big hit, especially with Johanna. Ohme Gardens is basically a bunch of intricate, hand-lain rock pathways winding and weaving through all manner of bush, tree and pond. It's gorgeous. Johanna led the way, reading the map and deciding where we were going to go. This might have been her favorite part of the whole shebang.

Seriously, this place was amazing.

Right about the time we were thinking of heading back to the cars, the sky opened up and we got drenched. Hey, prefect timing! We drove to Rocky Reach Dam, had lunch under a picnic shelter (with what appeared to be three adults and ten preschoolers. Those kids were hilarious), and then toured the visitor's center.

This is another stop straight out of my childhood. And, just like my brothers and me, my girls enjoyed the hands-on exhibits about generating electricity the best.

Jacob's ladder.

After the dam (and more running through a raging downpour), there was some talk about going back out on the town (meaning walking around the shops in Leavenworth), but the Walker 4 decided to just hang out in our room and enjoy the quiet. And then we started watching Fixer Upper, which seriously was awesome and kind of fascinating. I didn't even take the nap I was prepared to take, that's how enthralled we were.

Next came dinner, and then the centerpiece of the entire trip: We had third row tickets to see the Sound of Music at the  Ski Hill Amphitheater. You know what, people? It was stellar. Okay, Abby was creeped out by Georg's hair, and she thought Rolph was probably 30 going on 31 instead of 17 going on 18, but who cares? It was fantastic. It was just fun to watch a live performance outdoors, the cast was great, and even though it had rained practically all day long, it stopped right on time for the show. Yay!

Here we are now. Entertain us.**

So yeah, if you go to Leavenworth, try to go see the show while you're there. You won't be sorry.

Day 3: Aug. 15
Our short trip was coming to an end, but we were all still jazzed up on the Sound of Music. We don't sing well, but we do sing loud.

Check out was at 11 a.m., so after we ate, we did another tour of Leavenworth. The entire time we were there, I was on the lookout for a navy blue sweater. I did not see anything even remotely close to a navy blue sweater. But I did find a Le Parfait jar for $14 that I could not pass up because DEAL.

Bulk aisle, here I come!

Johanna's favorite thing to do in town was dance in the gazebo (self taught ballroom dancing, from the looks of it), so that was exciting, and we also went into the Bavarian Bakery, a must on my to-do list because Dad and I used to walk there in the mornings while everyone else was getting ready to face the day and have a pastry. The shop has maybe changed a little since the 1980s, and Dad and I can no longer eat the sweets, but obviously, we were going in there no matter what. No one had any regrets.

So much talent! So few lessons!

We checked out at 10:58 a.m., getting, as Dad noted, all we could out of our hotel experience. Thank you, Bavarian Lodge! You were lovely.

But we still had a couple more stops to make. The first was to Our Lady of the Snows. They have a Stations of the Cross garden that we wanted to check out. It was quite beautiful, actually, and I found $5 while walking around. I don't know, I felt like maybe that money was not mine to keep, so Dad found an envelope and put it in the church office box. That felt better. The altar society just happened to be having a rummage sale, so we went in for kicks. And there I found a navy blue sweater. Australian, 100-percent wool. Three bucks. Smells like a grandma.

Yep, that thing came home with me. And after I washed it and discovered the holes in the left sleeve, I didn't even feel bad. I think I can mend it, but even if I can't, I'll just roll the sleeves up because seriously, this sweater is awesome and perfect.

Our last stop was Smallwoods Harvest... and this was a fruit stand with A LOT going on. But basically we just had a picnic in the park area, stocked up on apricots and plums, and enjoyed some of the lawn games before heading on down the road for home. Just as we left town, the rain started coming down again (which is hard to feel bad about, since the Pacific Northwest is basically on fire). I took a rather pleasant nap. We were home around 4:30 p.m., sat around on the deck a while reading the newspaper (felt weird to read an issue I hadn't already seen 80 times before publication) and then tried to stir ourselves into making something for dinner. We ended up munching on toast and tomato salad. It did the trick.

So the moral of this tale is that A) Minimal Christmases are not so minimal, and 2) SO MUCH FUN. I'm serious, people, this was a perfect little mini-vacation. We did some stuff, but we had a home base where we could veg (we don't have cable so even TV was interesting); we got out of town, but we weren't away so long that anyone got homesick (looking at you, Johanna); and, best of all, we went nowhere near Port Angeles.

The end.

*I wanted to eat the breakfast, but I was scared. To recap: Artificial colors, flavors and preservatives kill me. Death is kind of a bummer when you're on vacation.

**Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana. Anyone?

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Care Package Project: August

If I learned anything on the CPP front last month, it is that time is of the essence. To redeem myself a bit, even though it's too late, I made it a point to get our August package ready and O.U.T.

Things have been iffy on the health front of various extended family members lately, and that's exhausting. I just wanted to do something fun this month for no reason whatsoever but because. And you know what's fun? Writing. Do you know what's super fun? Writing with cute stationary. And you know who really likes cute stationary? My college friend Nicole.

Nicole and I were next-door neighbors our junior year of college at good ol' Western Oregon, and, as luck would have it, we even had a few English classes together.

("Comedy" with ol' whats-his-name, THAT was interesting. The guy was in love with himself, so basically you just had to regurgitate whatever he told you in your essays and presto! Easy "A." That's what we did, and that's what we got, and it was a stupid class anyway so I don't feel bad about that at all.)

I kind of forgot where I was going with this... Stationary, I think?

Check out this notebook:

Copyright 1962. I like the cow in the lower right corner...

It's one of those recycled ordeals, where they take an old book and rip the binding off, add a few blank pages, and pop the thing back together. I've seen them with just blank pages, but I liked this one because the guy kept the originals in tact, too:

I LOVE the illustrations...

Too much cuteness.

How stinking awesome is this thing? I would keep it for myself, except every time I hold it, it tells me that it's really for Nicole.

Of course, we had to add a package of Johanna's notecards into the mix, and a bar of chocolate because hello, I'm pretty sure I don't have to explain that one:

Frogs everywhere approve of this chocolate.

When I went to our local stationary store to get a Uni-ball pen (because I am a big fan), I found this correction tape and COME ON. SO CUTE:

I might be a minimalist, but I am not immune to cuteness.

Last but not least is this Curly Girl card. I love the designs from this company, and if they want to send me a random box of samples for this endorsement, I'd be okay with that:

"Have only one rule: Be your wild, courageous, brilliant
self every single day. No matter what. (May you never fail
to express all of the wild and wondrous things you are.)"

May I present our August Care Package in its entirety?

I probably should have taken pictures with  my big girl camera instead
of my iPod, but laziness got in the way.

I'm quite pleased with this one. This might be my favorite CPP yet. Writing packages for everybody all the time!

So that's August. It's nice to have a success after last month's complete failure.

P.S. Nicole and I have managed to keep in touch for the past 20 years with varying degrees of success, although things got way easier when Facebook came around. :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Zero waste beer

Disclaimer: I actually do not drink beer because I think it's kind of gross. You know what I like? Coffee. There have been a few hard ciders I've actually enjoyed, and one very nice dessert pear wine we got to taste when we went on my birthday wine tour. But mostly coffee.

But even though I do not drink beer, I am a beer snob. Well, Eric, that's why. He's into mircrobrews, and we've been to all manner of place along the west coast (strangely, many of our travels take us directly into the path of breweries. Weird) "just to see." He has a pint glass collection. It's in his office so I don't care because I'm not the one who has to look at the dust.

Although Eric was quick to jump on the minimalist bandwagon, he hasn't exactly caught my zero waste mania yet, but he is good and he does try because he knows it's important to me. One way he has reduced waste: Filling his keg instead of buying individual bottles of beer. He's a homebrewer, but he hasn't brewed anything for at least a year because he's big into other projects. Like staining our deck. (Boring.) And then there's the fact we live in a small tourist trap of a town in Oregon with a half a dozen breweries. For about $20 more than it costs him to brew a 5-gallon batch, he can simply go fill his keg at one of our breweries.

Action shot

He was telling this story at some party, and the guys were like, Trisha lets you buy 5-gallons of beer at once? And Eric was all, it's zero waste! And I was like, yep, it's totally environmental. Plus it's not like he drinks it in one sitting or doesn't share it when people come over. Jeez, get a grip.

Sometimes Eric will even plan his keg purchases to coincide with little family field trips, like the one we took to Eugene over the July 4 weekend. I had planned to blog about this soon after the fact, except I'm old so I forgot. But getting a keg filled is easy. We waltzed into the Oakshire Public House (with girls in tow--they let you do that in Oregon, and I've found breweries are actually really family friendly), Eric handed over his keg, and less than 20 minutes later, he had 5-gallons of Watershed IPA in the back of our car.

Choices abound at Oakshire

Zero waste bonus: Oakshire donates a percentage of their Watershed sales to watershed conservation. I mean, come on! That's win-win.

Depending on the brewery, sometimes you have to call ahead to fill a keg, and sometimes you don't, so I guess I would advise calling ahead to be on the safe side. Also: It's not like you have to get a keg. You can go small with a growler, or go big with a half a barrel, apparently, like so:

Suddenly Eric's "corn can" is looking fairly modest

Personally, I think it's fun to find zero waste opportunities beyond the grocery bulk aisle. But then, I'm kooky that way. Someday I'll have to blog about filling my jar at my favorite coffee roasters... if I can ever manage to get there. (Busy. Bummer.)

P.S. As I reread this post, I realized I am implying that Eric never buys beer in bottles anymore. That is not the case. He still does sometimes. I prefer the keg method, though, because there's nothing left at the end to recycle or deal with. It's easy peasy, man.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Wrong number

For the past couple of weeks, I've been getting random phone calls from people who think my name is Lisa and that I'm putting on a garage sale. Since my name is not Lisa and garage sales are not something I like to organize, I disappointed a few people. I kind of liked it better when they just went to voice mail and I didn't have to talk to them.

Deb in reception (never again to be confused with Deb in Sales because she moved last month to another newspaper) and I even looked through our garage sale section to see if my number had somehow gotten published accidentally. We don't put phone numbers in our garage sale ads, though, and nothing there seemed out of the ordinary. It looked like this would forever be a mystery. And the phone calls seemed to stop on their own.

Until Saturday morning (at 7, I might add). I was already awake, technically, because Eric is insane and was up staining the deck (dude, sleep in once in a while, jeez), but man, I was tired, and also a little disillusioned now that my plans for sleeping until 8 were never going to get off the ground.

I ask for so little, people. Just let me sleep.

Whatevs. When the phone started ringing, I got up, just in case it was an emergency, but I didn't recognize the number so I let it go to voice mail. And headed back to bed.

But I immediately got another call from the same number. Okay, FINE, it's probably important, right? I answered.

The lady on the other end was already talking by the time I got my "hello" out. She was calling me Christie, which was a little confusing, but then she identified herself as Lisa and started in about that damn garage sale, so finally I interrupted to break the news that she had the wrong number.

She was confused and apologetic and quickly hung up, and I figured that was that.

But! Not two seconds* after I hung up with Lisa, Christie called. And was, of course, calling me Lisa. Christie is a talker, though, so after I told her my name is Trisha and I am not, contrary to popular belief, having a garage sale, she wanted to tell me what was going on.

Hey, cool, I like stories, and I was already up anyway, so what the hell.

So apparently there was supposed to be a huge, multi-familly garage sale at the corner of XYZ that very day, but the ad, which has been running for two weeks, didn't appear in the paper that morning and she was wondering what was going on. And I'm like, where are you?, because XYZ was an unfamiliar corner to me, and, working for a newspaper that sells subscriptions, I've heard just about every street name in the county at this point in my career.

Turns out she lives in Eugene. When I told her where I was (um, two hours north), she was actually shocked into silence for a second (seriously, she was a talker). Then I told her how I worked for our newspaper and had gone through our classifieds trying to figure out how my number got published, but not finding anything, and how this was all making so much more sense now, since these phone calls had been going on for a while.

So I got a few you poor things and also a few laments about what she was supposed to do now. Since technology is amazing, I was all, hang on, I have Lisa's  number, let me hook you up.

Lisa's number is NOTHING like my number, by the way, not even close. That part will just have to stay a mystery.

Christie was ever so pleased with me, and then we said our goodbyes. I like it when a puzzle comes together, except I like it even better when the puzzle comes together later in the morning.

So that's how I spent the first 15 minutes of my Saturday. The end.

*Not even an exaggeration.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday "Art," apologies to William Carlos Williams edition

The Red Lawnmower

so much depends

a red lawn

dappled in sun

beside the golden

(Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?)

P.S. Yes, Mara, that IS your chicken!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Very Walker Vacation part IV: Forks, Hoh Rainforest and Ocean Shores

(This is the end of the vacation posts, I promise.)

Our last episode got us the hell out of Port Angeles. I tried to pay attention to the road between Port Angeles and Forks, because Edward drove 80 mph the whole way and I was curious to see how that translated in real life. Turns out that is much too fast for that road. Shame on you, Edward! Except I was tired and it was early and I kept dozing off, so I didn't get the whole experience.

Why, thanks, Forks! Also: Note the clouds. We totally expected that.

Hey, just to be clear, yes, I am talking about Twilight. Yes, I read the books, and no, I'm not even embarrassed. It was late 2008 and it was entertaining and I needed something to take my mind off my grandma's death, okay? I keep thinking I should reread my (hardbound, special edition with collectors cards, what?, I didn't have my Kindle yet and that was the best deal on Amazon) set, but I haven't gotten that far.

So obviously, Forks was one of my prerequisites for this trip. Moving RIGHT along.

We rolled into town, no kidding, by 9 a.m. All I really wanted to do was go to the Thriftway because hello, that's where Bella bought her groceries. Steak and potatoes! Abby took my picture in the steaks. I felt like all my dreams had come true. For some reason, Eric wasn't quite as excited as I was.

Mmm! On sale, too!

The girls hung out in the Twilight gift shop, yes, still at Thriftway:

Johanna brought a scarf specifically for Forks. Because hello, no
vampire could get through that.

As we walked around the aisles, Eric had the brilliant idea of getting something for lunch because we were headed to the deep dark forest. In the deli, we see this:

If I lived in Forks, I'd go to Thriftway every day. I'm not even joking.

Let me just point this out: Twilight Wrap, Jacob's Round, Edward's Wedge, Marv's Krab Salad. Ha!

P.S. There is no Marv in Twilight! That's why it's so amazing! Oh, never mind.

So the kids running the Thriftway deli (and by "kids," I mean "people under 32") were super nice and accommodating. I told them about my sensitivities to artificial colors, flavors and preservatives and asked about the wraps. They were all like, oh, no don't eat those, but then brought me out the wrap package so I could read ingredients and then made me a one-of-a-kind, very Trisha-friendly wrap. They went above and beyond. Eric and Abby ordered the Twilight Wrap to split, with the idea that Johanna and I would share mine, but honestly, mine was so big that the four of us could have lunched on that thing and been fine.

The moral of all this is that I am a big fan of the Forks Thriftway.

Apparently there's a whole bunch of things you can do in Forks that are Twilight related. We didn't do any of those because A) It was 9 a.m. and 2) I'm serious when I say Thriftway was our main Forks destination. But on the main road out of town, we found the Forks Information Center (it wasn't even open yet), so we stopped and took the obligatory picture next to Bella's truck:

When you look in the windows, you see this thing is completely
thrashed and, no joke, full of dirt.

And thus ends our Forks adventure.

On to the Olympic National Park! This was another jaunt high on Abby's list, and, since Forks was so cloudy and cold, she had high hopes the Hoh Rainforest would be, too. But just up the road from Forks, the sun came out and it got even kind of warm. Ah, well. 

Here's what you need to know about Hoh: It's beautiful, you will see moss literally dripping off the trees, and it's so green you almost can't believe it.

That's a curtain of moss on the left there. Awesome.

The allusive phone booth in its natural habitat.

This was probably Abby's favorite stop on the whole trip. Well, besides Seattle. It was high on mine, too. It had everything: Visitor's Center, decent bathrooms, hiking trails that were very family friendly, lovely scenery everywhere you looked, and a picnic area. What more do you need?

While tromping around the wilderness, Abby decided to make a video homage to Dave and Cody of Dual Survival. Have you guys ever seen that show? The first ever episode we watched was this show featuring the Olympic National Forest. It's probably the best thing we've ever seen on TV. I  mean, when Dave drinks moss water and fashions an arrowhead out of a glass bottle and spears a wild turkey? That was awesome. Not to mention Cody running around without shoes and finding a dead fish and just, like, bringing that back to camp to roast on up. Which is why we've watched all of seasons one and two on Netflix. The Olympic National Forest episode remains our favorite, but the others are kind of great, too.

Anyway, yes, a video was made, and it is fantastic if I do say so myself, but I don't know how to link video so tragically it will remain unseen by most of the world. But I think Dave and Cody would appreciate it.

Once we partook in all that Hoh had to offer--and we took our time--we headed to Ocean Shores, where we were to spend our last night on the road. By this time, we were all wiped out. But hey, we were at the ocean, and it was cloudy and cold and perfect (Abby was happy at last!), so we drove out onto the beach--yes, that is a thing in Washington, we couldn't believe it--and parked and everyone just kind of ran around, drew in the sand, and got buzzed by these crazy little birds that flew around in large packs (do birds fly in packs?) trying to freak everyone out. They succeeded. I was freaked.

Drawing. Not pictured: Insane people playing in the water. It was like 50º.
See? Insane.

Our kamikaze bird friends.
Just chillin' by the car on the beach. Still seems wrong.

So here's where our story gets sketchy. It's dinnertime, our cooler is pretty much bare, and I am broken by our buggy pizza experience from the night before. We're driving around, looking for somewhere to eat, and I'm all like, you know what? Screw this. And I pulled into a McDonalds drive through. Me. I did that. The girls and Eric couldn't even believe it. I know, I can't believe it either. It was delicious. We got some kind of soccer mom meal--20 nuggets, two cheeseburgers and two french fries--for $10. Then we drove back to the motel, cracked open a couple of Pepsis, and polished it all off in about five minutes. I have no regrets.

Then Jo and I went swimming. Or, I should say, Jo went swimming and I sat in the hot tub for a while. Then we went back to the room, cranked on the gas fireplace and went to bed.

The next morning, we slept in--so probably like 7 a.m. because Eric is crazy--and were on the road by 8. We headed for home with a quick stop in Longview to visit my lovely grandparents. They were ever so happy to see us, which was very good for our collective self-esteem. We couldn't stay long, but it was great to be able to visit for even a little while.

And then! Home! Skilly missed us terribly, except he was actually doing pretty well because he escaped out the window on day three and then re-escaped on day five. Brat.

So that's what we did on our vacation this year. We saw mountains and the ocean, cities and forests. We had some really fantastic times, and we had some kind of crappy times, but it's all now a pleasant memory that we enjoy laughing about regularly. And hey! Not so much driving this year! Yay, Washington!

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Very Walker Vacation part III: Edmonds, a ferry ride and Port Angeles

So, to review: On our vacation this year, we decided to tour Washington State. Mt. Rainier came first and Seattle second. After the Mariner game, it was time to embark on the next leg of our adventure.

We drove literally like a half hour from Seattle to Edmonds, where we'd gotten a motel next to the ferry that would take us to Kingston. There was some pool time, plenty of wi-fi, and even reusable tableware. (At the risk of sounding like a crazy head, I actually brought plates and silverware so we could just say no to the Styrofoam most motels favor for their "continental breakfasts." Nobody said environmental activism was easy.)

Oh, and while trying to find some restaurant we'd Googled, we found this little burger joint that Chris Pratt has apparently eaten in and you know what? It was delicious. We ate outside and savored our burgers (except Johanna ordered calamari). It was fun.

We were on the ball the next morning because we'd heard the ferries leave RIGHT AT DEPARTURE TIME and if you miss yours, tough luck, you have to wait for the next one. Since our motel was approximately a quarter mile from the ferry, getting in line was easy. We were one of the first ones there because that's how Eric rolls. So we waited a while.

But! Eventually we boarded, parked the car and went above deck (I'm sure that's the correct boating term) to check out the sights. We learned that ferries move fast. We also learned that it's quite windy at the bow. Yes, there were some Titanic "I'm king of the world!" moments because: boat.

Bye, Edmonds!


Trying not to get blown overboard.

It only took about 30 minutes to get from Edmonds to Kingston. The girls had a complete ball. While I spend much of the trip sipping coffee from a bench, they were running around having a grand ol' time. I was slightly afraid Johanna would end up overboard somehow because, well, this is Johanna we're talking about, but! We all arrived safely. We spent approximately five minutes in Kingston--just enough time to get out of town and head for Hurricane Ridge.

Hey, fun fact, I get kind of car sick on windy roads, so this trip wasn't necessarily an easy one for me at times, and wow, getting to Hurricane Ridge was interesting. I solved this problem by closing my eyes and drifting off. I can't sleep for crap at night in a comfortable bed, but throw me in a car and I can sleep like nobody's business.

It turns out Hurricane Ridge is quite beautiful. We had a picnic lunch, then walked to the visitor's center, took some pictures, hit the gift shop, took some more pictures, took a hike, met a deer and--you won't even believe this--took pictures. Well, there's not much else to do there.

We named her Pip.

My snuggle bunnies!

The altitude was getting to me, obviously.

And then we headed for Port Angeles.

So you guys, here's where our story again gets sad. We'd heard from one of Eric's coworkers that Port Angeles is like a mini Astoria, but I can only conclude that she was drunk because nope, not even close. You'd think a town that was basically the gateway to Vancouver, British Columbia, would have something going for it. But you'd be wrong.

It turns out that Port Angeles is kind of grimy and dingy and windy and cold. We got to town in plenty of time, checked into our "Euro hotel" (Abby loved it, I was kind of grossed out by the falling plaster) and walked around. Not a whole lot to see. Well, there was a wicked awesome bookstore and a rather fun candy shop. There was an organic coffee shop. There was the restaurant Bella and Edward had their first date (yes, I'm talking Twilight). There was a Dairy Queen (Johanna is still taking about the huge ice cream cones she, Abby and Eric got). The pizza shop we ate at had bugs crawling around in its window display of pasta that we noticed after we started eating. Not a big confidence builder, that, but it kind of seemed par for the course.

I don't even know what else to say about Port Angeles. It was there and we survived.

Um... my only photo of the town.

Next morning! There was an organic bakery across the street from our hotel, but wouldn't you know it, it was closed when I went to procure my breakfast. (Eric and the girls opted to eat oatmeal in our room's kitchenette. Except it wasn't oatmeal I could eat, thus my singular adventure.) So I walked around a little and found that organic coffee shop I mentioned above. The coffee was organic; the food was not.* The owner, who was very nice, suggested I try the organic market down the street. Problem solved! Sipping on my very yummy vanilla latte, I walked to the market... to see that it didn't open until 8 a.m.

It was 7:33. You know what? We may have decided to mosey the hell out of Mt. Rainier, but we got the hell out of Port Angeles. We were just... done.

And were in Forks by 9 a.m. I'll tell you about that on Wednesday. Because! Forks!

*I wasn't being snobby. It's just that I've got a sensitivity to artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, and I was trying to keep my shit together. Literally.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The good news is I didn't crush anyone yesterday

It's hard to believe it's been almost three years since this happened.

(In case you don't feel like clicking the link and reading one of my very first blog posts from 2011 about me going in for a blood draw and then practically crushing the blood draw lady with my body as I hit the floor, that's what it's about, except with a lot more words. It's actually one of my favorite posts. Don't you feel bad now for not clicking the link?)

Anyway, so even though my doctor, whom I love and adore, told me I could take a few years off from getting blood work done due to my "adverse reaction to needles" (that's kind of an understatement), I decided this was my year to get back on that horse. I mean, we've got a lot of cancer running around the family, and with Marlene passing away and my Uncle Jerry in an induced coma for the past week or so because his colon cancer is a jerk... I don't know, it just kind of seemed like something I really needed to do.

I had my annual physical last week and my doctor put in the order for blood work, and wouldn't you know, you just waltz right into the hospital whenever you feel like it and they get 'er done. With my new work schedule, Thursday was the best day to go in for the procedure, so I was good and fasted and didn't even have one little sip of coffee or anything. That was rough. Even though I'm on decaf because of my stomach hates me.

I just really like coffee is all.

What I did drink was a lot of water. A LOT. My doctor told me to, and since I love and adore her, plus it seemed like this might be a ticket to not fainting this time, I totally listened. I must have drank four glasses in all, and even brought my Klean Kanteen with me... filled with more water.


So I get check in and go sit in the waiting room and whip out my Kindle and start playing a game. About five minutes later (the hospital is faster than the doctor's office. I guess that's the perk of a corporate takeover) my name gets called.

And wouldn't you know it, it's the blood draw lady I almost crushed three years ago.

I always just assume no one knows who I am, even though I kind of stick out (well, it's hard to hide when you're 6-feet tall), so as I sat down I explained that I am a fainter and even though I'd been drinking water like a madwoman, I probably needed a cot or something.

And she was like, oh, I remember you! And then goes on to tell me that's a story she likes to tell sometimes, and that she felt bad for not being adamant about me staying in that chair and letting me fall to the floor. But I was like, nah, I was just as adamant that I wanted to lay down, and I'm sorry about that because I really did think I could make it without crushing you. She laughed. Anyway, she got my stuff together and then told the other blood draw lady she was taking me to "infusions." That lady just looked confused, so I was like, I'm a fainter, and my blood draw lady was all, I'll tell you that story later, which made me laugh.

It was just hilarity all around.

So in "infusions" there are really nice leather recliners next to sunlit windows. With televisions for every chair. I was like, what is this place? and she was all, chemo. Don't get attached.

Well, that kind of ended the hilarity, especially when this guy came in and started bantering with the nurses, and I knew what he was in for.

So hey! I'm getting tired of typing, so let's just end this: The chair was comfy, I hardly felt the needle because my veins were behaving, apparently, and I filled three vials or some such nonsense with my life force (not to be all melodramatic or anything). WITHOUT FAINTING. I was like, we are writing a pretty good epilogue to my story here, and my blood draw lady agreed.

My hands felt a little tingly, but I did not feel bad at all. I sat there for a few minutes afterwards, just in case, and then hit the bathroom because damn! Four glasses of water plus a Klean Kanteen!

Then I hit Dutch Bros, ate my packed breakfast while waiting in line, and got myself an iced decaf Americano with cream and vanilla.

And it was delicious.

In conclusion: YAY ME!