Saturday, June 24, 2017

Vancouver

Yesterday morning, we hopped up bright and early so we could make our way across the Canadian border and meet up with the guy we hired to drive our van to Alaska for us while we cruise up there. Since our Airbnb place wasn't going to be ready until around 3:00, we needed an entertaining place to spend the day where having all our belongings with us wouldn't be a problem. We settled on Stanley Park. It was a beautiful day, and the park offered playgrounds, grassy areas, basketball courts, gymnastic rings, a hollowed out tree hideout, beach access, a lovely walking path, restrooms, and picnic tables. It was pretty much a perfect place for us, and we ended up staying until about 7:00 (which was slightly longer than we intended because, frustratingly, Vancouver doesn't have Uber, which we didn't know ahead of time, so we had to track down a cab company that could carry all of us and all our stuff, plus took credit cards. And, when we did finally find one, we had to wait 40 minutes for them to show up. We've gotten so spoiled using Uber that this seemed like a hardship. In truth, everyone was happy hanging out at the park, so it wasn't really too much of an issue.) We did finally make it to our lovely little Airbnb, which reminded us of several places we stayed in Europe. We dropped off our stuff and then walked down to a very authentic Italian restaurant, further reminding us of good times in Europe.

Today has been more about taking care of business, as we needed to pick up a few necessities and get our laundry done before embarking on our Alaskan cruise tomorrow. We did have a wonderful breakfast at Knight and Day and then grabbed some sushi for dinner.

The homeless Watts arrive at Stanley Park

I found the beach for the first time on our trip,
and even though it was colder than a proper
beach trip should be, I soaked it up!

This kid and his amazing strength!

Searching for treasures

Clay spent hours hiding out in this tree

Best hideout ever!

One of two awesome playgrounds

I was bundled almost head to toe, and I never once thought about sunscreen. But the day left me with a lovely
 souvenir on the only exposed parts of my body.
You can't imagine how attractive it is.

Mountain view from our Airbnb

Friday, June 23, 2017

Future of Flight and Puget Sound

We spent much of the day at the Future of Flight Museum and Boeing factory, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Jeff and the three older kids got to tour the factory, which includes the largest building in the world. They all absolutely loved the tour and were completely fascinated with the process and the immense scale of everything. There was a height restriction which kept Clay from participating in the tour, but he and I enjoyed the kid's area of the Future of Flight Museum while everyone else was touring.

The largest building in the world, and Mt. Baker

Mt. Rainier at the other end of the runway

Having a blast in the Kid Zone

Pilot and co-pilot

Taking a ride in the flight simulator

Boeing

In the late afternoon, we headed over to Mukilteo, a little waterfront town on Puget Sound. We grabbed a bite to eat at Diamond Knot and then went down by the water to see the quaint lighthouse, watch a ferry come into port, and observe a guy doing jumps on his jet ski. It was big fun!

Clay was thrilled to get to make his own pizza!

Mukilteo Lighthouse

The ferry coming in

An awesome hunk of driftwood

Playing leapfrog in the grass

That's how you know it was a good day!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Flying Things

Our first stop of the day was the Museum of Flight. We spent several enjoyable hours exploring the insides and outsides of many different kinds of planes and space equipment.

Our next stop was the Pike Place Market, home of the "flying" fish. We loved watching the fish fly around and looking at all the other beautiful and tasty market offerings. We grabbed lunch at Seatown Seabar and had afternoon treats at Starbucks (because, Seattle!)--not the original Starbucks, mind you, because the line to even get inside was ridiculous, but the Starbucks half a block away, which we figured was close enough.

Helicopter pilot

Plenty of leg room

The really big planes at the Museum of Flight

Pike Place Market

The largest piggy bank we've ever seen!

Can you see the flying fish?

Dungeness crab cake at Seatown Seabar

The original Starbucks and its ridiculous line

A fish of our very own

Dinner from our market finds

Happy campers under a spectacular sunset

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Vasa Park Resort

While we love the thrill of sightseeing and exploring, some days just beg to be slow and easy. After several days of hitting it hard and putting lots of miles on the van and pictures on the camera, we needed slow and easy in the worst way. We are camping at the Vasa Park Resort in Bellvue, on the outskirts of Seattle, and with its awesome waterslides, playground, horseshoe pits, basketball courts, picnic tables, great quantity of playmates, big grassy areas, and scenic location on the shores of Lake Sammamish, it was the perfect place for us to be today.

The platform of fun

Keeping an eye on things
(And hoping the water will magically warm up)

Swimming buddies

Horseshoes

Peaceful Lake Sammamish



Monday, June 19, 2017

Mount St. Helens

We spent the morning hanging out around our KOA--working out, doing laundry, eating doughnuts, and playing in the awesome club house--waiting for the rain to clear out. Then, we headed over to Mount St. Helens, where we got to watch a video about the 1980 blast and hear a presentation from a park ranger about the geologists who were working in the area at the time of the eruption. The clouds were low, so we couldn't see the blast site or the crater, but it was still a very cool experience. At the bottom of the volcano, we stopped for a late lunch at Fire Mountain Grill, where Weston attempted to eat the Bigfoot Burger -- 4 hamburger patties, ham, turkey, cheese, pulled pork, bacon, fire sauce, crispy onions, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles -- and a pile of cheese-covered chips, in 30 minutes, with the hopes of winning a free t-shirt. He polished off the burger but couldn't make his way through all the chips, so he didn't get the t-shirt, and he may have expressed a few other regrets at the end of the meal, but it was an experience he will not soon forget!

Mount St. Helens

Race to the top of the volcano playground

Fire Mountain Grill

Lunch time view of the Toutle River

Ridiculously awesome burger

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Oregon

This past school year, Max came across a story in his spelling book about some playful otters at the High Desert Museum in Bend, OR. When he realized we were going to be in Oregon this summer, he requested we put the museum on our travel agenda. It was one of very few specific requests he made, so we were happy to accommodate him. And, today was the big day! The museum staff told us we were the first people to ever visit on the recommendation of a spelling book. It was a delightful little museum, and we all had a wonderful time.

Shadow puppet theater at HDM

Little eagle in its nest

Watching an otter play

Looking for the otters in the water

Max was enamored with the otters
 and snapped a pic of this one having a snack.

Playing in the pioneer village

From there, we headed over to Silver Falls State Park to hike on a trail we had read meandered through the forest and allowed hikers to pass behind a couple of waterfalls along the way. It was spectacular and was the favorite part of the day for most of us.

Waterfall #1

Behind the waterfall

A throne for the little prince

King of the stump

Waterfall #2

It's sort of magical to walk behind a waterfall!

Finally, we passed through Boring, OR, which is the sister city of Dull, Scotland, a village we visited a couple of years ago. Shortly after that brief stop, we crossed into Washington and checked another state off our list.

Our Boring stop