Friday, August 8

5-state water trip. You name it, we swam in it.

We spent two weeks this July traveling from home to the north-east corner of the country and back again.  Zach had to work, so I piled the kids in the van and told him he had two weeks to clean without anyone undoing his work. (And wished out loud we could trade places because that's kind of been a dream of mine since my oldest started crawling... ;D)  The main idea was to get away from the incessant noise from our neighbor's dogs, and to visit my sister who lives near Seattle.

Our first water stop was in Utah.  Grandma Van made this awesome waterbed to jump on.
 Kael got to celebrate his 4th birthday surrounded by family at Chuck-E-Cheese- HIS dream come true.
 Got to visit with my "oldest" best friend.

 We met our new cousin, Brennan!
 Then we left for WA.  We stopped in Idaho at my cousin's house for the night.  Saw her for the first time in about seven years.  Too long!
 We got to Washington before the sun went down and set up our tent in Lara's landlord's backyard.  The next day was Kael's actual birthday.  He wanted to swim in the creek with me, so we went down while the baby napped.
The girls got to participate in a kid camp that the landlord runs every year.  They learned a bunch of fun games and had a blast playing with fake battle equipment.  That was the highlight of our stay there- it wasn't a very little-kid friendly place.
 We went to visit a farm in Duvall where Lara is now working with her new boyfriend.  We noticed a stark contrast between the overgrown "rainforest" we'd just left and the well-manicured lawns and rows of perfectly plowed and weeded gardens.  It was a much cheerier environment for the boys, and consequently for me.  We got to spend the evening with La and her friend May, who owns the farm.

The next day we drove over to the Olympic Peninsula.  We stopped in Port Angeles on our way to Forks for a do-it-yourself Twilight tour and to go to the Quileute Days Festival that weekend.  The kids were excited to see the ocean for the first time, too.
Restaurant in the book

"I don't buy any of this vampire stuff."

Fountain on the corner after we stopped at a Cafe I HIGHLY recommend: The Cornerhouse Restaurant.  VERY kid friendly, with great, inexpensive food.  Bella Italia didn't open 'til 4, so we asked around and were pointed there.
We stayed in a house in Forks that Lara found on airbnb. It was right in the middle of town, which is pretty much all just on one main street.  (I took tons of video of this vacation, including a drive down the main street, but it's all on a card I can't find.  I'm sure there are pictures on it, too.... it's driving me nuts.)  She and Charles were such gracious hosts, and so helpful with the kids.  Charles babysat the kids while Declan napped and Lara and I ran out to do a quick sight-seeing tour.  Our house was a few blocks away from "Bella's house."
We weren't sure we were at the right house, but then this pulled up.

The people who live here just volunteered their house to stand for Bella's.  It has absolutely no connection to anything- just the designated tourist spot.  Hilarious

On our way to La Push for Quileute Days

A "wolf girl."

Lara's boyfriend scoring major brownie points with the kids.

I was so proud of these kids throughout the whole trip.  For the most part, they were just nice to each other and patient.

Lobster traps?  First Beach

Huge leached logs on tiny, multicolored smooth rocks.  For never having been there, Meyers was amazingly accurate in her setting descriptions.  

Kael and the girls had SO much fun running from waves.

Declan is the first of my kids to love the sandy beach.

Kael was super excited and jumping for joy

The water was numbingly cold- I don't know how they stayed out in it so long!

Now you see him

Now you don't.  Unless you look closely, you can see the corner of his little heel above Bree's shoulder.

Declan comforting his poor waterlogged brother.

Glad the kids got to spend some time with their Aunt Wa

After this we spent the night at a terrible hotel in Portland. I should have just had us sleep in the car, it was that bad.  On our way to the "good hotel," we drove past this candy store.  I was trying to get back on the freeway, and we still had an hour before lunch time, but it looked so cute, and it was right next to a Subway, so I flipped a U.  An older couple watched us as we walked in and I instructed the kids which bins they could choose one piece of candy from.  They were so excited to choose, I chatted with the couple while they looked.  I told them about turning around because their store was so cute, and they found out we were heading to Subway for lunch.

We walked over to the Subway, and after we'd finally gotten our food and started eating, the lady from the candy store came in and gave me a container full of fudge she said she'd just made fresh.  She chatted with the kids a bit more, said she was on her way to a pot luck for lunch, and left.  After the stressful night we'd just spent, I was super touched.

Another fortuitous stop.  Completely hidden from the road, I happened to see the sign for a rest area in time to pull off.  It turned out to be a gorgeous and well-kept park bordered by a pretty stream.
Been in the car all day, and still getting along

We made it to the "good hotel" a Super 8 in a small Oregon town, in time to swim a couple of times that evening.

Another stop in Oregon on our way to Bear Lake.

Declan's first time at the lake!

Our traditional stop at Merlin's to get shakes

Baby bear

Collecting shells

We got back to Sandy in time for a Pioneer Day party at Grandma and Grandpa Van's.  Kael had a miserable 4th of July after our "bad neighbor" shot a roman candle at his head.  He spent the rest of the evening inside crying at the noise.  So Grandpa found some ear protection in his gun stuff, and Kael was able to ease into the pop-its.  He's never been able to handle them before, so that was fun.

Grandma Marge is always so attentive to the little ones.

Grandma Cork and her sisters playing lilac leaves.  I had a video of this, too...

Right before we left for home.  Still in six pieces!