A quick trip to Portland a few weeks back. Breakfast at Tasty n Sons. A visit to Schoolhouse Electric.
When we were tossing around ideas for our day in Portland, our friend Jen got a laugh when Mia suggested we “drink coffee and complain about how much our backs hurt”. Because from her perspective that’s the only thing adults ever seemed to do, but it was all in the delivery that made it so funny. Somebody is starting to understand sarcasm, I see. Later that morning, Jen let her sneak some sips from her iced coffee. She’s like the aunt who says yes to all the nos that we dish out (total tangent: what the hell is the plural of no? Nos? Noes?? No’s???).
We discussed childhood schoolyard games over breakfast the next morning and was sort of flabbergasted when Mia told us that in gym they played dodgeball with bean bags. WHUT?! Not only that but you’re only allowed to toss them at your opponent’s feet, not anywhere else. Oh man, that made us laugh so hard. Somehow a little part of me couldn’t help but feel a little cheated that kids these days didn’t have to go through the ritual of childhood gym torture like we did. I mean I hated dodgeball with a passion when I was a kid and always dreaded hearing that game called during gym (I did like Steal the Bacon and SPUD though). What a stupid game. So maybe a part of me wasn’t really that surprised at this wussified version of the game that the kids play nowadays (at least at their school), but sheesh. I mean, bean bags. We obviously had to tell her how dodgeball was properly played, with balls that hurt so bad because you could basically throw them as hard as you could and no body parts were off limits.
And this, of course, reminded me of one of the greatest scenes to ever air on television – the dodgeball scene on the pilot episode of Freaks and Greeks. The girls weren’t so amused when I showed them the clip; they didn’t think it was all that funny (how?!) I guess nostalgia really does play a huge part here because personally, I think this episode is one of the funniest things ever. But I guess you had to be there.
Posted by Jenna | 13 Comments
The first time Mark and I traveled to Victoria, we were in our early 20s and we took a road trip with our roommates, driving from Portland all the way to Vancouver. On a whim, we decided to take the ferry to Victoria on a day trip while we were up north. I remember that trip well because it was such a good bonding vacation with the roommates at a time when household dynamics weren’t always comfortable. We took a lot of photos too as I recall, posing on the ferry and the hotel balcony with beer and cigarettes. You know, stupid youthful pictures that I’m sure would have ended up on Facebook had it existed back in ancient times (and man, I’m so glad that wasn’t around in the 90s).
I remember thinking how pretty Victoria was and it’s still as pretty as I remembered it. It’s bustling too, with plenty of pubs and outdoor cafes, street performers and outdoor markets. One of things we wanted to do while in Victoria was have dimsum in Chinatown, not because the dimsum was supposed to be that much more amazing than what we can get here in NY, but because dimsum is one of those things that we always keep meaning to do back home, but manage to only have once or twice a year. Mia loves dimsum and it might be her favorite meal ever, but Miss C has never taken a liking to it and it was always a challenge to find even one thing off the cart or menu that she wanted to eat. When we told her our plan of having a dimsum brunch on Sunday, she groaned.
But something happened and she was more open to trying a few things. Maybe we can chalk it up to being on vacation and somewhere new, but she kept trying new dishes and eating and finally exclaiming how yummy everything tasted, particularly the Chinese greens. The verdict? She’s a fan of dimsum now which means that when we go out to dimsum again we won’t have to bring along a container of apples and cheddar bunnies to tide her over until we can find something for her elsewhere.
As we were leaving the restaurant, she turned to me, hugged my arm and thanked me for giving her a new happy place.
Posted by Jenna | 11 Comments
Our days in Victoria right after the stormy weather on the coast were all sunshine and warmth. Leaving the country for the first time to Canada might not be so much of a culture shock, but the excitement for the kids as they handed over their passports at the border was no less a milestone, and the adults in our travel party got to trade all our less than pleasant border crossing stories.
We only had three days in Victoria and one of the things we wanted to do was go to Butchart Gardens and do the afternoon tea service. It isn’t as fancy or formal as the tea service at the Empress Hotel, but it’s half the price which actually nudges it towards the realm of “reasonable”, relatively speaking. The kid’s tea menu was better too, for the record, for pickier eaters as it had a bit more kid friendly sandwiches, like grilled cheese. Afternoon tea was a splurge, but who doesn’t love towering platters of food?? And it’s a lot more food than you think. The sandwich platters alone consisted of 6-7 varieties per person, along with cookies, cakes and scones. Nobody in our party could finish it all except for Mark (as usual), and his consistently fast metabolism, despite age, remains one of the biggest mysteries (mine used to be fast and I also used to be able to eat embarrassing amounts of food, but no longer. wah.)
The garden grounds itself are quite beautiful, but since it’s about an hour away by bus from the city, it’s pretty much a whole day activity. We boarded a city bus, though you can charter cushier tour buses for the ride, but given our short stay it was a nice way to see some of Victoria outside the city. On a related note, we chose not to bring our cars on board the ferry to Victoria from our departure point in Port Angeles. We didn’t want the hassle of driving and parking and the city is totally walkable, particularly if you’re only there a few days.
Posted by Jenna | 17 Comments
Hi, neglected blog.
September hasn’t been messing around. We’ve jumped right back into things without missing a beat since we’ve been back. The girls have started school, Mark drove all over the city yesterday to make 9 deliveries to some of our retailers while we’ve been gone, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this busy with work. I do have to admit, I thrive on the challenge of juggling schedules and chaos, but now that I’m back from my short business trip, I’m also looking forward to staying put for awhile. Hello living room couch (my favorite spot in the apartment to work)…I’ve missed you.
It’s amazing how in a span of one week life can be so different. I’ve been looking through our vacation photos and trying to recapture that feeling during some of our travels. This year marked the first time the girls left the country as we headed by ferry up to Canada. It’s been about 12 years since Mark and I have left the country as well. I have never been one of those people attracted to cruises, but Mia has been intrigued by them for a few years now. Not sure where she got the idea of cruises – perhaps her curiosity started when she spotted her first big cruise ship docked at one of the ports here – but she has been fixated on them for awhile. Personally, I can’t think of another way that I’d least like to travel (has anyone been on a cruise and loved it? Curious to know), but there is something very calming about being in the middle of the ocean. You feel very small. The view doesn’t change for a very long time so instead you notice the subtle movements and changes in the water currents and the clouds. Then off in the distance, the first sighting of land is a thrill.
Photos of our days in Victoria soon…
Posted by Jenna | 15 Comments
I’ve done a lot of camping and hiking in my late teens/ early 20s and have spent a lot of time on the Oregon Coast and camping out in the woods and national forests on both coasts, Minnesota and even up in Quebec, but I don’t really remember being in such awe of nature like I have on this trip. Maybe it’s because I was just a kid back then and didn’t really appreciate it like I do now. You know how unimpressed with the world teenagers can be, even for a city kid who suddenly found herself in the middle of the woods for weeks at a time with just a backpack. “Isn’t this amazing??!!?”, I ask the girls. “Yeah”, they reply, a bit less enthusiastically than I expected they would. Oh, kids. But I get it.
The last time I did any sort of camping was right here in the Olympic National Forest. That was about 20 years ago and the only time Mark and I had gone camping together. We packed minimally and I figured we could just cook on a fire because that’s what I always did when camping, but when we got to the campgrounds after a 3 or 4 mile hike, we discovered that fires weren’t allowed. I still laugh at the hilarity of us trying to heat up tofu dogs with a lighter (yeah, that doesn’t really work). It started to rain the next morning so we left the site early. I never owned a pair of proper hiking boots and I think we were both in sneakers, but I remember booking down that trail in the rain so fast. I was hungry and wet. I think the first thing we did was drive to the first restaurant we saw (it was a Sizzler).
It was stormy the day we visited the Hoh Rainforest in the same national park, but much to our relief the rain and wind slowed down when we drove into the forest from our cabin on the coast. We even saw some sun breaks. But the rain started up again as we headed out on a short hike. Half of the family turned back when it started raining harder and the rest of us continued. I had 2 big, heavy cameras on me and it was ridiculously cumbersome to try and take photos while trying to keep the cameras dry. Halfway through the trail, I got stung by a yellow jacket bee in my thigh. At that point, I just wanted to get back to the info center, where there were warning signs about yellow jackets as I recalled, and look at the sting. I hurried the rest of the way down the trail as the rain started coming down harder and it reminded me of the last time we left the campgrounds in the forest.
Despite the rain and the bee sting, our visit to the Hoh Rainforest was pretty spectacular. You just can’t describe something like this in words or really even in pictures. I’m looking forward to the years when the girls can hike longer distances so we can really explore some more of mountains and forests of Washington. Maybe we’ll even go camping again someday. We certainly won’t be waiting 20 years to come back.
Posted by Jenna | 7 Comments
I think we may have found a new family tradition.
The weather didn’t exactly cooperate so we didn’t spend as much time out on the beach at La Push like we thought we would (including roasting marshmallows over bonfires at night on the beach which we were really looking forward to), but we had a great time just the same. There’s something about staying in a cabin by the ocean with lots of family that makes it the quintessential family vacation. Most times the days center around meals. You cook, eat, drink and clean and in a few hours you do it all over again for the next meal.
On our way over to the coast from Olympia, we stopped to get seafood at a place near Aberdeen. We had an empty cooler packed with ice and we were looking forward to getting crab and clams for dinner, and then halibut and scallops for ceviche another night, but we were told that there were no crabs that day. Kind of funny when the whole trip at one point seemed to center around this crab cookout. With some last minute brainstorming, Mark decided to make a seafood chowder. We ate it with corn and lots of pre-dinner appetizers like some smoked salmon that a family member caught and smoked just 3 days before, and some really good olives, brie, home-canned pickled beans and home-brewed beer.
There isn’t any cell signal or wifi out at the coast. And you know what? I didn’t miss it. Sure, we’d all whip out our phones the minute we drove through town (Forks – you know, twilight and vampires and stuff), but the rest of the time we played board games and talked.
A huge storm passed our way our last night in La Push. It was windy and cold and raining sideways. We probably spent all of about 2 hours total on the beach the whole time we were there. We didn’t see any sunsets, we didn’t have a cookout and we didn’t roast marshmallows over bonfires, but it was probably the most memorable part of our entire vacation. Within the first 30 minutes of being settled in our cabin, we all simultaneously agreed that this should be a new family tradition.
Posted by Jenna | 20 Comments