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Westy Trip 2014 :: Week of Awesome Camping Fun!

August 27, 2014

For the past three summers we have been able to take some time to go on a long camping trip in our Westy. The first trip was 25 days and last year’s was 10 days. This year between Sam finishing up his program and a wonderful visit with family, we were only able to get a week, but it still managed to be a great, big adventure!

Day 1: After a long day of packing we loaded up  the van, the boys, the dogs, and headed up to the Grouse Ridge campground in the Tahoe National Forest. It was Sam’s birthday and we got to celebrate with a beautiful campsite and an amazing sunset!

Lesson learned: Always bring a tablecloth for special camping dinners.

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Day 2: We woke up to a cloudy and drizzly morning and walked up to the Grouse Ridge lookout which was built in the 1920s and used for 50 years as a fire lookout tower. The view was spectacular, if a little cloudy.

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We also managed a hike to Milk Lake before it started to rain…

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…and rain. We ended up spending most of the afternoon in the Westy playing cards, coloring, and listening to music and audiobooks.
Lesson learned: Having lunch and playing cards in the Westy is fun. Eating dinner with tired, dirty, hungry boys and dogs is not.

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Day 3: It rained a lot during the night but the morning was clear so we decided to go on a hike down to Downey Lake, a large clear lake, perfect for throwing rocks and listening to our echoes.

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We walked back to camp just in time for it to start raining so we quickly packed up camp and headed out with no real plan. After a long drive where we saw a bear but no great campsites, we finally ended up in Mendocino National Forest.
Lesson learned: Once Henry starts singing “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” by AC/DC he can’t stop. He might have a future career in Heavy Metal!

Day 4:  After packing up camp we headed farther into the Mendocino National Forest to Pillsbury Lake where we hung out all afternoon swimming and jumping into the lake. After all the rain the two previous days it felt so great to sit out in the hot sun!
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Lesson Learned: You can never have enough sunscreen!
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 Day 5: Glorious, hot day by the lake! We went for a walk, saw some elk, and spent the afternoon swimming at the lake and relaxing back at camp. It was such a hot day that the dogs were hiding in the shade whole time and by mid-afternoon so were we.
Lesson learned: No, that is not a cow screaming, it is an elk.

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 Day 6: After two hot days by the lake we were ready to move on. We packed up and headed out on a long and bumpy drive to the coast. We ended up camping at Manchester Beach State Park where it was a beautiful sunny afternoon, crisp but not too cold.
Lesson Learned: Always book ahead for campsites on the weekend!
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Day 7: We wanted to do one more night of camping, but every single campsite between the Mendocino Coast and home was booked up. It was definitely a bummer, lesson obviously not learned! We did have a chance to visit the Point Arena Lighthouse where you can climb to the top of the tallest Pacific Coast Lighthouse.
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 Man there were a lot of stairs! And one last romp at the beach before heading home:
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Lesson learned:  This trip felt a bit like a dog chasing its tail, going in circles from rain, to heat, to coast. We started up in the forest, but although it was beautiful it started to rain. When it got too wet we headed to a warmer spot. The lake was a perfect way to cool off, but after melting in the heat for two days it was time to move on. The coast was beautiful and crisp, not rainy, not hot, but by then we were wrapping up our trip.  I’m not sure if we ever found our sweet spot this summer, but we had some sweet moments. The boys love camping and had a great time playing and exploring. They did surprisingly well on all the long drives even when we didn’t know where we were going or when we were going to get to camp. They were more upset than we were that we could’t find one more place to camp.  The dogs had an absolute blast running around, checking everything out, and sleeping with us in our sleeping bags. We got to explore some areas that we never would have discovered and we had fun times and made good memories along the way. Where should we go next year?

Week of Awesome Fun!

August 13, 2014

We just got back from a long camping trip and I have loads of photos to go through, but before I share those, I want to tell you about the most amazing visit from Sam’s sister and her family. They were only in town for a week but we did so many fun things!

A trip on the ferry:

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To the Exploratorium! While we were there we had a great time looking at all the displays, but the most fun was had was at the tactile dome. This is a pitch dark room that you make your way through using your touch and communicating with your group. You have to climb, go down slides, and maneuver through the maze like space all while feeling your way through. There are different tactile surfaces to explore along the way and little surprises waiting. I hadn’t gone since I was a little kid when the whole thing was really scary. It still is a little scary but this time we had a blast!

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We also went to the California Academy of Sciences which is always a great time.  Some of the highlights were the earthquake room, the rainforest dome (three levels of an ecosystem), the coral reef, the yummy lunch, and the living roof!

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While they were in town we also got to take everyone to some our favorite places, the UC Botanical Gardens:

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And Adventure Playground:

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What cute cousins!

But the real trip-de-resistance was spending a couple of days in Santa Cruz. The weather was beautiful and sunny and we went to the wharf, the beach, the pool, and of course the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk! WooHoo! The kids had such a fun time on all the rides, eating too much junk food, and playing arcade games. We came home with an army of crappy stuffed animals!

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To end the week we had a box at the A’s game and a surprise visit from friends to help celebrate Sam’s birthday (oops, no photos)! It was such a wonderful time with everyone and we were so sad when our Week of Awesome Fun came to an end. We miss you guys and can’t wait for the next visit!

Congratulations Sam!!

July 29, 2014
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Here I have been posting about knitting and hanging out with the kids and it may seem like our family has been having a really mellow summer. Well it has actually been pretty mellow for the boys and I…but for Sam it has been a super busy and productive one. Fourteen months ago he started PLI, a graduate school program for becoming an educational administrator. It has been a really challenging and rewarding experience for him, with night and weekend classes, and a huge amount of reading, writing, and research to work on every semester. It has been really inspiring for me to see him go through this program and work hard for what he believes in.

And he just finished up!

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Congratulations Sam! We are so ridiculously proud of you!

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PS. Thanks Jim for the photo!

WIP: Lavender Honey again

July 23, 2014

The boys have been at camp the past few weeks and have been having such a great time making new friends, learning camp songs, and just having fun! But they also both got sick and had to stay home a day or two each. Luckily for the boys, the dogs took good care of them. Luckily for me, I had my knitting to work on.

First Oliver:

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Then Henry:

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While the boys were snuggling with the dogs, I made a lot of progress on my Lavender Honey Cowl.

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Thankfully the boys are all better, back to their normal ways, and back to camp!

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Linking in today with Yarn Along 

 

 

WIP: Lavender Honey

July 16, 2014

I just started a new project, or I guess I should say that I just restarted a new project. I had already knit the first 10 rows when I realized that I had twisted my stitches, ack! So I ripped it all out and started again.

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Its the Honey Cowl and although its been in my queue for ages, I’m just getting around to knitting it.

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I’m using yarn from my Yarnbox. Hopefully this time  it works out…

Budding Photographers*

July 10, 2014
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Last week we also went to the UC Botanical Gardens to see the Puya raimondii as it was blooming.

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The boys were more impressed by all the facts about The Queen of the Andes (that it only blooms every 80-100 years in the wild and that this is the youngest bloom in captivity) then they were impressed by the actual plant, but we had a wonderful time exploring the gardens. The boys took turns leading the way through all the twists and turns of the garden and the “leader” was also the “photographer.”

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They ended up taking over 100 photos that day! Most of them are of their shoes or fuzzy shots of random plants, but here are some of our favorites:

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If you look really closely at the first shot, you can see a litter of baby raccoons.

 

*pun intended!

 

Yarnbox!

July 7, 2014
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For Christmas Sam gave me six month subscription to Yarnbox. It is a monthly subscription box for, you guessed it…Yarn!  Each month you get two skeins of yarn, a few free patterns, and sometimes they throw in something extra. I recently got my sixth box in the mail and let me tell you, this is the gift that keeps on giving! I couldn’t wait to get my little box every month and see what surprises it held. It is like Christmas every month!

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You want to see what I got??!?!

January:

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February:

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March:

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April:

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May:

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And June!

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Different colors of the same yarn and even different types of yarns are sent out to the subscribers every month, which you can see on the Yarnbox blog (you can see all the details about the yarns that I got by looking at my stash on Ravelry). There is also a healthy trading thread on Ravelry, so if you don’t like the color that you got, you can see if anyone wants to trade. So far I have held on to my yarn, but I may start to trade if I don’t start using it soon. Which brings me to the biggest drawback…there’s not enough time for me to use all this beautiful yarn!!

We already get a veggie box, a meat box, and a wine box.  The only thing I need is a chocolate box!

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