As I mentioned in my last post, we cut our Westy Trip short when I heard that my mom had been hospitalized where she lives in Europe. Upon reaching home we decided to go to Gent, Belgium to be with her. It was an unplanned trip and I didn’t take our camera but I do have some fun Instagram photos of our trip to share. Here were some of the highlights!
The Gravensteen Castle:
Taking a boat trip on the canal:
Climbing to the top of the Belfry:
Beachtime in Oostende:
A fun day in Brugge:
And checking out the 10-day long street festival, the Gentse Feesten:
We also squeezed in a whirlwind trip to Paris:
With a visit to the Louvre:
And, of course, the Eiffel Tower:
We also ate lots of yummy food (especially broodjes and ice cream), walked a ton, took the train, the tram, and the bus. We met many of my mom’s wonderful friends and were moved by their generosity. We visited my mom daily and I’m happy to report that she is doing much better now.
Time to come home:
And we made it back to California just in time to celebrate a birthday with this guy!
In June we headed out on our fifth annual Westy Trip! For this trip we did something a bit different from previous trips, we still camped in our Westy with the boys and the dogs but we also tried our hand at backpacking. Sam and I did a fair bit of backpacking before kids and we took a few trips with Oliver when he was a baby/toddler but this was our first time truly backpacking as a family. We stocked up on gear and lightweight yet non-perishable food and were ready to hit the trail…
Day 1: It took us awhile to get packed up but we finally took off mid-day on our 2016 Westy Trip. The drive to the Lake Tahoe area was pretty uneventful and we made it to the Silver Creek Campground just in time to build a fire and go to bed.
Lesson Learned: Packing always takes longer than expected!
Day 2: Woke up to the pitter patter of rain on the Westy so instead of cooking breakfast at the campsite we headed to a yummy restaurant for brunch and Bloody Mary’s, yum! That fueled us up nicely for a hike to the Donner Summit Train Tunnels, a several miles-long stretch of abandoned train tunnels that you can hike through. It’s a bit spooky walking down the dark tunnels and there is a lot of graffiti to admire.
We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and getting ready for a big race Sam was running in the morning.
Lesson Learned: The first few days of any long trip are often filled with buying all the little things that you forgot to pack. On our list: bike lock, small bucket, and Parmesan cheese.
Day 3: Father’s Day and the Broken Arrow Sky Race. Sam woke up super early to run and the boys and I had a leisurely morning at the campsite before driving up to Squaw Valley to see the race.
While we waited for Sam to finish we visited with friends, played mini golf, and had frozen yogurt! Not a bad way to spend the afternoon.
Here comes Sam!
Lesson Learned: It’s pretty hard packing up camp all by myself, but I can do it! Oh yeah, and Sam didn’t do too bad in his race either!
Day 4: Packed up, stocked up, and headed to one of our favorite places, Bowman!
We met friends and headed over to the creek for some good old fashioned cliff jumping. After spending the afternoon swimming in the cool water and sunning ourselves on the rocks we hiked back to camp for dinner.
Lesson Learned: Actually, I now know how to cook foil wrapped potatoes and at least one kid liked them!
Day 5: Said goodbye to our friends and got dropped off at Sawmill Lake. We headed down Canyon Creek for an awesome adventure full of scrambling over the rock, bushwhacking, swimming, and even getting attacked by yellow jackets.
Lesson Learned: Getting attacked by yellow jackets lends itself to hours of looking up said insects in our field guides.
Day 6: Packed up camp and got ready for our first backpacking trip as a family! Said goodbye to Bowman and drove the long bumpy ride back to civilization.
Put our packs on and headed out on our hike to Loch Leven Lakes. For our first trip, we didn’t pick the easiest hike! Three miles mainly up hill with lots of switchbacks. There were some complaints and a few tears, but the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and the bag full of M&Ms helped motivate everyone up the hill and we finally made it to Middle Loch Leven lake just in time to set up camp and make dinner and a fire.
Lesson Learned: There is nothing that chocolate can’t fix!
Day 7: The croaking of the Pacific Chorus frogs kept us up during the night but we woke up to a beautiful sight! A calm blue mountain lake all to ourselves.
We introduced the boys to the marvel that is instant oatmeal and headed out on a day hike to Upper Loch Leven, which was the perfect spot to have lunch and jump in the lake to get refreshed. Spent the afternoon hanging out in the tent playing card games and reading.
Lesson Learned: Swimming in a clear, cold lake while backpacking can almost make you feel clean.
Day 8: Packed up camp before heading back down to the Westy! Overall I think our first backpacking trip was a success. There was a bit of complaining but the boys were troopers and hiked like champs.
It was a busy weekend near Lake Tahoe and we were lucky to get a site at William Kent Campground which was luckily right next door to our favorite cafe, where we had a delicious lunch and introduced the boys to the concept of eating a huge meal after a backpacking trip. Then it was time to relax at the campground, eat a small dinner, and go to bed.
Lesson Learned: Food after a backpacking trip is always the best!
Day 9: Errands day….always ends up taking longer than expected. We had breakfast at our favorite Fire Sign Cafe (yes, that’s right, three times in one week) and drove to south Lake Tahoe. We planned on doing something fun with the kids there, but settled on showing them where we got married (almost exactly 12 years ago), eating ice cream, and watching the gondola at Heavenly. Drove the beautiful drive to Silver Lake and spent the afternoon hanging out at the campsite and doing laundry.
Lesson Learned: When in doubt, go to the Fire Sign Cafe!
Day 10: The boys had a blast fishing and hanging out at the campground (there was lots to do!) so we spent a leisurely morning playing and packing up for our next backpacking trip. That’s right! We went for it again. After lunch we hiked the 1.5 mile to Shealor Lake, a quiet little lake perfect for swimming and learning about leeches.
Lesson Learned: LEECHES!!!!
Day 11: Our 12th Anniversary! We weren’t sure if we would spend one night or two at Shealor Lake, but after playing around in the lake we decided mid-morning to pack up and head out. I’m glad that we did since when we got into cell reception we learned that my mom had been admitted to the hospital in Europe where she lives (she’s ok now, phew!). So we drove home to recharge, do laundry, and celebrate our anniversary with a yummy meal and movie night with the kids.
Lesson Learned: We ended up cutting our trip short because my mom was hospitalized and although we had planned on doing more camping and hopefully more backpacking, in the end it ended up being a perfectly wonderful trip, full of new adventures, with just enough excitement to keep us on our toes, but not so long that we got sick of camping!
We made the most of the Memorial Day three day weekend by going up to Manzanita Lake in the Lassen Volcanic National Park. What an awesome spot! We were there with a big group of friends so the kids always had something to do and someone to play with. We paddleboarded, canoed, hiked, and just hung out!
The lake is beautiful and a quick paddle out into the middle of the lake rewards you with spectacular views of Mt. Lassen:
We also hiked to the snow:
Braved the ice cold water:
And hiked around the lake:
What a great way to start the summer!
We had the most fun filled weekend over Mother’s Day. We packed up the car and headed to Stinson Beach for a weekend away. It was mainly cloudy and grey, but we made the most of it!
On Saturday we cheered on Sam as he ran the Miwok 100K a 62 plus mile run in Marin County. Sam has been training for this race for months and I think he was pleased with how he did. Way to go Sam!!
That evening we celebrated Oliver’s 10th birthday with friends!
Then we hosted a Mother’s Day brunch for family and friends. I guess I was too busy eating and hanging out to take photos!
We finished it off with a walk to the top of Mt Tam for views of a very foggy Bay Area.
What special weekend away with these goof balls!
We recently got back from a week’s vacation in Hawaii! We went to the Big Island for a friend’s wedding and made the most of our time there, visiting friends, eating yummy food, seeing the sights. Here are some highlights.
Checking out the tide pools and turtles:
Checking out the volcanoes and steam vents:
Checking out nature and parks:
Hanging out at the beach and swimming in the waves:
And of course, baseball at the beach!
A hui hou, Hawaii, until we meet again!