Spring Break 2017: Oregon Coast

Over the past six and a half years of marriage, Peter and I have tried to take advantage of Spring Break as much as we can. In 2012, we were young and broke but wanted to get out of town so we spent a few days in Washington, as cheaply as possible and had a blast.

In 2013, we went to Whistler and in 2014 we visited friends in Victoria. In 2015, Pearl was about two weeks old so we stayed home and slept very little and felt very thankful.

Last year, we fit a few things into our Spring Break.  A trip back to Whistler (that was cut down to one night because Pearl slept so terribly), a visit to some good friends in Kimberley (and Pearl’s first plane trip), and some general fun around our own town.

This year we decided to be slightly more ambitious. The baby we lost in the Fall was due right before Spring Break and so very early on I told Peter I didn’t care what we did, I just wanted to get out of town for Spring Break. We decided to take a road trip down to the Oregon Coast, as well as a couple of days in Portland. It was perfect and so great to have something to plan and look forward to as we came closer to that due date.

After our experience driving to and staying in Whistler last year, we weren’t entirely sure how Pearl would do on the road. But, figuring you don’t know until you try, we went ahead and took the plunge. (Spoiler alert: she did great!)

We left early Monday morning (on the first ferry off the Coast) and drove to Olympia, Washington. We basically bundled Pearl out of bed and into the car, feeding her breakfast on the ferry. She got a thrill out of being allowed to stay in her pyjamas all day. She fell asleep again once we were back on the road and basically slept until we arrived in Olympia around noon.

Neither Peter nor I had ever been to Olympia before so we had fun poking around downtown, popping into a few shops. It was pouring rain but it was nice to stretch our legs and see a new place. We stayed that night just outside of the city at a place we found on AirBnB. Our hosts were friendly, the room was a great size and Pearl slept decently well. Before her bedtime, we took a stroll along the boardwalk at the waterfront.

We left after breakfast the next morning and took our time driving down the coast. We opted to avoid the I-5 as much as we could and instead took some back highways where there weren’t many cars but lots of trees and we caught glimpses of small towns along the way. It rained heavily, which also made avoiding heavy traffic nice.

We stopped in Long Beach and got out to run around. It was pouring rain (sensing a pattern?) and windy and poor Pearl got covered in sand.

It was pretty cool to have this huge beach all to ourselves for a little while. We poked around the town a little, buying saltwater taffy and posing with the largest frying pan in the world.

To be honest, I thought it would be bigger.

We drove onwards (in the rain, always in the rain), crossing the Columbia River and entering Astoria.

This is a very long bridge that takes you from Washington to Oregon.

We had lunch in Astoria and then, because the rain had let up, found a playground where Pearl could run around for a bit. She fell asleep in the car when we got back on the road and headed to our next destination: Manzanita.

When we first began planning our trip, we found a super deal for a hotel in the tiny coastal town of Manzanita and then planned the rest of our time around that. We stayed a total of four nights in Manzanita, renting a suite in a hotel across the road from the beach. There’s not a lot in Manzanita itself but we were able to do small trips each day to towns nearby like Cannon Beach, Seaside, and Tillamook. The suite was simple but perfect for our needs. Pearl had her own room (so we all slept very well), we had a small kitchen, a balcony, and a fireplace. It made for a great home base.

Our beach in Manzanita.

On the balcony.

We spent a day in Seaside and took Pearl to the Aquarium there. While not a huge space, Pearl seemed to enjoy looking at the fish and she loved the touch tank. She did touch a starfish but mostly she liked splashing.

We spent time on the beach in Cannon Beach, where Pearl loved digging in the sand with sticks. She got a lot of use out of her rain pants on this trip.

Various beach shots:

On Thursday, the sun came out and so we decided to hike a trail we’d heard about there. Oregon is full of state parks but, unfortunately, due to weather conditions, a lot of them seemed to be closed recently or have parts of their trails closed. We were able to see a little bit of Cape Meares Park that day, including a short walk to a lighthouse. Turns out, Pearl loves lighthouses and insisted that her stuffed cat, Gerald, is a lighthouse keeper. She also enjoyed this “funny tree”.

The Octopus Tree

We had planned to visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory and had really been hyping it to Pearl, telling her she could eat as much cheese as she wanted (which is a lot of cheese), and I was excited to try their macaroni and cheese (my favourite food). Well, it turned out to be a good thing that she had fallen asleep when we pulled up because they were closed! Probably the biggest disappointment of the trip! Hey, we’re a dairy-loving family!

The next day we headed to Ecola State Park where we planned to hike the Indian Beach Head Trail. Unfortunately, due to weather and erosion, part of the trail was closed. The park was beautiful though and had amazing views and we got to enjoy it all the same. (Again, in the rain.)

We ended our trip with two nights in Portland. Peter and I honeymooned there in 2010 but hadn’t been back since. While it was quite a different trip with a two-year-old in tow, we enjoyed seeing the city again.

We ate delicious food, taking full advantage of the food trucks, and I made two excellent visits to Powells Books.

We booked a private room in a hostel, something we’ve done a couple of times before. If you’re okay with sharing a bathroom, it’s a great way to get a cheaper place to stay. This hostel was a converted heritage house and our room ended up being quite large.

We knew from experience that downtown Portland was small enough to walk everywhere and it was nice to park the car for a couple of days and stroll through town (often at the pace of a two-year-old). We got lucky and didn’t have any rain while in Portland. And I finally got my mac and cheese, at Deschutes Brewery, and it was amazing.

All in all, probably our best Spring Break ever.

Our Summer So Far

Our summer got off to a hectic start and things are just beginning to settle down again.

At the tail end of June, we headed to the Okanagan for a wedding. We left directly after Peter got off work on the Friday and drove straight, taking the Coquihalla Highway. (Well, one stop of burgers at Five Guys in Chilliwack, in the pouring rain. I’ll be honest, I don’t miss living there but I do like Five Guys.) We arrived in Okanagan Falls way past Pearl’s bedtime to discover that the hotel we were staying at was above a bar. Pro-parenting tip: Don’t stay in a hotel above a bar with your baby. Rough night.

Fortunately, the next morning we found an awesome diner across the street and made our way to the lake-beach a few blocks away.

IMG_3679

IMG_3686

The beach (and the playground) was more mud than sand but there was also a splash pad where Pearl had a blast running through water and kicking the spray. Then we all went back to the hotel and had naps before the wedding.

IMG_3689

This is the only picture I took of this beautiful, garden wedding but others caught some pictures of the three of us so I hope to share a couple soon (Along with the conclusion of my 30 Day Dress Challenge. I know, I know.) The weather was perfect and the ceremony and reception were held in a lovely garden with games planned in between. The bride and groom had a lot of thoughtful touches – including goodie bags for the kids!

After breakfast the next morning, we headed home. We opted the more scenic, southern route, which took us through several small towns along the way.

IMG_3690

Our original plan was to take our time on the way back and stop in a few spots. But when Pearl fell asleep leaving Penticton we decided to just keep driving. Of course, you can’t leave the Okanagan in the summertime without fresh fruit so we did make a lightning quick stop at a fruit stand in Keremeos for blueberries and cherries.

Pearl woke up as we drove through Manning Park so we stopped for a late picnic lunch and to look at ground squirrels.

IMG_3699

An important feature of every childhood road trip through British Columbia.

An important feature of every childhood road trip through British Columbia.

We made it to the ferry terminal with enough time for an ice cream break before getting on the boat (Pearl’s second time. She’s a fan.) and then home and to bed where we all slept through the night.

We had a few days of work and home time and Canada Day.

Last week, Peter was away for a few days so I took Pearl into Vancouver. She had her latest check-up at Children’s Hospital and we stayed with family for two nights and got to catch up with friends.

IMG_3749

Like these two who I’ve been friends with since I was seven years old! Pearl was definitely past her bed time here but she did really well the whole week and got to hang out with all of her cousins.

IMG_3756

I lived in Vancouver for fifteen years but four years in a small town on the Sunshine Coast mean that I’m not quite used to the hustle and bustle of the big city anymore. I’d also forgotten that smiling at and greeting people on the street or on public transit is not normal. I used our stroller a lot but for busier locations, the Ergo was great for our introverted little girl.

Our hospital visit went well. I’ve accepted that returning to Children’s Hospital will always be filled with emotions for me and so I was more prepared for it this time. Pearl’s test results on her kidneys, while not perfect, were good and a slight improvement on last autumn’s. Her kidney function is good and one is almost completely normal now. Most importantly, Pearl continues to be symptom-free from her hydronephrosis. I met with the renal specialist who said there’s no reason to do surgery now or, most likely, ever and we’ll simply continue to monitor her kidneys.

Pearl and I headed home on Thursday, arriving home shortly after Peter. And so, this week, our summer begins in earnest. I think it’s going to look like this:

IMG_3716

And some of this:

IMG_3768

And a whole lot of other fun!

Hello August

Last weekend, Peter and I took a long weekend trip south of the border – down Seattle way!

IMG_5027

We headed over Friday evening after work and made it through the Peace Arch by sunset.

IMG_1522

We were in Seattle together at this same time three years ago so we knew some of the places we wanted to visit and we found some new spots too. I didn’t take a ton of pictures – preferring instead to just enjoy our time and the moment. But here’s a few I did take:

IMG_5058

Just as we did three years ago, we managed to hit Seattle during Fleet Week. Lots of naval officers walking around, including a few Canadians. I can tell I’m getting older because I didn’t get hit on by any Marines this time.

IMG_5049

Can you visit Seattle and not view the Space Needle?

Related question: Can you view the monorail and not sing the sing from that episode of The Simpsons? MONORAIL!

(I have to confess, growing up in Vancouver where we have the SkyTrain, I have never been motivated to ride the monorail in Seattle.)

IMG_5051

Triffids. Or art?

Either way, they started to play music when you walked by them.

IMG_5038

IMG_5040

IMG_5037

IMG_5046

Of course there has to be a visit to Pike Place Market! I don’t know if this is a terribly touristy confession but it’s probably my favourite spot in Seattle.

IMG_5043

Mostly because I love food.

IMG_5032

When we were there three years ago, I had the macaroni & cheese at Beecher‘s and when people asked what I was going to do for the weekend in Seattle this time, I responded, “Eat macaroni and cheese.”

And I did. Two days in a row. And it was glorious. Probably the best I’ve ever had and this is my favourite food so I know mac & cheese.

IMG_5036

IMG_5033

IMG_5034

IMG_5031

On Saturday morning we passed a truck setting up that advertised Free T-Shirts. Because we love free things, we stopped to chat. Turns out, they were travelling around a few major U.S. cities to promote Texas. Yep, they were handing out free t-shirts to convince people to visit the state of Texas. “People don’t realize there can be lots of things to do in Texas,” they told us. “There’s art and culture.”

So now we’re two Canadians, advertising Texas with our free t-shirts.

IMG_1528

IMG_5053

Sunset in Seattle.

IMG_5065

On our way home, we took one of our favourite drives along Chuckanut Drive (from Mt. Vernon to Bellingham. Lovely, lovely.

IMG_5070

And then we came home. And that was great too.