Tuesday, July 23, 2013

heading to the midwest

We are heading to the midwest tomorrow for some family time on the shores of lake michigan. I always get a little nervous before going on an airplane ride with the kids, but they are always totally amazing and easy. I got lots of fun things for the plane ride that I am sure they will enjoy: sticker books, blank books to write stories and draw in, new crayons and markers, and animal crackers. Uzi also got his very own pack of gum, which he is thrilled about. I will report back when we return!

Also, sorry about the crazy blog design- I am learning and don't have the time to fix it before our trip! Hopefully I will get it looking all snazzy once we are back in town.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

california adventure road trip part two: camping near pescadero

After our camping trip up near Mendocino, we headed south. We spent some time with family in Marin and Santa Cruz, and then headed out towards the coast. We camped at Butano State Park, which was a place I camped and hiked when I was a little girl. I have lots of exciting memories from adventures there, so I was happy to get the chance to visit with my own little family. We chose the hike-in campsites, which were great because they were mostly empty, so we had a lot of space and privacy. We just let S walk around and explore to her heart's content (since we didn't have to worry about cars) and Uzi was all about looking for banana slugs and climbing on old redwood stumps. It was beautiful with huge old redwood trees and ferns. In the morning, we went on a wild adventure hike that U loved! 

There weren't a lot of signs or maps, so we decided to go a hike near the campground. We went down to the creek and made face paint from the rocks (like I did at camp when I was little) and made little leaf boats to float down the stream. Somehow we got a little lost of our hike and ended up bushwacking up some steep hills, crawling over huge logs, and trying to find the rest of the trail. It was very fun and wild (somehow S fell asleep in the carrier) and Uzi loved the thrill of it. At some point we had to slide down the hills to get back to a trail and it was quite exciting. He declared this hike "the best time in his life" and did not complain once the whole way (and it ended up being a very long hike!). We also kept a banana slug count on the hike, we spotted 25! To add to the excitement, I ended up getting stung by a bee on our hike back up the hill. It was a bit bothersome, but I am very glad it wasn't one of the kids (who have yet to be stung), and just me who has been stung many times in my life. 

On our way back towards the ocean there was a beautiful poppy field, which U was so glad to see as he loves the story of the Wizard of Oz and the poppy field that puts them all to sleep. The stretch of coast from Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay is so gorgeous and I always feel like I am home when I am there. I spent so much of my childhood playing on the beach there. Of course we had to make a stop on our way inland at the San Benito House Deli for my favorite sandwich in the world and ate it on the deck by the flowering artichokes. Oh, and a stop at the tide pools, for a little sea anemone petting and seal watching. Good times, indeed. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

california adventure road trip part one: mendocino and anderson valley

We started our road trip to California very early in the morning, like we usually do. We try to leave around 4am, so we pack the car pretty much completely (except for perishables) the night before. We put the kids in their seats, still in their pajamas, and drive as long as we can. Our first stop was in Arcata for lunch. We like to stop there, as it is a nice little town with a grassy town square, perfect for picnicking. They also have a good co-op and coffee and all of those good things. They also have a fun ice cream shop, although we didn't visit it this time. We also took a short little detour through the awesome little town of Ferndale, which is a tiny Victorian town up in the redwoods.

We continued down 101 until we got to our campground, which was in Mendocino. The spot where we camped was beautiful, but much too crowded for our tastes- we love backpacking camping in the middle of nowhere, not at designated campgrounds, so it was not the perfect spot. But we walked to the beach and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. The next day we explored Mendocino and played at the beach. We stopped by side bakery window of Cafe Beaujolais for some delicious bread. We sat out in the garden and ended up eating the whole loaf, so we picked up another before we headed east.

We drove east into the Anderson Valley to our next campground. The drive was beautiful along the Navarro River. There were lots of places to pull off and swim the river. We couldn't find a great spot for the kids without backtracking, but our campground ended up being right by a wonderful swimming spot in the river so we headed over there. We dove in as the sun was setting, it was awesome. The next day we stopped by the Philo Apple Farm, and explored their orchards and bought some cider and dried apples from their farmstand. Their farm is part of what inspired me to visit the area in the first place, and it was a great combination of tourism, farming, and food. I wouldn't mind having a spot like that to call our own.

We headed into Boonville and checked out the hotel and shops and things. We ate a quick breakfast at Mosswood Market and then ate some yummy ice cream treats at Paysanne, which was adorable and incredibly charming. J stopped by the Anderson Valley Brewing Company and did a little beer tasting.

I was so glad we got to visit this area on our trip. I had been wanting to visit these places for a long time and I am sure we will make a point to head back again. I would love to spend a little more time swimming in the river and hanging in the apple orchard.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

nature in portland: reed canyon in very early spring

Reed Canyon is a nature spot in Portland we like to visit often. It is a short loop hike that is easy for the kids and there is lots of different animals that make the canyon their home. We often head over there to try to spot beavers, which are U's favorite. We like to visit in different seasons and see the changes in the landscape. These photos are from very early spring, when the red-flowering currant and skunk cabbage was blossoming, and the nettles were starting to come up.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

nature in portland: marshall park

Marshall Park is another favorite nature spot in Portland for our family. It is kind of hidden in a neighborhood in SW. There isn't of lot of hiking, but there is an awesome little creek to play in and a cool little stone bridge. Both kids have lots of fun exploring and playing here. These photos are from the last time we came here, on Mother's Day. Uzi was running around looking for fish and playing Billy Goats Gruff under the bridge and Shosh splashed in the water and played with rocks. We had a fun time hiking around and playing in the water and then I headed off to see this movie with some lady friends. It was a lovely day.