Saturday, July 31, 2010

Travelogue part 1. North to Kelowna

We were out of the house by 4am on the 15th. I usually hit the road that early, but we had to meet up with Toni and her van part way to the interstate, and I knew it'd take us a bit of time, so I suggested that we meet at 0430. Good thing, as we were barely 2 miles from home when Ken said "I don't believe this! I forgot my phone."

Nice to have that little turn-around buffer in place, although I still took the liberty of making a U-turn at a red light. BECAUSE I COULD.

We stopped a little earlier than planned, somewhere south of Red Bluff, for a Starbucks, and a potty. Maybe it was Williams? It wasn't 7am yet. But I was ready for some tea. Someone wanted to switch around cars, but I put my foot down that we HAD to get back on the road, and if they'd really wanted to switch cars, they would have had their plan in place, AND they would have gone potty while I was ordering drinks, instead of cracking jokes and lounging around asking their own mother if they could have sugary snacks, so that when it *was* time to get back in the cars, they wouldn't be saying "oh wait! I have to pee first!"

Yes, travelling with eight people in 2 cars is WAY more work than travelling with your own family of 5 in a single car. It was akin to herding cats, and I am glad to be back.

A gas stop was made at Weed, and I stopped driving our car (Ken had woken up, and had finished his doppio machiato). Toni was looking really rought (she is neither a morning person NOR a long-distance driver), so I got behind the wheel of her van, and we took the girls while the boys got settled in our van, with Ken driving. Barely 2 hours later, it was time for a run-around-and-eat-early-lunch break at the Rogue River in southern Oregon. I got back into our van, and had an afternoon nap until Nate had to suddenly pee, and we pulled off the road in some central Oregon small town and hit a gas station.

At that point, Toni got something in her eye (t was really hot and dusty), and couldn't open her left eye, so I took up driving her car again. That was a long shift, as we got to just south of Portland, and Ken's GPS screeched that the I5 was either closed or VERY clogged, and sent us on a lovely detour out to the 99, and around the eastern edge of some river I'd never seen before. Very picturesque, but also not any road I was familiar with. By the time we ended up in Washington (oh, and it was rush hour. Joy!), most of us really had to pee, so we stopped for gas, and groceries, and I handed Toni's keys back to her.

The GPS screeched again as we were coming up to Tacoma, but we didn't react in time, and we ended up in a total freeway shut-down because of a tanker truck on fire near the Tacoma dome. We finally were able to jog out of traffic onto an exit ramp, and took a very sketchy detour down back roads, and parking lots that brought us out onto the (deserted!) I5 just ahead of where the truck had been on fire. It was right behind us, and there were still TV camera vans on the overpass, filming.

We were very happy to get to Bothell, and find our hotel. The front desk clerk was very kind and said that our friends could use the pool even though they weren't staying at the hotel, but were staying at their Grandma's house just down the road, so we spent a nice hour and a half decompressing while the kids splashed around in the pool like crazy otters.

Except for Skip, who had had JUST a little bit too much time with Cole, and was therefore parking himself in a corner, so he could read "Practice Effect" by David Brin, in relative peace and quiet. Great book, btw.

We packed up the next morning, and waited for Toni and her kids to come back to the hotel. They were even a few minutes ahead of schedule, which was nice, and we convoyed up to the border, with us keeping our own kids in our own vans (for crossing-the-border purposes). An uneventful crossing, and then we stopped at the closest Starbucks north of the border, while Ken met up with one of his online friends who happened to live in Abbotsford, to enact a board game exchange.

We weren't really in any rush, so we stopped in Chilliwack to go to the little mall and get Canadian money, and some beyond-excellent Cob's Bakery bread products for our lunch. Then it was a little bit of driving, and we were on the Coquihalla highway, up in the mountains on a gloriously sunny summer day.

We stopped at some random rest area, and had a little picnic.

We were at my folks' place by about 4, and decided that it was TOO glorious a day to not go to the beach before supper.

The kids swam. I took photos. Ken relaxed.

It was not particularly warm in the water.

So the boys stayed on the bench for a while.

Star Trek man eventually moved off of the bench and towards the water. First, to throw rocks.

Then to show off his muscles in the water.

(Full disclosure: I told them I would pay them each a dollar if they let me take their photo flexing their muscles. Money, it's what makes the world go around)

Then he tried to catch a fish with his bare hands.

(Full disclosure: I told the kids that I'd give a dollar for every fish caught. Honestly? I think if I hadn't said "We are leaving RIGHT NOW!" they would still be there, knee deep in the lake, trying to catch little fish with their hands.)

Nate? He was happy just to splash around. He'd probably still be there if I hadn't bribed him away from the water, too.

And that was the end of our first day in Canada.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Last Day on the coast

It's been fun.


Don't know that I'm ready to go back, but also know that it's about time to get back into a routine.

But I'll miss this place.

Goodbye, Seaside.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Grand Tour

I have not been home since 4am on July 15th.

It has been a grand tour.

I am still not home.

But right now, I am at a home away from home.

And it is nice.

Looking out the front door...

And down that path?

See you in a few days.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Kelly had a few friends sleep over last night.

When morning came, their mom said "Hey! We're going to the beach, do you want to come?"

Who am I to say "No" to a day at the beach?

Well, maybe I should've thought twice. It was a pretty lengthy drive to a beach I'd never been to, and it was pretty chilly and grey when we got there. I was glad I had a hat. It kept me warm.

But the kids had a great time.

And then they got to Boogie Board!

That's a grin, not a grimace, right?

Because this one sure is:

This one, not so much:

Hooray for the beach!

Now, if only I'd remembered to put sunscreen on the tops of my feet after I took off my sandals when I got to the beach, and had to wade to our home base...

I am in AGONY! But I just have to laugh at the dorky sandal-tan-line burn that I've got going on. I had a nice base tan on the feet, where the sandals do NOT cover. And now I'm suffering with burns along those little previously-white lines.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Horse Camp Week 1. Day 3

On Wednesday of the first week, I stuck around and made a nuisance of myself, so i could watch the girls bring the horses in from the pasture.

I love that early morning light.

The horses looked very eager to please, too. My guess is that the girls are routinely bribing the horses with treats.

"Do I smell carrots?"

Some horses come eagerly.

"Hey? Is that bowl of oats for me?"

Others... not so much.

"Nope. Can't make me."

Eventually, they all got saddled up, and headed out for a short morning ride. Their long ride would be to the beach at noon. I was going to come back and photograph them on the beach, but to get a little bit of exercise, I ran down to the beach myself, and took a few (hundred) shots of things going on along the trail.

Including this shot of a gigantic snake (a garter snake? that thing was huge! I bet his body was bigger in cross section than a silver dollar.) disappearing into the bushes.


But let's get back to fun stuff:



Those carrots were for the horses!

Then it was time for the beach ride.

That's a funny way to ride a horse... And you'll feel every bump if he starts to trot.

Ah, that's better.

Off they go...

It was a glorious day for a beach ride.

Sunny, bright, just a hint of wind.

Here they come!

I had to scamper fast, because I was still at the top of the bluffs, and had to get down onto the sand before the horses started descending.

And down the hill to the beach they go.

These photos just don't convey how truly steep that path is. I get a little flustered going down it on two feet, and I nearly passed out the one time that I rode a horse down it.

But eventually, they are all on the beach.

I could watch that all day long.

Walking back to the ranch, I came across this little guy.

I love the little tufts of stuff he's carrying around for his nest.

And look! Here come the riders, back from the beach.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Super Shopper

Every year, I put together a hard-cover digital photo-book for the girls that go to horse camp with Kelly.

The first year, I just made the book for me, and thought "You know, I bet the other girls would like something like this" and ordered 4 copies, and gave them as gifts.

The next year, all the moms wanted the books AND wanted to pay me for them. (To be fair, two of the moms paid me that first year. They insisted, in fact. It was kind of nice, but I wasn't expecting it)

This year, several of the moms asked if I'd be making a book, and also said they expected to pay for it. With seven campers, and the camp's horsemanship teacher herself asking for a copy ("Which, of course, I'll pay any amount! You take great photos of my horse!" yes, it's quite the ego stroke for me), I just put in an order for 8 copies.

And then I did a quick little online search to see if I could snag a coupon...

And found one that just saved me...

Wait for it...

Drum-roll please...



Oh... did I mention that I just saved a hundred and three bucks?

A hundred.


Horse Camp Catch Up Part 2.

It was a big crowd of girls, so most days, there were two cars driving out to the coast. I was able to take all 7 girls, and one other mom could, too. The dynamic between the girls was usually OK, but there was just that tiny undercurrent of conflict that made me edgy.

But enough about that. Let's remember the good bits.

I never got tired of watching them come home from dusty beach rides. And yeah, maybe I took a few more photos than most doting parents. The guys at the ranch started calling me "The Photographer".

And Smoke turned out to be the ideal horse for Kelly. I could have taken him home with us, I was so enamored with him, too. I don't know what sort of life he had before this ranch, but he really seemed to be happy to see Kelly, if you can believe that. Would walk right to her. Nuzzle her. Sent her into Horse Lover Heaven, I can tell you.

This year, I was happy to see that they were making the girls take over more of the care of their horses. Not just cursory brushings, but they were required to saddle up in the mornings, and clean up at the end of the day. I really liked seeing the girls break a sweat.

Kelly and her shadow...