Saturday, December 31, 2016

#OptOutside Today and Every Day!

I've sort of become obsessed with getting outside and into nature. I think it's due to the realization of just how lucky we are to be so close to so many amazing trails and natural icons like Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, the Olympics, the North Cascades, the Puget Sound, etc. Maybe it is also knowing how cold winter is going to get and how life with a newborn is going to make getting outside more of a mental challenge. (Don't get me wrong...I totally understand it is doable and I completely plan on it, yet I do know it will take a lot more self convincing just to make that first step out the door!). So, when I saw REI's big push to #GetOutside for Black Friday, it made perfect sense.
We usually end up outside most of Black Friday anyways because we are usually at my cabin in the woods and no where near big box stores (nor would we even be interested in attempting hello #minimalistwannabes!). Yet, the idea of planning something even more intentional sounded like a fun challenge. So, I asked around for recommendations of great hikes that would be little kid and pregnant mama friendly and most responses came back with the Pinecrest Lake loop trail. As a kid I remember hiking the loop once or twice and looking down at my feet each time my dad lifted his cowboy hat and announced "Howdy" to every hiker passing by. On this occasion, luckily my dad did not have a cowboy hat on and he was far too occupied with throwing snowballs back and forth with his grandson to be busy with greeting every other hiker with more than just a friendly smile and quick "hello".
The loop trail is only a 3.7 mile loop, but I failed to mention that to the rest of my family and pregnant brain got the best of me, so we were a bit unprepared for the hike. We went right around lunch time with barely a snack and we all neglected to fill up our water bottles before leaving our B&B that morning. Unfortunately all the water fountains were turned off when we got to the start of our hike, so even though 3.7 miles isn't usually a lot, we were petering out of stamina and thirsty and super hungry by about 2.5 or 3 miles.

The trail had just enough snow leftover to keep our four year old totally entertained and distracted from how far he actually was hiking on his own and just enough that it wasn't too much for my 30 week pregnant belly to handle. The lake and the sierras were gorgeous even though the weather was pretty chilly and a bit gray, getting ready for a big snow storm to pass through.
When we finally made it back to the car, we jumped in and headed to lunch and water as soon as we could. Micah passed out and continued to sleep for the first half of lunch as he had hiked almost 3 miles on his own. There isn't much better than a child angelically sleeping on your lap, while filling up on yummy food and water in the warmth of a cozy bar and grill after a satisfying hike in the woods!
Here's hoping we get many more amazing hikes like this (while making sure to be a bit more prepared!) in the new year! Our family wishes you lots of adventure, fresh air, nature, health, and happiness for the coming year. Happy 2017!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Turkey Traditions

As my cousins once sang: "Funky carpet, turquoise oven, orange counter tops, & plenty of lovin." That's my family cabin! My great grandfather built it and my grandfather and others of that generation remodeled it to add an outhouse and larger living space. The ugly mushroom art and brown and tan striped curtains really help set the mood. That and the fact that there is no phone or tv or internet. I always feel so thankful for a good retreat to the woods and now I have the appreciation for a non mossy forest. The sad thing this year is that global warming has got the best of the majority of trees in our cabin's backyard (and the whole area) and the pine beetles have just decimated the trees. This year they were all still standing, but most are obviously dead. Next year will be so strange when they are all cut down. Still, the smell of fresh pine trees and fireplaces burning in the area along with fresh frigid mountain air hugged my heart and soul. To see Micah playing with his extended cousins just as I once did, running around the woods, venturing to the local playground, and sitting on the famous horsey tree is the best!

This year the older cousin kids hosted their third annual Kids Club Election to elect a president. It brought on a good lot of laughs from the adults in the crowd. I was impressed with their knowledge of our own US election and candidates, their ability to give persuasive speeches, the oldest's ability to mock a certain Mr. Trump, and the ability in their election for the kinder candidate to win! While the oldest was going to "build a wall" to seperate the adults and kids, the middle one wanted no such thing and even wanted to help unite the kids and the adults. The youngest candidate wanted to help save the endangered sharks, which was definitely a great tactic for a third party candidate. ;-) Their speeches and knowledge really opened my eyes to just how much I personally had stuck my head in the sand throughout the whole election season and really tried to maintain an ignorance is bliss attitude, which I am embarrassed to admit. After listening to their speeches, I quietly resolved to get a little more involved politically this year and moving forward to learn more about the major issues. 
This year we opted for a more quiet evening inside our B&B, reading by the fireplace and turning in for an early bedtime while our cousins headed out for the annual bowling night at the local casino!

Our amazing chef's Sarah, Doug, and Amy

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Babymoon Retreat to Lake Quinault Lodge

We knew we needed to get away for at least two nights before baby comes. We had elaborate ideas of going to Sleeping Lady in Leavenworth or The Salish Lodge or something luxurious like that. Then we put new brakes on our Subaru only to have the engine die on us a few weeks later. Oh and we had to pay exterminators to come take care of our rats in the crawlspace problem. So, luxurious dreams dashed, we still knew we had to prioritize a few days away from our loving little boy before baby girl arrives. My parents graciously offered to come take care of Micah and so we just had to figure out somewhere affordable to get away to. I searched and searched and finally came up with the Olympic National Park. I took a quick facebook poll to see whether Lake Crescent Lodge or Lake Quinault Lodge would be better and results definitely came up with Lake Quinault and I am so glad! 
The Lodge at Lake Quinault is so beautiful and historical. I think anywhere with a giant wood burning fireplace adds a massive amount of romance to a vacation. There are so many easy hikes right in the vicinity, which was important since getting outside was a must and not over doing it at 28 weeks pregnant was also important. The lodge itself has a great restaurant, cozy rooms, a heated pool, a game room, and the giant common area near the fireplace with communal puzzles and games. 
We skirted Friday night traffic getting out of Seattle by hoping on the Vashon/Southworth ferry and grabbed the biggest burritos ever at the Blue Agave Mexican Grill. Then we shared a peaceful rainy drive out to the Lodge and crashed for the night as soon as we checked in. 
On our first full day, we ate breakfast in our room and took off for the forest. We hiked a good 1.6 miles on the Falls Creek Loop trail and continued to the .9 mile Lakeshore Trail, which was made pretty fun due to all the washed up driftwood and debris. That led us to the .5 Rain Forest Nature Trail Loop with great interpretive signs. It was on that loop that we spotted a lone salmon attempting to head back up the falls to spawn. We started to get hungry, so we hiked back on the road to lunch at the Mercantile, which took a hearty amount of time to get served since it was a one woman ordering/cooking show. Even though it was the very end of their season and they were about to shut down the following weekend, the food hit the spot! 
Phil had been fighting off the never ending cold, so he headed to our room for a little nap and I indulged myself in sustained reading for pleasure on the comfy leather couch with a Chai Latte in front of the giant fireplace. When I had read for over an hour or two, I found Phil and we opted for a little swimming in the indoor heated pool before a bit of watching the Husky game on TV in the game room, along with a few rounds of foozeball and ping pong! While Phil watched more of the game, I actually headed back up to work on the communal 1000 piece puzzle for a bit. I would have finished it, yet we were called away to our reservation at the Roosevelt Room Restaurant where we dined on the tastiest salmon dinner and sipped a bit of wine (I know, I know...don't judge me!). 
In the morning we headed out for another hike, this time to the 1.3 mile semi loop from Gatton Creek to the largest Sitka Spruce Tree in the world! It was the perfect end to a perfect trip. We headed back home with a stop for lunch in Olympia with Phil's mom before dinner with our kiddo and my parents before they flew home.