Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Summer Wrap-Up

For the last month or so, basically since her posting spree in the second half of July, Sarah has been egging me on and trying to get me to contribute to the blog again. But, while this blog still holds a special place in my heart, and while I still see it is as sort of an ongoing journal of mine and Sarah's adventures together (and now Stella and Otto's too), I have to admit that I'm been less than jazzed about posting here in the wake of our trip to Iceland and France this Spring. That trip sort of reminded me about how much I enjoyed using this blog as a travel journal and -afterward- I've struggled to get motivated to go back to writing about bumming around Beacon Hill with the kids.  Those memories have merit for Sarah and I personally, but don't seem quite as "ready for prime-time" as, say, Provence.

And, while Sarah's work continues to allow her to travel (she's in New York as I write this), my job (which I otherwise love) keeps me closer to home. So, there ya go.

But, with Summer now coming to a sweltering (it's the second week of September, and in the 80's) end, enough memories and adventures have now piled up that it would be a shame not to make at least a cursory mention of them. So, here goes....

None of this is in any sort of chronological order, by the way. More thematic. Or, if nothing else, it reflects the order that I uploaded the pictures.

For reasons known only to those who like to play the "let's see what was happening 9 months before that" game, all the Birthdays in my immediate family seem to fall in the same three months. The first (and most irrelevant to this entry) is the late November/early December block of Stella, my mom and I. Then in May, it's my Dad, Sarah and Grandma's turn. Finally, in July, it's Travis and Otto.

So, accordingly, we had a couple get-togethers with my family, at my folks' place, first in May and then July...

 Happy Birthday, Grandma, Sarah and Dad!

Happy Birthday, Otto and Travis! (With some candle help from Stella!)

Georgetown and Beacon Hill
After a couple years of being sort of buckled down with new kids, I feel like we are starting to explore Beacon Hill and the surrounding neighborhoods (Georgetown, but also Columbia City, Seward Park, the ID, West Seattle, etc) again. Georgetown in particular has been a place we've started frequenting more often, namely the spray park there (see Sarah's Otto entry for pictures), but I also attended Sub Pop's 25th Anniversary Concert (Mudhoney, Father John Misty and Built to Spill, amongst others) and -as a family- we paid a visit to the Georgetown Carnival...

 Otto checks out a sound exhibit -where you were encouraged to clang metal pipes together- at the Georgetown Carnival (sort of a punk-rock meets Burning Man street festival).

The wagon has gotten a ton of use, not just to Georgetown, but just around the block and to neighborhood parks. (Here pictured with two sleeping kids.)

The Annual Housewarming
This year, we celebrated our 6th Annual Housewarming Party, as we wrapped up our fifth year on the Hill. This has continued to be one of our favorite days of the year, as we invite friends from near and far to come enjoy beer and grilled food in our backyard. Hopefully, it's enjoyed by our guests as much as us.
 This year, the canopy got to be a "shade structure" instead of a "rain structure."

Each year, the number of kids continues to grow. What was one or two at our initial house warming has grown to be probably a third of the crowd... which is quite a few when you take into account that we usually have 70+ guests over the course of the day.

Nisqually Wildlife Refuge
Encouraged by our Franklin Falls hike (see Sarah's entry), we hiked the 4-mile-round-trip boardwalk of the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge a couple weeks back. While Otto didn't quite hike the whole thing (see photo below), Stella amazed us with her fortitude. We'd planned on hiking just a portion of it, and then turning back; but she kept insisting "no, let's hike to the end." And she did. As hikers, Sarah and I were definitely both proud of her that day.

Otto held out as long as he could, but ended up catching a ride back on my shoulders... where he promptly fell to sleep.

Lake Phuckalia
Another annual tradition that we observed this year was our camping trip to "Lake Phuckalia" (which is actually just a small swim hole on a river just outside of Salmon La Sac). We've posted about it before but, basically, its the annual camping trip we make with my dad, his College buddy, Gary, and whatever victims we can round up. Drunken shenanigans usually follow, but the less we talk about those, the less dirty looks I get from Sarah.

 Doing a mini-hike with my dad, Sarah and the kids. My dad kept commenting on how Otto was walking the trail so naturally, like he owned it. Again, proud.

We've been doing this camping trip for years now, nearly annually for close to 20 years, and the scenery never ceases to inspire me.
Vashon Island
We did a couple trips out to Vashon Island this Summer. Once just as the four of us, and once with Sarah's mom and step-dad while they were in town. It's sort of become one of the de-facto day trips for us. One 10 minute car ride and one 15 minute ferry ride and we are on a rural island community a million miles from the hustle and bustle of Seattle. 

 On the ferry with Nana and Grandpapa. They live in Texas, outside of Dallas, so something like this is an easy way to give them a great change of pace. Plus, who doesn't love a ferry ride?

Each trip involves a visit to the Point Robinson Lighthouse. Usually, it's closed up, but this time there was an attendant present and we got to go up in it.

Walla Walla
Last year, we rented a house in Kauai with our friend Justin, Yachi, Divya, Gautam and their kids. This year, partially because of our trip to Europe this Spring, and partially because Justin and Yachi were expecting their third child, it didn't work out to do something that ambitious. Still, we combined our now seemingly annual trip to Walla Walla, and ended up renting a house with Justin and Yachi, along with our recently engaged friends, Russ and Ambika, and Justin's brother-in-law, Kip for a long weekend of wine tasting and hanging out.

 "The boys" hanging out on the creek that went through our back yard. One of the reasons we've enjoyed hanging out with Justin and Yachi so much recently is that, not only are the laid back about plans and schedules, but our kids all get along so well together. Which has been increasingly nice as the kids reach the age where they entertain each other more and more.

 Everyone enjoying dinner. (Sorry, Russ, for the photo of you chewing... devilishly hard to get a flattering photo of everyone eating dinner.)

 A view form Pepper Ridge Winery. Their view is better than their wine, but it highlights one of the reasons Sarah and I keep coming back.

Unfortunately, this is what Sarah saw most of the time. The kids, less impressed with wine tasting, spent a lot of time demanding her attention.

After this trip, and the previously mentioned Kauai trip, Sarah and I have definitely learned to appreciate this style of vacation. By traveling with other families or couples, and renting one large house, we are able to stay in the types of places that we otherwise couldn't. Plus, it provides a great base camp for hanging out and letting the kids run amok.

West Seattle
Aside from running errands, and the biweekly frozen yogurt trip, we actually haven't made it out to West Seattle a ton this year. But, we did head out to Alki to do a little beach combing during the annual lowest tide. Sarah has a friend, Anne, from her days back in Commerce, TX, who recently moved out her with her family. We met up with them, and got to explore the beach a little, and do a tasty lunch at Marination Ma Kai, which does amazing Hawaii fusion food from their location on a West Seattle pier.
Sarah and the kids posing on the beach, with Seattle in the background. From this angle, it almost looks like you could walk there without getting your feet wet.

Anyhow, I think that hits most of the major beats for this Summer. It's been a busy one. And, after several mediocre years weather-wise, a hot one. Hopefully, tonight's post will help lure me back into the fold and I'll start posting regularly again. Between Sarah's travels for work (something like a dozen days this month alone), plus the start of wine-making season and the fact that -next month- Sarah and I will have known each other for 10 years (wow!), there will definitely be plenty to post about.

Until then... Enjoy these final days of Summer!