Friday, June 29, 2007

I am actually growing things!

I just realized I haven't posted an update picture of the garden in a long time. It would have been nice to get several of the stages, but I totally spaced on taking them. Here is how it looks today.

I am so happy the plants have done this well! There are several that just didn't do well at all or even sprout since this area doesn't get that much sun. The beans are still struggling and it will be interesting to see if the tomatoes ripen up OK. But the cool weather crops seem to be doing great. I can't even begin to say how awesome it is to go out and pick my own lettuce, spinach, basil and arugula for a salad. Here is a bowl all washed and getting ready to be consumed!
I am really hoping for a salad spinner for my birthday hahaha.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Dream is Over, or Maybe Just Beginning.

How is that for an attention grabbing title? Just wanted to share a bit of what has been going on with us. There have been several things occupying almost all of my time recently, and one of them has been an obsession with picking what kind of car I want. When we refinanced our mortgage, they paid off my Focus, and we realized it was worth enough that we could sell it, put some money into the house and still get something cool and old.

My plan all along was to get an old VW bus, always a dream of mine. But the more important thing was to put a biodiesel engine into it. Until just about a week ago, we were assuming you could. I have been researching busses and contacting people on Craigslist, and Ron has been researching engines. It turns out there is not enough room in the old busses for a diesel engine! I was depressed for awhile, but finally came to terms with the idea of a Vanagon, which can be converted. I figure we can put a crazy paint job on it and pretend it is an old bus! I already bought an awesome handful of bumper stickers at the UUs General Assembly this past weekend!

So... we went to see one in Newberg over the weekend, put in an offer which was accepted, and picked it up Tuesday night! We really liked the people we bought it from. They had an 8 year old daughter, and we bonded over conversation about Burning Man, Breitenbush, Oregon Country Fair and camping in general! They are happy it is going to a family who will really use it and even more excited we want to turn it into a veggiebus.

Here are some of the pics the previous owner had on Craigslist. I will post more later.

Whoa, I can't believe we have a camper van!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Yellow Watermelon

Some random cute pics of my little double fisted watermelon eater at the park.

Friday, June 22, 2007

General Assembly in Portland!

I was thrilled when I found out the UUA's General Assembly would be in Portland this year. The only thing that sucks is that it is so expensive, but I couldn't not go! So I decided to go on Friday, figuring it might be a little less crowded than the weekend days.

I went to a couple great sessions on family subjects. One of the speakers was William Doherty. I loved most of what he had to say about UUs needing stronger traditions, although I have a feeling I wouldn't agree with all his parenting beliefs. I do like his anticonsumerism stance, though. He has started a movement to speak out about birthday party excess that is pretty interesting: .

I also heard alot about a book called The Great Turning, which is turning into quite a movement for some groups. It had a pretty profound affect on me, and I want to look into it more.

Of course I also had to drop a bit of money in the exhibit hall, where I was happy to collect several cool bumper stickers in preperation for our new car haha.

Just took a few shots. Here is just a small selection of the banners from churches all over the US.

And a neat shot I got of one of the Convention Center towers.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Canada, Day 5, Happy Father's Day!

Woohoo, we survived to the last day of our trip. For anybody who wants to follow the journey, I recommend going down to Day 1 and reading them in order, but hey, read it however you want!

I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK! Sorry, had to do it. This dude is next to the Squamish Adventure Center, so we had to get a quick shot.

This place looked pretty neat, although we didn't get a chance to go in.

We had a nice little breakfast at a local diner. Unbeknownst to Ron, we had wrapped and packed a couple presents for him we took in for him to open, or for Orion to open as was more the case. Unfortunately, I woke up with a horrible toothache. It had actually started bothering me the night before enough that I took some pain pills in the night. I only had a few with me, so I went down to a market to buy some more. I found the most awesome little natural fruit snacks that were kindof like fruit leather, but thicker. I wish I could find them back home.

I know this picture doesn't look like much, but this is a fairly famous chunk of rock. It is just outisde Squamish and is the second largest monolith in the world after Gibraltar!
So the Sea to Sky Highway goes up to Whistler, where the Winter Olympics are going to be in 2010. We feel very lucky we were traveling on the weekend, although it looks like alot of the work is being done at night. We had to include some of the roadwork pictures because this task is almost unimaginable. They are widening the highway, which means blasting out huge sections of rock and literally building out new walls that are basically cliffs. It looks like a war zone!

And you thought you were done with ferries, bwahaha. Just had to get this nice shot from the road. :)
First another ferry, then another lighthouse. This park was high on my list of places to see because the trail is through the last bit of old growth forest in the Vancouver area. And it was quite a lovely hike.
Oh my, a bench! Orion has some kind of fascination with benches. He has to sit on every one he sees. He will actually yell out, "A bench!" and go running over to them. This one apparently even put him in a reverant mood.

We tried to explain the idea of a walking stick to him. How silly of us.

First view of the lighthouse.
Another view from the keepers house.
Since we had made it to the area so early, we decided to take the time to hike down to the beach. So glad we did! This was the best treasurehunting yet, including beach glass. And there were some great tide pools in the rocks as well.

Not to mention yet another view of the lighthouse!
These pools had some interesting fish in them as well as all sorts of other creatures.
Like crabby crabs! These little guys were everywhere, and Orion loved them.
Lookin at stuff.

And on into town. At first Ron just wanted to get on the road, but I kept talking up Chinatown, so we decided to park and walk around a bit. Here is the gate.

There was a courtyard in front of the Chinese Gardens with all the zodiac symbols making a big circle. I took all of them because I am a geek, but I will only show here our family symbols, except I had to include the boar as she is portrayed nursing! How cool!
Ron is a rooster.
I commented how funny it would be if Orion was a monkey. Well, guess what? hahahah That makes it so much funnier that we have always called him monkey.
I am the horse.

Dragon had to be included because he is the coolest, and he is Sarah's symbol after all.

I had read about this place but had no idea it was FREE! How could we resist? Required lily pad picture in any Chinese Garden.
And more of what you would expect...
This goose cracked me up for some reason. He was the only one in the whole park, and he just stood on this rock the whole time we were there like some kind of sentinel.
So... this is the famous Sam Kee building. It was the main thing I wanted to see, but we had walked right by it the first time. It is known as being the world's skinniest building. The only problem is, it backs right up to another building! So it doesn't look really skinny at all, but maybe it wasn't always like that. At least we got a map and found it on the way back to the car. It does have an interesting story. The city basically took part of this guys land away from him, so he build this six foot wide building in protest!
Another cool old building near Chinatown. I would hate to have to use that fire escape!
Some military museum. Seemed crazy to me there was a tank just sitting alongside the road. You can also see the Canadian "Walk" symbol in this photo. I think theirs looks jauntier than ours haha.
And this picture is only included because it was the last picture we took on the trip. I am not even sure what that building is LOL. Some kind of science center I think. At this point, we were both really tired and just wanted to get home. We stopped at place for dinner just over the border, then blasted all the way back. Tomorrow's agenda: rest.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Canada, Day 4

Ah, waking up in a bed. Seriously, the camping has not been bad at all, except it has been colder than I expected. I am almost embarrased to say we took our Aerobed, but that is only because we couldn't find our regular camping air mattress. So we have been living it up in style!

I just realized I haven't said anything about the tenting experience. Orion has slept amazingly well in the fresh air, although I was worried about him being cold. I was cold enough the first night I didn't sleep well, but the second night I wore a hat, which really helped. The other challenge has been space. The first night we decided to zip the sleeping bags together and put Orion inside with us. He usually hates to be under covers, so I wasn't sure he would stay there, but that part was fine. The problem was moving him from side to side, or moving at all! We were cramped in there! So the second night I decided to try using my bag solo with him. Same problem - really tight squeeze! My big plan for tonight is to put him inside his little sleeping bag next to me in mine. I have a feeling he won't stay in though, so I am going to add a couple extra layers under his PJs.

Anyway, back to the pictures.... Here is our little Motel in the morning. Just wanted to give a sense about how it is set on a hill.

Here we go down the Sunshine Coast! Random totem pole. We wanted to get a decent start because there was a hike I wanted to do after the next ferry.
Um, OK, wait, isn't that a picture of getting on a ferry? Where are the lovely coast pictures? As it turned out, this was my biggest disappointment of the trip. I had heard so much about how lovely this region is, but it is pretty much 99% private homes on the coast. So the drive I expected to be having lovely ocean views and places to stop and check out the beach was instead lovely views of mailboxes and gated driveways.

There wasn't even a restaurant the entire way to the ferry! Luckily there was a little roadside stand type of place we were able to get some eggs just before the entrance. That place turned out to be really cool. We met a couple from the UK, and the guy who runs it keeps a little book where people make comments and tell where they are from. There are indeed folks from all over the world coming through there. Maybe they all make the same loop drive we did, but I would stick to the island next time!

You can see how lovely the coast is from the boat at least!

One of our saving graces on the ferries - the food selection was pretty small, so we never expected to see chocolate soy milk! This line was on all the boats though! In general, Canada seems to be pretty environmentally and health conscious, which was a nice thing to experience. The only problem with these was telling Orion he only got one!

Hey look, getting off the ferry (only one more crossing to go!) I think part of the humor of this for me was talking to Orion about ferries for days before we left. When I first told him we were going to put our car on a boat, he exclaimed, "That's so silly!" So the whole thing seemed pretty trippy for a two year old, and I like to try to see the world through his eyes.

This is the road near an area I wanted to see called Skookumchuck Narrows. Now mind you, I did my homework pretty well for this trip. I knew what the hikes were like and what would be interesting to see. For some reason, I assumed this was going to be a viewpoint right near the road, but instead it turned out to be a 4 kilometer hike one way! Yeah, I know that really isn't that long, but when you have another ferry to catch and a small walker with a very unpredictable pace, it gets a big worrisome. So we missed that, but knew it would just give us more time to see things the rest of the day!
Boats in somebodies yard near Skookumchuck trailhead.

More funky yard art in the same general area. Definitely was a picturesque drive, so not a total waste!
Foxglove is one of my favorite flowers, and it just grows wild all over the place. Good thing I like it since that was the main view from the road on the Sunsine Coast haha.
However... this was the one beach you could get to, so when we saw it, we had to stop! Would you look at all those rocks!
It appeared to be a quite low tide, so we had lots of stuff to look at.
Now this was a comber's beach! Besides all the cool rocks, there were lots of shells, mainly scallop shells. So the big challenge became finding the totally whole shells. At first we were excited when we found one, then we had more than we knew what to do with!

It was amazing how much the tide came back in during the short time we were there. We saw these geese as we were leaving. I didn't know they would hang out in salt water. You know what they say... learn something new every day.

And then there was Gibson's. I had heard quite alot about this little seaside village, and indeed it was quite charming. Even the trashcans are pretty!

And the old folks are strong! Seriously, we thought to offer this lady a hand, but we weren't sure if she would be thankful or insulted.

Heading down to the dock. This sign was funny because of what it says at the bottom. We would have gone into to check this place out, but it was closed. :(
Floating flower house. Honestly, this is one of the most picturesque things I have ever seen, although you can't really tell it from this picture. We weren't sure if it was a house or a store or...? There were no signs on it, so I think somebody actually lives in there! (There is more indoor space off to the right of the first picture.) We met another lady who lives on the docks, so it wouldn't be that odd.

Cool building at the end of the dock. A bunch of the pieces were like this, as if they had followed the natural pattern of the wood to make the logs. Really awesome.

View from the end of the pier.
Orion had so much fun spotting "Maple Flags" that we had to buy him a little one. That was a big hit!
Famous floating seafood store. We had to buy a few things here!
Crazy plants growing out the top of pieces of wood.
If you look closely, there is a seagull in its next on top of the piece of wood in the center.

Other side of the same sign on the way up the hill. Thanks for letting us know!
Oh yeah, and I almost forgot, we had lunch at a really neat place. I have never seen so many cuisines in one place - Indian, Greek, Italian and more. Apparently these types of places are not uncommon in Canada. Great idea in my book! And they had a play area for kids!
OK, OK, it's the last ferry!
And look, I didn't even take any pictures on the boat! We are already getting off.
Up the Sea to Sky highway we go. First stop, Shannon Falls, and... wow! This was just the first glimpse through the trees, so we realized how huge it was. We were still quite far away at this point.

Front view of the falls. It is hard to get a sense of how tall it is because the tree in the foreground kindof thows off the scale. But if you can see the fullsize trees near the top, you can get some idea. It is 1105 feet tall! We stayed there for the longest time just stunned and looking at it. Ron thought it was the best fall we say by far, but I still think the first Englishman River one was pretty close.
Hollow trunk in the Shannon Falls parking lot.

In camp at last! Alice Lake was our home tonight. We really didn't get to spend hardly any time in our campsites. This was more of a road trip than a camping trip... I do see Ron's point that a balanced approach would be better, but it is so hard for me to go to a new place and not want to explore everything there is to see!