Author: Amanda (page 1 of 93)

Blue Lake Trail

As I started this post, I thought how I would share about the Blue Lake trail itself; how steep it was, how exposed it was, how well a family could hike it, how many switchbacks there were, and how busy the trail was.  But as I sat to write, thought, started sentences and deleted them, I realized my story isn’t about the trail and the minutiae of it.

 

 

Yes, the Blue Lake trail was gorgeous.  Yes, it was dusty and rocky and rooty.  Yes, you too should go hike it.

 

We climbed through forests, small mountain meadows and looked upon sweeping vistas that made me smile.

 

As with any given family hike, someone or many someones found it challenging while others or many others found it refreshing and invigorating.  On our first hike of the trail, Amelia and I found Blue Lake to be difficult while on our second hike of the trail Clara found the trail to be difficult.  Both days though we made it to the lake in 2 hours (give or take).

 

But, we actually hiked this trail twice in one week and getting the children to return with the promise of fishing and not doughnuts should tell you …. it’s an excellent destination!

 

The signposts warning of habituated mountain goats had us excited at the possibility of spotting one and nervous about the possibility of stumbling upon mountain goats.  The girls found mountain goat hair and recreated scenes from the Lion King on the numerous rock outcroppings along the trail.

 

I marveled at the beauty of this state that I call home.  I fondly thought of friends and family in the Midwest who would also marvel at the beauty along the Blue Lake trail.  And I wasn’t even halfway to Blue Lake!

 

I smiled and appreciated the opportunity that my family could be here hiking together and adventuring together.  We roamed in nature beyond the reaches of cell phone coverage.  Beyond where I could take a few crappy photos with my phone to share with friends on FB and wait for comments and likes.   Into a place where I not only was forced to just put away technology, but I wanted to put it away.  I wanted to soak in the warmth and beauty of my family and my surroundings.

 

The sun and heat, the beauty of Blue Lake and the spirit of summer, all begged us to take a dip into the icy waters.  The girls giggling about disrobing to their underwear in public, while I insist it’s all good and strip down to my skives to prove my point.  The chilly waters drawing me in, my adrenaline rises as I stand knee-deep contemplating a hobbled retreat or hasty dive into the cold.  I always choose the hasty dive.  At least once. Usually twice.

 

We snack, we rest our bodies, we jump in the icy water, we warm our bodies on rocks, we explore the waters edges, we squeeze our dirty, wet feet back into our boots and we prepare to head back down the trail.

 

And those mountain goats?  Yup, ran across one on the trail during each of our hikes.

 


 

 

 

Summer 2017

We had an amazing summer!   Really, it was awesome!

 

We finally were able to buy another mini-van (we sold our last Sienna to pay for our plane tickets to Spain), we put our mail on hold and took off for adventures around Washington state.

 

We spent most of our days out exploring and our nights were spent in a tent together.  We traveled around 2,000 miles; all within Washington State and concluded that there is SO much more to see and do.

 

 

Summer 2017 Timeline:

 

June 21st – My mother-in-law comes for a visit and stay with us.  I bunk up with the girls while Jeff takes the couch.  We squeeze in strawberry picking, attending end of year school parties, jam making and swimming in the pool.

June 27th – Last day of school for the girls.  FINALLY!

June 30th – Last day of school/work for Jeff.  FINALLY!

July 1st – Mother-in-Law leaves.

July 3rd – July 6th – Annual visit to Inch Acres.  We camp in their backyard, help with farm chores, eat delicious food and spend quality time with our wonderful friends.

July 6th – 9th – Jeff travels to Las Vegas for a friends Birthday Bash.  The girls and I swim in the pool, pick raspberries and get prepared to head out camping.

July 11th – We celebrate Violet’s birthday at K1 Speed.

July 12th – Travel 3 hours and 150 miles to North Cascades National Park  and camp at Colonial Creek Campground at Diablo Lake.   Score back country permits to backpack for 4 nights & 5 days on the Thunder Creek trail in North Cascades National Park.

July 13th – July 17th – Backpack the Thunder Creek Trail for a total of 13 miles round-trip with 2 bear sightings.

July 17th – July 20th – Car camp at Colonial Creek Campground .  Planned to spend 1 night here and move on but then the mice moved in and we worked to move them out.

July 18th – Rather than bake a carrot cake we celebrate my dad’s birthday with beer and sleeves of doughnuts.

July 19th – Day hike to Blue Lake.  Amazing views, cold water swim & a mountain goat encounter.

July 20th – July 21st – Travel 40 miles and 1 hour over Washington Pass, hike Cutthroat Lake trail and disperse camp.

July 21st – Travel 65 miles and an hour and a half towards Winthrop, Washington to find a campsite before heading back to Blue Lake to fish as the fishing at Cutthroat Lake was a bust.  When we returned to our campground near dinner time, it was full!  So glad that we decided to not wait to find a spot.

July 21st – July 23rd – Car camp at Klipchuck Campground which was a nice, quiet and cheap campground.

July 22nd – Visited Winthrop, Washington, drank some hard cider and walked the town.  Winthrop used to be an annual trip for us but we haven’t been in years and it was great to be back.

July 23rd – Visit the Winthrop Fish Hatchery and travel 2.5 hours and 115 miles to Leavenworth, Washington in 101 degree heat.  Keep the A/C off, travel with 5+ gallons of water, stop for cold drinks several times and hope we don’t break down.

July 23rd – July 27th -Arrive at Eightmile Campground along Icicle Creek and get lucky enough to snag one of our favorite campsites in the campground.

July 27th – Travel 122 miles & 2.5 hours home.

July 27th – August 3rd – Stay around home, swim in the pool, visit with friends, do laundry, prepare for our next trips and celebrate my 30th birthday,

August 4th – 7th – Travel 82 miles to Lodgepole Campground outside of Mt. Rainier National Park to meet our friends who from Michigan, who flew to Las Vegas and drove to Washington.

August 5th – Visit Mt. Rainier National Park and hike the 5.6 mile Freemont Lookout Trail.

August 6th – Visit the Paradise area of Mt. Rainier National Park.  Hike a to Glacier View, visit Visitor Center and stop by Lake Louise.

August 7th – Travel 164 miles & 3.5 hours with our friends to Sequim Bay State Park.  Pick Lavender in Sequim, play in a river, and watch the sunset in Port Angeles.

August 8th – 104 miles to Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park to play in the Pacific Ocean and then travel down the coast to camp at Kalaloch Campground.

August 9th – Say goodbye to our friends and play as a family on the beaches at Kalaloch before we travel 190 miles & 4 hours home.

August 10th – August 13th – Hang out at home, swim in the pool, relax, play Ninetendo, wash laundry and prepare for our next trip.

August 13th – August 18th – Travel 95 miles & 2.5 hours to meet our friends from Minnesota at Cougar Rock Campground in Mt. Rainier National Park.

August 14th – Hiked 5 miles with our friends from Paradise Visitor Center to Cougar Rock Campground.

August 15th – Jeff & Jacob hike 9 miles with a 4,000 foot elevation gain to Camp Muir.   While Sara, the kids and I, hiked the 5.5 mile, 1,450 elevation gain Skyline Loop Trail.  We used a super cool, composting toilet at 7,000 feet in elevation, saw more than a dozen marmots, a couple of Pika, several waterfalls, and panoramic vistas.

August 16th – Hiked 2.5 miles to swim & picnic at Snow Lake in Mount Rainier National Park.

August 17th – Travel 60 miles over 2 hours together with our friends to visit the Sunrise Visitor Center at Mt. Rainier National Park and to hike the 4 mile, 600 foot elevation gain, Dege Peak trail.

August 18th – Say goodbye to our friends and travel home to wash clothes and prepare for our next adventure.

August 19th – Wash lots of laundry and watch lots of television.  Amelia & Clara get new haircuts.  Mail out care packages to the girls.

August 20th – Travel 70 miles and 2 hours to drop the girls off at Camp Colman where they attended camp for 6 nights and 7 days.  This was Clara’s first year, Violet’s 3rd and Amelia’s 5th year.  They loved it of course!

August 20th – After dropping the girls at camp, Jeff and I travel 120 miles to Lake Quinault in Olympic National Park and sleep in the back of the van.

August 21st – We pick up our backpacking permits for the Hoh River Trail in Oympic National Park, stop on the side of the road to watch the Solar Eclipse on our way to the trai lhead,  finally begin our 9 mile hike in the heat of the day and collapsed as we reach the campground at the Olympus Guard Station.

August 22nd – Decide to take a zero backpacking day and hike back out the 9 miles tomorrow rather than finish our planned 32 mile hike.

August 23rd – We hiked out 9 miles, had a beer in Forks, Washington and traveled 90 miles to Port Angeles where we drank more beer, ate pizza, attempted to watch the sunset, ate Pho and slept in the back of the van.

August 24th – Traveled 47 miles to Port Townsend.   Visited the Chimacum Farm Stand, and Finn River Cidery before sightseeing and enjoying an evening dockside concert and then traveled 40 miles south along the Hood canal to  Dosewallips River Road where we slept in the back of the van again.

August 25th – Hiked 7.2 miles on the Lena Lake trail and then continued sightseeing and traveling 71 miles south along the Hood Canal until we reached Joemma Beach State Park to camp for the night.

August 26th – Picked up the girls from camp, traveled home, held a closing ceremony and took a surprise visit to Baskin and Robbins.

 

Stayed tuned for more posts & pictures on all of our summer adventures!  Hey, better late than never.

 

 

 

 

Granada, Spain

Granada was the last of the three cities we visited over Christmas break.

With the fact that we would be there be that we would be there for four nights during the holidays, I tried to find a place where I didn’t also have to pay for parking.  As parking added considerable cost to the hostels and hotels I was researching.  The place we pulled up to on New Years Eve was admittedly a little creepy. Imagine a cross between a motel 6 and a KOA RV campground with a small bar/restuarant, old metal playground and a random bird cage with birds laying eggs.

I, again, immediately questioned my hotel booking skills.  The reviews of the place, Motel Sierra Nevada, were mostly positive and read that we could take a quick and easy bus ride into the heart of Granada.

It wasn’t a quick bus trip…at least not for a family with small kids who spoke even less Spanish at the time.

While Granada ended up being an enjoyable time, it was also fraught with us being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We arrived on New Years eve with plans to play cards and watch the new year’s activities on tv. The girls thoroughly enjoyed us sharing stories of us doing stupid things as kids such as using scissors in a plastic pool or swinging in a full circle in a hammock.  I enjoyed us sitting still and playing cards.

I remembered to pick up grapes before we left Seville so we could participate in the tradition of eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight.  Supposedly, it is good luck to do so. My guess is that its good luck if you manage to eat 12 grapes in 12 seconds and you don’t choke to death.  Especially if you fail to buy the seedless grapes.

I did not enjoy the $8 hamburger from the onsite bar that was served raw.  I did gather up myself to go ask for my money back on that one.  It was the last straw in my feeling we were constantly being screwed over by not knowing the language. I even got my money back! But with our raw hamburgers returned we were left with peanut butter and jelly to ring in the new year.

We had a lot of peanut butter and jelly on this trip!

Lots of places in town were closed on New Years day. Which I did expect but I thought Burger King would at least be open. More peanut butter and jellies for us.

We headed down to Alumencar on the Mediterranean sea for the day. I was pleasantly surprised by the warmth, the sunshine and the amount of restaurants open. The girls played in the sea, we did a quick hike to an overlook and had some great mussels. On an outdoor patio as well. We wrapped it up with ice cream and headed back to the creepy motel/Koa.

I shouldn’t really knock the Motel Sierra Nevada. It was out of town, it was affordable, it had hot water and a small fridge. The kids loved watching the birds in the cage and counting the bird eggs. And it was only a few miles from the city center.

We were also right next to a Chinese restaurant. Oh….it had been so long, so very long since we had Chinese food. Potatoes in the stir fry were even forgivable. It took us four tries to show up at the right time though to be able to eat. It was either closed or we were too early. Dinner wasn’t served until 9pm.

We also had no tickets to what is probably the most famous site in all of Spain, the Alhambra. I spent a lot of time online trying to figure out how exactly we were going to secure tickets. My Lonely Planet book warned that I would need to arrive hours early to even have a snowballs chance in hell of getting a day-of ticket.  Ok…don’t look for that quote. I’m paraphrasing.

Instead, we headed to the Granada science center. During winter break. I waited in line for an hour to purchase our tickets. And while all the exhibits were in Spanish it was a  fun trip.

Odd, in many regards. A lot of nudity. Sometimes unexplainable  to me. I didn’t want to appear the creepy tourist so I refrained from taking a video of the exhibit that explained range of motion with a video of completely nude adults raising their legs to show the hips’ range of motion or the full male frontal to show the shoulders’ range of motion. Really, I tried to find a YouTube video some other American tourist took of the exhibit but my search for a nude exhibit at the Granada science center started taking a turn for the worse so I stopped. You’ll just have to picture it.

There was also an interesting and definitely creepy exhibit on mummies. Amelia went with us for the first part but then closed her eyes and had us lead her around for the remainder of the time.  She was afraid of having nightmares.  Which who can blame her?  We are viewing dead human beings after all.

And truthfully, while we do find the mummies of various cultures fascinating in reality these were people that were carefully prepared after their deaths to remain in their final resting place but are now on exhibit for thousands of people to view. I hadn’t thought of it before but the sheer number of mummies there were cause for thought.

The butterfly house at the science was a disappointment in comparison to Pacific Science Centerr in Seattle. But the girls found the metal ball works and vintage typewriter fascinating.

After the streets of Seville and most other places we were hesitant to try to drive to the Alhambra but squeezing in a taxi together or figuring out the bus which included two transfers was even less diserable. I convinced that Jeff we should go try to drive to the Alhambra. We were pleasantly surprised to find large, ample parking that was simple to reach and get home from.

We had a plan. We were going to wake early (7:30am), grab McDonalds for breakfast while I would go stand in line for tickets and the girls with Jeff stayed in the car. Turns out McDonalds didnt open till 9am for breakfast. Peanut butter and jelly for breakfast it was.

It was also a very cold, crisp morning.  Jeff was sure we would get tickets. I was sure we would not.

I was happily wrong.

The Alhambra was grand (see the National Geographic YouTube Video). Both in size and history. We spent our entire allotted time there with few complaints from the girls; at least once the temperature rose above freezing and they could feel their feet again.  I’d like to read this book on the Alhambra.

We however did not rent the audio guide which probably would have been nice but it would have also slowed us down considerably. As it was we were pushing it to make it to the Generalife section of the Alhambra before the 2pm deadline on our ticket.

Because it is such a large attraction with so many visitors, (it’s limited to 6,600 per day) tickets are split into morning and afternoon sessions with the Palacios Nazaries admission at a specific time listed on your ticket. Make it then or miss it. In this palace are the iconic fountains and rooms that are associated with the Alhambra.  Here’s a postcard for you if you don’t think you’ll make it!  p.s. It’s my own personal photo.

One of the more amusing parts of our visit happened when Violet was taking a rest on a chair. While Jeff and I took our pictures of the Alhambra, a group of older Asian women gathered around Violet and had their pictures taken with her. Violet was so confused!

Between the crisp, cool but sunny weather, the good spirits of the children and the amazing history we were seeing it was a GREAT day!  I’ll admit the spirits of the children had a lot to do with that.

Because we had dragged our feet on getting into the city of Granada we had little time left for exploring the city itself.

Which really is a shame.  It was colorful, vibrant and full of energy.

After an already full day of visiting the Alhambra we treked on into Granada.

 

 

Iceland – Þingvellir National Park, Geysir, Gullfoss Waterfall & Laugardalslaug Geothermal Pool

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Reykjavik, Iceland

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Taken at 1:45am

Taken at 1:45am

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2:00 in the morning!

2:00 in the morning!

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It's 2:30 in the morning!

It’s 2:30 in the morning!

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Seville, Spain

We did more than drive the narrow streets while we were in Seville in December.  We stayed at an eclectic hostel, Hostal Sierpes, where the moment I walked in, I wondered if this was the place I’d regret bringing kids to. It wasn’t. In fact, I’d recommend staying there.  It was a pleasant surprise and change of pace from the more generic places we had stayed.

Entrance to Hostal Sierpes in Seville, Spain Inside our room at Hostal Sierpes in Seville, Spain Atrium on the second level of Hostal Sierpes in Seville Front lobby of the Hostal Sierpes at Christmas

Jeff and Violet toured the bull ring and museum in Seville; Plaza de Toros.  It looked amazing! Violet can tell you all about how the bull fight works, what flag they hold up if the bull is spared, how historically horses would help and often be killed, and she will happily tell you about the time a bull was spared (there aren’t many!)

Large Red Door to the Plaza de Toros in Seville Bull ring at the Plaza de Toros in Seville Spain Patron seating are in Plaza de Toros in Seville Spain Royal box at the Plaza de Toros Seville SpainTour of the Plaza de Toros in Seville SpainTour of the bull museum in Seville SpainTour of the bull musuem in Seville SpainFamily of three girls outside bull ring in Seville Spain

 

We visited the “Tower of Gold” – it’s proper name is the Torre del Oro.   A 13th century watch tower along the river that offloaded the riches from the conquistadors returning from Central & South America.  There was a small museum inside and then the rooftop viewing platform.

The Golden Tower in Seville Spain Torre del Oro at sunset in Seville SpainMy kids on the stairs inside the Torre del Oro in Seville SpainSmiling child at the Golden Tower in Seville SpainOn the viewing deck of the Golden Tower in Seville SpainLooking out at the city on the viewing platform of the Torre del OroClose up picture of the Torre del Oro in Seville Spain

We stumbled upon the modern architecture of Metropol Parasol (that honeycomb shaped building the background below) where the girls decided to treat each other to pony rides and Violet spent her Christmas money on a leather purse.  We didn’t set out to find the Metropol Parasol but it was a nice place to end up.  There were holiday craft booths to stroll through, small amusement rides for the kids and a generally festive atmosphere.

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I saw shops and shops full of flamenco dresses for sale. But unfortunately, I didn’t plan ahead and we did not make it to a flamenco show while in Seville.  Truthfully, I just wasn’t sure if it was a family atmosphere and by the time I found a flamenco performance (which was right around the corner from our hostel) they were all booked.  We were traveling during the Christmas holiday.

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It was this trip in Seville that I realized that while we dressed in functional warm outer wear most of those around us wore, warm but fashionable outerwear. We just aren’t accustomed to the plethora of plazas that are enjoyed year round in Spain.

We stood in line for an hour to get into the Seville Cathedral. It was massive and expanse and left me wondering what all this empty, yet beautiful space was ever used for. The cathedral also holds the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Not without it controversy though. The history channel  reports that it is Christopher Columbus’  sons bones that buriedare  in Seville and his lie in the Dominican Republic.  I’m going to continue to state that I visited the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Which I thought was really cool.

Part of the cathedral was the tower of Giralda. Unlike the other towers we’ve climbed this one had ramps that led to the bell tower.  The most fascinating part of the tower was the electronic people counter letting you know exactly how many people already occupied the ramps and the bell tower. We we headed up with 417 people, when we exited there were 633 in the tower. I was glad we were done.

We rented an audio guide to share with the family as we went through. And it would have been great except for the fighting that ensued over it and the subsequent waiting  for your turn that led to children misbehaving as they waited. Then add in your backpack, camera and couple of shots with the cell phone to post immediately to fb, and the guards asking us to hold our children’s hands…our hand were more than full.  And 6 months later there isn’t much I can remember from the audio guide.

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We had an enjoyable walk to Plaza Espana in Seville and a fun, quirky row boat ride through the canal on the plaza. The plaza was a pleasant surprise from the crowded, restaurant filled plazas I had come accustomed to. It was a nice, calm, relaxing plaza with beautiful tile work and a wonderful fountain set within a large park.  We didn’t make it to the plaza until near 8pm, it would have been nice to make it earlier but our days were full in Seville.

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We ran across a carnival on our way back towards the main street from Plaza Espana. It made me smile to see an ice skating rink set amid palm trees.

The girls watched street performs ranging from a puppet/marionette show, mimes, painted people to other performers hiding under tables trying to scare passing pedestrians. The girls were fascinated by the street performers and would have lingered until the wee hours.

At a restaurant, we had two very traditional meals. [look these up and explain what they are]. Both dishes were wonderfully moist and yummy.

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The hostel was located close to nearly everything. Which also meant it was located on small, winding streets. Driving was a crazy experience! And even on foot we would frequently loose our way. I have learned that I have no aptitude for reading maps; I’d have it backwards and end up walking in the opposite direction I intended.

We quite literally stumbled upon our hostel after our day of exploring the cathedral, main street, plaza espana and eating out.

It was an enjoyable and memorable trip!

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Our Beach Vacation

We had a great family beach vacation this weekend! It was nice to relax and have our vacation be about spending time together and not on what monuments, palaces, castles, cathedrals, cities or other places on Spain’s must see list.

We returned to a camping resort in Biarritz, France on the Atlantic ocean. I’ve been watching the weather for months and really wanted a sunny, warm weekend we could lounge poolside and hit the nearby beach.

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After having Jeff gone for three of the four weeks in May, I was excited to get away together.

Without having to spend hours planning where to stay and what to visit. Having been there before, we knew where the grocery store was, where the beach was and we knew what to expect.

The only part we didn’t expect was that we now know that Clara suffers from carsickness.  I could rephrase that and say we ALL suffer from her carsickness.

I had never heard of a camping resort, I assumed it would be something like a KOA.  Small cabins, a pool and some activities that few joined in.  But I was pleasantly surprised on our first visit with a nice little cabin, two pools (an indoor and outdoor), a free kids watch program, a bar with nightly themes and friendly staff that spoke English.

It’s a popular vacation destination so all the signs were in French, Spanish, Basque and English.

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The kids loved the pool, we enjoyed lounging poolside.  The pool was shallow in most places and had two water slides and two waterfalls.  We could grab a drink at the bar easily and have it there or to go.

Jeff and I tried our hand at archery while the kids got their faces painted in kids watch.

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The beach was 10 minutes away and had nice sand.  The girls played in the sand and surf for hours. I enjoyed playing in the surf with Amelia and Violet. We all got tossed in the waves more than once.

Realizing that we were at a shirt/bikini top optional beach was amusing.  I leaned over and whispered to Jeff that the woman two towels down was topless. He smiled and told me, “You’re funny.  She’s not the one.”  It was then that I realized that most of the ladies were topless….of all ages.

I lathered up the ladies and joined in. When in France!

Most of the women though only went topless while at their towels, they did not wander the beach topless. There were a few exceptions. Like the woman who came to body surf in the waves next to Amelia and I.

Amelia was a bit surprised when the wave subsided and she saw a topless woman jumping and playing in the same wave as us.

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Back at the pool, the adult women kept their tops on but toddler girls to preteen girls wore only bottoms.  And while I find toddlers in bikinis absolutely adorable; wearing only bottoms makes better sense. Kids play hard and they should have a swimsuit that is functional. An itty bitty bikini on a kid just doesn’t stay in place.

At the resort the girls danced at the bar the first evening and we did karaoke the last.

 

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We played cards together.

We taught Amelia how to play hearts and Clara is now old enough to play Uno on her own with us.

We ate Thai food together.

We tired the girls out everyday.

We slept in most days.

We choose spaghetti at the cabin over taking the kids to a nice, French restaurant.

We drank Sangria by the pool.

We played in the water with the kids. Clara even went down the water slide!

There was a bounce house at the playground for the kids.

We returned to the Caves of Sare to replace a  forgotten souvenir.

It was a great time had by all.

I was sad to leave. I really enjoyed the relaxation, the sand, the beach.

It was a great trip had by all. Now to find my discarded surf shirt before I return to the states.

 

We did squeeze in a quick return trip to San Sebastian so Amelia could get another pinxto in a seashell. We also returned to Pamplona. This time without the long, wandering, never ending car ride. We drank a beer at Cafe Iruna, one of Hemmingway’s haunts. Walked a portion of the streets where the running of the bulls takes place. Took pictures next to statues of Hemmingway. Tried again the find the Museo de Encierro but again without luck (side note: a quick look on google vs. my Lonely Planet guide says it is permanently closed.  And had ice cream cones in the blistering heat before heading home.

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Pamplona or Bust

We made it to Pamplona but the trip was a bust.   Pamplona is where the running of the bulls happens each year in July.  While I knew there wasn’t even a bull ring to tour, Lonely Planet talked about a new museum with a 3D interactive exhibit that made you feel like you were running with the bulls.

It may have been there but we never found it.  And no one we spoke to that worked at another museum nearby knew where it was either.

In fact, the entire out-of-the-way road we traveled to get to Pamplona consisted of nothing much.  The plan had been to make a stop in Pamplona on our way home from San Sebastian over Spring break.

We managed to snap a few pictures of the street where the bull run occurs.

And we managed to add 2, maybe 3 hours onto our trip home from the Spanish/France border.  I”m really not sure, I do know that it seemed the trip home lasted forever and we drove on isolated roads through the countryside.

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Rhythmic Gymnastics

The girls finished their last class of Rhythmic Gymnastics this week.  It’s the beginning of a series of lasts for this adventure.

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Back in November we decided we should sign them up for something.   An active activity to keep them occupied, out of the house and moving.  They said no to soccer.   I don’t blame them; they haven’t years of experience kicking around a ball and Amelia doesn’t like the whole ball flying at your face part.

There was martial arts; which I though was actually an art class.  Glad I found out before I signed them up.

There was basketball.  They said no.

There was dance.  I said no once I heard the price per month.

There was alternative sports.  I don’t know what this one involved, I just imagined this was the activity that parents of little Spanish boys who didn’t play soccer did.

So, Rhythmic Gymnastics it was.  It was $15 per month per kid and met twice a week for an hour each.

I envisioned graceful turns, hoops and ribbons waving through the air.  I pictured Amelia’s gymnastics class back home; the structure.  I pictures the Olympics (what was I thinking?)  I remembered my own rhythmic gymnastics ribbons as a child that I spent hours working with to make them ripple prettily.

After staying to watch the first few classes, I learned it was better to just go back home and not watch.

The chaos, the yelling (not the children) and goofing off (yes the children).  It was better to just let it be.  Let the kids get in some exercise, some extra Spanish language time and have fun.

Months went by and when I learned there would be a gymnastics exhibition, I wondered how in the world would they have a routine together for it?  I mostly remember the chaos of the earlier months and the after-class reporting by the girls on who misbehaved this class.

A routine was going to be performed?  I assumed only for the parents of our village.

NO, it was a big exhibition in another town with the rhythmic gymnasts from 8 other villages and lasted for 3 hours.

And you know what?  They did have a routine they could perform.  Without the instructor leading them what to do in the peripherals.  Which when you consider the age range was 4 years to 8 years old.  It was a good accomplishment.

The day of the exhibition the girls were nervous and excited to be wearing their new costumes.

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I had strict instructions that their hair should be in a bun.  With no FLY AWAYS.  You can see by the picture, this was not the case.  I just didn’t see the big deal and I haven’t used hair spray in years so it never occurred to me to slick their hair down.

They got to ride a “team” bus to the exhibition.

They got their hair glittered and sparkled and plastered to their head when they arrived.

They got to wear eye shadow and lipstick.

They were excited!

Clara and I sat drove down to the exhibition in a rental car.  Luckily, I decided to follow one of the team buses otherwise I may not have made it to the exhibition hall.  I was given the wrong address and I made the decision on a whim to follow the bus rather than listen to the GPS.

Amelia & Violet did a great job with the rest of their team.  It was fun to see it be an organized, big deal after I had been anticipating a hot, tiny gym with kids, parents and gymnasts running amok.

Nice job ladies!

(As a side note, I have spell checked the word rhythmic every single time I have used it in this blog post.  I didn’t spell it write once.  Grammar pun intended)

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Birthday Weekend

We celebrated birthday’s last weekend!  My baby, baby, baby girl is now 9 years old!  And my last baby turned 5 years old!  Exciting…but also how did this happen!  Amelia looks so much older in the last year.

To celebrate we went horseback riding, had cake and opened presents.

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Happy Birthday my wonderful, sweet children!

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