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Learning to ski

1 Feb

This week we found ourselves a cabin on Mount Hood and gave the girls a day of ski lessons at Mount Hood Meadows. It’s a shame to live so close to a beautiful mountain and not enjoy it! Plus last year was a record low for snowfall on Mount Hood, and most of the ski lifts never opened.

Both the girls enjoyed their day. Andy had no trouble picking up his great skiing skills, and Robin attempted to not fall off the top of the lift. We all make it home in one piece, so mission success.


Across the pond

19 Apr

For a spring, non-cruising vacation we decided to hop across the pond and visit England. We spent the bulk of our time in London, but broke out of the city for a few key day trips. For those who follow our blog, I’m sure you’ll guess the first spot. No?

Well, we have two girls who love, love, love the Harry Potter books and movies. Turns out that Warner Brothers now has a back lot tour of all things movie related. When we say all things, we truly do mean ALL things. Fans of the movies could spend a whole day poring over the hugely detailed sets and costumes. We had a wonderful time, even little Peyton who was fighting down a fever that day.

The second non-London day was a private bus trip up to Bath (and yes we did taste the water!) and Stonehenge. Can’t say enough about how wonderfully The English Bus managed our day for us, and it truly was a highlight.

In London we visited Abbey Road, the Sherlock Holmes Museum, Spitalfield Market, Buckingham Palace, St. Johns Park, the Churchill War Rooms, Houses of Parliament/Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, the British Museum (think Rosetta Stone and loads of mummies), the Royal Observatory (prime meridian), and the Royal London Hospital (when Peyton’s cold got a bit concerning).

Andy’s putting together a slide show…perhaps we’ll share it via youtube soon. In the meantime, here are a few selected photos.


The London Eye




Mushy peas!



London, baby!






Kensington Gardens



Waiting at THE palace for the changing of the guard




19 Oct

This is the view on my run today. I take back all the negative, dreary day things I ever said about Portland.


Mount Hood in the distance

Put one foot in front of the other

6 Oct

And soon you’ll be running the Portland Marathon!

To commemorate our return to the Pacific NW, Andy ran the Portland Marathon on Sunday.

Congratulations, Andy!


Girl support at mile 17.5




Icing the legs boaty style

Dinghy bliss

4 Sep

Thanks to Robin’s mom we have a new motor for our dinghy. Yah!!!! Thank you, Mom!

Our old Mercury 9.9 got very finicky. Some folks say BOAT stands for break-out-another-thousand. With our old Mercury that saying was nearly true.

For the last few months on Tango our big question has been – when to say when? New (expensive) carb, new fuel pump, a professional tuning, gaskets, new fuel line(s), tank, gas, etc…and it still wouldn’t run reliably! Every time the stupid thing started, the girls would give out a cheer (and this often happened multiple times during a single dinghy run).

After the most wonderful gift of a Honda 8 (which is also much lighter…and that’s a GOOD thing when swinging motors around on halyards to and from the dinghy transom to the motor mount on the stanchion), we don’t have to answer that question. We can finally cry uncle! Our nice harbormaster even took the old Mercury off our hands. We are watching to see how his repairs go, what could possibly be wrong with it, and if/when he cries uncle too. Can a motor just be a bad apple? If nothing else, our harbormaster now has a new carb.

We got our dinghy inflated again, ordered a new fuel line, and can finally say that we are back in small boat action. Yesterday we motored upriver to the tip of the island where Max and the girls could run around after school and get muddy. Just in time for the last gasp of summer here in the Northwest. Days are still warm, but the chill in the evening air full of cricket sounds and crunchy leaves lets us know it’s not for long.


Could this be a hobbit hole?


Peyton is happiest making muddy creations


Ahh…a dinghy that works!

Beachy spots

22 Aug

The Columbia River really has some beautiful beaches…we found this one just a few minute walk from our marina. We told the girls we were going on a secret scouting mission, so they decided to sneak through the woodsy brush and spy. Wasn’t much to spy on other than a few stray sailboats. For such a populated and busy island, the east side is quiet and peaceful.



How far can we go?


Hello, Pacific Ocean

3 Aug

Finally! The weather decided to cooperate and we were able to leave Neah Bay in the early afternoon on Friday for a 24 hourish haul down the coastline. As soon as we left dock the port engine started making an odd rattling noise. Of course, as soon as we left dock. Andy jumped into mechanic mode and quickly determined that it was the alternator belt, which he had almost changed out in Port Angeles. Being the uber mechanic, he pulled out the tools and changed out the belt lickety-split while we bobbed around in circles in Neah Bay on one engine. With new belt in place, we boosted up the port engine again. Rattle gone, we headed out.

Other than a bit of fog, the weather was beautiful, although we never saw the predicted winds (which meant we had to motor the whole way). We also didn’t see any boats, except a few fishing folk in Grays Harbor and one lone sailboat when we rounded Cape Flattery. Steve, our autopilot, decided to quit working early in the trip, so we had to hand steer the whole way. That gets really exhausting in big swells! We feel wimpy when we think of all the sailors who have gone before us, exploring the unknown with a tiny portion of the equipment and preparation that we have…and we are tired and whiny because Steve crapped out. Softies…

Andy swears he saw the splash from a whale breach, “the splash was as big as Tango!” At night, the Milky Way was vivid, and the bioluminescence in the water was brilliant. Wish those things showed up in video or photo…but our equipment is sadly lacking. Words will have to suffice.

We hit The Bar (you know…the Graveyard of the Pacific) an hour before high tide, and saw only ripples as we crossed. Awesomely undramatic!

Our only drama came when we it the marina in Ilwaco and couldn’t figure out where we were supposed to dock. Where we thought we were headed from the map they sent us turned out to be the wrong spot. After a second docking on an outer deserted dock (deserted but for seagulls, cormorants, and their poop everywhere), we wandered around until we finally found staff who could help us. Very confusing marina with two E docks and poorly labeled slips from the water. To make it even more fun, this weekend was a salmon derby, so there were small fishing boats galore. That and our port engine went on strike for our final docking. We even tried manually jumping in, and that wouldn’t work. As soon as we were safely at dock and talking starter issues, it fired right back up. Go figure.


Max in action

Sunday we wandered around a bit on Long Beach and let Max stretch his legs and chase the birds. Monday we begin heading upriver to Kalama.

Adventures in Seattle

21 Jul

Ever wanted to go to circus school? After meeting one of Andy’s friends who did just that, Peyton decided she must give it a try. It just so happens that Seattle has a circus school with introductory weekend classes! With Robin’s mom, brother, sister-in-law, and nieces coming up for the weekend, Peyton also strong-armed her cousin into taking the class with her. While there were a few activities that Peyton and Em didn’t get to try in the two-hour class (like the tightrope and German wheel), they did get to trapeze, juggle, trampoline, and all kinds of other fun activities.

Peyton’s synopsis: “That was two hours? It felt like five minutes!” Sounds like success to us…


Little big top



After circusing, we headed down to the Seattle center to brave the Bite of Seattle crowds and visit the Space Needle. Big crowds aren’t as much fun as they used to be…and we tried to find quieter corners where we could hide. When did we become so crowd intolerant?

Robin’s sister-in-law had exacted the promise that we wouldn’t do the space needle without them…and we kept our word…although we must admit we did get impatient and almost snuck in a visit. Not really. Even visiting the observation deck is expensive now…inflation and demand have made this more of a “once in a lifetime” kind of thing. Hope you remember this girls!

While waiting for our time slot, we chanced upon this most awesome carnival ride…giant inflated balls on water! The three cousins HAD to give it a whirl. This activity was Robin’s favorite, and she could have watched those girls all afternoon. Much cheaper than the space needle too! Peyton figured out a technique, and actually stood several times, and got in a few steps before the ball slid out from under her.


Peyton getting inflated with a leaf blower type thing


Madi trying hard to stand up


Peyton and Em running the maze at the EMP Museum

We made it up to the observation deck…very cool elevator ride up! Last time Robin and Andy were up here we were kids (about 30 years for Robin and she wonders how in the world she could be old enough to have done something 30 years ago…), so it was like a new experience for all.


Pondering the view


There’s Tango…somewhere in that crowd of boats

Seattle fam

Our free photo included in admission…just a little off center

After all that excitement and crowded activity we decided to take it down a notch on Sunday. The original plan was to go sailing, but with no wind and a light drizzle, we decided to stick to shore activities and visited Green Lake Park up in Ballard. We walked the lake loop and geocached along the way. Lots of crazy northwest people were out in bathing suits swimming in the 65 degree air temp under cloudy skies…what were they thinking?! We even saw a bald eagle poop…and that’s not something you see every day.




Thank you again family for braving nine people sleeping on Tango! We love visiting and making memories together.

Public Market

14 Jul

Growing up in the NW, Andy and I have been to the Pike Street Public Market many times…only it seems to be a lot more famous than it used to be. Either that, or our crowd memories have really faded. We had fun shop roaming together and visiting our favorite food haunts,  but MAN was it crowded! Especially up top where they throw fish. There were a few spots where I felt like we were down on Bourbon Street in NOLA on a holiday weekend night.

After a few hours, we all started to get that thin, get-me-outa-here smile and called it a successful day. Our cool finds included goose and quail eggs. We drilled holes in the ends of the eggs and blew out the innards for art. Peyton saved all her innards in separate containers and fried them up to taste. Being the daughter of foodies, she wants to know what everything tastes like. She closely examined the first forkful, sniffed it, and then delicately nibbled it to extract its essence on her taste buds. Conclusions? Quail eggs taste saltier and creamier than chicken eggs. Goose eggs taste like chicken eggs, but they are too big for one meal.


Andy playing with color and composition

This pig has raised over $200,000 for homelessness. Go pig!

This pig has raised over $200,000 for homelessness. Go pig!


Sunday night sunset…absolutely gorgeous!


This rainbow was a bookend to the sunset…needed an outdoor panoramic camera to capture it all


Super moon

12 Jul

It got cloudy right around moonrise, so all those folks standing around with their mega cameras just waiting for that perfect shot packed up and left. We are satisfied though…it was a beautiful Friday night.