#11: Prescription Sunglasses

Last year, Becky and I found out our eyes had drifted a bit from where they were right after our Lasik surgery, so we got some glasses that we planned to use for watching movies, driving at night, live shows, looking smart, and other special occasions. But we really missed them when we went outside on sunny days.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge. Here’s the full list. Click on the photos for a closer look!

So this year we treated ourselves to prescription sunglasses. Now we can see perfectly and not be blinded by the sun!

We really like them, and we use them almost every day. It’s taken some time to get used to managing two sets of expensive eyewear, but we’re getting there, and these make our outdoor adventures even more enjoyable.

July Misc Round Up

Will turned 11! Becky got him the perfect shirt for this day.

Lucy dug into the dress-up bin with her cousins, got really tired at Trackers, went to a pool party at a friend’s house, hung out with her grandparents, cooked her own eggs and desserts, and started playing Dungeons & Dragons with the local library group!

I turned 38! For my birthday present, I took a week of sailing classes.

Becky spent a bunch of time with her sister, who after years of living in Wisconsin just moved nearby and became accessible again, started training hikes for a big hike later in the summer (and to break in her new shoes), and we all went on an audiobook walk around our neighborhood.

P U P P Y   T I M E

#43: Syrian Dinner

Every once in a while you eat a meal that you’ll remember for a long time. This was one of them.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge. Here’s the full list. Click on the photos for a closer look!

One of the fundraisers at Lucy’s school is an auction. This year, one of the items was an authentic Syrian dinner at the home of one of the students’ parents. Well, we can’t really walk past an opportunity like that, so we bought two tickets.

That turns out to have been a very good decision. Our hosts, Hani and Hazar, are lovely people, and had gathered a wide variety of people to dine with. As it happens, two of the families there had kids in the special-needs category in the Ridgefield school district, which is how we got the idea to move there in the first place.

Of course, we should mention the food, which was all prepared by Hani’s mother, who lives one block away from them. I honestly couldn’t name any of the dishes we ate, but every single one of them is fresh in my memory. It was all so good. Lamb and yogurt and rice and so many more things, all amazing, and matched up with some great wine.

So if you ever get a chance to eat Syrian food, do so. And if you ever get a chance to hang out with this family, drop everything and do it.

#53: Improv or Sketch Show

Who doesn’t love to laugh? We certainly do. Sketch and improv may not be for everybody, but it’s a flavor we enjoy.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge. Here’s the full list. Click on the photos for a closer look!

Portland Sketchfest is a weekend-long festival of sketch comedy.  The night we went there were four acts, including a group from the Groundlings (in Los Angeles), who it’s possible you’ve heard of, and Aces (from right here in Portland), which you probably haven’t, but possibly will someday.

We had a great time. There were some awkwardnesses about how the shows were done that seemed inexplicable (like having to empty the theater between acts), but overall it was well-done, friendly, and fun. Check it out if you like to laugh. We plan to go again!

#40: Willamette Jet Boat


Becky loves a good adventure, and despite suffering from motion sickness, that occasionally includes a good boat ride. So I gave her one for Christmas last year!

This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge. Here’s the full list. Click on the photos for a closer look!

Willamette Jetboat Excursions boards on the same pier where the USS Blueback is moored. Becky and I made our way down there one sunny Saturday morning, making sure to bring our adventure hats and sunglasses, and prepared ourselves for a good soaking. These boats like to do quick-reversal spins, which have a tendency to send the boat into its own wake, and spray a lot of water onto the passengers.

It turns out that where we sat – dead center in the front row – is one of the driest spots on the entire boat. That and our hats meant our feet were the wettest parts of us by the end; we got a good cooling spray every once in a while, but the people on the rail at midships got the real show.

The boat goes all the way down to Willamette Falls, near where Becky grew up, and then back again. We had a pretty good time, got to know Portland from the river (including some interesting facts about the flood of ’96), and mixed in a few shots of adrenaline. Recommended.

#65: Watch Fireworks

We’ve been to fireworks shows before. We’ve done Fort Vancouver and Tom McCall Waterfront Park. We’ve been around the block. But this year was something special.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge. Here’s the full list. Click on the photos for a closer look!

A few months ago we got invited to a fourth-of-July party at Lucy’s friend Ruby’s house. We tentatively accepted, and then started hearing murmurs about how great this party always is. Some people arranged their summer travel around it.

As we pulled into the property we noticed a few piles of boxes out on the lawn. I thought, “whoa, that’s a lot of fireworks.” Then we got to partying; hamburgers and sodas and face paint and friends. But the clues kept on mounting about the fireworks show.

Then it turned dark. And the music started playing. And Ruby’s dad came out, brandishing arm-mounted rocket launchers, and lit up the sky. It’s a moment I won’t soon forget.

Yeah. It turns out he’s been doing this for more than ten years, and he must have some special permit or something, because the show he put on was big. He had professional gear to light them off, he had mortars pointed in all directions, and it must have lasted for 30 minutes. We drove home shellshocked.

We hope we get invited back. We’ll arrange our summer travel around it.

#91: Ben – Sailing Class

Ever since Wind Waker, I’ve had this romantic idea of sailing floating around in the back of my head. So when Lucy took her sailing lessons at Vancouver Lake Sailing Club, I got kind of jealous, and mentioned to Becky that I would have liked to do that. She immediately told me to enroll in sailing lessons (because it let her off the hook for a birthday present), and it became a Thing.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge. Here’s the full list. Click on the photos for a closer look!

The other people who had signed up for my session all canceled, so I got 5 days of 3-hour private lessons! We practiced together on two different sizes of boat, and on the last day I got to try sailing solo on a Laser, which I had seen people racing a couple of days before. That’s the day Becky and Lucy came down to see me, and Becky brought her long lens and captured these fine images:

I got really tan, gained a passable understanding of how a sailboat works, learned some impressive jargon, and never actually fell into the water (though I got close twice). Though real sailing bears almost no resemblance to the idea I had of it, I still really enjoyed it, and I might do it again sometime. Maybe Lucy and I will go on a cruise sometime!

#16: Explore a New City (Santa Fe)

When we were in Santa Fe with Will this summer, we hit up Roadside America for destination ideas. We never limit our explorations to just the confines of a single city, so we decided to expand this Thing to allow including the surrounding area.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge. Here’s the full list. Click on the photos for a closer look!

One stop we found on the way back from ziplining was the bridge over the Rio Grande Gorge, which was windy and high.

We also found a museum full of bugs in a strip mall ¼ mile from our lodgings. Tons to look at, and about a half dozen to let crawl all over your hand!

We also visited the Prairie Dog Palace at Jackalope. The whole place was great; there was a glass-blowing class happening, too!

There was also an outdoor sculpture garden (where they do bronze pours also), and Will and I went on a guided ghost tour through the old part of town. Hooey, to be sure, but entertaining hooey.

On our way back to Albuquerque we stopped at this outdoor photo-board park for some silliness.

If you’ve never tried it, this is a great way to discover unique and (sometimes) fascinating things while you’re driving from place to place. It does add a bit of unpredictability to your schedule, so be sure to plan your journey in a flexible way.

#25: Santa Fe Urban Quest

In July, we went to visit Will. Just to mix things up, we decided on a change of venue – instead of staying around Albuquerque like we have for the entire last year, we went north to Santa Fe.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge. Here’s the full list. Click on the photos for a closer look!

One of our favorite ways of getting to know a city is to find a scavenger hunt that takes us on a deep dive into the history and landmarks of a particular area. We found one from Urban Adventure Quest that worked perfectly! We strolled around finding pieces of art, landmark buildings, and little details that you might miss just strolling around.

One thing we liked about UAQ’s tours is that they’re set up as puzzles. This means that sometimes you get confused and wander around for a while, but they were mostly in the just-right level of difficulty, and we had a great time solving them as a team. Highly recommended.