Arcadia Beach State Park

On our way home from Bay City, we stopped by Arcadia Beach, a lovely little out-of-the-way spot. It’s just south of Cannon Beach, but well worth a stop if you’re in the area or passing by.

This is part of our Oregon State Park challenge! Check out our progress here.

This park has a small parking lot (so the crowds are self-limiting), a picnic area, a great beach, a few rocks to climb, and lots of tide pools! We must have spent 20 minutes just watching all the little critters live out their low-tide time in these little tiny oceans.

Like I said, well worth the stop. We liked this place a lot.

Munson Creek Falls State Park

Munson Creek Falls is a little park tucked away just south of Tillamook. We’re always on the lookout for state parks we haven’t visited whenever we’re in a new area, and while we were staying in Bay City, we spotted this one.

This is part of our Oregon State Park challenge! Check out our progress here.

It’s a short ¼-mile hike to the foot of the falls – or, as we discovered, to the place where the trail is closed because of a deadfall. It’s scenic, though, and usually uncrowded.

Interestingly enough, Becky had taken Will here in 2013! He’s so little in these photos! Also, it looks like the end of the trail was closed then, too!

It’s a nice little hike if you’re passing through and need to stretch your legs. There are no restrooms, though, so be warned.

#6: Explore a New Beach Town

Oregon and Washington are just lousy with coastal towns, and we love getting to know them. Every year we pick a new one, and this year it was Bay City’s turn. Well, Bay City and Tillamook; they’re close enough together to think of them as the same place.

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

Our first evening there we walked out the door and followed our intuitions to the bay, and discovered a trailhead that we marked for further exploration. It turns out there’s a really well-done park there, called Kilchis Point, and it’s a gorgeous two-mile hike out to the water and back.

We also made a point to visit the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum (which, it turns out, is the organization responsible for that trail). It’s chock-full of historical artifacts, curiosities, and oddities of all manner. There’s a whole pioneer cabin inside! We also stopped by the farmers market hoping for some Oregon strawberries, but everyone was out! 😞

One of the highlights of this trip was afternoon tea at La Tea Da. Regular readers will know what huge fans of afternoon tea we are, and we wanted Lucy to have this experience as well. We borrowed hats and scarves, stuck our pinkies out, and tried our darnedest to eat everything on our tiered platters, but in the end we had to take boxes.

We stayed in a tiny house, which is part of a little village of them on the property of a disc-golf course. It had been raining, so we were trying to time it so we wouldn’t get super wet, but in the end we just had to tough out the wet grass. It was Lucy’s and my first time ever playing, and we’re pretty sure we played by the rules, but we weren’t sure what to do with a frog hazard, and didn’t keep score.

We had a great time, and found out that Bay City, though small, is a great place to go for some peace and quiet. Recommended.

#45: Slumber Party

Lucy’s been going to the Gardner School of Arts and Sciences for almost an entire school year, and has attended several slumber parties in that time. When her 9th birthday rolled around, she (and we) decided she was ready to host one.

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

She invited seven of her closest friends (all the girls in her 3rd/4th-grade class), and we planned all the food and activities. Dinner was from Burgerville (which worked marvelously, everybody got exactly what they wanted) desserts from Back to Eden (a lovely little gluten- and dairy-free bakery), and for breakfast Becky and I made something like 200 tiny pancakes, a giant mess of tiny sausage patties, and lots of bacon.

Activities included rocking out on our new karaoke setup, playing twister and other board games, watching a movie, and in the morning as guests started trickling out, the dress-up bins were broken into for some very creative costuming.

We had a great time (though I will say that it was loud). Lucy would describe it as a great success, not just for her but for the humane society — she asked that rather than giving her gifts, people should send donations to her favorite charity. Happy birthday, Lucy!

#23: Sharpen Knives

The knife block that lives in our kitchen is one that Margaret and I bought together about 15 years ago. They’re great knives, and I love them, but in all this time they haven’t been sharpened. It was high time for that to change.

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

Alton Brown says that knives should be sharpened about every year, so these were long overdue. Becky found this great set of sharpening stones for me for Christmas, so I had all the equipment, I just needed to learn how to use them.

Turns out it’s not that hard, and these knives that I’ve loved for so long were so much nicer to use. Now that I know what to do, I’ll be pulling this out more often, and our knives will continue to be a joy to use.

May Misc Round Up

In May we:

Becky started (a) participating in the Children’s Book Bank project, which is really close to her heart, and taking long training walks with an eye towards a big hike later this year. Meanwhile, Will gave a book report on Titanic by Deborah Hopkinson! He says it went really well, and other kids asked great questions at the end.

Lucy:

  • Participated in the Gardner art show, and separately the talent show
  • Went on a field trip to Oregon City
  • Rode her bike to school with me, and we had to take it apart to get home
  • Attended her BFF’s dad’s 50th birthday bash (so did we)

Liz and Jeff also took Lucy, Ty, and Connor to Dozer Day! They got to climb on and in huge equipment, and Lucy drove a backhoe around!

P U P P Y   T I M E

#20: Meow Wolf

As part of our most recent visit to New Mexico, we took a day trip to Santa Fe, to a place called Meow Wolf. Lucy had spotted a pamphlet when she was in Albuquerque with us  in December, and couldn’t get it out of her mind. Turns out she was right. This place was amazing.

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

Much like many of our other favorite experiences, it also defies description. It’s in a former bowling alley, and once you’re inside, it’s… something else. There’s a house with a front yard, and there are weird X-files-esque clues to a mystery, and somehow you end up in a space station with a confused guitar player?

When we walked out, we weren’t sure what to talk about. There was so much to see and feel and explore, and it was hard to put any of it into words. Which is why I’m not sure what to write here, except to tell you to go there if you’re ever in the area. It’s worth a side trip, even.

Albuquerque Again!

For our 9th visit to Albuquerque (and Lucy’s 2nd) we decided to splurge a bit on our lodgings, and get a place with a pool. The weather in May is perfect for this sort of thing; it was 70s and 80s the entire time we were there, the kids spent a ton of time in their swimsuits, and we ate every meal outside. This place was perfect for us, so we ended up spending most of our time there.

Over the year we’ve been coming here, there have been a few little adventures that we put in our back pocket for when Lucy was with us, and one of the most exciting was Tinkertown. As we walked through, Lucy and the grownups were thinking “this feels so much like House on the Rock.” And we were right – Tinkertown’s builder visited the House as a child, and his lifelong dream was to make something like it. This is less about absurd and curious grandeur, and more about carefully-curated miniatures and a couple of eclectic items, like a real sailboat that had been around the world. Highly recommended if you find yourself in the area.

Will’s now been at Sandhill an entire year, and he’s made some serious progress. He’s not done yet, but he already seems like a more-mature version of himself, and it’s not just because he’s older. We’re really excited to see him turn into himself as we get closer to having him back home again.

#4: Road Trip!

We always try to fit at least one road trip into our hundred things every year. On the one hand, there’s a lot of sitting in the car. On the other, you get  to explore new places, listen to audiobooks, buy gas-station food, and get to know the places you can’t get to any other way.

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

This time we took Lucy! Southwest Airlines stopped offering our non-stop flight to Albuquerque, so instead of spending $waytoomuch on two-part flights over Memorial Day weekend, we instead flew direct into Phoenix, rented a car, and drove to Albuquerque!

It’s about a nine-hour drive, but we broke it up over two days. We didn’t get the car until midafternoon, so we grabbed some fantastic chicken and waffles at LoLo’s, and drove mostly in the dark to a motel in Payson. It was only barely road tripping.

The next day we got into it for real. We played music, listened to audiobooks, bought munchies at gas stations, and saw the sights. We stopped for pie in Pie Town, and walked around the Very Large Array. We didn’t get to Sandhill until around 6pm, but the staff assured us with photos that he was getting “prepped” for our visit.

We then spent some time as a family in Albuquerque. (Post forthcoming.)

After our visit ended, it was time to head back to Arizona. We of course took a different route back, and managed to stop at quite a few Roadside America sites. A real highlight was the Bandera Volcano, where it was 95° on the crater rim, and 31° inside the ice cave that had formed in one of the lava tubes, just a mile away.

We also spotted lots of native american industry from the Route 66 era (including a wigwam village!), a forest of petrified wood, and the largest burrito any of us has ever seen.

Lucy was a trooper. This wasn’t her first road rip — we had done a trial run on our way back from Renton earlier this year — but it was definitely her longest, and she did pretty well. She made sure to bring lots of activities, and we kept her well-supplied with audiobooks so she could be seeing the sights and taking in some literature at the same time. We also included her in some of the decision-making (the ice cave was her idea) and the appearance of “vacation parents” probably helped as well.

As an experiment in whether Lucy can handle the way Becky and I do road trips, this was a success. As an adventurey experience for the family, it was a success. And as a way of saving a ton of money on travel, it was a resounding success. Three thumbs up.

#68: Albuquerque Walking Tours

The first time we visited Albuquerque we happened into a bookstore and spotted a book full of walking tours in the city (which turns out to be the sister volume to our Walking Portland book, which led to two previous Things). We immediately thought: this is a perfect Thing!

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

Since we’re in the city often, we didn’t feel in any sort of rush. Here’s our visit with Lucy in the wintertime, when we walked around the oldest section of Albuquerque, parts of which date to 1706! We stopped in a candy shop, where Lucy picked out an enormous lollipop, and couldn’t finish it.

And here’s one we did with Will, around the city’s oldest cemetery. Some of the graves are so old that the caskets have decomposed, so there are warning signs telling you to stay on the paths or you might fall in! He was super creeped out.

We like to truly explore any town we’re visiting, and when you visit a town as often as we have Albuquerque, you get lots of opportunities.