#41: Zipline Adventures

One of our favorite things to do as grownups is ziplining, and we’ve always said that when the kids were old enough we’d get them started too. Well, they are, so we did.

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

It actually took a bit of searching to find a zipline that would accommodate a person of Lucy’s stature – most of them have a minimum weight of 90 pounds, and she’s somewhere around 70. Pumpkin Ridge Zip Tour is what we found, and it’s perfect. It’s a 40-minute drive from our house, it’s not crowded, the prices are totally reasonable, and their canopy tour is the perfect amount of comfortable and thrilling. Lucy loved it.

It was harder to find a good zipline tour for Will. While he just recently hit the 90-pound mark, the nearest tour that would allow an 11-year-old to go was at Angel Fire Ski Resort, a 2-hour drive from our lodgings in Santa Fe. We made the drive (with the help of an audiobook we recorded ourselves), rode the chairlift to the very top, put on our gear, panted heavily whenever we had to walk (the elevation is around 10,000 feet!), and had an amazing time.

Oh, did I say Will was 90 pounds? Turns out he weighed in at 89½. He had to guzzle a bottle of water to make the cut, and he had to take a bathroom break halfway through the tour. Worth it.

Both kids looooooved their first zip line experiences, so we expect this will become a recurring theme whenever we travel with them. Prepare yourselves for more photos of us in harnesses!

#29: Rice Museum of Rocks & Minerals

We love museums SO much, and when we discovered this one practically in our backyard, we knew it was going onto the list.

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

The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals in Hillsboro is a treasure trove of meteors, fossils, chemistry, geology, and gemstones. It’s perfectly set up for curious kiddos to wander around, touch the rocks, be amazed at the slices of petrified wood, and gawk at the fluorescence room.

Lucy had a great time, and made sure to pick out her rock from the rock pile out back. There was a ton of interesting information and great photos, and it was all really accessible (as opposed to some museums we’ve been to). Highly recommended if you’re anywhere near Portland.

26: Visit Pompeii (sort of)

Our amazing local science museum occasionally hosts traveling exhibits that are really fascinating, and when Pompeii came around, we knew we needed to go.

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

The exhibit was really well-done. There was a short film that tried to convey the horror of the day Mt. Vesuvius erupted. There was a room with (casts of) actual remains of people found under the layer of ash. One of our favorite features: they did some traffic control on entry, so the room you were in was never too crowded.

Our final judgement: it’s kind of overpriced ($26 each!). This might be a problem of perspective, though – Becky’s been to the real Pompeii, and it would be hard to live up to that. For my part, I found it fascinating and educational, but the ticket cost is still pretty high.

Lucy’s June Misc Round Up

There’s so much here it wouldn’t fit in the main roundup!

First up: Gardner Marketplace! Lucy’s school puts on a farmer’s-market-esque event at the end of every year, and the proceeds go to charity. This year there were two organizations: Harper’s Playground (building playgrounds that are accessible to handicapped kids) and White Helmets (humanitarian aid in Syria). Lucy and her friend Madeline ran a bakery stand!

Lots of other stuff: volunteering at the Children’s Book Bank with Becky, eating sushi afterwards, taking part in a LEGO building event at our local library, and attending the Swank/Aldridge sequel to her 9th birthday party.

June marked Lucy’s last day of 3rd grade. This was pretty emotional, since her teacher Lindsey was also leaving. It should also be noted that she wore the same dress for her first and last days. This was no accident. Look how much older she is!

Lucy went to sailing camp at the Vancouver Lake Sailing Club! She spent 5 days learning to read the telltales, recover a capsized boat, tack and jibe, trim the main sheet, and tie lots of knots.

Then she went to Black Butte for a week with the Swanks and Aldridges!

Whew! She’s a busy girl! (Prepare yourself; this is only June.)

June Misc Round-Up

Will had a big month! Grandma and Grandpa Swank came for a visit, we had a special call on Father’s Day, he went on a ton of field trips (including to some native American ruins and an old gold mine), and he caught a toad!

Becky spent a lot of her free time training for a big hike later in the year, but she also managed to chop half of her hair off.

(Note: Lucy was so busy she gets her own June post.)


#97: Becky – More OCT

Ever since 2010, when Margaret and I tried to hike the Oregon Coast Trail and had to stop early, I’ve felt like it was unfinished business. Two years ago I started to work on completing this quest, and this year I knocked another 35 miles off the total.

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

Day 1 – Neskowin to Lincoln City – 14 miles

The first day my favorite person in the entire world joined me! We started at Neskowin State Park, hiked up and over Cascade Head, and ended at Cold Stone Creamery in north Lincoln City. It was brutal. The first 5 miles were all uphill on highway 101, and by the time we got to the top we felt like quitting. But there was nobody who could come pick us up, and happily the next segment was a pleasant forested downhill.

I was also joined on this hike by my new ClearCorrect™ braces, which meant that even if I was in the middle of the woods, I had to brush my teeth after lunch, and stick them back in.

The forested part of the hike was lovely, but once we emerged back onto 101, it got tedious, hot, and boring again. Only about ⅓ of today’s hike was fun, the rest was all noisy and boring. But we made it! We had some ice cream to celebrate, then called a cab for a ride back to our car in Neskowin.

Day 2 – Pacific City to Neskowin – 10½  miles

The second day I was joined by my dad! He always loved hiking with my mom, so he enthusiastically agreed when I invited him along on my quest. We started in Pacific City, at the community center where back in 2010 Margaret and I were picked up and eventually ferried down to Waldport (for a myriad of reasons). Today was half highway 101, half straight beach walking, and 100% pleasant conversation.

Day 3 – Lincoln City to Salishan – 10.5

Our final leg took us to Salishan Lodge, where I re-began this journey solo two years ago. Ben dropped us at the northernmost beach access in Lincoln City. Our first 7 miles were all on the beach. It turns out Lincoln City sand is much, much more rock-like and after several miles my feet were a bloody mess, due to the tiny rocks chafing with my sport sandals. My dad very generously administered first aid (twice), and cleaned and bandaged my feet.  Ben was able to join us for lunch when we passed by the condo we had rented (where he was telecommuting.) The final 3 miles were warm highway miles and I was so ready to be done.

So there we go; another 35 miles knocked off my total, and at this point almost all the “middle section” is done! (I have another 8ish miles right near Cape Mears.) Perhaps next year I’ll start on the southern section!

#81: List Home for Sale

Really? Again?

Yes, really. Yes, again.

But didn’t you just move a year and a half ago?

Yup. We’re as surprised as you are.

Okay, before we go any further, where’s your listing?

Sure, here you go. (Be sure to do the 3D tour, it’s super cool.)

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

Didn’t you do a bunch of work on that house?

Yeah, it’s going to be hard to leave. We’ve made so many improvements that it’s a real struggle to have to start over again (again).

So… why are you moving then?

Will is going to be coming home in a few months (probably early spring), and he needs a place to go to school. We looked and looked for private schools that would specialize in his needs, but there aren’t any nearby.

What about public schools?

We also looked at that. It turns out that the story in the Vancouver school district isn’t great for kids like Will. He’s considered a “behaviorally challenged” student, and Vancouver has a specific school for those kids, isolated from all the “normal” kids. That’s not a situation that’s going to work well for Will – we’re looking for an environment where he can potentially be reintegrated with the general school population, rather than permanently isolated.

So moving puts you in a different school district then?

Yes, we’re about half a mile from the line between the Vancouver and Ridgefield school districts. We asked about boundary exceptions, but Ridgefield is growing super fast, so they’re not taking exceptions.

And Ridgefield is better?

So much better. We had a meeting with the director of special services, and he said that they don’t currently have a program in place that would help kids like Will, but we could help build it.

Wait, they actually said that?!

Yes! Everyone we’ve talked to is surprised, too! Apparently, while public schools are legally obligated to provide students with services that meet their needs, it’s pretty common for them to make the parents fight for those services. Ridgefield is the exact opposite; they’re asking us what we need, and they’ve said they’re going to help us put together a program that meets those needs.

Wow, that’s amazing. I can see why you’re moving there.

Fortunately it won’t be a super long move, probably just a mile. Lucy gets to stay at her beloved Gardner school, and keep all the nearby activities and friends she loves. But the difference for Will (and Lucy, once she moves up to high school) is going to be amazing. We’re excited.

Fort Yamhill State Park

We had just spent a few days in Lincoln City, and on the way back there’s a place called Fort Yamhill.

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

It’s a pretty interesting walk through history. This is where a garrison of soldiers, isolated from the rest of the U.S. Army during the Civil War, spent a couple of hard winters keeping the peace between white settlers and native Americans.

As we walked the trails and looked at the foundations of ruined buildings, it was easy to imagine being stationed here, nearly going crazy from boredom and hunger. Refreshingly, the story was told from all sides, warts and all; there were accounts from soldiers, settlers, and natives. Well worth a stop if you’ve got an hour to spend.

Twin Rocks State Park

Okay, so this one doesn’t show up on the official state park list, but we’re putting it on ours. It has the sign, it shows up on Google Maps, it’s nice, we’re counting it.

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

Twin Rocks is tucked a little off the main drag just south of Rockaway Beach, and it’s a pretty good beach.

If we were camping nearby, we’d definitely come out here. Even if it isn’t on the official list.

Manhattan Beach State Park

On our way home from Newport, we took a look at the map and spied this little gem of a state park just north of Rockaway Beach.

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

Manhattan Beach isn’t large, but it is lovely. We went for a walk on its smooth sandy shores, drew some pictures in the sand, and thought deeply about our lives.

That’s what beaches are for, right?