Hide & Seek With Merlin

merlin-hide-seek

For once, the ol’ trick of “If I close my eyes, they can’t see me!” really works!

First Day of Fifth Grade!

#TrueFeelings

#TrueFeelings

Our Trip to British Columbia & the Pacific Northwest – Part 7: Temperate Rainforest & Seattle

From Kalaloch Lodge, we headed to Seattle via the Olympic National Park. One of the things we wanted to do on this trip was hike in a temperate rainforest.

We were able to stop by Lake Quinalt and do just that! (Be sure to click the images to see more detail.)

I used the panorama setting to capture this tree. The drapes of moss were impressive!

I used the panorama setting to capture this tree. The drapes of moss were impressive!

Mossy Tree

Temperate Rainforest

Mossy Maple Bottom

Mossy Maple Top

Some of the trees were hard to identify by their trunks, because they were just completely covered in moss. We were startled by one tree (above) when we saw it was a MAPLE. What? How crazy is that??

The other thing that was just completely mind-boggling was the fact that there were NO BUGS. What? You can go hiking in a rainforest and not be carried away or eaten alive?? Unbelievable! (But true!)

The above photos do not do this temperate rainforest justice. It was an amazingly magical place!

After our hike, we headed on into Seattle. This time, our hotel was close to the Space Needle. We discovered that our room was on the other side of the building from the Space Needle, but we still had a view of it!

See the Space Needle in the Reflection?

See the Space Needle in the Reflection?

Sunset Reflection of the Space Needle

Sunset Reflection of the Space Needle

Reflection of the Space Needle at Night

Reflection of the Space Needle at Night

You get the picture (or three), but here it is again!

Space Needle

The next day, we met a friend who lives in the area and we went to explore things we’d not had a chance to the last time we were in Seattle.

Olympic Sculpture Park

Olympic Sculpture Park

Pike's Market! (I LOVE the funny restroom sign!!)

Pike’s Market! (I LOVE the funny restroom sign!!)

And just like that, it was time to head home. When we travel, we pack efficiently. No one believes us, but here’s our luggage. All three of us share the big red bag. The two backpacks are carry-ons, as is my red bag. We also brought along two tote bags that fold up into tiny pouches, but we didn’t even need them! Yeah!

How to Pack Light

Another trick? We have a luggage scale. That big red suitcase is 48.5 lbs on the nose, baby! (We try to leave some wiggle room when dealing with the 50 lb weight limit.)

We had such an amazing trip. These photos are just the tip of the ice-berg, and these memories will last a lifetime.

Just catching up? Check out Part 1: Vancouver, Part 2: Goats on a roof & Port RenfrewPart 3: Random Dragons and a lighthousePart 4: Deuce Days in VictoriaPart 5: Victoria, and Part 6: Finding Sasquatch & Kalaloch Lodge!

Our Trip to British Columbia & the Pacific Northwest – Part 6: Finding Sasquatch & Kalaloch Lodge

On that Tuesday, we headed for the ferry. As luck would have it, our hotel was RIGHT BY the ferry dock, so getting there wasn’t even an issue. (It was good we were close, because we needed to be there 90-minutes ahead, per regulations.) We had reservations, and everything went without a hitch.

While we were waiting, Claire yells, “SASQUATCH! I found Sasquatch! There’s a Sasquatch ON OUR CAR!”

What?

Okay, let me back up.

We’d told Claire this trip was to explore British Columbia, see the grandparents at the car show, explore the Olympic Coast, and… FIND SASQUATCH. Everywhere we’d hiked would have been PERFECT for Sasquatch, and we’d point that out…every time, but we’d not found him yet.

…until now.

She was adamant, and we were confused. “On OUR car? You mean THIS car, or someone has a Subaru?” I asked, looking at the cars in line behind us. “No! OUR car. THIS car! The Jeep!” she said.

When she pointed it out, we couldn’t believe it.

(As always, click photos to enlarge!)

Sasquatch!

Sasquatch!

SASQUATCH HAD BEEN FOLLOWING US THE WHOLE WAY! Literally. Jeep had painted this on the inside of the back window, right above the windshield wiper. What?? How clever and cool! (You couldn’t see it from the outside because of the tinted windows, and you really had to be looking right at it to notice it!)

Well played, Jeep. Well played!
(This didn’t meant we actually stopped looking for ANOTHER Sasquatch…)

While on the ferry, we saw ORCAS! Yes! This is the first time we’ve seen whales, and to say we were extremely excited about this is putting it mildly! We saw five spouts from the blowholes and two tails. Wow! What a treat!!

From Port Angeles, we made our way to the Olympic Coast. Again, we were greeted with fantastic views and scenery. This area is so lush! It was sunny again (still), so I’m thinking those tall tales about it being gloomy all the time are just a way to keep people from moving there! 😉

Kalaloch Lodge was our next stop on the itinerary. At check-in, I found out I’d been pronouncing this wrong in my head. (I’d been saying “Calla-lock,” when, in fact, it’s pronounced “Clay-lock.” Good to know!

This lodge has no TVs or phones in the room, and there is no Wi-Fi. We’d been unplugged from Social Media this entire trip, so that didn’t bother me. My phone had just enough oomph in some places to send quick texts, so I told one of my sisters to pull up the Kalaloch Lodge Webcam.

I told her we’d be down in that area and to see if she could see us on the monitor.

Sure enough! She was able to capture us! (The screen refreshes every 30 seconds, so these were fun to see!) If you look, you can see us. We’re the group of three exploring on this side of that huge log.

Kalaloch Webcam Pic 1

Kalaloch Webcam Pic 1

Kalaloch Webcam Pic 2

Kalaloch Webcam Pic 2

Kalaloch Webcam Pic 3

Kalaloch Webcam Pic 3

What may be hard to see in these photos is that it’s NOT gloomy there! There is sun and blue skies. (You can *almost* see it in the reflection on the water in one of the pictures.)

Mom and Claire Kalaloch Lodge

After dinner and a good night’s rest, we set out to explore some more!

Kalaloch Lodge Gazebo

Kalaloch Lodge Gazebo

Rope Assist - Unlike most of the other beaches and trails we'd explored, this one had a nice Rope Assit! This was very handy in making it down (and up!) to (and from!) the "real" steps!

Rope Assist – Unlike most of the other beaches and trails we’d explored, this one had a nice Rope Assist! This was very handy in making it down (and up!) to (and from!) the “real” steps!

The beach at Kalaloch Lodge

The beach at Kalaloch Lodge

The sand was HOT and the water was COLD, so that created a magical MIST that was just mesmerizing! You can see the sunny blue skies peeking through!

The sand was HOT and the water was COLD, so that created a magical MIST that was just mesmerizing! You can see the sunny blue skies peeking through!

More Mist

More Mist

Mist and Waves

Mist and Waves

The Low Tide revealed Rocks!

The Low Tide revealed Rocks!

This is called the "Tree House." All that's left for the ceiling are roots!

This is called the “Tree House.” All that’s left for the ceiling are roots!

All along the shore are Driftwood Forts.

All along the shore are Driftwood Forts.

This picture makes me smile! Hair tied up? Check. Three layers, flip-flops, and pants rolled up? Check. Sand dollars safe in hand? Check. Ready for the picture? Nope.

Sand dollars? Yes! We had so much fun looking for (relatively) intact Sand Dollars! We found some!

Sand dollars? Yes! We had so much fun looking for (relatively) intact Sand Dollars! We found some! (We didn’t find them on the driftwood…that would have been way too easy!)

Castle Builders hard at work

Castle Builders hard at work

Sunset on another beautiful day.

Sunset on another beautiful day.

That next morning, Claire told me Puppy had asked so politely to look outside, so she set up the pillows for him.

That next morning, Claire told me Puppy had asked so politely to look outside, so she set up the pillows for him.

Next stop? Hiking through a temperate rainforest and exploring Seattle!

Stay tuned!

Just catching up? Check out Part 1: Vancouver, Part 2: Goats on a roof & Port RenfrewPart 3: Random Dragons and a lighthousePart 4: Deuce Days in Victoria, and Part 5: Victoria!

Our Trip to British Columbia & the Pacific Northwest – Part 5: Victoria

After Deuce Days, we spent the evening exploring Victoria.

Water Taxis in a Row

Water Taxis in a Row

The view of Victoria from the water taxi was neat!

The view of Victoria from the water taxi was neat!

By Fisherman's Wharf, there is a community of 33 quirky houseboats.

By Fisherman’s Wharf, there is a community of 33 quirky houseboats.

We found a playground with a view of the harbor!

We found a playground with a view of the harbor!

We spent the next morning with the grandparents, killing time before they took off on the ferry back to the US. We found a fun vendor by the harbor, and Claire found a neat cat hat!

Cat Hat

Claire in a Cat Hat

After lunch, we went exploring along the coast, and we did some letterboxing.

Look what ELSE we found in a cemetery!?

Look what ELSE we found in a cemetery!?

Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle

Willow Beach

Willow Beach

Beach Geese?

The Beach Geese cracked us up!

Beautiful hanging flowers

Beautiful hanging flowers

I couldn't stop taking photos of all the flowers! I think I'll do a whole post on just the flowers...

I couldn’t stop taking photos of all the flowers! I think I’d have enough to do a whole website on just the flowers!

Stay tuned for more!

Just catching up? Check out Part 1: Vancouver, Part 2: Goats on a roof & Port RenfrewPart 3: Random Dragons and a lighthouse, and Part 4: Deuce Days in Victoria!

Our Trip to British Columbia & the Pacific Northwest – Part 4: Deuce Days in Victoria

After our adventures on the way from Port Renfrew, we checked into our hotel in Victoria and touched base with the grandparents. Wait. What? Yes! The grandparents were going to be attending Deuce Days in Victoria. As luck (or ultra pre-advanced planning) would have it, our trips to British Columbia were going to coincide.

This is a car show that happens every three years in Victoria, British Columbia. The grandparents (my inlaws) have gone to the last four of them. They drive Papa’s 1932 Ford, “the little yellow car,” from Omaha all the way to Victoria for the show!

(As always, click to enlarge photos.)

"Daey and Papa"

“Daey and Papa”

This year’s show boasted 1,500 cars (all older than 1951), and over 100,000 people in attendance. Yes, really! The city of Victoria did an amazing job welcoming everyone and handling the crowds, and we had a great time!

Here are some photos from Deuce Days:

The Little Yellow Car

The Little Yellow Car

The Yellow Deuce Saga

The Yellow Deuce Saga

Nebraska

Nebraska

32

32

Hoods Belong in Jail

Hoods Belong in Jail

Claire and JoAnn Little Yellow Car

Yes, there were just a few people there...

Yes, there were just a few people there…

Stay tuned for more from Victoria!

Just catching up? Check out Part 1: Vancouver, Part 2: Goats on a roof & Port Renfrew, and Part 3: Random Dragons and a lighthouse!

Our Trip to British Columbia & the Pacific Northwest – Part 3: Random Dragons and a Lighthouse

Here is Part 3! (Here is Part 1 and Part 2. As always, click on the images to see more detail.)

Panorama of the driftwood, Port Renfrew

Panorama of the driftwood, Port Renfrew

Next on the agenda was going to be driving from Port Renfrew to Victoria. It was going to take us a couple of hours, so we could leisurely leave the Bed and Breakfast and then see what adventure was waiting to be discovered between here and there.

So, that morning, we did more exploring of the beach by our Bed and Breakfast when the tide was out. This time, we discovered what we consider to be “driftwood.” Everywhere else, so far has boasted “drift LOGS” or “drift TREES.” Of course, what they lacked in size, they made up for in sheer quantity! What?? Look at this! (If you look in the panorama above, you can see the WALL of driftwood!!)

If only he could find a suitable walking stick in this lousy collection...

If only he could find a suitable walking stick in this lousy collection…

After our morning hike, we loaded up the car and set out. As we were toodling along the highway (I would say, “zipping,” but when the speed limits are what they are, we were NOT zipping), we saw DRAGONS on a gate. We HAD to stop to check this out! Dragons!? Are you kidding?!

Dragon 1

Dragon 1b

Dragon 2

Dragon 2b

As we flipped a u-turn and got closer to get some pictures (a sign even said we could take pictures!), we noticed it was a “Modern Day Blacksmith” and they were open that day from 11am to 4pm and it suggested we come on up and check it out. As luck would have it, it was just after 11am, so we threw caution to the wind and made our way up the one-way, steep driveway to see what this was all about.

More Dragons

We pulled into a parking spot and were greeted by Marty Gilbertson of Foggy Mountain Forge. He and his son, Justin, were hard at work on a magnificent chandelier with metal roses curling around the base.

Marty took us into the shop and showed us how a modern-day blacksmith works. In the process, he created a Raven Feather for Claire!

See the iridescence? Marty showed us how that was created! Absolutely amazing.

See the iridescence? Marty showed us how that was created! Absolutely amazing.

It was amazing watching him work!

Blacksmith

Dragons?? Hand-made Raven feathers?? What a random and awesome find!

Marty was able to suggest a place for us to try for lunch (Shirley Delicious…and it WAS…), and we noticed some of his handiwork in the washroom.

Roses

Roses

From the parking lot of the cafe, we noticed a sign for a lighthouse! We’re suckers for lighthouses, so off we went on another adventure.

Sheringham Point Lighthouse

Sheringham Point Lighthouse

Sheringham Point Lighthouse 2

Sheringham Point Lighthouse 1

From there, we made our way to Victoria!
Stay tuned for more of the adventure!

Our Trip to British Columbia & the Pacific Northwest – Part 2: Goats on a Roof and Port Renfrew

Blowin' bubbles on a ferry

Blowin’ bubbles on a ferry

After two days in Vancouver (Part 1), we drove our car onto the ferry and went from Vancouver to Nanaimo. I’d heard rumors of GOATS on a ROOF in a town just a little bit up the coast, so we HAD to go. ( (As always, feel free to enlarge the photos by clicking on them!)

Sure enough!

GOATS ON A ROOF!

GOATS ON A ROOF!

This was our view from lunch! Goats!? ON A ROOF.

This was our view from lunch! Goats!? ON A ROOF.

From the goats on the roof of the Old City Market in Coombs, we drove across Vancouver Island over to Port Renfrew. It’s on the western coast, and is accessible by a logging road.

A fun thing we discovered about Canada? Well, we can sum it up by this imaginary conversation we had:

“Well, we’re over budget on this roads project. Thoughts?”
“I know how we can save a TON of money.”
“How?”
“Well, the bridges are way too extravagant in this current plan. Why do you need two lanes? Why do you need a lane that goes in both directions at the same time? That’s crazy! You really only need ONE lane. It’s not like anyone will be going in BOTH directions on the bridges at the SAME TIME.”
“Excellent. Problem solved!”

Nearly every bridge we took on Vancouver Island. No joke.

Nearly every bridge we took on Vancouver Island. No room to spare! No joke.

For the record, one bridge was so long we couldn’t see the END of it before we actually got ON it…and there WAS someone trying to come our way! So, we backed up! …Yes, backwards back to the beginning of the bridge! …and let them pass. It’s a good thing we’re not faint of heart.

I will say, though, that Vancouver and all the places we visited on Vancouver Island has THE MOST POLITE drivers EVER. It was sad, actually, how OBVIOUS and WEIRD it seemed to us that everyone was calm, chill, and polite. It should be that way everywhere, but it’s NOT.

It was SUNNY when we rolled into Port Renfrew! The locals didn't know what the glowing ball in the sky was! This was the beach right outside our door at the Bed and Breakfast.

It was SUNNY when we rolled into Port Renfrew! The locals didn’t know what the glowing ball in the sky was! This was the beach right outside our door at the Bed and Breakfast.

More sunny beach...

More sunny beach…

...and more sunny beach!

…and more sunny beach!

The sun followed us on our entire vacation. Everywhere we went, the locals were out basking in it. (I was looking forward to the break from the sun for once!) I made the best of it. 😉

The above pictures show the tide in. The following pictures show the tide out!

Port Renfrew Pano Tide Out

This is a panorama of our beach, the next day. You can see the tide is OUT in this one!

Driftwood Tide Out Port Renfrew

Port Renfrew Tide Way Out

We could walk so far out with the tide out!

Beautiful green swirls left by the receding tide.

Beautiful green swirls left by the receding tide.

Beautiful green rocks!

Beautiful green rocks!

Claire exploring the green rocks.

Claire exploring the green rocks.

Those “driftwood” pieces in the pictures above are MASSIVE trees. It was nearly impossible to get the perspective to show you just how BIG they were. They were easily 20-feet in diameter. No lie!

Some perspective!

Some perspective!

We had fun taking pictures on them, and we used this one as a "walkway" down the sloping beach!

We had fun taking pictures on them, and we used this one as a “walkway” down the sloping beach!

On our second day in Port Renfrew, we drove to the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park and hiked around here. Who is Juan de Fuca? Well, I looked it up, and then we spent a while giggling about this. Juan de Fuca was actually a Greek explorer by the name of Ioánnis Phokás. He was hired by the King of Spain in the late 1500s to explore this area. He discovered this strait.

Yes. A Spanish King hired a Greek man to explore what is now Canada, and history refers to him by his Spanish-translated name. In Canada. Just so we’re clear. 😉

Anyway, regardless of what you call it, it’s absolutely beautiful!

Panorama of Botany Bay, Juan de Fuca Park

Panorama of Botany Bay, Juan de Fuca Park

Nice view for our picnic lunch that day!

Nice view for our picnic lunch that day!

Checking out the tidepools

Checking out the tidepools

A whole world lives in this one!

A whole world lives in this one!

This one is empty except for our feet!

This one is empty except for our feet!

The hiking trail had some clever "bridges."

The hiking trail had some clever “bridges.”

That night, we checked out the sunset!

That night, we checked out the sunset!

...and did some more posing on huge logs!

…and did some more posing on huge logs!

...and hiked in the twilight.

…and hiked & climbed in the twilight.

Stay tuned for our next installment!

Our Trip to British Columbia & the Pacific Northwest – Part 1: Vancouver

In July, we took a trip to British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. We had a FANTASTIC time. I’m sorting through the photos and reliving every wonderful moment. (Our summer has been brutal, so we NEEDED a trip to make nice, happy memories!)

We left bright and early on July 19th. We got back to the house with just a few minutes to spare before July 31st rolled over on the calendar. We were exhausted and happy. Our hearts were full. School is just around the corner, and I’m not ready to let summer go. Not yet.

So, without further ado, here are some photos from our trip! (As always, feel free to enlarge the photos by clicking on them!)

Mt. Rainier!

Mt. Rainier! We circled a few times before landing in Seattle. The view of this beauty was amazing!

We stopped for lunch in Everett, WA.

We rented a Jeep Renegade in Seattle and headed north! We stopped for lunch in Everett, WA. Not a bad view, huh??

Our first night there, we went out to explore Vancouver: These leaves in the background were HUGE!

Our first night there, we went out to explore Vancouver: These leaves in the background were HUGE!

These hydrangea were the size of my head! Speaking of heads, I could NOT wrap my mind around these colors! Absolutely gorgeous!

These hydrangea were the size of my head! Speaking of heads, I could NOT wrap my mind around these colors! Absolutely gorgeous!

No, YOU took a picture of the fancy-schmancy "washroom" (restroom) in a Vancouver restaurant! We couldn't get it all in one picture!

No, YOU took a picture of the fancy-schmancy “washroom” (restroom) in a Vancouver restaurant! We couldn’t get it all in one picture!

The next day, we explored Stanley Park. Ravens in a dead tree. Creepy! (and cool!)

The next day, we explored Stanley Park. Ravens in a dead tree. Creepy! (and cool!)

Siwash Rock, Seawall around Stanley Park, Panorama

Siwash Rock, Seawall around Stanley Park, Panorama

We found a really tiny tree stump!

Look at the teeny tiny tree stump we found on a hiking path in Stanley Park, Vancouver! (For reference, my husband is 6’2″!!)

...and really tiny trees!

…and really tiny trees!

Totem Poles

Totem Poles

Panorama of Stanley Park, part of the Seawall.

Panorama of Stanley Park, part of the Seawall.

I’d anticipated walking 6-miles around the Seawall of Stanley Park. I knew we could easily do that in a day, and we could do so at our leisure. (We’d picked a hotel that was close to the park for this very reason!) There were some letterboxes hidden in the park, and we wanted to add CANADA to our list of destination finds! (And we were successful! Yeah!) We also wanted to see some places where they filmed one of our favorite shows, Psych! (Again, a success!)

We had gorgeous weather (SUNSHINE!),and we loved that the bicyclists and rollerbladers were forced to use a separate path than the pedestrians! We didn’t have to look over our shoulders and could enjoy our walk! What I had NOT anticipated was that all the added trails and stairs we did actually equalled 29,000 (yes, THOUSAND) steps before we got back to our hotel! Yes, that’s 13 miles! For realz, yo! After we collapsed in the room (quite literally), we headed out again that night in search of more adventure. According to the apps on our phones, we ended up with 15 MILES of hiking that day. Not too shabby!

Stay Tuned for Part 2!

Jasper’s Paw Print

Today, we picked up Jasper's Paw Print from the vet and put it on the wall with the other photos.

Today, we picked up Jasper’s Paw Print from the vet and put it on the wall with the other photos.