Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Spring Break Part 2

Wednesday April 3rd

On day 3 of our trip we took a drive North and went to Astoria.  We all headed to the Astoria Column and made the hike to the top for the always amazing view.

 Here is a picture Curtis took which is great because you can see the grass field that you can throw little airplanes off the tower onto, as well as the amazing bridge that makes Astoria famous - and Grandma very nervous to drive across.
 And here is proof that even Grandma - not a fan of heights - made it up there just fine too!
 And since most of the pictures from that day are Curtis's, here's one that actually shows he was there too!

After our visit to Astoria we decided it was time to head back South.  We stopped in Seaside, OR and split into two groups.  The women split from the men and us girls of course headed to look at shops around the Seaside boardwalk.  The men, on the other hand, headed for the beach.  Ellie had a blast playing on the beach wither 3 of her favorite guys in the world: Curtis, Papa, and who else but - Daddy.
 Ellie and Daddy enjoyed writing her name over and over and then sounding out the letters in Daddy.
 One of the "games" Ellie likes to play is to have you draw as many shapes as you can possibly think of while she names them.  As a result, she knows 12-15 shapes I believe, including trapezoid, and can distinguish correctly between pentagons and hexagons.  But we're not proud or anything...
 Our girl loves her some sticks...
 And oh how she loved the sand.... Especially dumping it on her head while Uncle Curtis laughed and laughed.
We also took Ellie to a store where she got to choose her souvenir for the trip.  She chose a blue plastic starfish with white polka-dots that now hangs in her room.  She is soooo into starfish since this trip and calls them "Peach" from Finding Nemo.  Mckayla got a bright fun seahorse from the same company as Ellie's starfish, and Daddy chose a shell for each of them as well.

After Seaside we headed back to the rental house for some more delicious home-cooked crock pot food.  Seriously, one of the best parts about having a rental house was the family dinners.  I can't say enough how much fun we always have whenever we have large dinner gatherings with family, and vacation was no exception.

Thursday April 4th

On day 4 of our trip we knew the forecast was for rain, so we planned to do what we thought would be inside activities - namely going to the Newport Aquarium.  If we had done more research we would have learned that the aquarium is a series of buildings and outdoor viewing areas which you have to walk around to get to.  However, we still had a really fun time at the aquarium - no one more so than our Ellie Bell.

If we'd let her, Ellie would have probably enjoyed staying at this little discovery area in the Aquarium all day. She fished.
 She looked at "Doris" and "Nemos".
 She even dug in the sand for a rock or shell of her very own.

And all the while Mckayla enjoyed the view with Daddy.

 One of Ellie's FAVORITE parts of the whole aquarium were these jellyfish.
 She was soooo excited by them, and Mckayla really liked watching them too.  Mckayla got a stuffed jellyfish as her memento from the aquarium as a result.
 Ellie also really liked this Japanese Spider Crab.  Apparently this one is "just a baby" since they'll grow to be 15 feet wide.  Gross!
 One thing we all liked however was the shark and ray tank.  I love manta rays since Steve and I went on our "late honeymoon" to San Diego a few years back.  Ellie REALLY liked them as well.  She ended up choosing a cute stuffed ray with polka-dots as her keepsake from the aquarium.  It was really difficult to get any good pictures of the sharks or rays through the curved, thick glass in the lower light of the tunnel though.
 Ellie sat on Lori's lap and just watched and watched for quite sometime, exclaiming excitedly when a ray or shark was coming near them.
 I'm afraid all the excitement got a bit much for Mckayla, and she eventually gave up on the aquarium.

Then I decided to be ridiculous and get really wet trying to get good pictures of the sea otters while they were being fed - I mostly failed.
 And then Steve and I got even wetter checking out the puffins quickly to make sure Ellie wouldn't miss seeing them.  There wasn't much to see though, and the net over the enclosure would catch the water and then the wind would pick up and we'd just have a sheet of water fall on us.  We got really wet for a whole lot of nothing basically....  After that it was time to hit the gift shop and head out.  Mckayla decided it was time to wake up and play with Daddy.
 And here is the picture that shows just how soaked I got as photographer that day.  But I don't mind rain, in fact I quite like it, and it was a lot of fun!

Later that day the girls were exhausted from going without real napping schedules all week, so we took them back to the house to crash.  While they were sleeping, everyone was nice enough to stay and watch them so Steve and I could go explore the beach, which we hadn't had the time to do yet.  It was a lot of fun being on the beach just the two of us - literally.  These were our footprints as we walked - not another trace of people on the windswept beach.
 We finally came to a little inlet stream that we decided to explore before heading back.
 Further up the stream.  I thought this little place was gorgeous.

 The only not-so-fun part was the walk back, after the wind had picked way up.  We got totally sandblasted by the pebbly sand on the beach.  We looked AWESOME by the time we got back to the house.

Later that night we all just enjoyed more good food and company as Lori, Curtis, and Bridget had to leave early the next morning so they could go watch Tyler run in a college track meet in Boise, ID.  Here Daddy and Mckayla were hanging out.
 And Ellie convinced just about everyone to come and color at least for a second with her Easter basket rock crayons.
However, nobody was so willing a participant as Uncle Curtis.  It's no wonder Ellie is always so excited to see him!

After that, it was time for laundry, dishes, and packing.  It was sad to know our trip was coming to an end, but at least we had some fun things planned for the trip back home.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Spring Break Part 1

Day 1: April 1st

On April 1st we spent much of the day driving to the rental house.  We did make a quick stop at the fish hatchery at Bonneville Dam.  Ellie enjoyed throwing food out to the trout in the ponds and seeing their giant sturgeon through the viewing window there.

After Bonneville we kept on trekking till we got to the house.  We stayed at a rental house at Bella Beach on the Oregon Coast near Depoe Bay.  All the houses had names, and ours was Starry Starry Night.
The house was so homey and had everything we could have needed.  It was fantastic and we loved staying there.  Especially since we got to have family meals and Lori planned for some delicious food throughout the week!  This was the little bed area Ellie stayed in, which was nice because it was right off of our room.

 We didn't have too much time to do anything after driving to the rental that day, so we spent the first night just settling in, finalizing plans, and of course - Steve made steak for everyone.
 When Steve is around, there must be a meat night!

Day 2: April 2nd

We started our second day by heading to a whale watching charter boat company that operates out of Depoe Bay.  They were one of the few companies with large enough boats that little ones can come too, and we really wanted Ellie to be there if and when we saw a whale.  They also had a 94% success rate, so we were sure to see a whale.  So, of course, we didn't....

Here we are waiting while the men-folk went and fought over who got to pay for our tickets - which was the story of the whole trip.  Highly entertaining.
It was a little foggy and fairly cold outside that day, so Ellie was really bundled up so she would be warm enough on the boat.

While we waited for the boat on the dock we enjoyed watching this seal pop up around us.

 When the boat first took off Ellie was not at all sure she liked what was going on.  Thank goodness for her wonderful Aunt Lori and Cousin Bridget.  Ellie was soon doing just fine on the boat.
 This was how Mckayla started out the trip with Daddy - awake and happy in the Bjorn.
 The rest of the trip Mckayla spent this way - under a warm blanket sleeping soundly thanks to the rocking of the boat.
 Whereas Ellie spent all of the boat ride in the cabin with Lori - looking for crab pot floats and birds.  She loved spotting different colored floats and counting birds with Lori.  Apparently she was very clear that it was her job to find floats, Lori's job to spot birds, and Grandma's job to spot whales.  Grandma felt bad that she was the only one who didn't spot what she was supposed to...  At one point Lori did ask Ellie if she wanted to go outside, but Ellie told her "No, it looks cold out there."  And she was right.  It was.  But it was also fun.
 Unfortunately, we never did see a whale, but the captain did bring us past this buoy - their sure-fire sighting of wildlife.  So, we ended up enjoying a nice boat ride with some sea lions, crab floats, and family.

Later that day we decided to go to the Yaquina Head Natural Area because Tuesday had the best weather forecast for the week.  We enjoyed our last trip to Yaquina Head and enjoyed it even more this time.  First we headed down to Quarry Cove to see the water coming in and see what wildlife we could find in the cove.
Steve always has to climb on top of a big hill of rocks.
 Ellie of course loved playing with sticks in the sand.
 Some creatures from the man-made tide pool down at the cove.
 Proof that you can have blue sky at the Oregon Coast.

 Everyone looking out at the ocean on the trek up the hill back up to the parking area.
 Between this picture and the last one you can ALMOST get a feel for the how many different shades of blue we could see in the ocean that day.
 A picture of the beach headed down into town from where we were.

After we left the cove we headed up to the lighthouse.  
There was a team of scientists in a roped off area when we went up to the lighthouse who were there to do whale counts.  So..... we finally got to see a whale in the wild!  We saw lots of spouts, but it was hard to get photos of anything.  Here are the two best pictures I got.

 And when I was looking through the binoculars I even saw one whale put its flipper up in the air!  Sooo cool!

We also stopped and watched the seals in the bay for a little while.
And they watched us back.
 Such a pretty lighthouse.

The last stop at Yaquina Head (for us - not hiking with little ones) was to head down to Cobble Beach.  It's name is VERY appropriate because the whole beach is made up of large round stones and we got to enjoy trying not to fall as we slid down the rocks towards the tide pools.  It was worth the effort though to see all the urchins, anemones, little fish, crabs, starfish, and whole areas of rock just coated in muscles.

Ok, this blog is already far too long, but because we did lots of fun things on Tuesday!  
Here are a couple of pictures of our group that day at the natural area.  

If you head towards Depoe, you have to stop by Yaquina Head.  We find new things to love about this park every time we go and we haven't even done any of the trails yet!

Our last stop I don't have any pictures of, but whenever we're on the Oregon Coast, we head to Mo's for chowder.  We went while there was a high tide and all enjoyed chowder and seafood - except Curtis, who found something else to eat.  All in all, Tuesday was a lot of fun with family!