Now many a folk has asked us if we had been to the legendary, and majestic Mt. Rainer, just an easy 2 hours south. To this we would in shame reply “no, not yet.” Well with the summer drawing quickly to an end we made plans with the Cline Crew to visit this craggy site. We loved the back roads trip south from our home town. It was like we were creeping up on the mountain from behind (though I’m not sure if this place has a front or a back per say, any Rainer regulars that can correct me on this?). But we made our way winding through the small towns that border this incredible site. We caught a quick distance glimpse through a farmer’s field and the excitement intensified. It disappeared behind it’s forerunner hill sides, staying out of sight. We shot through its forest fully engulfed in the tree luge created by the surrounding forests. Then as we climbed the mountain side there it was, shooting out from between the trees. I was in awe and stopped to take a rare selfie, yep just me, I’m the shooter not the subject. A quick stop turned into a fun meeting of another adoptive family whose children were grown. It’s such a blessing to commiserate with these people, and I really appreciated their insights and recommendations and support, what am amazing community we are a part of. Then in was off to meet with the rest of the crew and set up a little camp. Our first stop was ‘Groove of the Ancients.” This gave us an up close view of some of the oldest and largest trees in the area. It was amazing to see the roots and trunks of these massive trees. The littles sat inside the roots of a fallen giant, and there was even plenty of room for us adults to join them. We moved along the board walk path, to show the sheer height and size of these behemoths, the littles struck a pose at the base, giving some perspective on the enormity A trip across a fun bridge only added to the adventure, with the promise of a quick dip in the creek below, which turned into a full scale swim for little Mr. We traipse around the trees taking in the sheer size of these literal giants. Then back to camp for relaxed fun and some tradition fire cooked hot dogs , and you know SMORES were a must. Bedtime eventually came, only after a few hours of adult chat time, which is always apart of our get togethers.
Next we headed up the mountain to Paradise Inn, taking our time and enjoying the many pull offs to different sights of the scenic views. The second day the mountain was engulfed in cloud cover, hiding its summit but still revealing the skirted crags making the base, it was a beautiful perspective, shrouded in mystery. The visitor center at Paradise was fun, and we had to say our goodbyes and head back down, taking a few of the fun tunnels that little Mr. loves so much. I kept thinking of this talk as we looked to the light at each tunnel’s end. We stopped in the little town of Greenwater for a couple ice cream cones just to enjoy on the rest of the trip home, MMmmmmm, so yummy! It was a quick trip and most certainly not our last, that place has so many amazing locations to explore, the boys are already making “MANCATION” plans. I’m sure we will be returning there for years to come!
(To me this photo is Happiness. watching my sweet son running ahead in a place that is so special to me, getting the opportunity to share this with him makes it more meaningful)
Our annual crabbing, camping trip went off without a hitch. We were prepared and ready to eat until we were sick. Getting together with this group of amazing people is something we look forward to every year and since last year My Mr. mistakenly planned his Alaska fishing trip (he’s still trying to make up for that) during the same week as this I really look forward to this so as you can imagine he was on my naughty list for a little while. Little Mr. is an amazing camper, he runs through the forest like a mountain man, and sleeps like a bear during hibernation at night. Yep he’s a born camper, which couldn’t make his father more happy! We couldn’t wait to take him out in the canoe! He had a brief trip earlier this year but he has never helped pull of the crab pots and see the crab. This was such a fun experience. As we rowed out he was cautious but by the time we reached the 1st pot he had his hands gliding through the top of the water and me holding on to his life jacket while I rowed, I won’t tell you how I was able to do that but it’s a mom thing I guess. The first pot was empty to our disappointment, as we discarded the bait, which was a new mixture then what we typically use, the seagulls began to circle hovering over the water to grab the floating bits. As our friends canoe, piloted by Landon, joined us to convene on the catch (or lack of) we made no notice of the birds darting about us. The next thing we knew a bald eagle swooped down and grabbed some of the discarded bait! It was amazing, it was like 10 ft away. But that wasn’t it, it continued to hover and dive the bay for the next 10 minutes. Then it silently swooped onto a branch overlooking the bay. We then caught eye of another one that came in to land in another tree just above the other. It was majestic and I forgot my telephoto lens to capture all this, ahhhhhhhh! It was majestic, I mean that’s the only way I can describe it. Every time we go to this location we have one of these “eagle experiences.” They always amaze me, I never tire of seeing the enormity of their wingspan flying over head. Even after that incredible animal planet moment, yes we caught some crab and had enough to take home and enjoy for the next few days. Little Mr. loved watching as Dad and Mom pulled the crabs from the pot and he even helped release one that was too small back to it’s watery home. So how would I rate that trip? Even with a few tantrums, and rainy patches? Perfection.
In January we needed to escape, we needed to get out. So we did a quick VRBO booking and we were off to the coast for a little overnight trip. We rode the ferry across the sound, Little Mr. first time. The loved watching the water even in the chilly breeze. Pax preferred to stay away from the rail at all costs and put up quite a fight when we pulled him a little closer so we could see. Then it was on to the driving. You think it shouldn’t take that long but with the twists and turns of the peninsula we didn’t get to our little place until dark. Got some shut eye and the lovely people we stayed at left some carrots for little Mr. to feed their horses. He was timid at first but soon was handing out carrots as quick as he could, and the horses didn’t seem to mind! Side note: I love the fog as you come through the hills and valleys of the pacific northwest. I love how it gathers in streaks across the roads, yeah probably dangerous at times but geesh there is something beautiful about the way it plays with our view.
We then headed for the beach located on “wolf territory” for all you twilighters. The winter seas and storms had filled the beach with massive tree longs, I had to sit on one to show the gravity of this incredible sight. There are moments where I get to remember that I’m a photographer, or at least I use to be. My Mr, bless him, likes to remind me and get me to bring out my old SLR and look for the shot, watch for the light, the instant, the memory. The hike along the beach was amazing and though we probably pushed our little Mr. to the brink of his hiking capabilities and had a breakdown we did it and regardless made a memory and had a good time! It was quick but you gotta take those moments right? Especially when you live in a place as beautiful as we do.
Last was Cozumel Mexico, known for it’s amazing water. So we planned to take that all in and filled the day with snorkeling. We boarded our boat with our fun guide, Fernando. He was incredibly impressed that 3 out of the 4 of us were fluent in Spanish (I was not one of those 🙁 ). But regardless it made communication great and I think he liked us better because of it! We took off across the water headed far from the rest of the tourist filled areas. The water seamed to fade from light to dark to medium blue, clear water. It was like jumping into a sapphire ring! I was blown away. The sun lit up the depth of the ocean and we saw thousands of fish swimming through coral canyons more than 20 feet deep. The coral looked like massive condominiums bursting from the ocean floor. For a moment I heard myself playing the JAWS theme in my head and I popped up for air and a reality check as I spotted our guide peacefully skimming over the water, life saver doughnut in tow. After calming myself and making an agreement not to think of that song again while in the water I delved back in not wanting to miss the next sights. You see, the current whisks you along so while I thought I would look back down again to see the same things each time I went down it was like a new location. We spotted 2 huge lobsters that I wanted to grab and boil in a pot for dinner, I mean they were massive and used great camouflage to disappear into their coral home. The sea turtles also gave us a fun show as they glided through the water, acting shy as they moved away from our view. The time on the boat was also nice, looking out at this body of water was awe inspiring. I took it in and couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be there. The sun hitting my back and warming me, friends to laugh and make these memories to treasure, feeling the wind as you skiff over the waves, it’s literally amazing. I know I use that word A LOT but it’s the only thing I can use to describe this experience. And that was it, our last stop. We headed back to Florida to rejoin reality, feeling rejuvenated and incredibly grateful.
Grand Cayman was next and by far our most busy day of the trip. We started it slow, tendering to the shore and looking in a few local shops. Then we met up with our driver who took us our to our ocean adventure. We got equipped with snorkeling gear, and mounted our jet skis. The boys took off through the water following our guide who I think had to be going at least 50 MPH over the ocean waves. We hit sea star beach first, taking a quick look at the huge star fish that are all over the area. A quick photo then off we went to Sting Ray City. This is a very shallow sandy area where the manta rays are a plenty. I was daunted by their sheer size and speed at which they can swim it is incredible to watch. We each took a turn swimming with the rays, our arms out stretched under their bellies. Feeding them some fresh squid was like sticking your hand near a vacuum: very powerful suction! Then a kiss, yes I kissed this crazy, flat, serpent of the sea! It was slimy and very sweet. Then ended with a hug, or flap on the back, which again was like slimy massage. It was incredible! They were so majestic, and at first a little terrifying as I took in sheer magnitude of these amazing creatures. They are incredibly smart. The one we got to hold and kiss was friends with our guide and she would come and find him every time he came to the reef, so sweet. We couldn’t stay with the rays forever, sadly, and so we were off again to enjoy a little snorkeling in the turquoise, clear waters. Beautiful coral reefs were ours to take in and enjoy, the water by this point in the day was a little choppy so we boarded our jet skis again and took off back to catch our taxi and head to the boat. On our way back to the boat we caught the sight of a pirate ship, do you think Captain Jack was aboard? I sure hope so!
This was our first time to Jamaica and so after investigating our options we decided to spend our time enjoying one of the newer and less tourist-soaked sights call the “blue hole.” Beautiful cascading waterfalls, and cliff diving into turquoise pools. We climbed up the rocky terrain to the first jump spot with the aid of our energetic guide. He was incredibly funny and so helpful and nice. With my knee still not back to it’s full strength I sat the jumping out, and carefully maneuvered over the rocks to take photos of the rest of our posse’s craziness. The guide was kind to give me his hand whenever I needed, he was more sure of foot in his bare feet than I was with my Chacos on. The jumping commenced with a water dunk under the waterfall, then the first jump in a small deep spot maybe 10 feet. Our guide climbed up to about 30 feet and did a jump into the same pool, CRAZY. Then we moved down the falls to the bigger and much scarier. We girls sat this one out and watched the guys commence the madness. The guides carefully walked them down the front side of the waterfall to a good launching location. Then once in position you took the leap! Boys are crazy. Then we gals got in on a little cave swimming. Under the waterfall is an open tunnel, much like the old nutty putty cave in Utah that has since been closed off. But this one there was a large opening under the waterfall. It kinda felt like the chocolate shell on an ice cream bar after the ice cream had melted leaving this cave to view the water crashing down the side, Beautiful. We could have spent hours there but we had to head back to the boat. The poverty of the Jamaican people is something I wasn’t quite prepared for. While there are some that have beautiful homes many simply can’t afford it. I was inspired by our guide who at one point pointed to some beautiful homes on the tropical mountain side and said, “Someday I will live in one of those, not right now, but someday.” His optimism was striking and his positivity was infectious. I wish I would have taken his photo, for now I will just have to remember his words. Goodbye Falmouth.
Well it has been a few years since we packed up with our Friends and hit the open seas. With the past few years filled with moves and baby additions it has put our cruise schedule a little behind and we all craved the sandy beaches. Now many may ask, “Isn’t a cruise boring?” Yes, you’re on a boat, but let me just give you a few tips to cruise correctly and hopefully give you a better opinion:
- Go with a group or another couple – not that you don’t love your spouse, but for some reason laughing with a group and going on adventures is a lot more fun. Also Karaoke is way better to watch and participate in if you have a cheering squad!
- Pre-plan activities. You stop at different ports every day so you get to experience a lot of local sights and adventures like these and the ones that will follow this post. So it’s not just sitting on a boat all the time.
- Food, enough said. Free food, lots of it, and lots of amazing dishes. Every night you get a fancy three course meal with amazing culinary specialties to test and try. (Big hint: you can order more than one of each course every meal! One night we ordered 10 entrees between the four of us!)
- The few days at sea that you do have are filled with a fun itinerary of activities, like rock climbing, wake boarding and surfing on the flowrider, trivia games, swimming in your choice of 3 pools, jacuzzi-ing, oh and if you want to sit and bask in the sunshine, relaxing while reading a book you have been wanting to read you can just do that too.
- Talk to people. Random people. Strike up a convo with anyone. Even a quick elevator ride can introduce you to some fun people from all over the world. Special shout out to Ben and Marissa who we met on our last cruise as our dinner buddies, they are really fun people. We had a great night of dancing with them!
So if you have been a on cruise and neglected any of these few items then you have a reason to go again. And if you haven’t been cruising, come with us next time! Here are a few shots of our days and events on the boat. Following posts will show you our days off the boat!