Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Candid Camping

We are not campers. When we were dating, I invited Byron to come along on a group camping trip. His response was not only to decline me, but to indicate that he felt camping was “mocking the homeless.”

Ah, how things have changed. We have decided to venture, as a family, into the wild world of camping (pun intended). We actually decided this many months ago, but sometimes it is hard to turn intentions into actions. Luckily, we had some friends invite us up to Yosemite. They gave us a couple of months notice, so we decided we had better start amassing our camping gear. The researching and searching and pondering began.

First purchase: a hiking backpack for Harrison to ride in. We were VERY proud of our purchase, and wanted to practice using it.

See how much Harrison loves it?!

Being the outdoorsy individuals we are, we went right ahead and put it to good use. I’ve never seen him enjoy vacuuming that much!

The tent was another matter entirely. Long story short, we were at REI the day before our trip and FINALLY bought our tent. And here we are the night before the trip, dutifully making sure that we will indeed be able to construct a shelter in the wild. Only, this is actually our living room.

The trip began with a 3AM departure time. Harrison did not seem to mind, since he slept through the drive and then awoke to breakfast with his best friend (and dare I say possibly girlfriend??) Izzie. (Yes, this is the same older woman from past posts, he is not fickle with his affections.)

He is attempting to hold her hand in this picture. He is very unsubtle with his advances; she is appropriately demure and aloof.

These kids hold hands between their two car seats whenever they drive somewhere together. We can’t wait until they meet up again at BYU in a few years!

We loved Yosemite!

I cannot believe his expression of wide-eyed excitement – I guess he loves nature!!

But honestly, who wouldn’t enjoy camping on an air mattress?? Thank you Chris and Sarah, for showing us just how luxurious camping can be. I think using an air mattress to "camp" really is almost mocking the homeless.

And although it looks idyllic and peaceful, there was a darker side to our trip. We were fighting for survival for our entire overnight camping trip.

It got so cold at night; we couldn’t believe it. Poor Harrison was freezing to death, but somehow survived the night wedged between us on the airbed. All of the other kids made it through the night as well, this is the aftermath:

Also, we had to deal with BEARS. I was never afraid of bears before this trip, but Byron and my friend Sarah scared me to death with their talk of bear attack etiquette, bear spray, bear bells, bear boxes and general bear anecdotes.

So, of course, after scaring me to death for two weeks before the trip, they slept soundly through the night while I was up all night, listening to bears pounding on the bear boxes in our campground. Byron claims that at one point I woke him up to tell him that I didn’t want to die. That sounds dramatic now, but I felt it very strongly at the time.

Then, to add insult to injury, I awoke to a campground full of naysayers, who refused to believe that bears had been carousing in our campground overnight. But I feel I was ultimately vindicated, because one of the couples with us DID see a bear as they were leaving our campground. I knew I heard bears at night!!

We don’t have a picture of the actual bear (or bears) but here is the box I’m SURE they were pounding on.

All told, we loved Yosemite and came away from our first camping trip pretty much unscathed. In fact, we may in fact love camping; Harrison most of all.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Roadtrip to the Northwest

This post is SO delayed, but I’d already started it a few weeks ago so I had to finish it – it has been delaying many other things from being posted that have happened since then!!

We had such a fun trip up to Portland and the Oregon coast in August. The drive is long. There is no other way to say it. But we decided to split the drive up into 3 days and enjoy the scenery along the way.

Things started out pretty chipper.

However by the end, it wasn’t quite so pretty.

Our accommodations along the way at times left a little to be desired.

But what they lacked in shower height, they certainly made up for in d├ęcor.

This half wagon wheel jutting out of the wall appeared to serve absolutely no purpose, except to make our trip just that much more enjoyable!

We saw a lot of beautiful vineyards, got car sick from the winding road and stopped in Mendocino for breakfast and a photo op.

Our unsuccessful attempt at a beautiful, oceanside family portrait.

At one of our lovely motels, Byron picked up a pamphlet on a place called “Trees of Mystery” which was on our way up the coast. He became a little obsessed about molding our plans around a visit to this place. I was appropriately skeptical. I mean, “Trees of Mystery?” In order to accommodate a visit to this place, we stayed in a crazy, horror movie type motel, in a town where no restaurants were open, and delayed our arrival in Portland. I went along with it, knowing full well that as soon as we had seen this “Trees of Mystery”, we would be horribly disappointed and I would, once again, be proven right.

Two words: Worth it!!

How can you go wrong, when you are welcomed by a huge Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox??

And to put it into perspective…

I will not bore you with the ONE HUNDRED AND SIX pictures that I took at “Trees of Mystery”. Just know that I now think trees are totally amazing. Okay, maybe a few pictures couldn’t hurt…

Harrison getting his first ride on a sky gondola.

View from the top

Just know that it is awesome, Byron was right. And definitely go, if you’re ever going to be passing through Klamath, California.

We also had a TON of fun spending a week at the beach house on the Oregon Coast:

We were so glad Grandma and Grandpa Williams and Aunt Sheri could come too!!

We loved visiting the Tillamook Cheese Factory.
Harrison is holding his souvenir from the trip, a little cow named Tillie from Tillamook.

And we just couldn’t resist letting him try a little Tillamook ice cream. From the looks of it, we created a monster!!!

And we absolutely LOVED crabbing!!

(I guess it is pretty obvious from these pictures that Harrison’s open-mouth smile is clearly a genetic trait passed down on the Harrison side, versus the Williams’.)

It was really fun just spending time at the Oregon coast. Harrison loved the beach and the ocean, just like his dad.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Harrison loves his Portland Family!

Harrison finally met a few members of his family (and was reunited with some others) on our trip to Portland recently.

First stop: Leaperville. Population: Aunt Nikki, Naomi, Uncle Craig and Vienna.

Harrison loved sleeping at their house - he was especially intrigued with their ceiling fans. He had a great time playing with the dog, swinging on the hammock and eating raspberries in the yard. Basically, an ideal vacation.

I like this one, because it looks like Harrison is laughing uproariously at a joke Nikki has made. In actuality, I think he might be crying.

This is Harrison playing with Vienna. He had SO much fun playing with her, to our dismay he absolutely LOVES dogs and laughed so hard every time she licked him.

And the dog next to him, the one with the purple silky leash, was my dog, Sparkles, for the duration of the trip. She is otherwise known as Naomi.

And here is Naomi, in a rare moment as a Ninja, as opposed to Sparkles.

Harrison also got to see Uncle Matt, Aunt Brookie and Aunt Jamie out at the beach house.

Hard to believe, but they’re all single (and awesome)! And here are just a few other portraits I found when I looked at my camera after leaving it alone with them. I can only imagine they were taken with hopes that they would end up on my blog.

I definitely think I’ve just done my part in helping them get married. Feel free to comment if you need their contact information…

Back to the trip, his biggest highlight was probably this moment with Jamie. Right before he spit his binkie out and ate some sand.

Harrison LOVED playing with his cousins, Ollie and Asher, and his Aunt Lisa and Uncle Brian. Asher and Oliver were both more than willing to demonstrate for Harrison how to crawl. They also shared their toys with him, fed him chocolate crepes, swam in the pool with him and generally showed him a great time!

Ollie made sure that Harrison always had more than enough toys while he was in the high chair. Whenever I looked away, Ollie had put another toy up there.

He had a ton of fun at their house!

He also rode his first streetcar, with quite an entourage, to see Portland State University, where his Aunt Brookie is starting this fall.

I think Portland really made an impression on Harrison. I think this look pretty much sums up what a great trip he had. Pure, open-mouth excitement.

Thanks for showing us such a fun time, Portlanders!!