8.31.2007

Apples to Apples


Apparently, in a game of word association, my wife thinks charging rhinos are melodramatic.

Thanks for a wonderful month

The month of August has been challenging – both personally and professionally. However, life in the blogosphere has been outstanding. You, my readers, have given Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts its best month ever, this last December was the record holder. This month’s page views completely (695) blew away December’s total (567) earlier this week, as did most of my other stats. I ended the month with 146 unique visitors, 415 visits, and 695 page views. Now I realize the numbers of visits and page views I’ve received greatly pales in comparison to some bigger and better blogs. And I realize that most of my readers are family and close friends. But, considering I only do this part time – I’m ecstatic. All I can say is thanks for reading. I truly appreciate it.




Moving on… er… I mean looking back. Remember my post about flowers? Well I had no idea what any of them were, and I posted the pics in hopes that someone could identify what each flower was called. Most of you were able to sniff out the rose, but the rest remained a mystery. They would still be unknown to me if it wasn’t for Alice Rankin of Alice’s Garden Spot. She identified most of the flowers for me. According to Alice, the picture’s identities are as follows: top picture could be a petite day lily (she’s not sure), 2nd picture is a Stargazer Oriental Lily, 3rd picture is (as everyone knows) a Pink Rose, 4th picture is an Echinacea (Coneflower), and the 5th picture is a Canna. Thank you, Alice. The plant in the final picture remains nameless.

Also, I must thank you all for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers this week. I took a couple of days off from work. My wife went shopping, and her sister came up to visit from Boise. We’re all doing better. Speaking of Bekah’s sister – she is in town this weekend. We’ll be hanging out with her for the next couple of days, so don’t expect any more postings here or on HBO until she leaves.

Again, thank you for making August a superb month.





PS: Tell all your friends about me

8.29.2007

scandalous

Why is it, the politicians who most ardently oppose gay rights end up involved with gay sex scandals?

First was Spokane Mayor Jim West. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, google the phrase "mayor jim west." Nine out of the first ten search results cover (or at least mention) West's scandal. Not just geek bloggers out to out the former mayor but (mostly) credible sources like the Spokesman Review, Seattle PI, Seattle Times, CBS News, MSNBC, and PBS's Frontline. What made the West scandal so enthralling was his noticeably anti-gay agenda.

Now we have Senator Larry Craig. Vocally against gay rights. Rumored to be gay. Involved in gay scandal. Becomes nation wide news story overnight. He has become the object of political cartoon mockery, the voters in Idaho want him to resign, the Republicans deny ever knowing him, the Democrats just point and laugh, the gay community cry "not him, anyone but him," while simple folk like me think not again.

Who's next?

8.27.2007

A Chance for the Chancers

Several years ago, I rented a room from Bekah's aunt; her aunt shared her four and a half bedroom house with eight of guys. Most of us guys were musicians, and the house had become a place to hang out for many people.

She also owned a second house, where Bekah lived, that was home to a handful of girls. The residents of both houses were there for various reasons, some battled addictions, others were trying to start a new life, but all of us needed a cheap place to stay.

The doors to the guys house was a revolving door for a colorful cast of characters, and that motley crew was most evident on Friday nights when we would meet for an often crowded Bible study. Drew led the worship, and over the course of a few months became one of the best friends I've ever had. Tommy sang and played various instruments in a band; I helped promote them, but was more or less an over-glorified roadie. Terry was an ex-drug dealer and ex-husband who had left his old life and moved half-way across the state to clean up and start over. There was a skater kid who was still in high-school; his mom couldn't handle him so she insisted that he lived with us as long as he went to church and stayed in school. One of the guys was a pro-skater, another a youth pastor. One time a homeless guy showed up to have a sandwich.

Then there was Nicole. She showed up every Friday night, tired from a full day of skating. She often slept through the Bible study, but would hang out after the study to chat and relax. For her, our house was a safe environment. We all knew she had issues, but knew little about the specifics. She didn't live in the girls house, but she hung out with us. She didn't really believe in God, but she listened when we talked about our faith. During the Bible study she usually sat on the couch closest to who ever was speaking. But one night she sat in the back of the room. Terry noticed something was wrong and he stepped out of the group; Terry, Nicole, and Bekah's aunt disappeared into one of the bedrooms.

Our study continued as usual. Afterwards, a few people lingered; joking around, playing the guitar, or skating outside. The late night after Bible study was a social time were we were known to stay up late into the next morning singing and making music, or engaged in deep philosophical conversations. But that night, I think most people realized that something was out of the ordinary.

At some point, Bekah went into the room were Terry had taken Nicole. Most people went home. Finally Drew and I were the only two left in the living room. Terry came out and explained what was going on. Nicole had a drug problem. Sometime earlier that day, Nicole had hit bottom and decided it was time to quit the drugs, and she decided to go cold turkey. Terry recognized her tremors the instant she came in. She was experiencing hyperflexia and had severe cramping in her limbs. Bekah and her aunt were massaging Nicole's arms and legs to relieve tension. Terry was trying to keep her body temperature up with warm rags. He was talking her through the DTs, keeping her as calm as possible to avoid panic attacks, and making her eat bananas to give her some source of nutrients.

Drew and I did as much as we could to help, but there wasn't much else that we could do. So, being musicians we did the only thing we knew how: we picked up our guitars and began to play. Earlier that night, I showed Drew how to play Dave Matthews Crash. Drew started with that song to make sure he could play it as I sang along. At the end of the song, he played the opening riff to Poor Old Lu's Chance for the Chancers, I played along. What caused Drew to play that song, I don't know. But it was the right song choice. We both sang at the top of our lungs the first few words to the song: "EVERYTHING'S GONNA BE OK!"

Laughter erupted in the bedroom next door. On the worst night of her life, Nicole needed to hear that everything was going to be OK. We continued to sing. "He's going to wipe those tears away - And before this night is through - This is all going to make sense to you." Nicole has cleaned up, and stayed clean since then.

That's what we all needed to hear. That things were going to be OK. That things would make sense. That all things work together for the good (Rom 8:28).

Which brings me to tonight. After an emotionally difficult day for our family, Bekah and I again needed those same reminders. As we transferred sleeping children from Grandma's house to our car, then from the car into their beds, I was searching for the right words to say. I carried Christian into the house as Bekah was running some bath water.

"Are you ready to lay down in your bed, big guy?" I asked.

"Yeah." He replies. "I hang onto daddy."

"That's right, but it's time for you to go back to sleep." He rubs his forehead on my shoulder and Bekah stepped out of the bathroom to say good night. Whispering in his ear, told him what to say.

"Good night Mommy." He followed my prompt.

"Good night, I love you." Bekah gave Christian a kiss and turned back into the bathroom.

Reminded of the song, I had one more message for Christian to give. "Momma, everything is gonna be OK."

Bekah smiled and choked back tears; I knew that I had chosen the right thing to say - and the right messenger to speak for me. And seeing Bekah's smile, I knew everything would be OK.

8.25.2007

The crispiest chips in the west

When I was in high school, I believed the four main food groups were: pizza, potato chips, Taco Bell, and anything that came out of a vending machine. Now, I am a bit older, wiser... and a bit rounder in the mid-section; so I know better.

I still have my vices. I have a much clearer understanding that potato chips belong to the fatty, salty, oily food group. Yet, hand me a bag of Ruffles, and I'll reason that potatoes are (hypothetically) a vegetable and I must get my four helpings of vegetables. That is likely the gluttonous side of me speaking, and is part of the reason for the previously mentioned roundness.

That is why I have a strong appreciation for Tim's Cascade Style chips. Tim's chips are the crunchiest potato chips ever created, except maybe the home made batch I once attempted to make on my own and inadvertently over cooked. Beyond the crispiness, Tim's packs an unearthly amount of flavor into each bite. They are just so irresistibly delicious, I can not think of a better crafted brand of chips. The creative masterminds the make Tim's continually produce imaginative (yet excellent) flavors. Parmesan & Garlic (pictured), Steak & Onion, Alder Smoke Barbecue, and my new favorite: Johnny's Seasoned.

I am not trying to say that other brands are disgusting (unless of course, you find potato chips abhorrent). I still like potato chips, although I do try to avoid them, for some well rounded reasons. Some brands live up to their slogan. Lays are serious when they say "Bet you can't eat just one." I ask them, "Do mean one bag? Because I could eat two." Perhaps you are beginning to understand why I keep mentioning my roundness.

As much as I would like to eat an entire bag of Tim's, I can't; it is not physically possible. There is SO MUCH flavor sandblasted onto each chip, I find myself satisfied after only a handful or two. And for me that is good. If I must have an unhealthy vice, at least it is something that I will not over indulge. So if you ever find yourself invited to a bring your own snack event at my place, bring a bag of Tim's.

8.23.2007

That's how accidents happen

Our trip to Koocanusa required multiple vehicles in a caravan. With trucks towing trailers or boats, a moving truck, two busses, and a passenger van – walkie-talkies were essential to keep communication between vehicles. They were especially helpful when we became separated by an SMC (slow moving Canadian).

It also proved to be amusing and almost regrettable during border crossings. Our two-way radios used the same frequency as the Canadian Border Patrol, a fact that we were not aware of until we reached the border. The trip north was not much of a hassle. We got to listen the their funny little accents while awaiting our turn to answer “no” to all of the questions about produce, firearms, and alcohol. There was no need at that time for all of us to communicate, so the crossing went fairly smooth.

The return trip however was not quite as easy. Entertaining, yes – but not easy.

To begin, the line to the border was longer than usual. We were all worried that we would be stuck waiting to cross for at least a couple of hours. That was troubling news for Zach, who had to pee. We told him to jump out of the van and go pee in the bushes. He declined. One of the kids from the bus behind us ran into the woods, peed, and then ran back to the bus. We suggested again that Zack should go relieve himself in the woods, and again Zack declined. He said with his luck, we’d start moving the second his pants were unzipped. Looking at the traffic ahead I knew that even if we did start moving, we wouldn’t go far. But there’s no arguing with a teenager who is having a potty emergency. What made his circumstances especially dire is the only bathroom we could stop at was on the American side of the border.

Time passed and a CBP officer stopped by our van to tell us that we could bypass the line (much of which were semis and motor homes) as soon as oncoming traffic cleared. Once around the jam of commercial and recreational vehicles, we ended up third in line. By this time, Zack was on the verge of wetting himself and was rocking back and forth so violently that the whole van was rocking. He said it was the only way he could focus on something other than his bladder.

Going back to our radio frequency, a little Canadian accented squawk described the reason that the border crossing line was so backed up – the trucks’ license plates were difficult to read. Many of the plates were so dirty or caked with mud that they could not be read at all. One CBP officer complained about her difficulty reading the license plates.

“Oh, this one is so dirty, we’ll need to clean it to get the plate number.” A few seconds of radio silence, and then she continued. “What’s with this yahoo, gettin out of his truck. He’s opening up the back door to his trailer. That’s how accidents happen!”

Up until this time, we had kept off of the radios. All listen, no talk. Yet after that comment, one of the other drivers in our party could not resist his need to be funny.

“That’s how accidents happen!” said the CBP officer.

“I was an accident,” said our driver.

“And who is that?” (sound of crickets chirping)

The CBP officer didn’t sound too happy. We were so worried that a student was going to say something stupid while crossing the border, little did we know that it would be one of the adults that almost got us in trouble.

Zack continued to rock in his passenger seat. Between Zack’s bubble about to burst and the awkward dead air on the radios, the next few minutes waiting to cross the border were quite nerve wracking.

8.22.2007

To all aspiring rock stars...

Watch Linkin Park live. I don't care if you like them or if you don't, but if you are in any way involved with performing live music, you need to watch and study how Linkin Park performs live. Charisma, crowd interaction, band dynamics, energy: lessons that every live musician needs to learn.

8.21.2007

The elevator will make you JUMP - JUMP

Sorry about the Kris Kross reference. They were HUGE back in the day.

But there is something about elevators that makes you want to jump. Rumor has it, that if you jump just before an elevator descends, you get a weightless feeling. My big brother and I used to jump in elevators all the time, and nothing ever went wrong - except for an occasional tingling sensation in our nether regions(especially one those fast elevators like the one in the Space Needle).

Did you know that if five people jump simultaneously in the elevator connecting the Coeur d'Alene Resort to its parking garage, the elevator will temporarily accelerate causing built in safety mechanisms to jam the lift into place to prevent possible multi-story free fall?

Yeah. I didn't know that either. How was I to know? I've been jumping in elevators all my life and (like I said before) nothing bad ever happened. Tommy, Nate, Steve, Drew, and I jumped in the elevator in Boise's Hoff Building without consequence.

Yet, this last spring, getting stuck in an elevator was just the first step in a night when nothing could go right. Our friend Chase was moving to California the next day, so Bekah and I wanted to treat him out for dessert at the resort. No farewell party is worth anything without friends so, Rachie and AJ came with. We parked on the fourth level of the garage despite seeing plenty of parking available on the first and second levels. Once in the elevator, Chase and jumped a couple of times before someone (I don't remember who) suggested all of us jump at the same time.

Like I mentioned earlier, the resort's elevator did not like that proposal - it ground to a halt partway between the second and third levels. We did the only sane thing available, we used the emergency phone.

A woman with an Indian (possibly Pakistani) accent answered "Hai lowe?"

"Hi, we're stuck in the elevator." Unbeknownst to us, the lady who answered the phone worked in a call center in a foreign land and had no idea where our elevator was located.

"Hoh kae." She said. "Is that in the Kuh... Cure... Coower duh... Cure dee..."

"Core duh Lane." We finished for her.

"Yes, I zee. I will sent some un to halp you."

Shortly there after, Rachie began to mention her need to use the restroom. Chase, AJ, and I (being all guys, and being completely inconsiderate) began imitating the sound of running water. Incidentally, that does not help someone who has too pee. Forty-five minutes later, the repair guy showed up. By then, we all had to pee.

Now, before I go further, I must explain that Chase, Rachie, and AJ are all under 18. Bekah and I were under strict instruction to get the kids home by 10pm - after all, it was a school night. We arrived at the resort shortly before 9pm, and we were sure that an hour was enough time to eat a Gooey and return all three kids to their homes. So, at a quarter to ten, we still had yet to eat a gooey and were finally hearing from a repair person. Two of the three kids phoned home to let their parents know they were going to be late.

The repair guy shouted from above us. He told us it would only be a couple of minutes - all he had to do was reset the elevator and we'd be on our way. Up until this time we had lights inside the elevator. After the elevator got reset, we lost the lights. No movement. Ten minutes later, the repair guy returned and tried to reset the elevator again. It still didn't work. He said he'd need to call the elevator company to have one of their mechanics out to assist us. The elevator company was located in Spokane, it was going to be a while.

Chase called his father, a former police officer and some one that I would not want to ever piss off, who said he'd call the resort to see what could be done to get us out faster.

When Chase's dad called back, he relayed the conversation back to me and it went something like this:

"Thank you for calling the Coeur d'Alene Resort. How may I help you?"
"Yes, I'm calling about a problem with your elevators."
"What seems to be the problem."
"Well, the problem is that my son has been trapped in one of your elevators for over an hour in your hotel and I want to know what is being done to get him and his friends out."
"Well, I'm not sure."
"You're not sure?!? Do you know were the repair person is?"
"No."
"Could I please speak with your manager."
"Sir, I am the night manager."
"You're the manager?"
"Yes."
"So, you're telling me that there are five people stuck on one of your elevators. And you, the night manager, have no idea what is going on."
"Well..."
"Answer some questions for me."
"Sir..."
"Do they have water? Are they hungry? Do they have to use the bathroom? Are any of them hurt? Do they have lights?"
"(stammered)"
"Look, you will find your repair personnel. And you will get my son out of that elevator. And I will be down there tomorrow morning to talk to your boss." (click)

Within minutes of that phone call, the lights were restored. The elevator was still stationary, but we had lights.

Finally, at 10:58pm, the elevator lurched, then continued it's decent to the ground floor. Our first destination: the restrooms. We reached Dockside at 11:05pm. Dockside stops serving food at 11:00pm. And the kids were supposed to be home an hour earlier. So, defeated and hungry, we returned to the parking garage.

The repair man was waiting by the elevators. He asked if we jumped in the elevators. We all said no.

"Funny." He said. "Usually the only thing that would make an elevator accelerate into an automatic shut off is people jumping in the elevator."

The next few seconds waiting on the elevator were some of the most awkward few seconds I've ever experienced.

Now, like I said earlier, the elevator was only the beginning of things that went wrong that night. We forgot to get gas before going to the resort, and our gauge was on empty. Bekah was in a hurry to get the kids home, so no time for gas. By the time we reached the intersection of Ramsey and Prairie, our poor car was running on fumes. We stuttered our way into the Holiday gas station and put a few gallons into the vehicle and continued on our way.

Now, I should mention that it was raining and we were driving with one headlight. On a particularly dark patch of road past Albertsons, we heard a loud thump and Bekah slammed on the breaks. We were all wondering what that sound could be when a large black dog limped into the beam of our one good headlight. I opened the door to see if it was injured and the poor thing bolted into the woods, it must be OK. We dropped the first kid off at his house, where we got out to inspect the car. Dang dog cracked our front bumper.

We dropped off the second kid without incident. Then we stopped by Bekah's parents to pick up our son before driving the third kid (who fell asleep in our backseat) home. As we turned back onto Ramsey a pair of headlights rushed up behind us and swerved. Bekah slowed down, paranoid that the driver was drunk. Then some colored lights began flashing on top of that car. Not a drunk, it was a police officer.

"License, registration, and proof of insurance please."
(handed it all over)
"Do you realize that you have a headlight out?"
"Yes, officer."
"What are you all doing out so late?" (still shortly before midnight - not that late)
Boy did Bekah have a story to tell. "Well, first we got stuck in an elevator at the resort for two hours and we didn't get to eat any gooeys which was the only reason we went to the resort then our car almost ran out of gas and we hit a dog. All I'm trying to do is get our students home even though they were supposed to be home almost two hours ago so that I can go home and go to bed." If she had cried she could have gotten an Oscar.

The officer took a look in the back seat and saw the sleeping toddler and teenager. He ran our plates to make sure we weren't "some psycho killer" and then let us go with a fix it ticket.

And to top it all off, when we finally got home, we discovered that the dog pooped in the house.

8.17.2007

so gullible

In our new hire orientation, we quiz our classes with a series of questions covering stuff like our attendance policy, dress code, and various other common workplace expectations. Many other the questions are so blatantly obvious I request the agents resist the urge to blurt out answers until I'm done asking all of the questions.

One question describes a hypothetical scenario: Jill took someone else's food out of the fridge in the break room because she forgot to bring hers. What is this an example of?

I told you these questions were easy. Yet, I insist on confusing these new agents. It is the first day of class, they've been in class with me for a few hours, so I have to do something to make sure they're paying attention when I review the answers to this verbal quiz.

I repeat the question: What is it called when Jill takes someone else's lunch?

Twenty-five new agents reply in near unison: Stealing.

I shake my head and reveal the "answer." Vandalism.

WHAT?!?!?!?!?

I wait a bit to let them think they just got hired to work in an alternate universe. Once I'm sure they are completely bewildered, I say: Just kidding! Then I move on to the next question about whether or not a mini-skirt is appropriate business attire.

Strangely, this works every time.

8.16.2007

I don't understand.


How is it that a fully clothed 8 month old baby will inevitably end up with Cheerios inside his diaper?

8.12.2007

Flowers from Jennings

While visiting the folks, we took family pictures at Jennings Park in Marysville. The park is home to a duck pond, trails, ball fields, playgrounds, a couple historic buildings, and a botanical garden. I'm no botanist, so I have no idea what these flowers are, but these are all from the garden at Jennings Park.

This last picture was taken at the Ballard Locks, not Jennings park. Beastly looking plant.


If anyone is into plants and know what each of these flowers are, please tell me. I'd like to know.

8.11.2007

Any one else see something wrong with this picture?

This little shop is located in Mukelteo as drivers exit the ferry. Are we encouraging drunk driving?

8.10.2007

Real Life Conversation

(in elevator)

Girl in Corner: Ewww. (holds papers over face) It stinks in here.

Girl in Other Corner: Yeah, it stinks like cigarette smoke.

Girl in Middle: (pulls out a pack of Marlboros)

Girl in Other Corner: Dirty smokers.

Girl in Middle: Like you're any better.

Girl in Other Corner: I know. Speaking of which, could I bum a smoke off of you?

Girl in Corner: Oooh. Me too.

8.09.2007

Free advice

Free advice. If you ever sprain your ankle and happen to be in Seattle, do not spend an afternoon walking around Pikes Place market, Westlake Center, and the Seattle Center. Your ankle will hurt for the next 48 hours.

Fire season is upon us

A couple of days ago, Dave at HBO posted a snippet about a CdA councilman proposing a ban on smoking at Tubbs Hill, a popular downtown park. The whole purpose of the proposed ban is to reduce fire risks.

Now that I can understand. I don't necessarily agree with banning smoking in public parks, but I understand the fire danger that surrounds the Couer d'Alene area. It has been a long, hot, dry summer. Are our parks and neighborhoods around the area at risk of fire? Yes. And I have first hand experience to testify to local fire dangers.
There was quite a bit of excitement around my neighborhood when I came home from work Tuesday afternoon. I didn't quite believe my wife when she told me that there was a forest fire in our back yard, but she spoke truth. There was a fire in our back yard. Well, not our back yard, but the woods behind our house. The small forest on the east side of Ramsey between Canfield and Wilbur was on fire.

We couldn't quite see the flames from our back yard (too many other trees in the way) but we could see where the fire was because of the smoke.
The woods back there were "ripe for this kind of thing" as one of my neighbors described. Several fire personnel responded to our street as well as the Ramsey side of the forest. I could hear chainsaws cutting away trees and brush to gain access to the fire.

Christian was thrilled to see so many of CdA's firemen in the neighborhood. He kept saying "firetuks go WOOOWOOO!" He wanted to see all of the trucks, so Bekah and I took the kids on a short walk down the block and back to see everything.

I counted the emergency vehicles while walking around. No idea how many fire trucks were parked on Ramsey, but there were several within eye shot of my living room window. I counted: 1 ambulance, 1 paramedic truck, 2 fire engines, 1 ladder truck, 1 fire department extended cab pickup, and 2 fire department SUVs. A bit of overkill for that size of fire? Possibly. Really freakin' cool for a kid a month away from his third birthday? Absolutely.

8.03.2007

The Emerald City (Pt2)

In this first of four posts exploring all of the Seattle-ish places I want to take my kids, I'm starting in the southwestern corner of the state of Washington working my way North to the east of Seattle. Some of these places are great family get-aways. If you go and anyone asks - just say you got the idea from nic. Many of these locations are a treasured part of my memories. Some of the best times I had while growing up were spent in one of the following destinations.

Long Beach. Situated on the southern end of the peninsula that protects Willapa Bay, Long Beach is the main destination for a week along the southern Washington coast. Miles of beaches and scenery stretches from Cape Disappointment to Leadbetter Point. From lighthouses to wildlife, there is plenty to keep the kids busy, including a boardwalk on the Pacific Ocean and two museums in town (World Kite Museum and the Cranberry Museum). If time allows, the historic city of Astoria is just a short drive away, along the 101.

Ocean Shores. Further north, but not much further, is the town of Ocean Shores. Not only are there several great parks there, but they also have one of the best go-kart tracks in the nation. Much like Long Beach, Ocean Shores is home to great beaches, but it is also apart of Grays Harbor. While in Ocean Shores, we can visit other Grays Harbor towns: the old logging towns of Hoquiam and Aberdeen. History lesson: Aberdeen is were Kurt Cobain was born and raised. I also helped paint and remodel a church next door to the YMCA in Hoquiam; it would be nice to go back and visit sometime.

Mt. Rainier. This mountain is somewhat of an icon in western Washington. I once heard a joke about using Mt Rainier to forecast the weather: if the mountain is visible - it will be sunny, if the mountain is not visible - it will rain. Other Cascade mountains have more significance and attraction in my life, but Rainier is one of the most majestic and recognizable peaks anywhere in the world. It would be a disservice to my kids if I never take them to Mt Rainier. Let them wander the trails around Paradise, hike to the glaciers near Sunrise, and chase any manor of furry woodland creatures from marmots to mountain goats.

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Granted, this zoo is far inferior to the zoo in Seattle, and there is a foul aroma that hovers over the city of Tacoma, but I like zoos (even crappy little zoos like the ones in Boise or Sioux Falls). And as an added bonus, the zoo and aquarium are in the same location; you get the best of both worlds. And they have beluga whales. How cool is that?

Tacoma Narrows. Galloping Gurdy is legendary. It was impossible to grow up in the Seattle area without hearing about Galloping Gurdy. The footage showing the bridge's collapse is equally captivating and horrifying. The rebuilt bridge is beautiful; it is a wondrous display of engineering genius.

Wild Waves. Roller coasters, water slides, thrill rides, concerts. It's like Silverwood, but better.

Mount Si. Rising straight up from the valley floor above North Bend, the top of Mount Si holds some of the most stunning panoramic views I've ever seen. And it is only a short drive east of Seattle. The final rise (lovingly nicknamed the"haystack") is a challenging near vertical scramble, but well worth the effort.

Snoqualmie Falls. When I go hiking, I generally prefer to hike up first, then down. Snoqualmie Falls is one of the few exceptions to that rule. The trail begins near the lodge and goes straight down into a canyon carved away by the river. As you hike along the river, you get showered by mist from the falls - perfect for a hot summer day. There is plenty of boulder hopping both in and out of the river to keep any kid (young or old) entertained for a day. Granted, one can enjoy Snoqualmie Falls without the hike; there is a lodge and a phenomenal viewpoint at the top of the falls. But to truly experience Snoqualmie Falls, you have to get wet. And if you're particularly brave, you can hike right up to the base of the falls.

Feel free to take these ideas for your next family trip. Provided you are travelling in that direction.

8.02.2007

The Emerald City (Pt1)

I miss Seattle. Having grown up in and around Seattle, that city is very much a part of who I am. I will never want to live there again, but I will always love the city of Seattle. There are events, places, and activities that are so ingrained into my person that I cannot escape to longing to return again and again.

My dad had two common day trips for our family. These were trips we took when friends or family from out of town came to visit. The first trip was driving up to Whidbey Island to see Deception Pass and picnic at Fort Casey, followed by the Clinton/Mukilteo ferry and drive back home. The second trip was taking the monorail from the Seattle Center to Westlake Center to shop, then walk down to the Pike Place Market - often continuing to the waterfront to eat at the Sourdough Bakery. I want my son to take those trips someday. Not only those two excursions, but so much more.

As my kids get older, I want them to experience the same Seattle that I did: the sights, the sounds, the smells. We got to take Kylee and Christian to the Woodland Park Zoo when we were in Seattle in June. And we will be taking the kids to a Mariners game this weekend. But really, Christian is not quite three and Kylee has not yet reached crawling age, they're not going to remember whether Seattle won or Boston won. At their age, I don't think they even care who wins.

So over the next few posts, I will be listing of my favorite places in and around Seattle. The places that I want my kids to experience and enjoy in wide-eyed childlike wonder.

That being said, I'll be in Seattle for the next few days. Hopefully, it doesn't rain. Our trip to the zoo in June was during a downpour. And I hate umbrellas.