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Happy New Year from Cancun!

We just returned from an amazing two week adventure – first in snowy Colorado for sledding, sleigh rides and Christmastime, followed by a five-day once-in-a-lifetime stay at a resort in Cancun! Looking back, it almost seems too good to be true, but we all lived it and I have photos, too!

Since my card-reader is acting up, all I have right now are iPhone photos from Cancun to share. Here are some of my favorites with more on Flickr. We stayed at Barcelo Maya Palace which is an all-inclusive resort on the Riviera Maya, where we met up with David’s parents, his brothers and their families.

Chloe loved getting to spend time with everyone, especially her cousin Paolo. Leo, on the other hand, wanted to pretty much stick to me like a barnacle, although he loved the water and the sand every bit as much as his sister. For New Year’s Eve, grandma and grandpa watched the kids so the three couples could enjoy a peaceful five-course dinner and then ring in the New Year right on the beach.

There were a ton of activities available on the resort for both adults and kids, and because Chloe and Leo are still so young we stayed on the resort the entire time. My hope is that we”ll come back one day when the kids are older and see the famous sites like Tulum and Xel-ha and swim in a cenote (the third photo above is a tiny cenote they had on the property).

My very favorite thing, besides the sunshine, was holding hands while snorkeling with David. My least favorite thing was dining with the kids at the buffet, since neither could sit still for very long and Leo always seemed to make a mess. The food was incredible though. I tried a little bit of everything – duck, quail, rabbit, giant crayfish, crab, lobster and so many other fish and specialty dishes. And the desserts! More choices at one time than I’ll probably every see again in my life. Truly a vacation of a lifetime!

P.S. If you happen to choose a stay at any section of the Barceló Maya resort, we found this unnofficial web site to be really helpful.

 


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Bainbridge Island

Last week was full of adventures. At the beginning of the week David took a few days off and we rented a tiny beach cottage on Bainbridge Island on Puget Sound (that is Chloe above, playing right out front). We hung out, played by the water, checked out the parks and sampled a few local eateries (our picks: Treehouse Cafe, Blackbird Cafe, Pegasus Coffee House, Sawadty Thai, and not to be missed Mora’s Ice Cream. If we had a bigger budget and a baby sitter we totally would have tried Cafe Nola. Just reading their menu – bacon wrapped peaches! – made me salivate).


That chunky peach pecan muffin at Pegasus Cafe was super-yummy, and the ivy that covered the building was like out of a fairytale. There was a lively group of what looked to be local old men just chatting away. Maybe they get together and hang out there every morning.


The waterfront marina behind the cafe.


Chloe had a blast exploring this huge play structure at Battle Point Park.


Chloe and David at Fay Bainbridge State Park.


Chloe’s first ferry ride, Bainbridge Island to Seattle on the “Tacoma.”


Getting a rare photo of Leo and I while watching the islands go by from the ferry.

Later in the week we packed up again and headed to the Oregon coast for a family gathering with David’s work. They generously put us up in a plush 2-bedroom beach house just steps from the sand. At one point David took Chloe to play on the beach and, for the first time in a long while, I was able to browse the little shops in Manzanita at my own pace, with Leo sleeping peacefully on my chest in his carrier. I really enjoyed that dose of solitude. How different life is now from just a few short years ago. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

(More photos of our Bainbridge Island trip are here).


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Oregon Mini-Vacation, Day 3-6

Roseburg

By day three we had reached our friends for the Fourth-of-July weekend. Our first day there we drove down just south to visit to the drive-through Wildlife Safari. We went in the afternoon and it was a pretty warm day, so I don’t think the animals were as active as they’d be in the morning or late evening. The ranger said that I could even hold Chloe on my lap, which was a nice change. Really fun to have the animals so close! I was kind of afraid the camel was going to do some damage to our car as he walked by, but he was just rearing his head and smacking his hump. Strange, but fascinating!

McKenzie River Area

I don’t know why, but after this I put my camera away for a few days. Then on day 5 we left and headed to the McKenzie River so David could do some fishing. We camped at Riverside Campground, so he could throw his line into the Santiam as well. Barkley, Chloe and I just sort of hung out. Barkley’s leg is almost perfectly healed, thank goodness. You can hardly see the demarcation line where his fur is growing back (although he still has a bald spot on his back by his tail, where they shaved him WAY too close). And here’s a trial self-portrait with my slr, much harder than with a point-and-shoot!


Self-portrait with the SLR, much harder than with a point-and-shoot!

Barkley relaxing by the river, finally back off-leash


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Oregon Mini-Vacation, Day 2

So, I had every intention of writing about the rest of our trip, but I think now I’m just going to summarize the highlights in one long post. We had a good time, no question, and I do want to share, just not as individually detailed as I had planned. I haven’t been in a very bloggy mood lately, probably because Chloe is evolving faster than I can keep up. She’s amazing. But more on that later. Here’s some pics from the remainder of our trip.

Shore Acres State Park


Restored formal garden

Grandiflora Crimson Boquet Rose

The hidden gem of Simpson Beach

This park is awesome. Imagine owning a private estate on the coast, with your own sandy beach, and building a gorgeous summer home on a bluff high above the waves. Then add a formal garden, including a Japanese-style garden surrounding a 100-foot lily pond, all in the early 1900s. Unfortunately (or fortunately for us), the great depression occured. Now the mansion is gone, but the gardens have been restored and there now sits an enclosed observation deck on the original home site. I would have loved to have spent more time here (just down the road from Sunset Bay State Park), but Chloe was getting tired and we wanted to let her sleep on the drive down to Bandon. Thus, we also missed Cape Arago State Park, just south.

Bandon


Part of the Bandon coastline, plus a view of riders probably from Bandon Beach Riding Stables

Coquille River (Bandon) Lighthouse

By noon of day 2 we were in Bandon, Oregon. We treated ourselves to a fresh and delicious! halibut fish-and-chips lunch at Bandon Fish Market, before perusing the little shops. Dessert was yummy chocolate and handmade candy samples at Cranberry Sweets. (Steer clear of Bandon’s Coffee Cafe, though, our latte was very disappointing.)

Port Orford


Misty boats at the Port of Port Orford, Circa 1856

Port Orford coastline


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10 days in Northern VA/DC

David and I returned on Monday from a 10-day trip to see my parents and sister in the Washington, DC/Northern Virginia area. We didn’t do as much during this visit as I have in the past, and sadly I hardly took any pictures, even though I meant to.

Mostly we just hung out, eating my mom’s delicious meals and chatting with my dad. David helped around the house, fixing a lamp, laying insulation above the remodeled bathroom, replacing lightbulbs, mowing the lawn. He also helped me go through countless boxes in my parents’ attic of junk I forgot I ever owned – mugs and glassware, books, old magazines, clothes, and other miscellaneous from my past lives. By the end the curb was littered with trash bags, not including the carload we took to Goodwill. Everything I decided to keep (photos, yearbooks, costume jewelry, awards, etc.) fit into a single plastic bin which we replaced in the attic.

There were a few very interesting finds, like my old jewelry box with several pieces of valuables, my old My Little Pony Stable and dolls, and an almost complete (now vintage) Fisher Price Farm and Silo set still in it’s original box. For some reason we had two barns, but only a few duplicate animals. We also found a less well kept Fisher Price Hospital and my old warming plate from when I was a baby, complete with tiny remnants of my last meal. That was really cool. The only thing missing was the sippy cup.

We did go on a couple outings, including a visit to the nearby Woodlawn Plantation, a gift from George Washington to “Nelly” Custis, granddaughter of Martha Washington, and her husband, Major Lawrence Lewis. Washington hired William Thornton, the first architect of the US Capitol, to design the house and provided 2000 acres from his Mount Vernon estate. But the real reason I wanted to visit was because Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House is now located on the same grounds. I think it was moved here in 1964, from its original location, because it was scheduled to be torn down to make way for the Route 66 Interstate. It was definitely the smallest FLW Usonian I have ever toured, at about 1200 square feet, but its design and layout were unmistakeable.

Other outings included a fun evening playing miniature golf with David and Dad, where we each scored a hole-in-one (on different greens) and then enjoyed frozen custard from the Frozen Dairy Bar, where we used to stop as kids. We also took a trip into DC with Mom where we perused the fancy jewels (Hope Diamond, anyone?) and other famous rocks and gems at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum. Afterwards we strolled along a gorgeous public garden (I don’t remember the name), and now we’re really looking forward to working on our own garden, now that we’ve returned.

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