Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Welcome Home!

Caitlin's little brother, Daniel, came home from his mission to Texas on Halloween day!  We were able to fly out to California to help welcome him back!

Mom gets the first hug.

Everyone was excited to see him, even Gretchen who video-called in from Virginia on Caitlin's phone for a while!

It was a perfect weekend to head to California!  Despite being November, it was 80+ degrees.  Daniel's first full day home we reintroduced him to the water, spending the afternoon at Newport Beach.

Apparently, it was a good day to jump because we did it a lot.

We're pretty fun.

Caitlin looks pretty awesome when you crop everyone else out!

I tried practicing my handstands while there.  I wanted to get as good as Daniel, but to no avail.

Then, Caitlin tried to teach me her ballet ways.  I am pretty much just as good.

We forgot to bring a football though, so we had to improvise with a water bottle for our game of catch.

We have been so lucky recently: since moving to Salt Lake City 6 months ago, we have been able to travel to all 4 corners of the US--Florida Keys, New York City, Seattle, and Orange County!  It has been so much fun!

Palm tree.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Our Expedition to the Evergreen State!

Caitlin and I flew out to Seattle a couple weeks ago (along with my parents, sister-in-law Darcy, and her four children) to visit my sister Heidi, brother-in-law Russell, and their family!  We had an amazing time there!  Here are a few pictures from our adventures!

We arrived a few days before the rest of my non-Seattle family members, so Heidi and Russ picked us up from the airport and took us straight downtown to explore.  First destination: Pike Place!

Of course, you have to get a picture with the iconic Pike Place Pig!

We couldn't resist buying a bowl of world-renowned and Oprah-recommended macaroni and cheese from Beecher's!  It was really good!  I would go as far as to say it is even better than Kraft!

They have their cheese factory (assuming that is what they are called) right there in the small restaurant.  You can see the different cheeses going through their various stages of production.

World's first Starbucks!  We played a game while in Seattle: you get a point for each Starbucks coffeehouse you see first...there are a lot of them!

Then we went to Piroshky (a Russian bakery) where we bought and shared a Beef and Cheese Piroshky, a Cinnamon Cardamom Braid, and a Chocolate Hazelnut Cream.  Definitely yummy.

The second-most-unhygienic tourist attraction in the world: the famous Gum Wall! 

To both our horror, Heidi and Russ forced Caitlin and I to make contributions.

Caitlin added to the gum 'icicle' windowsill. 

There is a whole lot of gum...

Can't explore Seattle without freshly squeezed lemonade!

Caitlin + Mustache

We had such a fun time exploring the city!  Thanks, Heidi and Russ!

Once the rest of the family arrived, we traveled inland a couple hours to stay at Ensign Ranch.  We had two 'family cabins' as seen below.

And one little 'summer cabin' that Caitlin and I stayed in, shown below.

Unfortunately, the morning we arrived at Ensign Ranch was the morning that Washington issued a statewide fire ban (not even briquette grills or dutch ovens).  We had to improvise a bit with our meal choices as a result.  Luckily we had a microwave in one of the cabins, so we still got s'mores!

They had canoes...

...a rope swing...

...horseshoes, and much, much more!

Including a giant slip'n'slide that the nieces and nephews loved!

All the kids love Aunt Caitlin!

We got to go horseback riding as well!  Caitlin's horse was perfect, but mine really wanted to blaze his own trail.  It made for a little added adventure!

Below is Caitlin (on the white, spotted horse) getting off after the ride!

The horses there were really nice.  They would walk up to the fences and beg you to pet them!

The ranch had horses that little children could ride as well.  They just need to have an adult who will walk in front of the horse and lead them.

Caitlin got the full camping experience while we were there, including the pleasure of being bit by a poisonous spider!  Her hand kept getting more and more swollen and stayed for a week!  (The line in the picture below is my Mom monitoring the inflammation's progress to see if we needed to take her to a hospital, not just drawn on her for the sake of showing off her battle wound.)

All the kids survived though and had a blast!

There was only one community bathroom with running water at the campground (and it cost a dollar to shower), so these pictures exhibit our freshest of states.

After leaving Ensign Ranch, we went back to Heidi and Russ's house to spend our last few days in the city!  Heidi has a small rabbitry and there are baby bunnies right now!  They were so fun to hold!

Her children adore them.

On Friday, we went to explore Whidbey Island.  You will have to look it up, because it was beautiful and these pictures don't do it justice!

We played on the beach and skipped rocks.

And apparently also gazed into the distance while eating Cheez-It's...

Next we went to Fort Casey.  There was a really thick fog when we first arrived, which made it look super eerie.  We had fun exploring all the towers, bunkers, and cannons though despite said creepiness!

Caitlin looks on as the fog slowly begins to clear.

Caitlin can be pretty scary given a big enough gun!

Last, we explored one final beach...

...before taking a ferry back to the mainland!

(This is a picture of us on a ferry, taken from a ferry, with a ferry in the background.)

Our last Saturday in Seattle, we went to the Pacific Science Center.  I wish we had this cool/interactive of a museum where I grew up!

Caitlin balances like a pro on the high-beam bike!  ("I can ride my bike with no handlebars...")

There are lots of butterflies in the picture below.  You can't see them, but just believe me!

This was a really cool game!  You put these brain activity monitors on your heads, hit the reset button (causing the ball in the clear tube to return back to the center of the table), and try not to think about anything!  The ball moves toward the person who has more brain activity; once it reaches you, you lose.  It turns out that I cannot stop thinking.  Ever.  Caitlin owned me at this game.

I'll just let you use your imagination to figure this one out.  My nose hurt.

We had such a great time in Seattle!  Thank you so much, Heidi and Russell, for letting us stay in your home and eat all your food!!