Island style

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The rest of our trip was a delightful mixture of beach time, pool time, delicious food, adult beverages and random adventures. And, of course, plenty of entertainment from this little nugget:

BirdShow

We went to Lydgate Beach Park with Jenn, Bryan and The Bird while Erin & David were diving. It was a perfect chilling out beach, with a protected area for Amalie (and yours truly) to splash around in:

LydgateBeach

I know it looks like Jenn is getting ready to backhand her child, but I swear she’s just putting on sunscreen:

JennAndBird

T chilling on the beach near the “cluck clucks” as Amalie calls them. (Naturally that was their name for the rest of the trip.)

TwithBeachChickens

We left the beach just as dark clouds were rolling in and missed the sudden rainstorm. Instead, we hit up a ridiculously good fish market for poke and ate it on the collection of plastic lawn chairs that they call a bus stop, in between rain showers. It was glorious.

WaterfallsRiverView

There was a day spent checking out waterfalls and failing to find a place to hike nearby, so we opted to go for lunch in town, where we saw this super cute little gecko.

LunchGecko

Kind of hard to argue with this motto…

CuteShopSign

We rented snorkeling equipment and I attempted snorkeling in this lovely spot:

SnorkelingSite

But I chickened out and came out earlier than everyone else. We ended up going over to the baby beach near our condo afterward, which was much more successful. A big sea turtle swam right under T, so that was pretty cool. We celebrated with happy hour at a place that had little tiny pineapples in their window boxes:

TinyPineapple

Happy hour crew:

HappyHourGroup

Our last full day at the condo, we went for a morning beach walk and checked out tide pools.

TidePools

And said good-bye to our friend the monk seal…

MonkSeal

Then later went to look at Spouting Horn, a cool little blowhole that has a second hole that makes crazy cool sounds. (To go with the exclamations of excitement from the crowd of tourists. OOOOHHH! AAAAAHHHH! It was hilarious.)

Blowhole

And of course, a last Hawaiian ice. Delicious…

LastHawaiianIce

David took this fantastic shot of the sunset through his spyglass. It sums up our final night well. (And looks like an OP shirt from the 80’s… )

FinalSunset

There are no words for how much I’m going to miss these ladies. We need to put another trip on the books soon!

FarewellLadies

We went to an amazing Japanese restaurant before dropping Erin & David off for their red eye flight. (Which was the same flight as Jenn & Bryan, but they opted to keep Amalie’s routine as normal as possible, in the hopes that she’d sleep better on the plane.) It was this crazy big place with all these different sections in it. But it was great people watching and we gorged ourselves on good, reasonably priced sushi and a green tea mudpie for dessert. Then it was back to the strangely empty condo and off to bed before our early morning flight home.

So much has changed since that first trip two years ago, but the fun of these group trips has definitely remained the same. I hope they continue for many, many years. Aloha!

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Adventures in Waimea Canyon

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After some nice lazy days, we were up for a little group adventure. So, we decided to check out Waimea Canyon – aka “the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” There was a fair bit of driving on some very winding roads, but our first viewpoint was pretty spectacular:

WC_CanyonView

A nice lady offered to take our picture, so we have proof that we were there:

WC_TandICanyon

There was a guy dressed in traditional native garb, talking about various local traditions and lore. But he was dramatically upstaged by the baby pig that he brought with him for some reason. I mean, I took this picture:

WC_loincloth

But this is what made it onto Instagram:

WC_BabyPig

We stopped in at the visitor center to look up a good hike. The lady who worked there recommended a good route, but also that we should continue up the mountain to the other viewpoints, since it was still clear. She was right, it was glorious:

WC_NCview1

Clouds were just starting to obscure the view at the next viewpoint up, so we headed back down to start our hike. We’d chosen a nice trail to a waterfall, described as a moderate 1.5–2 mile hike. It started innocently enough…

WC_StartOfHike

We walked through primordial forests and eventually came out next to the canyon. The textures and colors were mesmerizing:

WC_CanyonView2

The trail turned to volcanic rock that was kind of steep and a little bit scary, given that you basically can just go sliding down into the canyon if you aren’t careful:

WC_View

But we all made it down safely and were rewarded with a very pretty waterfall view at the turnaround point:

WC_trailheadWaterfall

Not pictured, the legions of crazy people who thought it would be fun to swim in the freezing cold water. It turns out, that’s not super fun. But watching them learn that definitely is. We had some snacks and headed back.

As we approached the volcanic rock part of the trail, we encountered a fairly large man, with one side covered in red dirt and scrapes with his knee wrapped in a bandana, very clearly in pain. His name was Ron (which would quickly become Big Ron) and he was with two younger men who turned out to be his sons. It was clear that they needed help, and trail karma is a thing, so we stepped up. The menfolk worked with his sons to help get him up the steep trail, while Jenn, Erin and I tried to warn people to get out of their way. It was slow going and stressful, plus Jenn had The Bird on her back in a pack. So, we opted to move further up the trail and figure out a plan.

For context, here’s where we met up with Big Ron, approximately a mile away from the road, over some fairly challenging terrain:

WC_BigRonLocator

Erin had cell reception, so she called 911. We decided that the best plan was to get Amalie back to the car before she went into full-scale meltdown mode and then direct whatever paramedics/forest rangers were coming our way. Erin was still on the phone and not confident her signal would hold, so Jenn and I made our way back. Amalie was incredible, largely due to Jenn’s ability to keep a calm-voiced monologue going while hiking at a brisk pace up a hill with a fairly heavy weight on her back.

We made it back to the road. Amalie had fallen asleep on the way back, so we sat in some shade and waited for Erin. She showed up much faster than we were expecting and we discussed what to do next and whether we should drive one of the rental cars down the dirt road and get them closer to the trailhead. I was dubious that either car would make it down there, but thankfully, we heard sirens in the distance before we had to find out.

The sirens belonged to a giant red paramedics pick-up trip, loaded with rescue gear and four ridiculously hunky firefighters and their captain. (Seriously, it was like something out of central casting… ) The captain rolled the window down and asked “Which one of you is Erin?” At which point, Erin went over and gave them the lowdown on the situation. (Which might have included the quote “You guys look MUCH stronger than our middle-aged husbands… ” Amazing.) They headed down the dirt road to the trailhead and we loaded Amalie into her carseat and headed to the nearest town to get some lunch and wait for the boys to text us.

We found a surprisingly tasty taco spot (with glacially slow service) and had some lunch while we waited. Thankfully, it wasn’t too long before they texted and we were treated to a play-by-play of the rescue of Big Ron. It turned out that they were there for his other son’s wedding and (as we’d later learn when Jenn & Bryan ran into him at the airport while waiting for their flight home) he’d snapped his MCL and would need surgery.

He may not have been able to buy us drinks, as we’d often lament over the next few days, but he did give us a pretty fantastic story to tell, so god bless you Big Ron, wherever you are…

Return to paradise

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A while back, there was discussion of a repeat of our awesome trip to Hawaii. Originally, we were going to return to the awesome Lana’i house, but apparently the entire island is closed due the the Four Seasons undergoing some substantial renovations. So, we had to make due with Kauai. (I know, we suffer so… )

We got a better rate for flights if we left on Friday morning vs. Saturday, so we booked a single night at a cute little hotel in Kapa’a. Here’s the view from our lanai:

ViewFromRoom

The sign for the beach club pictured above:

LavaLavaSign

We headed into town to grab some lunch and explore a bit. We went to Mermaids cafe at Erik & Nerissa’s recommendation. Should you find yourself in Kapaa, definitely go. It’s insanely delicious. We got to see our first (of many) free-range chickens/roosters, courtesy of Hurricane Iniki.

FirstRoosterSighting

Afterward, we wandered around and looked at the shops. We also tried out a local delicacy we hadn’t had a chance to have during our previous trip, Hawaiian ice. I’m officially obsessed:

HawaiianIce

Plus, the fruit stand where we bought it was utterly charming:

FruitStandSignFruitStandBananas

While we were sitting out front and eating our ices, the lady delivering avocados asked us how long we were staying and offered us some. We, of course, said yes. Score! This vacation was already off to a fantastic start and we’d been there for about three hours.

We headed back to the hotel to relax for a bit. I mean, you have to take the “Mai Tais by the beach” picture to post on Instagram:

MaiTaiswithView

Followed by the obligatory “we’re on vacation selfie”. I know, we’re the worst…

BarSelfie

Mostly, we just enjoyed looking at this:

BeachTime

Erin and David had arrived a few days prior and were staying on the north side of the island, so we drove up there to meet them for dinner. Naturally, there were some stops along the way to gawk at the beautiful scenery:

RicePaddyView

We had a magnificent sushi dinner, at a place recommended by the friend they were staying with. Then it was off to bed, since we’d been up since 5 am PDT. (Stupid early morning flights and time zone changes… )

The next morning, we went to check out a breakfast place that had good enough Yelp reviews for me to overlook the fact that it was called Kountry Kitchen. (I hate “cutesy” misspelled words in restaurant names.) But it was great, quirky and charming inside:

KountryKitchenInterior

With really great food. We split orders of mahi-mahi & eggs and macadamia nut french toast & homemade coconut syrup. So. GOOD.

KKBreakfast

After breakfast I made T take my picture in front of the Lava Lava sign:

MeLavaLavaSign

Then it was time to pack up and meet Erin & David at the rental car place. They dropped their car off, we added her as a driver to our car, shoved all of the luggage in the back and headed off to lunch and then the condo for check-in. Jenn & Bryan were arriving about the same time, so we text-coordinated and arrived at the condo at roughly the same time.

As usual, we were really roughing it:

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The view from the lanai was especially ridiculous:

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The Bird taught a seminar is how to chillax:

TheBirdChillin

We took a little evening beach walk and met some local celebrities – the monk seals that hang out on the beach. I particularly liked that they are so lazy that this sign is needed:

SealSign

They are super cute though. Like big beach cats:

MonkSeals

And then we finished the evening with lots of wine, laughter and a beautiful sunset:

FirstSunset

Not bad, Kauai. Not bad…

Pacific Northwest Farewell Tour

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Before departing for California, I had a few more stops on my Pacific Northwest farewell tour. First up, a trip to the Oregon Coast with Susan. Baby Austin had never been, so we felt obligated to remedy that situation immediately. And I’m not sure who enjoyed it more, us or Austin. Nope, that’s not true, it was DEFINITELY Austin and his BFF Blue:

OC_BoysRunning6 They ran…

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And ran…

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And ran…

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And ran some more…

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It was so much fun to watch them. Austin chased birds and ran into the ocean and generally had the best time ever. At one point we saw some horses, so we put the dogs back on leash. Which was good, because they were VERY interested in those horses:

OC_BlueHorses

Wally didn’t get to frolic off-leash, partly because he doesn’t always play well with other dogs and because he still has delusions of his youthful strength and stamina. Because there are two of them and one of me, I had to use my hands-free running leash set up to wrangle the two of them:

OC_MeBoysOnBeach

We had some time to kill before our room was ready, so we went for lunch and taunted T with a sunny selfie:

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And then took the younger dogs for a second beach session. Austin was just as exuberant as ever, but Blue was definitely conserving his energy, stalking his prey:

OC_BlueStalking

But he rallied:

OC_BoysRunning4Finally, we got the call that our room was ready. We checked into a dog-friendly room with a really great view. (And shortly after I took this picture, the fog rolled in. So, it was good that I snapped it early!)

OC_HotelView

The hotel had all of these rabbits on the property. Austin was OBSESSED with them.

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As were Blue and Lola. Wally was too busy sleeping off the beach time… It was like Doggie TV:

OC_BlueLola

Susan and I drank wine on the balcony and then walked across the street for dinner. It was fantastic end to a wonderful day. The next morning, we went for a nice breakfast and photographed some local “art”:

OC_LocalArt

Then it was time to drop the dogs off with Susan in Salem and move on to the next phase in my trip: visiting Erin & David in Bend. I hadn’t been there since T’s race last year, so I was excited to see them and catch up. I arrived Friday night after a long day of driving for me and a trip to Vegas for Erin, so it was a chill evening of wine and chatting.

The next day, we started our morning by taking the dogs for a bike/jog. They have a contraption where you hook the dogs into a frame near the front wheel of a bike. The dog runs and you ride. It’s super fun and a great way to tire out dogs quickly! Then we went to lunch, followed by a distillery tour/tasting.

The tour was interesting and apparently all stills are really cool and steampunky:

Bend_Distillery

We couldn’t resist the obvious photo op:

Bend_ErinMeDistilleryI liked the way they did tastings. First, they give you this sheet and you can pick six things to try:

Bend_DistilleryTastingMenuThen they place them on the sheet, so you can keep track:

Bend_DistilleryTasting

They also do small, inexpensive cocktails that feature the various spirits. It was such a great way to try the products. (Not to mention, a very fun way to spend an afternoon!) David had to work, so Erin & I went to see the movie Grandma at this super cute little theatre. (We both wanted it to be better than it was… ) Afterward, we had a light dinner at this great restaurant (with the creepiest waitress!) It was so great to catch up with Erin and a super fun evening.

The next morning, we went out for a hike. Bend is a fascinating place. We started out at this really cool volcanic park:

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Then we drove to another section that was still volcanic, but with more forest:

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Erin climbed onto a rock to take a photo, but of course that meant she had to get photographed. Naturally, she rocked it:

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The hike was filled with all of these interesting twisted trees and cool combinations of lava and trees:

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I wrapped up my trip by hanging out with my parents in Portland. It was a whirlwind, but I’m so glad that I had a chance to see everyone before the big move. As I was driving, I tried to soak in all of the natural beauty of this area and bid it a fond mental “see you later”. It’s hard to believe that soon I will be in California!

The beginning of the end

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And just like that, T is heading to California to start his new job. Being the dutiful wife that I am, I opted to spend the weekend with Jenn & Bryan in the Methow rather than hanging around to send him off (and then spend the weekend by myself… ) Besides, it seemed like the perfect way to kick off my last “not-quite-a-month” in the Pacific Northwest.

I loaded up the Element and set up a ridiculously luxurious traveling set up for the world’s most spoiled dogs:

BoysLuxuryTransport

If you’re about to make a huge transition in your life, it really helps to spend it with good friends. Behold the wine Bryan chose for the occasion. He really gets me! (sniff… )

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The next morning, we all set out for a hike. It’s bear-hunting season, so we decked our resident black bear in safety orange:

SafetyWally

Jenn decided to do the extreme hiking: baby edition!

JennHikingSetUp

It was a glorious day for hiking:

HikingTrailWe did pass some evidence of the awful wildfires from earlier in the summer:

FireEvidence

We took a little break to let the world’s cutest hiker walk around.

CutestHiker Someone was not happy with losing his title…

2ndCutestHiker

The rest of the weekend was filled with good food, wine and, of course, dog spoiling…

BryanAustin

We also went to a community cider pressing (I know, right?) and generally just enjoyed life in the Methow. So far, the Pacific Northwest Farewell Tour was off to a great start!

Victor: Victoria

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While we were still waiting to hear if T got the job, we thought it would be nice to do a weekend getaway for T’s birthday either before everything got all crazy or to cheer ourselves up. (So happy it was the former!) We chose Victoria because I’d never been (and T was there in elementary school, which barely counts… ) Plus, it’s a pretty easy trip from Seattle on the Victoria Clipper. We bid farewell to gray, drizzly Seattle very early on Friday morning:

Victoria_SeattleHarbor

We landed in Victoria three hours later. It’s a stupidly charming little town. On Reed’s advice, we decided to stay in the understated Empress Hotel:

Victoria_Empress

Despite it only being 11 am, they were kind enough to let us check into our room. And is it just me, or do beautiful old hotels always have a Shining vibe to them?

Victoria_EmpressHallwayAnd PDX has nothing on the carpet at the Empress:

Victoria_HotelCarpet

The view from our room was not too shabby…

Victoria_WindowView

And I loved seeing the architectural details from the window:

Victoria_HotelExteriorView

We went out to grab a little lunch and walk around for a bit. Victoria is stupidly charming.

Victoria_HarborViewAnd has a surprising amount of native art around town. Such as these totem poles that date back to 1911.

Victoria_TotemPolesWhen I was a kid, my parents had visited Victoria and had high tea at the Empress and told many stories about it. I’d always wanted to go, so we decided to indulge as part of our trip. T was kind enough to go to high tea on his birthday. He’s such a good sport! (If you look over his shoulder, you can see the typical demographic for this activity… )

Victoria_HighTeaT

Our waiter was kind enough to take our picture:

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It was quite the fancy affair, like something out of Downton Abbey:

Victoria_HighTeaChinaVictoria_HighTeaGoodies

It was definitely over-priced and a little too touristy, but it was fun. (Plus, isn’t a solid preview of your golden years the perfect way to celebrate your birthday?) Since we were on a tourist kick, I figured why not check out Miniature World? It was a quirky little museum full of dioramas, ranging from the historical:

Victoria_MiniWorld1To an interesting replica of the Trans-Canadian railroad:

Victoria_MiniWorld2Look, it’s old-timey Toronto:

Victoria_MiniWorld3And all sorts of other things. I didn’t get a picture of it, but there was a working model of a sawmill (that they couldn’t operate any more because it’s a fire hazard, but they had a video of it that was cool.) Some of the dioramas were really artistic:

Victoria_MiniWorld4

And some were clearly older, and a little… um… odd:

Victoria_MiniWorld5There was even a miniature car show:

Victoria_MiniWorld6And a circus that moved from night…

Victoria_MiniWorld7…To day:

Victoria_MiniWorld8We even saw Camelot!

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It was the perfect kind of cheesy fun. I made it up to T by letting him take a nap and them taking him to a legitimately cool cocktail bar and then an awesome tapas place for dinner. They light up the Parliament building at night. Look how pretty it is:

Victoria_NightMy phone didn’t capture the lights as well as I would have liked. Here’s a better sense of it from the next morning:

Victoria_Parliament

The next day, we got up and wandered around Victoria while we waited to meet up with Khai and his lady (Andrea). We walked through a cool park, where we saw a huge group of tourists taking a picture of a peacock in a tree. And we passed this statue of Terry Fox:

Victoria_TerryFoxStatue

We even got to see the Clipper coming in, with today’s batch of tourists:

Victoria_Clipper

We passed these strange stairs leading into the freezing cold ocean (later on, we’d see a second set, so apparently it was a thing… ):

Victoria_SeaStairs

And then happened upon this cool floating house neighborhood:

Victoria_FloatingHomes

They even let us wander down the dock:

Victoria_FloatingHomeDockThere were some cute retail shops mixed in with the homes. I loved these little guys:

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On our way back to the hotel, I stopped to take a picture of this super weird, (and kind of racist), statue. I particularly like the dog…

Victoria_WeirdStatue

We had an awesome brunch with Khai and Andrea and walked on a road high above the water. It was a surprisingly lovely day after the overcast, drizzly morning. Given how long it took them to get there, I was so appreciative that they made the trip! We ended our second day in Victoria at a cool Scottish pub:

Victoria_Pub

The next morning, we only had a little time to go get some breakfast before we caught the Clipper back home. While I was getting ready in the bathroom, I heard T talking to someone. I came out to see this:

Victoria_TandFriend

Meet T’s new friend:

Victoria_TsFriend

We checked out of the hotel and got into the crazy long check in line for the Clipper just as it started pouring rain. The trip home was decidedly more crowded and choppy than the trip out had been. It wasn’t the best way to end our weekend, but we will focus on all of the good parts instead. So begins our farewell tour of the Pacific Northwest…

Coastal adventures

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A while back, T was contemplating doing a marathon in Newport, Oregon. The catch was that it was the day after my birthday. Now, I love the Oregon coast, so I was more than happy to share my moment with his athletic pursuits. And, when he got injured and didn’t sign up for the race, we decided to keep the hotel I’d already booked and go anyway. And I’m so glad we did. I’m not one for making a big fuss over my birthday, but it was really nice to have some fun, low-key, plans on the books.

We drove down on my actual birthday, which meant that we spent most of it in the car, but when we finally checked in to our hotel and checked into our room, we were greeted with this fantastic view from our balcony:

HotelBalconyWe decompressed on the balcony and then went for a walk on the beach before dinner. The boy even wrote me a little love note in the sand (mostly because I scoffed at the notion that he would. #marriage):

LoveNote

Our walk took us to a jetty:

JettySo we decided to continue our walk on it. Doesn’t T look like he’s on an angsty 90’s album cover?

JettyTThere were some cool rocks:

JettyRocksEspecially these ones that had mysterious holes in them:

CoolJettyRocksT was much better at traversing the rocky terrain than yours truly, but it set me up to get this epic shot of the two of us:

SelfieSquishOur jetty adventures took a little longer than expected, so we had to hustle to get back to get ready for dinner. I’d made reservations at a very highly rated local seafood place. There was no way to tell how fancy it was from looking online, so I was a little surprised that it was a very busy, casual place. But the food was excellent. Birthday crab cakes:

BdayDinner1I had a bacon-wrapped tuna “mignon”:

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T had an excellent halibut special:

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Plus, we had a very pleasant view of the harbor:

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We’d picked up a little birthday cake in Portland during the drive down, but I felt silly eating it in the restaurant, but we took it back to the room and enjoyed it with a nice bottle of wine, while watching a cheesy DVD that the hotel would let guests check out for free. Happy Birthday to me!

The next day, the weather surprised us with some sunshine. (It had been a pretty bleak forecast.) We opted to walk to a cute local place for breakfast. (Delicious!) While there we bought a HUMONGOUS (and pricy) loaf of bread, which was a shame because we happened upon a really nice farmer’s market that had many other bread options. C’est la vie! The farmer’s market was really lovely though:

FarmersMarketOn our way back we enjoyed some local art:

MobyDicksAnd delightful architectural details (please notice the nautical rope carpet in the background):

TheatreTexturesWe took a nice meandering walk back to the hotel. The views were amazing:

BeachViewBridgeAfter a nice beach run and some lazy napping time, we headed over to the Yaquina Head lighthouse. The lighthouse is lovely:

LighthouseBut the really cool thing is the beach filled with these “cobbles”:

CobbleBeachWhile they are hard to walk on, they are really unique:

BigCobbles

Plus, we’d timed our visit perfectly to see tide pools:

TidepoolsLighthouse

They were pretty cool:

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Our last day was spent wandering around Newport, having lunch at Mo’s, eating ourselves sick on saltwater taffy, and enjoying the local wildlife:

SeaLions

We went for a last afternoon beach walk at low-tide. I was mesmerized by all of the amazing textures. I really wished I’d had a real camera, but the phone did pretty well:

BeachTextures1 BeachTextures2

It was a great trip – the perfect combination of laziness and activity. I got to spend lots of quality time with the boy, which is always nice.