Sunday, August 17, 2008

Vacation Day 13, 14 and 15 - Shopping Again, Friends, and going home!

On Thursday we took it fairly easy. We started out later in the day and went to I-HOP for breakfast because Dale really wanted to go. Then we went to Ikea to look around. Of course looking around at Ikea always results in a bunch of money spent. We got lots of good stuff.

Then we went to the Metrotown (?) mall. It was crowded and scary :) We didn't spend too much time there. Large crowds of scantily clad teenagers aren't really my scene.

So yeah, we went back to Abbotsford and hung out for a bit then we went to a restaurant in Langley with Massiel and Marina called Coza. It was really yummy! And we had a great time talking and stuff. And I got a chance to wear my new red shoes.

Then we went to Massiel and Marina's house and hung out and talked for a long time. And probably distracted Massiel from finishing her sermon for Saturday :)

So we went back to the condo for the night.

Then on Friday we slept in a lot then headed out to White Rock, BC with Sven. We got some delicious gelato then walked the pier. It was a beautiful day and a great time was had by all. We took lots of fun pictures.

Then we drove back to Abbotsford. We stopped in Aldergrove on the way and picked up 3 pounds of cherries, a couple pounds of peaches and some snow peas. Later that evening we grabbed a cooler to put the fruit in, then went to a vespers at the Abbotsford church with Sven and his parents. It was nice. Then we went back to Massiel's place to hang out for a while. She still wasn't done her sermon...I wonder how it went :)

We had a fantastic time in BC! I don't have a lot to say because a lot of it was visiting with two of my best friends. And it's getting late so I'm going to bed soon :)

On Saturday we headed back home at 7:30am after stopping for some coffee for Dale and a tea for me at Tim Hortons which was conveniently attached to the gas station we stopped at. It was raining when we left, but by the time we hit the Coquihala highway it was fine. Not sunny, but not raining.

Anyway, we went home through Jasper and Edmonton. It was a pretty nice drive except those mountain roads make it so hard to pass people! We just wanted to get home and those slowpokes were slowing us down! It was even worse when we got to Jasper park. They only let you drive 70 kph in the park so you don't hit wildlife. BAH! It was beautiful in the park, but really frustrating going so slow when we were just trying to get home!

We saw lots of nice things on the drive though. The Rockies of course are always beautiful. If it wasn't so cloudy outside I would have stopped to take pictures. We could have stopped at Mt. Robson (the highest Rocky Mountain), but the top half was covered by clouds so wouldn't make for a good picture. Jasper park was beautiful and we saw a lot of gorgeous mountain lakes and rivers. We also saw a lot of wildlife. We saw a bear cross the road right in front of us, some mountain goats in Jasper, some deer in the ditches, a fox also crossed the road right in front of us, and we also saw some bison outside of Edmonton in Elk Island park.

Once we passed through Edmonton we saw some DARK clouds looming in the distance full of lightning. There were also some pretty light clouds reflecting the sunset in them near them. As we got near Lloydminster the light and the dark clouds collided and there was lightning all around us. But we managed to outrun the massive storm behind us with only a few drops of rain.

We ended up getting home at about 1:00am. 17 hours straight of driving. I LOVE my car for long trips! I was sick of being in the car, but it was really nice not having to stop for gas all the time. My 70 liter tank is fantastic. We got from Edmonton to Saskatoon on half a tank of gas. It was lovely.

Anyway, I'm pooped! We spent most of today doing laundry and sorting through all the stuff we bought. We also had Dale's family over to look at pictures. Now I'm going to bed since I'm back to the grind bright and early tomorrow morning.

For pictures of the trip, go to my 4 Facebook albums:

Summer Vacation 2008 - Part 1
Summer Vacation 2008 - Part 2
Summer Vacation 2008 - Part 3
Summer Vacation 2008 - Part 4

Vacation Day 12 - Back to the Motherland

On Wednesday, we got up fairly early and got ready for the day. We packed up our stuff then went to the kitchen where everyone else had congregated.

Grandpa and I made some breakfast together. He made some yummy waffles and I was on egg duty. I make some good eggs...on my own stove...and with my own pans and spices and stuff. My grandparents have these awesome cast iron pans which I've never used before, and they didn't have the spices and stuff that I usually use. And they and my uncle all had very specific requests for how they wanted their eggs. So I tried my best and I think I did alright. Over easy eggs are hard to do in a cast iron pan! Maybe the heat was too hot or something. But when I flipped the eggs, I waited a second or two then took them off the pan to serve. The yolks were way more cooked than I thought they would have been! Oh well. Everyone ate them and didn't complain hehehe.

So we had breakfast all together then said goodbye to Uncle Gary. He headed home. Then Dale and Grandpa and I took a short walk to see some trains from the new pedestrian overpass over the train tracks. It was nice to walk with him and see something that he was so excited to show us. It was really cool to be able to stand over the train as it went by! After our walk we decided it was time to head off to BC.

We said our goodbyes, Grandma gave us some munchies, Grandpa took some pictures of me and my car (he's a huge car nut like my dad was) and we were off for Canada! It was about a 4 hour drive to the border. We gassed up before crossing back to expensive-gas-land and headed to the crossing. We had all our receipts added up and ready and everything and they pretty much just waved us through. Sometimes it pays to go through the little crossings! We just went up to the Langley crossing. Joseph had just come back from Vancouver a couple days before we left and he had horror stories about the waits at the border. But that was for the BIG crossing right by Vancouver. The Langley crossing was awesome! Probably a 2 minute wait I think. MUCH better than the 3 hour wait he told us about!

Anyway, we got back to Canada without incident and headed to Sven's house. Thanks to GPS we found it no problem. We hung out with Sven and Massiel that evening and took a nice twilight walk through a park and got some Tim Hortons and some Wendy's fries. It was SO good to see them! And good to see Sven's parents too! Their condo is beautiful! It has a great view of Mt. Baker. We stayed in the guest suite of their condo building. It was nice. Kind of like a hotel room.

Later that night, Dale and Sven and I hung out in the pool until about 1:00am. It was so nice to just float with the pool noodles and chat. Just like old times! Except for the pool...I don't recall ever going to a pool with Sven....

All in all it was another fantastic day made even better by the fact that we were back in Canada. I LOVE going to the states, but it's always really nice to be back in Canada.

Vacation Day 11 - Grandparents and Mt. St. Helens

I was unable to blog for the past few days since my grandparents have limited internet access and we were trying to pack so many things into our little BC trip that I didn't have time to post. So now I'll try to remember all the things we did!

On Tuesday we set out for my Grandparent's place in Napavine, Washington. It was about an hour and a half I think to get there. We got there and unloaded some stuff, then we got in the car again with Grandpa and drove the windy roads up to Mt. St. Helens!

If you're not familiar with the eruption of Mt. St. Helens on May 18, 1980, go to this site and read the story. I find the story and the pictures and seeing what happened completely fascinating. If you ever get a chance to go to the mountain, GO!!!!

I was at Mt. St. Helens when I was a kid (like 13 or 14 I think...) so in the 10 or 15 years since I've been there I notice a LOT of growth of trees and stuff. But it's still completely barren compared to what it once was. Uncle Gary told us that they used to go to Spirit Lake at the base of the mountain ALL the time as kids. The entire mountain was surrounded by a beautiful old growth forest. The eruption destroyed the forests for miles around, filled the valley beneath the mountain with a layer of 600 ft of ash and mud and debris, raised Spirit lake by about that much as well, and also created a whole new lake. It's absolutely fascinating to see what the mountain used to look like and what it looks like now. And all the more fascinating that it happened only 28 years ago! In North America! We don't usually think about volcanoes here, but we have LOTS! All of the larger mountains in the Cascade mountain range are active volcanoes. Most aren't really doing anything, but they all have the potential to erupt at some point!

After the trip to the mountain, we went back to Grandma and Grandpa's and just hung out. We looked at grandma's photo albums and talked for a long time. I haven't really gotten a chance to get to know my grandparents since I became an adult. We went down there a lot as kids, but the last time I was down there was the summer of 2001 and even then we didn't get a chance to talk much since it was a family reunion of sorts. So it was really great to just sit and talk with them. They are getting up there in age so I was really glad to have the chance to talk to them now.

They both had some little stories about my dad and grandma showed me lots of pictures that I hadn't seen before of before he was married and when he still had his long hippie hair and beard. Grandpa showed me some things that he still has that my dad made. My dad used to make model cars. It was one thing that he and I did together when I was younger actually. When HE was younger, he made his dad a model logging truck. My grandpa drove logging trucks for most of his life. I still remember going with him one day when I was REALLY young. I had to have only been 6 or 7. But I remember! Anyway, Grandpa showed me this truck that dad made. I guess there weren't any log truck kits, so dad got a couple of truck kits and made his own logging truck out of the pieces. It was really cool to see something like that that my dad made.

So after a long day of visiting and sight seeing, we all went to bed. Dale and I sorted through our receipts for crossing the boarder the next day then hit the hay fairly early.

Vacation Day 10 - Mt. Hood

I'm not sure I will be able to post for the next couple of days. I hope so! But this morning we are off to my grandma and grandpa's in Napavine, Washington. So today's post will probably be short!

Yesterday we started out the day playing with Corwin. He's adorable. He is two and "talks" a LOT. But it's all just gibberish. It's very cute! After hanging out with him for a bit, we took him home. I got to see Erik and Kelly's house. It's really nice. Lots of hardwood everywhere and a gorgeous backyard due to the mason worker that lived there before them. Lots of stone.

After dropping Corwin off, we started our drive up to Mt. Hood. I'm always a little bit astonished at how beautiful it is here. And it warms the cockles of my heart to get back into the mountains. It was only about a 45 minute drive up to Government Camp (very creative name for a town....) where we stopped to have a second breakfast that consisted of one VERY large doughnut each. These were the biggest things I've EVER seen! Dale and Gary both had a maple log and I just had a "small" glazed doughnut. The logs were nearly the size of a bread loaf. I kid you not! And my "small" doughnut would have overflowed a tea saucer. Not the best doughnuts I've ever had, but not too shabby!

After fueling up with doughnuts we headed up the mountain to Timberline Lodge. It's a beautiful hand-crafted lodge that was build on the timberline of the mountain back in the depression to give people work. The logs of the lodge itself are all hand-hewn, the furniture all handmade, the fabrics all hand-woven. And if you're picturing a tiny cabin in the mountains, it's NOT!!! It's huge! There's a 3 storey center of the lodge and I believe 2 wings off of the sides that are all hotel rooms. It's beautiful. I'll post pictures. I didn't take many of the inside of the lodge because it was kind of dark in there. Very cozy. Like a ski lodge should be.

Then we wandered up the mountain a bit. It was a HOT HOT HOT day. At the bottom of the mountain it was about 90 degrees. I would guess that where we got to was about 80 degrees, but the sun was HOT! I got a little bit of a burn, but it's just making my tan darker. Anyway, we wandered up a path and got to see some snowboarders going down the mountain. There is still some snow up by the lodge and there is a path of snow running down the mountain and the snowboarders could just slide down the big snow path and almost be IN the lodge. It was cool and looked really fun. Not that I'll ever be able to snowboard, but if I ever was to do it, yesterday was a perfect day for it. Warm weather + snow. Sounds good to me!

We went to several other places around the mountain, but it would be very hard to describe them, so I'll just wait for the posted pictures. I love that Portland is SO close to so many mountains and you can just go up there whenever you want. I'm so jealous. I would love to live here. Maybe someday...

After Mt. Hood, we wandered back into the city. Dale and I went out and got some gas and a little present for Gary for showing us around and letting us stay here. Then we went out for supper. This place had fondue. FONDUE!!! It was swiss cheese fondue with lots of different types of bread pieces. It was amazing. We all shared one order, then because Gary and I both LOVED the cheese fondue we got another order. I could have eaten one whole order by myself and I think I almost did! The rest of the meal was good, but incidental because I was full of fondue. FONDUE!!! And a fairly large fondue for $3.99. YUM! FONDUE!

Did I mention that I love fondue?

Anyway, I should sign off for now. We are trying to get out of here at 7:30...but Gary's still in the shower. So Dale and I have to pack up the car and make sure we're not forgetting anything. Then it's off to Washington!

Vacation Day 9 - Just Chillin'

Day 9 was Sunday and we decided to take a day to just relax a bit. We had a couple of errands to run. Dale grabbed the wrong sizes for a couple of things, so we ran back to the outlet mall and exchanged them. Then we went back to the Mac store and Dale got a holder thing for his iphone. We also shared a Cinnabon for breakfast. Yum!

Then we came home and sat and watched tv and read. I napped for a bit. We watched a couple of interesting shows. One about Nazism in the US, one about hippies and how they affected the world, and one about weather Wal-Mart is good or bad.

The one about Nazism was creepy! There are still people who think like that and that is really scary.

The one about hippies was really interesting. Lots of people who were into the hippie movement and the drugs and everything turned out to be major players in today's world. Like Steve Jobs from Apple. So yeah, it was interesting!

And they didn't decide whether Wal-Mart was good or bad, but the show was interesting.

Anyway, today I think we're going to Mt. Hood and the Grotto. And my cousin Erik and Corwin just showed up so I'm going to go visit!

Vacation Day 8 - Family Reunion

Today turned out pretty good! We drove up to Dallas, Oregon for the family reunion. Dallas is a cute little city and the park we went to was really nice.

We stopped at Safeway to pick up some chicken and salads because it was a potluck situation but none of us wanted to cook anything. Actually Gary tried making some deviled eggs, but he didn't have his usual ingredients so they turned out REALLY garlicky! Dale loved them, but we all decided they were best left at home.

So we got to the reunion and I didn't recognize a soul except for my grandma. So we met a LOT of fairly distant relatives. Later on, my grandpa showed up (he had gone to church) along with my Uncle Bob and my cousin Nikki and her family. It was great to see them, but didn't have a lot of chances to really talk to them. We will be seeing grandma and grandpa and Bob in the next couple of days anyway.

Everyone we talked to asked where in Canada we were from, and when we told them, most of them asked where that was in relation to the states. That's a valid question...we answered "above Montana".......then LOTS of them asked if Saskatchewan (most couldn't pronounce it hahah) was near Vancouver OR if it was near Toronto. HAHAHAHAHAH!!!! When we told them that THEY are closer to Vancouver than we are, they all got completely confused. I kind of wish we brought a map. Americans are SO bad when it comes to geography! (Sorry Americans!)

I guess I shouldn't generalize. Some of the people there had actually BEEN to Saskatchewan. One lady actually lived in Biggar, Saskatchewan for a while. And another couple has been to more provinces than I have. But for the most part, they were completely clueless.

Anyway, after this reunion broke up, we drove home and I CRASHED! I had to take a nap. Somehow talking to people I don't know was far more exhausting than our hike to the top of the waterfall the other day. I mean, don't get me wrong, I had a pretty good time at the reunion, but at the same time, there is a lot of smiling and nodding to be done and lots of names to remember and that's exhausting to me! So yeah, I took a 2 hour nap, then we took Gary out to a nice pasta dinner to say thank you for showing us around and letting us stay with him. It was a nice time.

Now we are home and I'm about to crash again.

Vacation Day 7 - Beach Day!

...and some more shopping I'm afraid :)

So today was beach day. Or rather, coast day. We started out at about 8:30 this morning and drove to Tillamook. It's a small town near the coast. For those who may not know, Tillamook isn't known for it's touristy stuff or it's's known for it's cheese factory/ice cream factory. Tillamook cheese is by far the BEST cheese I've ever had. And the Tillamook ice cream BY FAR the best ice cream I've ever had. And people, I've had a LOT of ice cream. This stuff is so creamy and smooth that you will just die! And the cheese is really really smooth too. I don't know what they do differently down here, but it is amazing.

The cheese factory was cool. Especially the part where you can get free cheese samples and also CHEAP cheese and CHEAP ice cream. You can get 2 GIGANTIC scoops of this amazing ice cream for $3

After the factory (and breakfast...yeah the ice cream and the cheese samples were breakfast...) we went on to Oswald Park/Beach. We parked just off the highway then hiked down for about 10 minutes and emerged onto a really beautiful and somewhat secluded beach on the ocean. We took lots of pictures and watched the waves and the surfers for a while then headed back to the car. I won't say too much about it because it was too beautiful for words. Hopefully the pictures will do it a little bit of justice.

After that beach, we headed up to Cannon Beach. It's a super cute town right on the coast. It was pretty misty while we were there, so unfortunately we didn't see the actual beach, but we wandered the town and did a little bit of shopping. We got a couple of gifts and also some YUMMY salt water taffy. YUM! Oh yeah and we ate lunch at Mo's which is a pretty great seafood restaurant right on the beach. I got the fish and chips and it was pretty good. I'm not a huge seafood fan, but it was good :)

Then we went on to Seaside which is also a fun little town right on the coast. The first place we went was to the salt water taffy outlet store. 170 flavors! yummy! We got LOTS more taffy since we didn't get that much at Cannon Beach and we want to take some home. Then we wandered down to the beach and hung out there for a bit. It was still cloudy and cool so we didn't stay too long. Then we wandered the streets until everything closed. Then we headed back to Portland.

I slept for part of the way back, but woke up in time to discuss cars with Dale and Gary. It's been really great hanging out with Gary. Sometimes he reminds me a LOT of my dad. Not enough to be weird or make me emotional or anything, but enough to feel like I'm home around him. He actually looks a lot like my dad and has the same Oregon accent that my dad never lost even after living in Canada for 25 years.

Gas: When I fill up my car from almost empty in Saskatoon, it costs around $90 because my tank is 70 liters. I filled up from almost empty HERE yesterday and it was $62. WHAT THE HECK????? Yet another reason to move here?......

Anyway, I've been typing for a long time, so I will wind down now.

Tomorrow we are driving to Texas, Oregon for a family reunion. I'm hoping it will be a good time. It's my Grandmother's side of the that means all of her brothers and sisters and some of their kids. So we should meet lots of people!

Now I'm off to bed because we have another early morning tomorrow.

Vacation Day 6 - Zoo, Gardens and More Shopping

I'm just about to run off to the beach, but I'll just post a bit about yesterday.

Dale and I got up bright and early to go to the zoo with my cousin Erik and his wife Kelly and their son Corwin. Corwin is adorable!!! The zoo was so much fun. Lots of people around here complain that they have a yucky zoo, but their zoo is beautiful! It's on top of one of the hills in the city and it's full of trees and flowers and COOL animals like hippos and sea lions and bears and we saw some bald eagles up close and personal. I love zoos and this one was great. The Calgary zoo is cool, but this zoo is much more beautiful and kind of "secluded" in the middle of the city. I was very impressed.

Then Dale and I drove to another spot on the hill and saw the rose test garden. Also unbelievably beautiful! It's coming to the end of the first rose season of the year so the roses were quite open and lots weren't flowering anymore, however, it was still stunning. And of course you could see the mountains in the distance through the one strategically placed clearing in the trees.

Then we went across the street to the traditional Japanese garden. You have to pay to get in there, but it's definitely worth it! It's SO beautiful. Other than the occasional plane flying overhead, you completely forget that you're in the middle of the largest city in Oregon. It's so serene. A couple of times Dale and I just sat and absorbed the serenity.

After filling our serenity quota for the day, we went out for lunch to an amazing place called Gubanc's with Uncle Gary (BEST beef dip sandwich that I've ever had!). Then we did a little bit of window shopping, bought some shoes, and helped Gary buy a new 42" LCD tv. That's always a good time! Then we came back home and Dale helped Gary and Joseph set up the tv. I crashed soon after that since we were up at 7 am to go to the zoo.

A note about the shoes. Dale found 2 pairs of great shoes all on his own. I was so proud. The only reason we went to DSW was to find him a pair of casual black sneakers and some new dress shoes. He found both on his own and they are both very cool Sketchers. That's all well and good, but while he and Gary were looking at the men's shoes, I browsed the clearance section. I saw a couple of pairs of cute shoes, but nothing spectacular....

....until I saw some amazing patent leather dark red pointy toed 4" high heeled shoes. They are Nine West shoes (which are a GREAT brand) and they fit like a glove. I couldn't NOT buy them! They were $99 shoes, but had been marked down go $60 and then on clearance for $30. So they are now sitting in my suitcase just waiting for an occasion to wear them. Sven...Massiel...Nathan....we must go somewhere in BC where I can wear these things!!! Not too much walking though....Not sure how long I can walk in them.

Anyway, enough about the shoes. We're getting ready for the beach, so I'm going to go!

Vacation Day 5 - Shopping, shopping and more shopping

People, the shopping in Portland is amazing. We've been to a huge outlet mall twice, a huge normal mall and a couple of random stores. We've shopped so much I can't even remember everything that we've gotten.

We went to the LEGO STORE! I've never seen a whole Lego store before! It had EVERYTHING you could ever want including an entire wall of containers of plain bricks. So you can grab a pre-sized bucket and pick out all of the bricks you want of whatever color you want. If I was still a kid I would have spent ALL DAY in there! There were also tables where you could play with the Lego that was out. It was really cool.

We also stopped at the Mac store so Dale could look at some iphone cases since he's getting an iphone.

The rest of the mall was okay, but nothing compared to the outlet mall. If you're ever in Portland, go to the Woodburn outlet mall. It's amazing. I got TONS of clothes there! Dale even got TONS of clothes there! We got some kitchen gadgets too. I got a whole tub of cookie cutters for $12. The same one is $25 at Michaels at home. I also got a better cookie scoop. My plastic Wilton one just didn't cut it so I got a metal one.

Then we went to Target and I actually found a lot of great basic t shirts and tanks for $6 each, so I went to town. We got some cool toys to bring home too like Artoo Potatoo (R2D2 potato head!!!) and some cool old-timey kids toys for some friends.

After supper we went to a bookstore and I got the Martha Stewart Wedding Cakes book I have been eying for months. It is $90 in Canada, but only $60 here so I got it. I'm glad I did! It's a great book!

So yeah, we got a lot of stuff today! And we still have a little bit to go. We have to get a few gifts for our families back home and a couple of things that friends have requested.

That's all for today. Tomorrow we are hitting the zoo with my cousin Erik and his wife Kelly and their 2 year old Corwin. That will be good times. I haven't ever spent any time with Erik, so it will be good to do that! And I've never met his wife or son. Hopefully the weather will be as beautiful as it was today!

Nothing planned for sure for Friday. Possibly a drive to the coast with Gary. Then Saturday is a family reunion. It will be good to see my grandparents and a couple of cousins and uncles and stuff.

Anyhoo, that's all I can think of to write right now. I'm going to shower than hit the hay!

Vacation Day 4 - Climbing and Eating and Shopping

Well, it's 10:30pm...on my vacation...and I'm pooped and I'm going to read for a bit and then go to sleep. Wow, I'm an exciting vacationer huh? hahaha

To explain the tiredness, here's what we did today. First, Dale and I got up fairly early and did a little bit of shopping. Nothing major, but we stopped at the US Costco for a bit just to see what they had that was different. In case anyone is wondering, a lot of the stuff is the same. Electronics are around the same price. They have less candy. They have a HUGE wine section, which is weird to see, but they can sell booze pretty much everywhere here. The biggest difference we noticed is that EVERYTHING is BIGGER at the US Costco. You may pay around the same price as you would in Canada, but the box will be bigger or you will just get MORE of it.

Anyway, enough about Costco. After Costco, we came back to Gary's. He was up by then (he works nights) so we all got ready and drove down to the Columbia River Gorge. Uncle Gary grew up in this area so he knows a lot of the cool places to go. Instead of the interstate which would have taken us to the same place, he took us on the historic highway. It's a narrow windy road up on the side of the mountains. It was a really fun drive and it was really cool to see the trees and everything up closer and more personal than the interstate. We stopped at a total of 3 waterfalls I believe. The biggest being Multnomah Falls (the highest point being about 600 ft above where we were standing.

There is a bridge part of the way up to the falls, so we climbed up to that and looked around. Then Gary said there is a hike to the TOP of the falls so we decided to do it. It was about 45 minutes of walking up a switchbacked trail and none of us are in great shape so we had to stop all the time. I nearly gave up at one point until I saw a rather large woman coming back down from the top and I decided if SHE can do it then so can I. It was TOTALLY worth it! You feel like you're on top of the world! I took a ton of pictures so I will share them when we get back.

I just have to make a note here. I don't know how many people have been to the Pacific Northwest and been IN the nature there. There is a distinct smell of trees and moss and water and LIFE. It's hard to describe, but it is my favorite smell in the whole wide world. I feel like home when I smell it. It reminds me of my dad and my childhood and all of my favorite places. You smell it at the Redwood forest. You smell it here. And I love it.

Anyway, after our big hike, we had some ice cream then came back into the city. Dale and I went out on our own to do some more shopping. I got a few cool things at Target and a couple of pairs of CHEEEEEEP shoes at Payless. 2 pairs for UNDER 30 dollars. It's pretty awesome. Then we wandered in a HUGE mall where they have a Lego store and a Mac store.

Then we went to the Cheesecake Factory in the mall. I had some chicken and mashed potatoes. The servings are so huge there that I'm sure I ate 1/3 of my dish and I was STUFFED. We HAD to get some cheesecake though so Dale and I shared a fresh strawberry cheesecake. Awesome :)

So now I'm happy and at peace. My belly is full, my suitcase is getting full, and my soul is happy just being here and smelling the smells.

I'm not sure what's happening tomorrow for sure. My uncle didn't get a hold of my cousin before he left for work tonight. We are supposed to go to the zoo with them tomorrow. So if we do that we will hit the zoo, then the rose gardens. Then possibly the Grotto. But that could all change.

Anyway, I'm going to read my new book. It's getting pretty interesting...

Vacation Day 3 - Sightseeing and Shopping

Today was really nice. The weather was PERFECT from the moment we woke up. NO wind, not too hot and tons of sun. It was beautiful.

We got up and got ready for the day. It was Uncle Gary's birthday today. Gary and I were both up earlier than the others so we had a really nice little breakfast together and we talked.

Gary and Joseph took us up to one of the many hills in the city. After a long drive through a BEAUTIFUL hillside neighborhood, we were at the top of the hill. In the middle of the city. And it was really quiet and off in the distance you can see Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier and the whole city of Portland. It was so beautiful! Portland is definitely the most beautiful city I've ever been to. It's so full of trees and hills and beautiful houses and beautiful places to go. If we ever move to the states, this is where you'll find us for sure!

Then we went downtown to a GREAT Japanese food buffet. Definitely the best Japanese food I've ever had! They had tons of great sushi and cooked dishes. Their teriyaki chicken was the BEST I've ever had. Then they had tons of tiny deserts you could have. They were ALL good. Yes I tried them all. They were all bite sized :)

After lunch we wandered downtown. We went to a COOOOOOL bookstore! It's a new & used bookstore that is so big that you need a map to get around it. I would love to have something like that close by!!! We also walked along the Willamette River and saw some fountains, the bridges and the world's smallest park. I'll post lots of pictures in a couple weeks when I am home :)

After that, we went to a famous mansion in the city named Pittock Mansion. It was built by one of the city's more important men back in the late 1800's. He owned the city's paper and was very influential. So he built this house on top of a tall hill so you can see the mountains and the city from every window. And there are rose gardens all around the house. After he died and his children were older, they wanted to sell the house. Lots of companies wanted to knock it down because it is prime real estate up there, but the city stepped in and bought it to save it. Now it is a museum that you can walk through. It is beautiful and amazing to see that they would have had a view of Mt. Hood while going to the bathroom. Incredible.

After the mansion we came back to the house and rested for a bit. Gary had to go to work for the night, so Dale and I went to the HUGE outlet mall about 20 minutes from here. It's amazing and we are going back a couple more times before we leave!

Anyway, now we are home and have planned out lots of stuff to do in the next couple of days. I'm going to use this as a bit of a traveler journal so I won't forget things, so watch for posts all through my vacation!

Now I'm going to sleep! This coastal/mountain air knocks me right out!

Oh yeah and the Red Robin burger and limeade aren't helping either. Can you say sugar crash?

Vacation Day 2

I'm taking a vacation from interesting blog titles

I also took a vacation from the blog yesterday, so here's what we did yesterday and a few of the things I forgot to write about in my exhaustion on Day 1.

Remnants from Day :
While in Missoula, we ate at Applebees. I've never had Applebees and I was quite impressed with everything. Dale got a really good teriyaki wrap thing and I got a "small" portion of riblets. My "small" portion was GIGANTIC and only $6. In total, with a $5 tip, our whole meal cost us $25 and we were STUFFED! I love America sometimes. We also went to the Wal-Mart across the street. It was just like any Wal-Mart at home (as in, it wasn't a supercenter), BUT EVERYTHING WAS CHEAPER!!! I got 2 movies (A Knights Tale and 13 Going On 30) for $10 and a couple of books for $5.97 each...normally $7.99 in the states....and $10.99 in Canada...WHAT THE HECK!!!!! We're definitely taking advantage of the dollar being pretty much at par and their amazing prices for stuff down here.

A short break to discuss my new favorite chocolate bar:
I kept seeing commercials for the new 3 Musketeers mint chocolate bar on tv, but haven't ever seen one. I finally find they are EVERYWHERE in the states, so I have been stuffing my face. These things are AMAZING! They are a fairly mild minty mousse covered in a fairly mild dark chocolate. Not too sweet but hugely delicious! I'm going to bring a TON back to Canada...

Vacation Day 2:
Yesterday we got up, got our stuff together, and had the continental breakfast at our hotel before heading out on the road. I've had lots of yucky continental breakfasts so I wasn't expecting much. This one was amazing! 4 GOOD kinds of cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, toast that you made yourself, waffles that you made yourself in a waffle maker, REAL juices, coffees and teas. It was great. Then we headed out. I got my first taste of interstate driving and it was fantastic. We trekked through the rocky mountains some more, and kept on climbing in elevation, then all of a sudden, we turned a curve into Idaho, and started our decent. It was steep enough that I didn't have to press on the gas for miles, and it was really twisty and turny. It was FUN!!! I highly recommend it. It would suck going UP that way, bu going down was really really fun.

Then we got into Washington. The fun drive came to a halt. I did not realize that eastern Washington was an absolute wasteland. After Spokeane there was NOTHING. No trees, no green, Nothing. It was even more boring scenery than Saskatchewan. However, soon we saw mountains in the distance again...the Cascade mountains. We crossed the Columbia River into Oregon, then followed it to Portland. We are going back to the Columbia River Gorge tomorrow, so I'll save that for tomorrow.

So yeah, we got here around 6:00. Uncle Gary and his friend Joseph took us to a really cool restaurant for supper. It's a communal seating restaurant with FANTASTIC mac and cheese. It was yummy. Then we went to a coffee house for dessert. The coffee house is actually a house that was converted and is now voted the best coffee house in the city. It's designed with a crazy Russion composer (I can't remember which one) in mind and it's a mad house. There's a lot of crazy stuff around and there are 4 wacky tables in the place. They all LOOK normal, but when you sit there, the staff turn on the table and it does something weird. The one we sat at VERY slowly moved up and down. So it was at a normal height when we sat down, then it slowly rose up almost to chin height then back down even lower than it originally was. Another table shakes, another one vibrates, and another one slowly rotates. It was a really interesting place to go.

Then we came back to uncle Gary's place and I CRASHED

On to day 3...

Vacation Day 1

Today we started our vacation. We left the house at 8:00am and after stopping for a quick bite at Tim Hortons, we started on our way.

We drove down to the Climax border crossing and continued on until we hit a huge storm just outside of Havre, MT. We saw huge black clouds and were headed right towards them. And we saw some great lightning too. The road veered off to the side and we ALMOST went around the storm. When we got into Havre, it started POURING and hailing. The hail was small and soft so it didn't dent the car. But it was scary and we couldn't see so we had to pull over and park under a gas station overhang for a couple of minutes. It stopped as quickly as it started and we went on our merry way.

I drove for quite a while and then handed over the reigns to Dale shortly before getting into the mountains. Dale drove us the rest of the way to Missoula, Montana. It's really pretty here. We are in a little valley towards the edge of the Rocky Mountains and we have some pretty scenery just outside our hotel window

We got stopped by a cop on our way in because of speeding, but he saw we were from Canada and took pity on us and just let us off with a warning. It is REALLY hard to see the mph on my car's dash! It's fine at night because it's lit up, but during the day it disappears. Luckily our GPS tells us how fast we are going too, so that helps.

Anyway, I'm exhausted, so I'm off to bed soon!

Bye for now.