Four years ago we welcomed Ethan into this great world. We were living in Eugene, Oregon where Laura was teaching in the Eugene School District and I was entering my second year of graduate school at the University of Oregon. He arrived rather quickly at 7:47pm at Sacred Heart Hospital in downtown Eugene. We weren’t unprepared for him, but we also didn’t know what to expect. He’s our first child.
Four years later (and we know for a lifetime) his sense of wonder, curiosity, and joy continue to make us happy. He loves his sister Autumn, playing and hiking in the outdoors, reading books, and using his imagination. He’s taught us a lot about ourselves and allowed us to look at the world through a different set of lens. We’ve also become better event planners as we try to make every birthday and holiday a memorable one for him.
Today, he’ll have a western theme birthday party complete with cowboy hats, western cake, stick pony races, and more. He’s very excited about having his friends over as they celebrate with him. Have a wonderful day Ethan!
There’s cheese and then there’s Tillamook Cheese. In our household we only support Tillamook Cheese because, really, all other cheese are inferior to the baby loaf. In our visit to Oregon last weekend, we decided to show our Tillamook support and take a visit/tour of the Tillamook Cheese Factory.
The factory is a tourist destination for visitors on the Oregon coast. It offers viewing of the factory floor pre- and post- aged cheese packaging. The history of the area and factory is told through photos and videos. Our favorite part was the cheese samples. Ethan actually didn’t care for them. He saved his appetite for the Tillamook Ice Cream (not a sample). He also enjoyed driving in the Tillamook Cheese Baby Loaf mobile. There is actually a real car like this. Pretty cool. Before heading back to McMinnville, we bought a few mini-loaf cheeses not found in our grocery store: smoked cheddar, garlic white cheddar, garlic chili pepper cheddar, or smoked black pepper white cheddar anyone? Delicious.
Back on the ranch, also known as Laura’s parent’s house, we kept busy helping out. We put up horse stalls in the new barn, tended the garden, and prepared a strawberry rhubarb pie. The kids played in the pool, rode Norm the horse, and the family enjoyed a mean game of croquet.
As usual, we look forward to our next visit to Oregon to visit family, ride horses, and eat cheese.
Day 12 & 13: I’ll keep this post short because we basically drove for the last two days. We didn’t plan on it when we left Grand Teton but it was the right choice when we left Boise.
We left Grand Teton National Park by 6:45am and arrived in Boise around 2:30pm. The first thing we did after checking into our hotel was bath (it had been three days) and then hit the pool. The temperature in Boise was about 94 degrees and very uncomfortable for these Seattleites. We finished the evening with a frosty from Wendy’s.
Originally we were going to spend two days at Wallowa Lake in northeast Oregon after stopping in Boise. After bathing and cleaning up the kids, then reevaluating what supplies would have to be purchased, including a new air mattress, we chose to be content with our road trip and head back to Seattle without stopping at Wallowa Lake. Also, Autumn wasn’t sleeping well and Ethan was getting terrible cough that required a good few nights rest in his own bed.
Again, on July 7 we were out the DoubleTree Hotel door by 8am and arrived at our door around 5:18pm. The 518 miles 10 hour + drive (include 1 hour for time change) went very smooth and the kids traveled like pros. The key to our success was a few stops to stretch our legs, plenty of books and toys to occupy our kids, lots of food to stuff their hungry mouths, and no movies of any kind (on the entire 2 week trip) so that they engage with their surroundings.
Everyone had a well deserved good nights rest at home that night.
Day 11: Autumn slept great so we leisurely rolled out of the tent, ate breakfast, and prepared for the day. It would be our second and last day of our short visit to Grand Teton National Park. We decided a nice morning bike ride through the valley, followed by a ranger program, and hike along Jenny Lake would be a great day.
We brought our bikes and a double-wide bike trailer on this trip so we could enjoy the national parks from a different perspective. Glacier offered a few trails, Yellowstone was terrible, but Grand Teton was…well…grand! The park has a paved bike path from Jenny Lake to the south entrance (with plans to connect to Jackson Hole). We loaded the kids in the trailer and enjoyed a 13 mile ride. The views of the Tetons were great and the weather was perfect. A highlight of our ride was viewing a mother and baby moose in a nearby creek. At first we and a few others saw the moose but within minutes the crowds gathered. We took off after about 10 minutes of enjoying the public display of awesomeness.
We went back to camp to allow the kids to run around and grab a snack before we made our way for a ranger talk at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center.
The ranger program was about climbing in the Tetons. It focused a bit on history of climbing in the Tetons and showed some of the gear used for climbing. The talk was okay but could have improved if a ranger who actually climbed was presenting the program. I thought Ethan would’ve enjoyed the talk but he kind of lost interest during the history part. He did enjoy the hammer for nailing in pitons and kept demonstrating it’s use to me.
After the talk we did a leisure stroll around part of Jenny Lake before turning in Ethan’s Junior Ranger activity packet at the visitor center. Ethan was offered a badge and patch for completing his activities. He was pretty excited to receive his third Junior Ranger badge/sticker. This trip is the first time I’ve seen what the program offers and think it’s a well worthwhile activity for any parent visiting a national park. When I was a wildland firefighter at Lassen Volcanic National Park, there was a Junior Wildland Firefighter program that offered a lot of hand-on activities. I think these type of programs only benefit children and adults as they continue to educate them about the importance of national parks.
After dinner we enjoyed a drive to the park’s highest drivable point called Signal Mountain. Breathtaking views of the east valley were a plenty. Do this drive if you have time.
Prior to turning in for the night we packed up most of our camp. We knew we would have a big drive of driving to Boise tomorrow and wanted to arrive as early as possible to allow the kids time to swim and relax at our hotel.