Pumpkin Picking Season Arrives!

Picking out a pumpkin at Craven Farm.

Sorry Christmas tree farms, you don’t have a thing on today’s pumpkin patch. Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas and will always select my Christmas tree from a tree farm or a national forest, but it’s kind of a boring experience to go and cut a tree. I agree that just selecting a pumpkin is boring. That’s how I did it as a kid. But today’s pumpkin patch visit is more than selecting a pumpkin. It’s about an entertaining experience that captures a bit of the farm life. Craven Farm in Snohomish, Washington offered us that experience. Continue reading “Pumpkin Picking Season Arrives!”

How We Spent Labor Day 2011 [Video]

Ethan takes a peek down below on the boat to Jetty Island.

What a great weekend to be out and about in the Seattle area. The weather was just splendid and the kids (and parents) in excellent moods!

On Saturday we headed north to meet up with my coworker Bryan and his family Annie, Lucy, and Luke for a visit to Jetty Island. Jetty Island is a little island located just  a few hundred yards from Everett. The Island is part of the City’s Park System and boat rides are free, though they can fill up pretty quick on the weekend. We took the 10am boat ride. We found a nice spot on the beach that looked towards Whidbey and Camano Islands. The kids enjoyed playing in the sand while the parents conversed…well as much as we could when you have four little ones. After a couple hours we headed back to mainland where we headed back home. It was a great visit to Jetty Island and with Bryan’s family. Continue reading “How We Spent Labor Day 2011 [Video]”

“That banana slug has antlers!”: A walk through St. Edward State Park

St. Edward State Park

“That banana slug has antlers!” Our little naturalist has a great view of the natural world and he calls it as he sees it. It’s our job to encourage his curiosity and his sense of wonder and if that means he sees antlers, then they’re…well, we’ll help him out and let him know that they’re actually antennae (or tentacles) and used to watch television. We just can’t lead him astray.

We spent last Sunday morning at St. Edward State Park in Kenmore. It’s a short drive from our house which made it convenient. We’d been traveling all week and didn’t feel like spending a lot of time in the car. The State Park is a former Catholic seminary and became a park in 1977. It’s primarily wooded and offers great hiking and mountain biking. Continue reading ““That banana slug has antlers!”: A walk through St. Edward State Park”

I’m leaving, on a jet plane….to Kodiak, Alaska

Welcome to Kotzebue! We hope your flights aren't cancelled for weeks on end.

Alaska in August is what I’m talking about. Fire season has died down a bit. The sun is shining. Wildlife is roaming. Next week, I’m in Kodiak for two days for an earthquake training and meetings with the City. This will be followed up with meetings with the State of Alaska Emergency Management and the City of Wasilla (yes, that one) in the latter half of the week. This visit will be in complete contrast to my Alaska visit last February….I’m hoping.

I don’t recommend visiting Alaska in February unless you only plan to visit Anchorage. It’s cold and the weather is terribly unpredictable. I was there for FEMA meetings in Kotzebue (just north of the Artic Circle), Cordova, and Valdez (yes, that one). I only made it to Kotzebue where I was stuck for three days due to extreme weather.

Kotzebue, Alaska winds
The winds pick up in Kotzebue, Alaska

Originally I had only planned to be in Kotzebue for 8 hours. I took the early flight to make a 9am meeting. When late afternoon rolled in, flights were cancelled due to a weather front between Anchorage and Kotzebue. Over the next few days I spent most of time at the Bayside Inn and Restaurant where I checked our flight status and ate…a lot. The food was greasy, internet connection was working and, honestly, I didn’t really have another choice. I was staying at the Nullagvik Hotel next door (for the government discounted rate of $200/night) but there was no restaurant and the internet connection was down.

Chewbacca Lives in Anchorage!
Chewbacca Lives in Anchorage!

On my second night, I was almost taken out by aerial plywood. Myself and a guy with the State just finished dinner at the Bayside. The winds were seriously blowing outside but we thought we could make it to our hotel. As we passed the new Nullagvik Hotel being built in between the old Hullagivk and Bayside, plywood and insulation started ripping off the hotel and flying towards us. We hit the ground, waited for a clearing, and ran back to the Bayside. After telling our story to the Bayside employees, a couple of them went outside to verify. It says something when the locals are in shock and awe of the high intense the winds that were blowing. One of them gave us a ride in his truck to our hotel…100 yards away.

The next day the National Weather Service stated that last night’s storm was not a record storm for that area, but it was somewhere in the top 5 percent. That’s like saying we experienced a .00001% chance storm in the lower 48s. I’m just sayin’ it was intense and I was almost dismembered by flying plywood.

Upon returning back to Anchorage on Friday evening, I explored the City and Turnagain Arm until Sunday evening when I was due to fly to Valdez to make my Monday morning meeting. When I arrived at the airport, I was informed that flights to Valdez were cancelled all day Sunday. Later I was informed that flights to Valdez were cancelled all the next day. After seven days in Alaska I wasn’t about to hang around a few extra days to see if I could “make it” to Valdez. I grabbed the next flight home and landed around 3am in Seattle.

I took some video footage from my February visit to Kotzebue. I hope you enjoy them.

Kotzebue, Alaska Videos (February 2011)




Kotzebue, Alaska Photos (February 2011)


Heather Lake Hike in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Yum Yum Yum
Yum! Yum! Yum!

Did you grab the camera? Shoot, forgot it. Did you bring our iPod for the drive? Nope. Boy those kids are eating a lot on this drive to the trailhead. Do we have extra food? No. Ugh, my pants are too tight. Why didn’t I wear others?!? Hey, did you grab the Northwest Forest Pass before we left?  Uhhhhhhhhh, no. If this is how the drive was going, I couldn’t wait to see how the hike would turn out!

After a quick stop at the ranger station to see if we needed to buy a day pass (we didn’t), we made our way up the road to the Heather Lake Trailhead. We arrived at 10:15am and the lot was almost full. This is definitely a popular hike. Continue reading “Heather Lake Hike in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest”