In keeping with our streak for the New Year, we’ve spent at least one day the last three weekends hiking or playing in the outdoors. We’ve always been avid hikers but took some time off in November and December due to travel, weather, and illness. We’ve been working hard these past few weeks to ensure the kids get out, rain or shine. With today being the sunnier day than tomorrow, we headed a little south to Tiger Mountain State Forest for a nice hike aimed just for children.
Tiger Mountain State Forest is a forest managed by the City of Issaquah and State of Washington Department of Ecology located off I-90. It’s close proximity to Seattle makes this a very popular hike. We arrived around 10am just as the parking lot was filling up. I was surprised that no fees were required since the State is hurting for funds. The trails are well maintained, as are the signs, but for all the use they should be offsetting the costs.
Anyways, we decided to hike on one of the many family friendly trails from High Point Trail Head that offer flat terrain for Ethan to easily hike. There are plenty of strenuous hikes around and up the mountain for those seeking a more challenging hike. We started on the Around the Lake Trail then came back on the Bus Trail. Both trails provided about 2 miles of hiking which was plenty for Ethan. There were interpretive signs along the Around the Lake Trail that provided some great teaching moments for Ethan. He now knows how to identify a Western Red Cedar. An unusual site is found on the Bus Trail where an old bus lies on it’s side. It’s been there for decades and has been visited by plenty of bullets. Ethan found it very intriguing and wondered how it got here. His one theory is that the bus driver died and the bus was now stuck. Hmmmm.
For this hike Ethan wanted to wear his backpack loaded with his binoculars, compass, rain jacket, and water. He was very excited for this expedition and wanted to be prepared. Throughout the hike he enjoyed looking for wildlife with his binoculars. Of course every time he tried he always said he couldn’t see anything out of the binoculars despite our best efforts to focus his eyes. We’ll keep trying. He also tried fishing with his “fishing pole” or stick of the day. On every hike we take him on he finds a stick or five to carry along or share with us. At the end of the hike he’s required to leave them at the trailhead so the animals can use them.
Autumn rode in the Kelty backpack for the second time. She generally remained silent, perhaps stubborn because she wouldn’t crack a smile, and took in the views from her perch on me. By the end of the hike she was asleep and kept this way until we arrived home.
Throughout the year you could find some sort of holiday music being played in our house. Why celebrate the most wonderful time of year only once a year when you can set the mood early and often. In that spirit, we headed out yesterday and selected our Christmas tree. Usually we head out the week after Thanksgiving, but this year we were going to be gone for the holidays and wanted to maximize our Christmas tree time. It’s not easy finding a Christmas tree farm open before Thanksgiving but we found the Philchick Secret Valley Christmas Tree Farm near Arlington open for business.
Of course if you have a Christmas tree then you might as well bust out all the holiday decorations. I hauled down our few boxes of decorations and the tree stand and set up shop in the house. Quickly our house was transformed from pumpkins and autumn colors to snowmen and holiday lights. We hung up the stockings with care, poured egg nog and hot chocolate and warmed ourselves to the glow of an awesome fire.
Last Christmas was wonderful because Ethan finally got into it. He learned what it was all about and how much fun it could be. This year he was prepared and excited from the beginning. From selecting the tree to pulling out the decorations he was full of excitement and joy that Santa would be coming. Of course we had to remind him that he still had five weeks to go.
The icing on the cake this weekend is the weather. Yes, we have rainy gloomy weather in the northwest. However, yesterday, we had a beautiful crisp winter Saturday morning as we cut our Christmas tree. As the day progressed the temperatures continued to drop. This morning the snow finally arrived. From crisp blue skies that offered spectacular views of snow capped Cascade peaks yesterday to a snowy blistery morning today, what more could we ask for?
“We’re going on an Aardvark hunt, we’re going to catch a big one” and the two fearless adventurers, protected by their firefighter hats and carrying shopping baskets and snakes, set off through the house to find the fearsome Aardvarks that lurked in the back halls. Nephew Ethan, along with his sidekick Uncle Mark, stormed the house so all could get a good night sleep.
Heffalump! What the? Okay if you don’t have kids you probably don’t have any idea what a Heffalump is. I didn’t either until earlier in October I randomly selected for Ethan Pooh’s Heffalump Movie from Netflix. That’s all it took. He watched it, laughed a lot, smiled, never ate his popcorn because he was glued to the movie, and came back asking for more. Seriously, he loves anything about it (characters, songs, dialogue, pictures). There is no doubt that October became the month of the Heffalump.
But we also got our fair share of Vitamin D and hiked the Cascades, saw the Salmon run, visited McMinnville, watched Autumn get her first tooth and chomp down her first solids, and finished the month with the cutest little horse and firefighter you ever saw. Our weekends and family time took us near and far. Here’s a brief summary of our October:
Skagit Valley Festival of Farms Tour
Games, games, and lots of games (mostly puzzles)
Big Four Ice Caves Hike
Robe Canyon Hike
Community Trunk ‘n Treat
Trip to McMinnville, Oregon to visit family
Neighborhood trick or treating
The fall colors were in full bloom here in Washington and down in Oregon. Our drive down to McMinnville was gorgeous along I-5. Here’s to a great November.
September 2010 has come and gone. Up here in Seattle it was a beautiful month to be outdoors and enjoying the natural resources that this area has to offer. Its’ claimed this was the coolest September on record since Eisenhower was in office (or something like that), but we wouldn’t know since we’ve been here only a year. We took advantage of the weather and did a few hikes in the area