We have a great time on the Oregon Coast with the kids except when I took a tumble


We just got home from our Oregon Beach Trip with the grandkids and had an awesome time. If you have grandkids like ours you totally get why we want to be around them on a regular basis. For us that means we grab a rental every summer (at least for the last couple of years) and spend a week with them. We play games, take outings and just have fun. Those VRBO commercials I am always seeing are totally on point when they show you making memories that will last a lifetime.

We got down there on Monday after about a three and a half hour drive from our place in Redmond. We stopped on the way at the kid’s house in Olympia (90 minute drive to get there) where we exchanged two bags of food and a cooler with my daughter and son-in-law for two awesome kids who rode with us another two hours to Sunset Beach, Oregon. We were totally thrilled when we arrived that the rental that was EXACTLY like the pictures we had seen online. A huge house with lots of light, a big back yard (that has deer walking through constantly—usually twice a day) and a super kitchen/dining/living area for cooking, playing games or watching Return of the Jedi with my grandson. That night we did dinner at a place I had found on line called Ruby’s Roadside Grille in Seaside. The website overstated what the place looked like (a converted gas station) but understated the food, which was awesome.

On our first full day, Grandpa (that’s me) made his world famous pancakes. Then we we went south to the community of Seaside, Oregon where we visited their aquarium (skip it—it’s sad), walked on the promenade (OK) and went to Captain Kidd’s amusement park (race the go-carts and skip the rest) and tried our hand at swan paddle boats on the river. Won’t do that again. Way too much work. Finished completely covered in sweat and with a massive back ache.

After we got off the swans, we headed back to the house for lunch. After lunch and at least three games played at the table before we got up, the kids headed down to the beach where they actually went swimming (the water here is very cold). They also did some geocaching (and there is a lot more to that subject below but first let me finish with the next two days). Of course after our dinner of Grandpa’s pizza and salad there had to be more games around the table—this family loves games.

Wednesday we went north to Astoria. First we stopped at Fort Clatsop where the Lewis and Clark expedition had ended. We were just in time to see a demonstration of old rifles. We even got to hold our ears while an old muzzle loader was fired. This was a biggie as Mason had done a big study of Lewis and Clarke and the Oregon Trail during the school year. Then we visited and climbed the Astoria Column. It’s a big giant column at the top of a hill in Astoria and there are 164 steps on a spiral staircase to the top. It’s a very cool tower (as you can see) but it was a long climb to the top. Some super views though and worth the climb. Not only that, it’s free except for $5 for parking which is good for an entire year.

After that it was back to the house where we had started playing badminton the night before and the kids were just getting good at it. We had bought a portable set from Sharper Image and this was the first time we have used it. We had a lot of fun playing in the backyard. In the later afternoon while Jenna and Joel went running, Mason and I watched Return of the Jedi. He and I have been bonding over the original Star Wars films since last summer. I shared the first one with him on our summer trip and the second when we saw them for his birthday in February. We finished just before our dinner that was some yummy carnitas and then after dinner was…MORE GAMES Playing games was so much better this year because now that Maylee is almost 8 (only two weeks) she can keep up with and sometimes beat all of us.

That was also the night we did our annual family photo shoot. Every year Jenna asks me to take pics of the their family. She actually thinks her old dad is a pretty decent photographer. So they get all dressed up and we head to the beach. We got some great shots. This one is my favorite. Aren’t they the best darned looking family you have ever seen? I know, I am prejudiced.

Day three (that’s yesterday) we didn’t really have anything planned so after breakfast we of course stayed at the table to play at least one game or two. Then it was off to do some geocaching. Kathleen stayed at the house because it was going to be mostly hiking through high grass and beach sand. We headed out to follow the GPS geocaching app which took us to Shipwreck Beach, so named because of the remains of a 1906 shipwreck that is still on the beach.

After we checked out the shipwreck we headed into the tall beach grass at the top of the dunes to search out the first of two geocache capsules. We walked about half a mile, not on any trail at all, through grass up to our waists. Finally the kids found the first one under a tree. When you find one, it’s usually in some kind of tube or watertight container. You open it and inside there’s a piece of paper with the people who have found it before. You add your name to the paper and then you put it back. We did that twice (there was another about .2 miles away). Still in deep brush and very high grass.

After we found the second one we decided to head back to the beach because we didn’t want to go all the way back the way we had come, fighting our way through the brush. Too much hassle getting through. So we turned right and headed to the beach so we could walk back on the sand. The only problem was when we got down to the end of the beach grass on the dunes, there was about a five foot drop off from the beach grass down to the beach and the beach was covered with driftwood below this drop off. I thought maybe I could kind of lower myself very carefully down to the ground but one minute I was getting ready to do that and the next thing I knew, the bank I was standing on collapsed and I fell about five feet, landed on my right side with my camera under me. Needless to say, I am banged up. Huge bruise and bump on my right arm and a badly bruised left leg that I was standing on and hit first when I fell. And my camera is damaged. Enough that it will take some serious repair. I think that hurts the most. I have been icing and stretching since I got back to the house and now at home but it is still pretty painful. I wasn’t really not looking forward to the three and a half hour drive home today but it turned out OK.

But should say that as banged up as I was, I was well enough to pile in the car and head north to Dairy Queen with the whole gang for my first ever blizzard. I had the frosted animal cookie flavor that when Mason tasted it, he said it tasted like cardboard.

So to finish the day we had a super dinner (Jenna and Joel did burgers) last night,  I played video games with the kids and we all played another couple of board games after dinner. Then it was ice up again and watch some TV until bedtime. Was feeling kind of low. I know I will live. I know my camera will be OK but right now, I wish that bank had not given away.

But let’s sum this all up by saying that it was still the best week of the year so far…and we have been to the Galapagos this year. That’s how much we love traveling with this family.

No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.   —Lin Yutang

Giving experiences

I want to wait until tomorrow to finish my story about how we got into the travel business. Today I want to talk about gifts. Pretty appropriate since tomorrow is Christmas Eve and the next day Christmas.

About 15 years ago I stopped giving our children things for Christmas. For those of you who don’t know, we have three between us. Kathleen has a daughter (Michelle) who is married to Brian. I have a son (Josh) who is married to Cynthia and a daughter (Jenna) who is married to Joel. At the time I stopped giving presents, there were no grandchildren in the picture. Instead of things, I give them experiences.

In the beginning (before grandchildren) I would take all six of them out to do something together. This in itself was a pretty difficult thing to do when coordinating all their schedules. On Christmas morning they would open a box and inside it would tell them what we were doing that year. In the early years it was usually a play or show of some kind. For instance we saw touring companies of Lion King, Phantom of the Opera and The Blue Man Group along with some traveling Cirque de Soleil shows. Then along came our grandson and Jenna and Joel moved across the mountains to the Wenatchee area and they started getting experiences of their own without all of us. I kept giving them experiences but pretty much stuff they could do by themselves like dinners out, overnight hotels stays, airfare to Hawaii, etc.

But I kept giving the other four kids who lived near us (I call them kids but they range in age from 40 to 38) experiences here with us. We’ve done cooking classes, dinners at the Herb Farm (an incredible dining experience), more Cirque shows, cocktail tours and the really big one…three nights in Las Vegas. That was the year we took Jenna, Joel, Mason (grandson) and Maylee (granddaughter) to Disneyland as their Christmas experience.

The point I am trying to make here is this, giving experiences has been a win-win for me and our kids. First I win because not only do I get to give them something, I get to do it with them. I can honestly say, I have thoroughly enjoyed every experience we have done with them. (Well there was one cooking class that was a huge BUST but I did love going with them.) Second they win because to be honest, our kids do OK. They really don’t need any more things in their lives. Especially things I might pick out for them.

I should add that this idea has rubbed off on our kids. We opened our presents with Jenna, Joel and the grandkids on Wednesday and they gave us a trip to the zoo. Now I love the zoo but what I was really thrilled in getting was being able to go with them! That’s the experience I love.

So I want to encourage everyone who has adult kids, consider giving them experiences. Even better, give them an experience that you can do together. Sometimes the gift of time is worth so much more than a new toaster.

PS: Just to make this travel-related I can tell you what we got the grandkids this year. A seven night cruise on Ovation of the Seas this July. We have talked so much about cruising with them that we just wanted to share that with them so they can see why we love it so much. I can’t tell you what we got the other kids because we haven’t given it to them yet. Maybe tomorrow after we open gifts.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

Grandkids!

IMG_1165Ok, so I know this is supposed to be about travel but I am still just using these posts for two reasons. The first is to continue to learn WordPress. The second is to get into the habit of writing every day which I plan to do for 2019. I promise to revert to more travel-worthy topics in the new year. Plus I promise to sneak some cruising stuff in here as well.

Yesterday our two grandchildren (and their parents) came to see us from East Wenatchee (about 120 miles away) to celebrate my birthday (a day late) and Christmas (five days early). You have to understand that these two (Mason and Maylee), are the light of our lives. Mason wasn’t feeling too well but Maylee was at her best. And as it happened, Kathleen wasn’t feeling too well either.

They usually come over sometime before Christmas so that we can do some kind of a Christmas event and then exchange Christmas and birthday gifts. Which brings me to the mention of cruising. Our birthday gift for them this year is that we are taking them on a seven day Alaska cruise this summer on Royal Caribbean’s (RCL) Ovation of the Seas. The grandkids have never been on a cruise but their parents did one on RCL for their honeymoon in 2005.

So for our Christmas event I took them (Kathleen stayed home with both a bad head and stomach ache) to Enchant at what is now T-Mobile Park (used to be Safeco Field). It was a pretty amazing light show but that was about it. We had a great time with the kids but if they do it again next year, it’s not worth going back. It’s a one-time thing.

And as I write this (about noon on Thursday) they have left to take our precious grandkids home. We miss them so much but we FaceTime with them twice a week and will see them again either in January or for Mason’s birthday in February.