#35: Try 5 New Fruits or Vegetables

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

We saw a golden opportunity when we visited the big Portland farmer’s market, and set out to get some never-before-seen-in-our-kitchen ingredients

First up: these gnomish little potatoes. We cooked them up in our breakfast hash, and were creamy and a bit pink.

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These purple beans turned bright green when we sauteed them!

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As did these purple peppers; we couldn’t tell them from the green ones we cooked with them.

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These plums were dessert, served raw. The skin was tart, but the flesh was amazingly sweet.

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These tiny grapes didn’t last long. Each one had the flavor of a full-sized grape in a much smaller package.

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We think maybe these are a cross between plums and apricots? Anyway, they were delicious.

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We’ve had huckleberry products before, but never on their own. These were our favorite.

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Will and Lucy are great eaters, and will try anything. They had as much fun as we did on this little culinary adventure!

 

#31: Visit a New City/State – Chicago!

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

Every three months or so, Gridium has what they call “Camp.” It’s an all-hands meeting, and takes place in interesting places around (so far) the U.S. In July of 2014, it was in Chicago.

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We arrived a day early, and took advantage of our time to walk around Wrigleyville. We even made it to the lake just as the cloud cover was burning off.

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After that, we split up for most of the next four days.

Becky’s Adventure

Having purchased a 7-Day Transit Pass upon leaving the airport I was free to roam the city as I wished.  My first stop was to hit up the Museum of Contemporary Photography, which happened to be showing the exact same exhibit I had visited at the Photographer’s Gallery in London in October.

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After that familiar visit I stopped for an excellent burger lunch and browsed through the free daily paper looking for something to do.  Happily I learned that the Comedy Exposition of 2014 still had one full day left! I took the train up to Logan Park and caught a couple great shows.

The second show handed me this toilet paper and straw as I walked in.

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“Subs”What would happen if the entire faculty of a high school was out sick, and the only people they could find to substitute teach were standup comedians?

This show was hilarious and the 7 comedians featured really put a lot into their characters. Below is the art teacher:

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Late Monday morning I headed out once again in search of photo exhibits. First up was the “New Deal Utopias” at the City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower.

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Next up: the Chicago Cultural Center for three more photo exhibits, a handful of art exhibits, and one amazing building that was formerly a library.

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This photo exhibit did not impress me. It was three rooms of this:

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Then I crossed the street to Millennium Park to check out Cloud Gate, and all the other art that’s just sitting there for just anybody to look at. There also happened to be a history-of-Millennium-Park photography exhibit there. This was a day of photography exhibits.

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This is Daly Plaza, where this Picasso stands, and where a spontaneous Bastille Day celebration was happening. I may have eaten macaroons.

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Last on the docket: a fascinating exhibit with a really interesting story. The short version: a photographer found 30 boxes of slides at a second-hand shop. No one knew who the couple in the photos were, but they were fantastic, and told a really great story. I loved this exhibit.

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I criss-crossed the city by train, and walked an average of seven miles every day. It was awesome.

Ben’s Adventure

Meanwhile, all the Gridium-ers were having very deep and productive discussions about the direction of the company. Becky dropped in one day with a camera and her ninja invisibility skills.

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The Gridium mascot, Sugar Ray, was in attendance.

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This is what happens when you find a dumbbell on the roof deck of your Airbnb after a few drinks: Ty makes you work.

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Our Adventure

Once all the business time was over, Becky and I hit the town on our own. We moved to another Airbnb closer to the city center, and headed out on a Stray Boots walking tour.

“Be like Lincoln.”

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“Snap a photo under the Old Town gate”

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We unfortunately couldn’t get tickets to an actual show at The Second City, but our tour had us poke our heads in.

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“Look blue in front of the blue door.”

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The next day we had a couple of food goals to accomplish. This place came highly recommended, and for good reason. They make a sandwich that’s uniquely Chicago, and if you’re ever here you should have one.

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Then we began another Stray Boots tour. “What’s the name of the third gray pipe in the pumphouse?”

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“Check out the view over the Chicago River.”

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“Pose with Washington and his sidekicks”

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Hey, it’s the buildings from that Wilco album.

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Ben had to see the Bean too, so we retraced Becky’s steps for a while. These next three are all self-portraits.

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We made sure to visit Navy Pier, and feed Becky’s love of heights by riding the big ferris wheel and the swings.

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Unfortunately, Becky picked up a nasty cold while we were there, and it truly set in on our last day. We spent most of the morning at this awesome coffee shop, trying to conserve energy. Oh yeah, that’s a real DeLorean in the loft.

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Chicago was good to us, and I think we were good to it. One of Gridium’s founders lives here, so we’ll most likely be back someday. We’re looking forward to it.

#8: Visit the Big PDX Farmers Market in the Summer

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

This thing has been going on since time immemorial, and it’s huge. We can’t be Portlanders and not go there.

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Usually we go to the one that’s located a block away from our house, but we made a special trip downtown one Sunday morning. The selection of foods here is amazing.

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There was live music, too! From the clues we observed, we think this was traditional Armenian music.

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This is a great experience. We kind of wished we had gotten there when it opened at 10 to beat some of the crowds, but nobody got lost.

#5: Dine at a Brand New Restaurant

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

This one’s been on our list since it opened. In fact, we were backers of the Kickstarter!

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We’ve been enjoying the food at Joe and Heather’s cart on Alberta for two years now, and this place is a couple levels up. The kids were thrilled that they could order anything on the menu. That’s a big deal for them – usually we have to narrow it down to the two or three things they can choose from.

Naturally, though, they both opted for the build-your-own “peanut butter” and “jelly” “sandwiches” and bacon-wrapped dates.

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We went a bit further afield, with the pork tacos and salmon poke salad, both of which we shared with the kids. This is a huge amount of food, especially when you consider it’s not full of fillers like rice and bread.

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This place is great. If you’re paleo, you should definitely stop by, and even if you’re not, come and see how we eat.

Will is Eight!

Not too long ago, Will turned seven. But then, just last month, he turned eight! We asked him to stop, but he refuses.

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We happened to be in Salt Lake City for his actual birthday, which was an extra treat. He was pretty cheerful that morning. His birthday dinner? Thai food – pineapple curry, larb, and fried rice.

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We didn’t want to haul his gifts all the way to SLC and back, so he had a gift-opening party when we got back. Of particular note: a chess set (from Lucy), a model corvette, and a car-drawing kit that Margaret set aside for him when he was two. He’s the perfect age for it now, and he’s been drawing up a storm with it.

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The Birthday Interview

What is the meaning of life?

Just to live, have fun, and die. I never actually thought of a good reason to be alive. Life doesn’t make any sense.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

An airplane racer, a video game tester, and a car racer

What brings you the most happiness?

Achieving something hard, for example, like a super-hard race on the ipad, or achieving my scared-ness of going down a big water-slide when you don’t think I can do it.

When do you feel the most loved?

When I get a hug when I’m really sad.

What are you afraid of?

Dying in a car crash when I grow up when I’m racing. Or in the dark, like sometimes I see big shadows or hear the stairs creaking and I think it’s a big monster.

If you had one wish, what would you wish for?

I would wish to have a good fortune in life.

What is the funniest word?

Pig Latin

What is the hardest thing to do?

Write long things.

What is the easiest thing to do?

Have fun.

What is the best thing in the world?

Playing on the iPad.

What is the worst thing in the world?

Writing long things.

What makes you mad?

Losing a race, a big race on the iPad.

What is the meaning of love?

To find someone you really like.

If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it?

Buy a house and a rocket car and the fastest car in the world and buy people to do everything for me and a plane and a pilot.

Salt Lake City

Most of the Jenson clan happened to be in Salt Lake City for the 4th of July, so we decided to spend some of our airline miles and join them (Grand total for all four flights? $20). The kids are getting pretty good at air travel.

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That evening, we found out that strip malls sometimes have creeks.

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The next day, we went on a hike through Parley’s Canyon, which was practically in our backyard, and there were a lot of dogs taking their owners for walks. We ended up taking a slightly wrong turn, and we didn’t make it back until the temperature was in the 90s.

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We spent a gorgeous 4th-of-July afternoon at the Swenson’s house (you know, Becky’s sister’s husband’s parents’ house), where Lucy got red-white-and-blue nail polish, and all of the kids ran through the sprinkler while popping bubbles.

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Later that afternoon, after a lovely barbecue dinner, we moved the party to the front yard for a small fireworks display.

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Will had left his favorite cap at his grandparents’ house, so he borrowed my visor for this trip. He paired it with orange stripes, and made sure we sent a photo to Aunt Liz and Uncle Jeff (who are solidly in the Duck camp). If you’re not from Oregon, you are excused from understanding any of this.

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The next day we hosted a gathering of our own! Some of Becky’s more distant relatives were also in town, and we had a houseful all day long. The kids all got to know each other, and a great time was had by all. Oh, we also snuck one of the families away for a quick photo shoot in the park.

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The next morning was Will’s birthday! He’ll get his own post, but for now, here he is, very proud of the LEGO kit he had just finished. Ken and Dorothy were actually staying with us, and these were his gifts from them.

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That day we took the kids to their first water park! We met the Sarah-and-Alan crew at Cherry Hill, which was a bit of a drive from our house, but Becky has some history with this park, and she was thrilled to take the kids on the same rides she did as a kid. Very little of this is captured in photos; it’s hard to have cameras out when everyone is soaking wet. You’ll just have to trust me that Becky, Sarah, and Clark were actually there.

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The next day we packed up and headed home. Utah was hot, but still pretty good to us, and it was nice to connect with all the family we hadn’t seen for a while, or in some cases ever met before.

June Misc. Round-Up

The kids started their new classes at school! Will skipped a level and is now a Chinook, (fourth grade), and Lucy became a Dragonfly (second grade).

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Thanks to Gridium, I have a desk at a shared office! Becky spends some time there too.

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Father’s day happened. I went to the gym, and I got a chainsaw. And yes, those socks have wings.

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Another one of my gifts was a day alone at the office. I played some Bioshock Infinite and got some work done.

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Meanwhile, Becky took the kids on a rainy walk to the library.

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The kids went to Black Butte with the Swanks! They love this place.

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A bunch of Becky’s awesome relatives appeared at her brother’s new house, so we hung out for a while.

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Becky went on two hikes with friends and their littles.

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Strawberry picking didn’t go so well…

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So Becky bought 20 pounds at the farm store. We spent an evening with knives and Anthony Bourdain, getting them ready to freeze.

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PUPPY TIME

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A tongue. Not any of ours.

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#40: Go 24-Hours Gadget-Free

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

We decided one of the days we spent in Oysterville would be our “technology fast.” Now, if you’ve read any of our posts in the past, you know we have to have rules for this kind of challenge. Here they are:

  1. No screens of any kind.
  2. Unless it’s a camera. Camera phones are okay, but for photo-taking only.
  3. No internet, phone calls, or texting.

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And it turned out we didn’t take many photos during this period, either. We did go shopping for groceries, cook, eat, drink, hike, and read, but really not much else. And it was awesome.

#2: Explore a New-to-Us Beach Town

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

The kids were with the Swanks for their summer break, so we booked three nights in a secluded cabin in the woods near Oysterville, Washington. We stopped in Longview for a picnic on the way.

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On our way there, we had to stop at quaint Middle Village and walk the placard stations. And climb in the concrete replica war canoes.

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We arrived kind of late, and tried to get the lay of our digs, but… well, even if you scroll all the way through this post, you won’t find a single photo of the outside of the cabin. Why? Because this part of the peninsula is covered with mosquitoes. We could actually see them swarming, a nearly-solid mass ringing our house (they could smell Becky in there). There were dragonflies the size of small mice, and they still couldn’t eat enough of the things. We mostly ran between the house and the car, and then swatted the ones who tailgated in with us.

So we didn’t spend much time in our yard. But Oysterville is on Wilapa Bay, and the sea breeze keeps the bugs away. Plus, the little hamlet is charming and historic, and has its own walking tour. You have to pick up your printed guide at the little church.

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Oh, the blurriness in those photos isn’t a filter, it’s a Lensbaby. I was playing around.

Most of the houses here were built before 1920, and a large percentage are on the historic registry. The guide and the house placards tell a little story about the person who built each one.

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This one had two conflicting stories. Ned Osborne was either a jilted-but-loyal bachelor, or a really bad man.

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I made friends with this stray. Becky stayed pretty far away, though.

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On our way back to the cabin, we stopped in the charming and lovingly-restored Oysterville Store, which you should definitely visit if you ever find yourself here. (The photo below is from a story on the new owner, who brought this place back to life.)

We spent most of our time inside the cabin, eating, drinking, playing Scattergories, and reading.

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We took an afternoon to hike Leadbetter Point State Park. We were warned about the mosquitoes by others in the parking lot, but we scoffed, thinking we’d be spending most of our time on the beach. What naïve fools we were. So young.

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Once the trail entered the woods, we saw the error of our ways. The mosquitoes mobbed us, the only way we kept from getting more bites was to keep our pace pretty much at a run. Despite the 85° heat, Becky zipped her wool hoodie up all the way.

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Relief, as we emerged into the breeding grounds of the Snowy Plover, and a breeze. Then a short walk on the beach.

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And back into the woods. There are no pictures from the 30 minutes following that last photo. Only scars.

We went home, and prepared our dinner – a whole crab and a quarter gallon of garlic butter, both purchased at Oysterville Farms.

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The next day, we wandered up and down Ocean Park, stopping at all the antique shops we could find. They’re waaay overrepresented here; there are at least six, all of them very large.

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Our quest was interrupted when we noticed one of our tires forgot how to tire.

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Our antique quest was at an end. We scrambled to find a service shop that could fix the tire, and after a half hour of spraying water on it, one of the guys at Hill Auto Body and Towing (which doesn’t have a website, but does have a YouTube channel) pulled – I kid you not – a bone out of the tire. And only charged us $12. A+++, would break down here again.

We decided a nice walk on the beach was in order. Welp, it turns out that in Washington, you can drive on the beach. Any beach. We snapped a single photo and got the heck out of there.

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We wended our way back toward the cabin, but had to stop at this little gazebo with information placards. An info-zebo, if you will.

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We learned so much about oystering. Oh, and there was a huge pile of oyster shells nearby.

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We loved this trip. We only have maybe 73 bug bites between us, and the rest of it was so worth it. Oysterville is charming, and if you’re ever in Ocean Park, stop at Jack’s for… just about anything.

Umpqua Wayside & State Scenic Corridor

This is part of our Oregon State Park challenge! Check out our progress here.

On our way back from the Umpqua Lighthouse area, we drove through this (very) scenic corridor. There’s an elk viewing area just outside of Reedsport:

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There’s also a wayside, which doesn’t appear to be listed anywhere online, but still has all the signage of a real state park, so we’re claiming it.

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There’s a little trail down to the riverside, and a ton of good skipping rocks.

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It’s a nice stop if your legs and throwing arm need a stretch.