#23: Visit an Active Volcano

This is part of our 100 Things in 2015 challenge. Here’s the full list.

One does not simply visit the Big Island without doing volcano stuff. We set aside a day to drive over the saddle, so we could see the two main vulcanology attractions: Mauna Kea and Kilauea.

You can technically drive all the way to the summit of Mauna Kea, and there’s a cool observatory up there, but it takes a loooooong time, and a beefier Jeep than we had rented. So we settled for driving halfway up, to the visitor center. Outside there was a solar-observation telescope, and a ton of astronomy stuff going on inside. There’s a lovely hike outside as well, and in the saddle itself there’s a giant lava flow from the last time Manua Kea erupted.

Next stop: Kilauea. Will’s in the 4th grade, which entitles him to a free national parks pass! There are something like a dozen stops and hikes in this park, and they’re all really awesome. The observatory on Halemaʻumaʻu crater has a great view of the live crater, with all the fumes coming out. Will loved the fact that at any moment the wind could shift and we’d all have to crowd inside the building – that we were in constant danger.

Our next stop was partway around the crater; Devastation Trail. There was an eruption here in 1959, and it turned a lush rainforest into a barren wasteland, covering up what used to be a road. We also stopped at the Thurston Lava Tube, which had a similar feel to the Lava River Cave in eastern Oregon, without so much claustrophobia.

The Big Island is the newest one, and there are still parts of it that haven’t worn down enough for plants to grow. 3-year-old-Will’s bucket list had “drive a jeep on a volcano” on it, and we think we’ve managed to check that one off.

#65: Long Bike Ride

This is part of our 100 Things in 2015 challenge. Here’s the full list.

Since getting new bikes earlier this year, we’ve been looking for an opportunity to take them out on a real bike ride. Our annual trip to Lake Sammamish was the perfect chance – there’s an 11-mile long bike trail that runs alongside the lake, and it’s just outside the front door!

We rode all the way down to Lake Sammamish State Park, about 5 miles south. It’s a nice, level ride, mostly gravel. We threw some rocks in, rested our legs a bit, then headed back. Turns out there’s a string of 20-ish geocaches along the trail! We managed to find about 5 of them (and got stumped by a few), then headed back to the house.

We all love these bike rides, and we’d like to spend more time on two wheels. Hopefully our new neighborhood will give us more opportunities!

Lake Sammamish

For the third year in a row, we rented this little cottage on Lake Sammamish. We love it there, and by now it’s so familiar that we barely have to plan for our visit.

Packing this time was a little different; about half our load wasn’t coming back with us. The kids have outgrown a bunch of stuff, and now that we’re moving we have a whole kitchen’s worth of extra stuff. Plus, this was our first real road trip in our new car!

On our first day there, I had to do some work, so Becky took the kids to a new park nearby. The kids helped out by being models for the family portraits we were shooting in the front garden.

Once all the pictures were shot, we got to relax and hang out. Max, Ryan, and Jase loved all the pop-up books that live in the cottage, and Will and Lucy loved showing them off.

And, of course, you don’t stay on a lake without getting wet. This year some of the kids were old enough to be on floating things on their own, and they took full advantage of the new freedom. All of them still like being ferried around by grownups, too.

We had a great time, as per usual. Tony and Debbie are great fun, and the kids love hanging out together. Here’s to continuing this tradition!

Disneyland (Lucy’s Turn!)

Margaret and I decided, shortly after Will was born, that the perfect age to visit a Disney park for the first time was seven — not so young that you don’t remember it, but not so old that most of the magic is gone. Two years ago, Will turned seven, and Margaret’s parents took him to Disneyland, and we took Lucy to Hawaii.

This year was Lucy’s seventh birthday, so it’s time to switch places. We took Will to Hawaii, and Lucy got the Swanks all to herself in southern California! Here’s what she saw:

#68: Hawaiian Adventure with Will

This is part of our 100 Things in 2015 challenge. Here’s the full list.

Two years ago, when Will turned seven and went on his first Disney adventure, we took Lucy to Hawaii. This year Lucy turned seven, which means it’s Will’s turn for the tropics!

In order to optimize our flight cost, we had to split up. Becky took the early-early flight, while Will and I boarded midmorning. One of the attendants grabbed him and shoved him into the cockpit (which he loved), and six hours later we found our lodging – a spacious and comfortable condo in a resort-like complex on the northwest side of the big island.

You may notice the pool in that last photo. That’s the view out the back door of our condo, and Will didn’t last long before jumping in. The weather was unseasonably warm (even for Hawaii), and it felt like getting into a bath. He loved it, and it was a great way of getting used to his new snorkeling gear before taking it into the ocean.

When doing research about things to do on the big island, one of the most interesting that came up was this seahorse farm. Apparently seahorses were in danger of extinction at one point, because people wanted them in their aquariums, but they kept dying. This farm singlehandedly saved the species by breeding aquarium-tolerant seahorses in large volumes. It’s a pretty interesting story. Plus, we each got to hold hands with one! We celebrated with shave ice.

We also visited the Pu`ukoholā Heiau, an old royal palace, with lots of interesting artifacts, replicas, and carved figures.

We made sure to book a snorkeling adventure on a boat. The fishes were gorgeous, and Will loved it. Since this island is the newest one, much of the coast is rough volcanic stone instead of sand, and there are lots of lava caves that a skilled pilot can poke a boat into. Our guide was happy to show off his abilities.

We went to a luau, and when we got there we were surprised to see some of Will’s classmates there! The luau was unfortunately rained out, but Will got an armful of sharpie tattoos.

We tried to explore as much as we could in the short time we were there, and sampled as much shave ice as we could. On our last morning we went boogie boarding at Hapuna Beach, then packed up for home.

We had a great time, and made some memories that will last a lifetime. Hawaii is definitely a place we’ll be back to when the kids are older.

August Misc Round-Up

Becky took the kids on a hike around Round Lake with Emilia and her kids!

swank weekend

True miscellany:

  • One of our board games included drawing a funny face on your real face
  • Trackers!
  • Playing 80s video games
  • Sightseeing while dad buys a car
  • Just hanging out
  • Lucy’s dramatic haircut
  • a new banana costume!
  • making crystals
  • the results of woolgathering
  • Lucy’s fairy-house kit

Hank was at the vet, and it turns out he’s clever. He kept dragging his leash over to the door and looking expectantly at Becky.

Cute Puppy Time

#15: Visit 5 New Alberta Arts Establishments

This is part of our 100 Things in 2015 challenge. Here’s the full list.

Part of this challenge is getting to know our neighborhood. To that end, we set ourselves a quota: patronize a few places that we’ve never visited before. I was going to write a paragraph on each one, but the result was the same: usually this place is super busy, we had a great experience, and if you’re in the neighborhood it’s worth stopping by. So we’ll just list them.

We love this neighborhood, and we’re definitely going to miss it when we move.

#9: Explore a New Beach Town

This is part of our 100 Things in 2015 challenge. Here’s the full list.

When Becky finished her segment of the Oregon Coast Trail, we had a free weekend, so we shacked up at a most charming space above a bustling diner in Yachats, and dedicated ourselves to exploring the town. We discovered part of the OCT (the 804), a botanic preserve on the east side of 101, the patio of the Luna Fish House, live music at the Yachats Farm Store, and the Sunday farmers market.

[Note: Becky’s smile looks strained because her lips are blistered from wind and sun exposure on the hike.]

We liked Yachats a lot. It’s small enough to really get to know in a weekend, but has a flavor all its own. It’s sort of like what Cannon Beach is to Portland, except orbiting Eugene instead. We had a great time, and this place is well worth a visit.

#10: Two (More) Portland Walking Tours

This is part of our 100 Things in 2015 challenge. Here’s the full list.

We did part of this challenge last year, and are continuing from the same source material. If you’re noticing that there are only two, you’re right – this year has been pretty eventful, and these are the only ones we could make time and energy for.

Fremont Street (April)

This tour had us going quite a ways along Fremont, and didn’t end where it started. So we parked at the endpoint, and used Car2Go to get ourselves to the start. This is pretty close to where we live, but there was still lots to explore, and we stopped at Batter for brunch along the way.

Kenton (May)

Kenton is a neighborhood in north Portland that we don’t go to often, so this was a nice way to get a sense of it. The book does a great job of giving context to what you’re looking at.

Unfortunately this post isn’t very detailed, but we’ve already packed the walking tours book, and probably won’t find it again until after we’ve moved. There will be more, however; we’re nowhere near done with all the tours, and you know how we are with lists!