#7: Write Anniversary Letters

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

We did this last year, and liked it so much that it’s now a perennial Thing.

The gift theme for year 3 is leather (traditional) and crystal or glass (modern). Becky gave Ben a new wallet from Tanner Goods, and Ben gave Becky a new terrarium from Pistil’s Nursery.

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And, of course, we wrote letters to each other, but as the contents are intensely personal, we won’t be sharing them here.

Happy third year of us! The view from here is great, and we’re looking forward to many more of these.

<3 Jackson <3

Last month we had to say goodbye to the best dog I have ever had. On his 6th birthday, after spending nearly two weeks in and out of three of the best animal hospitals around, Jackson suffered fatal kidney failure. It was completely unexpected and hit me harder than I would have expected. He was my best furry friend and it’s still intensely painful. Here are 100 images that show a bit of what an all-around awesome, happy, and companionable little guy he was.

Gridium Camp: Park City, UT

Every three months, my company holds an all-hands meeting in an interesting part of the USA. I’ve heartily enjoyed the three other camps I’ve been to, and this one promised to be no different. The location: Park City, Utah.

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We went there in March, after a particularly warm winter, so there wasn’t much snow left. The temperature was comfortable, and the scenery was gorgeous.

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The primary reason we were here was to hold meetings, so we borrowed a house big enough to hold all of us. The place was amazing, probably the best I’ve seen for a group this size.

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One of our number had a pregnant wife who was due at the same time as Camp, so we MacGyvered together a way for him to be with us. I scotch-taped the wide-angle lens I have for my phone on top of a laptop webcam, plugged in a condenser microphone, and Skyped him in. It worked perfectly: he could see the whole room, and we could all see his smiling face. We were all kind of surprised how well it worked.

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We weren’t all business, though. One morning we headed out at 5:30 to climb a local mountain. We quickly reached the snow line, and some of us found out we had packed entirely the wrong sort of shoes.

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Here the wide-angle lens comes in handy again.

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We reached the summit, and made it back with 5 minutes left before the business started up again.

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Before we knew it, it was time to head home again. Here’s how I let Becky and the kids know I was all packed and ready to go.

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…and that I’d be seeing them soon.

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Another fun trip, although once again unfortunately without Becky. Hopefully she’ll come along to the next one.

#4: Dine at an Old Guard Portland Restaurant

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

We originally put Huber’s on our list for the Spanish Coffee, but it turns out it’s the single oldest restaurant in Portland! They opened in 1879, making them 136 years old, which definitely qualifies them as “old guard” for the purposes of our list.

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And yes, we had the Spanish Coffee. I didn’t get a video of the creation of this beverage, but it was good.

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We also ate dinner there, but it turns out age doesn’t necessarily translate to great food. It was fine, but not mind-blowing in any way. Come for the drinks.

#16: Explore the Westmoreland Park Nature Playground

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

We heard about this park a while ago, and made a note to go there. It’s a huge area, covered with rocks, logs, and danger. We met a few of the kids’ cousins there, and once they knew we weren’t going to helicopter over them, they ran and played and explored with reckless abandon.

There’s at least one kid that’s associated with us every photo. See if you can spot them all!

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#38: Road Trip with a Destination – Afternoon Tea at the Empress

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

This is the second year in a row with one of our hundred things being a road trip with a specific destination. Last year, we went to Seattle, with an extra rule: avoid freeways when possible. This year, we did it a bit differently.

Our destination was lovely Victoria BC. We didn’t rule out freeways, because this time our goal was to also circumnavigate the Olympic Peninsula. So we drove as fast as we could to just past Centralia, where we took a side road out west. We stopped for coffee and a surprising item of kitsch at the Elma Farm Stand and Public Market.

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Shortly after this, the rain started, so we didn’t really stop again until we reached our lodgings at Lake Quinault.

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Once we arrived and determined that the rain wouldn’t soak us, we went on a soggy hike, and I realized I hadn’t really packed for this kind of adventure. I may look ridiculous with my pants rolled up, but the nature was worth it.

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The next morning, we drove around Lake Quinault, which took longer than we bargained for, but we had heard that there was a world’s-largest tree out there, so we couldn’t not go. Sure enough, it’s pretty big. It doesn’t really fit in a camera frame, so we had to back up to give you a sense of the thing.

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A herd of elk was nearby as well.

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We finished with the lake, and headed back to 101. As we headed northward, we noticed a sign for another world’s-largest tree, and we once again couldn’t not stop. Unfortunately half of this tree has fallen down, but it’s still really huge.

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Next stop: Forks, Washington, which looooooves to brag about its place in Twilight lore. You’ll never guess how much of the movies were filmed here. The answer is none! None percent. All the “Forks” scenes were shot in Vancouver and Portland and Oregon City.

This monument is to loggers who have died in the line of duty, which is a good representation of what this area is really about.

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Further along, we took the road to Sol Duc Falls for a bit, although the actual Sol Duc area was still closed. There are several small hikes along here which are just stunning – the Ancient Groves Nature Trail was a real standout, and highly worthwhile.

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After a night in Port Angeles and a ferry ride, we arrived in Victoria!

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We found our lodgings, fed ourselves, and headed out to see the sights. Our first stop was Miniature World, which has an amazing website, you should really go check it out. It’s worth a visit if you’re in the area, too; the projects in here are impressive in scope and detail. There are reenactments of several wars…

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…as well as some fairy tales.

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After that, the main event. The Empress Tea Room is the reason we chose Victora for our destination in the first place. We had even packed some extra-dressy clothes for the occasion.

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We would have been happy with just the tea, but unfortunately you aren’t allowed to just stop there. Our server brought us this heaping tray of goodies, each of which was 90% made from things we usually don’t eat. For politeness’ (and adventures’) sake we ate them, and they were tasty, and we paid the price the next day.

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Well, the tea pretty much knocked us out for the rest of the day. The following day we started on a rambling walk around the city, which led us down around scenic Beacon Hill Park, through Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch, and back to our lodgings through the old town. It ended up being 6 miles, and took us all day, and it was glorious.

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Then it was time to head home. We stepped off the ferry and had one last picnic lunch overlooking the Strait.

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And managed to stop in at Hurricane Ridge. It was windy and cold, so we didn’t stay long, but it was worth the drive for the view.

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We also spotted this on the side of the road. We played our usual strategy: only play the nickel slots, only spend $20, and switch machines and players when you’ve gained or lost $2. We walked out an hour later, having swapped that $20 with this $20. Pretty cheap entertainment.

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And then we drove home. As we’ve written before, we find that deliberately lengthening the time spent in between activities helps us calm our minds and think. I guess this is how we do meditation. Anyways, it was great, and we’ll be doing it again.

#46: Read a Parenting Book

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

We’ve been reading in this genre for quite a while (long before we wrote about it last year), but there are always more great books to read, and this is one of them.

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Parents: if you find yourself in a bookstore and get 5 minutes alone, do yourself a favor. Find this book and flip to the appendix, and skim the outline of the book’s main points. If you find yourself nodding or thinking “man, that would be really nice,” do yourself a second favor and buy it. There’s lots of good stuff here, and we’re both glad to have read it. Highly recommended.