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.

Valentine Interviews

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Following our yearly tradition, here are the kids’ Valentine’s-day interviews for 2015! For a bit of nostalgia, you can review the 2014 and 2013 editions as well.

How do you know who to marry?

  • Will: by how nice they are, how pretty they are, how hard they work, and how much they like me.
  • Lucy: by if they um, if they do the same things as you and they’re a lot like you.

What is the right age to get married?

  • Will: 21
  • Lucy: 20

How can a stranger tell if two people are married?

  • Will: if they’re walking together, if they are holding hands, um, if they kiss each other.
  • Lucy: by if they have rings on their hands.

What do you think your Mom & Dad have in common?

  • Will: they each work hard for us and both love each other, um, both like things.
  • Lucy: that they both like to go on adventures and taste, and they like the tastes of lots of things.

What do most people do on a date?

  • Will: go out and eat together, talk about why they like each other, and about what their interests and what they’d like to do if they got married and other stuff that’s important to them.
  • Lucy: they go out to a restaurant.

When is it okay to kiss someone?

  • Will: when you’re married, when you’re getting married, at a wedding, if you’re already married.
  • Lucy: when they’re married

Is it better to be single or married?

  • Will: to be married so that you can be free to do more things cause you don’t have to do a bunch of work, like, if you were single you’ll probably have to work all the time to get enough money to eat, but if you are married your wife will probably have a job so you don’t have to work all the time to get enough money and you can hang out with your kids if you have any.
  • Lucy: to be married because you don’t have to do all the jobs, you can have somebody for when you’re lonely.

How would the world be different if people didn’t get married?

  • Will: there would have to be a bunch of houses built, twice as many as if all the people in the world were married. There’d probably be a lot more dogs and dog poop because if all the people who have dogs today weren’t married there’d be twice as many dogs.
  • Lucy: they would have to do all the jobs of everybody, they wouldn’t get to have babies, um, they wouldn’t have somebody to have when they’re lonely, they might not have enough money.

How would you make a marriage work?

  • Will: Um, I would have a dog, some children, make sure my wife and I had jobs so that we could have enough money to support our children and ourselves.  Make sure that we’d get to hang out with our kids and together. And we’d go on lots of hikes and vacations.
  • Lucy: by um, the person who I married I would do lots of things they would want, we would put our money together, we would go on adventures, we would do what the other person wanted then do what the other person wanted.

Where do people get married?

  • Will: in a castle, at um a ball, at a wedding, and a lot of other places
  • Lucy: usually at churches, sometimes somewhere else, like at farms or something?

Who are you going to marry?

  • Will: a person who is beautiful and sweet and likes me and would like to have children and would be okay if I was out driving a supercar some of the time and would like to hang out with her children and would do some of the work.
  • Lucy: it’s somebody from my school, Alex C. He actually is pretty funny sometimes.

#81: Ride on a Ferry

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

The final leg of our journey to Victoria was on water. We stayed a night in Port Angeles, walked to the ferry terminal, showed our passports, and hopped on the boat for a 90-minute journey to another country.

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It’s not entirely clear in this shot, but I’m actually holding my phone over the rail to get a photo. Becky started having heart palpitations, and stepped back to capture the moment.

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It was breezy and cold, and a little bumpy. Becky lost her breakfast shortly after these photos were taken.

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So we’ve discovered for probably the fifth time that the ocean is not Becky’s friend, but this was still an experience worth having. There isn’t even much cell service once you’re underway, so you’re forced to take a little down time and read something, which we don’t do nearly as much as we probably should.

#77: Stay a Night at the Historic Lake Quinault Lodge

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

One of the itinerary items on our destinational road trip was also a thing that had been on Becky’s bucket list for quite a while: staying at the historic Lake Quinault Lodge!

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It’s a gorgeous historical lodge, in the same vein as the one at Crater Lake, and it fits perfectly in this lovely area.

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The Lake Quinault area is beautiful in its own right. We hiked through the rainforest on the afternoon we arrived, and again the next morning. This is the middle of a temperate rainforest, so everything is lush and green.

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We even spotted a sasquatch.

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The interior of this place is as cozy as the outside is wet. This is what I imagine Theodore Roosevelt’s mountain cabin is like, except he hunted the bear and deer with only his hands.

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We even ate at the restaurant, where we noticed the perfect tagline:

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This place fulfilled our every expectation. It’s a little touristy and pricey, but worth it.

#78: Make Laundry Detergent

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

We live in Portland, so the pressure to make all the things you can is pretty high. To that end, Becky found a laundry detergent recipe that’s so easy a couple of children could make it.

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First, we ordered all the ingredients. These aren’t things you can just pop over to Safeway and find, so we made use of our Amazon Prime membership.

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Next: put the children to work. There are two stations: one for grinding up the bars of soap, the other for measuring and mixing all the other things. Will and Lucy agreed they should take turns.

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The finished product is pretty satisfying.

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It’s hard to say exactly what the cost per load of laundry here is. We spent $50 on ingredients, but the thing we ran out of was soap; we still have plenty of the rest. Whether it’s cheaper or not, we still feel pretty good about it – now we know exactly what’s going into the washer with our clothes.

February Misc Round-Up

The kids always love visiting their grandparents.

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And their cousins. Especially when Operation is involved.

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Lucy had a hard time deciding how to spend her allowance on clearance items at Target. And yes, she ended up with the fuzzy pink sweater. She looks like a Muppet when she’s wearing it.

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Sushi!

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Becky had a photo shoot at Wintler Park, so the kids and I rode bikes and made sand drawings for a while.

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Will’s homeschooling includes some classes at Village Home, and we take walks around the neighborhood for breaks.

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Village home also puts together field trips. This one was birdwatching at Fernhill Wetlands nature trail.

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Sometimes we do a reading lunch. The kids love magazines.

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While Will and I were buying new stools and a bookshelf, Becky and Lucy found some interesting things at City Liquidators.

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I’m developing a deep and abiding love for cast iron. And aprons.

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Happy birthday, Becky! Strawberry waffles for breakfast!

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And Holdfast for dinner!

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Becky got a new injection for her back, and this one seems to be working. Cross your fingers.

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