Sunday, August 7, 2016

Trip Dynasty: Big Sur-ish

The plan was to drive down highway 1 and explore the parks around Big Sur, but after an hour in we learned all the parks were closed due to fire. So we snapped a quick picture and backtracked to the main highway. 

Lunch was at a little hole in the wall Mexican restaurant, somewhere in the San Joaquin Valley, that met our need for great tacos and got us caught up on the Olympics.
Our AirBNB was a condo at a Ranch House in Acton, California. The hostess was very welcoming and with some creative arranging we found room for everyone to sleep, but the best part was the pool. We scarfed down dinner and all took a swim before the kids went to bed. Then the adults snuck back outside to hot tub and mess around once the bedtime rituals were over. Aaron managed to shove Robb in the pool by telling him that dangling your feet in the pool water while sitting on the edge of the hot tube gave you the perfect mix of hot and cold. 
It was a great way to end our two week trip. We're already starting to plan our adventure for next year (because when you have friends like the Bloods, one epic vacation is not enough).

Friday, August 5, 2016

Trip Dynasty: San Francisco

We left our cozy apartment and took the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) into the city. Colby was really excited about the train and wanted to stand the entire time. I, on the other hand, only stood when Claire needed to be bounced to sleep. As soon as I walked onto the bus or train, the sweet people of San Francisco insisted on giving up their seats (they were also really nice about giving directions).
Our first stop of the day was at the Japanese Tea Gardens. The highlight for the kids was the giant fish swimming around the ornamental ponds and the large stepping stones you had to cross to get over the waterways. 
Then we walked through a rose garden (which smelled amazing) to catch a bus to Lou's. You can always tell a restaurant is good if there's a long line. Lou's was worth the wait. Aaron and I tried their roast beef and mushroom sandwich with their famous house sauce and jalapeno spread, Robb went with pastrami, and Ashley chose clam chowder. We all left full and happy (except for Alice. She recently decided to boycott all things with melted cheese...which meant her ham and cheese sandwich was unacceptable).
Another bus ride took us to the Golden Gate Bridge. We made it twenty or so feet before turning around; Colby didn't have a lot of faith in the bridge's structural integrity and there were a couple of bikers with road rage.
Playing at an exhibit on the principles behind suspension bridges 
Colby: "I am sad on the bridge. This is not a good place for me."
We got lost on the way back. Google maps promised us a bus stop at a nearby corner, but it wasn't there. We wandered to several other stops, boarded the wrong bus, and finally were saved by a nice Englishman who shared his map and pointed us in the right direction. Reading train maps is not a skill most Americans acquire naturally. All four kids were asleep by the time we reached BART. 
We found our campsite through AirBNB. It was clean, quiet, but lacked some things you would expect with a $100 price tag, like a table and bathrooms (there weren't a lot of options in the area, so he gets away with it).  
However the site did have a compost toilet and a solar-heated shower. The toilet or "lou with a view" as Ashley dubbed it lacked walls, so she was the only one brave enough to try it. She made it sound like an almost transcendent experience, but we prefer privacy.  
The solar heated shower was a bit of a let down. Ashley and Aaron were all ready to use it, but someone beat them to it and all the warm water was gone.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Trip Dynasty: Redwoods

We took off from Lakin's grandparents in Oregon and headed to the Redwoods. The drive from Cave Junction to Crescent City was scenic the entire way, but the rugged Northern California coast is just a whole 'nother level.
Sorry, we were too busy driving and gaping in awe to stop and take pictures of the breathtaking views, but here's a picture from the internet to give you an idea.
We stopped to eat lunch at a scenic overlook along the coast, but due to the fog, there wasn't much to see.
Fortunately, Alice was able to appreciate the beauty in the little things.
After lunch, we stopped at the aptly named Big Tree for a hike. It was like a scene out of Jurassic Park, it was so lush.
Not THE Big Tree, but still a big tree.
I couldn't resist re-enacting the speeder bike chase from Return of the Jedi. It was filmed in the Redwoods, after all.
A photograph of our lovely photographer for a change.
After some more driving, we finally arrived at Gold Bluffs Beach. It was windy and a bit cold, but definitely beautiful.
Colby hung out with the Bloods while we got our tent up. He took two steps outside of the tent flap and started crying. He had a dozen thorns stuck in each foot! He was a real trooper while we pulled them all out.
After San Diego, Colby is now a connoisseur of wave chasing.
Alice was a little less excited about getting wet than Colby.
Ashley showed us how to find sand crabs.

There's a little scenic hike at Gold Bluffs called Fern Canyon. It's just as the name suggests, and a very unique place.
Robb hiked this half-way with the Bloods while I stayed in the car with a very exhausted Claire. Then he sprinted back so I could take a turn. The path crossed back and forth a stream running through the canyon and boards and old trees served as bridges. By the time I caught up with Ashley and Aaron, Alice needed to go to the bathroom *sigh*, so we walked back, but it was my favorite hike of our trip.
After a long day of driving, hiking, and wave chasing, it's best to just have a seat and take in the sunset.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Trip Dynasty: Oregon (Days 4-8)

Day 4: On to Oregon
We parted ways with the Bloods after stamping our passport in Yosemite. They went off to spend a few days in Nevada with Aaron's family and we continued on to Oregon. 
I fell asleep in the car and woke up knowing exactly where I was (which is rare for me). I love Medford. I love its quirks, the people, the trees, the rain--it's my happy place. We stayed with the Wrights, good family friends, and met up with my parents right before we all went to bed. 
Day 5: Medford
We took some much needed showers and went over to see Jory, Emily, Isla, and meet my new nephew, Corban. I had a cold so I didn't get to hold him, but at least I could admire him from a distance. He's so sweet and I'm excited for Claire to have another cousin her age. I can tell they're going to be buddies.
Em volunteered to watch all five kids, so we could go to the Medford Temple to watch my Grandma Rigby be sealed to her parents. Since I wasn't actually part of the ceremony I waited in the front room while the boys got ready and bumped into my old swim coach, Scott Bybee. His youngest daughter was getting married. We caught up and then I left so he could spend time with his family.  Everyone was there when I entered the sealing room and I got the best seat: right in front of Grandma. 
I got to watch as my sweet, faithful, covenant keeping Grandmother was finally sealed to her parents and then to her grandparents. It was one of those precious, cup runneth o'er moments, and I am so grateful we got to be there. 
Then we drove back to relieve Emily, eat lunch, hang out, and then leave for my high-school reunion. 
 A month before Claire was born I posted, "Does anyone from the North Medford class of 2006 know if we're having a reunion?" No one really knew, so we teamed up with South Medford and for the last six months I worked with Patrick Weber, Chelsey Hayes, and Calley Lcd, to organize and pay for this event. We started out with big plans, but as the day drew closer it looked like everything was going to fall through. 
We arrived at this beautiful vineyard to set up and even though we got a late start and the wind was wreaking havoc with Calley's decorations, we simplified and everything looked great. 
People slowly started trickling in and by the time we left at 8:00 things were packed. It was fun to catch up with everyone (especially with Kristen and Cory) and see where life has taken us in the last ten years.
Day 6: Medford and Baby Blessing
The whole family gathered the next day to bless little Corban McKay. For the last week Colby and Alice had missed about two hours of sleep each night and it became very obvious during sacrament meeting. Alice threw a tantrum during Corban's blessing, so we had to leave the Chapel. While I explained to her that we need to be reverent during prayers because we're talking to Heavenly Father, a woman came up to me and asked me to leave the area, "We already had to move out here because of your kids' toys* and now you're out here. We just can't get away from you." 
*We bought some magnetic connector toys (magformers) that made a little click when they came together. I'd already made a mental note that they were just a little too loud for sacrament meeting, but they really weren't that bad.
So I apologized and dragged my unhappy two year old down the hall. I wanted to cry the rest of the meeting. Taking small children to church is rough and I am so grateful the vast majority of members have offered me help instead criticism on those difficult days. 
I saw so many people I love in those three hours: young women leaders, family friends, our old home teacher, little boys who are now taller than me. I imagine Heaven will be something like returning to Medford 3rd ward. 
We attempted naps and then went to the Ebert's for their traditional Sunday waffles. Their family makes my heart happy. We listened to Claire Ebert tell us about her service work in Nepal, played dolls upstairs and board games downstairs, snuggled babies, and got to know the three newest Eberts (they adopted three kids after we moved and I never got to spend much time with them). It was a lovely, slow afternoon and just what we needed in the middle of our crazy trip.
Big and Little Claire
Day 7: Family Pictures and Cave Junction
Before leaving the Wrights, Cynthia was sweet enough to take family pictures (even though I got the time wrong and made everyone wait and Alice refused to smile until my Dad pretended to throw Mom into the creek). She's incredibly talented (she took our wedding pictures too) and I love how they turned out:
Then we changed and drove down to Cave Junction to spend some time with my Grandma and Grandpa Rigby, known to my kids as Nana and Grandpa Peanut Butter.
I loved watching Alice and Grandma together
The Bloods rejoined us that evening (we missed them) and then we all headed over to sample some Wild River Pizza cut into their signature 2 x 2 inch squares (which is dangerous because you quickly lose track of how much you've eaten).
Grandma managed to find places for everyone to sleep (half in her house and half in the house that used to belong to my great-grandparents) and we called it a night.

Day 8: Rafting
Emily and my grandparents stayed home to watch Claire and Corban and the rest of us (and a friend of my Grandma's) drove to Galice for a little whitewater rafting. 
Four kids under 4
Eight adults
2 rafts
1 kayak
It was one of my favorite things to do growing up and I loved sharing it with Colby and Alice. We all took turns rowing; Robb as our designated oarsman during rapids (my steering leaves much to be desired). We made a stop for lunch and another at the jumping off rock, where everyone took the plunge except for Mom and I. We played the game where someone yells out a question and the person jumping has to answer before hitting the water. Robb tried twice, but never manged it. The kids all did great in the rafts, the water felt wonderful, the scenery was beautiful, and the day was perfect...I only wish I'd taken a picture...and applied more sunscreen on everyone.