Family and Good Times

“Let the stories be told. They can say what they want. Let the photos be old. Let them show what they want.” Let The Good Times RollThe Cars

One of the things I had been most excited for was Miriam’s arrival. Miriam is my niece who currently resides in Germany along with her sister (my other niece) Victoria. We had already been in Washington for a month and half before she flew out with her dad. It was so good to finally lay eyes on her 🙂

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We gathered around the patio table for everyone to just sit around and have a good time and converse 🙂

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imageI hope everyone has noticed the coats and long sleeved shirts everyone is wearing. Yes, I will say it again, it was CHILLY some days this summer in Aberdeen WA.

One of the neatest moments happened on this trip. When Miriam arrived we were sitting in the dining area – myself, mom, Miriam, Rayann and Hayley – talking and just “visiting”. Mom began to tell a story from her childhood. They looked on with intent?

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But little did they know the story would turn into BALLS of laughter! These girls were so tickled! I had heard the stories before and had been equally as amused by them and knew that the girls would get a good chuckle. I wanted to cry from being so happy watching them giggle.

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The stories are pretty funny but I wouldn’t dare tell them. That’s mom’s story and it’s always better to hear her side first 😉 *hehe*

I tell you, this trip really gave me/us some spectacular memories that I will always cherish. When we are apart I can always come back to these and remember how I felt. Family is so important if you have it. If you aren’t close with certain ones, that’s okay. But if there are tolerable people in your family, please spend time with them. I really, maybe for the first time, finally understand the connection of family. It tugs at my heart strings when I think about it. These people are me. Even the ones that are distant or in our family by marriage or something else; they’re my family. We will always have that connection. Even if we do not like the same things or believe the same beliefs, we will always have a tie that binds us together. Something about that is really special. It gives you a feeling that you have a place in life, an identity or character that separates you from others. Now, with that being said there are certain people in your family that you would rather not have a tie with. LOL I understand that completely and hold no judgement should you feel yourself separate from them. *hehe* Hopefully you understand the weight of what I mean.

Swimming at Mason Lake

“Summertime and the living’s easy and Bradley’s on the microphone with Ras m.g. All the people in the dance will agree that we’re well qualified to represent the LBC” Doin’ TimeSublime

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It’s no wonder that Mason Lake in Washington is FILLED with people utilizing it’s vast body of fun and swimming potential. When I was first invited to go by my cousin Chris, I was a bit hesitant. I wondered what would be in the lake and how the water was. So far, my experience in bodies of water (other than the ocean) have me searching for snakes and jellyfish like crazy. In NC our rivers and lakes have snakes, jellyfish and even alligators (depending on where you are). Well, even though I was skeptical I couldn’t pass it up. For whatever reason, being in Washington definitely has brought me out of my shell a bit and I appreciated the invitation.

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I drove to Olympia to Chris and Brooke’s house. We loaded up the truck and his cool little motor boat (that goes pretty fast for a 70’s model) and hit the road for a 30/40 minute trip to Mason Lake. Apparently it’s pretty popular from what I was told and it REALLY was. There were boats EVERYWHERE. People were swimming like crazy. I was kind of blown away by how many people were utilizing this lake. I’ve never seen so many people in a body of water at one time like this. Well, I found out that there are no jellyfish or snakes in these lakes! They’re freshwater and don’t have those creepy little things floating in them. So why wouldn’t you be in it having the best time of your life? It’s also QUITE warm, unlike Wynoochee Dam.

This lake trip wasn’t just about swimming. It was also about TUBING!

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No, that’s not me. It’s Brooke. LOL I fell off pretty quickly. It was a little hard to keep myself on the tube. But it was fun while it lasted!! Hahaha I did get in the water and swam for a while and then got back in and chilled out. We had such a blast!

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We ate an awesome lunch of sandwiches and swam some more, but as all good things do come to an end we headed back to the dock. On the way I noticed a FINE home that looked pretty sweet!

imageA lot of the houses are nice like this but for whatever reason this one stood out to me the most. It looks like everything you would think a lake house would look like. I also noticed that all the homes in Washington are not brick. Apparently it’s kind of expensive to have a brick home and it’s not as easily accessible as it is on the east coast. But this home would have done just fine for me 😉

It was incredibly nice of Chris and Brooke to invite me on their adventure. I had a wonderful time with them as well as Chris’s son Jordan. Chris really went out of his way to make sure I was having a good time and I did just that. I’ve gotta find something equally as cool for them to do when they come out to visit! But what?

 

The 4th in Aberdeen

“She couldn’t help thinkin’ that there was a little more to life somewhere else. After all it was a great big world with lots of places to run to and if she had to die tryin’ she had one little promise she was gonna keep.” American GirlTom Petty and the Heartbreakers

During the 4th of July, most all of America is up and running. People are gathering with their families to roast hot dogs, hamburgers, eat Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and basically enjoy all things American. In Belhaven, where I’m from, they PARTICULARLY LOVE and celebrate the 4th with major festivities. They start off the day before with a Miss Independence Padgent then move into a “Street Dance” that lasts until very late. People dance the night away and have a great time. Then the next day there’s quite a large parade with festivities around every corner and booths to buy lots of cool junk. Up the road from this, there is a famous “Mud Run” where trucks are forced into the mud with their tires-a-spinning and the redneck in every one of us flying. You could say Belhaven is pretty hoppin’. But there’s one thing that can make all of this not worth the effort and that’s THE HEAT! One of the sayings go, “It’s hotter than the Belhaven 4th of July’s in here!” That’s when you know it’s hot! LOL So…this year I took great satisfaction in enjoying our day of independence in the nice 78 degree weather that was Aberdeen WA. :p

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Everyone gathered together: Me, mom, dad, sister, nieces, cousins, cousin’s girlfriends and children. We feasted on some wonderful dishes: watermelon, cheese/summer sausage and crackers, pasta salads of all kinds, crab salad, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, cookies, WA cherries and other fruits. We played “Washers” (which is something like cornhole I suppose) and were just all around merry. Check these guys out. Dad (on the left) is attempting to explain something in the best of ways. Tommy (my cousin on the right) of course looks confused, but I assure you he’s not. Though he may be deciphering the white man’s speak.

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It was really great because I got to hang out with my cousin Chris. This summer’s trip was the first time I’ve seen him since I was 13 years old. I have great memories of those times. I met him and a lot of other relatives at a family reunion in Cowden Illinois (look for that post to come). He was 18 then and now we’re both in our 30’s. My how time flies!

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We really were having a great time. It was the first time in many years that I’ve really enjoyed myself. There was no heat really and it seemed like the most simplest, easiest action to just put food out and hang with the family!

Now, let me say that Belhaven puts on a nice little firework show at 9 p.m. It’s nice. BUT, in North Carolina, only cities can administer big fireworks. They’re illegal for residents to just shoot them off (or at least some are). In WA State…THEY’RE LEGAL! This town and every other town is lit up with explosions. Here, there, EVERYWHERE they shoot them off. Fireworks had been blasting off for days before the 4th actually came around. So naturally, Chris being the dude he is went and bought a lot of fireworks so we could have our own firework show!

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Everyone was ready to kick it off! Even the kid.

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It was so funny because he set all the chairs up in a row to watch the fire show commence. Hey look! It’s Kenny again! LOL

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These fireworks weren’t just some run-of-the-mill fireworks. These were the BIG ones!

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It was so exciting even I decided to try my hand at it. I lit several off. I have to tell you I was a little nervous to start with but after that it was all in good fun! After the show commenced we were all lit up; on the inside as well as outside. I know I definitely was. Yes, that IS a sweater. The nights are cold in Aberdeen.

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Our 4th of July celebration was a hit and I’d LOVE to do it every year. I do love America. God bless our soldiers and all of those who fought for us to be free! We know it comes at a price. We love you and will always support you.

Wynoochee Dam

“Well, way down yonder on the Chattahoochee it gets hotter than a hoochie coochie.” Chattahoochee – Alan Jackson

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That song was all I could think of when the family told me we would be going to the “Wynoochee Dam” to swim and picnic!

The dam is made up of glacier water that has come off of the mountain and rested in somewhat of a lake. People swim and boat in it and that seems okay but you can imagine  my concern; for what else would I be worried about than how COLD that water would be?! YES! It was definitely cold. Tolerable but cold. It is definitely not like rivers or lakes in NC but it’s to be understood because of it being glacier water!

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Swimming was fun and I have to say I’ve been swimming more this summer than I have in the past two summers combined!

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It’s really cool because there are picnic tables set up at different locations for people to eat, hang out and grill if need be. I kind of thought it was odd that you could grill out in that heavily wooded area. This summer has been considerably dry and everyone in our party was a bit worried about sparking up the grill. That worry left when the stomachs began to growl.

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It was absolutely beautiful…looking around at all the trees and even the dried up light brown grass. LOL

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The trees are definitely beautiful in Washington; like no other. And THIS guy seems to be in ALL the shots! (Kenny)

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So we’re swimming in the dam and all of a sudden Kenny says, “Hey look! It’s Smokey!”. We all thought he was teasing but he wasn’t! It really was SMOKEY THE BEAR! He was walking around the beach and greeting everyone.

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I was lucky enough to meet him and get his picture. I can’t believe I’ve met Smokey The Bear 😉

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Basically I really enjoyed the Wynoochee Dam.

The Loop Pt. 2

“I love you when you’re singing that song and I got a lump in my throat cause you’re gonna sing the words wrong.” RiptideMisterWives

After the Big Cedar tree we stopped to have some sandwiches we packed in the amazing Yeti cooler! It has really come in handy throughout our travels. We wouldn’t have been able to financially do a lot of what we have done if we didn’t have that cooler to pack food in. So, big props to Yeti.

Our next stop was very unexpected to me because I didn’t know where we would be. To my surprise it was at a BEACH, “Ruby Beach” to be exact.

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The beach is beautiful and so very different from our beaches in NC. There’s no sand, only rocks and pebbles that range from large to small.

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Check this guy out. He must be a photographer from National Geographic! I should have asked for his autograph. 😉

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Ruby Beach, as you can see is quite stunning and just very beautiful. I think some of the beauty comes from the big rock formations next to the beach and that visual makes it so interesting to look at. In NC and on the east coast, you don’t have these huge rocks next the beaches to make it interesting but you have the warmth of the water to swim in and the nice warm sand between your toes. Overall the beaches along the west coast are breathtaking and definitely possess a character of their own.

After Ruby Beach we continued north. We came into Forks, WA. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with this place, the Twilight Series kind of put this place on the map. The fantasy romance novels were based in Forks Washington. The movies, on the other hand, were not filmed entirely in this town. There was a scene filmed in Forks and another scene filmed at “La Push” which is a beach just north of Forks. Other than these two sites, I believe most of the movies were filmed in Canada. Well, that did NOT stop Forks from capitalizing on whatever they could from the movie.

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These pictures were taken at the visitors center. I didn’t make any images of the town because there were no images to make. It’s just a tiny little town that you drive through to get to your next destination. It’s one road and the entire town is branded with all sorts of shops named all things, “Twilight”. So they would have shops named something like “Twilight Hair Designs”, “Bella’s Beauty Shop” or “Vampire Lounge”. These are not exact names of their shops, however you get the idea. Though I WILL say that they have a spectacular 4th of July schedule of festivities lined up for our day of Independence! We were planning on attending this because we would be camping at the Clearwater, but unfortunately we never went camping due to forest fires 😦 Now I know some of you are thinking, “Yeah right! I bet you were glad to get outta that one!” But I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t get the opportunity to experience it for the first time in agreeable weather. I can’t imagine camping in NC which is why I never did it.

At some point on this vacation I always think I have seen all there is to see in terms of beauty. I think, “That’s it. There’s not going to be anything else more beautiful than what I’ve seen. I’m completely satisfied; I’ve seen it all.” But then there’s ALWAYS something EVEN MORE magnificent around the corner. In this case it was, “Crescent Lake“.

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Now, I would like to let you know that sometimes I have to put myself in compromising positions to get really great shots; walking down rough terrain into dangerous positions, climbing up rocks and almost falling or stepping out onto a ledge 3,000 ft above ground level, forgoing all my fears of heights just to get that one good shot. Crescent Lake was no different. There were no pull-offs where you could safely get a picture. We did find a pull-off that I had to walk about 50 yards away from to get a good image. So I had to step over the railing on the side of the road to get the images. I was not ON the road by any means. I was about 6 ft. from the road. For WHATEVER reason, 3 cars came by me and BEEPED their horns obnoxiously! Why? I was not on the road so there was no fear of them hitting me and to further justify that, there was a rail blocking them and myself. I’m still quite puzzled by this. My thought was, “Are you they beeping because they think I’m going to jump off the ledge?” Well beeping certainly wouldn’t help my staying on it! Anyway, if anyone has any ideas, please leave them in the comments below. It’s been bugging me for a long time. LOL

The Loop Pt.1

“Big red tree grew up and out, throws up its leaves, spins round and round.” Feed the Tree – Belly

Let me apologize again for my lack of posting. I didn’t realize what traveling would entail when it came to what little time you have to really reflect. My plan was to always keep the blog updated at least every day or every other day. Unfortunately with 10 people and many places to visit, you find yourself DOING more than BEING. There’s been a lot of spontaneous activities that occur and with everyone having an agenda it gets hectic. See Traveling Realities for more info on our living situation.

So “The Loop” is an interesting travel. I’ve been hearing about it from my mother and father how I just HAD to do the loop and I have to say it was pretty awesome! So basically you start from Aberdeen on Hwy 101 and drive up to the Peninsula and then back down to Aberdeen again all on Hwy 101. It looks something like this:

Aberdeen > Quinault > Ruby Beach > Crescent Lake > Forks > Port Angeles > Sequim > Port Townsend > Hood Canal > Shelton > then back to Aberdeen.

This isn’t a day trip, it takes roughly 2 days to make it. If you wanted to see all of the sites then it would take maybe 3 days. We stayed one night in Port Angeles giving us two days to check everything out.

So we headed North on 101 to explore the loop. We first came into Quinault. It’s so beautiful because it’s a rainforest area that’s heavily wooded and just beautiful.

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This is also one of several Native American Reservations. *Just incase you’re not familiar with reservations; they are run and manned by Native Americans and are separate from our Federal Government. They have their own laws and rules (but work with our government) on many things. Their goods are cheaper on the reservation than outside due to either low or no taxes. Also, every reservation I’ve seen, thus far, has a casino on it. This is due to the fact that gambling is illegal in the state of Washington but since the reservation is separate from our federal government, that law does not apply to them. I don’t know why, but for whatever reason I somehow like this idea; maybe it’s due to how they were pushed off of their land and now they get some of it back and are capable of living however they would like? Nothing will make up for what was done to them in the past but somehow I feel like at least they’re getting something.*

The air is very moist and damp but not unpleasant. It feels more refreshed than anything. The moss grows heavily in the wooded areas and it really is neat. We decided to tour the “World’s Record Sitka Spruce” tree and that was SO pretty. You have to walk down a trail to get to it but it’s worth it.

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“World’s Largest Spruce Tree. 58′ 11″ Circumference / 191′ Tall / 922 AFA Points (American Forest Associations) / About 1000 Years Old. This is a Sitka Spruce, one of the Quinault Valley’s six champion trees. The trees in the Quinault Rainforest are well watered with an average rainfall of 12 feet a year. There is a Spruce in Oregon that has 902 AFA points, that they named a co-chamption. Also in the Valley are the World’s Largest Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir & Mountain Hemlock. The U.S. largest Yellow Cedar & Western Hemlock.” (from the info at the Sitka Spruce tree site by Rain Forest Resort Village).

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So this entire area is just beautiful and a little mysterious and enchanted at the same time. It looks like those pictures out of a storybook. I was definitely under it’s spell…in a good way 😉

When you get out of the wooded area of Quinault you come upon an opening to view the lake!

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These places are so beautiful along the way! We have seen some things that weren’t worth seeing and I don’t ever post about those because honestly…they’re not worth knowing about. LOL At this point I was so into the trip and just snapping pictures everywhere!

We hit the road and drove away from Quinault and came upon the “Big Cedar Tree”.

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It seems as though something happened to the tree because part of it split off and fell down. Maybe it was hit with lightning? I don’t know. Even still, the tree is LARGE!

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Oh, and here’s this guy trying to get the PERFECT photo.

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I would have to say that this portion of WA is quite…enchanting. 🙂