Thursday, July 31, 2014

Harry Potter's Birthday Cake

"Harry- yer a wizard." These words were spoken to Harry on July 31st by the beloved half giant, Hagrid.  To celebrate his birthday, Grace and her friend, Kathleen, decided to make the birthday cake that Hagrid brought Harry on his 11th birthday.

They used the recipe from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook  which was rather difficult as it was  multi-stepped (think: cakes, icing, frosting and glaze!), but they made it totally themselves and with ease.  It was delicious too!  We even sung happy birthday and lit candles!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mount Rainier National Park

My first glimpse of Mount Rainier was from the airplane before we landed in Seattle and even from that perspective it looked gigantic.  At no time during our visit did I look up at Mt. Rainier and not be awed by how enormous and intimidating it looked.  Honestly, not until I saw the mountain did I really understand just what Bryce and Jack were undertaking by trying to climb and summit Rainier (seeing the mountain certainly made me a little more nervous and wary of the climb).

Rainier National Park was the first National Park to be planned (it was the 5th park) and therefore the roads were planned so that every twist and turn has a beautiful view.  It's absolutely breathtaking at times.

As we entered the park, we stopped and went for a hike on part of the Wonderland Trail where we came to a large stream that we stopped and enjoyed for a short while.

As soon as we made plans to accompany Bryce and Jack to Washington, we made reservations to stay at the Paradise Inn in the park.  As you know, I love old hotels and the old lodges in the National Parks are high on my priority list of places to visit or stay.  This hotel did not disappoint.  I love how these lodges often have expansive gathering areas that are just the right rustic.  In the evenings there is always someone playing the piano that was built by Han Fraehkne in 1919!

There's also a Ranger  on duty in the morning which was very helpful for our children who were diligently working on Jr. Ranger badges.

The rooms are not large but they sure are charming.

After dinner, we all gathered around one of the giant tables and played a few hands of Peanuts, one of our favorite card games.

The next morning, before the guys had to check in with the mountain guides, we all went for a hike up part of Mount Rainier.  The children had great fun hiking in snow in the middle of the summer. Frankly,  for me it was fun for about the first 15 minutes, then my shoes started getting wet and I started getting a bit grouchy!

(I love how in this picture we all look like we are actually working to climb and Bryce looks like he's on a stroll)

After Bryce and Jack left, Kathleen and I had lunch with the children, participated in a Ranger led program and went for another short hike.  We met the guys again for dinner at the Copper Creek Inn and then waved goodbye as they went on their adventure and we went on ours!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Olympic National Park- Day 2

The morning of our second day, we went tide-pooling as we had heard that there was a historic low tide, which meant it was the perfect time to look for sea life.  We found starfish, anemones, mussels, sea cucumbers, and shells of all varieties.  We also found a few things we had no idea what they were!

From there, we headed up to Hurricane Ridge.  There was a gorgeous view of the Olympic Mountains, including Mount Olympus, and more hiking to be done!

Olympic National Park- Day 1

We took leave of Mark and family at the boat dock of Lake Cushman and headed toward Olympic National Park to spend two days exploring.  We settled in at The Olympic Lodge in Port Angeles for two nights and it was great.  I was hoping to stay in one of the National Park Lodges but we decided too late and none were available!

Of course, two days weren't nearly enough time to really, truly explore the Park, but we chose to spend our time in the Hoh Rain Forest, tide-pooling and hiking Hurricane Ridge.  What impressed me the most our whole time in Washington was how gigantic the trees are.  They reach up high into the sky and are beyond stunning!  Soon after we entered the Rain Forest we came upon this Sitka Spruce which is said to be one of the largest Sitka Spruce in the US.  It's giant.  And beautiful.  And ancient.

We went on a Ranger led hike on the Hall of  Mosses trail, which we did to help the children get their Jr. Ranger badges, but it turned out to be fascinating and very informative.  The Hoh Rain Forest is a temperate rainforest that gets an average of 140 to 170 inches of rain a year.  The day we visited the sun was shining and temperatures were perfect.

We learned about nurse logs that are trees that have fallen but on which new trees grow.

A cathedral of trees that was spectacular.

 After our hike/ranger program, we continued on the Hoh River Trail for a bit of a longer hike.  We stopped by the river to rest and skip stones.  The river was glacier fed and the water was a beautiful gray color.

Even an old phone booth wasn't immune from the moss!

So...on the way back to our hotel Kathleen and I made the guys stop for this picture.  We couldn't help ourselves even though our driver (Bryce I'm looking at you) made fun of us a fair amount.  Twilight fans will understand.

(there was a lot of laughing)
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