Sunday, August 30, 2009

Road Trip 2009

Well, we haven't finished the Costa Rica pictures yet, but now we've finished the pictures from our Oregon-Idaho-Utah-Arizona road trip in June/July, in multiple parts.

Part I: Oregon and Idaho

One day we started driving and ended up in Oregon at Crater Lake National Park. Little was beside herself with excitement anticipating snow, and Mommy was jittery looking forward to her half-marathon. We set up our circus tent:

Adhering to true wilderness-survival principles, we packed all 7 kinds of cheese that Chesters like best: emmenthaler, stilton, brie, lots of various goudas, camembert, wensleydale, jarlsberg. Little likes cheese:

Believing that going rough builds character, we of course brought along Littler's pack-n-play and two air mattresses.

We found a little bit of snow, which pleased Little to no end. Littler didn't think much of it:

The next morning we awoke and went to the actual crater lake. Daddy was excited for this moment since he had a very potent memory from visiting Crater Lake as a kid. He distinctly remembers driving slowly to church on a busy road right by the water. There was an island in the middle of the lake with a cabin on it, with a large sunday newspaper on the front doorstep. Daddy was particularly intrigued by the thought that somebody actually had to go out on a boat in the middle of a lake every morning just to deliver a newspaper to one little cabin. This left quite an impression on Daddy, and he was excited to go back and tell the kids: "and they even deliver the newspaper every morning to the island!"

So when we got there, we drove up on an empty street to the lake. Except the lake was actually a 1000-foot shear talus slope below the road. And there is no way there ever was a cabin on the island. So one of Daddy's most distinct early memories turns out to have been a dream. He doesn't know at this point if he's ever actually been there. Whoops!

Littler really wanted to stand on the retaining wall [retains tourists from falling down aformentioned slope into aformentioned lake]. Little, bless her heart, was desperately worried that Littler would fall down. So she started crying and shrieking "no, no [Littler]! Don't jump! Don't jump into the lake! NO, [LITTLER]!!" It was cute, pathetic, annoying, and sweet all wrapped into one. When given a chance, she would run over to Littler, tackle her, and press her into the pavement to keep her from getting near the wall. That was hard to explain to the passing folks.

Daddy had this great idea to neutralize the strong mid-day shadows to get a family portrait. He got out a big reflector and reflected the sun right back into everybody's eyes. This is when he realized that the sun is pretty bright. So:

Littler is cute; the lake is beautiful:

Little, beside herself and bawling, had to be restrained by Mommy just to get those two pictures. We hope you like them.

Basically all Little could talk about [when Littler wasn't climbing on walls] was snow. She wanted to play in snow [she even insisted on wearing her special "snow suit" all day--actually pajamas, which explains the funky outfit]. So we hunted out a patch of crusty, dirty, thin slush for her to play in. She built a "super super super BIG snowman!"

Littler, being Littler, just monstered the snow:

Little declares that her snowman is big enough:

Honestly, it's hard to overstate how much fun this Tucson/Palo Alto-raised little person had in that little pathetic patch of "snow."

Daddy moved in to help with the snowman; Mommy was being too sissy with the cold snow.

He helped for about 35 seconds before his hands were too cold.

Another of Little's dreams was to make a snow angel. It didn't bother her one bit that her body failed entirely to depress the snow one bit.

Then we drove to Bend and stayed at a hotel to prepare for Mommy's half-marathon the next morning. She'll post on her blog about that [incredible feat of supermommy].

After the half-marathon, we drove to a place that Mommy and Daddy had been planning on visiting since their early courtship: Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area south of Boise, Idaho. The highest density of breeding raptors anywhere in North America! A Peregrine Fund breeding center with live Harpy Eagles! Free camping! What's not to like?

We arrived at the area after sunset:

Daddy stayed up late into the night taking pictures. Then he woke up super early to get some pictures at sunrise:

When the little ones and Mommy woke up, Daddy grabbed Little and they went on a walk together while Littler and Mommy explored around the camp.

Little with the snake river reflecting the sunrise glow from a cliff face:

Little just wanted to play with dirt. So for 45 minutes or so, she baked dirt into various remarkable delicacies:

Littler was excited to see Daddy and Little again. That was the true sunrise of the morning:

Little taught her how to bake with dirt:

We explored along the river for some time. We saw several prairie falcons, always a thrill. We found a marmot:

Lots of lizards:

Then we went to the Peregrine Fund breeding center. It was amazing! We got to see live California condors, a Harpy eagle [!!], aplomado falcons [!!], and more. Completely astounding. The highlight was a live raptor demonstration where a worker brought in a Swainson's hawk [an old Chester family favorite, as luck might have it]. Littler immediately started screech/gurgle-ing "buh-duh!" which, of course, means "bird." She was extremely animated, as she tends to be. One might almost say monster-like. The hawk flew to a perch within a few feet of us and Littler went CRAZY "BUH-DUH!! BUH-DUH!!!" while squirming and reaching out to get to the hawk. The handler didn't happen to speak Little-ese and thus mistook this for fear, so he told the hawk to fly to the other end of the room. Bad idea. Littler started bawling and screaming "BUH-DUUUUH" in a universal tongue which, being translated, means something like "IFYOUDONTBRINGTHATBIRDBACKTOMETHISINSTANTIWILLPERSONALLYMONSTERTHISBUILDINGINTOTHEGROUND!!!"

We had to take Littler out of the room, she was scaring the hawk. It's hard being Littler; she just loves animals that much.

Little, being Little, mostly liked getting to dress up as a raptor:

So then we drove to Utah. That's the next megapicture post. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

She rides!

We took Little's training wheels off today and look what happened:

I have to admit, I'm more than a little proud to have a 3-year-old bike rider! She's awesome!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Fruits of Our Labor

Our garden has had some trying times for the last year or so. We gopher proofed the garden, but accidentally made a hole in the hardware cloth that happened to be exactly where the gopher tunnel was (either that or gophers are really good at finding holes in wire to make their tunnels through...I'm not sure which). That meant that we still had a gopher problem, so we searched for weeks in our garden trying to find where he'd gotten in and finally found it! After spending months with our garden in a state of limbo this year, we finally managed to make it gopher proof AND gopher free! Unfortunately, we only had one plant survive this ordeal, but it gave us three lovely little melons. Here are the fruits of our labor:

For scale:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Super Littlies!

Recently the girls learned how much fun it can be to play with capes, first at their cousins' house this summer, and then from our neighbor friend, who got two for his birthday a couple weeks ago. We don't really have any great superhero capes lying around, but we DO have several pretty scarves that are just the right size and shape for Super Littlies capes! Incidentally, Little made me tie one onto myself as I was writing this post, but, sorry, you're not going to get any pictures.

P.S. I got a haircut.