The fam took me to Salty’s for Saturday Brunch (1 day before Father’s Day). Here are the handsome guys before we went into the restaurant.
Nate has many different faces…in this sequence he does them all within about 10 seconds while waiting for a kick-off at the soccer field. Love him.
Now for Zach…
We’ve done some work to make the front yard look prettttyyyy
Back in early 2005 I picked up my first digital SLR – the digital rebel XT. This has been my SLR since. I’ve ogled many other cameras as they came out and even picked up a Panasonic LX5 point and shoot for compactness but I’ve stuck with the digital rebel XT for years. Over the last year or two I’ve strayed away from lugging around the SLR and lens (and I have a decent collection of lens as well). Canon just recently released the SL1 (or 100d).
This is the smallest digital SLR on the market (note, I’m not comparing it to the smaller mirrorless cameras that can use different lens). Although it is tiny, it packs a punch. I’m a big fan of HDR…
Duvel can’t use this as an ad since I had Affligem in the glass.
The first thing I notice is that it is feature rich. The depth of menus and preconfigured settings is pretty amazing. I have a lot to learn. Of course, there are full auto modes as well. My camping photos should improve quite a bit going forward.
On a side note, Steph had her Ladies Lemon Drop party Friday night. Us boys had to disappear for 4 hours. We went over to the Sasha’s for boys night…beer, burgers, and wii (for the kids). Here are Zach and Nate at 10:30pm as we gathered our things to head home.
Well, I had the first trip in the new Orama Teardrop Trailer. I’ve spent the last month plus prepping the trailer with everything I could possible need (more on this later) and performed the final prep Thursday night/Friday morning. For this trip it would just be the boys and I staying at Verlot campground (site #15) about 11 miles northeast of Granite Falls on the Mountain Loop Highway.
Here is the truck and trailer all ready to go. I got my action packers on top with general camping stuff. In the truck was the Yeti 65 qt cooler, a large big with the stove and toilet, and the bikes. The trailer had the camping chairs, clothing, toys, side table, and our camping rug.
We got on the road at around 12:30 and arrived at around 2:15. It is only 61 miles from West Seattle – so a very quick and easy drive. We missed the holiday traffic which was nice. The campground is tiny – only about 25 sites and because of the high probability of rain it ended up not being full. Setup was easy. The best part is once unhitched I can wheel the trailer into the exact position I want it in – very cool.
We were right on the South Fork Stillaguamish River. A very fast and very cold river. I gave the boys plenty lecturing on staying away from the river unless I’m with you. They were good with this rule. They were more interested in their bikes.
Now a bit about the campground. It’s small, it’s on a river, it has trees, the toilets are very clean (and flushable). My PNW Camping book gives it a 9. I give it a 7. Here is what I didn’t like. The spots, while not on top of each other, were fairly close. It’s a small campground. The loop we were on was bordered by a fence and houses to the east – takes away from the camping feel. My particular spot shared the parking so my site was the left of the trailer (vs the standard right) therefore I had to flip the awning to the other side. While the river is nice, it’s not usable for water fun – too cold and too fast moving. There is nothing overly scenic about it beyond that. It is in a good location – right across from the FS service visitor center. For those of you who like to be connected – absolutely no cell service once you get out of the town of Granite Falls.
The weather – well it was cloudy and cool with off and on rain. It poured during the nights and sprinkled off and on during the day. The campground is located in a deep valley between 6k+ foot mountains which seems hold the clouds in place.
Back to the trip…
On Saturday we drove up the Mountain Loop Highway. On a whim I decided to stop at the Big 4 Ice Caves. I was curious about them as there was a tragic story a few years back where a chunk of snow and ice had collapsed on a family checking out the caves. The daughter was killed and another family member was injured. As we pulled up the parking lot was filled with search and rescue vehicles. The park rangers greeted us explaining they were performing drills and that a helicopter would be landing here soon. What frickin awesome timing!
Zach and Nate were lovin the helicopter show. The helicopter took off, flew to the ice caves, and picked up the pretend victim (an empty stretcher with two rescuers attached)…these rescuers were attached to a cable about 100feet long dangling from the heli. Very cool watching them drop the rescuers and stetcher to the ground.
This is a video (just over 4 minutes) of the heli bringing in the rescuers.
From there we proceeded in the truck to Barlow Pass. This is where the pavement ends and the…
potholes begin. For the first 1/2 mile, the road was littered with potholes. The boys laughed and laughed as we bounced over them…they really enjoyed it. Once we got past that, the road was perfectly smooth – you could have easily done 40mph if you knew there were no cars on it.
We tried to get off the beaten path a bit and took a FS road up a mountain for a ways. Zach got bored and asked that we just head back to the campsite. This was after we traveled the length of the road to Darrington.
We left on Sunday morning as it was still cloudy and drippy. Not certain I wanted to sit around cold and wet all day. Plus, the family next to us was leaving – our kids had befriended each and were playing constantly.
Overall, a great trip. As for packing and stuff I brought…I definitely had too much. No need to bring 3 pots when one will be sufficient. I have lots of things I take that will probably never need like packs of zip ties. I will need to reduce these items and I’m hoping I can cut back on what is packed. The teardrop worked amazing. The first night it rained a lot and I even had the fan lid open – no water entered and we stayed cozy. The Serta 4″ mattress topper (half foam and half memory) plus a 1″ egg crate foam worked beautifully – never bottomed out and slept really well. The rhino rack sunseeker II awning created a pond of water in it that needed to be pushed out – otherwise it worked well. Very happy with the trailer, the ease in setup and the towability. It attracted A LOT of attention at the campground. Anyone walking by stopped to check it out – it was fun showing off the trailer. It is amazing to me how many people don’t know what a teardrop is.
What a busy weekend. Zach turned the big 8 on Friday. The boys woke up slightly past 6am so we could open gifts in the morning. He was stoked by everything – he really dug the legos he got and the unicycle. We previously gave him the basketball hoop so we could enjoy it during the recent nice weather. After school I picked them up around 4pm and brought them home. Zach got busy on legos. Nate did whatever Nate does. Now for the real special treat. During the school auction we signed the boys up to stay over at the school all night with 28 other students. That was Friday night on Zach’s birthday. So Steph and I dropped the boys off at school for a crazy night. We took the bus to the junction for a date night at Jak’s. What fun!
We picked up the boys at around 8am on Saturday and then our busy weekend continued. I dropped Zach off at Sylvan, got my oil changed, and did some shopping. Once I got home I went running. After that Nate wanted me to do gardening with him. So we picked up plants for our front yard planters and planted them. After a busy day we all went to the Seattle Sounders game. What a special birthday night for Zach. His favorite player, Eddie Johnson, was man of the match. The Sounders won big, 4 to 2 over the first place team. And Steph got our whole section (seriously at least 50 people participated including some in the section next to us) to sing happy birthday to Zach at halftime.
Sunday didn’t slow down either. I went running, then to the grocery store, then lentil soup, then mowing, the Nate’s soccer game, then Zach’s soccer game. Steph did laundry and chaperoned both kids on the their lego building. Nate’s team played Zach Scott’s team (Zach Scott is a defender for the Sounders)…so we introduced ourselves and told him how much we love the Sounders.
Next weekend is the first camping trip in the teardrop. It is fairly well stocked with dry food. Bed is made and pillows are in there. I even have clothes in the cabinets. I’ve started cooling my cooler with ice (something that is good to do). I’m planning out menus. Saturday night will be fajita tacos and rice. Not sure about Friday night – needs to be fairly easy since I have no idea how much traffic we’ll hit when we leave. I think I’ve acquired everything I need. I’ve even done a dry run packing. Big cooler and one large tote in the xterra. 2 action packers in the xterra roof rack. Clothes go in the tear drop. Food goes in the teardrop galley.
So I picked up our check from Puyallup RV for selling our RPod 172 trailer. From there I went to Cabela’s in Lacey where I perused their camping and RV gear…no camo or guns today. I picked a Reliance toilet and wastebags (they are for what you think). The big catch was finding Sportco in Fife. They had a great selection of gear similar to Cabela’s but with more variety.
I made my way to the cooler section where I saw they had the new line of Pelican coolers. These coolers have been getting good reviews except they are heavy – about 10 to 15 lbs heavier then their competition. Since I’m camping with the boys quite a bit (and no Steph) I need to be able to lift the cooler on my own. I’d have some serious issues relocating a 65 quart Pelican from the car loaded with food, drinks and ice. The empty weight is 48 lbs where as the Yeti 65 is 27 lbs. Don’t worry about performance – the Yeti is one of the best out there. You can read about the coolers on the Yeti site.
This is a photo of the same one I purchased.
Once home I put the mattress cover on the teardrop mattress – now it is all ready for sheets. I also had to patch the Rhino Rack Sunseeker II awning. Unfortunately, although it is brand new, there are about 8 tiny slits in a row from front to back. The Rhino Rack rep in the US was basically useless and I really had no desire to ship it back. So picked up some Camco awning repair tape. Interesting stuff – it doesn’t feel like it has a real strong adhesive – so we will see if it works (ie, stays on). Unfortunately to apply it I had to remove the awning from the rack (since the trailer is in the garage). It was a bit of a pain to get back on but all is good now.
We picked up our new Orama Teardrop Trailer on Saturday that we had built. The boys went down to Tenino with me to pick it up. It sure is nice towing a small teardrop vs the much larger RPod (BTW, which has yet to sell).
Some photos when I got it home.
I spent Sunday working on the galley (e.g. adding dishes, pots, pans, etc) and organizing my camping gear into only the necessities. I’m confident we’ll have this dialed in before our first trip to Verlot campground over Memorial Day weekend.
Over spring break the family spent a week on Kauai on Poipu Kai (adjacent to Poipu Beach). We stayed in the same villa (Villas at Poipu Kai) we stayed at two years ago. In addition to our family, Lin, AJ, and UM were there. A grand time was had by all. We followed our typical pattern of get up, relax on the lanai, have coffee (and a Starbucks run), spend the morning on Poipu Beach, have lunch, spend the afternoon/evening by the pool. have dinner, play a game, go to bed. One day we floated on the sugarcane irrigation canals and another day we took a drive to the north side where spent time at Anini Beach – nice but very windy.
The week went by quick. Sure wish we could stay 2 weeks!
I wanted to publish some photos of our new teardrop trailer that was built by Orama Teardrops in Tenino, WA from January to March 2013. Special thanks to Mike at Orama for taking care of our needs and creating an awesome trailer. Mike provided photos (via Facebook) throughout the process and those are the photos I’m sharing here.
Here are the details (from Orama web site) on what I ordered.
- Custom welded tailer
- LED tail and marker lights
- Rolling tongue jack
- 2″ rear receiver hitch
- 13″ radial tires on alloy rims
- 7 pin trailer connector (with charging circuit)
- 2 locking doors with drip caps
- White aluminum exterior with silver aluminum top
- Beautiful custom pine, birch, and maple cabinetry
- Two interior folding cupholders
- Two interior coat hooks
- Hurricane hatch hinge
- Rear swing down stabilizing jacks
- Interior folding shelf
- Curtain rods over doors
- Front mounted spare tire
- 30 amp Converter/Charger
- 25′ 30 amp cord
- Two interior and one exterior galley 12 volt DC outlets
- One standard interior 120 volt AC outlet and one exterior galley GFCI 120 volt AC outlet
- Two (right and left side) exterior porch lights
- One interior overhead 2 bulb light fixture
- One interior dual light directional overhead reading light fixture
- One exterior galley overhead 2 bulb light fixture
- Deep cycle battery – group 27
- 12 volt wiring is 12 gauge CL rated for in wall use
- 12 volt AC wiring is 14 gauge marine grade
- 13″ round stainless steel sink 5×8 trailer
- Electric faucet/pump combo
- Five gallon water tank
- AM/FM stereo/CD player with remote
- Two interior speakers
- Two exterior galley marine speakers
- Fantastic fan
- Add a counter. Features matching laminate, aluminum edging, a folding leg, and a really nice useable counter shape. It simply slips onto a bracket permanantly mounted to the side of the trailer.
- Rhino roof rack
- Rhino sunseeker II awning
And the specs for my trailer are
- Gross Weight-1240lbs (fully loaded model)
- Tongue weight-lbs-175 lbs-14% of Gross Weight
- Height to top of coupler ball-15.5″
Here are the photos from the build.
Update For Sale at Puyallup RV: http://seattle.craigslist.org/tac/rvd/3689563920.html
I am no longer personally selling this
We are selling our 2011 Rpod 172. It has been a solid camping vehicle for two summers, however, we are now moving to a small teardrop (something we can park in our garage). Yes, we are downsizing from an Rpod – sounds strange since the Rpod is fairly compact. We took 6 weekend camping trips in it over the last 2 summers – all were in WA state. We are located in Seattle.
Please email me at pabloart @ yahoo . com.
- Bunk Beds
- Dinette – converts to full bed
- DVD Player/HD Antenna/Cable Input
- Air Conditioning
- 4.2L 3-way Refrigerator
- Convection Microwave
- Wet Bath
- 2 burner stove
- Water Heater
- Rdome awning included
We received our new furniture today – Brentwood collection from Costco. It is a dark brown leather and the collection includes a sofa, love seat, and chair. So far I’m liking it.
And it is wet…since the middle of October we have received 15″ of rain. I love it although I wish it was cooler so all of the ski areas were getting snow. I’m eager to get some skiing in now that I have my new 7B skis.
Before I had bindings put on (I added Marker Jester bindings)
Thanksgiving weekend was a blast. AJ, UM, and Grandma came up on Wednesday. I made a traditional turkey dinner Wednesday night and we went to Salty’s on Alki for Thanksgiving dinner. While it was very good, it was extremely crowded which took away from the atmosphere – plus we were seated downstairs.
This weekend we cut down our tree at the Christmas Creek Tree Farm off exit 34 on highway 90. We spend the remainder of our Saturday setting out our Christmas decorations. While this weekend is relaxing with no formal plans, the remainder of our weekends are packed…figgy pudding, dinner parties, and our own holiday party right before Christmas.
I spent a week in Regensburg, Dublin, and Brugge for work and personal time. I finally got a chance to drive on the autobahn – nothing totally out of control but general maintained speeds between 110 and 120 MPH – pretty cool. That highway system rocks – very smooth even through transitions or where they patched the roadway.
I spent a weekend in Brugge in northern Belguim touring around town and drinking Belgian beer. I absolutely want to go back to Belguim…I could easily spend another day in Brugge and would love to spent 2 days in Brussels. Overall a very good trip.
Halloween was a lot of fun…we had the PEPS families over and all of the kids were appropriately amped up to get candy.
Some photos from my Europe trip…
This weekend we camped at Lake Wenatchee State Park just east of Stevens Pass off of US Highway 2. We had spot 150 in the north campground with electrical and water hook-ups. Let me start by saying this may have been the best camping trip I’ve been on – the weather was perfect, the lake was beautiful, the water temperature was good, and we didn’t fight
We left Friday at 1pm. I stayed home Friday and packed up the car and trailer with our food and clothing. The trailer was basically prepped from recent past camping trips so there wasn’t much to be done there. It only took 3 hours to get there – no traffic and the drive over US 2 was beautiful (reminded me a lot of US 50 in California over Echo Summit).
Lake Wenatchee sits at around 2000 feet in a mixed forest of pines and firs. The nice thing about pines is they keep the understory relatively clear. There is also a lot of granite in this part of the Cascades. Again reminding me of Lake Tahoe. We quickly setup camp and relaxed on Friday evening. It was relatively warm but very windy in the tree-tops – no real wind in our site though.
On Saturday morning we explored the campground and found the closest swimming beach to our site – a place we would spend hours on Saturday and Sunday. We drove around the area a bit on Saturday morning – tried to get to Fish Lake but there was “No Lake Access” – it was surrounded by private property. Upon returning to our site we packed up food and drinks and spent 3 hours at the lake. The boys (and I mean all three of us) loved the water. Zach was doing well at swimming and Nate was just a goofball. We returned to the trailer for a few hours so the boys could nap. And yep, we went back to the water for another hour at around 5pm.
On Sunday morning we headed to Leavenworth (German themed town) for breakfast and shopping. We ended up buying some games and taffy. We drove down Icicle Creek for a ways (even saw another Rpod) sightseeing. We got back to camp around noon and packed up food and drinks for an afternoon of waterplay. This time we were much more adventorous. We crossed this channel multiple times to get to this island (even Steph went once) and this activity was the bomb for Zach and Nate – they could get enough of it. We spent 5 hours playing in the water and 90 degree weather (don’t worry, the boys wore sunscreen and swimshirts). We were absolutely beat when we got back to camp. We had dinner and crashed out by 9pm.
The drive home was quick – 2.5 hours. We quickly unpacked and I had the trailer in its parking spot by 1pm. Then the wait was on…Daddy’s bday gift was arriving. Steph ordered me a hepsdesigns.com roof rack for the Xterra. It showed up around 5pm and I quickly got it mounted.
BTw, the bugs were not that bad out there…in fact I’m way more irritated sitting on my back porch right now.
All photos can be seen at photos.paulandsteph.com (go to page 7). Some photos below:
I upgraded the Xterra on Saturday so it now has Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac 285/75 16 tires. These are 1″ larger than the stock tires and a lot meetier looking I had them installed at Discount Tire. I have many more modifications being planned and now need to figure out how to budget and prioritize the changes. Here is what I’m thinking:
- PRG Products Basic Lift – 2 inch spacers in front and 2 inch shackles on the rear
- DepHep Roof rack – takes up no space as it is recessed between the rails that exist
- Hefty Fabworks front bumper with the low loop
I’m leaning towards doing the first two items this summer as those are both useful for things we have planned. The bumper is probably the coolest looking item, but doesn’t provide as much near term benefit.
Now that I have the new tires, I took Zach up to the central cascades for a few hours of off-roading (Go here to see our route). Here are some photos.
A video while driving
We’ve been getting thunderstorms every few days in Seattle in the last 2 weeks. Typically a rare occurrence, it has become common this summer. Very exciting for me. This morning we’ve had a steady stream of heavy cells moving through with plenty of lightning/thunder and a fair bit of heavy rain.
We just returned from our first camping trip of the year in the r-pod. I spent the last week making modifications to it including an upgrade to dual batteries, adding a paper towel holder, new shower head, and some trim to help hold food in place. I know, not overly exciting, but they do help with packing and using the r-pod.
For this trip we stayed at Ike Kinswa State Park, and I was very pleasantly surprised. It is easily the best camping park we’ve been too in Washington for either RV or tent camping. The sites were large, good tree cover and foliage, and good distance from neighboring sites. We were also a 30 second walk from the lake (Mayfield Lake) so this made it easy to get the kids there. The site had full hook-ups (water, electricity and sewer) so we were able to be self contained and not have to monitor anything. The weather was nice on Friday and Saturday afternoon/evening. It was foggy Saturday morning and drizzly on Sunday morning. I would definitely go back to this park. The kids loved it as well.
BTW, we’ve had thunder/lightning up here in Seattle for 3 or 4 days in the last 7. On Friday we has some pretty intense storms roll thru. Definitely been fun.
Over 4th of July weekend, AJ and UM came up for to visit and hang for Nate’s birthday party. We had good weather and great time.
His birthday was at the Seattle Bouldering Project – cool place and the kids loved it.
We’ve had awesome sunsets up here recently. Mainly due to clouds and smoke (from Asia)
Zachary has now started taking showers. He has always hated them. Last week at his swim lesson they took showers and now he wants to do this a home. That’s cool. One less bath to worry about. Nate turns 5 on Wednesday. His birthday party is Saturday. Jan and mike are coming up for the weekend as well…plus it looks like we will have food (aka good) weather…yay.
Zachary was really into the euro cup. He watched many of the games and then would play his own version of the games in the backyard. He would even play highlights in the yard. Glad he is liking soccer.
Update This morning when I got the boys up…they were both lying in bed, on their backs, hands behind their head, and awake. Goofy kids. I don’t even think they knew they were each awake, let alone in the same position.
While this may seem a bit corny, it was a very cute event. The older non-graduating kids (think older and younger not dumber) were seated on the ground facing the graduates. They walked out the pre-school class and sat them down. They first did their ABCs (including sign language) as a class – Nate did not participate. Then they each walked up and received a diploma and an honorary degree (like a Masters in Kindness). Here are some photos.
See the rest at http://photos.paulandsteph.com/Other/Mobile/