Sunday, July 27, 2014

Europe 2014 - London, England

As most of you know, Hannah and I just returned from the most incredible summer holiday!
Donald gave this trip to us as a gift at Christmas...a opportunity to spend time together as mother and daughter that we would always remember.

We have been planning our time since the first of the year and back then it felt so far away.
But the day finally arrived!
On 9 July, Donald dropped us off at Seatac.
My stomach was in knots as we approached the airport, but once we said our goodbyes (I got the longest tightest hug from Jenelle - saying goodbye to them wasn't without a few tears!) and headed inside the airport, all I felt was excitement and freedom that we had 2 full weeks ahead of us for our travels!

After security, we grabbed a Starbucks and waited at the gate.
photo by Hannah
 Our plane was a brand new Boeing 777 and it did its job well...
...taking us out of the states...
photo by Hannah
...and into the UK.
Hello gorgeous English countryside!
These overseas flights are exhausting, but once we hit the runway in the UK, the feeling of exhaustion vanished!
Second wind!
We went straight to the Underground to work out where we needed to go for our room.
This is where Hannah seemed to have a talent!
The Underground system in the UK...like many other metro/underground/tram systems in Europe - and probably in the US as well - is fairly straightforward in its concept.
You have a starting point of a particular line and and ending point.
And in between are your stops.
Pretty simple right?
Well...apparently not for my brain.
I mean, if I HAD to do it all by myself, I'm sure I would eventually get it.
But it came very easily for Hannah.
Just like her dad has, I noticed natural navigational skills in Hannah.
Thank goodness!

So we went to our first room.
We wanted to drop off our backpacks and go into Central London for some sightseeing.

I choose to use airbnb.com for the overnight stays on our trip.
We stayed at seven different places during the 2 weeks we were gone.
Six of those places worked out really good or really great.
One of those didn't...and sadly that was the first place!

All Hannah and I have to say to each other is "Victor"...and that represents the first of many "inside joke/stories" from our trip.
The place wasn't at all like the pictures that were on the website.
It was messy and stinky and uncomfortable.
We felt unexpected by the host when we arrived.
Loud family late into the night...too far from where we wanted to explore.
Not sure how this host had so many good reviews, but since we were scheduled to stay with them again on the night before we head back home, I cancelled our reservation and made one with a hotel near the airport.

But, we were stuck for this one night so we dumped our things and took the tube to Westminster.
We've seen a few of these things before, but they are iconic and you don't get tired of them!

We walked around to the line for the London Eye.
It was loooooong!
Made us very glad we have already had the chance to ride.
And Big Ben...
There are no amount of pictures that equal "too many" when it comes to this beautiful tower!
photo by Hannah

Beautiful WWII monument to the Royal Air Force with a famous quote by Winston Churchill...
"Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few."

We walked by Whitehall Gardens - gorgeous!
How had I never noticed this before on our previous visits!!
The largeness and the grandeur of this place (and so many of the places that we visited during our entire trip) are what really struck me.
We see giant glass skyscrapers and elegant modern buildings in cities here and around the world all the time and think they are so amazing.
And they are in their own way.
But the detail in the stone and brick of the buildings that we saw during our travels are something so different.
You never stop putting their age together with the complexity of the project and wonder "How did they do that?!"

So just about after taking this last picture, we realized we were really really hungry!
We were in an area without a lot of choices and so we did the very sad American thing and ate at McDonalds.
It was out of desperation!!
And besides a coffee here and there over the next two weeks so we could access their free wi-fi, we never ate there again!
I promise!
But I had to take a picture of this meal...
Sad isn't it?
In London...eating at McDonalds.
Oh well.

After eating, we walked by Westminster Abbey,
and then to Covent Gardens.
This would be a great place to spend more time exploring, but it was after-work hours and the amount of people walking around the streets and the market was mind boggling.
On top of that, we had now been awake for over 24 hours and we were starting to feel like it.

We head back to "Victor's" (ick!) to get cleaned up and rested for the next day.
It was a long and fairly sleepless night.
We were not sad to leave the next morning for the next part of our trip.
Just a quick and favorite UK snack before we go!
Next stop:  Amsterdam

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Seattle Summer Day Trip

A week ago the girls and I took a trip to Seattle for an afternoon of doing whatever we wanted.
I've said plenty of times that I think its so cool we have this beautiful city only 2 hours away!
We need to do this more often as there is always something new to do!

And we had a lot of fun and took tons of pictures!
Hannah took many of the pictures and Jenelle added some too so you'll have to watch for photo creds!

Our drive from Yakima to Seattle.
photo by Hannah
 A stop in North Bend for a coffee!
#predictable
#necessary
Riding the Seattle Great Wheel
 photo by Hannah
 photo by Hannah
 photo by Hannah
 photo by Hannah
photo by Hannah

Did we have a perfectly gorgeous day or what??

After the wheel we messed around in a few tourist attraction areas...waste of money type places, but interesting to check out.
And yes...even a scary mummy from South America in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop.
We just couldn't figure out how a place like this got an actual mummy.
Shouldn't this be in a proper museum somewhere?
photo by Hannah
Jenelle and I wanted to show Hannah the gum wall since she wasn't with us when we saw it over spring break.
Still disgusting...but you can't look away!
photo by Hannah
 photo by Hannah
photo by Hannah

Then a walk through Pikes Market, lunch at The Pike Brewing Company (with lemonades and iced teas...no brews this time!) and a walk past the original Starbucks.
photo by Hannah
Could they have really imagined in 1971 what their company would be like today?
Amazing success story!
We walked our butts off to the Seattle REI.
Hannah took some cool architectural pictures along the way...
And somewhere along our walk, this kid took a cute selfie!!
photo by Jenelle
At REI, we were unsuccessful in finding what we were looking for, so we walked back down to the waterfront.
Hot and sweaty by that time - we needed some ice cream!

Then it was time to head back!
We stopped at World Market in Bellevue and then I hit the road to Yakima with these two lovelies!
A perfect day!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The 2nd May Birthday Celebration!

He caught up with me again!
Donald turned 45!

Hannah and I decided to test his "youth" by presenting him with carrot cupcakes holding 45 candles!
 Can he blow them out all at once?
What do you think?
Yep!
He was concerned that the smoke detector might actually go off!

It's hard to surprise Donald with gifts.
If it's wrapped, he'll shake it or feel it long enough to figure out what it is.
Plus usually he's been asked what he wants and so he knows it's probably coming.
This year I actually surprised him!
With a chainsaw!
Probably my most favorite shopping experience ever...not!
But I did know what I was looking for and I knew it was something he wanted!
And I was right!
Happy birthday to our very favorite guy!!