Monday, April 20, 2009

Grand Adventure West

So I guess this is where I'll write out our grand adventure West for prosperity sake. :) There are 118 pictures over on Facebook. If you read this and want to see them, head over there. It's limited to friends only though, just fyi. I'll post a few highlight pics here but not a hundred of them.

In typical McMillin fashion, what started as Matt taking a trip to Seattle turned into a big family vacation spanning from Seattle to San Francisco. :) So, we spent 10 days for our 10-year anniversary visiting people I hadn't seen in over 10 years. It went something like this....

Wednesday, April 8 we left EARLY from Cleveland to fly to Seattle. Thanks to Andrea for driving us to the airport and then returning our car to our house for us. We left at 7am, flew through Minneapolis and arrived at 11am Pacific Standard Time. The kids did well with the flights. Nothing really to report.

Uneventful plane ride

When we got there we found our rental car and our hotel. Thanks to Michelle for finding Cedarbrook Convention Center in Sea-Tac, WA. It was near the airport, the highway and walking distance from the gaming convention and was generally a VERY cool place to stay. It's set back from the main strip on something like 18 acres of wooded property with a pond and a nice walking trail. In our building there was a 'parlor' (lobby) with a TV with DVD and complimentary snacks (fruit, chips, chocolate covered things, string cheese, yogurt and water). At 9:30pm every night they stock deli sandwiches for what they call "raid the pantry"...also free. LOVE LOVE the free snacks. :)
Plus there was a complimentary extended continental breakfast and the room was lovely.

The back of the Cedarbrook grounds

The kids on our walk, Cedarbrook

Anyway, after getting settled we went to pick up Michelle and head downtown to Pike Place Market for lunch and sightseeing. It was chilly and overcast, but very tolerable. Pike Place Market..HUGE! Had nice hangouts and foodstuff and back to the room.

Thursday, April 9 we went to Seattle Aquarium which was a lot of fun. It's small, but still plenty to see. Teagan had fun dragging Michelle all over the place. :)

Michelle, Teagan, Matt at Seattle Aquarium

Cael explores the octupus

Then to the Space Needle and Experience Music Project. Personally, I think $16 is a bit much for a trip to the top of the Space Needle. There was some interesting literature up there, but in hindsight probably would have been better to have lunch in the revolving restaurant. The EMP was a lot of fun. They had an exhibit about Jimi Hendrix (whom I love) and poster printing which was cool. They have a sound lab which would have been much more fun without the kids since they couldn't reach most of the instruments anyway. Both Teagan and Cael LOVED the virtual drum circle though. Very promising for involvement in future drum circles. :) The night ended with attending the Spring Sing at Michelle's kids' elementary school. It was packed. They did a nice job. Good times!

Teagan and Mama, top of Space Needle
(Cael was sleeping in the stroller which wasn't allowed past security so he didn't go up)

Teagan and Cael pose for a picture, bottom of Space Needle

Teagan and Cael at virtual drum circle, Experience Music Project, Seattle WA

Friday, April 10 was mostly spent at Norwescon at the Doubletree and while there were plenty of fun costumes to look at, there wasn't much gaming going on so we ended up back at the hotel for games and a movie.

Teagan tricks in the lobby

Saturday, April 11 we took Teagan (4 1/2 years), Cael (10 mo) and Alisdair (11 yrs) to Woodland Park Zoo for their Easter festivities. Teagan collected eggs with the 3-5 year olds and we saw some really nice animal exhibits. The kids really enjoyed playing at Zoomazium which is their indoor playground, complete with huge tree, boulders and caves. Michelle's son William joined us after his baseball jamboree for teriyaki dinner and dessert. Can you say Best Tiramisu EVER!?

Teagan at Woodland Park Zoo Bunny Bounce

Alisdair and Teagan at Zoomazium

Cael liked the Zoomazium too!

Will, Michelle, Alisdair Teagan, Heather, Matt, Cael

Sunday, April 12 was breakfast at the hotel and then on the road to Portland. We made it to Pioneer Courthouse Square before noon so we could see the Weather Machine, but when nothing happened by 12:15pm we found out from a security guard that it was under repair. Bummer!
We hiked our way over to Powell's City of Books. A full city block of books. It was immense! We detoured for a yummy lunch at a cafe and chocolatier. Well worth it. Powell's was awesome too!
Then we headed out towards Bagby Hot Springs on the recommendation of my brother. However, after 2 hours and no acceptable lodging near the hot springs we turned around and ended up driving down to Eugene instead.

The Weather Machine; The Road to Estacada; Cael's makeshift bed area
Portland, OR Whiteaker Hostel Loft Eugene, OR

Monday, April 13 was spent in Eugene, Oregon. After getting diaper laundry and breakfast out of the way, we spent the day with Walter, Christina and their 6-year old daughter Sierra. The girls hit it off great! We had a delicious lunch at Cornucopia, coffee at Laughing Goat, played on the playground until it got too cold and rainy. We retired to their house for cards (Frank's Zoo and Palabra) before dinner at Pizza Research Institute. SO much fun! Love Love Love this family.

Cael, Heather, Teagan
at morning coffee

Sierra; mocha monster; Teagan

Bike Art; Walter, Teagan & The Playground; The Lapchynski Family + Teagan outside PRI

Tuesday, April 14 we had to head down towards Northern California. Our goal was to drive along the coast from Grant's Pass, OR to Oakland, CA. It was a bit chilly and Cael was particularly fussy, but the drive was gorgeous! We drove 13 hours and only made it to Ukiah, CA (110 miles north of San Francisco). We got to look for whales, walk on the beach, hug a redwood and generally enjoy a beautiful day driving through the mountains and valleys of Northern California. No complaints there!

Now, I have been accused of posting loads of "people pictures" so I give you a landscape tour of the trip from Southern Oregon to Northern California.

And now back to People Pictures. haha

The McFarlands Meet The Redwoods

Wednesday, April 15 we finished the drive down to the San Francisco Bay area (to San Jose, actually) and after having some suprisingly tasty lunch at a little Italian seafood place on the strip, we visited Winchester Mystery House. What fun! We ended up taking the 65 minute tour (unfortunately we couldn't take the little ones on the behind-the-scenes tour) and then visited the rifle museum, garden and arcade (Matt, haha). We then drove up to Stanford Medical Center so I could see my Uncle Bill who was back in the hospital that morning after a fainting spell at home. He's under treatment for leukemia right now and the theory is that he was just dehydrated. Unfortunately, when I got up to his room he'd just been wheeled down to ultrasound so I wasn't able to see him. We headed back to San Jose to my cousin Maya's house where we were met by Marissa (her 2.5 year old daughter) and my aunt Sandy. I haven't seen Sandy in probably 25 years (seriously!!). So we caught up while we waited for Maya to get back from dropping my aunt Leah off at the airport (she'd flown over from her vacation in Las Vegas for the day for testing as she's the most likely bone marrow donor for my uncle) Confused yet?
The rest of the evening was spent going to dinner and hanging out with my cousin Maya and her family. Which was AWESOME! Circumstances being what they were, their guest room was unexpectedly available and we hadn't booked a hotel yet so we stayed with them. Thanks to them for their generous hospitality!

I have a million pictures from WMH. They are on Facebook.

The Girls: Teagan & Marissa and Marissa & Teagan
(the cousin bath: a McMillin tradition?)

The Boys: Tyler & Cael; Tyler (and Heather)

The Marcus Family at breakfast
(should have made them really take a pic, ah well)

Thursday, April 16 after a lazy morning with Maya, Dave, Marissa and Tyler we headed up to San Francisco for a little tourism. We met with Mark and Abby for lunch at WeirdFish. Mark is another writer for CCP/White Wolf. They then took us to this cool little sci-fi bookstore. Good times! From there we went to Fisherman's Wharf to see the seals,etc. We had lunch at Boudin Bakery & Cafe so Matt could guarantee he'd have seafood on the coast. They are also known for their interesting bread sculptures so that was fun. Then it was time to head over to Oakland. As it turns out our friend Sarah (from back in the day of Sufficient Grounds in Toledo) is living in Oakland as is my friend Matthew. We were able to spend a little time visiting with each of them that night. So much fun!


Left: Sarah & Hazel + Fam
Right: Pic of Matthew from his LJ (should have had Matt take a pic of us, alas)

Friday, April 17 we got up early and made our long trek home via Salt Lake City and Minneapolis before arriving at 10pm in Cleveland. The kids did VERY well on the trip home too. Matt's mom picked us up at the airport and brought us home again, home again.

SO, all in all. I count this vacation as a HUGE success. In typical fashion we crammed A LOT into the time we had. Matt is learning to be more flexible about plans and that worked out extremely well for us this time. :) We both agreed we'd happily do this trip again, but with a few modifications. It'd be nice to hike through the Redwood National Park next time and more time in the San Francisco area would have been lovely too. time! :)

So I imagine if you made it all the way through this in one go you might feel a little bit like we did after the whirlwind trip out west! :) Hope you enjoyed the ride! I know we did!


Carl said...

Great 10th.

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