bluebonnet bust

We’ve been so busy…you know, having a baby and all…that we missed the peak of the Texas Bluebonnets here, but I didn’t want to miss our annual bluebonnet picture. Plus, this would be Finn’s first! The Bluebonnets bloom during a short span of time and we hit the tail end (plus I think this season was shorter due to the weather.) We went to the park near our house where there is usually a huge field of Bluebonnets, but there were only a few stragglers left. So we plopped the kids down near the few that we found.

With few flowers and the sun in their eyes, the picture is kind of a bust. But at least the kids looked cute!

Harper and Finn in the wildflowers

Harper and Finn in the wildflowers

Harper and Finn in the wildflowers

And we had fun walking through the park on such a nice day.

Harper

Harper

Harper

Harper

Harper

blue-eyed beauty in the bluebonnets

The Texas Bluebonnets have been in full bloom here so we took advantage of a sunny, but windy Sunday afternoon to take some pictures of Harper. Apparently, it’s a pretty popular thing to do here. The field near our house was chock full of cute families posing for pictures. There were even people posing with their dogs. We rode our bikes down a trail from our house to a nearby park with a big open field of Bluebonnets and by the time we got there, Harper wasn’t in the mood and didn’t feel like sitting by herself in the middle of a field of flowers, but she warmed up after a few minutes and ended up loving it! I think this may become an annual tradition!

Harper in the Texas Bluebonnets

Harper in the Texas Bluebonnets

Harper in the Texas Bluebonnets

Harper in the Texas Bluebonnets

Harper in the Texas Bluebonnets

Harper in the Texas Bluebonnets

Harper in the Texas Bluebonnets

Harper in the Texas Bluebonnets

Harper in the Texas Bluebonnets

Harper in the Texas Bluebonnets

Harper in the Texas Bluebonnets

o canada!

Our last stop on our northwest tour was Vancouver. My first time to Canada! We started out walking through town past the library to Gastown – a few quaint streets with shopping and pubs that look like London.

Vancouver Public Library

Vancouver Public Library

Gastown

Gastown

In Gastown there’s a steam clock. We were expecting some huge clock, but it’s just a small grandfather clock with steam rising out the top!

Steam Clock

Steam Clock

We walked out to Canada Place which is much like Navy Pier in Chicago.

Canada Place

Canada Place

Later that afternoon, we walked out to Lighthouse Park. It was a beautiful wooded area with large trees until you reach the water. We stood on a big rock and looked out at the lighthouse towards downtown Vancouver.

Lighthouse Park

Lighthouse Park

Lighthouse Park

Lighthouse Park

The next day was spent in the outdoors. Stanley Park is the large park on the west end of Vancouver. We were going to walk, but decided to rent bikes instead. I’m so glad we did – we rode around the entire perimeter of the park and were able to see a lot.

Riding bikes in Stanley Park

Riding bikes in Stanley Park

Stanley Park

Stanley Park

We saw a bunch of totem poles.

Totem Poles in Stanley Park

Totem Poles in Stanley Park

Stanley Park

Riding bikes in Stanley Park

Stanley Park

There was a beach too. We even saw people swimming in a public pool even though the temperature was maybe 68 degrees.

Stanley Park

After lunch we drove out to Grouse Mountain and took a tram up the mountain.

Grouse Mountain

The ride was about 7 minutes and at the top it was rather cool and there was still snow on the ground. So we grabbed some hot chocolates and walked around.

Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain

We caught the end of a bird demonstration where they were flying falcons and eagles back and forth.

Grouse Mountain

Granville Island

On our last evening of the trip, we walked around Granville Island which is known for it’s shopping and restaurants. We ate at a nice brewery and were able to sit outside.

Dinner on Granville Island

Alas, our northwest tour came to an end. Besides seeing the beautiful nature and eat delicious food, my favorite part was spending so much quality time with my sister!

climb every mountain, search high and low

On our way between Portland and Seattle, we stopped through the Mt. Rainier National Park. We didn’t intend to hike – really we just wanted to get a close look and some pictures.

Mt. Rainier National Park

We pulled into the park and asked where a good lookout would be and drove for a while, up and up, until we got too high in the clouds to see it! But what we saw on the way was pretty enough.

Mt. Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier National Park

After a few more hours in the car getting through the small towns, we pulled into Seattle for the 2nd leg of the trip.

the dream of the 90’s is alive in portland

Ever since our Boston trip in 2010 with my sister and her husband, we had planned to take another trip together to the northwest to see Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. We finally managed to make it happen a couple weeks ago after much planning. We spent the week of Memorial Day seeing the 3 cities and a little bit of the surrounding area. We were there for 10 days but there was still so much we didn’t get to see, particularly in the outskirts with all the national parks, ocean and wine country.

Drew and I arrived in town the night before Lisa and Branden, so we walked around the Portland Rose Gardens for a bit. We couldn’t get over how green and lush everything was, right within Portland’s city limits.

Portland Rose Gardens

Portland Rose Gardens

Portland Rose Gardens

Portland Rose Gardens

Portland Rose Gardens

Portland Rose Gardens

Portland Rose Gardens

Portland Rose Gardens

Portland Rose Gardens

When Lisa and Branden arrived, we headed to a Portland Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps soccer game. The MLS fans in the northwest are crazy – so it was really exciting. A rainstorm came through during halftime but swept through quickly and that was the worst weather we experience the whole time!

The next morning, after waiting in a long line, we got a major sugar high from doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnut – they were delicious. Lisa tried one topped with Captain Crunch cereal and Drew tried one topped with Fruit Loops. I stuck to good ol’ glazed.

Voodoo Doughnut

Voodoo Doughnut

Voodoo Doughnut

They also tried a Bacon Maple doughnut with real bacon on top. Later, they bought the Bacon Maple Beer made by Rogue and it ended up tasting exactly like bacon.

Voodoo Doughnut

Then we walked around the Portland Saturday Market, visited Powell’s Books and then grabbed some beers at Deschutes Brewery.

Portland Saturday Market

Powell's Bookstore

Deschutes Brewery

Portland

We ended the evening with a delicious dinner at Little Bird.

Portland Rose Gardens

The next morning we drove out to Newburg and Dundee for a day at the wineries! Drew got to do all the tasting for us, so I relied on him to pick some good Pinot Noirs to bring home. Willamette Valley is such a beautiful setting for wine tasting – every winery had a view. We visited four that day, all known for their Pinot’s – Anderson Family, Lange Estate, Winderlea and Erath. Anderson Family was a small, family run vineyard that is all organic and sustainable. They need no air conditioning for their cellar since it stays perfectly cool all year round.

Willamette Valley

Anderson Family Vineyard

Anderson Family Vineyard

Anderson Family Vineyard

Anderson Family Vineyard

At Anderson Family Vineyard, the owner let us put our ear up to a barrell to hear the yeast bubbling.

Anderson Family Vineyard

Anderson Family Vineyard

Willamette Valley

Willamette Valley

Lange Estate

Lange Estate

The next day we made our way out of Portland and on to Seattle, but first with a stop at Mt. Rainier National Park!

release the bats!

Over Labor Day weekend, we decided it was finally time to go see the Austin bats. Why would we want to go see bats? For some reason, the largest colony of Mexican Free-tail bats in North America have decided to live under the bridge in downtown Austin during the warmer months (March-October.) Late August is the best time to go because the baby bats that were born during the summer are old enough to accompany the mommy and daddy bats on their nightly hunt for food. (Usually the baby version of anything is really cute, but not in this case.) There are around 1.5 million living under the bridge. So it is a big attraction in Austin. The more bats the better!

We had no idea that this was an attraction until we got here and everyone told us we had to go see the bats. That didn’t sound so great to me, but I thought it’d be a good photo opportunity. Turns out, it’s hard to photograph those suckers when they fly so fast. Plus, they’re really small.

We got there early to get a spot on the bridge and as we walked under the bridge to get to the other side, you could hear the bats starting to squeak and flap as they woke up. And it smelled really bad. Tons of people had already started gathering around the bridge.

There was everything from birds…

Austin Bats

…to kayaks…

Austin Bats

…to hyrdobikes…

Austin Bats

…to larger bat-viewing cruise boats. They all gathered near the bridge to watch the bats fly out.

Austin Bats

We staked out a spot on the bridge and waited for the sun to set.

Austin Bats

Then we started hearing a faint flapping sound and suddenly the bats started pouring out below us!

Austin Bats

Austin Bats

Soon, they started making a corkscrew formation as they headed east along the lake.

Austin Bats

Austin Bats

Austin Bats

Austin Bats

Austin Bats

Austin Bats

The whole colony took around 3 or 4 minutes to fly out. They eat hundreds of thousands of pounds of insects every night. That’s probably why they are so welcome in Austin. My pictures didn’t turn out as well as I’d hope, so maybe next time we go I’ll photograph from underneath the bridge.

be this sunset one for keeping

Saturday evening of Labor Day weekend, we drove out west to Lake Travis (only about 18 miles west of where we live) to go to Oasis for dinner, drinks and sunset viewing. It claims to be the “sunset capital of Texas” and I have to agree that it was pretty awesome.

I’ve never seen a place with so many balconies!

Oasis

Oasis

Oasis

Oasis

The lake is extremely low right now because of the severe drought. Normally, the little green island in the middle isn’t even visible.

Oasis

Oasis

Oasis

The sunset wasn’t as clear as usual – the wind knocked a bunch of dust up into the air that day. Unfortunately, the wind also contributed to the wildfires that started that weekend. Areas just south and west of this restaurant caught fire the day after we were there.

Oasis

Oasis

Oasis

Oasis

Oasis

Oasis

Oasis

Oasis

Oasis

This is definitely a spot we’ll take friends and family when they visit!

*Blog post title is a lyric from the song “Sunset Soon Forgotten” by Iron & Wine