Tag Archives: Vacation

Midwest Tour

Our last big trip of the summer is now behind us. We just returned home from a whirlwind 12-day trip to the Midwest {and Mexico for Alex!}. We covered a lot of ground, including my hometown and family cabin, Alex’s family’s lake home, his parents home and Chicago. It was really nice to spend time with our families and for Ben to get to hang out with his grandparents, aunt, uncles and cousin, as well as quite a few of our friends.

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The trip started on a Thursday – Alex flew to San Diego as a staging area to head to Mexico the following day while Ben and I headed to Minnesota just 15 minutes ahead of Alex. Alex spent a long weekend down in Ensenada, Mexico, which is in Baja, to attend the wedding of our friends Justin and Tania. He said it was absolutely gorgeous!

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Our flight was a piece of cake, with the exception of a very rude Delta flight attendant {this was a good reminder of why we fly Alaska!}, and Ben was a rock star. He slept for about half of the flight and the other half he was completely content with snacking and doing some activities.

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For most of our time in Minnesota we stayed with my mom. Ben loved her “kitty cat” and the pool in her backyard, naturally. We spent a lot of time checking out different playgrounds, experiencing the farmers market and going to the beach. Ben and I enjoyed a nice dinner on the deck of my brother’s new house – it was really nice to get to see his new place and spend time with John and his girlfriend, Becky.

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I had some of my friends from high school and their families come over for an afternoon in the pool one day. It’s so fun to see all the kids together – between six of us we have 9 kids altogether with another on the way!

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Another highlight of our time in Minnesota was our trip up to my dad’s family cabin. The cabin has been in his family since the 1930s and holds a lot of memories! It was so fun taking Ben up there and watching him cruise around, explore and play with my brother’s old Tonka trucks. He even got to go for a dip in the lake and take a couple of paddle boat rides with me.

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After a really fun time in Mexico, Alex came and met us in Minnesota late Monday night, five days into our trip. We spent our last day in Minnesota together with my family before hitting the road for the 5-hour drive to Alex’s parents lake home in southern Wisconsin.

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It was so relaxing being at the lake – Ben loved some fun new toys that Grammy and Grandpa had for him to play with, and he loved seeing his cousin Nico, who is 6 months younger than he is. We went for boat rides, Ben played in the kiddie pool and we all enjoyed our time together. To top it off, it was absolutely perfect summer lake weather.

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Throughout the trip Ben continued to impress me with his ability to adapt to new situations and new people. While he didn’t sleep very well the whole trip {who can blame him!?}, he continued to remain his normal sweet, friendly self during the day and loved spending more time with his extended family. While we were on the trip his first molar started to poke through and he got a cold. Despite the recipe for disaster he managed to hold it together and was such a happy camper the whole trip.

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On Friday afternoon Alex and I headed to Chicago, leaving Ben in Wisconsin with Alex’s parents. We had a wedding in the city to attend, where Alex was a groomsman. We stayed right downtown in the Loop in a great location and a beautiful hotel and had a really nice time catching up with many of Alex’s friends from high school.

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Alex was occupied on Saturday with wedding stuff, so I met up with Alina and Nico for a leisurely stroll through Restoration Hardware, followed by a wonderful lunch in their courtyard restaurant. We took a nice walk through part of the city before I headed to the wedding.

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On Sunday morning Alex and I had a little time together to take a walk to Millennium Park and be tourists for a few minutes. Then we headed to his parents home to spend the afternoon with Alex’s family before we had to leave to get back to Seattle the next day. We got to see Nana, Alex’s grandma {and our only surviving grandparent}, and spend more time with his parents, Alina, Alberto and Nico, as well as Alex’s uncle Mike.

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All in all, our trip was really, really nice. We loved seeing our families and getting to spend so much time with them. It’s so fun watching Ben in new spaces and getting to know his grandparents and other family members. It’s such a fun time right now and it was so special sharing that with our family and friends.

Family Vacation to Seabrook, Washington

For our big family summer vacation this year we headed west to Seabrook, Washington, a very small town on the Washington coast. This was our second vacation as a little family of three and it was everything I had hoped it would be and more.

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Seabrook is a really funny little town. It’s very new and was created with a master development plan about 10 years ago. It was modeled after the Truman Show and Pleasantville, so it has that “everything is perfect” look and feel. The houses and the town are so cute – the style is similar to a Cape Cod or Nantucket home. It oozes with east coast charm.

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Perhaps the best part of the town is the location – it’s situated up high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the Washington coast. The beach goes on forever!

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Our trip started mid-day Friday with our sloooowwwwww drive to the coast. It’s been a while since we had ventured south on I-5 on a Friday in the summer and boy did we regret waiting until noon to leave the house. Thankfully Ben has turned into a little trooper in the car and he hung in there right along with us.

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We got all of our glitches out of the way for the whole trip upon check-in. Our house wasn’t ready when we arrived – they needed extra time to clean it. Then, once we could finally check in, the code on the lock wouldn’t work. By some miracle we found a slightly open window and Alex was able to enter the house. It was a little bit of a stressful start to the vacation, but thankfully all the kinks were worked out once we got inside.

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Over the years Alex and I have stayed in a ton of vacation rentals. Usually the photos make them look nicer than they are in reality. Much to my relief, the house was even better than the pictures! It was by far the nicest vacation rental we’ve ever stayed in. It was fantastic!!

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We were so enamored with the town that we spent most of the afternoon and evening exploring and getting settled in. I couldn’t get enough of the houses in the town!

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Coincidentally, our friends Kara and Jake and their daughter Maya, were in Seabrook the same weekend. Even more of a coincidence – the house they rented was across the park {about 30 feet} from our house – essentially our front porches overlooked each others! We loved being able to spend some good time with them the first evening by the campfire and then getting Maya and Ben to play together in the grass the next day.

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Our first trip to the beach happened on Saturday morning. I strapped Ben to my back {he’s officially too heavy to wear in the carrier on my front!}, Alex hooked Jackson up to his leash and we headed out to the beach.

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The Washington and Oregon coasts are known for some pretty extreme fog and Saturday was no exception. There is something eerily comforting about the dense fog along the coast – it’s really calming and relaxing. Maybe that’s the Seattleite in me talking? We weren’t turned off by the light drizzle – it was surprisingly pleasant.

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Once we got down to the beach we realized how unbelievably expansive it was. I don’t even know how to describe the scope other than to say from the moment we hit the edge of the beach until we got to the water it was a solid 10 minute walk across the sand. The beach went on and on and on and on – it was by far the biggest beach I’ve ever been to. You could have walked for hours in either direction.

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When we got closer to the water we could see crabs washed up on shore. There were clams and sand dollars, too! It was weirdly beautiful in its own way.

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The water was absolutely frigid – no swimming for us! Jackson didn’t think twice about the chilly temperature, though, and he charged right into the waves after his ball.

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One of our favorite moments happened on Saturday. We hit the town to check out the little Saturday market and happened upon a quaint little wine bar. Naturally we stopped in for a flight and a cheese board. We shared the cheese and sopressata with Ben {and kept the wine to ourselves} and he ate almost the entire thing on his own. Somewhere in the last month or two he has become such a stellar eater! It is an absolute blast watching him explore the world of food.

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Later in the day, the skies cleared and then when we woke up on Sunday morning we were delighted to see the bright blue skies were still there and the sun was out.

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While the sun was out in full force on Sunday, so was the wind. It was slightly bothersome up in town and at our house but when we got down to the beach it felt like the wind was blowing at gale force! We were so looking forward to hanging out on the beach and we weren’t about to let a mini hurricane stop us from setting up shop, even if it was only for about 15 minutes.

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Before our trip, we bought a little beach tent that was supposed to withstand a lot of wind. We were pleasantly surprised at both how easy it was to set up and the fact that it stayed up, given the wind. We hunkered down and let Ben play in the sand for a short while before taking a little walk on the beach.

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We were all absolutely covered in sand – I can still feel it in my pores. Ben had a goth look going on because his face was all drooly and then it got muddy from the sand. It was pretty funny! He couldn’t have cared less about the sand – it had to have been all up in his eyes too. He was having a blast nonetheless.

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Our last full day in Seabrook was very relaxing and largely spent outside.

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I will be forever grateful for this long weekend together in Seabrook. Family vacations are so important to us. It gives us a chance to spend time together, reconnect and be present and removed from the distractions of everyday life. This trip was perfect in every way and I really wouldn’t change a thing.

Quick Trip to Vancouver

Alex has been going up to work in Vancouver lately. One of his trips happened to end on a Friday, so Ben and I decided to head north and join him for a quick International trip.

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Alex and I both love, love, love Vancouver – it feels like a big, urban city, yet intimate. Surprisingly, the population of Vancouver is very similar to Seattle {about 650,000}, but it actually feels like a big city. We both agreed that this is one of the only other cities we think we would live in {and boy would that be incredible!}. I think it has to do with the parallels to Seattle and of course its proximity to Whistler.

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This trip we stayed on the waterfront at the Fairmont Waterfront, right across the harbor from Stanley Park {Vancouver’s version of Central Park}. I loved that location – it was close to shopping, restaurants, the Gastown neighborhood, Stanley Park and, obviously, the water.

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Ben and I were on our own for most of the trip. I got very organized and packed up in advance and then just in time for Ben’s morning nap, we were on the road. My one regret: not stopping for coffee on our way out of town!

Similarly to most kids, or so I’ve heard, Ben is not particularly fond of being strapped into his car seat for any length of time, let alone 2-3 hours. For our drive to Vancouver, Ben was testing out his new car seat for the first time. It seemed like he may have been more comfortable, which helped make it a successful drive.

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Additionally, I opted to pack a little “car bag” of fun toys I could just throw to him in the car seat if he got antsy and much to my surprise, he didn’t even need any of them! I loved my idea, nonetheless, and will certainly plan on doing that for our next car trip.

Another new idea I had was to stop at a playground for a picnic lunch and to stretch our legs. While I was waiting in line to cross the border I searched for a nearby playground and ended up finding Redwood Park in Surrey, the town on the other side of the border. This park was AWESOME. Ben was too little for most of the equipment but he sat on the grass watching all of the big kids play and loved practicing walking {while holding my hand} all over the park.

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Edina had packed us a little bento box lunch the day before and Ben loved his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When did my baby become a little boy!?!?!

Side note: one of the first things I noticed at the park was how nicely the other moms were dressed! Boy was I glad I opted against the cute and comfy athleisure get-up I had initially considered wearing. I saw ZERO leggings – you read that right – ZERO leggings – at the park! This theme carried through our trip – the folks up in Vancouver sure know how to pull themselves together.

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Our first stop after getting checked into our hotel in Vancouver was the pool! This pool was fabulous and overlooked Coal Harbour with the Coast Mountains in the background. It was absolutely stunning and the weather was perfect!

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Ben LOVED swimming. We have a little swim float that he sits in and he was happily kicking and splashing as we cruised around the pool. Everyone was getting such a kick out of his adorable giggles and cheesy grin.

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We had such a fun day together. We strolled along the waterfront and watched the seaplanes take off, gawked at the cruisers {we stayed across the street from the cruise terminal} and practiced waving at strangers. We even had some gelato 🙂

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While we have taken several trips, this was the first time we had stayed in a standard hotel room with Ben. Oh let me tell you how un-glamorous it was {even though our hotel was super nice!}. Let me set the record now: I plan on not ever staying in a standard hotel room with a baby/7:00 bedtime child again!

In an ideal hotel set-up, we’d have a separate bedroom for sleeping children, along with a refrigerator that can accommodate bottles and snacks. A super perk would be a high chair with a tray, but we’d compromise with a high chair + a table that the high chair can pull up to, thus allowing the child to feed himself.

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Given that we had no good high chair set up {after we finished dinner, the hotel staff brought up a standard restaurant high chair but there was no good table to pull it up to} we had several picnics on the floor. It was pretty cute, other than the mess that was made when Ben picked up his lunch box and started waving it excitedly in the air. It also made me think of this sweet video about a parent’s normal being a child’s magic. I really enjoyed this trip for the opportunity to be creative and think outside my normal parenting box.

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After a really fun breakfast on Saturday morning we rented a couple bikes and went for a bike ride through Stanley Park. I think Ben loved the bike ride but hated his helmet!

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Our trip was really quick – after our bike ride we packed up the car and headed out in time for Ben’s long morning nap. We employed the same strategy that I used on my drive up, and that was to stop at a playground on the other side of the border. We had a suuuuuper long border wait time, so we were all ready to get out of the car and stretch our legs.

{We stopped at a grocery store and got some fresh sandwiches and some sides from the deli - it was a great way to do lunch on-the-go!}

{We stopped at a grocery store and got some fresh sandwiches and some sides from the deli – it was a great way to do lunch on-the-go!}

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I’d say our trip to Vancouver was a huge success! I’d definitely do it again.

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California Trip!

Alex and I recently returned home from a long weekend getaway to northern California. Before we ventured down the road to parenthood we said that once we have kids we want to make sure we’re prioritizing our marriage and taking time for the two of us. Now in our second year of parenthood I think we’re doing pretty well with that – most weeks we go out for a date night and we now have our first big trip under our belts.

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Our trip included a very full itinerary – we spent the first day exploring San Francisco, a town neither one of us had ever been to.

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We quickly came to adore San Francisco – we loved the architecture, the culture and what an urban city it felt like.

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Our hotel was in Nob Hill/Union Square, right on the cable car line. Once we got settled we hopped on the cable car and headed for Ghiradelli Square, where we a nice, relaxing lunch by the water.

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We timed our stop over at the Golden Gate Bridge viewing point aptly – not 10 minutes after we arrived the fog rolled in on what was otherwise a perfectly clear, sunny day. The fog came in so quick and thick that you couldn’t even see across the bay.

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That evening we checked out Tonga, a tiki bar in the Fairmont Hotel, before heading up to the 19th floor and enjoying a light meal {and expansive views} at Top of the Mark.

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We were sad to only have such limited time in SF and have added it to our “must return” list. We can’t wait to come back to explore the neighborhoods and the food scene.

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After our half day in SF we packed up, hopped in our cute BMW convertible that we rented and headed north for Napa! We opted to stay in Sonoma County, as we had heard that it was more low-key and laid back, which is typically our style. Even so, we wanted a taste of Napa while we were there.

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Napa and Sonoma counties are so overwhelming and contain SO many wineries that never having visited it was a difficult trip. Thankfully, our friend and wine bar owner, Henri, offered us some suggestions. Boy were we glad we took him up on them!

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As we were approaching Napa both Alex and I were pointing out all of the beautiful houses and the cute shops on the street. I was surprised to find so many similarities to Batavia and Geneva, Illinois, where Alex’s parents live. I think the river running through the towns make them feel really similar.

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After our quick stop off in Napa at Oxbow Market {aka paradise} we headed a little farther north to Yountville. We did our first tasting of the trip at Jessup Cellars. Our host was a hoot – she gave us some really fun tastes of different cab sauvs and an incredible old cab franc. Our trip was off to a good start!

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We took a quick jaunt through the adorable, quaint town of Yountville before our divine lunch at Bouchon. Since we couldn’t get a reservation at The French Laundry we figured another Thomas Keller restaurant would suffice. Holy cow were we right.

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Bouchon was truly a sensational meal. The ambiance was delightful – I loved the cute red and white bistro chairs out on the terrace. Our server was spot-on with his recommendations and professionalism. And the food, oh, the food! There was nothing to be desired at the end of our meal. Alex even suggested that his meal, a brown butter pork schnitzel with mashed potatoes and capers, was the best thing he’d ever eaten. It was fantastic. I’d love to learn how to replicate it!

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Of course after Bouchon we had to stop at Bouchon Bakery for some coffee and macarons for our drive west to Healdsburg, where we were staying. The drive took quite a while, as it was through the mountains and some heavy traffic. I swear we made 100 hairpin turns as we came up and over the mountain. It was a gorgeous drive and it was SO fun to be driving in a cute BMW convertible.

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Healdsburg was our home base for the next two nights. We stayed at Hotel Les Mars, a Relais and Chateaux hotel, which according to the 20 year-old receptionist, should have been on our bucket list {I guess now we can check it off!}. Aside from the snooty and inexperienced service at the hotel we loved our experience – it is a beautiful property and our room was lovely.

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Saturday morning brought sunshine, coffee and wine! We were surprised to find out that our hotel included a room service continental breakfast – we happily ordered some coffee, yogurt and croissants.I could really get used to breakfast in bed!

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We had two wine tasting appointments lined up for Saturday. Our first was at Jordan Winery. Our tasting included their signature chardonnay and cabernet sauvignons and were paired with some cheese and caviar. The wine was wonderful and we really enjoyed the pairings. The winery has a very big and captivating story behind it and in the 41 years they have been making wine they have had the same winemaker. We learned that while money can’t buy you happiness, it can buy you everything you need to make world-class wine.

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The second tasting was at Gary Farrell. Their tasting space is under construction so they created a “woodland tasting” experience where they build glamping-style tents for their private tastings. It was a fun experience, though the view left much to be desired. We were paired with a rowdy group and really enjoyed them. The wines we tasted were chardonnay and pinot noir. Alex and I really enjoyed the pinots but were not feeling the chardonnay.

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On our last day we opted to head over to the coast and take Highway 1 south back to SFO. Our drive was much different than we expected – we both had imagined the coast highway to boast big, bright blue skies and seas, like what you see on TV. We expected cute little beach towns and lots of obvious places to stop along the way. None of that was really true – it looked so similar to the Oregon and Washington coasts, with gray skies, fog and giant rock features protruding out of the beaches.

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Our time in California wine country was wonderful. We soaked up the sun and enjoyed incredible wine and hospitality {and not-so-good hospitality!}. When all was said and done, we preferred our experience over on the Napa side. We received significantly better service and loved the style a bit more. We absolutely loved San Francisco, too, and really hope to be back one day soon.

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The trip was really meaningful, though we missed Ben tremendously. We knew he was in good hands with his grandparents, but we still missed him. It didn’t help that there were little tots roaming around wine country everywhere we turned. We were so happy to be home and reunited with our little boy.

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Ben + Mama Trip to Minnesota

Ben and I embarked on a trip to Minnesota just the two of us to visit friends and family. It’s hard living so far away and managing to make time for everyone back in my homeland, but I knew it was time to make the trek.

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I knew the trip would be hard but I didn’t really comprehend in what ways it would be challenging. I take care of Ben solo quite a bit – every Monday and Friday I’m his sole caretaker, but five consecutive days and overnights is a little bit different. I was pleasantly surprised that the trip ended up being easier than I had expected.

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Ben had already taken four plane rides by the time we set out for Minnesota. That worked in our favor because we had learned a thing or two about how to be efficient, what to pack and what to expect. I was approaching our plane trips calmly and with the realization that they were an insignificant, but necessary, part of our trip.

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Again, much to my surprise, Ben was a rock star traveler on our way to Minnesota. He took two 30-minute naps, he was engaged in one toy for many, many minutes and was completely chill. Typical Ben is a big wiggler – his little legs are in constant motion and he likes to move from one toy to another. I couldn’t believe it when he was focused on my teething necklace for almost the entire plane ride. As it turned out, I did not need to bring a bag full of 20 different toys!

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Our first full day in Minnesota was forecast to be gorgeous – low 70s and sunny — a perfect day for a stroll around Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis with my friend Sarah and her daughter Madeline.

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Madeline and Ben were due within a day of each other and ended up being born 5 weeks apart. It has been an incredible experience going through my pregnancy and motherhood with my best friend. We exchange probably between 50-100 text messages a day! I was dying to meet Madeline and it was one of the main reasons for my trip.

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I knew before Madeline was born that Sarah was going to be an excellent mama. It was wonderful finally having the opportunity to see her in action. Sweet Madeline is lucky to have Sarah as her mama!

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In addition to our walk around the lake we planned a gathering with our group of girl friends from high school back at Sarah’s house. Another one of our friends had a baby a week after Ben was born – it has been so fun to share the journey with Sarah and Cammy and hear what their girls’ are up to.

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I really enjoyed my time with the girls. The three other girls are mamas to older kids and they were quick to jump in and offer to hold the babies so we could eat or relax. I loved catching up with these girls and so appreciated the time together.

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The rest of my trip was mainly spent with family. Sunday I joined my mom and aunt Sarah at the Como Zoo for the afternoon.

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I think Ben really enjoyed the zoo. He was interested in the giraffes and waved both of his arms and feet with excitement whenever they moved. He didn’t seem to totally get the concept of the zoo, unsurprisingly, though the bigger animals that were awake and moving around were the ones to grab his attention.

 

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Later that day I stopped over to visit my brother and his girlfriend, Becky, at their place and have dinner together. My brother went above and beyond and put together a terrific meal with Ben in mind. In advance, he asked me if Ben had had some specific cuisines because he wanted to prepare something new that Ben hadn’t tried before.

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John prepared vegetable samosas, lentil soup, risotto and roasted vegetables. Everything was delish! I especially liked the risotto and Ben loved the lentil soup. Ben loved crawling around their big, open, carpeted living room too!

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My dad got to spend a lot of time in the mornings with Ben while I was pumping and getting ready. It was so sweet to see the two of them together. Ben almost never falls asleep on anyone during the day but he did three times with my dad! I guess he’s got the magic calming touch.

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One of the activities we did with my dad was go back to the YMCA that I grew up working at. I hadn’t seen it since the facility underwent a massive renovation. I spent 8 years working as a lifeguard, swim instructor and childcare staff at that YMCA and it was really neat to go back and see it thriving. We took Ben for a quick swim in the pool before heading over to my mom’s for dinner.

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My mom and my friend Kelsey have become rather close over the last several years. It’s really nice that they have such a great relationship and my mom can see her “other daughter” more often than her biological one. Kelsey joined us for dinner one night and it was such a treat to see her. Ben was really out of sorts that night so we didn’t get a good chance to catch up or relax much, but I enjoyed the visit, nonetheless.

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I was able to make up for the visit the following morning with some Ben and Mamie cuddles and time together before Ben and I headed to the airport.

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It was really nice to see my family and friends and to see everyone get the opportunity to spend time with Ben. Until he was born I didn’t really consider the grandparent relationship or what it would look like. Alex and I are still honing in on that and working to find a balance that works for all of Ben’s grandparents. Each grandparent is so different and it is hard to meet everyone’s expectations and make sure the grandparents are feeling included and like they get to see Ben enough.

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When it came time to head back to Seattle my dad dropped us off at the airport. I approached this flight the same way as I did our flight out to Minneapolis – with a calm demeanor and whatever happens, happens.

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I also decided to consolidate and put my handbag inside my suitcase so I only had to carry the diaper bag onto the plane. In doing that, I went against advice I normally followed – I took out my extra outfit and the second extra outfit for Ben. Of course that quickly bit me in the bum – when I went in to change Ben’s diaper before we got on the plane I realized that his diaper leaked all over him, me and the baby carrier! We were all soaked! I did what I could to clean us all up and I got Ben into his one and only change of clothes and then we boarded the plane.

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About half of the plane ride heading home was great – Ben was really happy and then fell asleep and was taking a really nice nap. It seemed like something woke him up and he got scared and woke up suddenly and I could tell wasn’t ready to be awake. He was really out of sorts for the rest of the flight and we spent most of it in the galley hanging out with the flight attendants.

{Mid 70s, thunderstorms and snow all in 3 days... only in the Midwest!}

{Mid 70s, thunderstorms and snow all in 3 days… only in the Midwest!}

All in all, I’m really glad I made the trip back. It was empowering to do it by myself and heartwarming see my family and friends with Ben. I’m not in a hurry to solo-parent an infant again for a while, but I’m very pleased with how well the trip went.

Whistler Vacation

Whistler is one of Alex’s and my favorite places to visit and ski. The village is adorable and the mountains are extraordinary – Whistler Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America! We thought it would be the perfect destination for our first family-of-three vacation. Alex and I hadn’t been there together since 2013, though I was there last winter with my dad. While the trip was very different than we expected, we had a great time and we’re scheming on making an annual family Whistler trip every winter.

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Our trip began on Friday morning – we had gotten pretty much everything packed up the night before and were hoping to wake up and load up the car and then hit the road before Ben took his morning nap so that he could snooze in the car. The timing worked out really well, but I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a train. I was operating at about 20% and that’s being generous. Alex took one for the team and by some miracle we were out the door by 9 and Ben quickly fell asleep, as did I.

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The drive to Whistler is 4.5 to 5 hours, depending on Vancouver traffic and border wait times. Once you pass through Vancouver the drive is absolutely breathtaking along the Sea to Sky highway. Sadly I did not enjoy any part of the drive other than when it was over. By then I was feeling better but not 100% {by the next morning I was fine}.

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This was going to be our “big vacation” and we had reserved a condo for a full week – Friday to Friday. We scheduled a babysitter for three days so that Alex and I could ski. In addition to downhill skiing we brought our cross country gear so that we could take Ben out too. We’ve heard from several friends that there is a lot to do with babies in Whistler and we were really excited to experience that first-hand.

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The condo we stayed at had a really good location for being a young family in Whistler, though it wasn’t as close to the lifts as we had hoped. It was situated just outside the village, quite close to the Olympic Plaza, which has a skating rink, a sledding hill, and a playground. It was also near the library, a grocery store, several coffee shops and other great restaurants. Next time we visit we’d opt for a place closer to the gondola and more in the heart of the village.

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Our first full day was great – the sun was out and it had snowed a few inches overnight. Perfect for exploring the village and doing some sledding!

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Day two was scheduled as a ski day. We requested a babysitter through a local service, confirmed with her the night before and much to our surprise, she never showed up! Our “Plan B” was pretty okay and we spent another day in the village and went cross country skiing.

{Coffee on the couch instead of skiing!}

{Coffee on the couch instead of skiing!}

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{Coffee on the couch quickly turned into boozy hot drinks on the patio…}

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{We skied around Lost Lake – it was a short 2.5 mile trail and by the time we made the first loop the trail was getting icy so we opted to call it quits. This trail was a little more hilly than the one we’re used to at home and I wasn’t very comfortable going downhill with Ben on my back.}

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We were able to flex our skiing schedule a little bit and the babysitting service managed to switch us to a different gal who did show up on Monday morning so we could go skiing. Alex and I were more apprehensive about leaving Ben with a babysitter than we expected – something about a stranger and being in another country, not to mention we were going to be skiing, was a little weird. Once she arrived in the morning she put our nerves at ease and we hit the slopes.

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What ended up being our one and only ski day was terrific. We skied our hearts out! We skied on Blackcomb Mountain and covered it top to bottom. The sun was out, the snow was soft and we were ripping it up. The combination of being there on a Monday at the end of March meant we skied right on to the lifts every run – we got so many runs in that we found the time to take a much needed coffee break.

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{One of our favorite areas was the new Crystal chair – we found some powder pockets and skied in an area that had been hit by a forest fire, which provided a perfect gladed run through the trees with some nice soft bumps.}

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At the end of our ski day we were very happy to get back to a content Ben who had a great day with his Aussie babysitter. She offered to come watch him the next evening for us, so we happily took her up on that so we could have a date night together. We went out for a glass of wine first and then headed to a fancy restaurant for dinner. It was a great night!

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Taking Ben to restaurants is totally hit or miss {mostly miss right now} – he’s got to be in the right mood and he’s not particularly fond of sitting still {just like his mama!} so it’s not always fun for anyone. If we can get him in the right mood he’ll just sit there and munch on a pickle or a french fry or whatever we’ve got in a similar shape/size. But mostly he just wants to get down and crawl around and say hello to the other diners.

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We had some really terrific food while we were in Whistler. In past years Whistler has not been my favorite ski town for good food but it’s starting to move up the ranks. Some of our favorites were a bakery called Pure Bread {should have been named “Heaven”}, an adorable creparie called Crepe Montagne, as well as Araxi and Basalt, where we went out for our date night.

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Wednesday ended up being our last day in Whistler, though we were booked until Friday. Ben somehow contracted hand, foot and mouth disease which is a really awful and highly contagious virus that’s very common in young children. After a couple hours Wednesday morning we pulled the plug and started packing up to go home. Since home is so close for us we thought we’d all be more comfortable there and saw no point in staying in Whistler.

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The drive home was slightly better than expected, though I spent most of it in the back seat with Ben so I could be there if he needed some comfort, which he undoubtedly did. On the drive home we decided to stop at the famous Tim Hortons because we had heard it is the cat’s meow. Turns out it’s Canada’s version of Dunkin’ Donuts and we’d have been much better off stopping just about anywhere else. Otherwise, the car ride home was mostly uneventful and we made great time. We were fortunate to arrive home to a clean house with banana bread in the oven – our nanny stayed at our house while we were gone.

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All in all, even though our trip was very different than we had expected, we had a terrific time and I’ll look back on it with many positive memories. We’re excited to get back up to Whistler!

Arizona Trip!

We met Alex’s family down in Arizona for a long weekend getaway last weekend. Alex’s parents, his sister, our brother in-law and their new baby, Nico, joined us in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area for some family time in the sun {and, as it turned out, the rain!}.

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It’s so much more complicated flying with an infant. We had so. much. stuff. There was Ben’s suitcase, Alex and I consolidated into one larger suitcase, the diaper bag, the backpack with my breast pump and equipment, the car seat, the stroller and little Ben! Logistically it takes longer to get through the airport, too, because I needed to pump while we were there, so that takes a solid 35 minutes. We didn’t time it perfectly, but it worked out okay.

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{The joys of pumping!}

{The joys of pumping!}

Our flight itself was rather uneventful. Ben fell asleep right around the time we began taxiing… and then woke up promptly when the beverage carts came out about 30 minutes later. The rest of the flight he was awake. We sat next to an extremely nice woman who was very sweet with Ben. He’s a super wiggle worm so he kept us on our toes the whole flight keeping him entertained in our arms. Overall he did really well and kept the folks sitting near us engaged with his giggles, constantly moving legs and flirty eyes.

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We were so excited to get to meet our nephew Nico! He was born on Christmas Eve and turned two months old on our trip. He’s such a cutie and was so laid back. He is very observant and when he was awake he’d be bright eyed and hanging out.

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The weather the first couple days was really nice. It was quite cool for Arizona {low 60s} and sunny. Thankfully the sun was extra warm and we managed a day at the pool.

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I was really looking forward to floating around with Ben in his little floatie. He loved it! Ben is such a little fish and loves splashing around in the pool. Thank heavens the pool was heated!

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Our pool day was Nico’s first time swimming. Seems like he had a good time too.

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We managed to have some hangout time by the pool as well.

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It was really fun hanging out in a low-key environment with Alex’s family and watching Ben and Nico together. They’re so sweet. We can’t wait for them to grow up together. They are only 7 months apart in age so I hope they’ll be buddies.

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Other than our pool time we didn’t have too many structured activities. We went out to eat a few times but Ben is at an age right now where it’s really not that much fun to take him to a restaurant unless he’s in the right mood. He’s not one that sits still for more than about 3 minutes and it’s not very enjoyable for someone to be constantly entertaining him rather than participating in a conversation. We prefer right now to dine at home!

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One of the most fun parts of the trip for Alex and me was that Ben started crawling while we were in Arizona! It was hysterical – I set a plate of guacamole and mango salsa down on the ground for myself to eat while I was playing on the floor with Ben. He saw it and off he went to try to get some of my snack. Turns out he’s really into food!

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Our hotel was great – we had stayed there before in a previous trip to Arizona. It was really nice to have our own space to spread out. Our room had a full kitchen, living area and then a separate bedroom and bathroom. We were on ground level which was also really nice for coming and going. We had a little patio that overlooked a shuffleboard, bocce ball and bags court, as well as a lounging area.

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Not surprisingly, taking a vacation with an infant is far less relaxing than vacationing without one, and it’s extra hard traveling with other people and balancing the schedules and needs of several adults and two babies. Ben is pretty laid back and can really go with the flow, but he’s still a baby and he still has limits. Nevertheless, we really enjoyed ourselves and enjoyed the time with Alex’s family.

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Even though the weather wasn’t as stellar as we had hoped, it worked out really well with the babies. We’re not at a point right now with Ben where lounging by the pool would be a feasible activity for too long. Plus, he’s not used to the heat and being a Seattle baby, I’m guessing he’s not going to love it.

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We had a really nice time in Arizona and were happy to catch up with Alex’s family.

Fifth Annual Leavenworth Trip

One of Alex and my favorite weekends all year is our annual trip to Leavenworth with some of our friends. Each year our trip looks a little different – typically we perfect something we learned the year before. This year’s trip wins for the most changes from last year — babies and a new house to stay in. Before I start, holy cow, it took me 5 hours to pack up the car by myself. It is a whole new life trying to leave town with an infant. Especially one who was adamant that he be carried around all day {and yes, I did put him in the carrier, but that only made it slightly easier to load the car…}.

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This year’s house was the best one yet! The property was fabulous – it had two acres of fenced in yard — perfect for the dogs to run around in. There was a hot tub, several sitting areas and a great fire pit, which we enjoyed making s’mores in.

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Our group of adults was a little smaller this year, but we nearly doubled our group with the addition of four babies – Mary and Ryan and their 10-month old twin boys, August and Oliver, along with Carrie and Patrick and their 5-month old girl, Roslyn, joined us for our trip. Sadly we didn’t get any group photos with all of us!

{The Buffs!}

{The Buffs!}

{The Millers!}

{The Millers!}

This year we also added another day onto the trip – we opted to head back to Seattle on Monday. It has always felt a little rushed to get up there Friday afternoon or evening and then pack up and leave early Sunday morning. It was so much more relaxing to have an extra day.

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The babies all did really well. Oliver and August are on the move now and Roslyn and Ben hung out on the mat together a little bit. It was so fun to see the boys eating real food and be able to entertain themselves. It’s not too long before Ben starts doing that!

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{Me with Roslyn}

{Me with Roslyn}

{Could I pass for a twin mom!? Definitely not one with as much grace as these boys' mama!}

{Could I pass for a twin mom!? Definitely not one with as much grace as these boys’ mama!}

{Ryan is a pro!}

{Ryan is a pro!}

{Ben and Roslyn hanging out on the mat together.}

{Ben and Roslyn hanging out on the mat together.}

Our weekend was really low-key. We hung out at the house on Friday night and then attempted to head to town on Saturday. Once we entered downtown Leavenworth we realized there was a parade and it turned out to be even busier than the Octoberfest weekends. We planned our trip for September to try and avoid the Octoberfest crowds throughout the month of October. Oops!

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No worries, though – Patrick came up with a backup plan to go to the Sleeping Lady, which is a little resort that Alex and I have stayed at a couple times. We had a wonderful lunch there and took a little tour of the grounds.

{A bottle for mama and a bottle for Ben!}

{A bottle for mama and a bottle for Ben!}

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Mary made Sauerbraten, our staple Octoberfest meal, for dinner on Saturday night. We were able to enjoy our evenings relatively kid-free, which was great. All of the babies cooperated pretty well and allowed us to have some adult time.

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Because of Carrie’s new job {she’s a nurse now!!}, the Buff’s couldn’t stay on Sunday night and had to head back home that morning. Her new schedule is actually really great and allows for her to have weekends free, she just needs to be back on Sunday night. Later that day, the Millers headed into Leavenworth with us, as we figured the crowds would have gone home after the big parade the day before. We had some sausages, pretzels and did a little shopping and wine tasting before retreating back to our little mountain home.

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Our plan for Sunday night was a pizza, PJs and movie party night but only the pizza and PJs ended up happening. We opted for a fire and s’mores plus a dip in the hot tub instead!

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The last day of our weekends is always a sad and chaotic one. It was SO nice to have had the extra day added onto our trip. It made that 5 hour packing session on Friday that much more worthwhile. We are already counting down until our next Leavenworth trip!

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Lake Chelan Trip

For the last big hurrah of the summer and our time with Alex’s parents we headed east over the mountains to Lake Chelan for a few days. Alex and I went to Lake Chelan for the first time last summer and absolutely loved it. It wasn’t hard to convince his parents to join us there to round out their trip.

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The lake itself is massive and is surrounded by desert mountains and vineyards. The water is crystal clear and so inviting! We stayed at Kelly’s Resort in a cute little cabin again this year.

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We really didn’t have much of an agenda for our trip to Chelan. We spent a lot of time hanging out and drinking wine, taking the dogs down to the lake to swim or for a hike through the trails on the property. One day we went across the lake for lunch at Blueberry Hill Farms and to do a wine tasting at Wapato Point Cellars, then another night we went out for dinner at Sorrento’s and did another wine tasting at their adjacent winery, Tsillan Cellars.

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One of the highlights of the trip for me was taking Ben swimming for the first time! It seemed like the perfect opportunity. Ben loves bathtime at home and we figured he would enjoy swimming and it sure seems like he did. Hopefully we’ll make it to the beach by our house one day still this summer.

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It was such a nice end to Alex’s parents trip to spend a few days relaxing in Lake Chelan with them! We loved our time together.

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Whistler Ski Trip

While Alex is off in eastern British Columbia on a ski trip with our friend Patrick, my dad flew out for a long weekend with me in Whistler, on the west side of BC. Alex and I had been to Whistler several times before, but it was my dad’s first trip to the magnificent mountain. He says he’ll be back for sure!

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Whistler is just north of Vancouver, British Columbia and is about a 4.5 hour drive from Seattle. It is also the largest ski resort in North America, offering more than 8,000 acres of skiable terrain {Vail “only” boasts 5,000 and until this year, was the largest resort in the US} across the two mountains {Whistler and Blackcomb}. It is so expansive and I am certain a person could spend an entire season skiing there and not ski the same run twice.

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It’s a toss up between here and Jackson Hole which one is my favorite destination, but Whistler is a very special place for Alex and me {and now my dad understands it!}.

{Best mountain hot chocolate is at Whistler!}

{Best mountain hot chocolate is at Whistler!}

Our trip was great, albeit a bit short {and sadly the snow kept flying as we left and we missed a couple consecutive powder days}, but we had a really nice time skiing together. The conditions were much better than I had expected, given the recent warming trend in the west. We were blessed with fresh snow on our first day, as well as untouched snow on the upper mountain the second day.

We spent our first day skiing exclusively on Blackcomb Mountain. Since my last trip to Whistler there was a new chairlift that had been added and it opened up a completely new section of the mountain that I had never skied before. The wind was howling that day, so we didn’t get to ski the upper mountain at all, but that wasn’t a problem.

{I've got to believe this guy is approaching 50 days on skis this year...}

{I’ve got to believe this guy is approaching 50 days on skis this year…}

Our second and final day was spent on Whistler Mountain. We took the Peak 2 Peak gondola from Blackcomb to Whistler that morning and spent most of the day either in the Symphony Amphitheatre area or on the Peak chair. The snow conditions were great for the most part, albeit low visibility in some places, and we had an excellent time exploring the mountain.

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In addition to skiing, we spent some time in the village and relaxed back at the condo we rented. We also brought Jackson with us and he and I took some nice walks on the snowy trails where he was able to run around and play ball in the snow. It took him a while to settle into the new space, but once he got tuckered out enough he seemed pretty comfortable there. I think he was just as sad as we were when it came time to head home and leave the snow behind.

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My dad’s trip came to an end with a really nice dinner in my neighborhood, joined by my two cousins, Chris and Jon. And then he was off… I have a feeling our next ski trip together will include a little one, so things will certainly be a bit different in the future, and until then, we’ve got the memory of our Whistler trip.