A Travellerspoint blog

Quinn's graduation celebration extravaganza

Kristen and I flew to Seattle in June so that I could participate in my graduation ceremony from the University of Washington. I just finished up my Master's of Sustainable Transportation degree that I have been working on for 3 years. We then turned our trip into a multi-state tour to see friends and fit in an Alaskan Cruise. There is something really special about having so many fantastic family and friends who are willing to celebrate your accomplishments. Thank you first and foremost to Kristen who really outdid herself with the planning and coordination. It is impossible to appreciate how much thought and effort she puts into planning a trip unless you are there to see her do it. Also, thank you to everyone who made this event feel so special for me. It really was an honor.

Cullen and Heather were the first ones to meet us in Seattle. We landed close together, picked up our Dodge Caravan and rolled to the apartment. We booked a place for 8 because my mother Mitzie, her friend Deb, Darlene and Bob joined us in Seattle, and we needed a place to host a celebration dinner. Seattle was a great start to the trip. Our first Friday night in town also included being joined by our friend Greg and turned into a 3 a.m. event. Saturday morning one of my classmates organized a tour of Seattle utilizing bikeshare bikes, in spirit of our degree program and I was able to meet most of my classmates in person for the first time. Awesome job Brian. It was a great time.

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Saturday afternoon when Mitzie and Deb arrived, the party really started. We did a pub crawl around the Ballard district hitting up 4 breweries all located within a few block radius. Mitzie was really leading the charge early on. The night didn't go so late for Kristen and I as the jet lag finally caught up with us, but some others pressed on. Our friend Jochen and his girlfriend Sandy join Cullen and Greg for some pool.

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Sunday morning everyone luckily was in good form, and we spent some time in Green Lake Park taking family photos and enjoying the sunshine. Whoever said Seattle is rainy? Zach had joined us on Saturday night and was kind enough to serve as family photographer. He even created an awkward family photo for us.

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Graduation finally arrived in the afternoon and I must have had the biggest entourage at the entire ceremony.

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Our celebration moved from the University to the apartment, where we had 20 people by my count and gorged ourselves on Thai food and micro-brewed beer. Friends we have met in Arizona, Japan, Hawaii, and Germany traveled in from California, Wisconsin, Florida and quite a few locally. It is really amazing to have friends all over the world.

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My niece Jessica made this beautiful wrapping paper for my graduation gift. Thank you Jessie.

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I was having a really good time celebrating, and I loved having all the attention for my accomplishment, but we had to leave Seattle. We left Seattle on Monday morning and drove to Vancouver to board our Alaskan Cruise. I will admit right up front that we only proposed a cruise to entice our families into a longer joint vacation, and in the end, we ended up having a great time. Judge all you want, but an Alaskan Cruise is amazing. As soon as we boarded our ship, there was a nice surprise for Kristen and I that Darlene had planned.

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There are too many things that we saw and did to detail each one, and the pictures should do more justice than I can do anyway. What I didn't capture in photos was our kayaking day in Ketchikan when we saw whales surfacing 60 meters away, harbor seals playfully watching us and bald eagles diving for fish. During the remainder of our time and our stops in port, we cycled to a glacier and a brewery in Juneau, rode a gold-rush era train to a trail head for a hike to a glacier in Skagway and glided through Glacier Bay as if our cruise ship were a 16 foot fishing boat.

Our first day started out with a clear sky, a fantastic sunset, and a creepy fog that rolled in and engulfed the ship.

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Juneau...

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Skagway...

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Shots from the ship and glacier bay...

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Each day the stewards would fold the towels into animals, and it was a great thing to look forward to.

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The food on the ship was quite good as well, but I didn't spend much time taking photos of it. However, the entire pig being roasted was a surprise.

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Upon arriving at our final destination in Seward, we were greeted by our Friend Casey and his girlfriend Lisa. From this point of the trip onward, we had to do very little planning of our own. Casey and Lisa had prepared quite the itinerary. We were in Alaska for 3 days, and spent some time in Anchorage at Casey's house, and in Talkeetna at a cabin they had rented. Along the way we visited an aquarium, a spectacular animal sanctuary with all of the large animals one would expect to see in Alaska, a mud flat where the tide varies by as much as 23 feet per day and people have gotten stuck when the tide is out, and we even saw surfers riding the boar tide as it was coming into the bay. An act of humanity that must also be mentioned is the free coffee stand that we happened upon in Anchorage. Jim was a really incredible person who started this stand because he wanted to offer coffee to the neighbors who picked up litter in the mornings. That was 6 years ago.

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Here are the guys on standup paddleboards riding the boar tide

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Alaska fashion...

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Our time in Alaska seemed much too short when we hopped a redeye to Denver. Thanks again Lisa for the comfort touches along the way.

Right from the landing in Denver, we were on the go. Megan picked us up at the airport and took us to their beautiful new home where Ian was taking a small nap, but rallied like a champ after working an all nighter. They have done a great job turning their new house into a place I greatly envy. We did a tour of Denver on bicycles after we fueled up for the day with the biggest biscuit sandwich I've ever had. I also had a sweet roll that I carried around with me and snacked on all day. I love hearty breakfast food. Denver is full of breweries and distilleries, and is making real progress on being bike friendly. We had a really good day exploring. Denver has some great graffiti art as well.

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Megan's mom Susan really made our day by treating us to some sushi when we stopped in to say hello after our ride.

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We continued our night out with drinks and dinner on the town. Luckily we didn't go too hard, because Andrea arranged bikes for us to go mountain biking. After a flat tire and an innertube search, we got down the trail and had a fantastic day. The sunshine in Denver certainly helps with enjoying the outdoors. The best thing about Denver is that all rides end with a good brew.

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Our Denver friends really went out of their way to keep us busy. We had group dinners, cocktails at an awesome speakeasy, a backyard barbecue at Megan and Ian's and a night out with all the speechies that Kristen knows in Denver. One of the other husbands, Ray, and I were lucky to have each other, because even though I love SLP's, they really love to talk about speech. To cap off the outdoor adventures, we took part in our first 14er as well. It was not as physically demanding as I thought it might be, but it was really beautiful.

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Can you spot the marmot guarding the mound from his post on the roof?

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Of course all good trips have to end, and we spent our last morning at the botanical gardens with Megan and Ian. What a great way to end our trip. Thank you everyone.

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Posted by trackers 13:32 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Sylvester and GoatyMcGoatface - the characters of Crete

It was time for a redo of the Crete trip. Since we didn't really get to see much the first time around (except of course the inside of a hospital) we booked tickets to Crete for May. This time we traveled with two doctors, just to be safe. Oh yeah, they also happen to be our friends. We have known Kyle and Julie since our time in Japan and we were super happy that they wanted to make the trip across the pond to come adventuring with us.

We arrived one day before them and spent some time hanging around the harbor in Chania until our apartment was ready.

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In the morning we took a drive out to the monastery Agia Triada. It was so picturesque we may have taken about 100 too many pictures.

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As all the best monasteries do, this one made wine. It was fantastic.

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Then we went down the road a little more to Gouverneto Monastery which is the starting point for a scenic hike down to the ocean.

Here is a close up of a cave and then the same picture zoomed out. See if you can spot the cave.

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The hike included a really large old bridge, and it even included some billy goats. They weren't so gruff.

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We still had some time before we picked up Kyle and Julie so we enjoyed time for a Greek Frappe and garlic dip while looking at the harbor and military base in Souda bay. We just stumbled upon this most picturesque restaurant with tables, well manicured lawn, sand, and an incredible view.

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Friends!

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We enjoyed a stroll along the harbor along with some microbrewed Greek beers.

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We drove to Vamos to do a little walking and see about some cooking classes. Turns out no cooking classes that day but we did go on a really nice walk and see some beautiful flowers followed by yet another delicious Greek meal.

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Impromptu fruit picking.

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Interesting roof. I wonder if the rock was weighing it down?

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More fruit picking. I really love picking fruit.

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It's just so ridiculously gorgeous in Greece.

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Back in town we enjoyed an adult beverage and the city wildlife.

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Our apartment was located in a 300-500 year old building. There was some disagreement among the locals on the age of the building. It was a traditional hamam, a bath house, originally. The toilet was very entertaining to walk into when it was dark.

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The next day we set out for an olive oil tasting at a mill called Biolea. They make olive oil in the traditional method by crushing the olives by millstones. The mill was located in a valley up on a hill with 360 degree views. This would be the perfect location for a wedding or party. The pictures do not even begin to do it justice.

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Rental car photo shoot.

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The millstones

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The Biolea folks recommended a nearby gorge for a hike before lunch.

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I cannot believe we don't have pictures from lunch but it was a little family owned place sitting under the pergolas with grape vines growing everywhere. We had one of everything and loved every dish. All of the customers sitting there were repeat customers from years past and the server remembered each one of them. I would like to go back sometime and test his memory.

Next up 500 year old olive tree.

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We had a beach day next that included a hike down into a canyon to get there. Balos beach is one of the most famous beaches of Crete and I can see why. Can you find all the sheep?

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The name of this blog comes from this beach experience. The beach had many goats on it and it turns out that they try to eat everything you have. One got a hold of an orange peel and from that moment on we were stalked prey. Goaty McGoatface and Sylvester worked together to flank us while the other served as a distractor. Luckily we fought them off with a few claps and hand waves.

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This was another pit stop on our drive. We had a frappe, a view, and a relaxing moment here. Also, we paid homage to the wooden goat in honor of our new goat friends.

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Beach day round two. This time we went to Elafonissi which is known for its pink sand made by pink shells. It was beautiful and packed. Everyone went for a swim except for me. I was a chicken because the water was still quite cold.

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Yummy lunch outside of town. This was a giant piece of cruton like bread with cheese, tomato, and balsamic on top.

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For our final group day together we went to the Chania botanical gardens. This place lures you in with signs in town but it turns out that it is a 20 or so mile drive up into the mountains. Ultimately it was worth the drive but Julie and I weren't so sure as we snaked up the switchbacks and felt our stomachs in our throats.

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This botanical gardens is privately owned and was formally farm land for olives and oranges. After a devastating fire, the family reinvented their farmland as a botanical garden to share with visitors of Crete. It is a gorgeous property and they serve a great lunch too.

We went back to our original cafe on Souda bay to kill some time before dropping Kyle and Julie off at the airport. Kyle went for a short swim and Julie and I walked along the beach to an American memorial nearby. We also enjoyed some frappes, as all Cretan visitors should.

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They have a playground there too complete with a dinosaur rocking horse.

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We took Kyle and Julie to the airport and said, "see you later." We are happy to report that they are moving only one hour away from us this summer! We are so excited to have such good friends close by.

We then made our way down to the southern end of the island to Agia Galini. This is a former little fishing village turned tourist mecca but I have to say, it has retained its charm. Here is the beach area.

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Our inn in Agia Galini.

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The next day we took a little hike in the morning and spent the afternoon lounging at a cafe/restaurant that overlooked the beach. Parts of the hike reminded me of Arizona.

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Goats and goat shadows

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We made a trip out to Preveli beach with a stop along the way for more hiking.

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Preveli beach was a little tricky to find and involved driving along a tiny road with a steep drop off with no guard rail. I don't think we ever would have made it to this beach without the help of a local Greek man who stopped us from going down some crazy ungraded dirt road where we probably would have ended up pushing our little Fiat Panda!

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The beach before the beach.

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The hike to the beach.
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The funny thing about Greece is, that no matter how far you drive on whatever crazy kind of road and no matter how far you walk or hike, there will ALWAYS be a taverna at the end of your adventure! You can see the two tavernas in the previous pictures.

Finally, Prevelli beach.

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This beach is known for its Palm Forest and river leading down into the sea.

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Our last day we went for a walk along another dirt path over two hills. On the other side turned out to be a local beach. This was the first spot we went to that wasn't predominately tourists. I finally was brave enough to make it into the water and after the initial shock, it wasn't quite that cold. This little beach, Agios Giorgios had the BEST taverna and BEST food of the entire trip. I loved the whole vibe with hippie/surf bum/beach servers, cover bands playing reggae and oldies on the radio, and yet another gorgeous view. I hope one day we can come back to this spot.

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Quinn told me that this was one of his favorite trips and I have to agree. The welcoming people, delicious food, and unbeatable scenery of Greece are magical.

Posted by trackers 12:32 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Aaron and Lisa

Quinn's kindergarten friend, Aaron, made the long trip across the pond with his fantabulous girlfriend Lisa to come tour Europe with us. We started them off showing them around some of our local haunts including an open cellar weinfest event in Punderich. This town has a bunch of old timber buildings and is a very quintessential Mosel river town.

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Open cellar events are fun because each winery in the town open up their cellars and gardens for viewing and make food. There was even some live music and some guy walking around telling jokes and singing. You can see his historical get-up. Not sure what he was all about.

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Some of the joys of traveling are receiving mystery food. We were told we were getting some roasted wild boar meat. These look like deli meat slices to me! They were delicious though so can't complain.

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On day two Aaron and Lisa were game for a bike ride so we took them on the Maar Mosel Radweg. This is an old train route that they turned into a bike path. It passes by a couple of monasteries, a brewery, and also a renovated castle. The weather cooperated and we even got to stop for a drink along the way. (Quinn doesn't often allow breaks!!!)

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These pictures are taken from a scenic viewpoint in Piesport. There is a road called Panoramastrasse that provides the most amazing view of a bend in the river. I love this spot. We got the obligatory photo and then found a winery that has the most amazing patio and view. I cannot believe we had never been to this spot before.
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Piesport was also having an open cellar day and they had soup in a bread bowl!

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We also went on a little walk through our town and then hiked up the side of one of the vineyards for a view. Man! Those hills are no joke. I could not imagine harvesting the grapes on these hills. This is the first time Quinn and I have ever actually hiked straight up one.

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Our town center. Photo credit goes to Lisa. It is neat to see your own town through someone else's view point. It is pretty cute here as long as you are ok with storm clouds.
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Lisa and Aaron went to France and Switzerland while Quinn and I worked during the week. Then we all piled in the car to go to the Netherlands. I had found a town called Giethoorn on a buzzfeed list and I really wanted to check it out. It is famous for being a town with no roads. There are only canals and pedestrian paths. This was a very rural area of the Netherlands and our hotel was also right on a canal. The Netherlands never disappoints.

Walking to Blokzijl and checking out the town center. Ethan was hunting sheep. We also met a Dutch/American couple on bikes from Amsterdam who were towing a blow up kayak on their bike trailer. Sounds like a fun adventure.

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Giethoorn. The town with no roads.

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Our fearless boat captain and his first mate.

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This is maybe too many pictures of Giethoorn but it was just so adorable.

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We spotted someone wearing wooden clogs. This is a first for me.

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We saw quite a few storks and nests along the way.

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Lisa found a nest swing. What better way to end a day than a little playtime on the playground.

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We spent the next couple of days bumming around Utrecht which is a college town and of course, as is Dutch style, full of canals, amazing architecture, and windmills.

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And people wearing costumes while racing row boats.

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And people doing the conga out of bars to celebrate

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Wait....we know that girl at the end, LISA!!!

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Qunn also took us on a pub crawl. It had a little of everything. An old renovated church turned bar, a dive bar with an airplane wing as the liquor stand, and a fancy pants cocktail bar complete with full sprigs of mint and whole slices of cucumber.

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We topped it off with a castle drive by.

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One last fun quirky tidbit about Utrecht. This was a rainbow crosswalk and take a look at the red stop light. It is a little bunny.

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On our last night with Aaron and Lisa we met up with my friend Jochen and his girlfriend Sandy and we all went to dinner at an Abbey near our house. It has quite the picturesque location. We couldn't let them leave without a traditional German meal and Lisa ordered the best dish which was a dumpling with cream sauce and bacon on it. Yum!

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We had so much fun with these two and we hope that they enjoyed their European tour. We jammed a lot of activities into their trip and the weather didn't always cooperate but overall it was a fantastic time.

Posted by trackers 10:48 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Spring in Arizona

In April, Quinn had a work trip back to Phoenix and I tagged along so I could visit our family and friends. We didn't take as many pictures as we normally do, but I will share what we have.

Our friends are multiplying! We really enjoyed meeting the newest members of their families. Quinn and I spent time holding babies, catching up with friends, and enjoying meals, drinks, and laughs with our gang. The pictures below include a dinner with Pat, Sarah, and Suzanne, some hang around time at Sarah and Johnny's house, a trip to Tempe art festival with Erica, Rene, Sarah, Monica and my Dad, an afternoon lunch with Sam and Chris in a park, afternoon at Missy and Dusty's house including their tiny library, and breakfast with Jackie. When you put it all in one sentence you can see how this trip was a jam packed week!

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This is one of my favorite series of photos from the trip. Sarah dressed up Claire in the cutest little outfit to prepare her for blog pictures and Quinn snapped a shot before Sarah could get her cleaned up from lunch. Erica and I seized the opportunity to rib Sarah a bit (since she is such a good sport). Then we took the "official" blog photo.

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We sneaked in a quick morning hike with Sam and her adorable large eared puppy Mina. This was such a nice hike, I am sad I never did this one when I lived in Phoenix.

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I also spent some time with my family and enjoyed a three generation luncheon. The Camelback Inn is a perfect backdrop to while away an afternoon with my fam!

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Quinn and I also had a nice evening with Granny at a Lebanese restaurant. The food and company were fantastic.

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We headed out to KK and Randy's for an overnight and to meet their newest family members. This picture captures the moment perfectly. They treated us to a fantastic dinner and we enjoyed catching up and seeing their pictures from their recent trip to the Dolomites. I hope I can be as active as they are when I grow up :)

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A special shout out goes to Erica and Rene for hosting a sushi dinner get-together and Monica and Robert for hosting a "resort" backyard BBQ.

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I really enjoy Arizona in the spring and this trip was no exception. I felt like I saw Phoenix through new eyes and that my city was all grown up with its very own light rail system connecting all of the newest and swankiest places around. I spent 5 days without having to drive a car and was able to meet up with friends and go all the way to Tempe from Phoenix with public transportation. This was such a treat and I am thrilled that Phoenix is embracing mass transit.

It is always a little difficult to go to Arizona for visits because I am so sad to leave. It was so nice to see that my family and friends are all so happy and doing well. Thank you all for being a part of my life.

Posted by trackers 00:46 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Sun Chasing in the Netherlands

We cruised up to the Netherlands for the weekend to find some some and get out of the rain! We spent the long weekend based out of a town near Delft and then we also meandered over to The Hague and Rotterdam.

Our little cheap drive in type motel was located right next to a beautiful park filled with birds! Each morning, we enjoyed a stroll through the park along the water to check out the birds and let Ethan sniff.

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The first day we walked around Delft, a town known for their blue and white pottery. They also have a nice park, many canals, cute Dutch Architecture, and a leaning clock tower.

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There was a functioning mill built in the 1600s. You could buy flour that they had milled right on site.

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More pictures from Delft

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They have really delicious thin waffle cookies with honey sandwiched in between. The market was selling warm ones. Yummy.

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Brewery and fancy drinks. Quinn had a dirty chai which was chai tea with a shot of espresso and I had ginger tea with lemon, cucumber, and cayenne pepper.

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Next up, the Hague. This is where the international court of justice is located. Much of the city was damaged during WWII so many buildings are reconstructed. It has a mixture of modern and historic style architecture.

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We ate rice table at a delicious Indonesian restaurant. We got the smallest option but it was still huge!
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Apparently, beer pong has made it to Europe.
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Our last stop was Rotterdam. This city was completely rebuilt after the war and used very modern and successful planning techniques. Quinn was really excited about the tourist information office with interactive multimedia displays on how the city was rebuilt. I must admit, it was a well done information center. The first couple of pictures are of some cube houses that are located right over a major roadway and shopping plaza. It was a very interesting way to add housing to the middle of the city.

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Birds everywhere.

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Train, boat and industrial park along the harbor.

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International food market. You could get whatever style food you wanted in food court type atmosphere. So cool! This would be a great perk of living here.

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Last picture is of the park near our little hotel. One of the most stand out aspects of the Netherlands is their emphasis on parks and walking/bike riding places right in the city. It really makes every city that much more inviting.

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Posted by trackers 05:27 Comments (0)

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