Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Monday Mouthfuls: Blackened Salmon Caesar Salad at Bennett’s Fish Shack in Ocean Shores

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Talk about a super salad! The salmon Caesar salad at Bennett’s Fish Shack in Ocean Shores is over the top!

While on vacation in Ocean Shores, Washington, we followed the suggestion of our hotel desk help and walked to Bennett’s to eat dinner. What a tasty mouthful!

Blackened (Cajun) salmon (a generous serving), romaine lettuce, plenty of parmesan cheese, delicious dressing, croutons, AND tomatoes, pepperoncinis, avocado slices, and lemon! I loved the addition of a few extras to the salad. Just thinking about it is making me hungry.

This salad is one we will go back for on our next trip. Or maybe we will try some of the other tasty looking meals. Popular hang-out!

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The Station Wagon #ThrowbackThursday

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The Hill kids, Mark (blue suit), me (tallest), Tracy (white knee socks), and James (bib), next to the family roadster!

Station wagons and me, we go way back.

In the late 80s, my husband accepted employment with a new company, one benefit being a company car. “Anything would be cool, but please don’t come home with a station wagon. And especially not one with fake wood details.”

Ahem. Yes. He came with a station wagon. Adornment of imitation wood panels? Whew. Dodged that faux grained bullet.

Even earlier than the 80s & 90s version of the station wagon work vehicle was the early 70s family models owned by my parents. We had at least 2 different family touring vehicles, blue and white. Those wagons could really hold people and belongings. And pets, groceries, camping equipment, children, toys. Nothing like the little trunks in modern cars.

 

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The family station wagon, mid-trip exploring the Arizona desert.

Some of my fondest memories are the days we spent exploring the southwest. We’d load up 2 parents, 4 kids, and 1 collie dog. The first mandatory stop would be a mini-mart so we could purchase the required bologna, cheese, white bread, and soda for our snacking pleasure. Sometimes we ate hot dogs (always cold) instead of bologna, but either one was a treat. Then we would hit the road.

The Arizona desert is a wondrous place for questing. Forests, rivers, desert lands, mountains, ghost towns, dirt roads, historical sites. My parents loved to haul us around seeing what we could see. I have vivid pictures in my mind of those trips, but I can’t help but wonder if we didn’t drive mom and dad the slightest bit crazy. 4 kids and a dog in a station wagon? Even if we did use the fold-up seats in the way back to separate us.

Horned toads, tarantulas, snakes, spiders, scorpions, cacti, sagebrush, thorns, stickers, heat mirages, dust. Treasure is all in the eyes and heart of the explorer.

What about you? What memories do you have about a vehicle or early days with your family? I’d love to hear your tales on this #ThrowbackThursday.


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Don’t Need to Go Camping

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Funny how life choices change your thinking.

While on a motorcycle ride over Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I saw numerous (read: hundreds) of campers heading to the mountains and other recreational locations around the northwest. Roads were more crowded than usual, grocery stores were packed with shoppers filling up ice chests and RV refrigerators, and every campground we passed had RVs and tents slotted side by side.

I’m not sure how much fun all of those cozy camp sites were, but I was not interested in the slightest.

BECAUSE. We are camping. All. The. Time.

We live in our RV. Not permanently (please, God, not permanently), but while we research, plan, and build our small home.

Our family used to love camping at the beach. We’d use the old Prowler, load it with supplies, and drive five hours to our favorite beach locations in Ocean Shores. Those were the good old days. Dog, kids, junk food, sand, toys, rain, shells, campfires, …

Now?

No. Since we are camping 365 days a year, give or take an overnight visit with family or friends, hooking up the RV in which we stay all the time and heading to a different place to stay in the same RV does not sound appealing.

Plus. We LIVE in the RV. Full-time. There are many extra things in our RV that do not relate to travel and camping. And as we are not retired, we can’t hit the road for months at a time.

For now, we shall enjoy motorcycle trips and staying at hotels (which include HUGE showers and sometimes even bathtubs). After we move into our future home, we’ll strip the RV clean and load it up with camping supplies.

Then we will need to go camping.

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Auto Repeat (I Wish)

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Three car seats. Three preschoolers. Three strong-minded individuals. Three precious grands. Three songs.

Over and over. In equal quantities, or else. Even the 1 year-old can tell when it’s time for HER song.

Auto repeat would make life much easier in the car as we commute to preschool, the store, the post office, the library. But no. The Nana Bus has only the old-fashioned CD player. One CD at a time.

Nana has become a master at switching.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, complete with unsynchronized clapping. (Pentatonix)

Bananaphone. With hand motions. (Raffi)

Baby Beluga, formerly known as Baby Beguda and Baby Deguba. (Raffi)

Switch on, clap on, sing on. Repeat.


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Non-Traditional Thanksgiving

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It’s been a rough year for my family, so we decided to switch things up. This year, we went off the charts for Thanksgiving.

We chose to:

-travel to the beach (off-season is awesome)

-cook our own little turkey breast

-decorate for Christmas

-begin our annual Christmas movie countdown

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What really happened:

-beach plans were cancelled due to health issues

-went on a drive to the mountains to collect pine cones for art projects

-soaked by pounding rain

-did a little off-roading to travel up a steep, rocky, bumpy, muddy path

-met a wolf

-the wolf turned into a Husky, lost VERY far from civilization

-he loved us. And jumped eagerly into the pickup

-had to figure out what to do with a huge lost dog (wearing a collar, but no tags)

-Did you know everything is closed (pretty much) on Thanksgiving? Unless you are shopping.

-which was good, since we needed dog food

-by the time we got home, it was very late when our little turkey breast went in the oven

-spent all afternoon taking photos, hanging out, searching for lost dogs, and contacting friends and social media groups in efforts to find this handsome boy his family

-nowhere to keep a large, very large dog in the RV

-our daugther and family took Mr. Handsome home to sleep

-Mr. Sweetie (SO good with kids, pets, noises, crowds) hunkered down in exhaustion

-turkey dinner became our traditional leftovers meal: turkey, cranberry sauce, cream cheese, sliced red onion sandwich (I had a salad)

-actually had a six-course meal. That’s what I told Kevin as we ate and drank different courses while waiting for the turkey to get done

-nearly sugar-free crustless pumpkin pie is delicious!

-decorated the RV. Put up our tree in less than 5 minutes. Done.

-put up the outdoor tree. Less than 5 minutes. Done.

-finished the Harry Potter movie marathon. Next, Christmas.

 

Our day was totally nontraditional. But we liked it.

Who knows? Next year we might go back for pinecones.

Or another lost dog.

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P.S. More about our Mr. Handsome later.


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Food Time Machine – One Bite Whisked Me Back to a Favorite Place & Time

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Do you ever taste something and it takes you right back to a specific time and place?

That just happened to me. Tummy rumblings broke my concentration from a writing task, so I grabbed a slice of Swiss cheese from the fridge. At the first bite, I was instantly transported to France. Such delicious memories!

My husband and I were on a short-term missions trip in Paris. Near our motel was a wonderfully fascinating store, Auchan. Auchan had pretty much anything one could want or need at reasonable prices. The chocolate aisle and cheese cases kept us returning nearly every day for meal items. Yes. Chocolate and cheese do make a meal.

Today’s bite of Swiss cheese took me right to the cheese counter. The gentleman who worked the cheese aisle was so very kind and cut us off a chunk of Swiss from the large wheel. With our garbled French and hand gestures, he whacked off the hard rind and sliced the rest for us – perfect. He even gave us a bit to taste, just to make sure it was what we wanted. We wanted.

Fresh baguette, sliced Swiss, some fruit and veg, all the makings of a perfect meal. Thank you, Mr. Auchan cheese guy. You made our day.

How about you? What have you eaten that transported you back to particular event or location? I’d love to hear about it. Just so I know I’m not the only one who is consumed with love for food.

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Let’s not forget the crepes! Be still my hungry mouth…


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Sea to Ski: Anniversary Travel & Fun

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Pre-hike view of Mt. Rainier

While celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary last week, we experienced what I have tagged a Sea to Ski holiday. In our area, there is a Ski to Sea athletic event, and we certainly engaged in exercise during portions of our explorations, but nothing up to iron man/woman or triathlon levels. Not even close.

Fun, fast, feast, foray. That’s was our goal.

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Seattle from Alki (West Seattle)

Sea = Day 1 Trip to Seattle

We dined on extremely tasty blackened cod tacos and salad at Salty’s on Alki. We walked along the beach, rode the water taxi across the bay to the Seattle waterfront, hiked the Pike Street Hill Climb, enjoyed clam chowder at Ivar’s, and scoured an antique store for a tiny glass bottle. Parking was just fine at Salty’s and the water taxi was a treat.

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The Seattle skyline from the water taxi

Ski = Day 2 Trip to Mt. Rainier

Technically, we did not ski. But we hiked in the mountains. And saw plenty of snow. We parked at Ohanapecosh Campground and hit the trail leading through the hot springs, past Silver Falls, discovered a new trail (for us) to the Grove of the Patriarchs, and totalled over 6 up and down miles. About 60 floors in elevation gains, according to my Iphone. For hot days, this was perfect, as most of the trail was shade covered, gorgeous, and green.

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The hiking look

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See? A nice and shady path

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Waterfall and creek at Ohanapecosh 

Ride = Day 3 Motorcycle Loop

To make up for the hiking, we sat on the bike to see the sights. We traveled up Highway 410, gazed at the packed snow and ice gracing the top of Chinook Pass, followed Highway 123 to Highway 12, and returned through Naches to make a loop ride. We took the back road around Clear and Rimrock Lake. There was no lack for beauty, but it was getting pretty hot by the time we completed the ride.

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Mt. Rainier from Chinook Pass

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We left early to avoid the heat, so the morning hours required layers and layers! Which slowly came off as the mercury rose.

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Our shadows and us admiring the snow and Mt. Rainier

Watch = Day 4 Movie to Beat the Heat

As per suggested temps of 100, we hit the theater to take in the new Pirates movie. We both loved this episode as it tied in to the original three. AND we avoided the gagging heat.

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Ferns at Ohanapecosh 

All in all, we had a fantastic anniversary holiday, me and my honey. The northwest is full of gems, just ready for exploring.

Where do you love to go? All ideas are welcome…next trip is just around the corner.

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 Fish tacos at Salty’s


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Daddy and Me: Throwback Thursday

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1970 – and I was stylin’! Most weekends, the Hill family, a complete set of 6 by that year, hit the road touring the historic, interesting, or just plain hot sites and locations of Arizona.

Station wagon, two parents, dog, 4 kids, full gas tank, and off we would go. Funny, I don’t remember seeing any maps. We just seemed to find these fun places. In 1970 I was about 8 and in second grade, so perhaps maps didn’t hit my radar. As long as we made the mandatory stops for pop, chips, a loaf of white bread, and a package of hot dogs, we were happy campers.

I remember Colossal Cave. Not so much the interior, which I am sure was cool and interesting and quite a break from the heat. But the name is clearly imprinted in my memories.

It didn’t matter what we did as a family. The important thing was spending time together, whether we were chasing horned toads (they squirt blood you know!), scaring off rattlesnacks, stopping to pick tortoises off the road (good old Humperdink), or camping at Turkey Creek, we loved hitting the road as much as our parents did.

Or maybe they didn’t enjoy it. With 4 kids and a revolving zoo of pets in a single wide trailer, I bet they HAD to get out of the house on the weekends, for sanity purposes.

Just kidding. We loved exploring. I got that from my dad and my mom.

Excuse me while I grab a loaf of white bread and some hot dogs. Feeling a road trip coming on…


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Motorcycle Monday – 3 Washington Rides

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Glowing trees north of Roslyn

I am out of motorcycle shape! In spite of late afternoon heat and tired backsides, we managed to enjoy 3 different motorcycle rides over the long weekend.

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Heading south on the Yakama Indian Reservation

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Mt. Adams

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Wild horses

1. Friday night, we helmeted up and rode south on Highway 97, turned right on Lateral A, and continued out to White Swan. I’ve always love this ride, having spent nearly 30 years living in the lower valley. At White Swan, we followed Signal Peak Road up to the end of the public road. The round trip was nearly 100 miles and gorgeous. We saw wild horses, but only 10 or so, less than normal; plus wild horse rib cages and assorted bits. A bald eagle perched on a bluff (we suspect dead bodies for tasty snacks were somewhere close, per the nose turning odors), and when we stopped to stretch, we were nearly swarmed by huge black bees. They seemed hungry and ready for fresh meat. Maybe they were a type of wasp instead. Mt. Adams beamed white amidst blue skies and fluffy clouds and the entire valley was in full production – orchards, vineyards, planted fields, cattle, and much more.

2. Saturday we took a longer ride, almost 200 miles, spanning most of the day. We drove north through the Yakima River Canyon, one of our favorite drives. Bald eagles, deer, bighorn sheep, and hordes of those two-legged campers, fishers, and recreating humans gave us company for the ride. In Ellensburg, we stopped for coffee. Then we followed Highway 10 to Cle Elum, barely hanging on when we encountered bridge repairs! The first one had us riding air, but after that we were prepared. We continued through Cle Elum, Roslyn, and Ronald, until we reached the end of the road and Salmon la Sac. The Cle Elum River was noisy and rolling due to snow melt. That did not deter campers from wading! Brr. On our return home, we stopped for lunch at The Brick (Roslyn) and searched out a rose-flavored dark chocolate treat at the Roslyn Candy Company. We backtracked a bit, looped along the Thorp Highway, and returned to the Yakima Valley returned through the canyon.

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Highway 241

3. Monday we were up and out early, due to expected high temps later in the day. We took the slow road – Yakima Valley Highway – towards the lower valley. This is such a pretty drive through orchards, farms, and small communities. We went as far south as Sunnyside, then took Highway 241 over the top of the hills to Highway 24, which led us back to Yakima. Along the Yakima River, I saw several cranes and a block of whirling pelicans. A stalking coyote was circling a herd of black cows who were grazing way out in the middle of nowhere. Yikes! I shook my finger at him, but I don’t think it helped. Babies were everywhere – foals, calves, lambs, kids. This ride was shorter than the other days, but a great outing.

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Heading into the Yakima River Canyon

Let’s talk about smell-o-vision. This is a real thing on motorcycles. What you see, or don’t see, you will smell. The good, the bad, the ugly. Mint, flowers, freshly cut hay, hops, dust, horses, fast food restaurants. The list of good-to-smell is unending. The bad? Think cow poop, skunks, diesel exhaust, asphalt, smoke, garbage. The ugly? Dead stuff. I know they are ugly because I can smell them and it is not pretty! While some road kill is evident alongside the road, others lurk mysteriously out of sight. But not out of nose.

What’s the trade-off for the icky smells? Wonderful fresh air, the joy of wind blowing along your body, and rolling scenery. It’s worth every smell and bug splatter.

Where did your journeys take you this weekend?

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Just us, goofing around 


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Welcome Spring!

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Spring Wildflower

S – shows of life, green carpeted paths

P – peek at bursts of color, winters’ grays fade away

R – renewed vigor, earth joyfully bursts forth

I – invitation to celebrate, cold passes as warmth returns

N – nature dons her new attire, fresh and vibrant

G – growing time arrives, rest is over for bounty begins

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Columbia River Gorge