Train Ride Trip to Portland Part 3

Our second day in Portland was quite rainy but full. We began with a complementary breakfast in the dining hall of our hotel (Embassy Suites Downtown Portland.) It was very convenient with a good selection of food. This is perfect for families with picky eaters.

We chose to try out the light rail (Trimet) to Washington Park for a visit to the Oregon Zoo. We only had to walk a few blocks to get to the nearest station but it was easy to purchase our tickets and hop on. It was a very short wait to get on light rail for the 15 minute ride to Washington Park. It was so nice not having pack everyone into a car to drive over. Plus it was neat being able to show our teenager another form of transportation.

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When you exit the light rail at the zoo you are several hundred feet underground.  There is an example on the tunnel wall showing how deep you are with an arrow of where that falls on a cross-section of a core sample performed at the site.  A timeline describes how the area (Washington Park) was formed over millions of years as a result of sedimentary buildup as well as very early volcanic flows.  We had walked on around the corner to the elevator only to realize that my geeky husband was still transfixed on the wall’s data, slowly making his way through the years.

Up on the surface we were back in the present, and the elements.  Since it was pouring rain we opted to start indoors with the World Forestry Center. It was neat for our kids to see how important it is to replenish our forests and keep them alive and healthy. The kids seemed to really enjoyed seeing and visiting the hands-on exhibits.  Our toddler’s favorite part of the visit was pretending drive the all terrain vehicle. She was generous enough to take turns with her big brother – after gentle prompting.

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After a nice visit at the center we headed over to the Oregon Zoo just down the road. Most of the exhibits as are central to the light rail and a central parking lot, which makes it very convenient. The city really did a great job when they planned out Washington Park as there is much to see and so much to do.

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The Zoo was a hit! The kids were absolute troopers and while the rain kept coming down we didn’t let it stop us from seeing all the sweet, and not so sweet, animals.

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Date Night Cheers – Movie, Shenanigans and Ashley’s Pub

Having date nights with a toddler at home is for the most part very limited.  My husband Jay and I both try our best to schedule a dinner and movie when we can.  Luckily we have older children at home that can help babysit so that we can have mommy and daddy time.

Our choice of movie for the night was A Quiet Place.  I’m not a huge fan of horror films but I know my husband likes them.  I’m more of a cheesy, Hallmark movie kind of gal but figured it was time I put my big girl panties on.  Plus I saw that the movie had great reviews and it was only an hour and a half long.  Figured I’d be safe since the torture would only be short lived.  Haha.

It was actually an awesome movie.  Our opinion was that it was like the movie Signs, starring Mel Gibson, but on a whole other level.  It was well directed and the actors did a great job making it believable.  It was a quick and to the point kind of movie that didn’t drag on.

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After the movie we decided to check out Shenanigans.  It’s an new Irish Pub and Grill in downtown Bremerton that just opened this month.  It was very busy and it seemed like everyone we knew, and their neighbors, decided to try it too.

The owners did a great job renovating and decorating the inside to reflect the Irish theme.  It was very cozy with a great atmosphere and it seemed like the waitresses and bartenders were always moving and taking care of their customers.

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They had a pretty extensive menu including lots of Irish dishes and more. For drinks we opted for one of our favorite beers, Irish Death, and for food, their Irish Nachos and beet salad. The Nachos was thin sliced wedged fries slathered with melted gouda cheese and topped off with bacon and shredded corned beef. The cheese had just the right heat and the corned beef was very tasty. Great dish all around.

The beet salad was good too. My only request would be to have less beans, 2 more slices of beets and a hint more dressing. The other toppings were just perfect.

We left a little too early to enjoy the live music they had schedule for the evening but Shenanigans will definitely be on our list for a revisit. Can’t wait to go back to try more of their dishes and enjoy some entertainment.

On our way back to our car we stopped in to visit another new establishment in downtown Bremerton called Ashley’s Pub, Boardom’s End. We got to meet the owner Ashley and she was sweet enough to chat with us for a few minutes and even take a quick photo with me for our blog.

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Ashley opened her pub so that like-minded individuals and groups can have a comfortable and safe place to go to have drinks and enjoy having a space to play games. They have a wide range of choices, with bookcases full of books, classic and popular board games, and lots of RPGs (Role Playing Games.)  She said she realized that some people wanted to play the adventure board games that they had always heard about but didn’t know how or didn’t have enough friends or players to fill out all the roles.  If they don’t have enough friends to play some board games they can make them here and also learn how to play.  She has different nights set aside for both established players and new players.

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If board games aren’t your thing she also has a several console games and pinball machines in the purposely-darkened back corner.  For warmer days, she also has a corn hole set, and guests can enjoy their snacks and drinks with their 16 on tap beer and cider selections out on the open courtyard.  Outside food is welcome.  She is open every day of the week except for Wednesday.  She has an event calendar posted above the bar that includes monthly book clubs for sci-fi and graphic novels, and weekly game nights and pinball tournaments.  It is best to check her website for updates.

http://www.ashleys.pub/

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Ashley’s Pub is wonderful, bright and tastefully decorated. The murals on the walls were painted by her boyfriend. Very reminiscent of the “tagged” paintings we used to see growing up. Her Lego beer tap handles are so fitting and the cute little details everywhere made us want to stay a little longer to just explore. We’re definitely adding Ashley’s Pub to our future date night and friends get together list.

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~ Deb and Jay

 

Train Ride Trip to Portland with Kids Part 2

Yea! We made it to Portland!

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It was a smooth ride so far. Portland’s Union Station was a little different from Seattle’s station. A little dark and gloomy but getting our baggage was at least quick and easy.

We decided to forgo getting a taxi and walked 12-15 minutes to our hotel. It wasn’t too far of a walk but just like any big city, Portland has a few sketchy spots around the transportation centers. So we walked as quick as we could with our overstuffed backpacks.

By the time we reached our hotel we were ready for a nap. My husband made a point and said if we took a nap we probably wouldn’t leave the room to go out again. So off we went in search of the hotel’s dining hall for their complimentary drinks and snacks.

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We were also able to have a beer and cider on the train.

My husband had a beer and I had a wine. Snacks consisted of veggies and dip, tortilla chips and all the fixings. The dining hall was loud. We headed out to find more food with a little quieter atmosphere. The bellhop at the door of our hotel suggested Huber’s Cafe.

Huber’s was a cute little restaurant contained within an “old Portland” bar dating to the 1890’s. It had what we needed and the staff was friendly and attentive. Their apple/blackberry cobbler was yummy! Part of the “loud” from the dining hall seemingly followed us to Huber’s as in the bachelor party or class reunion was seated next to us … again.

After we ate we finally headed back to the hotel room. Our son was happy he was able to go swimming in the pool. A hotel with a pool and hot tub was my husband’s request. He wanted a place to relax at the end of the day. There were two hot tubs here. He was happy.  It worked out great!

It was a wonderful end to an adventurous day.

Note: We were so busy looking around and carrying our bags that we didn’t get any pictures when we arrived in Portland. I just included some of the train pictures that my husband took with his phone.

~Deb

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Smile – It’s a Giraffe!

While on our trip to Oregon we visited the Oregon Zoo. It was a rainy day but our children were troopers. One of our favorite animal to see was the giraffe. There were two of them and they were the cutest. Big smiles all around.

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A smile is a light in the window of the soul indicating that the heart is at home.

~Author Unknown

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Train Ride Trip to Portland with Kids Part 1

Planning to take a trip on a train with kids? We have discovered that it is completely doable.

Taking a train ride was one of the items on my bucket list. This Spring Break we were able to take a train ride from Seattle to Portland. It was most certainly an adventure for my husband, myself and our 2 younger children.

The ride was about 3.5 hrs each way. It was an experimental trip to see how things would work without driving. On our last trip to Portland our daughter was then 2 years old.  She cried for a while on our way back home. It was quite stressful and quite dangerous trying to get in and out of traffic to take care of our very uncomfortable toddler. On this present trip we really wanted to see if it could have much more relaxing vacation.

We started our trip from Bremerton via the ferry to Seattle. It was a free trip to Seattle. We had sandwiches and snacks that we had prepared in the morning. It was a quick and relaxed hour ride.

Once in Seattle, we walked about 10 minutes to Tat’s Deli, a cheesesteak place that my East Coast husband has been wanting to try. We were already quite full but my son and I agreed to share a sandwich and some fries. The food was great and well worth stuffing ourselves! Our almost 3 year old daughter happily had a lot of ketchup with few yummy fries. Apparently, her favorite vegetable is ketchup.

With our over-filled bellies we headed to the train station. It was about a 6 minute walk but it took us a little longer to get situated because we also took a booster seat in case we needed it for a taxi or Uber in Seattle or Portland. (Note: We ended up not using it.)

The King Street Station in Seattle is BEAUTIFUL! It is very well maintained with an amazing vaulted ceiling to gaze at while you wait to board your train. There were lots of designs in the marble tiled floor and my wily husband had the two year old walking the outlines hoping to use up some of her energy.  We purchased our tickets online at Amtrak.com. The check in process was simple and the check in area was well defined with signs, roped off areas for the line, and a counter.

In Seattle they boarded passengers with children, or in groups of four, first.  We were able to grab a table with four facing seats on the train and it was best thing we could have asked for. It allowed us to spread out our refreshments, our activities and most importantly it allowed us to talk to each other.

Before the train rolled on, our children and I each had a dose of Dramamine, just as a preventative measure. I get motion sickness very easy so this is a great tip for those who have issues with motion sickness. Thankfully, we had no problem. We all even got a short nap on the train ride.

We took with us a small bag full of activities for our toddler. The most popular of the activities was coloring with the twistable crayons. It was new to her. We also took along stickers, a sticker book, lacing cards, and some of her favorite snacks. Our teenage son was responsible for packing up his own activities and snacks.  He was fairly occupied with his new-ish iPhone 5.  Amtrak has decent WiFi onboard for internet access and social media, but not enough for streaming media.

We had movies and TV shows downloaded on our mobile devices as a great back-up activity for all of us. We were able to plug our chargers right into the two convenient outlets under our table.

Overall, the ride to Portland was comfortable and pleasant experience. The scenery on the way was spectacular. Our teenager was happy and our toddler did great.

~Deb

Textures – Toddler Activity Project Fail

I often browse through Pinterest looking for various activities to keep our toddler occupied throughout the day. As I find ideas, I think to myself, “I can do this. I can go to the dollar store and find items to come up with a project of my own.”

A short visit to the Dollar Tree near us and low and behold, I found two great items to create a quiet project to keep our toddler occupied… or so I thought.

A small storage container with compartments and a bag of colorful pom poms = color sorting activity. I hot glued a piece of pom pom to the bottom of each compartment and added a few more pom poms of the matching color to each. I thought it would be a success.

This sorting activity has been our nemesis the past few days. The wonderful itty bitty pieces of colorful fuzz seemed to multiply and explode onto our carpet each day.  They have become awesome pretend food.  We finally gave up trying to teach our toddler and decided to just join in the fun and pretend to eat the little colorful pieces of pretend pie, tea, cake or whatever our daughter cooks up.

I hope maybe someone can at least use this as an idea for a project of their own. I do have to admit, the pom poms have been a great, quiet tool and quite a hit at keeping my daughter occupied for long periods of time. I think the textures and the colors are what appeal to her. Perhaps someday she’ll want to actually sort them or maybe I’ll find another learning project to create with these fun, mini, fuzzy spheres. In the meantime, we’ll just enjoy the happiness they bring to our little girl.

Unusual – Infamous Voodoo Donut

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While we were on our Portland, Oregon trip we decided to try out the infamous Voodoo Donut. The donuts were very tasty and reasonably priced. We waited in line for almost 25 minutes. The donuts are worth the wait if you are in Portland for a long visit. There are much more wonderful things to see and do in Portland if you are just making a quick visit.

We found that Portland is a great place to people watch. We probably would have left the line if it wasn’t for the street entertainment. There was a decent guitar player/singer performing right in front of Voodoo donuts. The downside to Voodoo Donut’s location is that there was a lot of pan-handlers right in that area. A few even approached us while we were in line.

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The store decor was eclectic and different but I guess it’s part of the charm. The donut fixture on their ceiling was definitely eye-catching and unusual.

Their donuts definitely live up to the company’s name. We loved the Voodoo Doll and the Maple Bacon donuts. The Doll contained a tasty raspberry filling and it was covered with great chocolate frosting. Talk about yummy Sugar Rush! The Maple Bacon donut was simply delish! (I’m a sucker for bacon.)

Yes. If we have the time to wait on our next trip to Portland, we’d definitely go there again.

Have you been to one of the Portland Voodoo Donut locations? If so, what are your thoughts on their donuts and your visit?

Beautiful Little Park

Today my son and I went to the closest city park and hid our painted rocks for others to find. My son, of course, couldn’t help but check out the playground.  I found it odd that there were no other children there. It is a Saturday and it was just after lunch. He had the playground all to himself for about 15 minutes.

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The heat may have been a bit unbearable for some but not for my child. My crazy son had on a pair of jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. He claimed he was fine. What is it with kids using shorts in the cold winter and long-sleeved shirts in the heat of summer?

We also took a little walk to the community garden portion of the park. I love being able to see all of the fruits, vegetables, and flowers popping up everywhere. Here are a few of the photos from today.

Do you have any beautiful flower or garden pictures you’d like to share with everyone? Please feel free to share your pictures in the comments below.

Painting Time

One of the things on our Family Summer Check-List was to paint a canvas and paint a few rocks to hide in our local parks. My son and I were finally able to sit down and get some painting done. He’s still working on his canvas but here is my final product.

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I followed the step-by-step instructions from the following Youtube.com video. Great tutorial! I didn’t have have the same paints and tools but I used what I had. I’m quite happy with how it turned out considering.

Our community has a rock painting group. Lots of great artists (professional and amateur) participate. Painted rocks can be hidden in various parks for others to find. The lucky persons can either keep the rocks for their own garden or re-hide them for others to find. This is such a fun thing to do with kids. Tomorrow we will be hiding the following rocks that my son and I have painted at a nearby city park.

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Does your community have any fun art things that you and your family can participate in?

A Visit to the Beach

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The summer has been great for us and it was a beautiful day for a visit with friends at the beach. It’s always nice to get the kids together. Our daughter enjoyed being doted on by our friends’ daughter and my son was excited to be with friends his age. I, of course, was super happy to be able to talk with other adult moms. We sometimes forget how important it is to nurture friendships at our adult ages too.

My goal is to start planning ahead for activities during Fall and Winter before our beautiful summer goes away. Nurturing friendships old and new. What are some of your favorite activities?

Here’s my daughter enjoying the wonderful breeze, ocean and sand.