Visit to the Kitsap Live Steamers

We live in such a wonderful community with so many great family friendly and budget friendly things to do. One of the activities that we are fortunate to have is the mini train rides from the Kitsap Live Steamers. Our mother in-law has been asking us for years to take her to check it out and this weekend was the perfect weekend to do it. She loved it so much they let her ride twice in a row. It was definitely an activity enjoyed by all!

The Kitsap Live Steamers is a non-profit organization and provides mini train rides for donations. The mini trains are located right in the South Kitsap Regional Park (Port Orchard, WA.) It is a beautiful park with walking trails, a large grassy field, a picnic shelter and a huge playground for young children to play on.

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https://kls.clubexpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/kitsaplivesteamers.org

 

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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.

Trimet

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.

Train Ride Trip to Portland with Kids Part 2

Yea! We made it to Portland!

Train from Jay 2

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

Train from Jay 1Train from Jay 3

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.

Smile

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

Unusual – Infamous Voodoo Donut

Unusual

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.

Portland IMG_5808 Artsy

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.

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.

Visit to Bloedel Reserve

A lovely quiet spot on Bainbridge Island, WA that we have come to love is the Bloedel Reserve. It is a serene and tranquil property that is perfect for a stress-relieving stroll, a place to gather your thoughts or time and place to simply admire nature’s beauty.

Our two year old loves trekking along with us on the trails. At yesterday’s visit we were blessed to see ducks in the pond, geese on the lawn, a deer and her doe in the forest and a little squirrel scurrying across one of the trails. Our daughter enjoys the beautiful flowers and never fails to try and skirt away to the water’s edge. So we always have to keep her close. I just hope she never tires of being around nature’s wonders.

Visit Bloedel Reserve. http://bloedelreserve.org/

Camping Craziness

Getting ready for camping, whether Boy Scout camp or our own family camping, is often stressful. No matter how many days in advance we insist on getting started on packing, we are usually not ready until the night before and sometimes the day of.

Boy Scout Summer Camp begins tomorrow. It’s our youngest son’s first time attending a full week of camp. Luckily, my husband and our second oldest son will be going to camp as well, but this means that all 3 needed to prep.

Our youngest son started to gather things and pack earlier this week, but he still had a few items missing, so with my husband’s help he finalized his pack tonight.

My second son is also still finalizing his packing tonight. He started packing in earnest last night. He’s a bit more experienced at getting ready for camping. I’m still praying and hoping he doesn’t forget to pack anything.

As for my husband (the Scoutmaster), he’s been working on gathering things earlier this week for the Troop but also had paperwork and emails to finish on top of a full week of work. He’s still running around packing his stuff while ensuring our youngest is ready. I think it’s going to be a late night.

This is just 3 out of 6 of us packing for a camping trip. At the moment I cannot imagine prepping for 6 of us and a dog to go on a camping trip.

We purchased a camper a few years ago. We pretty much got tired of the “blue tarp” camping. No matter how prepared you are to tent camp in Western Washington, you can always count on getting soaked at least a few times during camping season. While the boys have no choice to tent camp when out on scout trips, we felt our family trips should be as relaxing as possible.

This year my husband is still insisting we plan a family trip in the camper for this summer. I wouldn’t have to worry about packing for my husband and our boys but we also have our dog and our now one year-old daughter. We’ll of course need to take extra gear with us. For example: play pen, sleeping pad, things to keep her entertained, etc. This is on top of the dog crate and the normal camping paraphernalia. Our “just the right size” camper, I imagine, will seem very small.

Our controversial solutions are 1. Kick the older boys out to camp in a tent. 2. Sell this camper and purchase a bigger one. 3. Let’s rent a suite at the Great Wolf Lodge and pretend to camp. 4. Not go.

For one, while I wish we could sell our camper and purchase a bigger one, realistically it would not be a financially smart move for us. Two, renting a suite at the Great Wolf Lodge would be fun, but it would be great to take advantage and do awesome outdoor activities in the nice summer Washington weather. Three, it would be easy to just not go on a camping trip but I know I would fully regret not experiencing all the fun we could potentially have. Especially sharing our love of the outdoors here in this beautiful state with our daughter while making so many more wonderful memories as a family. So I think our only camping solution is to kick the older boys out to camp in a tent. Sorry boys!!!