August 20, 2017 – Sunday – Waupaca, WI to Milwaukee, WI
Well, the time has rolled around again for another Durst-Kolinski family trip. We feel like we were probably ready for this trip 2-3 weeks ago, as really we are all at the point of killing each other by this time in the summer. This is going to be great! Actually, it probably won’t be the crazy-ass trips we have had in the past – kids are growing up, we are tired, and we are traveling by air. Bizarre shit seems more likely to happen when we travel by car, just saying.
Anyway, we have been missing the Pacific Northwest something fierce – we lived with Noah in Tacoma for a year, and loved it out there. Now, Tacoma WAS the ghetto, but it was our ghetto and we grew to love the sketchiness that was surrounded by lush foliage and beautiful mountains. We can’t wait to share this with the kids now that they are old enough to remember it! The only issue was whether to fly or drive. This is easily another 1 ½ day driving trip past Glacier, and we figured it would be easier to fly this time so we actually have time to spend out there. We are also quite sure we cannot take another night in Rapid City, SD (until next year!).
SO, we got our life organized into 4 suitcases and we were off to Milwaukee to spent the night at the Hyatt Place again. We hit the pool that evening and the kids were in bed by 9. Sarah hung out with her friend in the hotel bar and got to bed around midnight.
August 21, 2017 – Monday – Milwaukee, WI to Port Angeles, WA.
And so begins the longest day of travel we as a family have probably ever had. We all woke up around 3 am. Everyone was super perky (seriously, they were)! We took the shuttle to the airport and checked in for our Southwest flight.
Note: we are airline whores and will fly with whoever is the cheapest. We have no allegiance. However, we were extremely impressed with Southwest – everyone was friendly and helpful and it was super organized on the flight. The flight attendants go around offering snacks out of a box, and when Sarah picked a small bag of chips, the attendant was like, take as much as you want and basically forced her to pick out more stuff. Our kind of people.
NOW, the big excitement was the damn solar eclipse. Had we known of its existence when we scheduled this trip 2 months ago (okay, so we kind of dropped the ball on this one), we probably would have flown out a day ahead of time and driven down to central Oregon where the eclipse totality zone was. We probably would not have scheduled our flight to get in at 8:20 am when the eclipse started at 9:08 – and reached 94% at 10:20 am. We had a mad rush to get luggage and the rental car. The rental car lady would not stop talking to us as Sarah is screeching in the passenger seat and wearing her special lenses that Matt had purchased weeks ago. Exiting the rental car place in Seattle, we could all see the eclipse starting! So our plan was to drive down to Tacoma and watch it there. We got like 5-10 miles south of Sea-Tac and although a previously clear and sunny day, it all of a sudden became cloudy and a weird fog and smell were all over (the “aroma of Tacoma”). We promptly turned around and drove back to Kent, and found a random park named Grandview that was fantastic – it was an off leash dog park with a beautiful view of Mount Rainier and a perfect view of the eclipse.
Matt had purchased glasses for all of us as noted so we got a great view. Especially Sarah who looked directly at the sun (without glasses) and claimed it was accidental (it so wasn’t, but how can you resist staring right at it when everyone tells you not to??). There were dozens of people there and dogs running around barking. There was a guy who had dragged or carried a yellow upholstered chaise lounge into the center of the dog park area and was cradling his lady friend while smoking a joint and wearing eclipse lenses. There was a lady who was all chatty and borrowed our glasses for a moment, that we later saw peeing on the fence surrounding the porta potty. While standing up. Ah, Tacoma, we have missed you.
After the excitement, we drove to our favorite donut shop, General Pao’s Communist Donut Shop (“you eat the donut and you will like the donut”). It was late and they were out of our favorites but still delicious. We then picked up some Subway (it’s vacation, we start with dessert) and began the drive across the Narrows to the Olympic Peninsula. Keep in mind we are excitedly telling the kids about all the places we lived and had fun during this time, and they had their headphones on and ipads out, except for Zoe who ended up napping for about 5 hours. They couldn’t even fake interest. “Look kids, mountains!” “Eh.”
Drove the gorgeous drive to Port Angeles, which apparently is a town built on tourism, dog grooming and cannabis shops. We don’t know why, either. We gathered all our touristy brochures, hit the Safeway, and we were off to our AirBnB. This place is a sight to behold. It looks like a cocaine kingpin from the 1980s wanted some kind of forest retreat and built it here, complete with 80s layout and indoor pool. It is fantastic. There are no less than 8 doors leading into the house. Probably more. There is a bidet and a 2 headed shower with only one shower head in the master bathroom. There is a meditation garden. The entire place is tiled. The door to the master bedroom is ten feet tall with four hinges. There are 3 doors leading into the indoor pool area, including one from the master bathroom. Oh yes, the indoor pool area with a 5.5 foot deep pool with motorized retractable pool cover and hot tub. Housed in a solarium. The kids can’t stop talking about how much this place must have cost, what a mansion it is, and could we just live here.
Dinner was a veggie tray and frozen pizza. And we need to pass out and sleep because we have been up now for like 21 hours. And the behavior from the children was not exactly top notch, but we won’t lie, the parenting kind of fell through the cracks today. As a family we resolve to do better tomorrow.
Beer of the night: The Mens Room Elysian Original Red. It will do.
August 22, 2017 – Tuesday – Port Angeles, WA
Kids awoke bright and early at 6 am and we were up at 7 am. We all ate breakfast here and packed up lunch in some backpacks and we were off for Olympic National Park! We had decided to spend three days hiking there – one day in the mountains, one day in the rain forest, and one day on the coast. We stole this idea from someone else on the internet that we found via random googling, which is where all our travel advice comes from. Today is the mountain day!
Can you believe the car fairy made an appearance? The fairy even brought Mommy a book about western trees (yah dendrology!!), thus guilting her as Daddy appeared to have been forgotten by the fairy. The kids got books too and were THRILLED.
We analyzed our book of “easy day hikes” and decided to do Hurricane Hill Trail which is just past the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. We actually did this hike with Noah in a pack 8 years ago just before moving back to WI, although Matt needed to get on the trail to be convinced that Sarah remembered this correctly (guess who was right, hehe). It is a beautiful hour drive to the trailhead from Port Angeles, and we got there before it was crowded.
This time, we openly acknowledge we have to do wuss trails because of Zoe (sorry, Zoe of the future reading this, but it’s true). Matt was convinced that Z would not allow herself to be carried in a pack and thus no pack was brought and we all wore tennis shoes, with the theory that if a trail couldn’t be hiked in tennis shoes, it would be too technical for Z. (Sigh). The boys wore packs with sandwiches and hydration systems (remember our Glacier trip log where we made fun of those on other people? yeah, so do we), and Sarah wore a small backpack with food in it and water, and Matt wore Zoe most of the time. Ha! Just when his crippling lower back problem from the child carrying hiking pack got better, now he has some kind of persistent neck injury as Z demanded to be on his shoulders most of the time. She also enjoys pulling out hair.
Either way, we got numerous compliments from everyone else on the trail about how brave we were to take our kids on the trail. (Note: we only saw two other kids below the age of 16, and one of them was wearing pajamas – we think school has started everywhere except Waupaca, WI as there have been very few kids anywhere, and the ones around look a little homeschooled, if you know what we mean (we don’t know what we mean)). Noah again is quite the hiker and is pretty quick and didn’t talk much (later we found out he was worried about the air being too thin and didn’t want to collapse from lack of oxygen (we were only at 5200 feet)). B wanted to hold Sarah’s hand the entire time, his reasoning being if he fell she could save him from a certain death of rolling down the mountain. Z just screamed and continued to pull out Matt’s hair from on top of his shoulders. We actually met a couple from FL, where the husband grew up in Stevens Point and had a bread route as a kid around the Chain O Lakes. He will be going to a game at Lambeau soon. How do we meet these WI people?!? We don’t wear any clothes IDing us as being from WI, yet these people always find us.
The hike was gorgeous with beautiful vistas (and short at ~3 miles but some elevation gain), and at the end you could see over the Strait of Juan de Fuco to Canada. We ate a lunch there of many many sandwiches. We also discovered that bringing a backpack of apples to eat was a poor idea as they are very heavy and two of the five of us can only eat cut apples due to tooth issues. Great planning, mommy!
Hiked back down and collapsed at the car where it was only 1 pm. We all argued for a while, then we made a deal – if we could hike a quick nature trail, the kids could get hot dogs. We then went on the Cirque Rim Trail for a mile or so – there was a black tailed deer blocking the trail and only a couple feet from us.
There were a million Asian tourists who had jumped off a charter bus surrounding us and our deer friend taking photos. We walked right by it on the trail and forged on – it was another pretty trail, but the horrifying part was at the end where there was a small ski patrol cabin and what actually appeared to be a decrepit ski lift overlooking the side of the steep mountain. OH DEAR GOD. Who the hell actually skis there? And where did the ski lift go down to as it all appeared pretty wooded? We googled but couldn’t find anything other than vague information. #sweatypalms for Sarah and #pleaseletmecomehereskiing from Matt.
We then got hot dogs at the Visitor Center and will never discuss Braden’s behavior there ever again. Everyone was falling apart. We got back in the car after everyone was done fighting and motored back to our 1980s cocaine cabin.
The kids seemed to recharge in the car because they played for over an hour in the pool while we sat in the hot tub next to it. The layout is pretty sweet. Mac and cheese for the kids, then a rousing game of charades (based on our theory that the kids are acting out due to too much iPad time, thus we have to have wholesome family fun), and then Jenga. There’s only so many games you can play with 1.5 literate children (out of a total of 3).
Kids to bed, and then we ordered from the Next Door Gastropub for pick up – Sarah had a deluxe burger with fries because she’s generic like that, and Matt ordered a Not Your Average Joe burger with fries because he tries to be all non-conformist like that. We had onion rings which were excellent. We thought the burgers were fantastic and we would order from here again anytime!
Beers of the night: Elysian Avatar Jasmine, and more of those Reds
More to come….