Friday, August 30, 2019

Wandering Around Whitehorse

We spent our last day in the Yukon hanging out in Whitehorse with our friends' sons, J and B, while our friends worked. We explored downtown Whitehorse and did some souvenir shopping.
I don't know if I've mentioned this before or not, but the Yukon had a travel contest going on this summer. You got a passport and visited certain sites and you could get stamps. At the end you could enter to win gold. Our friends had picked up passports for us and we got a total of fourteen stamps. One of the sites to visit was the SS Klondike. This was a sternwheeler that transported people from Whitehorse to Dawson City during the gold rush.
The kids really got into playing quoits -- a game where you toss a ring onto the opposite pole. They probably could have played this for hours.
The ship really wasn't all that big. Considering the last ship I'd been on was for our Disney Cruise (!), I was glad I wasn't spending any length of time on this one :)
Can you imagine trying to cook for a crowd in this kitchen? This boat carried 75 passengers, 25 crew, and the trip upstream took four to five days. Yikes.
I never got tired of seeing these two kids hanging out together. How long until they move back again?!?! We miss them.
Even in the city our wildlife sightings didn't end. We saw this fox as we walked along the river to get to downtown.
On the left is a log cabin "skyscraper." Ha! And the right just gives you an idea of a street in downtown. I loved all the wooden front buildings.
Funny story about these shirts: So they are a local company and the logo is the shape of the Yukon and then it's reversed. Our friend, A, had a sweatshirt from them and Dave and I were like, "We want t-shirts like that." We went to the store in Whitehorse and asked if they had them in kids' sizes too because #matchingfamilygoals.

The owner said she'd tried to sell the kids' ones but there wasn't a market for them. However, she had a supply at home and if we could come back in an hour, she'd run home and get them and give them to the kids for free. So that's what we did. We did offer to pay for them but the owner said she didn't feel right about that.

So I call the picture above "future band album cover" because it's just so awesome. And yes, J and B didn't actually want to wear their shirts so they're holding them up with their chins! :)
As we were walking back to the car, there was an outdoor gym and the kids spent ages here. We would have stayed longer but we had to get home to do laundry and pack. Boo :(
The kids watched videos, played iPad, and hung out while Dave and I packed. Rachel showered and then B brushed her hair. It was so sweet.
And that was the end of our time hanging out with our friends :( When can we go back???

To read about days 15 through 17 go here. To read a more general retelling of some of our time in Yukon and Alaska go here.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

What's Up Wednesday: August 2019

Welcome to the "We're in the last week of summer" What's Up Wednesday. Next week at this time the kids will be waking up for their second day of school. I think we're all ready for some routine again.
image from here

What we're eating this week... I made up a new salad to use up all the beans we've been getting from our CSA (community shared agriculture). I steam the beans, cool them, and then slice them up with avocado and feta cheese. I mix half olive oil, half balsamic vinegar, and some yellow mustard for the dressing. It's delicious!
We've also been eating a ton of tomatoes and fresh peaches from our CSA and the produce stand at our pool. I love it because we pick up our CSA on Tuesday and the produce stand is on Wednesday so I can supplement.
The bowl with the two lonely cherry tomatoes was full when we got home from our CSA pickup yesterday afternoon. Sam and I snacked on them like candy. Ooops :)

What I'm reminiscing about... Two years ago, around this time, we went to New York for a long weekend and we spent one day in New York City. We visited the Botanical Gardens because they had an exhibit of Chihuly glass. If you haven't ever had the chance to check out a Chihuly exhibit, you are missing out. In fact as I was writing this post, I looked to see where his current exhibitions are and I asked Dave, "How far away is Columbus, Ohio???" (Sadly it's too far away for us to make a trip this weekend.) I was fortunate to also see Chihuly's exhibit in Jerusalem when I lived there in 2000. So yeah, that's what I'm reminiscing about :)

What I'm loving... While I'm not quite ready for fall yet, I am loving all the sunflowers. Sadly, our flower farmer is not growing this year so I bought some of these at the grocery store and some of them were a choice option at our CSA.

What we've been up to... This week Rachel is at a camp in the mornings, Sam is hanging out at home, and I am working. But the previous two weeks we were up to all things POOL related.
The kids had tennis lessons...
...we ate pool treats...
...and we swam.
The pool had a new program first thing in the afternoon this year called "AquaFun." It was supposed to be a mix of water polo, swim team, synchronized swimming, and aquafit throughout the week. However, the kids LOVED swim team and were lukewarm about everything else. So they basically got almost of hour of extra swimming lessons every day. Above, Rachel is practicing the butterfly!

We're headed back to the pool this afternoon and after being there for four - five hours a day for two weeks straight, I've missed it.

What I'm dreading... Ummmm, true confession time. School starts next week and I still haven't sorted through the school papers from last year. Ugh. So that's what I will be doing this weekend. Blah.
Yes, this table has looked like this for two straight months.

What I'm working on... Well I'm still trying to finish up the blog posts from our big summer vacation. I think I have four or five left to write. That's pretty much all I've blogged about since mid-July. To my regular blog readers, I'm sorry. I'm almost done, I promise.

I'm also participating in a social media challenge hosted by an Instagram friend. I'm trying to walk 20 minutes a day for 20 days. I'm finding it harder than it sounds as you can see by my tracking below.
What I'm excited about... School and all the fall activities start for us on Tuesday and honestly, I'm excited about getting into a routine again. Summer is super fun and I love not really having routine for a bit, but I'm kind of over it now.

What I'm watching/reading... I've been watching the kids at their swimming and tennis lessons for a few weeks now. Other than that, I haven't been watching much of anything...

As for reading, you should check out my post from yesterday to see what I read last week. You can find it here.
This might have been my favourite book. 

What I'm listening to... For some reason, Rachel has REALLY connected with the song On Top of Spaghetti this past week. She's playing it on the piano A LOT, writing it out on the whiteboard (and illustrating it), and singing it. So that's what I've been listening to.

What I'm wearing... A few weeks ago our library had a celebration for 50 years since Woodstock and one of the activities was making flower crowns. I've actually worn mine a few times because it's pretty fun! In fact, I wore it to worship lead the week after I made it :) It kind of, sort of, fit the theme of the service. Ha!

What I'm doing this weekend... I had to miss two readathons because of our vacation so I told Dave I needed a whole day to read. I'm going to read from midnight on Saturday to midnight on Sunday (but I will get a few hours of sleep in there.) Even better, the kids are going to Dave's parents overnight so they'll be out of the house. I can't wait! I won't read all of these books but I need some options!

What I'm looking forward to next month... I'm going to kick off the month by working on our photo book for our summer vacation and getting our yard in shape. It'll be super exciting. I'm also looking forward to a little bit of cooler weather (which will hopefully help facilitate the yard work. Ha!)

What else is new... I think that's about it. I can't really think of anything else right now.

Happy Wednesday and if you found me through the link up, thank you for stopping by.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

My (Summer) Reading Week

So I'm taking a small break from vacation blogging to share the books I read last week. I just had too much to say to fit them in an Instagram post. (And remember I was at the pool for four or five hours every day last week so I had a ton of extra reading time.)
While I enjoyed The Kiss Quotient more, I thought this book was also fun. I really liked how Esme learned to love Khai for who he was rather than trying to change him. And I loved how kind Khai was to Esme, even when he was annoyed with his family (or her!). This was just a good, fun, summer read.
Maid is the memoir of a single mother trying to escape poverty in the States -- in Washington state specifically. The father of her daughter is abusive and all she can find are low paying jobs. What struck me was how few choices Land had and how much poor people are monitored -- Land talks about how to be able to qualify to live in one housing complex, the authorities could show up randomly to perform drug tests. I'm going through a hard time personally right now and this book put that in perspective -- I have so much support and so many options compared to Land (and many other people around the world.)
I LOVED this book. It's about the Los Angeles Public Library and focuses mainly on the fire which the library experienced in April 1986. But it also tells the story of the library's history and delves into the hidden corners and jobs of various people working in the library. There were parts of this book which made me cry (yes, I was a bit of a sobbing mess at the pool one morning), and I highly recommend it.

Although take my recommendation with a grain of salt -- remember my 2018 book review (you can read it here)? I had a category called "Non-Fiction Which Only I Might Love Because It Touches On One Of My Passions." This book may just fall into that category :)
We belong to a neighbourhood pool, which is not actually in our neighbourhood, and for the past two weeks, the kids had daily tennis and swimming lessons. Then we ate lunch and stayed for another hour of organized "AquaFun." Anyways, Sam's teacher from this past year was there at the same time with her two kids and she recommended this book to me. This is the third Ruth Sepetys book I've read and they have all been really good.

This one tells the story of four teens/young adults, and their journey to escape through Poland and get on a ship during World War II. I love how the four stories come together and the various people they meet along the way.
This is my neighbourhood book club pick for this month. I thought it was fiction so I was surprised that it was non-fiction. I was also surprised how much I enjoyed this book and how quickly I read it. It's basically Sedaris' thoughts on various aspects of life. I loved reading about how he and his siblings went clothes shopping in Japan and I laughed really hard at his description of his interactions with a turtle. I want Dave to read this book. Also, Sedaris' sister is Amy Sedaris who I think is also famous :)
You know how when an author writes an amazing book and then you have high expectations for their follow up novel? Well, I LOVED The Alice Network, and while I also liked this book, in my opinion, it didn't quite measure up. For the first hour I read it I had a fluttering sensation in my stomach because I was so excited to FINALLY have it in my hands. And this poor book really couldn't live up to my super-high expectations. So while I think it was a good book, I didn't LOVE it. (Does any of this make any sense at all? Is it just me.)

Please don't take that as a "don't bother reading this book." Take it more as a "don't get overly excited and you will enjoy this one."
Christina Lauren is my new light reading author. I just love her predictable romance stories and how she gets her (they get their?) characters together, despite the obstacles. This book absolutely hit my expectations for a fun, light read which I devoured in one sitting on a Friday night. And yes, Christina Lauren is actually two best friends writing novels together so I never know how to refer to them -- singular author, plural author -- help!

Have I inspired you to check any of these books out? Let me know...

Friday, August 23, 2019

"Plan W" Was For White Pass

In my last post I said, "Hopefully, I'll be back tomorrow to tell you about..." and obviously "tomorrow" is now defined as "a week from now." sigh. We have had two very full weeks with long days at the pool. When we're not at the pool, I'm trying to get work done so blogging has fallen way down the list of priorities. But I'm back today to tell you about one of my favourite things about our trip.
Do you see the train in the middle of the picture?
Skagway, Alaska is known as being the gateway to the Klondike. This is the point where many gold miners had to walk their way over the mountains. There was a shorter, steeper route or a longer, slightly less difficult route, but they both went through a high mountain pass.
In 1898 the White Pass Railway was built. The history is fascinating and you can read more about it here. We had talked about getting tickets for the train but it is very expensive and between the ferry to Juneau and our AirBnb there, we decided against it.
When we found out the ferry was cancelled, we immediately looked into buying tickets for the White Pass. However, it is very popular, and the one day we were going to be in Skagway was sold out online. Boo. We decided to head to Skagway anyways as we had lots of other interesting things to do there.
But then Rachel had to go the bathroom, and she and Dave went by the ticket office in search of one. The ticket office had a sign saying, "Tickets still available for today!" We snapped up seven of the last twenty tickets, and an hour later, we were on our way!!! We were sooooo excited and Rachel still reminds us, "It was lucky I had to go to the bathroom, right?!?!?!" Yes, Rachel, good timing :)
We did the two and a half hour excursion to the summit. I cannot imagine having to walk this route with a ton of supplies. Yes, an actual ton of supplies was what was required of people wanting to pan for gold.
The scenery was spectacular! I spent a lot of time on the platform taking pictures and soaking it all in.
If you see the lake in the middle of the picture, that is the Skagway Harbour. The train announcer told us this was called "Inspiration Point" because some people think it looks like heaven!
Thankfully this bridge is out of commission and we were able to take the new bridge. Phew.
I love this picture I captured of the train going over the bridge. The green and yellow engines are iconic.
Technically we crossed back into Canada but it didn't count because we couldn't get off. Also that small little cabin with NWMP was property of the North West Mounted Police who eventually merged with other police detachments to form the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
Did I mention the amazing scenery. I just LOVE trains!
We ended up back in Skagway for supper and then headed home to Whitehorse.

One of the things I was excited about is that my dad's parents (my grandparents), my parents, and now we have all done this train ride. I told the kids they were the fourth generation to do this iconic trip. Of course when I mentioned that to my dad he commented, "Or the fourth generation of our family to spend stupid amounts of money on a touristy train ride!" I laughed really hard because he was right, but it was so worth it!

To read about day 14 go here.