This is not our normal blog post of some cool or exotic place…but likely more of these type posts will be coming! We are excited to announce to the digital world our little girl will be arriving sometime around Feb 28th! We were able to share the news that we were having a little girl with our church family and our family this week! On Wednesday Sarah made raspberry filled mini cheesecakes to share the news with our house church family. And today we had our family all at our house to share the news! One of my best friends from pharmacy school Melanie who is finishing her PhD at UNC was in town visiting her new nephew and was also able to join us!
We were actually shocked it was a girl..for some reason both of us thought boy! But we are beyond excited to buy cute girl clothes (well at least Melody is!) We are very thankful for a smooth pregnancy thus far and can’t believe it is half-way over!
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;my soul knows it very well.” Pslam 139:13-14 ESV
Don’t worry though Grandma Hartzler has already offered to babysit for when we want to take our next trips…so blog posts of more cool and exotic places won’t stop…just might slow down a bit for now!
We got up early on Friday to head north for whale watching. We bought a groupon for a whale watching tour before leaving home. This allowed us to go for half-price. Our goal was to be on the road by 7am. Surprisely we actually left about 6:30.
Google maps told us it would be a little over 4 hours, but with the road going up around Mt. Rainer national park, we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to make the ferry in Anacortes. We had to be on the 11:55 ferry headed to Friday Harbor. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t have time to drive our car on the ferry, but my first ferry experience was cool nonetheless. They unload people first, then cars, and we only had 10 minutes to get to our tour from the ferry once in Friday Harbor.
The whale watching tour was really neat. We were on a 50ft boat that took us out about an hour away from the port. The main attraction was to see an Orca Whale (Killer Whale), which is the black and white whales that you see at Sea World. We saw nearly a half dozen Orka’s and we also saw a humpback whale which was really neat too. Our boat driver didn’t want to disturb them, so we weren’t able to get too close to them.
After our tour, our plan was to drive back to Seattle for dinner, but the tour finished at 5:30pm and the ferry back to the mainland didn’t leave until 6:30pm which would have put us having dinner in Seattle at 9 o’clock. Since Josh and I were starving we stopped at local place called Cask & Schooner for a small meal. The girls had salads and the guys had clam chowder.
On the ferry we found a table that someone had started an 1000 piece puzzle, so we worked on that to make the time pass quickly.
Back on the mainland, we decided to stop for dinner instead of waiting until we got to Seattle. We stopped at the Rockfish Grill and enjoyed some local fish entrees and a live band. Then we got back in the car for a 90 minute drive to Seattle. We stayed near Lake Union. Our hotel had a great location and it was a bit cheaper than staying in the downtown area itself.
On Saturday morning, our first stop in Seattle was the World Famous Pike’s Place Market. They had tons of local vendors who were selling things from art, to clothing, to produce, to fish. Plus the majority of the stands were giving away samples. We enjoyed samples of peaches, nectarines, jam, honey, blueberry vinegar and organic apple chips! Since it was the last day of our trip, we decided to not buy any produce since we didn’t want to carry it around all day nor did we have room to take it to the airport with us.
Plus, from the Market, you could see the summit of Mount Rainier. Even though it’s more than 100 miles away, you could see it’s peak in between the clouds. This was the first time we could see the peak on the trip.
Then Melody and I went on the Duck tour, it was a little bit corny….but a travel hacker site said it was a great way to get out on Lake Union and have a view of the city/houseboats. Our tour was redirected a bit due to the Rock and Roll Marathon that morning. We captured some pictures of the city from the water. It was an amphibious vehicle, so we were able to drive around town, then we drove right into the lake, it was definitely pretty cool!
Josh and Sarah went on the Underground tour, which explored city blocks that are currently beneath where the street is now.
We met up at the Space Needle for lunch. We thought we were being smart and would go to the restaurant (then you didn’t have to pay admission) order the minimum required food (which is only a few dollars more than the ticket up) and then find cheaper food elsewhere if we were still hungry. It turned out to be on Saturdays/Sundays they only serve a 3-course fixed price brunch. We were already up there…so we decided to splurge and make it lunch/dinner.
Before leaving downtown we wanted to see some glass blowing. Seattle is famous for glass blowing and has the most studios and artists in the world outside of Murano, Italy. The most famous place is Chihuly Gardens, but since we splurged on the tour/space needle we decided we needed to stop spending money. So we stopped by the Seattle Glass Blowing Studio instead. They made traditional items like bowls and vases and they also made some really cool lawn ornaments.
We had asked our waitress if she had six hours left in the Seattle area before having to go to the airport, what would she do, she suggested Snoqualmie Falls. The hiking trails were closed to get a good view from the bottom but we had a great view from the upper observation decks.
We still had a few hours to kill before heading to the airport. We ended up doing a little shopping and all of us found at least one deal at Half Price Books.
Our plane took off at 11:15 pm PST, luckily we both were able to get some sleep on the plane. We had a short layover in Chicago and were back to Dayton by 8:30am. After a few hours of napping we are up trying to stay awake again until bedtime. We both have to get back to work tomorrow, hopefully we adjust back to EST as quick as possible.
Thank you all for following our journey this summer, we enjoyed sharing it with you. We have a couple days of beach time planned in late July…but other than that we don’t know where the next adventure will take us, we are always up for suggestions!
We were so excited to have 3 nights near Mt. Rainier to relax. We rented a cabin AKA a condo that looks like a cabin! It is my style of “camping.” The place had a fully equipped kitchen, beautiful furnishings, and a hot tub! We also had access to the HOA pool.
The first afternoon here we enjoyed the pool while the sunshine was out. It was in the mid 60′s but the water was heated..so with the sunshine it was perfect! After our swim we grilled steaks for dinner with fresh green beans and roasted carrots. We enjoyed a quiet evening and made coconut flour short cakes and topped them with our fresh peaches!
The next day we headed out to hike the panorama trail near “Paradise” in Mt. Rainer. This area is very close to the top, when we got there, we found that half the trail we planned to hike was unsafe and the rest was snow-covered. So we decided we didn’t have the appropriate footwear or heavy enough coats since it was 38 degrees. Due to the weather, the peak was clouded in and we couldn’t get a picture.
So we headed back down the loop and stopped to hike in warmer weather! We hiked a few miles in the Grove of the Patriarchs and to Silver Falls!
It was beautiful…it’s amazing how clear the river water is!
We missed lunch so we had an early dinner back at our cabin of chili. It hit the spot on this chilly day.
On Thursday it was 39 degrees when we woke up..boo! And it rained all day…double boo! So we relaxed, did a little bit of work, but the internet is super slow here so everything both Dustin and I needed to do we couldn’t do very efficiently.
So Sarah and I did a workout video and some yoga. And we played cards and enjoyed the hot tub when it wasn’t raining too hard. Not to mention we had to eat all the food that needs cooked while we are here. So over the course of the day we made pork sausage patties, salads (with leftover chili), and lamb steaks , carrots, and broccoli for dinner, and coconut flour chocolate lava cakes in a mug! Sarah was a little bit nervous about eating lamb…I assured her I survived eating Hartzler lamb in the past! :)
Tomorrow we are off to a whale watching tour in the San Juan Islands…it’s a bit of a drive, but we’ll end up in Seattle hopefully in time for a late dinner!
We had a great breakfast served by Dustin’s Great Aunt Shirley, we enjoyed breakfast with them before they headed off to church, and we headed into Portland.
We walked around downtown for awhile and then headed to the Pearl District for lunch. We found a Fusion restaurant called Isabel’s. The lettuce wraps were awesome! Afterwards I got some tea at this cute tea cafe and lounge.
Our last stop downtown was the Powell’s Books, this is the the biggest independent bookstore in the world. It takes up a whole city block! Dustin headed for the business and tech section and the rest of us checked out the Paleo/Low-carb cook books!
We settled into our riverside cabin, across the river in Vancover, WA. Sarah and I made a menu for the rest of our time with a kitchen and then we all went grocery shopping. We found a store similar to Whole Foods called New Season’s Market , it was awesome! They certainly live up to their tag line, the friendliest store in town! The produce guy sliced us some fresh organic peaches to try while we were shopping. They even had farm fresh organic strawberries, which were AMAZING!
After shopping we made a Hartzler Family favorite for dinner, Sautéed Red Cabbage and Salmon from the Balanced Bites website! The cabin we stayed in had fresh rosemary growing in a pot on the porch, which made it ever more awesome.
The next day we explored the Columbia River Gorge. Our first stop was Wahkeena Falls. They were seen from just a short walk up the hill.
Then we headed to one of the most well known falls, Multnomah Falls which is over 600 feet between the upper and lower falls. It was hard to get them all in one picture and slow down the shutter speed, so our best shots are just a portion of the falls. The best time to take pictures is on overcast days or during sunrise or sunset.
The last falls we stopped at were Horsetail Falls which were also beautiful. Sarah and Josh headed off on a hike, Dustin and I decided to relax on a bench while they were away. It was very peaceful listening to a past sermon I missed at church gazing at one of God’s beautiful creations and hearing the sounds of the falls. The temperature was perfect too!
We drove to the town of Hood River before turning around. We ate our lunch while watching windsurfers and kite surfers on the Columbia River. There were at least 30 people out on the water including a few kids.
On our way back to our cabin, we stopped at Cascade Locks. Construction began on the locks in 1878 but they were later replaced by the Bonneville Lock and Dam in 1938. Here we had a good view of the Bridge of gods, this toll bridge is the only bridge between Portland and Hood River.
We headed back to our cabin to get freshened up for dinner. Josh and Sarah went out to dinner for their anniversary in downtown Vancouver and we headed off to a Hartzler family vacation favorite, Sweet Tomatoes. We picked them up and then we all headed back into Oregon for the last time to meet with a friend from Cedarville, Bethany. Bethany is a CU nursing student that was on our Jamaica team this year and is from the Portland area. We met her at Starbucks and enjoyed time of fellowship.
That wraps up our Portland area experience. Next stop Mt. Rainer/Packwood, WA!
We made a quick breakfast, then headed off to Eugene to pick-up bikes for our trip today. We stopped at Paul’s Bickeyle Way of Life which is really close to the University of Oregon to pick up 4 hybrid bikes that we would ride today.
The trail that we took can be found here. It is called the Covered Bridges Scenic Byway, since we don’t normally bike such long distances, we decided to start at the Mosby Creek Trailhead. Another reason we started there because it shortened the distance and we didn’t miss out on any covered bridges.
Ready set go!
The path went around Dorena Lake, which was beautiful! Would have loved to boat and tube on that!
We missed the turn for the loop and had continued on the bike path a little ways to Dorena, so that added a few extra miles to the trip.
The second half of the trip was on the road, which was a bit intimidating around the bends and up/down hills.
We stopped to eat our packed lunch and to get our last glimpse of the lake. We had about 5 miles to go and boy where those a tough 5 miles. The incline on part of it was so much ( for about 1/2 mile) that Josh, Sarah, and I choose to walk our bikes up the steep incline but Dustin keep trucking it! We met him and the top and coming down was much more fun!
Throughout the journey we got to see four covered bridges over the 25.8 miles, boy were we tired! We headed back to Eugene to return the bike rack and the bikes.
Then we checked out the Saturday Market there. This was a Market like we’ve never seen before. All of the farmers had organic fruits and veggies or raised their crops in an organic way. We got there as they were closing, but we were still able to pick up some snacks for the rest of our trip. Among the things we got were fresh raspberries, sugar snap peas, green beans, sour kraut, and we split a frozen fruit smoothie.
After the market, we headed back to our guest house to pick up our luggage, so we could continue our journey.
Our next stop was Salem, Oregon to visit with Dustin’s family. We stayed with his great-Aunt and Uncle, Ed & Shirley. They had some of their children over (Dustin’s second cousins) for dinner, dessert and fellowship. It was great to catch up with them, they were so hospitable and welcoming. It was nice to hear about their favorite parts of the central oregon area too.
Once everyone left, we headed right to bed. We were exhausted from all of the pedaling. Tomorrow we will make it to Washington!
This morning we prepared a breakfast in our Guest House. If you’ve been following us for awhile, you know we like to find other lodging accommodations then just staying in hotels all the time. We stayed in Eugene, Oregon for two nights in a couple’s guest house. It is a small two bedroom, two bathroom house that’s attached to their house. It was built for the owner’s mother, who lives in San Francisco and refuses to move to Oregon, so they started renting it out on AirBnB.com. Since it was built for his mother, it was done up right, beautiful wood trim/floor, tile, and decor.
We left around 9am and headed out to Crater Lake. It was about a 3 hour drive south east from where are staying in Eugene. The drive had some great views of the trees and the mountains.
Crater Lake National Park is a United States National Park located in southern Oregon and was established in 1902. The park is the fifth oldest national park in the United States and the only one in the state of Oregon. The park consists of Crater Lake, a remnant of a destroyed volcano, Mount Mazama, and the surrounding hills and forests.
The lake is 1,943 feet deep at its deepest point, which makes it the deepest lake in the United States, the second deepest in North America and the ninth deepest in the world. And it has the bluest natural water we’ve ever seen in a body of water. The lake has no rivers running into it, so it’s filled with rain water and melted snow. Here are some pictures:
Even though it’s mid-June, they had gotten snow the day before and a majority of the road was closed. There was still snow on the ground even though it was 55 degrees. And of course, I was wearing shorts! I’m having a hard time dressing appropriately in this weather!
After leaving Crater Lake, we consulted our trusty “Off the Beaten Path Oregon” book and found a waterfall that was close to our path home. Toketee Falls is a waterfall that drops 120 feet. It was a short hike (less than a half mile) from the parking lot on a very well marked path.
The last stop of the day was a natural springs (Umpqua Hot Springs). Again, it was a short hike from the car up a pretty steep path. There were several pools of water with them naturally maintaining 110 degrees. We didn’t bring our swim gear, otherwise we would have gotten in!
We headed back towards Eugene and had to stop at a Bike store owner’s house who rented us a bike rack for our biking adventure tomorrow. After a quick stop at the grocery store, we headed home for to make a late dinner. We made a grain free lasagna with zucchini as the noodles. It was interesting trying to cook in our guest home because we had very limited dishes. We even had to pick up a spatula at the store so we could brown our meat.
We hit the road again heading north on Hwy 101. Our first stop today was Sunset Bay. It was a beautiful area, although cloudy this morning, but it would be a great place to watch the sunset.
Nearby in the same area we found the Shore Acres State Park lookouts. This area had beautiful rocky shoreline.
We stopped for lunch in Coos Bay nearby at the Blue Heron Bistro. It was eclectic mix of German food and seafood. We all opted for the German food. It was pretty authentic. I had goulash soup, Dustin splurged on Glousah and spätzle, and I had sauerkraut and a bratwurst. So good!
After lunch we headed to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. It was so cool, it felt like we were in the dessert! We hiked about 1 mile to the beach.
The beach was the closest thing I’ve seen out here that looks like an east coast beach!
Dustin and I headed on to do the 4.5 mile loop…unfortunately it turned into over 5.5 miles because somehow we got off track. It was a little bit scary because we were in brush areas and saw lots of animal tracks. Praise the Lord we did not encounter any cougars or other animals! We were lost (well we knew were we were on the map/GPS worked) but didn’t know how to get back to the trail for over 30 minutes. Sarah and Josh had just turned back from the beach and headed to the car so they were there waiting on us. We stood there and prayed that God would show us the trail and a few minutes later Dustin saw the posts that were marking the trail off in the distance. Hallelujah! We were back on the trail in a few minutes. It was a very different terrain, and very difficult to hike as the sand poured into our shoes. Neat to see…but we probably won’t be doing this again!
Dustin and I were covered in Sand, he didn’t empty his shoes the whole time, here is his picture of the amount of sand he collected.
Afterwards we rinsed off and hit the road to Eugene. We grabbed dinner at an AMAZING Thai place, all of us agree this is the best Thai food we’ve ever had at Ta Ra Rin Thai Cuisine. I had a fish curry dish and Dustin a peanut prawn dish. That’s all for today’s adventures. Headed to Crater Lake tomorrow!
Today was one of my kind of vacation days: a relax day.
We had such a gorgeous view from our condo and we didn’t have much planned, so we stayed here most of the day.
After making a vegetable stir fry and bacon for breakfast, we hiked back down to the beach to explore. There was a cave that we crawled through and I climbed a couple of the rocks.
Most of the beach is covered with water when the tide was in and it was a low tide in the morning. The sand was nice and firm to walk on. The views were incredible, but the wind was fierce and windy. It was at least 10 degrees colder on the beach than it was up at our condo.
We stayed here for lunch and enjoyed bison meat taco salads while overlooking the ocean.
After lunch we were all on our computers catching up with our email and blog posts.
For dinner, Josh and Sarah ran out to a local fish market and got Local Rock Fish. We blackened it and ate it while admiring the breathtaking view (can you tell I really like the view here?).
We finished up the evening by watching Jurassic Park 1 & 2 since some of the scenes were shot in Fern Valley that we drove through yesterday.
Well, that’s all for today. We’ve got a lot of driving ahead of us for tomorrow.
This morning we got up early, got ready and ate breakfast at the hotel. We left the Holiday Inn at 8:20 to head up the coast. Today was full of driving and we wanted to get an early start.
After a few photo stops along the road, our next adventure was driving through a redwood tree. This is a total tourist trap (which we normally try to avoid), but it was neat to say we drove through a tree. There were just inches on each side of the mirrors as we drove through. I guess the 5 dollars wasn’t too much to pay to say you drove through a tree!
Next we took a 32 mile scenic drive on a road that ran along side of Highway 101, this is called “Avenue of the Giants.” The road wasn’t as curvy as we expected and the views were incredible. Here are a few pictures of us around these huge trees.
As we continued up the coast, we pulled off the road several times to snap some pictures of the breathtaking views.
We had lunch at a place called Cafe Marina. Another great seafood place right on the water. Dustin had crab cakes and I had blackened Pacific Red Snapper.
After lunch we continued up the coast and stopped at Redwood National Park. After driving around awhile, we headed up to Fern Canyon. Fern Canyon is were a part of Jurassic Park was filmed, it was located about 8 miles off Highway 101 on a dirt / gravel road. We decided to hike part of the valley since we had been sitting in the car for the majority of the day. They had a nice loop we could circle around back to our car.
The valley had several different types of ferns and was a fun little hike. Dustin’s phone registered the hike at 1 mile and it felt great to get out and walk around.
After our short hike, we continued the last few miles to Brookings. We found a great Thai restaurant for dinner. I had a pumpkin curry dish and Dustin had Cashew Shrimp. Not authentic to the region, but extremely yummy!
Before checking into our condo we headed to the grocery store to pick up food for tomorrow; breakfast, lunch and dinner. We like to save money while traveling, so since our condo has a kitchen, we are going to use it!
Our place has some of the best views out of all of the places we have stayed across the world. Stunning blue water with white foam and large rocks. Plus there is a short path down to the beach. We got there just in time for the sun to set and watched the sun go down over the rocks.
We finished the night off by making a delicious chocolate dessert (grain free, egg white free, and low carb!) and watching a movie. Excited for a day to relax tomorrow!
Today was our last morning in Larkspur and we hit the road en-route eventually to Seattle! We left our hotel by 9am and headed towards Napa Valley. This area is BEAUTIFUL and reminded us a lot of Tuscany from our trip to Italy last summer.
We had scheduled a tour of the Robert Hunter Winery and Gardens. The gardens and vineyard were stunning. Sitting in the garden reminded me of the scene in Sound of Music where they dance/sing in the garden.
In a town nearby called Glen Ellen, we shopped for olive oil tasting and chocolate. Unfortunately the olive oil place was not there anymore, but we did end up with some chocolate tasting and picking up a few treats. We got some sugar free chocolates made with stevia…that made our low carb counterparts very happy!
We also browsed a local market, but it turned out to just be another grocery store. Then we headed to the Marin Cheese Factory for a tasting and a production tour. The cheese was wonderful, I’m not normally a soft cheese fan, but this was good! They had one that was strawberry flavored! The production tour was a bit disappointing because it lasted 10 min and involved 1 room. But I guess that is what you get for free!
We continued north and drove through Bodega Bay, then northwards on Hwy 1. We saw lots of beautiful views of the cost along the way. We stopped for lunch at Nick’s Cove, the setting was so quaint, it was right on the Tomales Bay, fresh fish and beautiful scenery…what more could we ask for! They had a warm cauliflower salad that Dustin and I split, and then we also split the Crab Benedict.
After lunch we continued northward. We stopped at many look outs as we traveled including the Point Arena Lighthouse, it was closed but we got some great pictures!
After a long day in the car, we reached our destination of Ft. Bragg, CA for the night. We checked in to the Holiday Inn Express around 8pm, then headed out for some dinner. Thanks to Google we found a great little BBQ joint called ‘The Q’ restaurant. The boys had pork on their salads, and Sarah and I had fish on ours. I had the blackened local Rock Fish on my salad, and it was awesome! I highly recommend it!
We went back to the hotel to swim and relax in the hot tub for half-hour or so until it closed. All in all it was a great day! Can’t wait to see more of this coastline!