Long Time Gone! – Olympic National Park – August 2014

It’s been too long, and many things have happened. First, my old implementation of Gallery2 is no longer supported in WordPress, so I’m going to try use a new photo/media manager. If you can’t see the pics, please let me know. I’ll probably try a few until I find the right one.

We went to Kalaloch in August. We had a great time camping, visiting Ruby Beach, the Hoh rain forest, and a few other sites.The campground is very tight quarters, but a really pretty place. It was my first time there, and a revisit for the Penning crew. We hiked the Hoh River trail and explored some great places. We even saw a monster elk, munching away at grass near the trail.

Hoh Rain Forest, Ruby Beach, lots of fun!

Round Mountain Lookout

On June 28th, I took several of the kids to the site of the former fire lookout on Round Mountain, just south of White Pass. Although the lookout is no longer there, you can get views of both Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams from the top, as well as several peaks in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. It was a simple out and back, but lots of fun. We hit patches of snow a little above 5,000′ and the kids had a blast with that. Snow in the summer, who knew?!? Another fun plus for Washington!

On the way home, we did a little exploring on Summit Creek, scouting out our next adventure.

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poulsbo, wa….the leas new home

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The start of our Memorial Weekend 2013 actually started in Poulsbo, WA. We traveled to see Rob and Jaime’s new home. They were all very gracious allowing us to inundate their home for two nights and taking us around the town. We played in their backyard, found crabs at the beach, went to the aquarium, checked out a local ice cream shop, ate pizza, walked down the pier, went on a date without the kids, and of course, Jaime and I sneaked a lunch in while the guys entertained. :) We packed in as much fun as we could before heading out for camping. We had a great time. And we hope the Leas are happy in Poulsbo for a long time to come so that we have close access to them. They are only a few hours away now. Way better than 17!!!


Chain Lakes Loop

During our trip to Washington, I took the 3 oldest kids on a short backpacking trip I’ve been looking at for a couple years. Papa Penning, Uncle Brian, and Brooklynn came with us too. Much of the Chain Lakes Loop is in the Mt. Baker Wilderness. We spent two days camped between Hayes Lake and Arbuthnot Lake. Weather was great, and the area is beautiful, with views of both Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan along the trail.

More photos in the gallery.

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double dipping


In February, we took a fun little excursion to Ventura, CA for a baby blessing. It was nice enough to swim that weekend. Well, at least for the kids. :) It was the Littles’ first time visiting the ocean. And Marisa and I were so excited for our kids to spend some time together. There are 11 children between the two of us now. It was awesome to watch the kids get along so well. We got to eat at Tito’s…even though a car had just backed into the restaurant…we were the last order to be taken before the Health District shut them down for the night. We also visited the Los Angeles Temple Visitor’s Center. It is recently reopened, and completely worth the trip. Very Cool!


What’s even better is that a couple of weeks later, the Brown family came to stay a couple of days with us. Again, it was nice enough to swim! The kids had a blast. Annie still asks where Lyndie is. :) I felt so spoiled in February…twice in one month? Whoever would have thought it possible between our busy schedules.


Marisa and I have been friends for a decade now, and I am so grateful to her for the influence and friend that she is in my life.

funday friday, 10-15-2010


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Family Date Night was that much more fun because of the company that joined us. We don’t see Tio Rob’s face as much lately because of his MBA program schedule so we were grateful to have a few precious moments of fun with him.

We have yet to carve our $20 pumpkin for fear it will rot before Halloween. I guess I really have learned a thing or two since moving to the desert. Although, I suppose it is finally time to break out the knives and scoopers!

to yosemite and beyond


Need I say anything??? Totally AMAZING!


We are so glad we took this side trip on our way home from vacation. We have wanted to visit Yosemite for years. Our day trip drive-thru confirmed that we must go back and explore this American Gem for our next family vacation! The little speck of a rock in between our heads below is Half Dome. It was much more majestic in person.


On the way home we thought we would take the long way (not on purpose–teehee). We ended up in the middle of Nowhere Cali/Nevada. We climbed some amazing passes and found some amazing views, but we were a bit worried about our gas and bathroom needs. The roads were pretty windy for a few hours, and we were all feeling a little queezy. The craziest part of the drive was when we came to a one-lane road on the windy pass. That’s how narrow and curvy the roads were.

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Good thing I have such amiable children, and an adventurous husband. They kept my annoyance at bay. :)

the mccracken greats meet the ninos

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Great Grandpa and Great Grandma McCracken
Redding, CA
August 2010

We were met with a delicious dinner, delightful smiles, and crafts galore from grandma and grandpa. They were so excited for us to arrive, and we were so excited to finally be there. This was the first face-to-face meeting between the ninos and these particular greats. We will cherish this long awaited memory for a really long time.

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Mt. Shasta

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Such a pretty drive from Portland to Redding. It doesn’t get much prettier!