The Nicolson’s Visit Yellowstone National Park

Day 2 of our trip to Yellowstone National Park for Tristan’s 9th birthday.

We left Eugene, Oregon, yesterday and night stopped in Burns, Oregon.  We found a nice Good Sam campground right off the road.  We will also stay there on our return trip. While in Burns we found a nice city park for the kids to burn off a little energy.

Today we took a short 4-hour drive to Mountain Home, Idaho.  It is a KOA, although a rather rundown one. Once we got checked in (which was a challenge), we unhooked and headed into Boise for dinner and a walk along the river.  We found a nice Irish pub and a well-deserved pint. The weather was kind of crazy today.  When we left for Boise, we hit a rain storm and the temperature dropped from 94 to 73 in a matter of 5 minutes.  It lasted for about 10 miles, then we were back in the 90s



It seems like we have been pulling the trailer uphill for the last two days.  We never seemed to go downhill much.  The elevation change was only a 2,772 foot increase, although it seemed like much more.  The Toyota Sequoia did a fantastic job of pulling the 2008 24’ Keystone Passport even if we only got an average of 9.7 MPG.

Tomorrow we head to the KOA at West Yellowstone.  We are meeting up with some of our best friends along the way, and they will be joining us for our adventures.  It’s been too long since we have seen them, and we are all looking forward to the adventure.

Happy Trails!

First camping trip of the year – 2013

This last weekend we took our first camping trip of the year. It was my birthday and Michelle planned a weekend away in Ashland Oregon. The weather was beautiful for this time of year, we had 88 degree temps. We stayed at Glenyan RV and campsite just outside of Ashland, which was a very nice place with a little stream running through the park. I love Ashland for all that it offers for both summer and winter activities. Mt Ashland ski resort is just a short 30 minute drive up the road, and then there is the Shakespeare festival, and all the great food. Great food being a relative term depending on your taste. We have been to Ashland several times but only eaten at one restaurant. I love the Black Sheep Pub, coming from England I enjoy the traditional pub atmosphere, food and drink.

On Saturday we drove up to the ski area just to look around. We have yet to ski there. In the afternoon we went to “My Fair Lady”. It was a fantastic performance. The kids did great during this 3 hour show. Tristan’s favorite part was “Eliza where are my slippers!”. Yep it was funny, guess you had to be there though. We ate and drank at the Black Sheep twice that day. On Sunday it was mother’s day, we had a slow start to the day packing up the trailer and taking a walk with Sadie. We checked out late so that we could go into town for a brunch. Yep you guessed it; we ate at the Black Sheep.

All in all I had a great birthday weekend tied in with mother’s day. The kids were fantastic and it left me looking forward to the next trip. This happens to be this upcoming weekend. Daddy Daughter camping weekend.

Tele-Fest 2013 @ Hoodoo Oregon

Family Ski Day

This weekend I helped put on the annual Tele-Fest that my friend runs at Hoodoo, Oregon.  Tristan has wanted to come with me for several years.  This year he was old enough to come and be a real help.  We camped out up at Hoodoo the night before the event which Tristan really enjoyed.  The next day Michelle and Rachel joined us.  It was a fantastic day.

The kids have been skiing since they were 2 years old.  Since I was tied up with the event most of the day, we chose to put them both in ski lessons for a few hours, which they really enjoyed.

I had the opportunity to break away from the day to ski a while with them in the afternoon.  Being an avid skier myself, it warmed my heart to see how good my kids can ski and how much they truly enjoy the sport.  They are both solid Blue (intermediate) skiers.

Tristan is able to link his turns and uses the wedge Tristan @ Tele-Fest9minimally while controlling his speed very well on the slopes.

Rachel is more like I was when I started at 8 years old.

Rachel @ Hoodoo

Does a great job at making her turns and can stop, but has no issue with just going straight down the steep slopes only making a few turns along the way.

Very proud of my little kiddos!!!

Untraditional Thanksgiving

Once again this year we chose to celebrate Thanksgiving in an untraditional way.  Instead of sitting around and making a huge meal and veg’ing for the weekend, we escaped.  We are putting our new trailer to good use.  Historically we head to the Portland Zoo around this time of year to let the kids see the Zoo Lights, which we have done for a couple of years.  We have also gone to Wildlife Safari for their Christmas lights.  This year we wanted to visit the Christmas lights at Shore Acres down by Coos Bay, Oregon.

We loaded up the trailer and the kids on Thanksgiving Day and headed south on the Oregon coast.  We booked into the campsite at the Mill Casino in North Bend.  Not the traditional place to take kids. The RV Park is away from the casino, yet we had all the amenities at the hotel.  The kids loved that we could use the hotel pool, the hot tub and, most importantly for them, the arcade.  We spent a fair amount of time in the arcade with the kids, aka the kid version of the slot machines.  There were several of those machines that you put in $.50 and get a cheap plastic toy.  Tristan decided he needed one of the plastic people holding various sports balls.  Unfortunately his first attempt got him the soccer ball guy and NOT the baseball guy he really wanted.  Three more attempts yielded him the same result.  He wanted to try again, but we headed him off. We then used this as a learning experience relating his desire to keep putting money in on the chance that he would get the guy he wanted to the people playing slots down the hall.

In addition to visiting the Christmas lights, playing around the campsite and swimming in the pool, we also went to a couple of beaches.  We found two really nice beaches on the way to Shore Acres.  The kids loved splashing around in the surf, checking out the tidal pools and digging in the sand.  All in all they got wet and messy, not exactly what Dad likes, but I tried to go with the flow.

Our last camping trip to the coast was less than stellar. This trip, however, was fantastic.  Everyone got along well; kids interacted well and did not fight.

Happy Trails

Nomophobia, Fear of Being Without a Mobile Phone.

We live in a world where computers are everything; we cannot seem to get through the day without them in some form or fashion.  Whether it is a laptop, desktop, iPad, iPod, iPhone, Droid, MacBook, etc., we have become addicted to these electronic devices that were supposed to save us time by increasing our efficiency and independence.  There is also a new medical term for those who cannot seem to put them down: “Nomophobia, Fear of Being Without a Mobile Phone.”  All this to say, we feel the need to be connected.

So what do you do when you are not connected? Do you have more than one device for a backup, borrow a friend’s, or just survive? That was the situation I was in a few weeks ago.  My laptop stopped recognizing the CD player.  I had put this off for some time as I was unable to fix the issue myself and knew I needed to take it in for repair.  It finally came to a head when I really needed to use it, so I took it in.  I felt like I was parting with a good friend and was constantly waiting for the call to come pick it up.  After two days I was able to pick up the computer.  I suddenly felt a little more complete.  Once I got the unit home, I powered it up to ensure the problem was fixed. It was a relief, or so I thought.

But when I went to open ITunes to sync my iPod, I got an error.  This was a new issue that was not present when the computer went in for repair.  Even with the error, iTunes opened and I connected my iPod.  Things still seemed to be working fine.  Once the iPod was synced, I went to use the iPod.  I noticed that all of my music and movies had been deleted.  OMG!!!

I had to take it back to the shop.  After four days it was determined that the registry was corrupt and the computer needed reformatted.  If you have ever had to have this done, you know it is like starting back with a new computer. You need to reload ALL of your software and set up all of your settings.  Luckily the store recognized their error and backed up all of my programs and restored them for me.  All-in-all the computer was gone for another eight days.

Luckily I was able to use my wife’s spare computer (yes, we have a spare).  All in all we have 5 laptops and two iPods that connect to the internet in our house for two adults.  Our son uses one of the laptops for school work occasionally.  Even with all of these resources in the house, I still felt disconnected and frustrated as my primary machine was missing.

These machines that were supposed to save us all this time have become the things that consume our lives.  They get used at work, and then we come home and go straight to the computer to see what we might have missed on the drive home.

Is this our new reality? Am I the only one that feels so connected to my electronic devices? Even when traveling we look for places where we can “CONNECT.”  It’s amazing that life actually happened prior to computers and the Internet!!!!

Birthday Adventures

We are continuing our birthday theme this year for the kids.  We did not have official birthday parties where we invite 10-15 friends.  Instead we took Tristan to a water park in July, and Rachel wanted to follow suit.  Today we went to the new water park in McMinnville, Oregon.  The water park is at the air and space museum.  A must if you are ever close.  The Evergreen Air and Space Museum is right next door to the pool and owned by the same people.

What makes this waterpark so amazing is not just that they have 10 waterslides with more than 2,000 feet of sliding surface, but that 4 of those slides come out of the escape slides on a REAL Boeing 747 aircraft that was retired from service in 2008.  The Evergreen 747 was stripped down and mounted on top of the building.  There are so many activities for kids, including slides, wave pools, spa, water play structure that dumps 300 gallons of water from a helicopter every few minutes, leisure pool, and science activities upstairs.

When we first thought about going here, I must admit that I was a little daunted by the price.  It cost $30.00 per person plus $7.00 for a locker.  So we were into it for $127.00 and were just hoping the kids liked it and that Rachel especially enjoyed the BIG slides.  Well we spent 6 ¼ hours there with only a very “quick” lunch.  We spent all the time in the water.  We had an amazing time, and I also put the cost into perspective.  Where else could we go and have so much fun for $5.30 per person per hour.  Their food was also reasonably priced.  We all ate well for $19.50.

It was one of those family days that you dream of, especially during the difficult times.  We left the house around 8 am and got home at 7 pm.  Not once during that time did the kids fight, complain, argue, fuss, whine, or generally be unpleasant.  Michelle and I found ourselves truly enjoying the family time and celebrating Rachel’s early birthday.  After the waterpark we also spend an hour at the air and space museum.

All in all this was a wonderful day that I will try to hold on to, especially tomorrow when I’m sure we will all go back to normal.

Thankful for those times.

Happy Trails

Family rejection

Rejection is never easy but it has a different feel/meaning when it comes from one of your pets.

We have had our cat Kendra for about 3 ½ years.  She was adopted from Greenhill Humane Society in Eugene, Oregon.  Kendra has always been a little skittish and had difficulty settling in.  She did however settle in eventually, becoming quite good friends with our dog Sadie.  However, we then adopted a little black kitten named Percy.  The dog got along with both cats but the cats never got along.  During this time our babies were growing and becoming little explorers full of energy and fast pace.  Kendra never liked all of the high energy of small children.

We tried to make Kendra an indoor cat when we adopted her, but it became apparent that she wanted to go out.  On the whole she never strayed far but as time progressed she started staying out for a couple of days at a time.  Then there was the time when she was gone for a month.  We were sure she had been hit by a car, but then one morning she strolled through the door.

In early July 2012 Kendra left the house early one morning never to return.  We posted signs all over the neighborhood but never found her.  One day a neighbor suggested putting up some signs in a retirement community a short distance from where we lived.  The day we placed some signs, I received a call from an elderly lady saying the “I might have your cat and if you would like to call me, I would be happy to talk to you about her.”  After nearly 3 months of looking for our cat, we finally found her.  She looked very healthy and happy.

Kendra was not kept locked up or even went inside this lady’s house.  She was free to roam around and came and went from this lady’s house throughout the day for food and love.  As the crow flies, we lived less than ¼ mile away from this house.  It became apparent that she was not lost; she chose to leave us and find a calmer more relaxing environment.

After I got past the emotion of being rejected by MY cat, I found myself being just happy that she was alive and happy.   We were so excited to get the call while at our children’s school that we did not think and took them with us.  Our children were so happy to see Kendra but devastated when she did not want to come home with us.

We will see what the next few days bring.  Having seen us, will she come back to us?  Has she gone for good?  The nice thing is that we can go by and visit.  The kids are already asking when we can go and how long we can stay.

Being rejected is hard – but we have been rejected as a family.

Lincoln City, Oregon – Where all things were not quite as they appear!!!

This last weekend we traveled over to Lincoln City, Oregon, for a short weekend away with the kids.   Lincoln City is located on the scenic Oregon Coast and situated 11 feet above sea level.  There a beautiful sandy beaches where you can make sand castles, fly kites and generally relax. The kids enjoyed flying their kites and digging in the sand to reach water.  This was very exciting.  They also took the opportunity to run in the surf and in general get wet and sandy, but had a good time.

While we were at the beach we also saw some Kitesurfing.  This is an amazing sport that we had not seen before.  We saw people jump the surf and literally fly for several hundred feet.

We also traveled about 1 hour north to the town of Tillamook where the Tillamook Cheese Factory is located. We had a nice time touring and sampling the cheese products.

The kids played soccer, played in the park, took walks, played on the beach, saw new scenery and generally had a great time, or so it appeared in small snapshots.

I would love to say that this was a nice relaxing weekend however; it was not one of our better ones.  While the kids had moments of pleasure playing with each other and enjoying the time away, they were short lived.  Most of the time they spent at each other’s throats bickering and tattling.  As you can imagine, this did not make for understanding and relaxed parents.  When we left today we had planned to take the trailer down the Oregon coast and head inland at Florence. However their behavior left us wanting the fastest and most direct route home.

I’m sure we are not the only ones that have experienced trips like this and I’m sure it will not be the last; nevertheless it does not make this trip less disappointing.  Our youngest last night, after not been given what she had wanted, even went as far as to say, “It’s not fair, we’ve done nothing fun this trip.”

So I’m left with the thought of a “do-over” — do we get do-overs as parents? Did we add to this dismal weekend or are we just at that stage of life where an 8 year old boy and an almost 6 year old girl start to push the boundaries even further than they have in the past? Is this our new reality until the next phase?

We do love our familiy, the trailer and all the adventures they bring however; at the moment I cannot quite picture the next trip.

Happy trails!

Boys Camping Weekend

This last weekend we embarked on our annual boys camping weekend. This is something we started 3 years ago. Tristan really wanted to go camping, and we also wanted some one-on-one time with the kids. For the first two trips we all camped in tents. This year was the first time we took two travel trailers. Boy what a difference. It was nice to have some of the mod-cons of home. It was my kind of camping with heater, air conditioning, microwave and bathroom. Yes, I am going soft in my old age.

This year we had 5 boys and 4 dads who came along. The last two years we went to Clear Lake Resort in Oregon. This year one of the other dads coordinated the planning of the trip, and we went to Twin Lakes Resort near Bend, Oregon. The resort is located in central Oregon and just minutes from the peaks of the Cascade Mountains. The scenery is amazing.

Twin Lakes Resort is a great place with lots for the kids to do. We went swimming and kayaking in the lake, mountain bike riding over some little jumps, and played lots of games. The kids had more snacks and treats that they normally would, especially since the mums were not there. If they were quiet and safe and eating treats, all was good. The boys had a great time. Our trailer has four bunk beds and the first night they were all full with the boys. Two of the dads lucked out with their tents all to themselves.

It’s not all for the young boys. The big boys had some fun too. We stayed up and played poker and cribbage and drank a little. It was my first time playing poker, and I’m pleased to say I beat the others in three straight games. Beginner’s luck, I guess. I would be remised if I did not mention the food. Boy did we eat well. We divvy up the meals so that not everyone is cooking and to ensure we do not double up on everything. Everyone is assigned a meal to prep and cook along with bringing the supplies. There was SO MUCH good food; we have some great cooks.

Unfortunately Rachel is the only girl in the group; none of the others have younger sisters. Rachel and I went on our own little camping trip a few weeks before this one. Once she starts public school next week, my hope is that she will find a friend that we could start this tradition with — a daddy-daughter camping trip with some of her friends.

We had such a great time at this location that we booked next year’s trip before we left and decided we needed to extend it by one day. While these trips have always been fun, they are certainly getting more so and easier as the kids get older.

Camp Yale

This last weekend we went camping with some friends of ours at Camp Yale.  Camp Yale is located approximately 56 miles east of Eugene, Oregon, and is part of Belknap Hot Springs.  Belknap Hot Springs is located on the McKenzie River.  The hot springs are mineral based and normally run around 104 degrees.  It is a wonderful way to relax and rejuvenate.

Our campsite was nestled among some trees and had some nice trails.  The kids and their friend Gabe had a lot of fun playing cards, riding bikes, making smores, and swimming in the hot springs among other activities. It’s one thing to go camping on your own, but it is much more fun to go with friends.  We had two trailers side-by-side full of more food than we needed and a wee drink or two.





Saturday night however turned the tides of the weekend.  We still had an enjoyable time, but Rachel got sick around 1 am, which caused us to change the sheet in our bed (yes she had come to our bed because she was not feeling well).  She proceeded to throw-up about every 45 minutes for the remainder of the night.  Michelle went to sleep in Rachel’s bunk bed in an attempt to get a little sleep.  By 6 am Rachel and I got up and went to do laundry.  Luckily the camp site had laundry facilities.

This trip saw no issues with the trailer; thankfully we seem to have resolved all of the initial issues we had with the trailer.  Looking forward to our next trip in a couple of weeks when Tristan and I go off for our father-son camping weekend to Twin Lakes Resort.