Saturday, June 30, 2012

Union Gap Ag Museum

I'll leave most of the gritty details of the drive back from Walla Walla to Jonathan; needless to say we will not be planning any cross country road trips with children anytime soon.  That is much more family togetherness in close quarters than we can handle right now!

However we did find interesting things on our way back.  In Yakima the kids were ready for lunch and a break to stretch their legs.  While in the local McDonalds we saw not one but two full court quinceaneras  stopping for a bite to eat between festivities.  Both arrived in stretch hummers.  Melissa was awed by the elaborate "princess" dresses.  She was a bit disappointed to learn that quineanera isn't a part of our family's culture, so no, we wouldn't be throwing an elaborate 15th birthday party.

We'd forgotten Corinna's sippy cups in Walla Walla and needed sunglasses for the return trip so after lunch Jonathan dropped us off at a nearby park and stopped at a drug store.  Posted near the park were signs for the Central Washington Agricultural Museum, so when the children tired of playing jedi knights in the park with the other kids in the park, we decided to explore further.

A creek we found on the way to the museum.

 Little factoid I learned:  Yakima is considered a desert and only receives 6-8 inches of rain a year.  Yet it is a farming community due to advances in irrigation from the Yakima river.  The land itself is fertile, just very dry.  Driving through, the hills were brown with small wisps of vegetation except where the river flowed.  There it was lush with trees.

Matthew and Melissa checking out an old, fully-equipped chuck wagon.

Water wagon

The museum is located on 17 acres and there are walk-through and drive through portions.  The walking parts had little restored houses and cabins with a lot of attention to detail from the furniture right down to the toys, clothes, and kitchen gadgets from 100+ years ago.  There were also sheds filled with buggies, harnesses, and all kinds of tools.

Dad, this tractor is as old as you!

Rows and rows of old farming equipment. See the barren hills?  They extend for many miles; the Yakima river that snakes through the valley offers the only bit of green anywhere.  

A 100 year-old combine harvester (1910)

Acres and acres of farm equipment used to make the desert fruitful.

 This detour was a pleasant little find and offered a much needed break from driving. Certainly unique!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Walla Walla

"So nice they named it twice!"

Grandma and Grandpa settled in Walla Walla when my dad was little and they raised their four children in the same house in which they are still living.  I remember many wonderful summers visiting them in the country, and wanted to pass some of that onto my children.  When I was a child, we spent hours playing in the creek catching crawdads with the cousins, finding clams, daydreaming in the lazy afternoon sun on the wooden bridge, swinging from the weeping willow branches, playing with the wooden handcart, and having huge water fights with my uncles.  Grandpa would give us rides on his tractor and we'd help Grandma pick fresh vegetables and berries from the garden.  From a child's perspective it was pretty idyllic. As an adult I'm a little more aware of the behind the scenes work, everything from packing, driving, unpacking, general pickup, all of the cooking and preparation Grandma does, the watching and preventing of small children from drowning in the creek or spring or getting smashed in the road, well, it's a lot more work vacationing as an adult than as a kid!  Still, it is more than worth it to spend time with family.

After playing in the creek, Melissa saw the sprinkler watering the lawn and decided to cool off.  Corinna thought that looked like fine idea and joined her.

Melissa stepped on the sprinkler holding back the water until Corinna got close and then moved her foot spraying them both.  The first time Corinna was startled, but after that she anticipated the spray and they both laughed and laughed when the water hit.  They played this game over and over again.

Cousin Tad kindly offered to take Matthew fishing in the creek.  Matthew has been dying to go fishing all summer.  Nearly every day he's nagged us, his beleaguered parents, "When are we going fishing?  Huh?  Huh?"  So THANK YOU Tad.  He and Matthew went into the horse pasture and spent about an hour fishing.  He showed Matthew some new techniques and the two of them talked fish.

They managed to catch two small fish.  Matthew was delighted.

Tad left a fishing pole behind so Matthew could go fishing the next day.   First thing the next morning before anyone else got up, Matthew went fishing.  He caught a small trout but encountered trouble in unhooking it.  Not long after a neighbor lady, Sandy, walked past, and he asked for her help in unhooking the fish.  She obliged but by then the fish had died.  Still he and she chatted and he proudly showed off the worms that he and Melissa had dug up the night before.  Sandy mentioned that she had a robin that she liked to feed in her front yard and Matthew gave her his fish for the bird.  Later, to show his gratitude for her help, Matthew dug up some more worms for Sandy's robin and gave them to her.

We went to Fort Walla Walla Museum while there.  One of the highlights was the playground.

Matthew took some pictures of a restored clubhouse for boys.

A 33 mule combine with Melissa, Matthew, and cousin Amber.

An old jail cell from the state pen.

Amber and Aunt Candy joined us for the trip and we really enjoyed having them with us.  Matthew and Melissa had a lot of fun at the museum.  Isaac and Corinna, on the other hand, petered out early.  "I go hooome," moaned Isaac and Corinna echoed his complaints with baby hoots, so Jonathan took them to play McDonalds.  While the little ones were gone, Matthew and Melissa explored the old restored shops, houses, and school, admired the 150 year old dresses, hats, and jewelry (Melissa), uniforms and guns (Matthew), and they both liked the "I spy" portion in which they found various objects in the display scenes.  They also got a history lesson on wheat farming and walked away with a better appreciation for the hot, dirty, hard job it was back in the day.  Hopefully some of the history of the Lewis and Clark expedition stuck in their heads too.

While there, we had a cousin game night.  Amy and Aubrey just cleaned up with Set.  Aunt Candy, Amber and I mainly provided the, uh, stimulating conversation while those two smoked us.  After that I taught them Dominion and we played a round, which was fun too.  It was great seeing my cousins again and I hope to have another game night soon.  Thanks ladies!  Maybe an online rematch?  Anyone?

Uncle Dan took a look at the car for us, "Your folks still have that piece of junk?  And it still runs?  I wouldn't trust it driving around town!"  He saw to it that we could make it back safely.  Unfortunately it still leaks, but we have a coolant/water solution for when it gets low.  We weren't the only ones with car trouble though.  Grandma and Grandpa took our family out to dinner our last night in Walla Walla.  Afterward we drove home and waited for them to join us.  And waited.  And waited.  Alarmed, Jonathan took the van back to see what the problem might be.  When he got back to the restaurant he discovered that their car battery had died, and in the pouring rain no less.  Poor Grandma and Grandpa!  All in all I was relieved though, since I was worried it was much worse.  Eventually everyone got home safe and sound.

At 83 years young, Grandpa is still game for a tractor ride, much to the kids' delight!

Here Matthew is driving a 1942 John Deer.  
Over in Grandpa's adjacent field we watched the hay baler bale the hay.  

Grandpa took Isaac and Melissa out for a spin his Kubota.  

Grandma, Grandpa, granddaughter Amber, and some of the great-grandkids.  

Melissa is hugging Grandma's new dog Maggie.  The kids LOVED her, and while she was pretty patient with their incessant attention I don't believe the love was fully reciprocated.  Poor dog!

Grandma, Grandpa and me.  
See the family resemblance?
In this picture it looks like Corinna is coming up to see me.  Nope, she's trying to get her baby hands on the dog.

(Thanks Aunt Candy for taking the pictures!)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Road Trip

After Jonathan flew in with the kids Sunday night, he left Monday for a meeting in California.  The kids and I planned a trip later that week to Walla Walla to spend more time with Grandma and Grandpa Sinden.  Me, being an optimist, thought that while the drive would be long, with the right diversions and plenty of potty breaks it would be fairly straight forward.  After all, I had made the trip with three kids two years ago, what's one more?

Brian offered me the use of his minivan to make the trek with the following cravats:
1. the van leaked oil
2. the a/c doesn't work and
3. it has over 200,000 miles on it.

Frugal Cheap person that I am, I gratefully accepted, since I didn't want to fork over $100 a day on a rental.  

It practically takes an act of Congress to get all of the assorted kid and baby things organized, packed, and loaded in the car for a trip.  It never ceases to amaze how much stuff four children need, ranging from the clothes, books, snacks, baby crib, jackets, shoes, blankets, assorted over-the-counter medications, bathroom supplies, electronics, toys, et cetera.  We left sometime after 9, still fairly close to our target time of between 8:30-9.  

Our first pit stop was still in Puyallup to fill up with gas and put more air in the rear tires.  Nobody needed to use the bathroom yet- good.  Onward!  About an hour later we were cruising through Snoqualmie pass when I noticed the car overheating.  The extent of my car knowledge was hot engine = very bad, so we immediately pulled over to the side of the road and I called my Dad.  He suggested we wait 10 minutes for it to cool, and then take it slowly to the next exit to a gas station.  Which we did.  Fortunately North Bend wasn't too far away.  We topped off with water in Bend, checked the oil, said a family prayer for safe travel to Walla Walla, and then kept a careful eye on the temperature gauge.  This little excursion added an additional 40 minutes to our trip. 

211,111 miles!  Brian, this one's for you.

Thankfully the car behaved.  Mostly.  It was on the trip that I discovered that while the a/c didn't work at all, the heat worked a little too well.  Even with the heat and fan theoretically OFF, the car vents still heated the car.  We kept the windows rolled down the entire way.  It was loud, but on the bright side it did drown out most of the noise from the backseat!

Matthew took some pictures along the way.

Not sure why he was inspired by the trucks...

Between the regularly scheduled and unscheduled potty breaks and a looong layover at Dairy Queen in Ellensburg [population 18,000 plus three times that in cows], we finally pulled in at 4:30 PM.  Corinna did extremely well, up until 4 when she'd finally had enough of the carseat and yelled the rest of the way.   This, naturally, woke up Isaac who also voiced his displeasure, quite loudly.  In addition, my phone's gps couldn't get a signal once we were within 100 miles, so I had to rely on memory.  I felt pretty confident up until Last Chance road and then called Grandma who directed us the rest of the way.  

It wasn't the best of trips but it wasn't the worst either, and WE MADE IT!  

Open House 6/16

The Mr. and the Mrs.

Why is this man smiling?  With the spread on the tables, what's not to smile about?

Chris and Grandma

Aunt Cyd and Uncle Doug

Bubbles and me

The cupcakes and chocolate covered strawberries were Amazing!

Being goofy

The lovely bride and her parents.

Aunt Charlene and Nana

Grandma and Grandpa Sinden

Uncle Brad playing with darling Mark.  Those two were having a grand time, and Grandpa clearly dotes on his little grandson.

Grandma Van Duker, Nana, and my cuz, Liza!

 Purple shoes!  

Chris made a point of stuffing his face whenever I pulled out the camera.  I have at least 3 more pictures of him chowing down.  

Corinna really took to Aunt Cyd and I sure appreciated be hands free!  Thanks so much Cyd!

Mark and Aunt (Grandma!) Lorraine.


The food was scrumptious, the groom beaming, the bride radiant, the guests joyful, the weather cooperated (no rain till after 4), the decorations beautiful; it really was a lovely afternoon!