Sunday, September 30, 2012

Illinois Trip: All Our Bags Are Packed...

Dallas' grandparents are serving a mission in Nauvoo, Illinois and will be finishing at the end of October.  We really wanted to make sure that we were able to visit them and the historic sites of our Church's history before their mission finished.  When my parents told us that they were thinking about driving back through the midwest for a 3 week vacation and that they would love to pick us up and take us to Nauvoo, we jumped at the offer.  We bought tickets to Chicago and started nervously planning our flight with little Daxton.  
Last Thursday our dear friend, Allyson, took us to the SFO airport after days of worrying about all the little things that needed to be done before flying.  I have flown all over the world and yet I have never been nervous until last week.  Maybe it was the momma bear coming out of me or maybe it was the nervousness of not wanting to upset passengers around us in case little Daxton started to cry, whatever the main the time we made it through security, checked our stroller and car seat at the gate, and sat down in our seats I was a nervous mess.  Daxton was a rockstar though.  He curiously looked around (thank heavens Virgin America has crazy purple lighting in their planes), watched all the different people walking by, and then for take off he ate and fell asleep.  Not too bad, little man!  He slept for almost the entire flight, waking up only to feed again and to play with daddy for a bit.  On descent he cried for 5 minutes, but I nursed him again and he was able to calm himself as the plane landed.  Everyone was very impressed with him and we were so grateful his discomfort was minimal.  What a blessing that everything went well and that he was able to sleep on our flight.  My arms were exhausted and felt like jello by the time we landed, but talk about some great snuggling along the way!

Riding the tram to our terminal at SFO

Excited about his first plane ride

First Family Flight

Watching the clouds roll by...

 I was a very happy mommy to get so many wonderful snuggles!
Now let's just hope he does as well going home!

Photo of the Week 53

Playing Peekaboo with my little man

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Goat Rock State Beach

After leaving our campsites in Gualala (and taking a feeding break at Fort Ross) we met up with everyone at Goat Rock State Beach located in Jenner, CA.  Dallas and I both agree that it was one of the most scenic beaches we had been to along the California Coast.  The Russian River meets with the Pacific Ocean and creates a pretty cool sand bar running along the river's edge.  It is a perfectly safe swimming and kayaking area because of the calm waters pooled along the sand barrier; in contrast to the strong undertow of the ocean side of the beach.  The pictures below were taken from an over look at the beginning of Jenner looking down at the Russian River and the entrance to the Pacific.  You can also make out the large family of seals (about 30 of them along with their pups) that call this their home.  They love to lay out on the small piece of isolated beach. 
 When we started the descending drive into Jenner the weather was overcast, but by the time we circled around the lagoon, across the river, and drove out to Goat Rock Beach, the skies had cleared for a beautifully sunny afternoon in the sand.  Everyone enjoyed a picnic lunch, played in the sand, and relaxed watching the wild life.
 Daxton had not slept since that morning, so by the time we got to the beach he was exhausted and pretty mad that we were taking him out of his car seat.  Once he was snuggled tight into the baby carrier and shielded from the sun, he settled down and slept on daddy's chest.
 Picnicking while watching the waves
 Sean showing off his killer daddy skills with sweet Abby
 A not so happy Daxton, mad that the sun is shining on him.  His "mad" consists of a serious stink eye without crying, so we can handle that.  It was fun trying to get a family picture together though.
 The south end of the beach was covered with really cool rocks and had an amazing view out to the arch.
 I could spend all day laying out at the beach listening to the waves crash against the shore.
 While trying to capture these 'footprint' shots I was kneeling in the sand...not the best idea when you're wearing long jeans.  Needless to say a sneaker wave came up and got me from my thighs down.  I was totally wet for the remainder of the day.
The absolute highlight of the day was seeing two whales off the coastline.  I wish I could have captured better images of them, but by the time I would see them surface I wouldn't have enough time to get the camera in position.  It was against the sun as well, which made it very difficult to see in the view finder.  
Here are the images I did capture...

The first whale sighting off in the distance (the spray from the blow hole right in the middle of the picture.)
 The whale is getting a little closer...
 And closer...
 And closer...
(I like the spray in this picture)
 We seriously thought it was going to get beached with how close it was getting to land.  You can see the waves crashing right below where the spray of the blow hole is pictured.
 When we walked to the north end of the beach another whale came close to shore.  You can see how close it is getting to the beach in this shot.
 Swimming back out to sea...
 I was pretty much out of control at this point, so Dallas had a blast teasing me about my obnoxiousness.
The walk up to the north end of the beach was gorgeous.  This is where the river meets ocean and where all the seals hang out.  They have created a cement barrier of sorts to help calm the waters from the ocean waves.  There is still a good current pushing the water out to sea, but much calmer than the riptides on the other side of the beach.
 Standing on the cement barrier, looking at the family of seals and their pups.
 Next to the cement barrier, on the river side of the beach, there is a huge sand drop off that several kids were jumping off of.  Little Adri had to give it a try.  I love her cute curls blowing in the wind!
 She quickly found that it was much harder trying to climb back up!
Smart use of the jacket, Sean!
 We spent several hours exploring the beach and watching the whales and seals.  It was the perfect day in my book!  And little Daxton, snuggled up next to daddy, slept the entire time.
As we were leaving Goat Rock State Beach we found the most amazing look out showing off the gorgeous coastline.
I do love California!
 We stopped about ten minutes south on HWY 1 in Bodega Bay for dinner...fresh fish and chips.  Nothing beats fresh seafood after a fun day at the beach!  Daxton woke up in the best mood, ate, and then sat mesmerized on my lap through all of dinner.  I guess he's never seen a glass bottle before??  I love his facial expressions.
It was such a great weekend, with wonderful friends and Daxton did so well.  Not too bad for his first camping trip!
Thanks for the great time everybody!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fort Ross: Windermere Point

One of the benefits of breast feeding is getting to stop every three hours of whatever it is I'm doing to just spend time with my little man; undivided attention me and my guy.  We realized on our summer road trip that these feeding breaks could lead to gorgeous pictures.  After we packed up our campsites everyone decided to head to Goat Rock State Beach where the Russian River meets the ocean.  It's located in the small beach town of Jenner about 45 minutes south of Gualala and 10 minutes north of Bodega Bay.  On our drive along HWY 1, Daxton needed to eat, so we pulled over in the small town of Fort Ross at Windermere Point.  While I was feeding our little man, Dallas was able to take some amazing pictures of our gorgeous view.  I'm in love with the colors, ocean, cliffs, and light house.  I'm constantly amazed by the beauty of the California Coast.

Here are some of the beautiful images Dallas captured...

Camping in Gualala

The other weekend we decided to do something a little crazy.
We decided to take our five month old up the coast with friends for a fun weekend of camping.  We always said that we wanted to still do fun things when we had kids.  We had seen several of our friends restrict activities because they had children and didn't want to "deal" with the added challenges of traveling with them.  We promised ourselves that we would still travel as much as possible, since we enjoy it so much, and that we would bring our little guy along for the ride.  Obviously we have him in mind as well and try to make sure that our adventures aren't hard on our little guy.
About a month ago, we were outside talking with our neighbors, all whom were enjoying the different activities of summer.  One family had just returned from camping and mentioned that they were wanting to go again before the weather got too cold.  We had just gotten back from a road trip through the Avenue of Giants and already had camping among the redwoods on our minds.  So when they suggested that we get a group together to go on the last camping trip of the summer, we were super excited to join in on the fun!
Our friend, Jen, spearheaded the event, finding the campsite, getting reservations, etc.  Camping in California is SO different than what Dallas and I were used to.  With my experiences in central Washington and Utah, you would drive up to the mountains whenever you felt like it, choose a nice secluded spot, and set up camp.  Same with Dallas with his experiences in Wyoming.  That is not the usual case in California, especially in the high demanded areas among the redwoods.  We had to call in for reservations weeks in advance, the campsites were super close, and there were nice bathrooms with showers on site.  I was loving not having to use an outhouse or "go" in the bushes.  Surprisingly, having strangers on either sides of us, didn't bother me like I thought it would.  All of our separate campsites were right next to each other, with us on the end, but we all used one campfire to cook and hangout near.
 The other families left Thursday morning to head up to Gualala, but with Dallas' work schedule, we weren't able to leave til Friday around noon.  It is only a little over 2 hours to reach the campsite, but with construction and then getting caught behind a trailer on the infamously curvy HWY 1, it took us around 3 hours.
 I loved how at each of the campsites there were large fallen redwoods that had been carved into forts for the kids to explore.  I kept thinking how much my nieces and nephews would love it here. 
 Since getting married, Dallas and I have not gone camping, mostly due to the fact that we had no gear and also because the opportunity never seemed to present itself.  For this trip we still didn't have any gear, but my brother let us borrow his tent, tarp, lantern, flashlights, and sleeping bags.  Their tent is huge, fitting their whole family of 7, so we figured we'd have more than enough room to bring along Daxton's portable crib.  Our main concern for our little guy was keeping him warm.  Camping in Northern California can get very cold, especially if your close to the ocean like we were.  The humidity and fog seem to just settle among the redwoods which can really chill the temperature.  We decided to wrap blankets around the outside of his crib, so no cold air would blow in through the sides.  We also thought if we each slept on one side of the crib that would help with blocking out some of the cold air as well.  In addition, we had him sleeping in two sets of thick footed sleepers, a beanie, and three blankets wrapped around him.  When he woke in the morning, he was nice and toasty, except for his nose and cheeks that were exposed to the cold air.

 We had a blast hanging out with everyone.
Our neighbors, the Jones, brought their boy, Drew and our other neighbors, the Shelleys, brought their two children, Kayla and Preston, along with an adorable couple in the ward, Renee and Deborah Contreras.  Our other neighbors, the Marshalls, brought their three girls, Abby, Adri, and Penelope.  Penelope is a couple months younger than Daxton and it was nice to have another baby along for the journey.  The Marshalls are pretty amazing and are constantly going on new adventures.  We love to hear all about their trips.  They will be moving to Mexico at the end of October for a few months just for fun...yeah we wish we had their flexibility and bravery!
 Playing among the redwoods
 You can tell from the picture above, the kids had a full day of fun, so they were exhausted by the time dinner and roasting marshmallows came around.  Daxton was literally spell-bound by the flames.  He sat contentedly, bundled up on my lap, watching the flames.  Then we would rock him to sleep on our laps for his nap or in his carseat/stroller.  He did so good!

Roasting Marshmallows
 Mesmerized by the flames.
We all stayed up close to midnight before going to bed for the night.  Daxton did pretty well.  I was so nervous for several reasons.  Because our campsites were so close, I didn't want to upset other campers by having a crying baby up all night and I couldn't stop worrying about whether he was warm enough.  You can see in the top right picture below how bundled up our little guy was.  We didn't cover the top of his crib, of course, to make sure he got enough air, so his face was pretty chilly when he got up the next morning, the rest of him was super toasty.  We had him decked out in two different pairs of pjs and three warm blankets.  I worried all night long and every hour would peak through the side of his crib to see if he was ok.  It made for a long night!  He slept soundly from midnight to 6:30am and then woke up screaming (literally about scaring me half to death.)  After feeding him he didn't want to go back to sleep, so I was quite the tired mommy.  I walked him around as he looked up at the trees and watched the blue birds land around camp.  He then fell asleep around 7:30am in my arms and didn't wake up again til after arms were dead by the end of the morning!
 Snuggling with my little man all morning
 We obviously weren't the only exhausted ones.
Penelope seemed to do great though, you could tell this wasn't her first time sleeping out in the woods!
 Once everyone was awake, we made breakfast, hung out and talked, then started to pack up camp.  From the pictures, it's pretty obvious that Daxton enjoyed his first camping experience.  And he seemed to also love wearing his beanie, which was a huge blessing!
Daxton has quite the crush on Abby and her gorgeous hair!
He's into the older women, like his daddy...
 Thank heaven for footsie pajamas.  He was wearing size 6 month and then a size 9 month over the top, so you can tell that they are both pretty baggy on him, but at least he stayed warm.

These pictures melt my heart.
Jen snuggling with Drew.
I hope that when Daxton's grown, he'll still want to sit on my lap and snuggle every now and then.  So sweet!

Some of my favorite images from around camp...
All in all, I'd say it was a pretty successful trip...
At least Daxton seemed to get a kick out of it!

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