Monday, June 28, 2010

the beginning of the end

for those of you who haven't been keeping track, i have been pregnant or breastfeeding (without reprieve) since februrary 2007. that's three and a half YEARS.

now, i don't want to keep everyone on the edges of their seats here, we are not announcing another wheeler baby (word to ken buds and o dawg: tag, you're it).

but i do have some exciting news for sweet baby afton: it's time to wean. hooray!!

or not so much hooray. the above photo was taken right after afton was denied mother's milk and given a bottle instead. you can clearly see how pleased she is with this new development. and i really can't blame her -- after all, poor afton has never even seen a bottle before -- but my sanity is telling me that this little mama needs a break.

and i suppose i shall also need to find another way to burn 600 calories a day. ugh.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

superhero summer

lately summer has been fascinated with the intricate relationship between heroes and villains. naturally, she fancies herself a hero -- and while she hasn't yet come out and explicitly said, i get the impression yours truly is the super-villain she has been called to defeat.

anyway, she understands that heroes need "costumes" of sorts to disguise themselves from humanity and has selected a backpack packin' lamb as her alter ego mascot.

yup. my little crime-fighting farm animal.

super ewe to the rescue!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

beautiful british columbia

while owen and anna were in town visiting, we sojourned to canada for a brief trip to whistler. here's a snapshot overview of our forty-hour tour:

bryan and owen stopping for directions.

summer and afton enjoying the picturesque journey to the lake.

searching for rocks.

throwing the rocks.

bucket hats buds.

working on my tan.

Monday, June 21, 2010

meat and potatoes

whenever we celebrate bryan, we celebrate the food he loves.

our 2010 father's day feast featured filet mignon with goat cheese and a balsamic reduction (full disclosure: the reduction did not make it), lemon-basil baby new potatoes, iceberg wedges with pancetta and creamy gorgonzola dressing:

and spicy chocolate milkshakes for dessert:

all recipes are courtesy of my celebrity super-crush, giada.

a word to the wise: do NOT feed toddlers gorgonzola. between the cheese and the potato skins, summer spent so much of dinner gagging that we eventually just fed her a pint of strawberries.

but maybe that was her scheme all along. clever girl.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

daddy long legs

happy father's day!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 2-3: Central Wilderness Beach

After dinner in Forks, we drove out towards La Push to go to Third Beach. It started as any idyllic beach hike should:

After a couple miles, though, we ran out of beach. To get around the rocky outcroppings, we had to use a series of treacherous ropes to climb up to the headlands. To make matters worse, the sun was setting and we found ourselves tromping through a Fern Gully like forest shin deep in mud.

As the natural light was failing, we decided to make camp at a rocky beach outcropping:

After we set up camp, we noticed that the water level was slowly rising. We were hemmed in on three sides by nearly vertical walls. In a panic, we called Emily (it required holding my cell phone at a precise position to avoid dropping the call) to get the tide charts. She assured us that high tide was only a couple of hours away -- but that didn't stop Owen from tying his boots to his pack in ensure that they wouldn't be swept out to sea.

Behold the illusion of a nice beach side campfire. All the wood was so wet that we couldn't keep it going after half a dozen fire starters had burned out:

The next morning, the tide had receded and left some spectacular tide pools full of starfish, anemones, and mussels:

After exploring for a couple of hours, we broke camp and headed back to the Civic. For the third time, we loaded five people, five large packs, and five sets of bulky snowshoes into a compact sedan:

We pointed the cars back to Seattle and headed home.

OK hardcore fans. Here's a couple of bonus videos. In the first, I demonstrate my superior sliding skills by dominating Owen both in terms of speed and distance.

In this video, Owen demonstrates his superior creek jumping skills (it was about 2.5 feet deep).

I, on the other hand, cleared the creek but failed to stick the landing.

Day 2: High Divide and Back Again

Morning came, and I popped out of my bivy to this view:

For breakfast, our crew enjoyed some "killer sausage." So named as the previous night, we had gone to great lengths to remove all smell-able products from our packs and cache them in bear canisters, and much to my chagrin, I discovered a delicious summer sausage next to my bivy, not in the bear canister. D'oh.

Our spirits were greatly buoyed by the sunlight. We broke camp and melted snow for drinking water:

Mark and Julie headed back down. Owen, Anna, and I continued upward along the High Divide. The fog and clouds rolled back in and the footprints in the snow stopped. We found our way via a combination of GPS and dead reckoning:

Remarkably, we found a trail marker in the midst of the deep snow and trees at 5000':

We pushed forward, traversing steep, snow covered pitches (highest reading on the inclinometer was 47 degrees, though I suspect we covered some steeper terrain that I didn't feel comfortable measuring). After Owen took a fall and a slide and conditions continued to worsen, we decided to head back.

Here's a comparison of our conditions versus a photo from a fellow Flickr user:

After rendezvousing with Mark and Julie, we decided to detour to Forks for some nourishment before heading over to hike Third Beach.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 1: Attempt at Lunch Lake

As Emily mentioned, her brother, Owen, his wife, Anna, Mark and Julie Taylor, and I headed out for a backpacking extravaganza on the Olympic Peninsula. Originally, we planned to hike through the Seven Lakes Basin and the entire High Divide; however, as you will see, our scheme was a tad ambitious for the conditions on the ground. Even Plan B, Central Wilderness Beach, proved to have a few unanticipated hurdles.

But I'll save those details for later; let's start from the beginning.

After grabbing a burger at Frugal's and picking up the obligatory set of bear canisters, we stashed a car at the Boulder Creek trail head and shuttled another car to the Deer Lake trail head. Around 3PM, we hit the trail.

The hike to Deer Lake was typical for western Washington. Rain forest. Water falls. Moss on trees:

At Deer Lake (4 miles, elev: 3600 ft), we started to encounter patchy snow:

Shortly thereafter, the weather turned nasty. The patches of slush soon turned to deep, continuous snow on the trail. Fortunately, someone had left some footprints behind which made route finding straightforward. Most of the terrain was too steep and the snow was too slushy for snow shoes:

By the time 9PM rolled around, the sun was setting, and we still hadn't made it to Lunch Lake. Not knowing how much further we had to go, we carved out flat spots into the steep incline and pitched our tents (avalanche shovels turn out to be quite useful):

After making sure all tents were secure, I carved out a shelf in the snow, huddled down at the bottom of my bivy and prayed that the morning would bring better weather.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

baby, it's cold outside

more photos and stories to come from
northwest trek 2010.

here's a teaser:

Thursday, June 10, 2010


summer's triplets.

northwest trek 2010

as young and feral college freshman, bryan, mark taylor, and owen visited the great state of washington for a wild and crazy mountain biking trip. now, more than ten years later, and in their 30th years (married? mortgages? kids!?), the lads are embarking on another northwest adventure. this time, with the help of their lovely companions, anna (far left), julie (far right), and, uh, NOT little blonde haired emily (though there's a spot for me right there in the middle). i stayed home to tend to my own little rascally adventures.

anyhoo, this rough and tumble group of five has journeyed out into the olympic national forest for a snow, lake, mountain, and black bear filled three day, two night backpacking escapade.

if they are never seen or heard from again, i have included the above photo of their last known sighting: on our front porch before heading out into the great, wide, and *very wet* unknown.

may the north star (and all those maps from REI) be their guide.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

dumb blonde

it's true.

we do have more fun.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

duvall days

here are a few snapshots from the first sunny day washington has seen in, like, FOR-EV-ER. it was coincidentally also duvall days, a rockin' festival put on by our small town every first saturday in june. (read about our inaugural celebration here).

"marching" in the kiddie parade with our ward's primary.

summer is understandably concerned by large groups of people who are
walking slowly, eerily dressed alike, and going pretty much nowhere.

little afton is just enjoying the ride.

summer on the verge of entering a sugar coma.

all smiles.

(hmm, this seems to be the wheleer girls' "go to" pose.)
try not to be blinded by our hotness.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

easy come, easy go

summer has decided that she is not yet ready for the potty and has asked to be put back in diapers. i resisted her for a few days, but after cleaning up way too many accidents (thrice in an hour?!), i decided to lay off the training for another month or so before revisiting.

on the plus side, from our little two week experiment, i learned that summer is really quite good at going potty (what a talent!), and things should go rather smoothly when the time is right (which i thought it was, but hey, summer says it isn't, and i suppose she would know).

sigh. such quick and easy success 'twas just too good to be true.