30 July 2015

What We did on our Summer Vacation--Part 4, Washington and Oregon

The last leg of our month-long trip was through Washington and Oregon. We started off in Spokane, Washington, visiting my 94-year-old grandpa Bates. He lives alone since my grandma passed away four years ago and has lots of energy! He wanted us to stay with him, and he cooked us a nice dinner of fried chicken and corn on the cob.
I'm grateful to still have a grandfather in my life!
 On our way out of town we stopped at the formal Duncan gardens in Manito Park in Spokane. I'd read it was one of the "must-see" gardens in the state of Washington.
 It was lovely and very peaceful. We were there early in the morning and had the place to ourselves.
 There was also a Japanese Garden in Manito park, so we had to visit it, too.
 Kent's love of Japanese gardens is the main reason he wanted to move to Japan.
 As we drove from Spokane, WA, to Vancouver, WA along the Columbia River Gorge, we had some great views of Mount Hood, Oregon.
 We spent some time with Kent's family, and whenever he's in town they have fix-it projects for him to do. In the photo below he's adding some doors to a storage cabinet up at their campsite property in the woods at Lake Merwin.
While we were there we had a short memorial service for Kent's youngest brother, Robert, who passed away last year.
Here's a picture of the family who was there for the service.
 From the campsite at Lake Merwin we were able to see a great view of Mount St. Helen's.
 Another thing Kent spearheaded was a "This is Your Life" program for his mother at Vancouver Methodist Church, where she attends.
 Her other children were in on it, but she was surprised by the program.
Here I am with Joe's wife, Virginia, on my right and Kent's oldest sister, Joyce, on my left. 
Kent had put together a power point presentation with pictures from his mom's life. Kent's sisters prepared refreshments.
My friend, Lora Harrell, lives in Vancouver and we were able to meet for lunch one day. We've been friends since 1989.
 While we were there Kent and I visited Fort Vancouver Historical Site.
 We toured the Marshall House, where George C Marshall had lived when he was in the Army.
There was a whole street full of beautiful old homes where the Army officers used to live when it was an Army post.
Tyler and Rachel and their children, Andrew and Sylvia, came for a couple of days before we all headed over to the Christensen family reunion in Sun River, Oregon. Tyler helped out doing some roof and gutter cleaning on Grandma Carson's house. (He takes after his dad--helping with fix-it projects--in that respect.)
 Tyler and Rachel at dinner with Kent's brothers, Marty and Joe.
Andrew loved riding the little bike at great Grandma Carson's house.
 He and Sylvia also liked the little lawn chairs that were just their size.
On the drive to Sun River, a resort town in central Oregon, we had some more awesome views of Mt. Hood. We were on our way to a  Christensen family reunion.
This was the closest view we had from around the back side of the mountain.
Here's a photo of the my original birth family, minus my oldest brother, who was killed in a car accident 25 years ago.
 Garrett and Krystal's family drove down from Montana to attend the reunion. The cousins had fun playing together.
 Krystal with Adam.
 Granddad Carson had some fun activities for the grandchildren to do.
 Kent and I, Garrett and Krystal's family, Tyler and Rachel's family, and my mom and dad all stayed in the same rental home. We had a good time and the weather was wonderful.
 One day we went to the water park in the town.
 Kent and my dad got pretty tuckered out, and showed the grandchildren the proper way to nap on a Sunday afternoon.
 Three generations of Carson girls.
We attended church in nearby Bend, Oregon. Our family reunion took up about five rows in the overflow section of the church. Unfortunately we didn't get any photos of the whole group.
After the reunion Kent and I drove down to Crater Lake, Oregon. It was only about an hour and a half drive from Sun River.  We entered from the north entrance, which was closed later in the summer due to forest fires in the area.
 We couldn't believe the bright blue color of the lake.
 It was gorgeous, and as you can see, it was a beautiful sunny day in Oregon.
Crater Lake is the deepest lake in North America.
 Since Crater Lake is the top of a volcano, we had a good view of the surrounding area from up by the lake.
Here's our attempt at a selfie. Not that great, but better than most of the selfies we try to take!
  We set up our tripod to get this shot. It was purely by coincidence that our shirts matched the color of the lake!
After Crater Lake we flew back to Virginia on July 29th, after having a super fantastic month on the road enjoying the beauties of America and lots of time with family!

11 July 2015

What We Did on Our Summer Vacation Part 3--Wyoming and Montana

After leaving the family reunion in Colorado we spent a day in Wyoming on our way to visit Garrett and Krystal's family in Great Falls, Montana. In Wyoming we started off our day early at Devil's Tower, which I've wanted to see since I saw "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

 It was the first national monument in the United States, and it was quite a sight to see.

 Kent thought this sign was funny that we saw for sale in the gift shop.
After visiting Devil's Tower, we raced across the entire state of Wyoming to get to Yellowstone National Park. Fortunately, the speed limit was 80mph.
 Once we got to Yellowstone, it took us another two hours of driving within the park to get to the Old Faithful geyser. Unfortunately, it started raining right before we got to Old Faithful. But at least we only had to wait about 30 minutes after we arrived before it went off.
 There was really too much steam to get a good photo of the geyser.
 We also drove around to some of the other interesting sights in the park.

 As we were on our way out of the park we got stuck in a buffalo traffic jam.
 The buffalo weren't at all afraid of the cars and took their sweet time about moving out of the road.
We spent that night in Bozeman, Montana. The next morning we went to the Museum of the Rockies, which is on the Montana State University campus and is affiliated with the Smithsonian.
 It was full of dinosaur bones that had been excavated in Montana. The skeleton below had just been returned to the museum and the display opened up just a few months before we went to see it.
 Here are a few scenes we saw as we drove from Bozeman to Great Falls, where Garrett and Krystal's family lives.
 We saw some really beautiful countryside.
 In Great Falls one of the places we went to see was the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center. It was very interesting.
 This is a picture of some of the "falls" that became the namesake of the town.
Granddad had lots of help when he was washing the cars.

 We celebrated Makayla's third birthday while we were in town.
Her mom made a beautiful castle cake, and Makayla was thrilled with it.
I graduated from high school in Great Falls, so Kent and I drove out to Charles M. Russell High School and took a picture. It looked pretty much the same to me, and I graduated 38 years ago. I also visited my junior high school friend, Katrina Carpenter. Can't believe I've been friends with her for over 43 years.
Pictured below was one of the sunsets we saw from Krystal and Garrett's backyard. Montana's nickname is "Big Sky Country" after all. 
As we were driving from Great Falls to Spokane, Washington, Kent and I stopped outside of Helena to go to the Gates of the Mountains, so named by Meriweather Lewis in 1805.
 We took a two-hour boat cruise up the Missouri River and saw some amazing scenery, between limestone cliffs. Our guide was very interesting and told lots of history of the area.
We saw bald eagles, which is the first time I've seen them.
 We took about 50 photos, but have selected just a few to give an idea of the area.

We've had such a great time seeing so many awesome and interesting sights as we drove across the United States!