Trip to Austin, TX

Every year during the first week of January Sean and I typically attend the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology meeting. Once in a while, when the meeting is held in an interesting place, Theo and Carlie will come along and the trip gets turned into a vacation (more of a vacation for Theo and Carlie since Sean and I actually have to attend the meeting). Anyway, this year’s meeting was held in Austin, TX and Theo and Carlie came along. Theo and Carlie took multiple excursions around Austin, we all did some interesting dinners, and we did take one day to do some wine tasting Texas style which was really kind of fun. Here are a few photos of the week.

Christmas 2019

Little did we know that Christmas 2019 would begin a string of holidays where Theo and I would not be together with all the kid. For the first time Sean and Carlie were not able to come to Oregon for Christmas so on Christmas Day we had to settle for a FaceTime gathering. Ryan and Hillary were here for which unknowingly would be there last trip to Oregon for an extended period of time (more on that in later posts). Regardless we had a wonderful Christmas holiday!

A tradition we started a year of two back was doing a puzzle as a family over Christmas. This year it was a puzzle of the Sydney Opera House. Ryan and Hillary were so intent on getting this puzzle done before their Uber arrived to take them to the airport for their flight home that Hillary was literally putting the last piece in place as she was walking out the door. Over the next couple years (as you can tell I am writing this post well after the fact) puzzles would become an important way for me to relax.

This year Theo decided we all needed matching lounge/pajama pants. She even sent them to Sean and Carlie wo they could wear them Christmas morning while we FaceTimed.Beyond the puzzle we all did a little wine tasting (heck, we live in the Willamette Valley) and saw our traditional Christmas Day movie! This year it was the final installment of the most recent Star Wars trilogy “The Rise of Skywalker.” Theo cooked her traditional Christmas dinner, which for us is lasagna (including my homemade pasta noodles). Hillary cannot eat dairy so Theo always makes her a small personal casserole of non-dairy lasagna. Good wine always flows and we had a great time and a happy way to end the year.

Thanksgiving in New York

Now that the kids all live on the east coast Thanksgiving has become a time of travel (albeit expensive travel). Since the kids generally come west for Christmas we head east to enjoy Turkey day. This year we traveled to New York where all the kids joined us to spend Thanksgiving with Hillary’s aunt Teresa in Ulster Park (slightly up state NY). We booked an AirBnB in Kingston (about 8 miles from Ulster Park) which was right on the Hudson River. The AirBnB was a third-floor apartment and plenty big for all six of us.

Hillary’s aunt Teresa loves to cook, and cuts no corners (I envy her her kitchen). This is the second time she has hosted us for Thanksgiving, and the Italian flavor of the meal was again evident. Both times dinner began with a traditional wedding soup that was absolutely delicious. Noodles were made from scratch (also true for the pasta we had the next night) and were amazing. Turkey was perfect….I could go on (I’ll show some photos instead). Not sure how anyone had room for pie at the end. All in all a delightful day.

After hanging out in Kingston and Ulster Park for a couple days Sean & Carlie headed back to Virgina and we took Ryan and Hillary back to NYC. Since our flight back to PDX did not leave until 9 pm we got to see Ryan & Hillary’s apartment in Queens and have dinner at a really good Mexican restaurant called Casa Enrique. All-in-all a wonderful trip.

Celebrating Theo’s Birthday in Hood River

It has become an annual event to celebrate Theo’s birthday with a trip to Hood River. We did not actually go on her birthday, which is October 4, but instead plan the trip around the club release event at Marchesi Vineyards. Marchesi is one of Theo’s favorite wineries, and a few years back I bought her a membership for her birthday. The Lord always smiles on this trip as we pretty much always get good weather in spite of the fact that the date is always late in the fall. So, once again we packed our lunch (there is just something fun about bringing your own food), the dog (Zoie), and headed up the Columbia Gorge for a day of relaxation and wine tasting!

Theo and I enjoying out time at Marchesi Vineyards for her birthday!

One of the funnest things about coming this time of year is that owner/winemaker Franco Marchesi, a real Italian fellow, is always out amongst the guests roasting chestnuts to share with everyone. This really gives the visit a holiday spirit.

Franco Marchesi roasting chestnuts at Marchesi Vineyards!

Zoie comes with us on this trip and seems to enjoy a day out of the house and excessive attention. Marchesi is a dog-friendly winery so there are always lots of wet noses to greet. And lets not forget that mom (Theo) always makes sure that Zoie gets a short walk in the vineyard before we leave.

Zoie relaxing by our table at Marchesi Vineyards!

While our visit to Hood River always starts at Marchesi the day is not end there. After Marchesi we always visit a couple of other wineries we enjoy including AniChe and Syncline over on the Washington side of the River. Enjoy a few photos below.

California RV Trip, A New Experience!

At the end of August Theo and I traveled to Oxnard, CA for my niece Amanda’s wedding.  Normally such a venture would amount to jumping on a plane, renting a car, and booking a room.  However, this time we tried something different.  We rented a 19′ RV from Cruise America.  I won’t talk about the RV experience in detail here, but if you are interested in the pluses and minuses of renting an RV I’ve covered the specifics in my blog.  Interestingly the whole idea of renting an RV was born out of our desire to take our dog Zoie on the trip and the RV was the only sort of rented vehicle that would allow pets.  In short we enjoyed the venture in spite of the fact that it turned out to very expensive.

Since we were renting an RV we turned the wedding trip into a short vacation.  I planned the itinerary for months to make sure we had good places to stay and interesting things to do.  Our travel route south would be along the coast with stops in Pacific City and Brookings, OR.  From Brookings we traveled to Paso Robles, CA for an afternoon of wine tasting.  The leg from Brookings to Paso Robles was educational for me in that I learned that I should not ask Theo to endure a 600 mile drive even in an RV.  Since I had a 700 mile leg planned on the trip back north I quickly got online and undid plans meticulously made months earlier and divided that long day into two shorter days.

Besides the wedding, which was held at the beautiful Mandalay Bay Resort Hotel in Oxnard, CA, highlights of the trip included a fun day of wine tasting in Paso Robles and a fun-filled day in the redwoods.  It was fun to be able to stop anywhere an prepare a meal.  For example, on the way back north we ate lunch overlooking Pismo Beach, CA.  Pretty cool!  On this trip I also gained a real appreciation for Oregon State Parks.  We stayed two nights at McGrath State Beach while in Oxnard for the wedding and frankly it was a trashy place.  It was expensive, relatively dirty, small campsites, had to pay for showers, and it was anything but dog friendly.  Oregon State Parks (e.g. Beverly Beach) are far superior.

Below are a few selected photos from our trip.

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