We rang in 2017 with Dan's family in England! This was my first time spending the holidays in England, so it was wonderful to both be with family and to experience British traditions. Dan's sister's family treated us to a pantomime show, my first ever! We did a family trip to the Cadbury Factory and went to Warwick Castle. The weather was cold, but after spending a few months living in Portland, I handled it like a pro, meaning I finally own cold- weather appropriate clothes.
The weather was bleak for most of our time in Portland. We bought a S.A.D. Lamp (which totally works) and popped vitamin D pills. I was not prepared for the affect that the seemingly endless days of grey skies would have on both my mood and energy levels. Coming from Los Angeles, I'm used to blue skies, sunshine, and things being open.
The weather shuts things down in Oregon. We had to wait until the late spring to experience many of the local national parks and theme parks. I love going to movies, but we really struggled to find winter activities that got us out of apartment that didn't include movie theaters, malls, and coffee. Again, all things I love, but growing up in Los Angeles, I definitely took for granted that living in a city with so many things to do. Portland is small. It doesn't have good sushi. It does have superior coffee.
All of the locals told us to wait until summer. I was a little worried, because more than one local (I took an informal poll from whomever we came in contact with) told us that the summer weather starts after July 4th. Yikes! We started having nice days in May and by June, it was beautiful out. We went to Mount St. Helen's National Park ( closed sept-may) and Mount Hood. We visited Multnomah Falls, The Bridge of the Gods, and the Bonneville Dam Fishery. The Bonneville Dam is actually a really cool spot, you can see salmon jumping over locks and view Lamphrey, a fish that is made of nightmares. Look it up. We visited Astoria and Cannon Beach to see filming sites from The Goonies. The summer weather was beautiful and everyone in town seemed happier.
We did get out of Portland a few times before summer. In February, we went to our home in Big Bear and had friends stay with us. In April, we spent a week in Las Vegas for Dan's annual work trade show. He worked hard and I sunbathed. At the end of our Vegas week, we hosted friends from Portland at our Big Bear home. During spring break, our friends from Big bear visited Portland and we went on a short trip to Salem with them to do wine tasting!
Zoe and Felix stayed with us for six weeks during the summer. We had two mini-vacations during their stay. The first was one a Princess Cruise to Alaska. We wanted them to experience Alaska and glaciers, plus being in Portland, this was an easy trip for us. I thought the highlight was a rafting excursion near the Mendenhall Glacier. I've always wanted to go white water rafting and although this was a fairly mild excursion, we did get on class 3 rapids. So much fun! Skagway was a favorite town, that Dan I didn't experience during our previous Alaska cruise. In Skagway we ate lunch in a former brothel and saw one of the longest running stage plays in America. We also went to an Iditarod training camp and held husky puppies. In Ketchikan, we watched "The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show,"= think medieval times, but with lumberjacks. The cruise also did a scenic journey through Glacier Bay National Park.
The other mini-vacation was a week in Las Vegas for pool time and extreme heat. It's just not summer with out the desert heat. We visited the Hoover Dam and saw Criss Angel's latest magic show at Luxor. In Portland, we took the kids to The Oaks Amusement Park for rollerskating and rides. They really loved the Portland Children's Museum too. A highlight was Dan's company picnic, which was held at Providence Park, home of the Portland Timbers. We were allowed to run around on the soccer pitch, where Zoe did endless rounds of cartwheels.
The same day that Zoe and Felix left, my mother-in-law arrived for a three week visit. This was her first time in Portland, so we made the rounds of the tourist sites. My favorite was having tea with her at the Japanese gardens. It was my 40th birthday during her visit, so we made a quick trip to Big Bear, so that she could see the house that was remodeled and I could be in California.
A few days after my mother-in-law left, we had our friends (Dave, Cath, and pug, Jewels) visit for the eclipse. We decided against driving twenty minutes to be in the "Path of Totality" and only experienced 99% of the eclipse. That 1% makes a difference. There was so much light. It was still neat, but not life-altering, as people were mentioning on the news.
In late August, we moved back to Big Bear. I miss our friends made in Portland, but I'm really happy to be back home. In September, I got a job in social media and marketing for one of the local vacation rental companies. Dan splits his time working from home and traveling to Portland to be in his office. I'm still working on my novel, in the revision stage after meetings with my mentor. Life is busy!
In September, I had an amazing opportunity. My friend Ryan and his wife Shawna, brought me to Oklahoma City to take part in their Ricochet: a Storyteller's Show podcast. The whole experience was incredible. It was also my first time visiting Oklahoma. I spent a day sightseeing, including the very emotional Oklahoma City Memorial. Everyone should make an effort to visit the memorial. Also visit Oklahoma City, it's pretty and the people are very friendly!
We spent our 4th anniversary at the La Quinta Resort and Spa in Palm desert. The entire weekend was spent in the sunshine, poolside in the "Ginger Rogers" pool. It's a beautiful resort with old-Hollywood glamour.
Thanksgiving was spent with a mix of old and new friends staying at our house. It was a super fun weekend and the turkey turned out. The Sunday after Thanksgiving, we went to Portland for a week. Dan had bought me tickets to see Bill Murray for my birthday and he was fantastic. We didn't see many live shows in 2017. We saw John Cleese, which was a major let-down and The Game of Thrones in concert, which was very cool. I went to a book signing for one of my favorite authors, Fredrik Backman. I also got to see a free mini-concert when the Old 97's came to the Skype Studio, just two blocks from our apartment.
This Christmas and New Years, we will have Felix with us, for his first solo-trip without Zoe. It was a last minute trip, so we don't have any plans, but I know it will be fun to have him here. He loves snow, so hopefully we will have a white Christmas. (I'm writing this early to post in the future, as I know we will be super busy when he arrives.) 2017 was an all-around good year and I'm looking forward to discovering what 2018 brings!