May 24, 2011

High Desert Hike

Boise is considered the high desert. It is 2,730 feet above sea level, has a dry climate, averages 234 sunny days a year, and receives about a foot of rain yearly. The summer tends to be pretty hot and dry, between 85-95 degrees with stretches over 100 degrees. The winter can be quite cold. I know what zero feels like. This is what makes me appreciate the beautiful sunny days we've been having this spring. It makes it even better that we are getting to enjoy the outdoors with our new baby this year and that Luke's work place makes it so easy to take walks in the foothills.

For a brief time in the spring and fall, the hills are green and burgundy colored with blooming grasses and the trees have leaves. The sky is filled with big spongy clouds and the temperature hovers around 70. It doesn't get much more tender than that!

I've been documenting our hikes so that I can look back when I'm schvitzing like crazy this summer or piling on the blankets next winter, and remember that there is a time of year when being outside makes me very genuinely happy. To have anytime to enjoy the great outdoors is a treat and a luxury, and I'm happy to share it with you!

Help save the Hollow hiking trails! Click here to find out more.

Luke works at the bottom of this hill

Yet another view of downtown Boise from the foothills.

Luke is the designated family pack horse, and I love him for that.
Simplot hill: great for sledding in the winter and ice block riding in the summer!

Beauty growing from the dry earth
I finally got a picture of him awake during the hike. He promptly fell asleep after this pic was taken. Porter likes his Deuter hiking backpack better than all the rest because his giant baby body doesn't get scrunched up and he stays much cooler.

May 22, 2011

Love My Life

This last week my dad, Porter's grandpa, came to Boise for a visit. Whenever family or friends come to visit I am always reminded about how lucky we are to have such wonderful people in our lives. During my dad's visit he cooked up a storm. He made everything from curries to chicken soup, and we were lucky enough to have a friends dinner where my dad cooked. It was a great treat to have my dad cook the whole meal for us and I know we were all very appreciative of his tasty curries. Luke and Shaun jammed on their guitars, Lucy and Porter were their charming selves and it was heart warming to spend a beautiful evening with everyone. We are so blessed to have each other!
Porter and his doula Aunt Sarah playing at friends dinner.
Lucy lovin' the Magnum ice cream bar.

We spent time hiking on the greenbelt and in the foothills. Hiking was made much easier by the sweet Deuter hiking backpack to carry Porter in, from REI. The foothills were green and in bloom.

Porter's Grandpa

Napping on the hike.

Downtown Boise

My dad was also nice enough to beef up Porter's wardrobe. My 4 month old is wearing 12 month sizes, with just a little room to spare! I especially love the plaid jumper he's wearing when he fell asleep on my dad. It was a great visit and I we're so happy that Porter has family that wants to be involved in his life, because no matter how much stuff this little boy gets, it's the relationships that make our lives rich.

Porter the acrobat

May 16, 2011

Tidbits and Trains

Our last day in Portland, Maine was drizzly and cloudy. Luckily the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad had closed cars so that Porter could get his first train ride in while on vacation. Here's a picture, video to follow!

Here are a few tender tidbits that I wanted to share from our trip to Maine, a state I would highly recommend visiting:

Hotel Hot Chocolate
Our hotel had 24 hour coffee, tea, water and hot cocoa mix in the lobby. Luke really likes hot cocoa, but I'm not a super fan of making it with plain water, so here is the recipe to beef it up a little.
1 pack of instant hot cocoa
3-5 ounces of boiling water*
3-5 containers of half & half or flavored coffee creamer (in the event that there is no more half & half)*
*I prefer half&half. When I have half&half I use more of that and less water and when flavored creamer is available I use more water and less creamer.

Boil or microwave the water.

Add water to the cup first.

 Empty packet of instant cocoa.

 Add half&half or creamer.

 Stir to combine.

Enjoy a creamier, better, version of instant hotel cocoa.

Travelling with 4 month old Porter, overall, has been a great experience. While he often sleeps through our excursions, it's exciting for us as parents to do the simple activities just knowing that he's with us. It's also nice because he keeps our pace in check. When Luke and I vacationed before Porter we were on the go much of the time. It was great and we got to see awesome places like France, British Columbia, LA, Southern Oregon and Maui, and having Porter won't stop us from future adventures. As a couple we also got to enjoy things like dinners out, doing activities on a whim, and hot tubs without any limitations. We were always going somewhere, doing something. 

Porter has forced us to slow down, take naps, sleep in, eat in, change plans and appreciate the moments when he's asleep so we can savor a few moments alone. This trip involved a lot of hanging out on the bed and playing with our baby. Here's a taste of what down time with Porter is like. Of course I can never get the amazing laughter and giggles of when we start playing together, on video, because I'm pretty caught up in the moment with him...but that's the way it should be.

May 14, 2011

Freeport Isn't Free

Today is the last full day of our trip and we decided to head up to Freeport to visit the flagship store of LL Bean. It's open 24 hours a day 365 days a year, but we decided to go on a Saturday, mid-day, of course. Before we went to Freeport we had planned on getting some coffee from Port Bean and then heading over to the beach to dip Porter's feet in the Atlantic ocean the same way we did in the Pacific ocean. Porter, however, had other plans. For all the writing I did in the last post about how easy it is to travel with an infant, I must have jinxed our trip because mid coffee/walk Porter started flipping out. In fact it started last night, which can be summed up by this lovely little book:
Read the book here

He also wouldn't fall asleep on our walk in the sling like he has been doing, so I took him out and Luke carried him. I decided that my big baby needed a stroller, so we took a pit stop at Babies 'R Us and snatched up a nifty umbrella stroller.

After crying the entire way to Freeport, except for when I made his cow toy sing and dance while contorting myself in the car, we arrived at the LL Bean flagship store and Porter seemed quite content with his new stroller. Now I call it a store, but in reality it is a compound. Here is the panoramic picture of LL Bean World:

It's huge. There are multiple buildings all with different purposes. We went into the retail store where there are taxidermied animals, a trout pond and loads of goodies waiting to receive the famous LL Bean monogram. Outside Porter and I posed in front of the giant boot:

It all was going so nicely so we decided to go to lunch. This is where Porter hit his limit of vacation schedule (which isn't really a schedule, that's the problem). The moment we sat down and ordered he started crying and couldn't be soothed. I ended up taking him outside while Luke settled the bill and brought me my lunch. I scarfed it down outside while watching all the people who come to Freeport to go shopping. Turns out LL Bean spawned a whole town full of high end stores for shoppers from around the globe.

We then put Porter back in the stroller where he continued to wail and wail. The only thing left to do? High tail it back to the car, which was a 10 minute walk with a crying baby the whole way. When we finally got back to the car Luke put on the best song and dance for our baby that anyone could ask for. I didn't know Luke had it in him, but he had Porter laughing for at least 5 minutes before I strapped him into his car seat and the wailing began again. Luckily he fell asleep in the car and took a 3 hour nap. Looks like our last night in Portland we will be dining in and taking it easy before flying home tomorrow. All in all though, it's still been a great vacation and I can rest assured that my child has good and bad days, just like the rest of us.

May 13, 2011

Big Days

 Over the last two days Porter has experienced days full of firsts. Enjoy the photo journey!
On Thursday we attempted to go to the bakery near our hotel for breakfast, but they had a very limited selection and no espresso, say what?! So we ended up at Port Bean for the second day in a row. It is a great coffee shop right down the street from our hotel. They make really good espresso drinks and their breakfast sandwiches are made on the spot from scratch, delish. 

We then headed over to Casco Bay Ferries to catch a ferry across the bay. It was Porter's first boat ride and as you can tell, he's pretty pumped.

Here is the mighty vessel that will transport us across the water. It was a car carrying boat, which is pretty cool if you need to get your car across the water. There are many islands off the coast of Maine and many of them are inhabited.

Leaving the dock from Portland.

Headed to Peaks Island about 20 minutes by ferry.

The best part about nursing is that Porter's food is always handy whether by air land or sea, my child will eat! Plus the Udder Cover made a great wind break while he napped on the trip.

View of Portland from the Ferry

Our destination. We didn't get off since Porter was passed out and we really just wanted to take a boat ride.

This is what Porter thought of his first boat ride.
Back at the hotel we did some of this...

...and some of this.
Then it was time for another first- swimming! Thanks Lissa for these awesome baby swim trunks.

Porter loves being in his dad's big arms.

He didn't hate it, but he wasn't super thrilled either. I think he was mostly confused, but he did great and was a good sport.

A good swim always deserves a good lounge. The water really takes it out of a little guy.
We followed the swim by having dinner at Gilbert's Chowder House

In an attempt to try something new I got the clam Steamers. They were just okay,  not as good as my friend Chelsea makes, and these had the appearance of a small geoduck (pronounced gooey duck), slightly phallic with a little bit of grit, hmm. Luke got the clam chowder bread bowl, he liked it better than the one he had from another place on the first night of our visit.

We then cruised to downtown Portland, just a block up from the docks in search of ice cream. The historic downtown is awesome. There are lots of brick buildings, cobbled streets and brick sidewalks. Most of the stores are local and the town square looks like a great place to sip on coffee or eat ice cream on a summer day. 
There are also many bars here, half of which have Irish roots. On our way home we encountered this lovely sign and had a good chuckle to end the day.


We got a late start on Friday, but that didn't keep us from seeing all sorts of new places. We drove across Casco Bay to Cape Elizabeth so Luke could help his co-worker Brigid set up the Internet in her home office. She just moved to Maine from Washington DC and lives in an adorable house in an adorable neighborhood just houses from the sea. She and her husband were nice enough to treat us to lunch at The Lobster Shack, near Two Lights State Park. The light house in the above picture is one of the "lights".

The Lobster Shack is known for their lobster rolls and the views of the Atlantic from their red picnic tables outside of the small restaurant. Seeing the Atlantic is another first for Porter on this trip. In the last two months he has now been to the furthest reaches of the country: Maui @ 2 months and Maine @ 4 months. I say this boy picked the right life!

Of course we got Lobster rolls with the required french fries. What isn't pictured are the giant homemade whoopee pies that we had. I thought they were the bees knees. I've now had two lobster rolls from two different places here in Maine and this is what I think: 1. none of the lobster in Maine is as good as the buttery yummy lobster from the warm waters in Hawaii 2. Lobster is really expensive 3. I liked the scallops from The Fisherman's Grill better.

The Atlantic Ocean from The Lobster Shack picnic tables

I absolutely loved their wind mobile collection.

Porter decided he was hungry too so we stopped at Fort Williams State Park.

Luke's chowder bread bowl was so good the night before that we decided to go back to Gilbert's Chowder House.

No more experimenting for me, I ordered the seafood chowder bread bowl and it was FANTASTIC! It had shrimp, scallops, lobster, clams and fish along with chunks of potatoes in a tasty (but not as tasty as a sourdough) bread bowl. I would order this chowder again and again.

Porter had a good time with the package of crackers.

We finished the evening with more ice cream from Mt.Desert Island Ice Cream
I ordered the Chocolate Orange and Luke had the Chocolate Peanut Butter Oreo. They also have pretty outrageous flavors that include curry and chili, which is why their slogan is "fearless flavor". President Obama chose Coconut on his last visit.

This vacation has been truly fabulous. We have gone sight seeing, tried new and amazing food, napped, swam, visited with new friends and experienced a whole new city. Travelling with a baby is easier than I imagined. I have been carrying him in the sling everywhere we go, and while the first day I was sore after carrying a small baby tank all over the city, it has become much more comfortable by the 4th day. I like carrying him in the sling because he gets to see the sights or nap at his leisure, my hands are free, it's a great workout, and I like hearing and seeing about how cute my baby is from all the passers by. Since he's getting bigger I will probably start traveling with the stroller, but I hope to carry him this way for a long time. The hotel we're staying in (Marriott Residence Inn) is also heaven sent when travelling with a young baby. It has a full kitchen, king bed, crib, pool, breakfast, laundry, wi-fi and is located within walking distance to just about everything we've done on our visit. Happy trails!