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Parrottrek Journal 2015

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Bradley watches the sunset from her custom made window box. Thanks Artie.

Our first stop in Montana and one of the prettiest parks we've seen, with a sense of humor.

We took a long walk around the surrounding trails and rivers

This is literally a picture of what is outside our window at this moment... Hello. Gorgeous. Views!

June 3rd - Goodbye California... Hello Beautiful Montana -
Please don't pinch us if we're dreaming because this place is amazing, and we have to hang out and explore each and every corner of Montana for the next two months because of a little thing called work. First stop was a picture perfect campground in Dillon, Montana with views to die for. Out our windows sat the greenest grass I've ever seen with flowing rivers and streams and mountains off in the distance. The sunsets here fill the sky with the most amazing colors that even Bradley can't help but stare at the sky from her window box.

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Today's view on our drive

A very anxious mama hops around

We looked for the eggs but couldn't find them

They blended it so well with the rocks

June 6th - The Birds & The Bees - Ennis, Montana -
On my walk this morning, as I passed by an empty RV site, a little bird came running out on the gravel angrily chirping at me as if she was telling me off. I took a step towards her to see if she was hurt and she charged me, increased her volume, her vulgarity in bird language, and the size of her body. Being the bird lover and curious person I am, I kneeled down and asked her what on earth was wrong. All of a sudden I realized just what she must have been so mad at. She must have babies nearby. Duh! So I started looking in the tree that she was sitting below for a nest... nothing! I looked on the ground for evidence of her home, but there were no piles of nesting material anywhere around.

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A mama bird out our window feeding babies

A shot of what we saw inside the hole.

Then I caught a glimpse of some funky looking rocks. At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, but when the little mama bird ran back to this pile of funny rocks I realized that she had laid her eggs in the middle of a gravel patch. To me it didn't seem the smartest or safest place to have your children being incubated, but then I'm not a Killdeer, so what do I know? One thing I did know was that about 30 minutes later a camping trailer pulled into the gravel site and began to unload their stuff. Being even more of a bird love than I am, and after telling Frank about the little mama and her dilemma of having her eggs sitting out in the middle of potential foot traffic, he ran over to them and pointed out the little pile of vulnerable eggs.
In a more ordinary nesting place, we discovered a smarter pair of birds. A pair that decided to hole out a tree high enough up for no human to be able to reach, unless they were sitting in the living room of their motorhome, and in enough little branches that it would be hard for a predator to reach inside the hole without mom or dad being able to quickly fight them off. Boy, were they a pretty color, and since they didn't chew us out, we figured they didn't seem to mind us peeking at them.

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A stagecoach stop in Virginia City, Montana

An old blacksmith office with all the tools still on display inside

Imagine if we had to use a printing press still Technology sure has a long way

An antique car parked outside the Melodrama

Going Back In Time, The Old West - Virginia City, Montana -
We're not big museum fans, or art gallery people, but one thing we do love is walking through history. And some of the best places to learn about history are old towns. Today's history lesson took place in Virginia City, Montana. A little town straight out of the Old West with saloons that are still open, blacksmith shops with all the machinery and pits, an amazing old newspaper building that still houses the printing presses they used in the 1800's. Imagine proof reading those articles. There was no such thing as spell check, well, other than your own eyes reading each and every word in each and every line of the text. They had no such thing as auto correct, which at times may drive us all batty but is a bit of a helpful tool more often than not, and has been known to make us all laugh, or die of embarrassment, a time or two. Since Virginia City was such a fun place, we decided to make a day of it. We stopped for lunch in a building that used to house a saloon and then walked up the street to the Melodrama, another one of our favorite things to do.

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Not sure it would make a good tow vehicle behind our motorhome

Next stop... The Melodrama and Vaudeville in a 100+ year old theatre with the only performing Cremonia Photoplayer in the World, and the longest running Melodrama in the U.S.

This wasn't just any Melodrama, but arguably the oldest one in the country that has been continually running. There is just something about live theatre that makes me absolutely happy, and when that live theatre is completely entertaining it's a bonus. Did I mention that this Melodrama had a bar in it? That's the thing about towns out of the old west, every other building back then on a city street was a saloon. Perhaps that has something to do with the number of shoot outs these towns had. What else was there to do but drink, go to the theatre and fight?

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The markers where the Indians fell

Standing in front of the monument

Where the Last Stand took place

The markers where Custer's men fell

Custer's Last Stand - Little Bighorn Battlefield, Garyowen, Montana -
I've always been a big history buff, but I've never quite understood the need for men to brutally kill each other over a silly thing like land. Isn't this country big enough to let us all have our own little piece of it? And let me tell you, Montana is as beautiful as it is big. It has wide open places and big enough spaces for all the Cowboys and Indians to have their own homestead. I've read versions of the battle that make Custer's men look like the good guys and others that made them look like the bad guys, but in the end of it all, stood a hill with a lot of grave markers, both brown and white, and not a lot of evidence that any good came of these men loosing their lives. But that's the political side of it, and I do my darkest to not get into political discussions in public venues... so back to our adventurous day. We started out watching a video of a "neutral perspective" of the battle, which actually gave us a great history lesson. I remember stories of Sitting Bull in elementary school, but I couldn't tell you exactly what they were, so today's refresher course of the facts, or perhaps theories, of why these men went to battle was quite educational, and entertaining. After we walked through the hallways of timelines of both Custer's life and Sitting Bull's, we walked through the hillsides of where the actual battle took place, which was quite somber. Somber with great views! The greens and blues of the grass, hillsides, and sky here are so unbelievable that pictures don't do them any justice. You can lay in the shade of a tree and just take it all in. The weather here is cool and the sky goes on forever.

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Those are some dang dark clouds... YIKES! Time to head inside

And the hail begins with an insane amount of pounding

Nine minutes later is stops, and we saved some to show the insurance adjuster

Our air conditioner cover was destroyed :-(

June 19th - One Big Dang Horrible Destructive Hail Storm -
As we walked around the campground tonight, we noticed that the sky began to turn a very funky, spooky, dark color. Not wanting to get stuck in the rain, I headed home as Frank and Cody continued their walk. Just as I stepped in the door I got a call from a friend, and as we were talking I heard this horrendous BANG!! BANG!! BANG!! BANG!!! It sounded like a dozen little kids were outside the motorhome throwing baseballs at it and there wasn't a single rain drop. I quickly ended the phone call and began to pray. Please don't break any windows, please don't come through the vent, please stop. PLEASE stop. PLEASE STOP!!! It didn't stop... for nine whole minutes. Nine minutes may not seem that long, but when someone is pounding on the walls all around you for that long, nine minutes feel like hours. Finally the pounding stopped and the rain began. The rain went on for another half hour or so and then the skies cleared. Once the sun started to make its way out, we made our way outdoors to see what damage had actually taken place. While I sat on the couch with my ears covered and promising the powers that be anything and everything to just STOP the damn noise, my very together and cool headed husband was recording the hailstorm on his phone for the insurance company. I did think enough to collect a few of the pieces of ice, the size of half dollars, that had been bouncing of our roof and car and stash them in the freezer in case we ever need physical evidence that the storm wasn't just a nightmare I had had.

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Some people lost awnings and slide covers

Frank and Cody replace a broken light bulb

Dents all over the side of the coach

The hood of our mini van looks like someone took a hammer to it

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We finally get to see Glacier

The views inside the park are amazing

Everywhere you look there is beauty

Beautiful waterfalls all along the road

July 3rd - Bucket List #82 - Glacier National Park -
What an amazing place! I pinch myself every so often to see if this is really happening. If in fact our job actually makes us go to these unbelievable places that some people will never see in their lifetime. Since we hit the road, over 10 years ago, Glacier has been on my top 10 places to see and has been on my bucket list since I first started one back in 9th grade, but our travels hadn't taken us this far north, until this year. We drove the "Going to the Sun Road" where the views never end. The sides of the road are the prettiest rock walls you'll ever lay your eyes on, and there are waterfalls everywhere, even in the walls themselves.

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Lake McDonald Lodge

Heading into one of the many tunnels

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We took a nice long hike up this hill

Can you see who is in the bushes?

Mountain goats roam the hills

There is still snow on the ground at the top

We stopped off at Many Glacier to check out the lodge and the lake behind it. Next stop was Logan's Pass, a pull out on The Going to the Sun Road. In order to stop at Logan's Pass there are a few requirements. First off you must have a wee bit of an aggressive personality, and willing to dive out of your car, run across the parking lot, and throw your body into an open spot while attempting to not get run over and be fully prepared to be sworn at in 5 different languages. While one of you sacrifices your body, the other one is trying to get around countless cars, sometimes pulling into oncoming parking lot traffic, to get to the open spot before your spouse, myself in this instance, gets run over. Once the car was safely in the lot, we took a nice long hike to the top of Logan's Pass which still had some snow on it. About half way through our hike I felt as though something was watching us and when I looked into the bushes to see what it might be I saw a very big billy goat hanging out in the brush. We saw him again on our way back down and noticed he had a collar on. It turns out that the National Park system and the University of Montana are doing a study on the mountain goats and their herding behavior. There is one male and 5 females in the study.

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And she goes in for the kill

Someone is hunting for lunch above us

She thinks she sees something...

A beautiful view for a long lunch

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The doorway into the lounge and bar where movie memorabilia is held

Pulling up to the eerie hotel we played the intro music in the background

A token selfie at the front

The inside was stunning!

August 4th - The Timberline Hotel - aka The Overlook -
Footsteps through The Shinning continue. Since we already drove up The Road to the Sun in Glacier, which was the intro to the movie, we figured we should continue our trek into Hollywood and see where they filmed the outside location of the infamous spooky hotel. And spooky it is. The color of the building and the architecture are not your normal hotel scene, and neither is the inside. It has huge vaulted ceilings with wooden beams as big as our bus and a rock chimney with a fireplace on three sides that is as tall as a redwood tree. We walked all through the outside grounds, which don't actually hold the epic maze where the finale was filmed, but do hold all sorts of walkways with amazing views of the mountains that around us.

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Not the actual maze from the movie, but still a bit creepy to walk through

We had to stop off for a cocktail and a couple souvenirs

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A shot of the Spruce Goose from the back. Dang is it hard to get all of her in one frame

The Spruce Goose with Frank underneath it and The Spirit of St. Louis under her wing

The Spruce Goose from the side

The building doesn't look so big, until you realize how little the coach looks next to it

August 11th - The Spruce Goose - McMinnville, Or -
There are planes, and then there are planes! Holy birch wood, Batman! this plane is HUGE! It took me quite a while, even with my super wide angle lens, to be able to get all of her in the frame. Finally, standing in the furthest away back corner of the building I got most of her in. If you haven't seen her in person, I highly recommend you put the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum on your must visit list. To get a bit of an idea of how big The Spruce Goose is, the second photo has Frank standing underneath her and the actual Spirit of St. Louis sits below the wing of Howard Hughes' monstrosity. We spent the whole day walking all through her and around her, along with the dozens and dozens of other planes throughout the 71,350 square foot museum. There are planes from every war and almost every country along with a waterpark, and an IMAX theatre that will show you the making of The Spruce Goose and many many other planes and how they have developed over the years for safety and efficiency. It is quite an amazing place, and one that Frank has wanted to see for a long time. I think we both visited it when it was in Long Beach, back in our youth, but it was well worth it to visit again.

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We met up with one of Frank's best friends from childhood for lunch, dinner, and a tour around the town. Fun!

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ready for our daily walk on the beach

Walking through caves of rock

Starfish everywhere

All different sizes and colors

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August 13th - A Walk on The Beach - Pacific Shores - Newport, Oregon -
Miles and miles of ocean air and soft sand with views of tide pools, starfish, sea anemones, a lighthouse, towering cliffs, and a few caves have made for a great exercise program this week. And considering all of this is just steps from our door we have decided that Pacific Shores is a place we are definitely putting on the list of "places we must come back to". Friends of ours, Bob and Wendy, have a place here, as well a place up the street from us in Florida, so we had to come visit them on this coast. The mornings were cool and foggy in the beginning of the week, but by mid week the sun began to peak out and the clouds began to lift. We spent our afternoons touring the coast of Oregon and hitting a few restaurants. The only rule of dinning out was that we had to hit a place that you could see the water, or at least be walking distance to it. So far we have succeeded, and considering we still have a few days here... we can't wait to see how many other ocean front places we can hit.

Views of the lighthouse on our walks

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Frank braves the walk down to Devil's Churn. You never know when a wave will hit you

A closer shot of the basalt shoreline where little waterfalls are created

10 foot splashing waves. Pictures don't do it justice

Devil's Churn, and inlet carved by waves, from the trail head

August 15th - Cape Perpetua - The Wonders of Water -
Nestled on the central Oregon coastline, just off Highway 101 you can witness one of the most amazing natural water shows. However one word of warning... don't blink because you may just miss the sign for Cape Perpetua, or realize you did see it just as you drive past it. Have no fear, there is a second entrance and if you're lucky enough to be with a local who knows the area you'll be able to sneak into this second entrance and perhaps find a parking space. The parking lot is about the size of a small gas station and the line of cars waiting for a spot looks like the traffic at the entrance to Disney World. We couldn't have had better weather, so our short hike down to the water was quite pleasant. The sound of the water is almost deafening, but in a good way, and you never just how big or how close the waves will come to you. The above photo with Frank waving shows a bit of how big the tide pool is, but it doesn't quite do it justice on how stunning it is.

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The view of the lighthouse from the road

We hung out by the water for about 30 minutes but soon realized that we were actually parked in a 15 minute zone, so we headed back up the hill to check out the nearby lighthouse. Whew, we escaped without a ticket, but not without some great photos. And the best thing was that the parking lot at the lighthouse was HUGE!!

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We took a tour of the inside of the lighthouse, boy is it little

A view of the road from the lighthouse

The lighthouse at the end of the trail

And dinner at Rogue to finish off the day

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The little waterfalls that were all along the rivers in between the larger falls

We came across Koosah Falls in the middle of our hike.

Standing on top of Koosah Falls looking down into the river below

Sahallie Falls at the beginning of our hike. The roar of the water is amazing

August 23rd - Hiking to Waterfalls - McKenzie Bridge, Or -
Hello, beautiful views! We have been parked at Marathon Coach for a couple weeks now getting some work done on the motorhome and having them assess all the hail damage. The first week was really nice to lounge and relax and get caught up on paperwork without having to run any errands, or even leave the house unless we wanted to. Most evenings I would walk three to five miles around the commercial buildings which made for a great workout but was a bit lacking in views. This week we decided to take a long walk with nicer views than just I-5. We found an amazing place to hike all through the Willamette National Forest that passed by streams and rivers, past hollowed out trees and forests, and two enormous waterfalls.

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A new way to do push-ups and planks out in the fresh air

Can you see Frank on the other side of the hollow log?

We stood at the top of one of these thundering waterfalls and just took in all the power and sounds of the rushing water as it poured over the landscape and my was it cool. We sat at the banks of the streams and counted the colors of the rocks that were grey when dry and multicolored when wet. The trails were shaded by all sorts of types of trees which made for a cool hike, and since it was a weekday we had the whole place pretty much to ourselves.

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Paul Bunyon and Blue Ox at the entrance

Branches of the trees made great shade

Sept 2nd - Trees of Mystery - Klamath, California -
In the heart of the Redwood National Forest sits one of the most amazing natural attractions. Some of these trees are longer and larger around than our bus! As I stood at the base of these 100- 375 foot redwood trees I began to realize what an ant might feel like when he's walking by my feet. We had to crane our necks to see the top of most of these giants when we were at the base of the forest, but once we got to the top of the Skytrail and gazed over them, they all of a sudden didn't seem so big. Until we went back down the Skytrail and realized just how far up and how steep the climb was. Walking through the shade of the trees and their branches the temperature was about 15˚ cooler than in the direct sunlight. Turns out the cool, foggy mornings of California are great for redwoods and allow them to pull in moisture to their highest branches since their roots can't pump water that high.

A 300 foot tree

Baby Cathedral Trees

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Inside a tree trunk

Going up the Sky Trail to the top of the trees

Overlooking the enormous trees

An osprey nest in a dead tree

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Wine tasting at Bridlewood Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley

The property is full of walking trails and waterfalls

It was a perfect day for a catered picnic lunch outdoors

And warm enough to enjoy going inside for a bit of live music

Wine Tasting on an Old Horse Ranch - Bridlewood Winery, Los Olivos, California -
Bridlewood Winery sits on a picturesque 105-acre estate where Pacific breezes that meander through the Santa Ynez Mountains to the south allow the fog to roll in from the Pacific Ocean, which slows the ripening process of their grapes and paves the way for a long growing season. And a long tasting season. Today there wasn't a speck of fog anywhere which made for a great day to walk the grounds, enjoy the wine, the views, and the live music they just happened to have for their guests. This has got to be one of the most beautiful pieces of land we have ever laid our eyes on across this country, and we are quite glad to be able to visit it anytime we are in our home town.

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You create a masterpiece that impresses the heck out of everyone

Wine and Design with friends is a must do for everyone. What is it?

You drink a little wine from one of your favorite vineyards

And you look like you have artistic ability... even though you don't

October 7th - Finding my Inner VanGogh - Wine and Design, Orcutt, California -
In 1880 a young man named Vincent tried his hand at art without any formal training in order to help his family. His art started out a bit rough and colorless but with time and training he brought bright color to his art, but not much money to his family. Personally I started out with bright and bold color, and a perky art teacher, so perhaps I'm a step ahead. However I'm pretty sure I too may have a bit of trouble making money off my art, but considering I've already lived longer than Van Gogh I may be two steps ahead of him. Except for that whole posthumous income thing for my loved ones. But heck, I guarantee Van Gogh didn't have good friends by his side while he painted, or a bottle of wine, so I'll keep enjoying making my own money outside of painting while I'm still living, breathing, and enjoying my life pre-posthumously... is that a word? I'm quite proud of my little elephant and Katie who helped us create such a fun evening and a fun painting that even fits in my little house.

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Ready for the moon eclipse

Before the eclipse

Full eclipse

The eclipse starts to pass

September 27th - 28th - A Very Rare Event - A Total Eclipse of a Supermoon - Buellton, California -
Tonight's full moon wasn't just your typical full moon, it was a Supermoon. What does this mean? It means the moon was closer to the earth than it is on your average day, or at its perigee, as it turns into a full moon. A rising Super Full Moon can look larger and brighter to spectators on earth. Total eclipses of Super Full Moons are rare. According to NASA, they have only occurred 5 times in the 1900s – in 1910, 1928, 1946, 1964 and 1982. After tonight's Total Lunar Eclipse ends, a Supermoon eclipse will not happen again for another 18 years, until October 8, 2033, so we were pretty excited to see it in person.

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Rita is super excited to get this party started. Let the good times begin.

Seventh row seats at Jimmy Buffet! Life is good!

A selfie with Jimmy and the few people in front of us

All the people behind us. The poor suckers. :-)

October 15th - Jimmy Buffet World Tour '15 - Santa Barbara Bowl -
What do you do when friends offer you tickets to Jimmy Buffet? I don't know about you, but since he happens to be one of our favorite singers and considering we have a bit in common with him since his focus is on parrots, the beach, playing as hard as you work, and enjoying life, we said HECK YA! Count us in! There really isn't a bad seat at the Santa Barbara Bowl since it is a smaller venue, but let me tell you, there are amazing seats at the Bowl. Our seats were seventh row and spectacular. You know, those seats you always see 100 rows ahead of you and think "Who the heck are those people and how did they score those seats?" Our friends Bill and Rita, who have great Hollywood connections, explain how we scored the tickets so we basked in the glory of looking like VIP's. Jimmy's band was amazing, the weather was perfect, the crowd was fun, and the night wasn't long enough. We danced, sang along, and even bounced a few cheeseburgers off our head. Thank you Bill and Rita for a wonderful night, and spoiling us forever on concert seats. We will forever compare our future seats to tonights.

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Cheeseburgers floating around us and Frank and Bill watching Jimmy

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Knotts Scary Farm with our niece Hayley and her boyfriend Andrew

Super fun glowy glasses, bracelets, and necklaces

Dinner with the goblins before the rides

Our behind the scene passes and entry wrist bands

October 22nd - A Hauntingly Good Time - Knott's Scary Farm -
One of my most favorite things in the whole wide world is being scared. Not a "someone is going to break in my house and kill me scared, or harm anyone around me" but the scared you get when you see a horror movie, when you know that someone is going to jump out from behind a bush any moment and you still jump. So going to a horror movie in person sounded fantastic once our niece Hayley and boyfriend Andrew said they wanted to go. Since Knott's doesn't turn into Scary Farm until dark and is open until the wee hours of the morning, we drove down and checked into the Knott's Hotel so no one had to drive so late, and we could enjoy more time together. Since we did stay in the hotel, our stay included dinner with the ghoulish creatures that roam the streets of Knott's, some behind the scenes extra scary encounters inside a few mazes, priority boarding on most rides, and breakfast the next morning. Hayley and I screamed like five year olds in each and every maze and haunted house, and even on a couple of the rides. The boys of course stayed strong and Frank was only caught screaming and running from zombies once, however he did run almost all of us over when he attempted his escape. But we are happy to announce he was able to outrun the zombies and all of us made it out of Knott's Scary Farm alive... barely.

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Ready to go to the Islands with our niece Torrie and her boyfriend Quinn

Kayaking around Santa Cruz. We couldn't have asked for better weather

Paddling through caves and trying to avoid waves

Torrie and I were in a tandem kayak and had SO MUCH FUN!

October 31st - Halloween Island Style - Santa Cruz Island -
Just a few miles off the coast of California sit eight islands. The largest of these islands is Santa Cruz and today's destination. Since we are only here in California for a brief time this year, we wanted to spend some one on one time with our two favorite girls on the planet, our nieces. So we took each of them on a separate fun destination and today was Torrie's day, along with her boyfriend Quinn. The four of us woke up before the sun and drove about an hour and a half south to Ventura harbor where we boarded a boat that took us across the channel to Santa Cruz. Once on the island we kayaked all around, steered through some really crazy waves inside some caves, saw dolphins swim by, a whale off in the distance, and had a lot of laughs and made some great memories. Quinn and Frank each had their own kayak, but Torrie and I shared one so we could stay close, talk, and help each other paddle, and as it turns out help each other back out of the water once we tumbled out of the boat when we miss-steered into a wave and accidentally landed on a rock that quickly took our balanced boat off balance and dumped us into the water. It was actually quite refreshing to end up in the cool ocean since the day was warm, so we took a minute to swim, and perhaps gain our composure since we were laughing so hard neither of us could grab the boat and put it right side up, but won't admit that. I will say it was a good thing we had a strong guide with us that scooped up our boat and all our gear that went flying and put it all back in the boat.
After the kayak trip we had lunch and explored the island a bit before heading back aboard the boat and headed back to the mainland. It was a fabulous full day of fun.

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