Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Oregon Vacation 2013

Oregon Vacation 2013, a set on Flickr.
This year the Caster family trekked thousands of miles (round trip) to the Oregon Coast.

My little family of 4(+1) made the travel time to Oregon like a mini vacation, planning stops at highly recommended places along the way. We made a stop in Hood River, at the base of Mt. Hood, and along the Colombian River Gorge.  Hood River was a really cool little town to visit.  The wind there is unbelievable, making kite surfing and wind surfing a very popular sport.  After lunch in this gem of a town we headed to Moltnomah Falls, for a walk-a-bout.  The scenery here was amazing, and its ease of access makes it quite a busy stop.  I was really surprised that Oregon doesn't begin to look like "OREGON" until you get closer to to coast, in fact it looks pretty much like the barren lands of Western Colorado and Easter Utah.

When we got to the house we rented for the week, we literally parked the car and RAN for the beach.  We spent hours - no joke- searching for the perfect house in the perfect location. We wanted a house on the rocky beach close to tide pools, but will sandy beach access close.  Our house was perfect, I could have sat for all 10 days of vacation at the windows and watched the ocean tide crash upon the rock.

Every morning we got up early and combed the beach for ocean treasures, Maddox was able to find a perfect sand dollar.

We went on many outings while visiting the coast including: Tillamook Cheese Factory, Ocean fishing, Aquariums, the boardwalk at Seaside, and the picturesque Haystack rock at Cannon Beach, riding the rails at the sand dunes, light house touring, and hiking to the highest point on the Oregon Coast at Cape Perpetua. 

We also had our fair share of days enjoying our little town of Yachats, playing on the beach, exploring tide pools, running the coastal trails, and even wine tasting.

I must say that the weather was SO much colder than I had planned for, I really would have been comfortable in my jeans and parka the whole time!  We did have two sunny afternoons where it looked warm enough to trick us into playing in the water, the kids had a blast, but my toes were as far as I could be coaxed to go in.

Our fishing trip resulted in an abundance of fresh cod and black sea bass, which we made two different fresh fish feasts with.

We also had professional family photos take by a friend of Christies while in Cannon Beach and they turned out AMAZING! (I'll see if I can get one or two to share here). 

On the last day we played a lot around Yachats, and made a special trip to see Thor's Well in Cape Perpetua, at high tide.  It truly was stunning to see the massive force of water , and feel the crashing of water against rock as it rumbled deep in your heart.
To wrap up our trip on an exciting note, Dillon proposed to Christie at sunset on the rocky beach just outside of the house!!!  And even better she said YES!!!!!! 

This was one heck of a fun filled family vacation!  I think our next one might be a destination wedding.... maybe somewhere warm....

My favorite trip memory would be the mornings we woke up as a family, our little 4 (+1) and explored the beach together. There was something magical and intimate about those morning hours spent together, waves crashing so loud they drowned out the rest of the world, the fog heavy and thick creating our own little world where only we existed, just us and the sea.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Mt. Sneffels Half Marathon

This race has been on my "to run" list ever since I saw a flyer for it on my 30th birthday trip to Ouray. 

I ran this course several years ago for a training run while we were camping and it quickly became my favorite run. 

My family came to cheer me on, this was the first race they were all present for, and it was great to see them along the course. 

Anne and I ran a great pace as the course is mostly a gradual down hill... Except for the first two miles, and a humongous hill at mile 11. I was pleased with my time of 2:02:11 (according to my Garmin). My goal was to be as close to two hours as possible. 

After the race the family and I enjoyed the town of Ouray - in a rain and thunderstorm. We went on a little hike on our new favorite trail, the baby bathtubs. Though the bathtubs were too full and fast to play in they still were amazingly beautiful. We also got to soak in the hot springs, in the rain. 

I absolutely LOVE Ouray, and the rain makes it all the more cozy!!

It was a beautiful morning to run, and the scenery was that which ranks among the most beautiful places in the world... And there was a nice cold beer at the finish! All in all I'd say it was pretty close to perfect! 

Back to School

This year back to school seemed to creep out of no where. Not only did our district start 2 weeks earlier than usual, but we were go-go-going right up to the last second. 

Our family vacation to Oregon brought us home the week before I officially had to return to work however, I was asked to help lead the middle school math in-service and we had to meet just days after returning home. Needless to say I was not able to get much BTS preparation done . 

I was also at the tail end of training for my half marathon, which meant we were decreasing our miles, but it also meant race day was upon me... This combined with a work week more filled with meetings than actual time to prepare for students sent me into an anxiety attack. I haven't had one this bad in a loooong time. My chest felt like it was squeezing so tight I couldn't breathe, I had a huge knot at my sternum, and my heart was racing. I sent out prayer requests and just kept saying the name of Jesus- it was all I could focus on. Thankfully this was a school inservice day and I wasn't missing out on getting work done. The anxiety alleviated enough for me to function but it lingered through the start of school. 

The Saturday before school started (with kids) we were in Ouray CO for me to run the Mt. Sneffels half marathon. We enjoyed our usual stops; Mouses Chocolate, Ouray Hot Springs, and a hike up Baby Bathtubs. My anxiety over school starting and not being prepared made it logical to head home early Sunday morning, and I was able to get some BTS shopping done. 

The morning of the first day Madison had VB try outs beginning at 6:00 AM. I was thankful that B was able to go into work late and take her, otherwise it would have been a crazy morning for Maddox and I. 

My Freshman:
She reported that the first day was hectic, "there's just so many people!"

My Second Grader:
When asked about his day Maddox replied "It was GREAT!

I wasn't able to catch a first day pic of me- darn it ;). I had no embarrassing spill to share this year, and my classes seem pretty good- which leaves me excited and hopeful. 

First week update: 
Maddox fell on the playground and got a mild concussion on the second day of school, I had to leave work and get him. I'm so thankful for my MGMS family who volunteered to take my classes. He was back to normal in a 3-4 hours and was able to go back to school the rest of the week. He was so upset that he had missed school, and his favorite subject.... Math! That's my boy!

Madison had VB tryouts M-W until 6:30. Tuesday was the PHS back to school dance until 9:00. She had homework every night and was up past 11:00 each night. Madison made the VB team, and had team building at the ropes courseThursday until 7:00. Then Friday was practice followed by a going away party for one of her close friends, Russell.  Welcome to High School Bug! 

The fact that I barely got to see Madison  this week and that this is going to be the normal for the next 4 years was heart breaking. It's hard for me to realize that my girl is on her way out.