First day of school

The 2018-2019 school year started today. Hudson is in Ms Andrews’ 5th grade class and Eva is in Mr Carroll’s 2nd grade class. Havana had Ms Andrews last year and Hudson had Mr Carroll for 3rd and 4th grades.

Hudson and Bowie are not in the same class for the first time and Hudson was upset and apprehensive about that. But he came out of school today all smiles and really likes Ms Andrews.

Eva and Iris are in the same class this year and almost all her friends from last year are in her class. She’s happy too.

The biggest change is that Havana is now in middle school. 6th graders started today without the 7th and 8th graders so they could get used to the school, multiple class rooms, lockers, etc without the bustle of other kids in the halls. Very cool idea. The school had a parent orientation at the start of school so we attended a presentation by the Principal and others in the morning. Havana was very excited to be going to middle school and she loved it too.

Gay and I also picked them all up after school and took them and friends to Hello Robin for ice cream, which it seemed every other parent also did, including Robin & Clay!

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

The end of summer was approaching and Jon & Megan (and Emmarie) invited us to their family’s lake cabin in Coeur d’Alene for Labor Day weekend. Megan and Amy’s grandparents bought the property and built a cabin in 1905 and their family has been going there ever since!

We last came to Coeur d’Alene in 2005 but didn’t visit their cabin. Gay last went to the cabin almost 30 years ago and I’ve never been there until now. Megan’s sister, Amy, and her family – husband Chad and kids Leo and Kathleen (“Kaki”) and dog Oscar – also came. Barley came with us too. 12 people and 2 dogs in a small cabin on the lake.

After Gay took Havana and a bunch of her friends to a tour of the Seattle famous Fran’s Chocolates — owned by the family of a college friend of Gay’s and one of our neighbors — on Friday, we took the Basecamp and the Discovery to Spokane and drove to Gay’s dad’s house where we spent the night. The kids slept in the Basecamp and Gay and I slept in our tent in the backyard.

Saturday morning, we packed up and all of us, including Gay’s dad, aunts Lillian and Ginny, drove the 45 minutes to Coeur d’Alene for brunch at the resort, leaving the Basecamp behind. We made a quick stop at Starbucks, of course, and Spokane’s REI for a dog leash and headlamps that we (meaning me) forgot at home in our haste to get on the road in Friday.

The Discovery got its first off-roading experience on the 2-mile dirt road from the road down to the cabin. The kids put their mark on it:

Hanging out at the cabin was super fun. We sat on the beach drinking beers, watching the kids play in the water with all the water toys, barbecuing dinners, making breakfasts, taking the boat out on the lake, reading in the hammock, having a bonfire on the beach with neighbors in the Bay. The kids all got along and played all weekend long with zero conflicts. The kids even helped clean up after meals without complaining. 😲


  • On Saturday, Chad took all the boys (me, Jon, Leo and Hudson) across the lake on their boat to Carlin’s where the boat got gas and we got beers, sodas and pretzel bites.
  • I slept both nights in the Discovery despite me and Gay’s plan to sleep in our tent. Gay fell asleep with Eva the first night and while setting up my bed in the tent, I realized the Discovery was empty. So I put all the seats down, put our inflatable mattress pad in the back and slept great. I could even see the stars through the moonroof.
  • A water trampoline kept the kids busy all day on Sunday.
  • Havana went tubing behind a friend of Chad & Amy’s boat. Havana also got to steer Chad & Amy’s boat, a first.
  • Barley loved the beach and the water and ate very well: eggs, bacon, sausage, salmon and English muffins (what he just calls “muffins”, being an English Bulldog).

While trying to take a selfie before we all left the lake, the drone lost its GPS connection and flew out of control, a common criticism of the drone since its inception, and crashed into the lake. Barley then retrieved it from the water and brought it back to us, very proud of himself. My drone is dead, 9 months after GoPro killed it. Next drone: DJI’s Mavic Pro 2?

Slayer 2018

I saw Slayer live for the first time in 1986 or 1987 – I can’t remember, if only blogging existed back then! – in Washington DC on the Reign In Blood tour, when I was 17 years old. Tonight, at 48, I saw them for the second time on their final tour. My 17 year-old self would be proud of me.

I like the beer-related tribute to their deceased guitarist and a band founder, Jeff Hanneman, on the finale:

I missed them the last time they came to Seattle so I made sure I’d see them this time. I bought two box seats with VIP parking and then couldn’t find anyone to go with me, so I had the box to myself. I wanted to get the “total experience” package that lets you backstage to meet the band 🤩, but it was sold out. 😩

That show when I was a kid is in my top 3 concerts of my life. The energy/excitement was incredible and I’ll never forget it (I hope). Tonight wasn’t the same since I’m old, was in a comfy box seat instead of the crush of the first rows and I don’t know most of their songs. But the stage was a lot more than the smoke and lights of 31 years ago! There were two walls of fire with several flamethrowers behind that alternately drew the Slayer 4-sword pentagram and upside-down crosses in the air and some that shot fireballs into the air.

I’m glad they had a long and successful 35-year career and I’m happy to have seen them on their final tour.

End of trip

We had breakfast at the hotel, the kids got some new books at Powell’s, we packed up the car and got back to a very smoky Seattle at 3pm.

11 days, 8 cities/towns/hotels/houses, 1,679 miles and 36.7 hours of driving.

It wasn’t much of a relaxing trip. We didn’t get a lot of down time between driving, moving in/out of lodging, getting meals, etc. I got practically zero reading done and spent most of my free time planning the next drive. But we saw a lot and spent the entire time with the kids, which was kinda the point.

The Discovery is a nice comfortable car to drive, the kids barely even complained about the long drives although no one wanted to sit in the 3rd row since the luggage limited their space, the Adaptive Cruise Control is suddenly a must-have feature for me and makes even bumper-to-bumper traffic pleasant, the kids got way too used to having WiFi in the car, the navigation system is the best I’ve used but the InControl entertainment system can be cumbersome at times.

The Discovery is better in almost every way than my previously most-loved car, our 2008 Lexus LS 460. I’m surprised that 10 years later few cars have all the bells and whistles of that Lexus; it was ahead of its time. The Lexus handled curves at high speed better due to its lower center of gravity, but was not good off-road. The Lexus got a bit better gas mileage. The Lexus had soft-close doors, but not massaging seats. The Lexus had stop-and-go traffic assistance, but not Adaptive Cruise Control. And the Lexus cannot carry 7 people (although I bet you could fit 3 people in its trunk!), tow anything or carry a roof rack.

Next, I have to get a brake controller for the car so we can tow our Basecamp! And I have to figure out where to store the Basecamp so the Discovery can go in the garage.


After Gay and Havana made crab eggs benedict for breakfast, we packed up and left for Portland.

In Portland, we had lunch at Pizza Jerk (Eva had 3 slices!) and then stopped in for what I thought would be a quick sampling of beers at Modern Times PDX. I’m not as big a fan as Gay is of Modern Times and I’ve had a disappointing string of beers on this trip, especially hazy IPAs, so I wasn’t prepared for all the beers that aren’t available in Seattle. Wow! I loved their hazy IPAs and loved their imperial stouts even more. We ended up buying what we could in cans/bottles to take back home to share with Optimism peeps.

Next, we tried to make reservations at Tasty ‘n Alder, which we missed out on last time we were here. That didn’t seem promising. Then we checked into Hotel Lucia, including giving them 2 cases of beer to store in a fridge for us.

We tried again at the restaurant at 6pm, were told they’d call us in an hour to get a table, we walked around and stopped at Clyde Common for a cocktail and sodas and by 7:30pm we were back at the restaurant and seated. Good dinner, the kids even tried some unusual (for them) food.

Klamath Falls to Seaside, Oregon

We got a house on Airbnb in Seaside for 3 nights and met the Carders there. But on the way we first had dinner at Pelican Brewing Co.

We spent Saturday on the beach, then walked into downtown Seaside along the Promenade by the house, drove the bumper cars, rode the tilt-a-whirl – Eva hated it, Havana loved it, hudson refused to ride it – Hudson and Bowie played miniature golf, played games in the arcade, got salt water taffy, had dinner and walked back.

We went to the beach again Sunday morning and then to Cannon Beach for a late lunch at Public Coast Brewing.

After dinner, we went to the beach, started a fire, made S’mores and played Mafia/Guardian Angel, a morbid game the kids know.