28 Aug 2013

We’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for a year and a half and spent most of our travel time-budget on trips to Europe and Oklahoma. Not to say that 12 countries in 10 days and the honkytonk outback aren’t worthy vacation spots but this summer we’re going to become true Pacific Northwesterners in a project I’m calling “The Jentz Family Conquers Everything West of the Cascades in the State of Washington (and Beyond Depending on When My Husband Gets His Renewed Passport Back from the German Consulate Located in a Laundry Room of a Senior Citizen’s Home in Kirkland).” We’re going to wear backpacks, buy Tevas, learn the difference between all 2,367 species of salmon and pick and jam more berries than a family of  four should consume in a lifetime. 


We started our adventures in June with a trip to the Olympic Peninsula. Ever since Henric read the Twilight series for the fourth time, he’s been begging to explore the woods and wildlife of the vampires and tribal wolf peoples. I finally relented, but since the town of Forks is just about the most depressing, non-existent, saddest little town on the Olympic Peninsula, I chose to throw a little class into our trip with a stay at the Lake Quinault Lodge.


An old national park lodge, the whole place has a Dirty Dancing(minus the dirty dancing)-feel with lawn games, family activities, and hikes through the wilderness led by volunteer rangers. It was the perfect weekend getaway. We spent hours in Adirondacks, drinking sundowners on the lawn, looking at the mountains, and watching Anabelle play. We ate delicious meals in the Roosevelt room, where Franklin Roosevelt ate during his visit in 1937, and where everyone knows French Toast is supposed to be stuffed with cream cheese and covered in berry compote. We roasted marshmellows at a bonfire on the shores of the lake in the evening and watched the sun go down over the mountains. And I ran faster than I have in months after being told that I shouldn’t worry about bears on the trails because they only get up to around 200lbs.


After two days of laziness we took the long way home with stops at the biggest version of every tree native to the peninsula, RubyBeach, Kalaloch, Forks and Port Angeles, fully checking off all the Twilight hotspots on Henric’s list. The fact that we didn’t need to visit La Push probably gives some insight in to which team he bats for… We made it home via the ferry late and exhausted but super pleased with the start of our summer adventure series.


Two weekends later the adventures continued as we headed inland through the mountains to Rimrock Lake for an awesome weekend with friends. Not far from the Yakima Valley and White Pass ski resort, we met up with five other adults and two kids in a mountain lake cabin. Full of really great meals, good conversations, a super competitive late-night card game, the weekend was an important reminder of how lucky we are to have developed solid friendships with fun and awesome people in just the year and a half we’ve been here. It’s really hard being this far away from family and the last nine months has been a reminder of how hard it is going to continue to be. I’m hoping our summer of adventure will also be a reminder of how important it is to bring some vacation into the every day too.


Once again, we took the long way home, passing more big trees, scenic overlooks and a long-trek-to-nowhere attempt to see Mount St. Helens. Apparently Henric has some kind of inner-force driving him to see every “World’s Biggest…” tree in the Pacific Northwest. And there are a lot of them. This pull is similar to my need to stop at every ice cream stand we pass while the children are sleeping. It is going to be a very long summer.


  • Rae - August 28, 2013

    ah this post makes me miss those beautiful, cool PNW summers. You are so right on about being isolated in a new place–I forgot how long /how much effort it takes to make new friends, especially with the little ones. Praying to get lucky with kindred spirits like you did!

  • Rae - August 28, 2013

    Oh yah, you’re right Forks is totally depressing…and so is Aberdeen and most of those little blue collar towns sprinkling the coastline. No surprise Kurt contain came out f a place like Aberdeen.

  • Christine - August 28, 2013

    Oh man, I want to come on next one. We are in the summer version of hibernation, where we hide indoors. (Occasionally venture out for entirely-aquatic-based adventures.)

  • Mom - August 28, 2013

    Ok now I want to go to Olympic Peninsula

  • melissa - August 28, 2013

    We just passed through Aberdeen for the second time last week, Rae! I think it’s probably more depressing than Forks. At Forks you know there’s nothing there but in Aberdeen you see all the fast food restaurants and the Wal-Mart and think maybe there’ll be something worth seeing/eating/doing only to realize there’s not.

  • melissa - August 28, 2013

    I saw you were just in San Francisco, Christine. You should come up next time you’re so close! I need someone to go out with! You can bring the husband and kids and we’ll leave them at home :)

  • melissa - August 28, 2013

    We’re ready to go back, Mom! Name the date!

  • Minda Scherer - August 29, 2013

    Please include me on that mother and daughter trip! Laith is talking about a visit to you and Henric, too. Enjoy!

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