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Wine, Women, and Smoke

Yep, that’s right, another camping vacation in the books and it was another fun one of course! This one took us to the wine country of Eastern Washington and into the foothills of the Blue Mountains of Northeast Oregon. Four couples and four trailers involved, us, Rich and Pam, Bob and Patty, and Rob and Ursie, otherwise known as “The Gang of Six”! The ride over was a white knuckled extravaganza due to high winds blowing and reduced visibility to to blowing dust and smokey skies. It was also a boys(Cordell and I) solo journey without Debbie. See got her calendars crossed and signed up for a half marathon in Vancouver, BC during the same weekend as the beginning of the vacation. It was all good and we arranged it so she could still go up, by herself, do the run and then fly into Walla Walla the second night and join in the vacation fun! So after the trailer blowing from side to side most of the way into Walla Walla, the boy and I made it to the first stop RV Resort Four Seasons safe and sound.

Now there is Bob McEvoy, one of the unluckiest and in the same note, luckiest guys we know! As I arrived and started backing in, there he stood blood all over his hands, arms, dripping down his clothes with his permanent grin plastered on his face. He looked like a scene from a horror movie. Seems their camping cat they rescued some time ago and may still be a bit feral, escaped from the truck when they pulled in. Afraid the cat might just take off for good, he and Patty made a mad rush after it. When Bob got his hands on the crazed feline, it went catnip crazy on his extremities. The result was a bloodied Bob but a captured cat! These injuries hampered him throughout the trip, requiring a trip to an urgent care then surgery back home as sever infection set it! It could only happen to him.

The second night, Debbie flew in from Vancouver, BC at the large international air hub that is Walla Walla Regional Airport and the following two days we spent indulging in the region’s many many wineries. Wine tasting all day, four women, many bottles purchased, well you might take an educated guess how the nights went. We found Walla Walla to be way more interesting than imagined. I don’t recall ever actually being in downtown Walla Walla although have driven by and near it many times. The downtown core is bustling with many cool shops, restaurants and many tasting rooms. One restaurant we stopped for lunch was the Red Monkey, a funky little place with some really good food, and you can see the tasting tour list we did at the end of the post. It was a very nice town, but would we live there…….naw!

The next half of the trip was just over the border into Oregon, taking a road from Milton-Freewater into a canyon along the south fork of the Walla Walla River to a campground called Harris Park. It was a nice clean place and we had it all to ourselves for the first two nights. They had a group camp section and that’s where we all gathered.

Camp Crazy!

Camp Crazy!

We really wanted to do some hiking and that we did. The only problem there was really only two good trails and one was closed due to the large number of rattlesnakes infesting the hillside around the trail. Debbie does NOT do snakes………of any kind! We ended up doing two days of hiking the same hike. That is kind of boring but on the second day we went a bit further and stumbled on a very cool cluster of cabins at the end of the trail. It probably could only be accessed on the other side of the range by ATVs or four wheelers. The place looked like an old homestead, but was being visited and kept up. We let our imaginations run wild. Our campground was totally off the grid, no cell or phone service was to be had. We actually had to look at and talk to each other the whole time we were there….imagine that! The closest town was Milton-Freewater about 12 miles back the way we came in. We had to go there to get ice and also had to hit their only laundromat to do some washing because our boy Cordell decided to blow bits into the bed one early morning. We have only one set of bedding in the trailer(make note to buy another). Now unlike Walla Walla, the town isn’t so….well…..bustling! It is actually kind of depressing, but one weird thing, there are statues of frogs all over town and Debbie was fascinated with them.

Debbie and the Frog!

Debbie and the Frog!

There are over 40 of them placed throughout the town and do you know why? Well you can read why here! The one gem we did discover was the El Sirloin Mexican Restaurant. They had a mexican food lunch buffet and it was very authentic and excellent. Do not pass it up if you ever find yourself in town. The only downside to the whole trip was the constant haze and smoke in the air. As you might have heard, Washington State has had one of it’s hottest and driest summers on record. That has not bode well for Eastern Washington and it’s fire season. It has been horrible with hundreds of thousands of acres burned and many homes lost! We were surrounded by fires while there and the hazy skies and the smell of smoke reminded us daily. As we slide into Fall please help us with your prayers for rain, we need it! There you have it, our fun vacation filled with wine, women, and smoke! I should add blood to the list! Happy trails until we write again!

WINERY TOUR LIST!

Woodward Canyon Winery
Lodmell Cellars
Three Rivers Winery
L’ Ecole No. 41
Sleight of Hands Cellars
Otis Kenyon
Cougar Crest Winery
Henry Earl Estates

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Vacation 2013 Part One

It is vacation time again and we took two glorious weeks off!! The weeks were as separate as night and day and we start off with part one, the first week! This was the fun one. We got or trailer hitched up and made our way down to Oregon to hook up with three other couples and their trailers to make the Crazy Caravan! After enduring the horrible Friday afternoon traffic in Portland, we finally made our first destination and hooked up with the first couple (Rich and Pam) in Eugene. Our overnight stay was at Premier RV Resort which is a clean and convenient stop for an overnight stay! We had a nice evening hanging out and catching up.

Our next stop and destination was near Cave Junction, OR at the Country Hills Resort. There we hooked up with the rest of the gang, Patti & Bob, and Rob & Ursie. It was hotter than hell and luckily we had power to run our A/C cause it was a furnace! The place was nice and tucked back into the woods but soon we felt a strange vibe about the place. There wasn’t anything wrong with the place, just strange and had some strange folks staying in the other sites! More about that later! It was also where some trailer breakdowns started occurring. Bob’s brand new rig had one of the cabinet and doors come away from the mount. Rich’s fairly new trailer’s water pump started leaking. Our shower stall started leaking water onto the floor when showering. That just took some heavy duty caulking to finally get it to stop! I had recently bought a new fangled PocketHose that seemed perfect for the trailer! I was excited as I hooked it up, it expanded, and water flowed into the trailer….all was well with the world! My trailer buds were ready to buy one ASAP! The very next day this happened:

What a piece of “made in China” shit!!!! Do NOT buy one of these pieces of crap!!! That deflated my bubble and back to the old stiff, hard to manage, regular hoses we went. At night we would hear strange noises and see shadows in the woods and out of our trailers. Scary and weird! Then to top it off, we had the “magic mushrooms boys” across the way from us. Twice they brought us various containers, one being a blue pumpkin candy holder and the other a glass with figures of nude females on the sides, filled with glass beads. Then on the way out, I ran into him again and he offered me some of his magic little shrooms of which I courteously declined. The big highlight of the stay was taking a trip through the Oregon Caves. That was a blast and it was a refreshingly 44 degrees in them also and the caves themselves were fascinating! Another highlight was all piling into the McEvoy rig and playing Cards Against Humanity! Yes, we are all horrible people! It was nice to finally pull out of there and head on down the road!

Down the road meant driving into Northern California and heading toward the coast and into the redwoods. As we did that, we watched the temperature plummet from the low 100’s into a very cool and comfortable low 70’s. i may speak for myself but I was now a very happy camper! Our next stop was at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. It was a beautiful place hugging the Smith River. We took a nice hike into the majestic giants and felt really small and insignificant against these beauties of Nature. We decided to take a break from campground cooking and cleaning up after and drove into a fog shrouded Crescent City and located a nice restaurant, the Harbor View Grotto, and had a decent meal, drinks, and camaraderie.

Up into the Oregon Coast we went to our next destination, Humbug Mountain State Park. I had driven by this locale many, many times in the past and had never stopped. It was a very nice campground and just a short walk to the beach where whales were spouting off in the distance. We hiked the Humbug Mountain Trail, which was a pretty steep trip and surprisingly offered few good views of the coast and ocean, but was beautiful none the less. Then the inevitable occurred as it always does when Rich and I get together, we got really spanked on Jager and stayed out on the beach until 3am with our girls. We were looking at the mountain in the darkness and saw lights among the trees and actually thought there were hikers up there in the dark. It turned out to be the full moon rising up from behind the trees! I didn’t feel too hot the next morning and also pulled my back out, just great for the rest of the vacation. I managed to get camp up with help from Rich and Bob and hobbled on to the next and final stop.

Cape Perpetua was our final stop of this fun trip. In my opinion it was the most beautiful part. The coast of Oregon is at its most rugged and captivating along this stretch. It took awhile to get there, as I was contacting my local doctor trying to get a prescription for something, but after a long wait in the parking lot of a Safeway, they declined to get me anything. So I just winged it with a little help from my buddy Rob who shed some of his muscle relaxers to get me through the worst of it. Since some of us were either injured or just worn out, we did minimal hiking. We went up to the top of the Cape and went out to the rock shelter. We also went into the town of Yachats and had big Bob’s 60th birthday dinner at Ona Restaurant. It was a great dinner and we had a fantastic waitress who endured our craziness and partying. Bob had a good time on his milestone day and it was a great fun trip with some great fun friends. Check out the pictures in the photo set. Stay tuned for part two of the 2013 vacation……more work…less play on that one!

Summer Adventures

It has been a busy summer so far. Much of the spring was involved taking monthly trips to our island cabin, furnishing, cleaning, decorating, fixing, etc. I am having to learn how to fix things now and even tackled replacing the kitchen faucet and range hood, thanks to help from my buddy Larry! We had much of the interior painted except for the two bathrooms and one bedroom. We are going to do those rooms ourselves as we didn’t have colors picked out yet. The painter was a local guy who didn’t really do that great of a job and is still not finished and says he won’t be until the first week of September…….fucking unacceptable! We are not happy and I have paid the dude in full already, my very bad mistake!!! We have pictures that we cannot even put up because the mistakes really show up in the flash. At any rate, it looks better than before and is getting very cozy and comfortable with many of our touches. We have accommodated guests twice now and they felt very much at home and our little cabin was big enough for them all!

We finally de-winterized the trailer, cleaned her up, loaded it with supplies, hitched her to the truck and headed back to………yep, Oregon, once again! Our destination this time was the coast once again and we camped at Beverly Beach State Park. It was beautiful. We explored the coast again, heading to Newport, Depot Bay, Florence, Agate Beach, etc. We also scoped out campgrounds, visited scenic sights, lighthouses, and did a little wine tasting as we always do! We never tire of the Oregon Coast and are planning the next trip to start from the California redwoods and drive back up the coast next year!

Duplicating our route in February, we drove to central Oregon over the Santiam Pass to our secret camping spot near Sisters, OR. There we met up with some very good friends Rich, Pam, Kelsey, Rob, and Ursie. We all camp together in the middle of the woods and eat, drink, build big camp fires, hike, shoot guns, drink, ride dirt bikes, more eating, and drinking. It is hot, dusty, and dirty, but a very fun time with great friends! Have a look at the few photos we took of the trip!

Camp Givens

After we got back, the following weekend we rode the Mt to Sound Greenway Snoqualmie Tunnel Bike Ride. It was a twenty-five mile bike ride down the John Wayne Pioneer Trail which took us through the two and a half mile tunnel. All these years of living here and we had never been to the tunnel. Going through an old two-mile, abandoned train tunnel is dark, cold and spooky, but was fun as hell! At the end we had a great BBQ. It is fun to get out and explore what is just right outside our doorstep. We have a wedding coming down in Portland we are going to, the Boeing Classic Golf Tournament that we always volunteer to work and watch, then we will be spending a whole week at the cabin right after that which takes us right into September. Wow, where did the summer go!!!???

Oregon Vacation 2012

It is obvious we seem to love the great state of Oregon because we keep returning there year after year. Once again we took a road trip back there. We first headed to the coast winding up in Newport. We have driven through the quaint coastal town many times in the past, but never stayed and explored it much. This time we did and discovered it to be very beautiful. We stayed at the Hallmark Resort right on the beach. Cordell loved running on the beach. He goes crazy out there on the sand and watches the waves and seagulls and explores the driftwood and bits washed ashore! If you just drive down the coast highway like we have done many times past, you don’t discover the very cool part of the town, the old historic dock part of the town. We did and it was very cool with many shops, galleries, restaurants, and sights. We had one of the best dinners ever at a place called Local Ocean! It was fresh and wonderful and if we lived here, it would be our favorite dining stop. We also took a drive up the coast a bit and ended up at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. Debbie loves going there and any time we are within driving distance, we go eat cheese!!!!!

Leaving the coast for our second leg of the trip, we drove to central Oregon over the Santiam Pass to our next destination of Suttle Lake near Sisters, OR. There we met up with some very good friends Rich and Pam and bunked together at the Lodge At Suttle Lake. It is a very beautiful property nestled in the woods on the shores of Suttle Lake. We had a very nice cabin but no internet and you know I needs my internets!!! We had dinner with another couple of friends Rob and Ursie at the Tumelo Feed Company where you can get great steaks and a nice big plate of rocky mountain oysters (no….Deb nor I tried them). It was very nice being together with all these great people at the same table. We have shared many good times together! The next day was snowmobiling time!!! Rich and Pam have their own, so Debbie and I had to rent ours. The weather was iffy at best with the wind blowing hard. In Bend things looked hopefully, but by the time we hitched the trailer with our sleds and followed Rich up to the sno park near Mt Bachelor, the wind was howling and snowing sideways. Well did that stop us, hell no and off on the trails we went. It was fun but slow going as visibility was an issue for all of us at times, sometimes not being able to see the trail in front of you. We made it to the Elk Lake Resort where we dried and warmed up a bit with a hot coffee drink before heading back. We were going to do a loop, but due to time constraints and needing to get the sleds back in time, we had to go back the way we came. The trip back was much better as the wind and snow stopped and the sun came out! It was fun regardless of the weather!

Well we parted ways and started on the third and final leg of our trip driving down the road to Sunriver where we had a fabulous room at the Sunriver Resort! The place is gorgeous!

The Lodge

We absolutely love this area and have thought about retiring here many times! Having a state income tax on top of the federal taxes have changed our mind about retiring in Oregon though. We just don’t feel like giving an additional 10% of our pensions to the state. We have settled on somewhere else, but more on that in a later post! We took Cordell on a nice long walk around the grounds and into the Village, had a great dinner in the restaurant, and enjoyed the accommodations. The next day we went skiing at Mt Bachelor. The weather was perfect, but my skiing wasn’t. I think I rented the wrong skis and spent a lot of time on my back. It was pathetic and poor Debbie’s day was ruined waiting for me! I think some lessons are in order since I have never had any. I just pointed myself downhill one day at Ski Apache in New Mexico on fine day long ago and headed down and figured it out. I am sure I learned some bad habits along the way that need to be corrected. The next day ended our time and we had to head back home. Actually it was in the nick of time, as bad weather and snow had come and made driving a bit tricky at times but we made it back safely. The time had gone by very fast on this trip and the next scheduled vacation won’t happen until July. We will be busy though as you shall soon see, meanwhile have a look at the few photos we took and we’ll see ya soon!

Road Trip 2011

Well it was time for our annual visit to Best Friends Animal Society and this year we decided to try something different and drive down there. After all, we have a great truck, a very nice trailer and plenty of time. Since we planned on taking Cordell, we figured he would be much more comfortable in his little travel bed in the back seat. So we loaded up and headed down the highway for the start of a great trip. We left Patience the cat at home but in good hand of our pet sitter Jenny. Some people ask, why don’t you take the cat with you? Uh yeah, have you ever known a cat that could car travel well? I haven’t seen that many. She is perfectly fine at home, but I am sure she gets a bit lonely since she is a very social little feline. Jenny gives her a lot of attention when she comes for a visit!

Our first stop was Boise, Idaho. We stayed at a the Boise – Meridian KOA. It was ok for just a one night stay. We planned on stopping in Boise so we could visit our niece Jennifer and her fiance Austin. Austin got a great job offer down in Dallas and they would soon be moving, so it was great to get a chance to see them before they left. Talk about good timing! Next we headed down into Utah and the Salt Lake City area. We both have been in Salt Lake before, but never actually looked around much. We stayed in Draper which is south of Salt Lake City so we wouldn’t have to deal with morning rush hour traffic on the day we left. We stayed at the Mountain Shadows RV Resort. A very nice place but very close to the interstate. We drove out to the Great Salt Lake and let Cordell romp around. The thing is huge. You forget that is a lake after looking at it awhile. We also drove to downtown and visited Temple Square, world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Mormons. We learned quite a bit of the history of the Mormons of which I was always very confused about. Now I have a clearer understanding of the religion, if that’s what it is, but don’t plan on converting any time soon.

The next leg of the journey took us to Kanab, home of Best Friends and had our only glitch of the trip. While stopping at a very large Flying J Truck Stop, one of the guys working there passed by and noticed one of our trailer tires looking very worn and unsafe and offered to put the spare on just in case. After talking with the guys in the tire shop, we ended up buying four new tires, much better ones that were on it. I don’t feel we got railroaded into anything because the tires that came on the trailer were just cheap pieces of crap. It was much better to be cautious and get some good rubber for the rest of the road. It was very nice to be back in Kanab again. The place is beautiful and seems to be timeless. It was our first time needing a place to put the trailer and options were limited. Luckily we got a spot at the Hitch N Post and it suited our needs just fine. Back at Best Friends, the return was bittersweet. We first worked with Pigs in Piggy Paradise and just a week before, our best friend there Brandi Bandi passed away. It just wasn’t the same and even the pigs seem to feel the loss. She was a very special person who loved her piggies and gave so much to them. She was taken way too soon and will be missed very much. We also worked in dogs and took Cordell with us to his old run. You can read all about that in the previous post! While we were there we got to go to the September Blessing at Angel’s rest. It was very heart warming and emotional. See video of part of the blessing here!

We then departed on the longest leg of the journey of the trip. We drove 12 hours to South Lake Tahoe. This took us through a big part of Nevada which we had never seen before. We drove on the Extraterrestrial Highway for a long time and no, didn’t see any UFO’s. It is a pretty bleak state until you get in the northern part. It was also quite an event filled leg of the trip, experiencing wind, thunder and lightning, and a fire near the road which luckily we got through. But we made it. By coincidence, a couple that Debbie has known for many years was also on a road trip of their own and met us in Tahoe. They stayed at the same campground we did just a few spots away. They were good people. I also got a chance to see my half brothers and sister which I hadn’t seen in almost twenty years. They brought their wives and kids and we had an impromptu family reunion and had a great visit and rekindled family ties. There was a Oktoberfest celebration that was going on and we checked it out too.

We left after two days there and started on the final leg home which brought us back through Oregon and then into Washington and they grey skies and rain that were mostly absent the whole trip. It was good to be home and in our own bed once again. Cordell was great the whole trip and had a great time himself. He loves to travel and travels very well. Patience was very vocal on our arrival and was obviously glad to see us. I have uploaded photos in our Flikr photo page so go check them out when you get a chance. Now it is time to get back to the reality of life, work, bills,etc! until next time!!

ROAD TRIP STATS
ELEVEN DAYS
SEVEN STATES
2911 MILES

What A Summer So Far

While the rest of the country bakes in intense heat, we here in the Seattle area have yet to see a real summer. We have just barely hit 80 and have only flirted with the upper 70’s. You wouldn’t believe all the crying and whining about it! Me, I just sit back grinning from ear to ear because I love it and cannot stand hot weather anymore. I grew up in the heat and lived in it for much of the first part of my life and have had enough. I would not care if I ever saw an 80 degree day for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, it is driving Debbie and many others up here crazy, and I have to listen to it! I could just imagine the whining and whimpering if we were experiencing 120 degree heat indexes like a lot of the Midwest. You can have it! I just hope August doesn’t prove to be a scorcher. I am crossing my fingers!

Summer part two – now I try to stay healthy, maybe not hard enough. I have a few extra pounds hanging around me that I just can’t shake, but it is my own fault. I have sweet cravings these days that kick me in the gut. I love Schwan’s Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream, and put a doughnut in front of me and I will inhale that unhealthy bastard before you can blink. Debbie can ignore all the unhealthy food products these days and is great health, in fact just lost around 70 pounds and has kept it off and looks and feels great! To try to offset my vices I try to stay active. We hike, ride bikes, walk Cordell around the neighborhood, and I run (well jog). I am not a fast runner, or a running fiend, just kind of like it and it helps to keep some of the baggage under control. Back in June I was out on one of my runs and my foot caught a unlevel sidewalk slab and I went down hard!! I road rashed my left knee and elbow, my face slammed in my left forearm and put a nasty bruise on it, and I bruised my left kidney and ribs and abdominal wall. I haven’t run or been the same since! There have been visits to the walk in clinic, hospital, doctors, and again recently to the ER at Swedish when my muscles in the left side of my abdomen went into spasms. Debbie and I spent a whole Saturday afternoon and evening sitting in an ER room! I would say that ruined our weekend. At this point there is really no treatment except to just let it heal, so I am impatiently trying to do just that! No running, lifting, pulling, pushing, sit ups, etc. I guess Debbie has to do everything 😉

With all this going on, we still managed to take the truck and trailer and go on a week-long camping trip. We met some of our great camping buddies down in Oregon just outside Sisters and did some camping out in the middle of the woods. We took Debbie’s gun and with Rob and Rich’s collection, we had an arsenal with which we did some target practice. Debbie and I love the Sisters/Bend area and may retire there! We parted from our friends and solo’d up to Toppenish and Leavenworth to finish out our trip. Did a lot of wine tasting and buying and found a great RV resort in Leavenworth which we will return many more times. Cordell was with us on our trip and he just loves going camping and loves being in the trailer. The truck did it’s job wonderfully.   Our next excursion is back down to Best Friends in Utah and we are toying with the idea of just driving down there with the trailer. We’ll see what happens! Look at our camping pictures at our photo page and now it is time to go back to work…..yuk!

Mt. Bachelor

We have done some very good vacation planning this year, just like the last year! With my job, I have to pick my vacations in January for the complete year. Sometimes it is hard to know what plans to make in advance and what weeks to pick. But last year we did great and this year is all laid out. We have never done a week ski vacation before. Usually it is just a long weekend or possibly an anniversary trip that we do some skiing! This year we decided to plan one! Debbie looked and looked for a place to go. Colorado was a thought, but we found it to be on the spendy side. Tahoe was another target, but again proved to be to pricey. Another factor was Cordell. We planned on taking him with us and just couldn’t justify the expense. On of our friends suggested we check out Mt. Bachelor just outside of Bend, Or. We could drive down and plus we had friends there we could visit! Debbie found a great place to stay so off we went with Cordell in the back seat. Now people always ask, what about Patience (the cat). Have you ever travelled with a cat? They don’t do well and she is happy at home just fine. We have very good friends that take good care of her.

The drive to Bend isn’t a bad one and we had great tunes to listen to whilst on the way from SnoJoRadio my music podcast! Debbie had found us a condo to stay at the Seventh Mountain Resort for the week and our unit was dog friendly! It was a very nice place and just twenty minutes at the most to the slopes at the mountain. It also had a kitchen so we could cook there when we wanted. A very cozy place. Cordell loved walking the grounds and exploring. Both of us had been to Bend a few years back, but had never been to Mt Bachelor to ski and only vaguely remembered anything about the town itself! It is a really cool, hip town and the downtown section is very vibrant and alive. There are many restaurants for a town that size, so when we did decide to venture out for dinner, we had plenty of choices. We ate at the Pine Tavern Restaurant, McMenamins, and also the Brickhouse Restaurant. Each of the were fantastic! When we weren’t on the slopes, we drove around and explored. We took a drive down to Sunriver, and also headed out to Sisters, Or. It was a bit quiet at both places, but we did find a lively and enjoyable place to have dinner in Sisters at a place called Bronco Billys Ranch Grill and Saloon. Dinner was filling, tasty, and cheap. Check out my salad that I had to take part of back to the condo:

My Huge Cobb Salad

Now the real reason we went down to Bend was to ski and ski we did! The only snafu was my feet, especially the left one. I have very flat feet and also pronate somewhat. I have to wear special orthotics in my street and running shoes and the rental boots on the mountain just killed my left foot. After the first day, I was in severe pain. I was hoping not to spoil the rest of the week for Debbie because she was looking forward to doing a lot of sking. We spent a whole day looking at ski boots and thought we had found a pair for me, but hesitated. Then I decided to rent some demo boots skis at the mountain. I explained my situation to the boot fitter there and he came up with a pair of Tecnica Mega 12’s and I was in heaven. It was the first time in my life I could ski for hours and have no foot pain. I scored on a new pair, and as well fitted as they were, they still needed to be punched out for my left foot. Then Debbie wanted to also demo boots and skis and by the time we left, we each had a pair of brand new boots! I guess we will be skiing more often now! We’ll demo skis for a while until we decide to buy, but we need to save money for the next big vacation adventure coming in May! I also put up some pictures of our trip in a new album on our Flickr Photo Page, so go have a look!

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