Adventures living as expats.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

America the Beautiful, Home Leave 2015

A few weeks before we left for our summer trip home, we got the official offer to move to Taiwan.  Jeff had been working really hard towards this move and we had both been keeping our fingers crossed that everything would fall into place as hoped.  Knowing that we'd be home in a few weeks, we decided to wait and tell everyone in person so we could celebrate together.  We've been trying to keep expectations reasonable, but all we can talk about is being able to walk around the city (which is not not much of an option in Jakarta) and enjoy hiking in the mountains of Taiwan (again really difficult in Jakarta due to the hours of traffic returning to Jakarta).  We're even planning on getting a dog!!!

I flew home a few days ahead of Jeff so I could spend some extra time with the family.  Being home during the summer is unbeatable and we arrived just before the 4th of July so we wouldn't miss the fireworks and inevitable party.  The family hosted a big barbeque and we all watched the fireworks from the back patio after stuffing ourselves with Dad's famous ribs and my almost famous apple pie.
Great sunset views from the patio. 
Morgan was happy to show off her new bike skills decked out with streamers, horn, basket, and of course a flag.
Morgan was still full of energy the day after the party so we stopped by the carnival.  I jumped on the swings right out of the gate remembering how much I used to love that ride.  Once it got up to speed I realized my mistake and each round seemed to ratchet up the nausea factor.  After that, Jeff was designated as the official carnival ride jockey.   He later had to pull out due to a bumper car whiplash injury, but luckily Morgan was tired out too so we called it a day.
Just before the nausea set in.
Get ready!
Quick trip to Virginia City for some sightseeing and target practice.
The finale for Nevada was riding the famous flume trail in Tahoe.  It involves a very steep 3 mile climb up to the ridge, then 5 or so miles of flat riding with awe inspiring views and adrenaline pumping drop offs.  Jeff made a video that does a much better job explaining than I can.  I walked away with a few scrapes after an ungraceful fall (of course with a few people watching) on the way down, but it was well worth it for the scenery.

What a view!

Next up we headed up to Portland and went to a Hops baseball game with Dalena and Ivan and enjoyed dinner at the ballpark (which included surprisingly tasty Mexican food), beers, and a great sunset view.

After spending a day running errands including the dreaded DMV, we had a family day and enjoyed lunch at a food cart pod and Nike shopping.  In the evening we headed out to Edgefield for a concert on the lawn.  My favorite part was the homemade Oregon marionberry ice cream.   Jeff seemed most excited about all the McMenamin's beers.  Dalena was excited not to be driving for once and splurged on 2 cocktails bringing her 10 year count up to 3.   Ivan was super pumped about seeing his absolute favorite band, The Decemberists (haha jk Ivan).
Of course we haven't been drinking.
On Sunday we had our second annual wine and picnic day with the Smith's and Vanderboms.   We managed to make it to 4 wineries which takes pure stamina and dedication.  Luckily we were all up for the task especially Rachelle who had to watch us drink with envy last year.
White Rose winery
Fancy picnic time - olives, cured meats, local cheeses, Oregon fruit, and of course wine!
Our last winery of the day.  By this time none of us could stop laughing.

Visiting Matt and Adelle

I've become a bit lazy in keeping up with the blog lately, and Jeff brought up how much he likes to read them later on.  Hearing his encouragement gave me a boost of motivation so I'm determined to catch up with the last few posts I've missed.

Our trip to visit Matt and Adelle can best be summarized in fantastic wine, great company, and delicious meals.  Jeff's video below gives an excellent depiction of the trip.

Our first stop after landing in Sydney was to head north to the beach town of Terrigal.  We took a short hike down to the beach at Bouddi National Park where Matt entertained us with his impressive sand art skills.   Terrigal was the perfect place to get sufficiently caught up with Matt and Adelle while basking in the fresh air of Australia.   Jeff and I have a bit of an obsession with Australian slang so we added "Hoon" (fast driver, can be used as a verb too - hooning around) and "Stobie Pole" (telephone pole) to our ever growing vocabulary.
Bouddi National Park hike
Friendly little lorikeet.
Adelle and I ran up to thepoint one morning, what a view!  
Drinks on the beach after a good walk along the coast
After the extended weekend in Terrigal, Matt and Adelle has some work to catch up on so we headed off for a few days in the Blue Mountains.  When we got there the air was cold and crisp and I was super thankful for my down jacket.  We spent a few days shopping around in Leura, riding the gondola at Scenic World, and snuggling up in our B&B cabin.  
Jeff and I ran to the Three Sisters viewpoint.  Jeff is not much of a morning exerciser and he adamantly accused me of ditching him on the way there claiming that he was going at his "top speed".  
From the gondola at Scenic World
On our way out of the Blue Mountain, we stopped at the Jenolan Caves which we both loved.
For our final weekend in Australia, we reconnected with Matt and Adelle and stayed with them in Canberra.  We arrived to the amazing aromas of Matt's famous lamb leg on the barbie.   The next morning Adelle took us to one of my favorite breakfast spot ever.  The coffee was spot on and we sat outside wrapped up in blankets; it almost felt like breakfast in bed with friends.  We spent Friday touring around Canberra including the War Memorial and Museum, The Parliament, and The Portrait Museum.  Our final day included an epic girls run around the lake which ended up being almost 7 miles!  Luckily we went out to a huge brunch afterwards at a cute restaurant / winery where we all devoured our food.  We're already looking forward to a reunion in late December for the Moore-Sugden wedding celebration.  
War Memorial
You can walk on top of the Parliament! 
Brunch at Poacher's Pantry with Helen
Sunset from Matt and Adelle's apartment on our last night.