Pacific Northwest

We left Minnesota on Wednesday the 23rd...2 days before the cruise left.  Some of you might recall the last time Eric and I took a cruise.  We call it our ill-fated vacation.  Due to some serious airline problems, we missed the boat on day 1 and came within 10 minutes of missing it on day 2 as well!  So perhaps we were a bit gun-shy, but REALLY wanted to make sure we didn't miss the boat this time around!  The extra two days also gave us a chance to visit with some friends in Washington State.  

We got in to Seattle and rented a car.  There will be posts to come on the Great State Race, but with Rachel's 50th state within smelling distance, Eric was feeling a bit bummed out only being at 47.  So, in her magnanimous way, Rachel suggested a brief detour down to Portland to hit up one of Eric's three remaining states (Oregon, S. Carolina, Hawaii).  It was only 20 min south of our friends, so it worked out well!

The question of course was, what to do in Portland when you only have an hour.  Cross the state line and call it good?  We didn't have time for extensive sightseeing, so picked a place on the map called "The Grotto."  It's a Catholic shrine but also a beautiful park, right off the interstate.  It was raining and cool but a beautiful stop.  Here's Eric and Maggie at a small waterfall.
The shrine.

We spent Wed night with our Post-Resident friends, Dan and Kristina Benedick, who have recently started working in southern WA (after returning from Ecuador several months ago).  It was fun to catch up and see their new place!  Thursday we drove back to Seattle and spent the day with our friends from Knox, John and Lace Fang, as well as their daughter Lily.  We didn't do many touristy things, but did get a nice family photo by the Seattle skyline.
Here's Maggie showing off her new "funny face" at a playground/beach near their house.  Those are clouds in the background, but also the snow capped mountains on the Olympic Peninsula.  Wow!  The Pacific NW is soooo beautiful.  Wish we could move there. :)