Finding Peaks: Part 2

12 09 2019

A few weeks back, we finally got a chance to take on our second peak of the summer. Well, “peak” is pushing it. We climbed a hunk of rock and stood on top of it, so I’m dubbing it a peak.

We’ll go with the 3rd definition…

As we got our stuff, Simba pouted and glared, as he did not get to join us for this particular hike. We loaded the car and headed west, down the gorgeous Gorge. Despite making this drive twice a day, 5 days a week, for the last 3 years, it still brings calm and joy to my little heart. Its just so spectacular.

We did have to skirt a parade marching through Stevenson (J wouldn’t let me join in) but finally arrived at the trail head. I had mentally prepared myself for the crowd – this close to Portland, right on the highway, we would not be seeking the solace and silence of the woods and rock. Today was a different mission.

Today we climb Beacon Rock.

Beacon Rock, WA hike

The big volcanic plug on the left. Climbed it!

Ok, let me clarify that a bit. We hiked the trail to the top of Beacon Rock, we did not strap on our harnesses and rock climb the basalt. Both are options, but Z isn’t quite there yet. Back in 1915, a dude named Henry Biddle bought the big monolith for one, single, solitary dollar and built a trail to the top. We tipped our hats to good ole Henry and headed up the well-worn path.

J was sporting the Ergo this time, with a happy little Z kicking his feet and talking to the rocks. Now, you might remember my freak out rant the last time about how proud I am that I can hike with my enormously chunky baby. As we got out of the car, I prepared my argument, when J took all the fight out of me. “You always get to carry him…” J said matter-of-factly, looking me dead in the eye.

Was this a ploy to carry the baby in what he considers safer conditions than if I carried him? Maybe. Did it work? Yes. I relinquished the pack and then smiled when I realized how obnoxiously adorable my hubby is all strapped into the Ergo with a giggling baby bouncing against his chest. Right…Z is his baby, too.

hiking Beacon Rock trail, Beacon Rock State Park WA

Like father like son…

So off we went, up the trail that was remarkably not as steep as I thought it would be. Ramps and hand rails and switchbacks really make it a pretty easy hike. Its just over a mile to the top and the heavy traffic offers lots of people-watching. One beast of a girl was hiking on crutches and smiling the whole way (you get it, girl!). Three bros were coming down blaring music from a portable speaker and almost received a rant from JBoo. Their tiny tank tops were frightening but the music was just rude. I think Z saved them. The folks at the top that went around the safety railing to climb out on the edges also almost got a talking-to from J, as this is a huge problem for him – but a quick reminder that he’s not at work (and it won’t be his search and rescue call…) helped turn his head and smile for my group selfie.

top of Beacon Rock, WA trail

View upstream – so lovely. ❤

It was quick and crowded but the views really are gorgeous. The Columbia Gorge is such a unique and stunning landscape, I feel like we can never explore enough of it. Z fell asleep quickly once we got back down to the car and J bought us tacos on the way home (bonus treat!). I’m glad I finally got to experience this on foot after driving by it so many times. The only problem now is….what other Gorge hikes do we still need to cross off the list?!

Our First Christmas

1 01 2019

One of the super fun parts of having a baby is getting to see everything in a new light. The little tot is experiencing the world for the very first time, and we get to witness that. For the first couple weeks especially, one of us could be heard exclaiming, “Aw, it’s his first time ________________!”

Some of these things were memorable enough to land in his baby book, like his first outfit, his first bath, his first (intentional) smile, his first hike.

baby's first bath

First time in the tub – not sure about all this splish-splash business…

baby visiting Natural Bridges, Gifford Pinchot

First family photo while on our first walk in the woods!

baby's first hike to Falls Creek Falls, WA

Snuggling with Auntie Em on his first hike to overlook his first waterfall! It was a big day.

Some were not so note-worthy, though at the time, equally exciting. His first diaper blowout, his first solid 6 hours of sleep, his first trip to the grocery store, his first selfie, his first time spitting up down the front of Momma’s shirt…twice in a row.

baby sleeping at Mexican restaurant

First time to Momma’s favorite Mexican restaurant…only 5 days old! Momma was hungry…

baby's selfie with mom

First selfie with Momma – obviously not impressed…

stroller ride on the waterfront, Hood River OR

First stroller cruise on the waterfront in Hood River – slept through the whole thing.

Just as everything is brand new for him, the whole parenting thing is brand new for J and I. We often look at each other with matching “what now??” expressions on our faces, usually followed by a Google search of whatever just happened. But so far, we have successfully kept everyone alive and even feel like we’re starting to get the hang of it. (Well, most days, anyway…)

That said, I was not prepared for the delight that was Baby’s First Christmas. We did just fine at Baby’s First Halloween – he wore a pumpkin onesie and hat to his doctor’s appointment! Baby’s First Thanksgiving was wonderful with the visit of Auntie Em and all our favorite holiday foods. But nothing spectacular or earth-shattering made these holidays any more exciting than they ever were, so I assumed we would glide right past Christmas with the same ease and normalcy. Oh how wrong I was.

baby pumpkin costume

I’m sorry I didn’t get you a lion tamer costume complete with a real lion – but you make a super cute pumpkin!

siblings together for Thanksgiving, Bingen WA

Yay for stretchy pants on Thanksgiving!! Little Z’s just mad he can’t eat any of it.

Something about the magic of Christmas for our little family just caught me by surprise. It didn’t happen during our hunt for a Christmas tree (“He hates the snow hitting his face!! HURRY!!”)…

Christmas tree hunt, Trout Lake WA

What is this cold wet stuff hitting me in the face?! Make it stop!!!!

It didn’t happen during the Christmas parade or our quick visit with Santa (“Whoa, not impressed, hurry before he screams!”)…

baby's first Santa, Hood River OR

Really guys? I just want some milk and a nap.

It didn’t even happen when we attempted to make Christmas cookies (“Just smear some icing on and eat it, I gotta feed the baby!”) or at the several Christmas parties we attended (“Who wants to hold the little elf?!”)………

baby in Christmas lights

Ho Ho Ho, let’s party!

I don’t know what changed, but tears filled my eyes as we snuggled together Christmas Eve in front of the stove in our matching jammies. Just the four of us, with some hot cocoa and Bing Crosby, everything seemed utterly perfect.

family matching Christmas pajamas

Yes, Grammy even sent pj’s for Simba. ❤

baby and his dog, best friends

Brothers and best friends.

Even though Z isn’t old enough to be all excited (or even really know what’s going on), our lives have changed so drastically since his arrival. We’re wearing matching pajamas, for one thing. Packages kept arriving full of baby items from the grandparents. The focus has shifted and J and I had several conversations regarding the traditions we want to start/keep/ditch for our own little family. And Z was just so enamored with the Christmas lights!

baby and Christmas lights


Christmas morning was relaxed and quiet, with a few small gifts exchanged and stockings emptied. The magic from the night before seemed to have dissipated a bit in the morning sunlight. Maybe I was still a bit hormonal, or maybe there really was a little magic in the air. Whatever it was, I hope it comes back every year.

And now we head off into 2019 with a whole lineup of adventures in store. First up: figuring out how to function as a human and return to work with a baby who can’t sleep through the night yet!

Here’s hoping for another wonderful year! ❤

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