As promised in my Catch the Moment (Week 41) post, I’m back with an entire post jam-packed with photos and details from our trip to Portland and Cannon Beach, Oregon from Oct 9-13.  Ryan and I had a rare opportunity to get away to the Pacific Northwest when my best friend and her fiancee decided to get married out there while on vacation. It was cost-prohibitive to take the boys anyway but it worked out well that we were able to have a mini-vacation sans littles.

My mom came up Friday to stay with the boys for the weekend (my in-laws and a good friend helped out Sun-Tues). They dropped us off at the airport around 6pm or so and our 745pm flight went smoothly with a short layover in Denver. While we’re on the subject of flying, I just want to say 2 words. Southwest Forever. That is all about that.

We arrived in Portland at 11:10pm Pacific time, which is 2:10am Eastern time. OUCH. Then of course by the time we got our rental car, got to the airbnb that Emily and Lauren had rented, and hung out for a respectable amount of time, it was 430am Eastern time. Having been up since 6am that morning, I was d-o-n-e.

Saturday morning, Emily and I took a few minutes to sneak away and catch up before everyone else in the house got up. We walked a few blocks to one of a bazillion cute coffee shops. The front porch was a nice place to relax and enjoy the fall air before we all went to brunch. IMG_6536 IMG_6539

After brunch and debating over what to do next, we took Ubers to a nearby cultural district and hung out at a local brewpub for awhile as the rain poured down outside. There were lots of selfies and stories and catching ups to take care of.IMG_6547 IMG_6549 IMG_6554 IMG_6558


After the brewery, we took public transportation to the heart of downtown where we stuck out like sore thumbs in our rain boots, rain coats, and umbrellas among a city full of people standing around, chatting casually as the rain gently fell…people riding bikes in the rain…people waiting in line for donuts in the rain. I almost felt silly and over prepared for the Pacific Northwest weather. We ate, drank, and were merry before returning to the airbnb for the night. IMG_6566 IMG_6570

Sunday morning, Ryan and I were up at the crack of dawn – I guess it takes a few days to adjust to that time change – so we ventured out and found the most amazing bagel shop in the history of bread. I’ve never been a bagel enthusiast, but now I am a Portland Bagelworks enthusiast. IMG_6575 IMG_6583 IMG_6588

Afterwards we went to Washington Park and saw the beautiful rose test garden. The thick fog made for a spooky yet gorgeous backdrop. My goal was to hike somewhere to see great views of Portland, but I didn’t realize that the fog wouldn’t clear until around noon. IMG_6593 IMG_6599 IMG_6613 IMG_6616 IMG_6629

We met up with all of our peeps a couple hours later at Multnomah Falls recreational site. we ended up hiking about 10 miles and with every ascent and every turn, the scenery was more and more breathtaking. I would put my camera away in my backpack and within seconds, I’d pull it back out just positive that THIS, no THIS, was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen.IMG_6637 IMG_6653 IMG_6661 IMG_6679 IMG_6680 IMG_6687 IMG_6693 IMG_6713 IMG_6720 IMG_6742 IMG_6745 IMG_6768 IMG_6791 IMG_6792 IMG_6801 IMG_6815

We were starving after our long hike, so we stopped in the adorable town of Troutdale on our way back to Portland and ate at this general store.IMG_6837

Once we arrived back in Portland, I wanted to try one more time for those beautiful views of the city. Google told me to follow the path to Pittock Mansion and we were not disappointed. IMG_6860 IMG_6872

After a long day on our feet, we relaxed back at the house for a couple of hours before having a big group dinner with everyone who had flown to Portland for the wedding.IMG_6912

Monday morning we were checking out of the house and into our hotel so we got up early once again to try to see some more sights before getting ready for the wedding. Surprise, surprise, more eating and hiking. IMG_6947 IMG_6950 IMG_6951 IMG_6952 IMG_6959 IMG_6962

An online friend suggested that we try Salt & Straw and I’m so glad we did. At 10am, there’s no line. 🙂 And the people who work there are super friendly and let us try almost every flavor on the menu. I had the Strawberry Balsamic w/Black Pepper ice cream and Ryan had the special Halloween flavor of the month-Candy Corn. So amazing. Really, everything we ate in Portland was amazing!IMG_6966

We visited the NikeTown store in downtown Portland before checking in at our hotel by the airport and heading an hour and a half west to the Oregon coast.  It was about 45 minutes before the wedding was supposed to start and Emily and Lauren were putting the finishing touches on their wedding day looks. IMG_6987 IMG_7007 IMG_7030 IMG_7032 IMG_7040 IMG_7047 IMG_7051

They had their photographers from 4-6pm so they took a few photos, had the ceremony, and then continued with more photos while some of us toured the beach and others headed on over to a cozy pub where we all had dinner afterwards. I didn’t take many pictures of the ceremony as I wanted to be in the moment (bawling) and knowing that the photogs’ pics would blow mine away anyway.IMG_7059 IMG_7061 IMG_7063 IMG_7079

This beach is unlike anything I’ve ever seen and any place I’ve ever been. It was truly spectacular.IMG_7087 IMG_7089 IMG_7101 IMG_7103

After spending a couple of hours hanging out at the pub in Cannon Beach, we drove back to Portland before having to get up early for our flight home Tuesday.

We did end up getting to the airport early enough to turn in our rental car, get through security, eat breakfast, and browse through some shops. I really like the Portland airport. Everything seemed so easy and smooth, but I guess it helped that we arrived there 2+ hours before our flight. There were a bunch of reports about Southwest having technical problems that delayed flights the day before so I didn’t want to take any chances or be in a rush. Everything worked and both 2+ hour legs of our flight were uneventful and relaxing. IMG_7137 IMG_7149 IMG_7153

The first thing I did when I got home was kiss my boys. I might have kissed them a little extra hard, hoping they’d wake up but they didn’t budge. It felt fantastic to have been away on such a wonderful trip and it felt equally as fantastic to finally be home.

In a nutshell, in case you can’t tell, I loved Portland. I could totally live there. I can’t imagine that the beauty there would ever get old. Maybe the rain would – but we only experienced one dreary day. We were very lucky with the weather the rest of the time. People seemed so much friendlier and more conscientious. I know there’s a local food scene everywhere you go – maybe I need to explore the food in and around Indy more, but oh the food in Portland. I barely saw anyone smoking cigarettes-it seemed like such an active and health-conscious town. It was big but not too big. It felt like Chicago or Vancouver at times without the stress. We never experienced bad traffic or drove through a bad neighborhood. I’m sure our perception of the city is a little rose-colored but from what I know, I’m in love. When can we go back for a longer visit?



catch the moment: wk 42

Less than three days after we returned from our 4 night trip to Portland, we left for a 5 night trip to Tennessee. I really thought I’d have time to blog about the trip to Portland during our trip to the Smoky Mountains but I was wrong. It’s really important to me to document the memories we’ve made while it’s all still fresh in my mind. Can’t believe how fast this month is flying by. As wonderful as both trips have been, I’m glad to be home with no big plans on the weekend for a while.

288/365: Thursday, October 15th. After fall break camp, before dinner…just one of those things that we do every day when we get home. Regardless of the weather or how bad anyone needs to use the bathroom, I always have 1 or 2 little guys help me check the mail.10-15-2015

289/365: Friday, October 16th. My little troopers. They color, watch a couple movies, nap, and then we’re there. All in all, I couldn’t ask for better traveling companions. We stayed at my mom’s Friday night. 10-16-2015

290/365: Saturday, October 17th. Once we got into Pigeon Forge, we had some time to waste before checking into our cabin. We ate a wonderful lunch at Harpoon Harry’s and then looked around for a little bit at the Christmas Place shops. Even knocked out getting the boys’ personalized Christmas ornaments for this year while we were there. Also-ring pops from the candy shop!10-17-2015

291/365: Sunday, October 18th. We had a big day Sunday! I will write more about it in a separate post but I took this picture of my mom and all 5 of her beautiful grandchildren at The Island in Pigeon Forge10-18-2015

292/365: Monday, October 19th. The fun didn’t slow down on Monday – we spent the day at my favorite place in Pigeon Forge…Dollywood! We enjoyed mild weather, no crowds, and fun family time with my mom and Ryan’s parents. I was explaining to Theo why Dolly is so famous and why so many people love her (myself included). I showed him her picture and he said “oh, okay…sooooo? She’s a circus performer?” Ha. 10-19-2015

293/365: Tuesday, October 20th. I searched for a relatively easy hike that my kids could handle and all websites pointed me to Laurel Falls. It was paved but 1.3 miles uphill to the beautiful cascades. The boys did their fair share of complaining but appreciated the reward of the waterfall at the top of the mountain. I was really proud of them! No complaints on the way back as it was all downhill. Afterwards they both said they enjoyed it and would do it again. I get it – I feel that way sometimes too when hiking. 10-20-2015

294/365: Wednesday, October 21st. I took this photo from the loft while I was packing and cleaning up when I heard Dexter’s giggles from below. I keep thinking about how lucky I am that my family and my husband’s family all like each other, get along, and enjoy each other’s company even for the duration of a mini-vacation. Something tells me that’s not super common but I love it. We got home around 615pm Wednesday evening. Normally the blues would set in around this time but I am off the rest of the week and the weather and leaves are phenomenal. I’m going to enjoy every last drop of this fall break vacation!10-21-2015

That’s the end of our exciting plans for a while. I don’t have a favorite picture because I love them all-they all represent so much that I love about my family (of origin and the one I married into) and my life.



#mcdanfamloveswdw: Days 9 & 10 – The End

In case you missed it:

Day 8 – Dexter’s birthday at Walt Disney World. Click back through previous posts to see the ones before that.

Day 9: May 14th, 2015.

We decided that there were enough things that we missed at Hollywood Studios to go back for most of our last day. That’s when it hit me that I really wasn’t going to get a family photo in front of Cinderella Castle this trip and for some reason that made me sad. Not sad enough to use up our entire last day’s pass on it (we didn’t get park-hoppers this time) though, so off we went to Hollywood Studios.

Back to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground – one of their favorites.001 002

More pennies…more souvenirs.003 - Copy

One of my favorite stage shows at WDW – Beauty and the Beast.006 008

We ate at Starring Rolls for lunch – I never realized that they had mouthwatering gourmet deli sandwiches. The cupcakes and treats I knew about. We had to check there one last time for a Star Wars cupcake for Dex. No luck, but we decided to treat ourselves to dessert anyway. Calories don’t count at Disney!010 011 013 015

More Star Tours…016

More watching the Jedi Training Academy participants. This was about the time we realized that both of our kids actually WERE old enough to do this. My nephew Spencer did it last time and for some reason I had it in my head that the child had to be 6 or 8 – then we see these tiny little guys and girls up there fighting Vader. I felt sick to my stomach with regret for not checking into this sooner – my boys would have absolutely LOVED to do this. Mommy dropped the ball. 018 019 020

Slushy Man.021

We were slowly making our way back to the front of the park – really in no hurry at all as we knew we wouldn’t be back here for at least two years. We stopped to watch the Streetmosphere performers. The boys were actually a lot more interested and amused by the slapstick comedy routine that what I would have expected. 022 023

Time to go.024Ryan took the boys to the pool for one last swim while I attempted to figure out how to condense the explosion that was our room back into a few, suddenly very small looking suitcases. I did the best I could and we called it a night.

Day 10: Friday, May 15th. Getting out the door and down to the bus stop by 7am was quite the mad scramble so pictures were not a priority. Once we got settled at our departure gate, the boys had some time to play.

Dreaded Transportation Notice. Evicted.001 002I zoned out on the flight home and as soon as we got back, we were in a rush to get unpacked and the house put back together somewhat – my mom and grandma were in town and coming over for dinner! Having something to look forward to when we got home made the depression of leaving Disney a little less intense. We haven’t stopped talking about every detail of our trip. Every day a different story or moment is mentioned, at least in passing. I can’t believe we’ve been home for a whole month! BUT, hey – I’m pretty proud of myself for finishing these many, many recap posts and getting through all my pictures in 29 days. That’s an accomplishment to feel good about with how busy this past month has been. I can now resume my once a week posts.  🙂

For tips and other specific planning information, please visit me over at The Affordable Mouse. I post in a series called “Disney with Little Ones” every other Monday.