Monday, December 5, 2016

Thirty-Eight For Thanksgiving

 I am not going to ramble on with excuses like bloggers often  do about how busy 1,800 pounds of apples kept mom and me  for a week in October; or about how a couple of unplanned visits to the ER (along with a visit from the firemen to the Spafford household) threw a hitch in the following week's plans; nor will I mention how a two week trip to Redding was necessary in order to prep Grandma for having 38 people in her house for Thanksgiving. Instead, I shall try to pleasantly relay to you the events of our Thanksgiving time and the days after that when we immediately switched gears to Christmas festivities.

As is customary, two Spafford girls were sent down to Redding, California on the train, two weeks before Thanksgiving so that they might, by all possible means, help Grandma prepare to host 38 people in her home. Their responsibilities were as follows: Keep Grandma calm and Grandpa under control ;)

Though they were there to work, there was plenty of time to play as well. There were shopping trips to the mall with Grandma, rides in Grandpa's Model  A, lunch with an Aunt at Cheesecakes and a date out with Grandpa for sushi.

Then came Monday and it was all business from there! There was so much to do and so little time to do it in. There were lists to be written and rewritten, there was grocery shopping to be done, and then done again to pick up the groceries that we missed. The house needed cleaning, the fridge clearing out, and the list went on. 

On Tuesday, we finished up last minute duties to prepare for the rest of our family's arrival, which was supposed to be later that day ; however, due to heavy traffic along the way, they didn't arrive until 2:00 A.M. the following morning. Grandma's once-clean house finally became invaded by the rest of the Spafford household. Her peaceful home would not know another moment of quiet until our departure the following Sunday.

Thanksgiving day arrived, and it went off more smoothly then ever before. The turkey had been precooked that Wednesday, and everyone contributed something to the feast. There were several very happy announcements made that day of new additions to the family.

 Grandma's house was fully decked for the Christmas Season, and it was now time to go home and do our own. Mom had packed all of our Christmas albums so that we could play them during our seven hour car trip home. Everybody was so ready to get into the Christmas spirit that as soon as we arrived at six in the evening that Sunday, we prepared to decorate. Boxes were brought up and the house became decked for the season. 

Now begins the 20 day countdown until Christmas! The best part is always in the days leading up till Christmas. There are so many traditions on the Spafford list that there are hardly enough days to do them all in.

The tone around the home feels just a little more jolly then normal. The house smells of pine needles and freshly baked goodies. Each song that is played has a Christmas ring to it. The mail lady pays frequent visits to our home delivering endless amounts of packages...Let the traditions begin!

The December schedule soon fills up! There is the annual Christmas party at our home, the lady's fellowship with our church, and caroling to the shut-ins. The boys have picked out a full and luscious tree that now sits waiting to be decorated. The gingerbread home was artfully put together while we watched Charlie Brown films. There is always a long list of holiday movies that seem to put everyone in the Christmas mood: Holiday Inn, It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, and many more. This year we added  "The Polar Express" at the IMAX theater to the Spafford's list of traditions.

School projects around this special season consist of reading through Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol", a gift-exchange shopping trip to Walmart, Christmas card writing, and baking goody-plates for the neighbors.

As the old song goes, "there is no place like home for the holidays"...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Three Little Blessings

At the end of each school year, there is always a certain excitement that I get in helping the kids compile all of their project reports and present them to the family. I've been blessed by another year of teaching, another year of learning, and already, we're well into another school year!
There are three very special reasons that make my job as co-teacher with mom so rewarding...

#1 Annalise, who always has an abundance of enthusiasm for the projects that we're working on!

# 2 Austin, who's love for the military weapons of WWI & WWII resulted in his composing an hour long report for his end of the year presentation. I finally had to tell him to condense it to 20 minutes as we did not have time for a full hour. He later told me, "Lynnae, if it makes you feel better, I didn't even tell you everything that I knew in that first presentation." :)

 #3 Ania, who has a unique love for animals. Her library list of pick-ups looks like a zoologist's reading guide :)

I find that I enjoy every minute of the work that God has given me to do here. It is so rewarding to wake up each morning to the enthusiasm of these three little people...though they're usually a bit groggy first thing in the morning :D It thrills my heart when they run to me to impress me with what they've accomplished that day or to proudly show off a completed project.

Austin "attempting" to make a stage for our school play :D
I love it when they discover something new that they have learned and want to share with me! Their knowledge far exceeds that of their teacher, and I love to see it! They all three have very different interests and they do their own research to grow in those certain areas.

Our theme hymn for this year has been "May the Mind of Christ My Savior Live in Me From Day to Day"....a hymn which the kids have been brought back to on numerous occasions during their daily squabbles :) 

May the mind of Christ my Savior
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and pow’r controlling
  All I do and say.

May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power.

May the love of Jesus fill me
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing,
This is victory.

It's fall time, which means time for some fall projects. Home-ec involves a lot of pumpkin related recipes, their school poster boards center on fall blessings, and this year, for the first time, the kids got to carve pumpkins :)

Our good intentions to take the kiddos on a monthly field trip always seems to dwindle away after the first one. But this year, we are determined to make them more then just good intentions. Our first field trip of the year was taking a tour of the Pendleton Wool Mill which was very interesting. We got to see the whole process that the wool goes through from the first time it's brought into the factory to the dying and spinning stages before it's finally weaved into blankets :)

The kiddos have been given something called "the month challenge"... if they are able to keep up with a certain amount of requirements every day for a whole month, they're rewarded by going out to ice cream at Costco (a little incentive I've found works amazingly when their projects become due ;)

Austin brightened my day one morning when he told me, "Lynnae, I look forward to the mornings because that's when we do group our subjects." ;) Their joy and enthusiasm is what makes my job so wonderful! I love being around the daily household commotion...(and even at times, being the cause of it ;)

I came home one morning to these two people standing very solemnly before me...Austin and Ania told me that they were going to put me on trial for leaving them that morning and going out with mom to coffee instead ;) 

Each day is filled with innumerable blessings! There's a little mason jar on our school windowsill with the verse Psalm 68:19 written on it: "Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits..." Last year, I had each of the kids write something that the Lord had blessed them with that day and place it in the jar. Months later, we would read through some of the older blessings and remember ways in which the Lord had been faithful to us over the school year. It was a good way of remembering times in which the Lord constantly blesses us in little ways that we often overlook. 

We've been working on fall lap-books for the month of October. I assigned them each to write a fall poem to go with their lap-books. Ania handed hers into me and I just thought it was too sweet not to share :)

Colors Of  Fall
When leaves change from green to orange and red,
There are times when you don’t want to get out of bed.
When the cool breeze blows gently into your room,
And flowers that once were a-bloom,
Start to droop and die,
I think it’s time to make some pie.
The pretty little trees that grow
Blow in the breezes that blow
Them to and fro.
And when the  breezes blow your hair,
You’ll know that Fall is in the air.

~Ania Grace Spafford~

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Snippets From My Vacation

 My apologies for the lengthiness of this post. Some memories are just too great to put into words ;)

Day 1: Wednesday, August 31

It should have been no surprise at all when we pulled out of the driveway heading for the beach an hour and a half later then we had scheduled. But perhaps we had not figured in all of the Portland traffic that we would run into along the way. That could have accounted for why we pulled up to the B's Nest at 9 PM. But that was not too late, according to mom to prepare a warm dinner for her food deprived family. Within an hour, as the house became abuzz with people unloading and putting away bags, mom whipped up a mean meal of chowder ;) The last remaining thing to do that evening before everyone retired to bed was to pass around the family brochure that Dad had made for our vacation ;)
It was so good to smell the salt sea air through my open window and fall asleep to the sound of the rushing waves again, I thought as I drifted off to sleep.

Day 2: Thursday, September 1st
Determined not to miss that first morning of "sleepy monk" coffee at the Bread and Ocean Bakery, some of us kids got up early the next morning and made the jaunt down the familiar streets of Manzanita. The smell of coffee greeted us, our little table awaited, and shelves stacked full of day old bread were soon cleared away by the purchase of one family. It felt so good to be back again! This particular tradition is one that is long-awaited for and talked about all year round.
Nothing ever changes in that town...we see the same people from year to year.
As I have said many a time before, there is never a dull moment at the Spafford household...which could be why our family has quite the reputation with the firemen :/ I don't know how it always happens to us and each time it does, I want to just disappear...but it would seem that we have had a few too many visits from the fire station in perfectly safe situations just as a precaution. We were making a fire in the fireplace that morning and Austin had only put in the kindling. Right away, the fire started billowing black smoke and the fire smelled very toxic. It seemed as if the fire could get out of control. Dad said that we should call the firemen before it got out of hand because it's better to be safe then sorry (I wasn't so sure about that ;) Well, a police car pulled up, instead of a blaring fire truck (...I was thinking, "oh, good, at least it's just one guy and not the whole fire crew") The officer came to check it out  By the time he had come, it was looking more controlled, "But the experts would know more," he said..."Oh, great!" I thought, "so this isn't all that's coming after all." No, we had yet to receive a visit from the fire chief. He said that it looked fine, but the firemen would check the chimney out when they arrived! Goodness me, were we to receive a visit from every firemen in the country? I had just one question in the back of my mind when the large, flashing firetruck pulled up, "Are there any more of you coming?"
We visited the antique shops in Nehalem and Wheeler later that day, but tried to keep our antique shopping to a minimum this year.
That night, we enjoyed a picnic with some friends of ours at the park in Manzanita. It was a true Oregonian style picnic...under a canopy in the pouring rain.

Day 3: Friday, September 2nd
Friday was declared a day of rest rest and relaxation. Nothing was scheduled, save for activities of leisure such as reading, walks, games, and napping :) Kevin Kern serenaded us in the background as everyone sat around doing their own thing. Like every morning thus far, we made our morning walk to Bread and Ocean, only this time it was made in the pouring rain. The people that had not thought to bring umbrellas were a good deal drenched when they finally arrived at the coffee shop.
Friday was fairly uneventful, just the way we like it...multiple walks through town, reading on the beach, relaxing in the cabin, playing games of catchphrase as we downed our third cup of coffee. The day cleared up beautifully and we were able to enjoy a long anticipated pizza dinner on the porch. We decided to take a walk along the beach afterwards. There's something magical about catching that first glimpse of the beach, peaking your head above the reeds and taking in the scene before you. The first sights you see...footprints covering the sand, broken shells, and sand dunes. Then there's that feeling of the first bit of sand between your toes. Then taking off for the ocean and letting the waves come up to your ankles. There's something about the ocean with its endless ripples of waves disappearing into the's just so vast and awesome; so wild and unpredictable.
There was not a cloud in the sky as we walked back, but as we were sitting in the cabin preparing to watch the next installment of Cranford, the clouds rolled in and the sky opened up and rain poured down on our roof. Our evening concluded watching an episode of Cranford by a crackling fire (a little more under control ;)

Day 4: Saturday, September 3rd
Sometimes in a big family, things don't always go as planned and you learn to be flexible. Austin had gotten sick and had a fever. We all decided it would be a good idea to make it another cabin day. The air was just chill enough that morning to don on our flannel shirts as we headed to Bread and Ocean, I curled up on the couch reading my bible with the morning commotion going on in the background. Breakfast was being made, slices of Bread and Ocean's bread being placed in the toaster, the sizzle of sausage cooking on the stove, the gentle chatter in the kitchen, Celtic Serenity playing softly in the background, and someone whistling along to the tune...all the sounds that make the B's Nest such a cozy place. Leisel, Cosette and I took our books down to the beach to read there. Nothing quite beats reading with the wind in your face, the sand at your feet and the ocean rushing in the background. We had not been there long before our reading turned to sleeping.
That night, we took advantage again of the porch chairs and sun shining down on us as we enjoyed our dinner outside.

Day 5: Sunday, September 4th
The Astoria Farmer's market has been a Spafford tradition nigh on these past 15 years. We make it to the early service at Manzanita's Calvary Bible church before heading to Astoria. The market was crowded with the usual Labor Day rush. We managed to find an empty table at the food court and all ordered food from different stands. As we were making our way back to the van, we noticed a gelato shop that was having a sale that day. We had absolutely no room, but we decided to go in anyway. How very fortunate we were, for this was the day before they were closing down and the owners, eager to get rid of the ice cream, dished out extra large servings.
 It is tradition to shop at the Costco in Warrenton and pick up the second half of our groceries for the week. Jonathon was very disappointed to see no Christmas decorations had been put up there yet. As we all gathered round the couches that night, dad started our night out leading everyone in singing a few of our favorite hymns. As soon as the singing was through, the quiet turned to shouting as we played multiple rounds of catch phrase...the game in which Charae declared everyone to be stupid. As you may guess, she was on the losing team.

Day 6: Monday, September 5th 
The town had almost cleared by Monday. We had the whole bakery to ourselves and the pick of the day old bread. By now, the employees knew our orders by heart.
These cabin days were resulting in way too trips to the ice cream shops and we were wearing down the sidewalks on the streets in town. I was a frequent customer at the Little Apple Grocery and Deli to purchase Dad and my favorite brand of Bundaberg root beer. 
By day six at the beach, you start to discover that sand has made it's way into everything...your dresser drawers, all of your pockets, the van, and your shoes, and even your books.
Dad announced that it was a "pig in mud day", being at the best place on earth with the sun shining.
Leisel and I had been making as many trips to the beach as possible to read or just take in the beauty of the ocean. We wanted to take in as much of the beach as possible. We played monkey in the middle as a family later that day and Ania and Annie tried out their new Olaf kite to see what a snowman actually does in summer. We were starting to realize that our favorite days were those in which we really did nothing at all but hung around the cabin and spent time at the beach. It didn't really matter whether we had places to go or not...really what made our time there was the moments spent with family and the memories that we built that will stay with us forever!

Day 7: Tuesday, September 6th

I love the smell of's always been associated in my mind with the memory of driving through Tillamook and making our way to the cabin. Fifteen years of vacations begun with a drive through this town.
Going to the Blue Heron has been a rather new tradition for our family but no less important. It is there that after many cheese samples, Jonathon chooses out a few of his favorite blocks and some smoked fish for the family. We decided after a look through town that we would stop by the Tillamook Cheese Factory for the children. Austin had been wanting to take me into town for a date so as soon as we had gotten back to the cabin, he wasted no time in getting two bikes ready. We headed for town and I was treated to a scoop of Tillamook ice cream. we enjoyed every bite and he even offered to go back to get another straw so that I could share in his milkshake. When we had both finished, we took our bikes to a place where the sand was a bit more compact. But when the sand had proved too difficult to ride on, Austin offered to show me some of the trails that he has ridden so many times with dad. It amazed me how well he knew those roads. What an amazing thing it is to see your little brother maturing into a little man. He had this time planned out perfectly and took such good care of me. Throughout our bike riding, he was constantly looking behind to make sure that I was alright. When my bike was too heavy to carry up the sand and onto the road, he placed his bike down, carried mine up for me and then retrieved his own. 
That night, we enjoyed the freshest halibut and salmon around that Jonathon had purchased for us.

Day 8: Wednesday, September 7th
It seems from year to year as we as we return to the coffee shop, we see so many of the same people there. There was one man in particular that had captured all of our attention. He was a sweet older gentleman that sat in a little corner of the coffee shop sometimes drinking his coffee alone, sometimes talking with someone, and other times, drawing little pictures. We decided we would introduce ourselves to him. Frants had grown up in Denmark and was only nine when WWII ended. We listened intently to the fascinating story of his life and what finally drew him to America.
Later that day, we headed to Astoria to satisfy our cravings for Bowpicker's fish 'n chips. To work it all off, we climbed all 164 steps up the Astoria column. There was a breath-taking view at the top for those who were not too height-sickened to enjoy it. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Rainier from the top.
Game nights are always my favorite! It was to be an Acquire Championship that night, and no team was a match for Jonathon and his accomplice, Kayleen.

Day 9: Thursday, September 8th
We had postponed our little outing to Cannon Beach due to the fact that another one had fallen prey to the virus. Instead, we were going on Thursday. We passed up our morning trip to Bread and Ocean anticipating drinking our cups of sleepy monk coffee at Cannon Beach. It took a while to rouse everybody, and even my blaring oldies music did little to stir the slumbering inhabitants of the B's Nest cabin. I had already made a hasty trip down to our coffee shop myself, not wanting to miss getting a loaf of their gluten-free bread that day. The meal was worth the wait, and after we had eaten way more then we should have, we took our picture by haystack rock and continued into town.

Day 11: Saturday, September 10th
Saturday night was our annual campfire roast on the beach. Though it always takes a little extra effort and energy to collect everything and actually get down their, it's always so worth it when we do. The sky was perfect...a light pink haze hanging over the beach. As the sun set, it created red shafts coming down over the ocean. A distant ship moved slowly through the waters towards a flickering light. The green and blue colors of the ocean were just so majestic! As the family headed back up o the cabin after enjoying a couple s'mores, Leisel and I lingered by the ocean and headed back by way of town.

The Last Day
No matter how long we stay, nobody's ever ready to leave when it's over! After the car was all loaded up, Leisel and I took off for the beach to catch one last glimpse of the ocean and feel the sand between our toes one last time. I think as life gets busier and everyone begins to go their separate ways, vacation times become even more precious to us. But we thank our Heavenly Father for another year all together at the beach.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Family Camp Twenty-Sixeen

This year's family camp was very different from in years past. We realized early on in the year that we did not have enough teenagers to make up the usual kitchen crew. The crew is usually in charge of setting and clearing the tables, putting the food out on the tables and then bagging it after every meal, as well as doing the dishes. This year, we divided the entire camp into three teams, allowing for everyone at the camp to get involved with what had formerly been "crew responsibilities". Each team was assigned one meal per day. It was amazing to see how many people were ready to jump in and get involved wherever they were needed! Working together as a team with people of all ages became a very positive change for our camp.
It was an amazing blessing from the Lord to see how everything came together and played out so smoothly.

In the afternoon, everyone would break off in groups for some kayaking, obstacle course rounds, multiple games of prison ball and underground church.

On the last night in years past, it has been tradition for the crew to have a little fun doing something a little more goofy :) We decided that we wanted to keep up that tradition. We purchased 100 hats from the dollar store and handed out different styles to the three teams...the tables also were decorated with colorful tablecloths :)

The greatest blessing of all this year was in the wonderful messages that we received from Pastor Tim Huggins (The missionaries that Kayleen and I stayed with in Japan)
We also witnessed the baptism in the Eagle Fern River of Annalise, Ania and two other girls from Hillcrest Bible Church.

"May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
 Romans 15:5-6

"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace." 
1 Peter 4:10

Monday, August 8, 2016

Gone Campin' ;)

Thursday afternoon, we packed up the van two hours later then planned and we were on our way to Rainier! Leaving behind the 86 degree weather of Brush Prairie, we were all ready to feel some cold mountain air. If the weather predictions were right, it would be reaching low 30s during the night at our little Ohanapecosh campsite :) Everyone had packed warmly in the event of that happening :) The campers were quite lively for the first part of the car trip, but by and by, they slowly faded into silence. When I looked at the seats all around me, I found that I was the only one of the kids still awake :)

We passed through the town of packwood, a kind of backwoods country town. Little old men stood at the gas station fueling their old trucks, clothes were hanging out on the lines to dry as we rolled through Packwood's farmland...we passed Packwood's little two-room college and an out-of-place looking "Great Wall of China" restaurant.
But it was the general store that we were bound for to purchase four bundles of firewood ;)
For some reason that day there seemed to be a large population of Model A's and old trucks rolling through town. Leisel tried not to look too longingly at every coffee shop we passed ;)

I began getting a little nervous as we neared our campsite because the temperature hadn't even dropped ten degrees from what it had been when we were back home :/ (but we did finally get our colder weather the very next morning;)
Our noses were immediately greeted by the smell of campfire smoke. Jonathon and I started counting the raindrops as we put together the tents.
Setting up camp this year was much easier then in years past since we were doing it in the light of day. By the time we had both of the tents set up and Austin had a good sized fire going, mom had the chili and cornbread already heated up. 

We finished dinner with just enough room left in our stomachs for a s'more and toasted marshmallow :) The kiddos were ready for some good ghost stories as the sun began to go down. For the next half hour, we older ones reached back into our memories and figured out the scariest ways of retelling old ghost stories. The mosquitoes put up a good fight that night attacking our small circle of campers.
The only thing that gave of us some relief was the smoke from the campfire that kept them away. Dad never could figure out why the camp smoke always seemed to follow him. It brought him little comfort to be reminded that smoke does follow beauty ;)

 As the fire slowly faded, we all decided it might be a good idea to head to bed a little earlier that night. Everyone quickly adjusted their sleeping bags in the dark and settled in for the night. Jonathon made a passing comment that he thought it had been a bad idea to stick the two tallest people in the family with their sleeping bags at either end of each other as his foot came in contact with the camper opposite of him.

There had been a running debate the previous night as to whether or not to put the fly on the tent. Everyone was relieved that the fly had won out when we woke up the next morning to a steady rainfall...It wasn't just pleasant little droplets falling from the sky either but large, intrusive boulders :)
Jonathon had woken up enough to start singing "Oh the weather outside is frightful..." None of us felt quite ready to brave the elements, so after exchanging a few words, we rolled over and went back to sleep. The rain had tapered off an hour later as we all began to slowly rise. But rain or shine, it's hard to have bad weather when you're all together as a family :)

Most of us have become full-fledged campers in a matter of four years! But there are still some that do not fully appreciate the romance of roughing it. We definitely get to see each other in our most unglorified states for those four days...without any make-up and no showers at all :D

It always looks like a family reunion is going on at our campsite :) 

Even after twenty-eight years, Dad still can't figure out why it takes 11 people so very long to make it out to the car :) But alas, we finally got all of those last minute things that we needed and we were off to go hiking. Leisel took out her iPod and piped John Denver songs in the car because Jonathon said that it was tradition to listen to that on the way up to our hikes.

We ended up taking two totally different routs on our hikes this year, both completely unplanned. Our first hike was to be up to Burrows. When we reached the turn off in the road, someone advised us that unless we had hiking sticks and the appropriate shoes, it was probably not very doable. There were several glaciers along the pathway with a rather steep drop-off on the side. The trail that we turned off on instead was equally lovely though. Although, the view was obscured at the top because of the dense fog. 

I love the differences in scenery between the two hikes that we take. Sunrise has a more kind of arid beauty that reminds me of cowboy country. Paradise, with its lush green hillsides covered in wildflowers, has some (literally) "heavenly" views :) There really is no way to describe it...It just leaves you breathless, wondering at the Creator who made all of this for me! 

"I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together." Psalm 34:1-3

Most of the family ended up taking a nap on the way back, but for some, the fear of a tired dad's driving kept them awake.
That night, there were few people willing to brave the cold temperatures of the creek below our campsite. But when you're keeping such close quarters, it does feel good to take a dip in the water to freshen up :) Austin always had a fire ready soon after we made it back up to our campsite - shivering. 
We came to the conclusion that we actually end up getting more sleep when we're out camping then we do at home. As soon as the sun began its descent, the tired campers began thinking about bed and started the process of retiring for the evening.

When we got up to Paradise the next day, the parking lots were completely packed and cars lined the street all the way down the hill. We drove down until we found a spot near the bottom and then began the long trek up.

Somehow along the way, our trail had been redirected and we ended up going a completely different rout then we usually take. We came across spots completely covered in snow where it was either slide by accident or just sit down and sled purposefully :)

At one point along the way, Austin seemed to be getting a little weary with the heavy load that he was carrying. When I offered to take a turn at carrying his backpack for him, he responded, "What I'm doing is wimpy compared to what they marines do. They run up these hills with their heavy backpacks. I'm just walking. So I'm training."

The view just kept getting lovelier as we reached a higher elevation and the snow-capped mountain rose into view...till suddenly we came face-to-face with the mountain! It was then that a few of these campers decided that one day they were gong to climb Mt. Rainier. The Lord had perfectly planned that moment, because just then we had a perfect view of Mt. Rainier, unobstructed by the fog. But as we began our descent, the fog began to roll in again and shroud out the mountain.

I've heard Washington described as looking somewhat similar to Switzerland. But I got to thinking about that on the hike, and I don't think you can compare the beauty of Washington to anywhere really! It has a very specific kind of stunning beauty (And Switzerland may share just a few of those aspects  ;)

As we reached the end of our hike, Jonathon stopped me to listen to something that he was hearing in the distance. Someone at the bottom of the mountain was playing Bonnie Prince Charlie on the bagpipes.

It seemed Sunday morning that the whole campground was emptying out.
 We're never really ready to leave when the time comes for it. But we left with the blessing of knowing that this is only our first vacation of the year...we have yet to enjoy the many wonderful traditions of Manzanita beach :)

When all thy mercies, O my God,
my rising soul surveys,
transported with the view, I'm lost
in wonder, love and praise.

O how shall words with equal warmth
the gratitude declare,
that glows within my ravished heart?
but thou canst read it there.

Thy bounteous hand with worldly bliss
hath made my cup run o'er;
and, in a kind and faithful Friend,
hath doubled all my store.

Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
my daily thanks employ;
nor is the last a cheerful heart
that tastes those gifts with joy.

When nature fails, and day and night
divide thy works no more,
my ever grateful heart, O Lord,
thy mercy shall adore.

Through all eternity to thee
a joyful song I'll raise;
for, oh, eternity's too short
to utter all thy praise!

Mt. Rainer 2016 from Lynnae Spafford on Vimeo.