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Posts Tagged ‘traveling’

Friends of ours warned us to apply for passports early.  Since we made the decision late in the game to get passports, despite several (valid) sources saying we don’t need them, the clock was ticking, and I was feeling the pressure.  Looking online only confused me.  So I decided to write it down, in the event that I need to start this process over.  Or in the event that it’s helpful to you.

Randon tidbit: A passport book gives us access to international travel by air.  Had I stuck with my Enhanced Driver’s License, I would have been limited to crossing borders by land only.  So this gives us a little more flexibility for emergencies, and prepares us better for future travels.

To submit for my own Passport, I would need a filled out, printed Application, an original Birth Certificate, Driver’s License, and a photo*.  The photo had to meet certain specifications.  Despite there being lots of excellent options (phone app’s, Walgreens, Costco, etc) that knows all of the rules, we chose to have the US Postal Service do it.  I’ll share more about this in a paragraph or two…

Now, to submit the kids’ applications, it took a bit more paperwork.  Because they are all minors, and because Scott’s schedule really didn’t allow both of us (parents) to be there in person to apply, I had to have a signed and notarized copy for each application of Scott’s Statement of Consent (link below) agreeing to this, as well as a copy of the front and back of his driver’s license.  We had our local bank do the notarizing, as they offered it free to members (Cha-ching!  Saved ten bucks a pop!).  Thankfully, they offered services well into the evening, when we spent the good portion of an hour stamping, signing, and right-hand oathing.

We chose to apply only for the standard (no extra pages) Passport book.  We opted out of a card.  Here’s the order we did all of this in:

  1. Filled out a DS-11 Application online here for all 5 kids and myself.  Saved and printed them.  Actually, my sweet neighbors did since my printer is on the fritz right now
  2. Gathered birth certificates, my drivers’s license, and copies of Scott’s (both sides multiplied by all 5 kids), along with his signed and notarized DS-3053 Statement of Consent for each of the kids app’s – they do not need your social security card
  3. Went to our local passport Acceptance Facility – for us, that was the Post Office in La Center

We got there promptly at 11am, as the gal had recommended on the phone.  We were about 3 from the front when the gal asked how many passports we were applying for.  When she heard six, she laughed and said she’d be skipping us, because she is taking lunch in 15 minutes and can’t finish us in that amount of time.  We took a spot along the wall.  By now, the Post Office had quite the line, and apparently, all were there for passports.  I hadn’t thought it through well, but it was Spring Break, and everyone was preparing for summertime.  In fact, by the time we left, there were at least 30 people in line behind us to apply.  Now if you don’t know our area, I’ll tell you, La Center is a pretty wee bitty town.  A crowd like that isn’t seen often in one place. (Unless you’re visiting the new casino – it’s a madhouse.)

At least a half dozen people went ahead of us before the new employee clocked in and took us to the front.  I may have given my kids a lesson on how unfortunate it is that they were discriminating against a “big” family, when in fact, they served that many people anyway, just one at a time.  Then I let it go.  Or did I? … since I’m sharing this rant here… 😮

When we got to the front, we had to process each passport application one at a time.  I had prepared at home by bundling them by person (application, birth certificate, copies, etc).  But before we could start, she took us across the hall to take photos.  She didn’t give us any warning.  Snap! “Next!” Snap! “Next!” “No teeth!” Snap! My sweet kids were so uncomfortable.  But they were champs about it.  And we giggled plenty.

Back at the front counter, the employee swiftly worked through our paperwork.  Each Application had to be notarized: more oath-giving, more right hands on our hearts.  When all was said and done, I had to write 7 checks: One for each application, and then one to the Post Office for their part in it all.  The kids’ Passports were $80 each to the state, plus a $25 service fee and $15 for the photo to the USPS.  Mine was $110 to the state, plus the $25 service fee and $15 for the photo to the USPS.  Mine will be valid for 10 years, the kids’ for 5 years (16 years and up qualify for the 10 year expiry).  I suspect Aury may look a touch different before his expires.  I also suspect he has the cutest passport there ever was.

he got to smile.

Even with Passports – or had we only used Birth Certificates – when crossing the border, we will have (more…)

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There are a number of options to document our travels, and where I can’t for the life of me figure out how to best do it, I also don’t want to miss important parts during the wait.  So I’ll start here and migrate if we change platforms along the way.

Nearly three years ago my husband almost died.  In the midst of the crisis, my biological Dad, Mark, flew out to us and planted himself deeply into my children’s lives.  Already known as Papa and friend, he took on the role of caretaker and home-life anchor.  He and Grandma Chris really sacrificed a lot, without blinking, and covered our family in love.

That summer, we took it real easy.  Once Scott was able to walk, we would walk down to the river and fish almost every day.  We canoed on the lake.   They stayed with us, traveling back and forth from their home a couple of times for other obligations, until early Fall.  It was pretty dreamy, really, the whole experience.  I think we all changed a bit that summer.  After that, we all started seeing each other even more.

The next year, Papa & Grandma brought their houseboat.  We spent all summer on the water; some short trips, some several days.  We started talking about what we’d do “next summer,” and tho’ I thought he may be joking, Papa really held to going to Alaska on a ferry.  When they were here last November to meet our new baby Aury, we talked details.  The ferry proved to be the starting point, ultimately leading us to choose to drive the majority of the trip.  But what would we drive?  The Suburban? With a camp trailer?  The skoolie seemed a fun option, but we knew we wouldn’t have the resources to prepare it in time…

Summertime traveling had slowed down (stopped, really) when we talked, so we thought it may behoove us to purchase an RV rather than rent one.  Buying one for $8k then reselling upon our return – even for half – would be cheaper than renting one for the duration of our time away.  So we started looking around.  We found that for “just” a little more, we could upgrade significantly.  And “just” a little more than that, even better!  Before we knew it, we landed the perfect one for our journey, albeit a little out of our original budget, Papa decided to make the purchase long term for them instead of a short term, turn-around investment.  He called me Christmas Eve at noon and said he’d looked at four RV’s already that morning, and had to choose between two.  An hour later, the deal was sealed.  Merry Christmas all around! (more…)

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I’m here overlooking Lake Chelan at the WSFB Joint Leaderships Conference with my awesome travelling nanny Clairissa and my sweet babe Flynn.  Papa Miller has spent the last two days at home with the 3 older kiddo’s working on projects around the house.  Scott’s hoping to really hammer out some work with him over the weekend.

We drove over to Chelan yesterday mid-day.  It was a fun-filled, girly-giggly drive with one of my best friends and favorite Clark County farmers, Anne Lawrence of Storytree Farm.  We have all been so busy, it was great to spend 6 hours catching up!

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When we got to Chelan, it was somewhat of a ghost town.  With it being “off season”, shops close early (if they’re open at all).  We were looking for some evening vittles, but just missed the close of the local pizza shop.  With a Safeway next door, we contemplated doing something in our (quite huge and kitchen-filled) resort room.  Just as we were about to walk away, the owner of Sojourners came out and talked to us.  With just a little bit of arm-bending, he invited us inside for a private dinner just for us four.  They spoiled us rotten after finding out we were farmers.  They are mom and pop restaurant committed to the highest quality, local food.  It was perfect.  And deeeelicious.  I’d recommend it.  In fact, I want to go back for a cuppa Stumptown before we jet!

Today we toured an apple packing cooperative, then went to the Ruby Theater and watched The Perpetual Farm, a 30 minute documentary on “sustainability” (the word), put together by a group of students from the Ag Forestry Program.  We then went on to Tunnel Hill Winery, where we got to enjoy some yummy cheeses!  Then back for a delicious dinner and entertainment.  I’ve taken fun pictures, but can’t post them from afar, so will later.

Tomorrow I get the opportunity to speak to the group about direct marketing, and the impact I personally see in our food shed.  I’m excited – it’s a topic I am very passionate about!  Looking forward to it!  Loving hanging out with all of these farmer folks!

Flynn is now sound asleep, and so should we be.  We have an early morning, so I’m off!

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The sweet babe is taking a nap and the others are working on school so I thought I’d say hello to you.  Hello!

We’ve taken a week off of our wild eating while I went off to a conference in Nevada.  This particular conference was AFBF’s (national) Women’s Leadership Conference, held in Las Vegas.  On The Strip.  At the Paris.

The Paris.

The Paris.

Flynn and I flew out on Friday with a bundle of other lovely ladies from Washington State.  Flynn’s 9 month old pal Lincoln came with his Mama Katy and his Auntie Anna.  They were bells of the ball!

Farm Bureau Flynn!

Farm Bureau Flynn!

Friday evening started the conference out with a super posh dessert auction.

Friday evening started out with a posh dessert auction.

Miniature deliciousnessess.  There were cake pops, pudding martini’s, mini lemon meringues, oh my!

Eiffel Tower of reme puffs

Eiffel Tower yum

On Saturday, all of the Washington ladies wore matching shirts, so we put the boys in matching onesies as well.

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Washington State Farm Bureau ladies

Saturday morning started out with an Opening Session, followed by several fantastic workshops.  The one that stood out most, as usual, was the Succession Planning workshop.  I’ve heard the speaker, Jolene Brown, before – and am always so impressed with her ability to communicate and present so very clearly – especially about such a murky and touchy subject!  If ever the kids have a desire to continue our farm, we’ll definitely hire her to help us organize.

Jolene Brown at work

Jolene Brown at work

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We’re backing up to the first of January, the 7th to be exact.  We’ll catch up.  Eventually.

There were also penguins, flamingo's and turtles at our hotel!

We met Neal & Paula Shoen and Anne & Nelson Lawrence in the Tapas Bar around 7:30am.  We decided to get an early start on the day since it was our main play day before the conference was to begin.  We had heard of a nice breakfast joint up the street and across the road, so we walked over to be seated.  The place was packed, the menu offered a generous variety of good breakfast grub.  I ordered the eggs with hash, topped with fried banana.  I figured I may as well live it up funky while in Hawaii.

Neal & Paula checking out the goods at the Swap Meet.

Afterward, we decided to scope out the bus system to see if we could grab a ride to the farmers market, due to close at 11am.  With only an hour left, and a bus leaving as we arrived at the station, we verified that it was to the Market, and away we went!  Not knowing the area well, but with several cartoon-detailed maps in tow, we quickly realized we were going the oppose direction as expected…  Toward the open (not farmers) market, or Swap Meet at the Aloha Coliseum. With another opportunity next Wednesday at the farmers market, and having wanted to go to this fairly famous event, we cheered on the new adventure.

The bus drove folks to Pearl Harbor, where there were daily tours and explorations.  Then on to the Coliseum.  The driver – in somewhat sketchy English – told us to meet back at this exact location on the hour throughout the day for a return ride home.  We paid (too much) and got off.  Next up, we paid $1 each to enter the swap meet.

Fresh fruits, veg, and sugarcane.

The Swap Meet was huge.  It extended around the entirety of the Coliseum, a good healthy walk for the day, with over 700 vendors.  It was overwhelming, each booth offering something different: t-shirts, jewelry, coconut purses and bras, dried Asian foods, temporary tattoos, postcards, wooden art (a lot of it carved then and there), fresh pineapple, sugarcane, papaya, and more fruits…  Everything was crazy cheap.  7 t-shirts for $20, earrings $2/pair…  Many the exact same ones they were selling at the resort for more than quadruple the price.  And then, 100 feet in or so, it all started over again.  After a while, we noted that many vendors sold the same items at the same price, only they repeated every 40 booths, give or take.  It became easier and easier to spot the authentic, handmade products.  Still, there were surprises here and there: smoked seafood of various types, flavored salts, shave ice.  There was little in the way of hot lunch carts, but plenty frozen beverages, which we were so very grateful for.  It was well above 80 degrees, sunny, and burning all of us Washingtonians.  We were hugging the side with the most shade as we walked down the center aisle.

Some of the ethnic snack bags at the Market.

By three-thirty, we were wasted.  We were 2/3 around the Coliseum, taking a break in the sun, showing each other our treasures, sipping frozen drinks.  I was happy to be wearing a long flowing dress and flip flops.  We took a mini photo shoot, to prove we were there, then went the rest of the way to the bus stop.

We arrived back to the resort famished.  After all of that walking, and an early breakfast, we were all ready to eat like there was no tomorrow.  We considered an Italian bistro down a dark alley, but landed a nice Thai restaurant instead.

During my teenage years, and always being up for trying new foods, I tested my liking to Thai restaurants more than once, always disappointed.  Then recently (probably in the last 5 years), I went to one in Portland with some gal friends – and again twice in the last year – and loved it.

For lunch, everyone ordered something different.  This way we could all sample each others and taste new flavors.  Thankfully, this group is pretty open about things like that.  I ordered the soup (among other things) that was the inspiration of my Thai Soup entry the other day.  I didn’t mention at the time that once every few months over the last several years, I crave a good, salty, sour, brothy soup – and always end up with a tortilla soup that just never hits the spot.  After this experience, I now know that this is exactly what I’m looking for during those cravings!  Another score for Thai food!

Knowing a few more folks from the Clark Cowlitz Farm Bureau (CCFB) were flying in today, we planned a dinner at Duke’s restaurant, sponsored by CCFB.  Since our President Gary Boldt was unable to attend, and me being re-elected Vice President, I was in charge of planning a couple of events together.  I made sure our flock kept in touch, motivated conference attendance, and encouraged sharing of ideas.  From what I hear, when the AFBF conference is in HI, it has the highest number of registrars, and the lowest number attendance.  We didn’t want to fit into those figures.

Walking the beach.

The walk over to Duke’s was a bit of a goose chase.  The concierge at the hotel sent us up a posh street, along the swankiest shops I’d ever seen*.  It felt a bit like New York, but with a tropical lean.  Everything pristine and priced beyond my bracket.  Every square inch intricately and expensively planned.

We dined out on the patio along the beach lined with tiki torches, lit yachts coming and going.  We, once again, shared appetizers and bits of each others entrees, welcoming the new arrivals, updating each other of our plans.

On the way back, Scott and I walked the beach instead, cutting the distance by half at least, and leaving the bedazzles behind.  We stopped to listen to the ocean.  By the time we got in, everyone had gone on to bed.  If anyone feared gaining weight on this trip, I think that was alleviated by our miles of walking.

Did you know that the majority of the sand in Waikiki has been imported?  Apparently, it has been refreshed over the years to keep it as white and sandy as visitors have come to expect it to be, as it would naturally erode back to rough, rocky beaches.  I won’t lie, it felt good in between my toes!

*We quickly learned that everyone had a hand in someone else’s pocket.  It’s best to ask advice of the locals, not hotel, shop, or cab workers.  We saved so much money, and had much more unique experiences this way.  Oh, the web of money.

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Arriving in Honolulu

We’re backing up to the first of January, the 6th to be exact.  We’ll catch up.  Eventually.

Arrived in Honolulu.

Only it’s not as easy as that.  As I do every time I head out of town, I bawled my eyes out as we drove to the Lawrence’s to carpool (and then airpool) to the airport in the wee hours of the morning.  Scott assured me that the kids would be fine, and that we’d be back before we knew it.  We’ll call then often.

The ride to the airport, security, and check-in all went smoothly.  We got good window seats, or so we thought.  As soon as we started walking down the aisle toward our seats, passing several galley ways, I saw that our aisle had no window.  It was the only one in the entire aircraft that didn’t have one.  It was a dark little corner, tucked in front of yet another galley way.  I decided to be a big girl about it.  I asked the stewardess – err, flight attendant, right? – if the flight would be full, noting the need to change seats if at all possible.  She returned shortly with the bad news that indeed, the flight was stuffed, no room for wiggling.  It was then that all of my inclinations toward acting like a big girl went out the … well, if there was one… window.

I’m not going to admit here just how deer-in-headlight panicked I got (more…)

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Early each year for the past three years now I’ve gone on a health kick to lose 5 pounds in 30 days.  I put the shout out over Facebook to see who wants to join me (accountability is a huge motivator), and then we banter back and forth about what we’re eating, how we’re exercising (if we are), and how our progress is going.  Several focus on losing inches, instead of pounds, and some have the opposite goal – and are looking to gain 5 pounds.  It’s been fun.

This year our 30 day challenge started on the 13th.  That way it wouldn’t stifle our Hawaiian cuisine curiosity.  In reality, we ate better and walked more than we usually do at home, so I think it’ll work out in the end, without too much “catching up” to do.

I’m not really all that concerned about 5 pounds, or my weight/shape/etc.  I figure living a healthy life, eating well, and getting a good amount of “natural” exercise (hefting feed, running after kids and chickens, walking the fence, etc) is a good way to maintain.  But after the winter months of eating more hearty dishes, and having less opportunity to get outdoors, it’s a good nudge.

We were lucky enough to venture outside of the condensed, light-filled, touristy section of Honolulu to enjoy some authentic Hawaiian dining.  It was amazing, and so inspired to create some new flavors for us, we went to the international market mid-day yesterday and picked up some goods: enoki mushrooms, coconut milk, dried shrimp, toro root & leaves, lemongrass, ginger, tiny pickled eggplant, baby bok choi, lime leaves, chilis, young coconuts…  Alright, I guess we were leaning Thai with a lot of our purchases, but while in HI, we also dined at a fabulous Thai restaurant that served the best soup I’ve ever eaten.  My new culinary mission is to recreate it in our kitchen.  (more…)

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