Jan 21

A week in Mexico City

Usually when I mention Mexico City to friends or family they say either one of two things: 1. oh it sounds dangerous and crazy! or 2. oh i’ve always wanted to go there! And now that I think about it, i remember doing some extensive googling relating to the safety of the city before our first visit nearly 4 years ago. And after our visit I remember feeling like I’d been let in on a secret.. I was so amazed by how safe and peaceful and cool it is. But then both times I’ve visited it’s been after being in Ciudad Obregon, which would be similar to hanging out in a small town in Arizona or something and then going to New York. Maybe my amazement is just relative.

Anyway, this visit has felt so different to last time. With a nearly 5 year old and a 14 month old, we were definitely slaves to the nap-time but also during that nap-time we had a nearly 5 year old who needed attention. Traveling with small kids to a city where you know nobody can be quite exhausting. In Seattle we rely so much on our community and we hardly ever feel as though we don’t have enough time for each other or ourselves. I know it was only for a week, but it made me think about if we were to be traveling for longer to places where we knew nobody and what we would need to do in order to have time for just Ivan and I.

We arrived last Friday and we had a weekend with Ivan just exploring the city. We walked until our legs and feet hurt and I was still feeling quite unwell but I so desperately wanted to keep up. We have eaten so well but we don’t feel like we’ve overeaten. Most days we had breakfast at home (obsessed with this, topped with chopped dates, cacao nibs, hemp seeds, chopped apple and cinnamon) with a black coffee and then we would choose one ‘big’ meal for the day (either lunch around 2 or dinner around 5). I’ll write another post about all the great places we found to eat here.

So we hung out together for every minute of the weekend (and Teo tried to nap on-the-go, which is so much harder for him than it ever was for Mika) and then on Monday Ivan had to go back to work (remotely) so I spent the week with the kids mostly from about 10-5 with a lunch break with Ivan. We explored the library and walked the city and ate the food and drank the coffee. We played in the parks and watched the water fountains and tried to see who could spot the street art first (Mika would sometimes point out actual graffiti and say ‘ohh mama, look how cool that is, all the pretty colors!).

Some things about our trip to Mexico City, because a list is easier and my brain is exhausted:

  • We stayed in Condesa again. We used AirBnB and this time we stayed in a HUGE house right on Parque Mexico and it was so dreamy. We had three rooms to ourselves, mostly we slept in the king bed and Teo had his travel bed in a different room and then Ivan used the other room as an office. I definitely played out in my head how it might feel to actually live here for a year.
  • People drive like CRAZY. Being a pedestrian feels dangerous here, oh so different to Seattle.
  • It’s not super easy to be here if you don’t speak some Spanish. I’m sure you would get by, but most people here only speak or prefer to just speak Spanish, which kinda surprised me considering what a huge city it is. But it’s great if you wanna practice your Spanish!! (Like I do).
  • We visited the Children’s Museum (Papalote) and it was under construction! Only 4 spaces were open and since we had walked 2.5 miles (up and down stairs with a stroller) to get there, I decided to make the most of the trip anyway. Mika had a really great time, but if you don’t speak any Spanish I’m not sure if you would really get as much out of it as you could. The helpers all mostly speak just Spanish and the instructions for the activities are all in Spanish too.
  • The street art!
  • It’s very strange (to me) that there are no public swimming pools in Mexico City. There are fitness clubs, but you have to belong and they don’t offer day-passes for visitors.
  • People love their dogs. There seem to be people walking their dogs everywhere and also, a lot of people walking other people’s dogs. On the street we were living on there were FOUR shops just for your pet (dog).
  • I’m so glad we actually made it to Coyoacán this time. The markets there are very much worth the trip (we took an Uber) and we spent at least 3 hours walking around.
  • And finally, we saw the pyramids! I will write a separate post about this, but yep, I am so glad that we did it.

And here are some photos:

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View from the kitchen table.

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Our sweet little kitchen.

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The water fountains!

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The sweet little library in the park by our house. It was open early every day and had so many great resources in a little ‘kid’s room’. On the day that it rained we hung out here for a few hours and met some interesting homeschooling families.

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When we didn’t have a highchair, the stroller had to do. He’s all like, ‘don’t touch my food!’

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The house we lived in! So old and so beautiful. They were actually filming some scenes for a television show there on the day we left.

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In the Coyoacan markets. A little bit crazy, a lot of the same things, but also a lot of cool things. We bought a little wooden toy for Teo and a dress and a bag for Mika.

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180, a cool shop in Roma Norte with lots of cool made in Mexico things.

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In Coyoacan.

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All the dogs! It was like a doggy playdate/day-care at the park in the mornings. Teo LOVED it (he loves dogs).

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He liked riding like this but he most definitely could not nap like this. (He had to be on my front for nap-time).

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The kitchen balcony. The plants made this place feel extra wonderful.

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Playing in the park opposite our house.

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In Coyoacan, the city named after the coyotes that used to roam there.

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Jul 07

One week on the Olympic Peninsula

We left on a Sunday and spent 5 nights exploring the Olympic Peninsula. We had sort of intended to spend 7 nights but with Friday being the 4th and all, it was a little not-our-style to be in a packed out campground and the idea of driving home in the soft rain seemed much more appealing than setting up a tent.

Before our trip I did extensive googling on ‘exploring the olympic peninsula with toddlers’ and ‘family activities in the olympic peninsula’ and such. The biggest advice I got was DON’T GO ON LONG HIKES and CHECK OUT THE EXCITING MARINE LIFE AT LOW TIDES. Both great advice. And so here is our version of a family camping trip in the Olympic Peninsula.

Our first decision we made was that we were going to do the trip in a clockwise direction. Most advice online suggests doing the trip in a counter-clockwise direction but the dates we wanted to book at Hobuck didn’t line up so well if we did the trip that way.

So our first destination was Lake Quinault.

We packed up the car like expert Tetris players (something I find so strangely satisfying) and made a quick stop at Fremont Market for some lunch before making the 3 hour drive all the way to Lake Quinault.

What we packed for Mika
3 books, bubbles, a box of chalk, her blankie and 2 of her tiny dolls (Mimi and Lulu). We also packed the iPad in my bag but to our actual huge surprise, we didn’t use the iPad ONCE, until she discovered it by accident on our last day. Somehow she managed the 600 miles or so of driving with just this awesome music CD (found on Spotify) and small talk with her imaginary friends Snake and Monkey.

Lake Quinault Washington

Lake Quinault Washington

Lake Quinault Washington

Lake Quinault is gorgeous. We set up a tent at Falls Creek (no reservation needed) for $20 a night and almost had the entire place to ourselves. The water was swimmable and we cooked some veggies with pasta for dinner and had hot cocoa before sleep.

The next morning we did some little hikes opposite the campground. There are many tiny trails of less than a mile each that you can kind of join together to make your own distance. Mika walked for 1.4 miles of trail and then we carried her for another .6. Super great family spot that was definitely not too busy on a Sunday afternoon.

Lake Quinault Washington

Lake Quinault Washington

Lake Quinault Washington

Kalaloch

Our second night we spent at Kalaloch which did NOT live up to the hype. It is one of the only campgrounds in the peninsula where you really need to reserve a site and we managed to grab one a week before we left. The campsites are all on gravel, so it feels sort of like you are tenting in a parking lot. And the ocean view is nice I suppose, but it’s pretty windy and once you make it down to the beach it is quite spectacular but not we-should-spend-the-whole-day-here-building-sand-castles sort of lovely, more like this-would-be-a-romantic-windy-wild-beach-walk sort of lovely which, of course, we were not able to really make the most of. So Kalaloch was meh.

For dinner we ate my favourite canned soup and Ivan had chili.

Kalaloch Campground Washington

From Kalaloch we drove up the coast to Mora Campground via Ruby Beach which is wow beautiful and perfect for a half-full day excursion with toddlers. We walked to little rock pools and saw huge starfish and beautiful colors.

Ruby Beach Washington

Ruby Beach Washington

We stayed at Ruby Beach until we were hungry for lunch. Our next stop: the Hoh Rainforest. The Hoh Rainforest is pretty spectacular and we happened to be there on the hottest day of the week (92F/33C). We hung out in the visitor centre for a while, mainly for the air conditioning, and then set out to do the Hall of Mosses trail. The trail is easy, Mika walked 3/4 of it, but despite the beautiful moss and trees and nature, I was being followed by some nasty stinging flies/bees that would NOT leave me alone. We had left the bug spray in the car so I sort of just swatted and walk/ran most of the trail and felt flustered and hot by the end of it.

The Hoh Rainforest

The Hoh Rainforest

The Hoh Rainforest

Back in the car, we stopped at Forks (Twilight famous) for some supplies and continued to Mora Campground. We found the best camp spot in Loop E (closest to the river) and set up our tent nestled amongst huge trees.

You can’t walk to the river because apparently it’s moved over the years and so we had to hop back in the car and drive to the beach (4 minutes). The beach was Rialto beach and it is covered in gorgeous drift wood and amazing rocks (not much sand).

Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach

We did the hike to the hole in the rock – we strapped Mika in the Ergo with the intention of making it a good-paced trip, but with mistiming the tides and and walking mostly on piles of sinking rocks (not packed sand) it turned out to be about 3.5 hours round trip. The wild coast is so beautiful and towards the end of the walk Mika fell asleep on Ivan’s back so the whole thing felt sort of magical.

For dinners at Mora we had hummus sandwiches one night and the best ever easy-to-make bean burgers the next night.

From here we were joined by some friends and we made the 2 hour drive to Hobuck Beach Resort. We had booked a cabin for a night which didn’t have ocean views but was a 2 minute stroll to the beach. The vibe of the place is very Indian Reservation as opposed to hot tourist spot and it was definitely one of our favourite places so far. It reminded us a lot of the top of the north island in New Zealand (like a much bigger version of Spirit Bay).

Hobuck Beach

We swam in the ocean, played frisbee and buried the girls. We took our first shower in a week and felt so fancy and clean that we decided to go out for dinner. The sun was low and hot and we drove to Neah Bay and found what seemed to be the only dining spot in town and right on the water. It was almost suitably named Warm House Restaurant.

If you are ever up that way and you get the urge to dine out – DON’T. Steph and I shared a seafood platter and there wasn’t anything on our plate that wasn’t deep fried in the most repulsive batter you can imagine. The place is really just a small town Denny’s or a glorified seafood version of KFC. It’s not worth it.

Cape Flattery

The next morning we drove out to Cape Flattery and told the girls they would need to walk the whole thing. I actually had no idea what the walk would be like or how long it was, but the girls managed marvelously and the trail itself is extremely toddler fun/friendly. The views at the most northwestern point of the contiguous United States aren’t overly spectacular, but it’s more just the sort of feeling one gets when standing at a point that is the ‘most’ of anything. (Glorious).

Cape Flattery Trail

Cape Flattery Trail

Cape Flattery Trail

Cape Flattery Trail

Cape Flattery Trail

Cape Flattery Trail

Cape Flattery Trail

Cape Flattery Trail

From here we headed back down through Neah Bay and stopped at Pat’s Place for some Indian Tacos which is something I WOULD recommend because the place is small and run by Pat herself and the food must be bad for you but is delicious.

And this is where we made the decision to head straight home instead of trying to set up a tent at Lake Crescent. It started raining lightly and we decided we would stop at Sol Duc hot springs so we could swim in the rain and then drive back to Seattle.

Sol Duc Hot Springs is nice but not really the greatest place for a 3 year old. There are 3 small thermal pools, more just like hot tubs, and only one of them allows toddlers. There is also a big non-thermal swimming pool that is ‘warm’ but definitely not toddler warm and so at 4pm when they closed the toddler-friendly pool for an hour for cleaning/resting, M really had nothing to do. So she and Ivan went inside to get a beer and I swam for another 15 minutes in the colder pool before hopping out.

There is supposedly a lot of great hikes around the hot springs and so I think the ideal thing to do would be to stay in a cabin next to the hot springs, sans toddlers, hike all day and relax in the hot springs in the afternoon before dinner.

So that was the whole trip. Camping with a toddler was, in our case, easy and enjoyable. We had such a good experience and we can’t wait to do more. On the way home M asked us when we would go camping again and we told her that we plan to do it as MUCH as possible before her little sibling arrives at the end of summer.

Apr 19

adventures in washington 2

we got out of the city for a night, mid-week. the big trees, the snow, the lake, the cozy cabin, the HUGENESS of it all – it’s the sort of stuff that makes me love this part of the world.

(stripes!)

Feb 09

some things. and a list

it’s snowing right now and i’ve decided that i never want to take snow for granted. maybe that means always living in places where snow is just a possibility rather than a sure thing. last night we were walking from a friend’s place downtown to get some dinner and snow was falling and beautifying everything it touched. and it is so beautiful to experience the squeals and the joy and the excitement it brings to a city that doesn’t really always expect it.

i deactivated my facebook account. which i didn’t think warranted a public announcement, but apparently some people think facebook is Real Life and so to ensure some that i haven’t committed suicide – i am STILL alive. And if you are wondering why i decided to leave the party, i feel like it could take an entire novel (that i’m never going to write) and really, the gist of it is that i don’t see the point anymore. maybe i’ll change my mind, that’s cool. just for right now, this works for me.

i went to New Zealand with mika for the whole month of january. it was hot. and wonderful. and all the things. here is a list of the things that made me really happy in NZ:

  • my mum & dad (oma & opa to mika) and ALL the time they got to spend
  • running a LOT & not needing to bundle up and then finishing each run with a jump in the ocean
  • swimming in the ocean
  • swimming lessons for mika (2 weeks EVERY day!)
  • pub quiz with friends (this makes me really happy even though i don’t really contribute and usually end up wondering why i think i like pub quiz)
  • long blacks
  • teaching my first yoga class! (and loving it)
  • watching jazz in a park
  • watching an outdoor movie projected on a silo
  • playing squash with my brother
  • playing LOTS of banagrams and catan
  • doing cryptic crosswords with my dad
  • eating fish and chips on the beach
  • going to the bay of islands for an incredible wedding
  • a long road trip with my brother
  • running an old favourite bush run with my brother
  • being able to spend so much time with some of the people i love the most
  • and mostly, the real reason the trip was even planned – to watch one of my best friends get married. and to spend so much time with both of them. and for them to spend so much time with mika (their goddaughter). here’s what you missed out on:

Jun 19

tiny & humbled & strong & free

where am i again? another 18 hours, totally different from the last time (we both sorta just slept the whole way), and i’m back in seattle. no matter how many times i do it, plane travel still blows my mind. i can wake up in winter time in new zealand and then go to sleep in summer time in seattle. it’s crazy.

the whole trip was sorta crazy. after being sick for so much of it, we finally managed to cram a bunch of stuff into a couple days: i played squash with my brother, we picnicked with one of my best friends and her two kids, i caught up with a group of ladies and babies that i joined before mika was born (who are now ladies and toddlers with baby siblings!), i managed to have lunch and dinner and drinks with friends but still didn’t manage to see everyone.

and then maybe the best part of all – my brother and i did the drive out to the beach that we grew up near and we walked along the wild west coast of new zealand and i felt tiny and humbled and strong and free.