Tennant Lake “Hike”

Saturday was the first sunny, slightly warm day in what seemed like a long time! We decided to take the kids to Tennant Lake in Ferndale for the afternoon. The last time we went to Tennant Lake, Oliver still had a feeding tube and I’m fairly sure he wasn’t walking yet. It felt so good to see him RUN down the boardwalk!

If you live in Whatcom County, I totally recommend going to Tennant Lake if you haven’t been in a while (or if you haven’t been since your elementary school field trip!). You walk through a fragrance garden then past a 50-foot overlook tower on your way to the boardwalk. They have both a shorter wheelchair-accessible boardwalk and a nearly 1 mile long boardwalk loop! The boardwalk has no edge on it so I probably wouldn’t be comfortable walking it with any more than a 1:1 ratio of parent to toddler!

We grabbed the back of Eliza and Oliver’s coats a few times when we felt like they were getting too close to the edge! The water isn’t super deep in most areas, but it would still be a pretty wet and muddy mess if someone fell in. When we went last fall we did take our single BOB stroller on the boardwalk, but it was pretty narrow when people walked by us coming from the opposite direction so I probably wouldn’t recommend taking a stroller.

This would be such a fun place for a preschool/homeschool activity to take a yardstick to measure the water depth at various locations. It also has beautiful views and a big variety of wildlife! I did see online that the boardwalk trail is closed from October-January for hunting season but any other time of the year is great to go! The fragrance garden would definitely be more exciting in the spring/summer.

We finished off the afternoon with a stop at Edaleen Dairy in Ferndale. What a fun day!

Cross Country Skiing With Kids!

We were planning on downhill skiing this past weekend but ended up not having a babysitter. Instead, we packed up the kids and our cross-country skis and headed up to Mt. Baker! We hadn’t taken the kids cross country skiing since Eliza was a little baby.

Eliza’s first time XC skiing at age 1.5 months in 2016 (it was in Nebraska…super flat and super safe, we had her in the front pack Ergo)

Mt. Baker has a couple different options for cross country skiing. We knew there was a snowboard competition this weekend AND it seemed like the first non-raining weekend in forever. We wanted to avoid going all the way up to the downhill ski area if possible!

We parked at the Razor Hone/Salmon Ridge Sno-Park (just past mile post 46 on the Mt. Baker Highway). The parking lot was pretty snowy; Seth had to help someone push their front wheel drive out of their parking spot when we were about to leave. The Sno-Park is groomed and has a $20 pass fee per vehicle which can be purchased online ahead of time. You can also buy an annual Sno-Park pass for $40.

Eliza’s first time on her own skis!

Eliza had never tried on skis before, but I found some used kiddie skis the day before we went so Eliza could try cross country skiing too! The brand I got was Lucky Bums Kid’s Beginner Snow Skis (they sell new on Amazon for $45 but I paid $20 getting them used on a buy/sell group). They would not be good for downhill skiing, but they were perfect for Eliza trying out cross country skiing and having skis on for the first time! You buckle in regular kids snow boots and the heel is able to lift up a little bit. Eliza has issues with balance because of being blind in one eye so I was really impressed with how well she did trying to stand and scoot with the skis!

Eliza ready to go in the Deuter pack!

Seth carried Eliza in the Deuter backpack and I carried Oliver in the Ergo when we started on Razor Hone Rd. This is labeled as a green run that goes slowly uphill but we turned around when it started to get steeper than we were comfortable with. It was no problem going uphill but we were a little bit nervous about flying downhill with kids on our backs. The weight of the kids actually did slow us down quite a bit on the downhill though! Oliver and Eliza both weigh about 30 pounds so this might be trickier if you have a heavier 4-year-old!

Oliver trying out holding a ski pole

Overall the kids had an awesome time! We remembered to keep them really warm and really fed which always makes for happier kids! The only time Oliver cried was just before we got back to the car when his legs started to go numb from being in the Ergo for too long. He really should have a child-carrier with stirrups to put his feet in to avoid this issue in the future!

Both kids loved it!

We own cross country skis but there were other people renting – you can rent XC skis and boots for $30 from the Glacier Ski Shop. We want our kids to feel comfortable doing all different types of outdoor activities. I did fall once with Oliver but we were both fine. I also took off my skis on a steeper downhill part that I didn’t feel comfortable doing with Oliver on my back and one of my skis went down the hill without me and landed in the (very shallow) creek on the side. Oops! Hopefully soon we won’t be carrying the kids and they will be skiing right along side us!

The whole family!

Mt. Baker Sledding!

On Saturday we packed up the kids and took them up to go sledding at Mt. Baker! We never know if at any time we will be heading back to Seattle Children’s so we are trying to take advantage of all the available time we have home with the kids (especially knowing Oliver’s stem cell infusion was coming up on Monday). We looked at the ski report before we left (the ski area is not open yet) and it looked like there was enough snow for sledding. As we got closer and closer to the top we started to get nervous because there was hardly any snow on the ground. Thankfully at the very top there was about 6” of snow!

Family snow gear brought to you by Costco haha

Once again we learned the lesson the hard way about making sure that we have the right equipment for the kids. Eliza had snow boots for the season but we hadn’t gotten Oliver snow boots yet. We put wool socks on him and shoved his feet in his size 6 rain boots. (The kids are getting new rain boots for Christmas because Oliver is really in size 9 shoe now). Oliver had a total meltdown and was saying, “Ouch, feet!” We ended up trading shoes with Eliza (who has smaller feet than Oliver) and the kids were happy as could be the rest of the time! I went and bought snow boots for Oliver from a thrift store for $7 as soon as we got home.

Eliza thought this sled was a little too fast.

We got a new sled from Costco this year which was really fast! We also got both kids snow suits from Costco this year which have been really nice even just for going on the playground at night with to stay warm. Eliza kept asking if she could go on the “slow sled” because she was scared of the Costco one. We had an old cheap plastic sled along too that we have used the past few years.

The parking lot was surprisingly full for this early in the season! There were quite a few snowshoers, some sledders, and some people hiking up with skis and skins. It was a great day for sledding because it was clear and 31 degrees so we weren’t too cold. Even with the busyness of the parking lot, we were able to walk about 100 yards away from the parking lot and have a perfect sledding hill completely to ourselves!

Seth figuring out that Oliver’s shoes are way too small.

If you are wanting to go sledding I would totally recommend going now before it gets too crazy busy on the weekends at the ski area! It feels so good to get the kids outside seeing the mountains, feeling the different textures, and using their muscles for play!

It is so gorgeous at Heather Meadows!

Golden Ears Provincial Park Day Trip

We have been wanting to visit Golden Ears Provincial Park for a while and yesterday it wasn’t raining, we didn’t have to go to Seattle on a Monday for once, and we packed up the kids and went! Ideally we are hoping to camp there sometime, but we wanted to scope it out first.

It was Veteran’s Day/Remembrance Day so the park was probably quite a bit busier for a Monday in November than normal, but we still had no trouble finding parking. I read online that sometimes during the peak summer months it can be really difficult to find parking for day use.

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The park gates are open 8am – 5:30pm in the winter

Golden Ears Provincial Park is in British Columbia, Canada – pretty much straight north of Bellingham/Lynden. We took the Pacific/truck crossing border and it took us about an hour and a half to get there. We have Nexus passes (which I 100% recommend if you live near the border!) so the border crossing was really fast, even for a holiday! The entrance to the park AND parking is totally free at Golden Ears Park! I saw a sign that said camping is $5/person/night.

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We got the kids some sweet new wool socks from Amazon – totally recommend!

We did two shorter hikes with the kids and had a blast! First we hiked the Lower Falls Trail which was 2.7km (1.6 miles) each way. The path was really wide and mostly flat packed gravel. I was wishing we had our Bob stroller with us because that would have been much easier than carrying the kids since it was so flat and wide! I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was wheelchair accessible though, because it did get a little bit hilly. Dogs are allowed in the park as long as they stay on a leash. The path followed along Gold Creek and ended at Gold Creek Falls.

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The park has some massive tree stumps from old-growth trees!

We still had some daylight when we got back to the car so we decided to do the short (1km each way) North Beach Trail to Alouette Lake. The water in Gold Creek was a beautiful blue-green and we were so glad we were able to see Alouette Lake because it was gorgeous! We definitely want to come back and camp! We would take bikes and our inflatable raft for the lake next time.

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Alouette Lake

The kids did great the whole time! They loved sitting next to the creek tossing rocks in the water. We brought snacks and their water bottles. Oliver’s one meltdown was solved with a dry diaper. Both kids happily walked extraordinarily slow for about 1/2km of the Lower Falls Trail then were happily carried the rest of the way!

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We LOVE being able to get outside and explore with the kids when we can! It is so refreshing to be outside of hospital walls, letting the kids breathe fresh air and discover nature! We also only barely scratched the surface of what there is to see at Golden Ears Provincial Park! We can’t wait to go back!

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Lynn Canyon Park Adventure!

Our family spent the weekend in Whistler after getting the news about Oliver not being 100% donor cells anymore on Wednesday. We had an amazing time as a family! On our way home on Monday we were planning on going to an interpretive forest near Squamish, BC, but it was dumping rain and about 45 degrees.

Instead we last-minute decided to go to Lynn Canyon Park in North Vancouver! We had never been to Capilano Suspension Bridge or Lynn Canyon, but Lynn Canyon is free and Capilano Suspension Bridge is $54 Canadian PER PERSON! (I’m sure it is cool too and maybe we will do it someday, but we were in the mood for free). Lynn Canyon is located in North Vancouver (about an hour and a half north from Bellingham) and was more or less on the way home from Whistler.

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Lynn Canyon Park is incredible! It was a rainy Monday so there were very few people there. I’m sure it gets totally packed with people on sunny weekends in the summer! The suspension bridge itself is 90 feet above the ground and was safely enclosed so our kids could even walk by themselves!

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The best part about the park by far was the boardwalk trail (part of the Baden-Powell Trail) along the side of Lynn Creek. We crossed the suspension bridge, walked along the boardwalk, crossed back across Twin Falls Bridge, and looped back to our car. It was about a 1 mile loop but included quite a few stairs (not stroller friendly!). Our kids were able to do most of it themselves!

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The park also has a small free nature museum, nice public bathrooms, and a café. We totally want to go back when we are more prepared with water/kid carrier backpacks/snacks and hike more of the trails! 10/10 would recommend!

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Our Favorite Vacation Spot

We just got back from a weekend in Whistler! Oliver’s doctor gave us the okay in June to take him to Whistler and we have gone three times this summer! We actually went to Whistler on an already-planned trip the day Oliver was officially diagnosed with leukemia last year. It was the first place our doctor let us take Oliver for vacation (they have a helicopter ambulance on standby for the sports injuries that occur…which would also work for transporting a post bone marrow transplant fever patient if need be). Whistler has been a place where we can get away from daily life and especially hospital life and be out in nature.  Here are 3 reasons why Whistler is our #1 favorite vacation spot!

  • Price! You can do Whistler basically as cheap or as expensive as you want. Seth has tent camped at Whistler several times for $13 a night. Bring all your own food, the gas to get there, and that’s it! Or on the complete opposite end of the spectrum you could stay at the Four Seasons Resort in a suite for $1000+ a night. Our favorite way to stay is at a VRBO or Air BNB where you rent a house/condo for a couple nights. This is especially great if you have a group to split it with. This past weekend we stayed in a 2 bedroom/3 bathroom condo close to the village with all my siblings. We were able to cook our own food and have our own space while still being able to hang out in the common area whenever we wanted!
  • So many things to do! It seems like you could never run out of things to do in Whistler! Just like lodging, you could spend no money or piles of money depending on your style. There are TONS of free paved biking/walking trails, cross-country mountain biking trails, and plenty of hiking trails! Again, on the total opposite end of the spectrum you can take a 12-minute helicopter ride for $179 per person. There are a lot of adventure options like zip lining, bungee jumping, downhill mountain biking, gondola rides, etc. if you want to spend some money. Whistler Village is really fun to walk around in and there are a lot of good options for food and shopping!
  • Location and People! Whistler is only about a 3-hour drive from Bellingham. We have Nexus passes – which I totally recommend if you go to Canada very often! They cost $50 for 5 years and kids are FREE! They also get you TSA pre-check if you fly. The Nexus passes definitely speed up your border crossing! The 3 hour drive up the Sea to Sky Highway is gorgeous! The diversity of people in Whistler is exciting too! There are people from literally all over the world, especially from Australia and various countries in Europe. We were talking to four guys from Dublin, Ireland in the hot tub on Saturday night!

Hopefully I’ll do more posts in the future about specific things we love doing in Whistler but overall we just enjoy making family memories there! We have mostly spent time in Whistler during the spring/summer/fall but it is best known for its winter skiing/snowboarding. We haven’t spent a ton of time up there in the winter yet but we hope to in the future!