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Travel

Kayaking

During our caboose vacation, we went kayaking each day using the kayaks provided by the owners. Elijah fit pretty well in front of me, and aside from having to do a bit of an awkward paddling stroke, it worked well. Our longest trip was only about a half hour but he never got bored or complained.

We played around with the GoPro a bit. The comments from him were unprompted. As we were paddling along on this trip, Tyla noticed a big tugboat and barge coming up the sound. I didn’t know how big the waves were going to be, and with a three year old on my lap, I wasn’t keen to find out while sitting on the water. We hustled back to the bay and then watched it go by.

Caboose Vacation

Tyla came across a caboose on the southern end of Puget Sound that you could rent as a vacation home. It was available on her birthday weekend, it was in an area that we haven’t visited much, and Elijah loves trains so it seemed like the perfect fit. We headed down there last weekend and had a wonderful time.

The caboose has been nicely remodeled inside. They doubled the width of it so that you actually have a little room to stretch out. The main body of the caboose has the entry area, two sets of bunk beds, and a living room with a TV. The extended area has the kitchen, queen bed and a bathroom. The only interior door is to the bathroom so it’s a cozy setting.

The property overlooks the South Basin of Puget Sound and there are stairs leading down to the water so you can explore the shore and use the provided kayaks. We took advantage of the kayaks for short trips each day. Elijah was able to sit on my lap while I paddled.

I know that tides have been around for a while, but we were still amazed at how much water was moving in and out twice a day. The little cove by the caboose was probably 6-8 feet deep but it completely drained out with each low tide.

These rental properties often include a book where guests can leave a comment. They’re usually pretty generic, but it’s such a great opportunity to leave a funny/awkward message. Here are a couple that I thought about using:

  • Thanks for letting me poop in your house.
  • We came here to celebrate my beautiful wife’s birthday. My ugly wife doesn’t get birthday trips.

This concludes a busy month of vacations and adventures for us. There’s still more fun on the calendar, but I think we’re looking forward to a little time at home too.

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Tractors Galore

Elijah is a farm boy born in a subdivision. He LOVES tractors. He’s in heaven when we go back to Indiana because Dad and Mom have three tractors at their house. They have two John Deere lawn mowers and one Alis Chalmers WD 45 which Elijah has named Otis.

Elijah was already enjoying riding those around the property and even driving one of the John Deere tractors by himself. Then we met up with my high school buddy Scott. When I was in high school, his family owned a Deere dealership. Since then they sold it but they still own/manage the dealership and they have a bigger/newer shop. They sell everything from lawnmowers and blowers to top of the line combines, tractors, seeders and sprayers. Scott is the resident expert on their GPS equipment which is fun because that’s what I did in my internship at John Deere. It has changed a LOT since then.

We chatted with Scott and his dad for a while and then headed outside. Scott tossed me the key and told me to take Elijah for a drive in anything he wanted! Our first pick was a fairly new 8245R. Back in high school I used to help Scott’s family on the farm a little bit but it has been a very long time since I’ve driven anything like that. Thankfully he gave me a quick tutorial on all the buttons and switches and we were off on a quick tour of the parking lot. After that we climbed around in a combine (complete with refrigerator) and then took a 5000 series tractor with a bucket out for a longer drive. Elijah loves the smaller tractors with a bucket and no cab. Scott asked if there was anything else we wanted to drive and for some reason, Elijah wasn’t interested in any of the other huge equipment they had (bummer!) but he loves Gators. Scott found one of their brand new, high end models and let me take Elijah and Tyla for a ride. Those things FLY! He said a guy in their shop had it up over 50 but I kept it under 40 with a three year old sitting on my lap.

It was a fantastic outing. At the end of the day I asked Elijah for his favorite part of the day. He said, “Mr. Scott is so nice! He let us drive TRACTORS!” Thanks Scott and Ken! We loved it!

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Warren Dunes

Indiana has better beaches than Washington crazy. Sound crazy? You’ve never seen Warren Dunes! The Lake Michigan shoreline is gorgeous. It has huge sandy beaches and the lake is so big it looks a lot like the ocean (minus the salty water, huge waves and sharks.) You can only see the other side if it’s a VERY clear day and then you can only see the tops of the highest buildings.

One of our favorite shoreline spots is Warren Dunes State Park. The beach is beautiful and there are pretty big dunes that you can climb. The tallest one is 240 feet. Climbing up it in the hot sun on slippery sand is quite a chore, but the view from the top is worth it. As kids we would run as fast as we could down the hill. As gravity pulled you faster and faster, your strides would get enormous until you inevitably started tumbling head over heels. I climbed the big dune with Tyla and Luke but our descent was a little more controlled than it was in my youth.

Elijah and David had fun playing in the sand on the beach and even though it was a very hot day, we got there early enough that we could enjoy ourselves before it got too hot and we left.

We finished up the trip with a stop at Oinks in New Buffalo for some delicious ice cream. Yum!

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[UPDATE] Thanks to Ken for pointing out that Warren Dunes is in Michigan, not Indiana. But my statement still holds true. Indiana has some nice beaches/dunes too! Michigan’s coast line definitely wins though. It’s huge!

Hesston Steam Museum

Tyla, Elkijah and I spent a week in Indiana with my family. We had a fantastic time! The weather was great and, unlike our Christmas trip, Elijah was healthy. We crammed in a ton of activities and spent most afternoons in the pool since it was quite hot. Posts over the next few days will highlight some of our activities.

One of our first stops on the trip was at the Hesston Steam Museum. We bounced along back country roads for about half an hour until all of a sudden we ended up at a field with a bunch of steam trains and equipment. It has been operating for over 60 years. It started with a couple guys who liked steam equipment and has grown like that ever since. The facility is mostly operated by volunteers.

We focused our attention on three of the trains they have in operation. There’s a full size narrow gauge train, a smaller train which was just big enough for us to squeeze into the caboose and a tiny train where you ride on top of the cars. That tiny train was all of our favorites and we rode that one twice.

It’s a pretty impressive place in a pretty unlikely spot, but if you’re ever in the area, it’s worth a visit.

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