The Pan-Asian Experiment: With teens!  Without leaving home!

It was a rainy Saturday and we were stuck in Seattle. My teen says, let’s take one of those trips where we don’t go anywhere. Awesome!  And she’s going to bring friends.  I felt a bit of pressure to make this a fun adventure for her and for her friends so I decided against anything overtly educational, plus I was banned from saying “museum.” I dug into my research … hmmm, what country, what country??  But, as soon as I tried to focus on any one country, I got sucked into details that I was afraid wouldn’t appeal to teens. After all, I couldn’t exactly expect them to get excited about a coloring sheet or learning 10 words in another language. Finally I came on an idea – a pan-Asia tour!

Like most trips to Asia, we started with a layover in Taipei, home of bubble tea! Read more »

Postcard from Ancient Egypt

Happy National Archaeology Day!  Last year, Congress designated October 22 as National Archaeology Day and we’re celebrating with a trip to Ancient Egypt.

We started preparing for the tip back in August at the King Tut exhibit (in Seattle until January 6th).  The audio guide was well worth the extra few dollars.  In addition to information about the artifacts, the audio guide offered information about Ancient Egypt and the archaeologists who uncovered the tombs. The kid’s favorite artifacts included a box etched with cat drawings and the golden mask. We demo’d the final versions of the museum scavenger hunts for our book and I was happy to discover that they worked well.  At the gift shop, the kids had their names written in hieroglyphics for $1 – always a crowd pleaser.

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Chainsaws and Pacific Northwest History

Logging plays a tremendous role in the cultural heritage of the Pacific Northwest.  Yet, how many kids know much about the skills loggers needed or about how logging shaped the Pacific Northwest?  At the High Country Log Show in Roslyn, WA, you and your family can witness an authentic display of logging skills and equipment – strapping down logs on a big logging truck, climbing a pole 80 feet up in the air, sawing logs with supped up chainsaws, sawing logs with two person saws, splitting/stacking logs, and more.

Our family’s favorite events:  Obstacle course – loggers raced over log piles, balanced on perched logs, and knelt down to attach cables. 

Giant male/female two-person saw – one set of contestants was a father / daughter pair and the young girl appeared to be about 12 years old.

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Go Rodeo!

The rodeo in Twisp, WA held on Memorial Day and Labor Day is a family-friendly, culturally-wonderful, local event that should not be missed!  The rodeo includes real cowboy action (bull-riding, barrel racing, calf-roping), cowboy-kid events like mutton-busting (small tykes falling off sheep), and all-kid events such as rock-collecting, stick-horse racing, and chicken catching.  There is always a horse drill team as well, riding in formation and carrying flags to piped in country music.  “Scotty-so-hotty” was the rodeo clown this past Memorial Day and he brought his son into the arena to swing his lasso for the crowd whenever possible.  Sometimes you can also catch a glimpse of a rodeo princess decked out in rhinestones and flashy cowgirl boots.  It’s dusty, it’s usually sunny, it’s a cultural adventure, and it’s real entertainment at its best.

The rodeo starts at 1pm both Saturday and Sunday of both holiday weekends and runs until 4 or 5pm.  You can arrive anytime and leave anytime that’s convenient for you.  Bring a blanket and sunscreen to enjoy a view from the grassy arena steps.  Hotdogs and cold pop are sold every year.  This year there was also a homemade sno Read more »

Africa IS in our backyard!

We did find Africa in our own backyard!

Our journey began at Blue Nile, an Ethiopian restaurant on Seattle’s Capitol Hill.  I expected that my kids had eaten Ethiopian food before but I was completely wrong.  Zoey had spent a lot of time in the Enat Deli as a baby.  We were regulars back when it had only 4 small tables and baby Zoey was often whisked into the kitchen by the fabulous Ethiopian owner so Bill and I could enjoy a peaceful meal.  But, when we moved away from the Enat Deli, we hadn’t found any place as good and, without realizing it, we had stopped eating Ethiopian food at all.  Our rainy day luncheon was turning out to be more of an adventure than I had expected. Read more »

Looking for Africa in our own backyard …


We’ve enjoyed a day in Japan, an overnight trip to China, and an Austrian feast … all without leaving home.  But, there is a whole continent that I haven’t explored with my kids at all – either in reality or in spirit.  Sadly, I don’t see a plane ticket, a safari, and three weeks off of work in my future.  So, this winter break, we’re trying to find Africa in our own backyard.  We’re searching for movies, music, and local expeditions that can help us learn about, connect to, and get excited about Africa.  According to “If the World were a Village” by David Smith, 14% of the world’s population lives in Africa.  It’s amazing how little we know.

Overnight trip to “China”

Richmond B.C., a simple suburb of Vancouver, is more than just another Chinatown.  Just 25 mi above the Canadian border, rumor has it that Richmond boasts the largest concentration of Chinese outside of China.  In 2006, the population was 45% Chinese (and 10% Scottish which I find surprising) and this population segment was growing rapidly (up 21% from 2001) (  Now, understand, that Richmond is a fairly large city and there are large areas with few Chinese.  So, in the core of the shopping district, a.k.a. the Golden Village, a population of 45% Chinese overall can appear more like, well, 100%.  In fact, on our first trip, we arrived late and wandered into a mall to find food.  No one spoke a word of English.  It was as if our 2.5-hr car drive had been a 15-hr plane flight.  We ordered by pointing, smiling, and Read more »

One day trip to “Japan”

Sometimes leaving home is not an option – dang plane tickets cost so much, no time off from work, just got back from a trip.  The litany of excuses goes on and on.  But, often you can “travel” in just a day.  What’s your excuse now?  We spent a day in “Japan” last weekend.  We learned a tremendous amount about Japanese culture, got inspired to grow a bonsai tree, bought some trinkets, and ate great food … all in a few hours and all for about $50.


We started at Aki Matsuri, the Japanese Fall Festival at Bellevue College.  For one weekend, the campus becomes Japan.  There is a food court selling boxed sushi, chicken skewers, yakisoba noodles, Japanese

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