Best Christmas Ever

The Fry Family Quartet just wrapped up a week in Grafton, Vermont, with the family with whom we’ve made the most memories over the years. Brian, Jesse, JoJo and Becca were amazing hosts, tour guides and playmates. We went hiking, skiing, swimming, and made snow forts. We made cookies, tenderloin, ham and ginger bread houses. We watched James Bond, Harry Potter, Rudolph and Elf. We shopped, played board games and lit fires. We told stories, laughed and cried. And, despite my speeding ticket in Felchville, we all agreed it was the best Christmas vacation on record. We love you BE, Jess, JoJo and Becca. Can’t wait to do it all again in Bellingham.

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Christmas Eve Mission in Woodstock

“Your mission, if you choose to accept it…” was how the letter started. JoJo, Henry and Ruby’s cousin, was reading aloud a handwritten letter (by me) to her cousins and sister as we all stood in front of a country store on the main street of Woodstock, Vermont. Their mission, the letter continued, was to spend the twenty dollar bill they each had found in their respective envelopes they’d just been handed. Later, over hot chocolate, they were to report back to the group what they had purchased and why they had purchased it.

We are spending our Christmas vacation in Vermont with our favorite Brooklyn family. We planned to attend Christmas Eve mass in Woodstock, and we had a few hours to kill; so we decided to mess with the kids bit. We’d told them we would be spending the afternoon in the Woodstock public library reading books before mass. To our surprise, they weren’t entirely dreading it. Henry was maybe even a little excited.

After parking the car and walking through downtown Woodstock toward the library, I stopped abruptly on the sidewalk and asked the kids to gather round. That’s when we distributed their envelopes that included crisp twenty dollar bills and the handwritten letter that JoJo read aloud. Forty five minutes later, we all emerged from the country store, each with a bag containing something valued at twenty dollars. The kids all underspent, so they pooled their change to buy candy.

From there we proceeded to the Woodstock Inn, where over hot cocoa and dessert, we unveiled our purchases – youngest to oldest. All three girls bought ginger bread house kits. Henry bought a model locomotive. Kristine went with a spiral vegetable slicer. Jesse bought her favorite home remedy – apple cider vinegar, and Brian got some hot pads. I opted for backgammon to add to the Eiting board game collection.

I’m not sure if this will become a new family tradition, but it was a fun way to spend some quality family time on Christmas Eve in Woodstock.

Waterslide Time Machine

Family vacations are usually great for making new memories. Yesterday, while Henry and Ruby were busy with that, Kristine and I relived some old memories from our youth. We spent the day at Atlantis Waterslide Park in Vernon, BC.

Hit me with your best shot by Pat Benatar was playing as we entered the park. That was followed by Billy Idol, The Rolling Stones, Guns & Roses and Van Halen. We hadn’t entered a waterslide park; we’d entered a time machine. It was 1986.

With the soundtrack of our youth playing all day, we rode the slides, sunbathed and ordered food from teens working the snack bar. Kristine and I reminisced about our respective hometown waterslide experiences at Splash Down (Spokane) and Moby Dick (Omaha). I even relived the experience of being reprimanded by the lifeguard when I wore my sunglasses down the slide – a flagrant disregard for the rules.

Atlantis continued to crank the hits from the 80s and 90s, tuned in to The Beach 107.5 FM. Henry and Ruby thoroughly enjoyed the day. I think they even liked the music. They spent most of the time riding the slides together, with periodic visits to our spot on the lawn to tug Kristine or me up the hill to go down the Zoom Tube, River Raft or Double Trouble.

By late afternoon, after six fun-filled hours, the air became a little too thick with smoke from the BC wildfires, so we called it a day. As we drove south toward Kelowna on Highway 97, the kids quickly fell asleep from exhaustion. Kristine turned on the radio. The station? The Beach, 107.5.

Oh, Myra Canyon

As soon as the kids were out of earshot, Kristine leaned over and said, “I’m terrified.” I’d been focused on whether we’d all have the right tires for the gravel trail. I had not considered that others might be concerned about the possibility of falling to our death. That is, until I was half way across a trestle and looked down through the railroad ties, which were spaced about 12 inches apart – too close together to allow you to slip through, but far enough apart to make your heart rate quicken.

On day two of our 2018 Fry Summer adventure, we drove to the top of Myra Canyon outside of Kelowna, BC. Once there, we unloaded our bikes to ride the 12-kilometer length of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail that winds along the canyon ridge over 18 trestles and through several tunnels.

The Fry Family Quartet is now of mostly equal riding ability, which makes little adventures like this possible. Moments of terror notwithstanding, we all enjoyed the ride, which gave us the most amazing views of the canyon below, despite the hazy skies caused by BC’s wildfires.

Ruby and Kristine returned to the trailhead before Henry and I. Upon our return, we discovered them enjoying an all-American picnic in the back of our pick up.

If you ride a bike and ever find yourself near Kelowna, a ride along Myra Canyon is a must. It’s way more beautiful than scary.

All Systems Go

We’ve completely changed things up at Fry Lodge this summer – particularly with respect to Fry Lodge on the go. Motorhome: gone. Minivan: gone. In their place: an Airstream trailer and a big red truck for hauling it.

In advance of our first long trip with the new set up, Ruby, Kristine and I did a quick overnight shakedown cruise to Fidalgo Bay RV Resort, while Henry attended a friend’s birthday party sleepover.

Pulling the trailer was no problem, with the help of our Race Red F150 3.6 liter V6 Ecoboost. I’m glad I got lots of practice maneuvering our little boat trailer last summer. I still need practice.

Even though it was a quick trip, Kristine, Ruby and I got in a bike ride this morning. We rode into Anacortes for a delicious breakfast at Dad’s Diner. On the ride along the water, Ruby remarked on the beautiful scenery, saying the only improvement would be the removal of the big refinery that kind of marred the landscape.

All systems go on the Airstream, though. New batteries – check. Tire pressure – check. Propane for hot water – check. Graywater protocol – check check. Can’t wait for our trip to Kelowna with the full Fry Family Quartet.

Pacific Northwest Show-offs

One of the great things about living in the Pacific Northwest is that it’s easy to show off for visitors. The Fry Family Quartet took Jim and Mary Kay to Victoria, BC to kick off their visit this weekend.

Any place that offers water taxis as a standard mode of transportation is going to be fun. That’s how we got to dinner most nights in Victoria.

On Saturday we checked out the lovely Butchart Gardens, which never disappoints.

Sunday, before having tea at the Empress, we watched the water taxis perform a choreographed ballet in Victoria Harbour.

For lodging, we stayed at the guest houses attached to Spinnakers, the oldest brewpub in Canada.

We’ve set the bar pretty high for the next few weeks.

Happy New Year from Fry Lodge

The Fry Lodge Year-in-Review video is a good opportunity to reflect on an entire year of adventure, change and growth for the Fry Family. 2017 was quite a year. We made some nice friends in Bellingham, traveled all around North America… again, and [re]learned several skills, including snow skiing at the end of the year. We can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.

Happy New Year to the Fry Lodge Faithful!

2017 Fry Lodge Year-in-Review | soundtrack by B.E.R. (The Night Begins to Shine)