Category Archives: Travels & Adventure

“Attacked” by an alligator

I’ve been taking an annual 4th of July trip to Minneapolis for about four or five years now, but it’s gotten quite exciting ever since the Haggards have been introduced into the family. 

When I say exciting I mean this: last year Jason almost burned Linda’s house down.  And this year we were attacked by an alligator.

When I mean attacked I mean that it was lazily floating along the shoreline in Linda’s pond and the police apprehended it with one of those dog-catcher thingies and duct taped its mouth shut.  It’s just that the Twin Cities Channel 5 news made it sound a bit more onorous than that when they featured it as the top story on the 10 o’clock news

Not only did the Channel 5 news station cover it, but Channel 4 the following day, too.  And the Star Tribune and the Eagan Examiner and Minnesota Public Radio and the Bemidji Pioneer and the Pioneer Press.

Geesh people.  An alligator in Minnesota is a bit unusual, but I certainly didn’t feel like my life was in jeopardy.  But, who knows about next year . . .

A Haggard canoeing catastrophe

When I got back from Coeur d’Alene last Wednesday I came home to not only one Haggard man but three. Justin and Jared, Jason’s brothers were in town for a visit, from Atlanta and Great Falls, Montana, respectively.

Most of the time we just hung out, ate and talked. But on Saturday, the brothers’ last full day in Seattle, Jason suggested we go canoeing at UW. Since it’s been especially hot and four people in a 450 square foot apartment makes things even hotter, I thought getting down to the water would be a refreshing break.

Justin and Jared were mildly (and that’s an exaggeration) interested in canoeing. But we went anyway. And, as you can tell from the title of the post, they were even less amused by the event when all was said and done.

Jason and I put our swimsuits on, filled up our backpack with towels, sunblock and other “essentials” and dragged Justin and Jared into the car. When we got to the UW waterfront stupid mistake #1 happened – we grabbed the backpack (which included our cell phones, wallets and dry towels) to bring with us on the boat.

At this point in telling the story I am asking myself “Who talks on their cell phone while maneuvering a long, skinny, cumbersome boat across a busy canal–especially when their pregnant and trying to maintain their already-impaired balance?” I don’t know. Certainly not me. So why did I bring my cell phone???

Needless to say, we hopped in our canoes no problem (backpack and all). But as we did, I realized I forgot to bring the camera. “Oh man! This would’ve been great for the blog!” I thought.

And so marks stupid mistake #2 – thinking that bringing my really nice camera into the boat was a good idea in the first place. In my common sense brainfart I mentally kicked myself for missing this photo opp.

In Jason & I’s canoe we (and when I say “we” I mean Jason) immediately came up with a military plan of action. He was to do the steering (of course) from the back and I was supposed to paddle as hard as I could. I whined about forgetting the camera about every time I had to switch arms from exhaustion.

The first thing we had to do was cross the busy canal without getting hit. Jason and I moved quickly. I remember looking back and seeing Jared & Justin behind us, somewhat half-heartedly paddling, all the while giant yachts approaching their boat. They didn’t seem to be concerned. Jason started yelling at them to keep moving and they picked up the pace.

Despite the mild drama, we were able to safely pass through the canal without getting hit by anything. We then passed under the 520 bridge and into a much calmer area. I started feeling a lot cooler so close to the water and enjoyed seeing all the ducks swimming around.

Within less than five minutes of canoe toodling, stupid mistake #3 happened. Jared had discovered the ducks as well and as I looked to my left I saw him start paddling hard, pulling him and Justin as fast as he could to try to hit a nice, cute little female mallard with their boat. She was swimming away with all her might, her wings almost out of the water as she went.

This continued for maybe three yards. Then Jared & Justin effortlessly tipped over and sunk into the water. In the thrill of trying to kill an innocent duck Jared had gotten reckless in his paddling and lost his balance. I don’t know what Justin was doing in the back, but he didn’t put up any fight in going down with his brother.

After the immediate shock (and relief that the duck was able to get away), I quietly chuckled to myself and thought “I’m glad that wasn’t me.” Stupid mistake #4 – thinking I was immune to involvement in, what was to be, a several-part disaster.

At first we couldn’t see Jared or Justin behind their capsized canoe. But as we got closer I spotted Justin bobbing in the water with his life vest on, his arm stuck straight up in the air holding his cell phone. This is probably the most intelligent decision made during the whole ordeal.

Jared was next to him with a goofy look on his face, forgetting entirely that his own phone still remained in his pocket, at least a foot under water.

As we pulled up to the scene of the accident I started to get a bit nervous. I wasn’t that concerned about getting wet, but I mentally started to tally how much replacement cell phones would cost. I decided that ours were NOT going to have the same fate as Justin & Jared’s. I was not in the “we’re all family, so let’s stick together” mood. In my mind it was every man for himself!

Jared & Jason were able to flip over the canoe and rid it of water. Jared quickly scrambled up into it before we could discuss what to do next. Jason wasn’t sure if Justin should also try to get in or just swim to nearby shore. Stupid mistake #5 – they decided to try getting him in the boat.

Jason: “Here, I’ll hold on to your canoe and Jared, you try to keep it in balance, too. Elisabeth, lean to the right of our boat to offset the weight.”

“But wait, that doesn’t seem right. That’s not offsetting the weight, that’s adding to it. I should lean to the left. I DON’T WANT US TO GO DOWN, TOO!” I said.

“Elisabeth, it’s right, just trust me! You’re not going to get wet.”

Stupid mistake #6 – Jason having enough confidence in himself to make that kind of promise to his wife.

At first there was a glimmer of hope–Justin scrambled up about halfway into the canoe. Maybe stupid mistake #5 wasn’t so stupid after all.

But then stupid mistake #7 happened, which completely trumped stupid mistake #5. Either Jason had told me to lean the wrong way or in my directional dylesxia (I get left and right mixed up), I picked the wrong side to put my weight on.

That coupled with Justin giving way back into the water, and we all proceeded to go down in flames (or I guess splashes would be a better word).

Something inside of me thought that if I just kept sitting inside the boat (as it tipped over, filled with water, and began to capsize) that somehow I would escape the situation (stupid mistake #8). With one hand I was holding onto the side and with the other I was trying to keep the already soaking wet backpack dry. My leg must’ve hit the side of the boat because the next day I discovered a big bruise all the way down my calf.

Finally Jason had to say “Elisabeth, just let go! You’re already in the water!”

At that point, I did let go–of the boat and the backpack. But I held onto my anger and the tears that were start to welling up as a result. “The CELL PHONES! All that MONEY!” I kept thinking. I started having flashbacks to that time (or maybe it was times) in high school that I hit something with my car and was awaiting my dad’s arrival on the scene (and lecture) about how much money it was all going to cost us. Like father like daughter.

In my mental chaos I started scurrying around, trying to grab the flip flops, hat, sunglasses, paddles and life vests that were floating around us, mostly because it made me feel like I was in control of the situation (like mother like daughter).

But, as I swam to get a paddle and saw Justin aimlessly bobbing in the water, having given up on his cell phone after the second full immersion, I started to laugh out loud. That was God’s grace to me and the anger started to dissipate. What was done was done and, well, it was pretty funny.

Several other canoes of young people came by and offered their condolences and their help. They were nice enough not to laugh (to our faces). They even offered to take our stuff to keep it as dry as possible. It was pointless, but I gladly handed it all over.

Justin continued to bob around, that is, until he spotted a hook on the back of one of the the nice people’s canoes and hitched a ride to the shore.

Jared, trying to be resourceful, hobbled into his half-full-of-water canoe. I’m not sure that he even had paddles at that point, but at least he felt like he was doing something.

As much as Jason is the man for any mission, it took him a while to figure out what to do. I informed him that there was no way in hell I was going to get my ever-increasing belly up over the side of a canoe. I also mentioned that it was doubtful I would let him live down the fact that he had attributed to a pregnant woman falling out of a boat.

So, we started swimming to the nearby shore. Or, in other words, maneuvering through muddy, seaweed-infested waters. Jason towed our canoe back with him. Our backpack and other stuff were there waiting there for us. At least they didn’t get all mucky and gross.

We emptied the canoes, got inside and paddled back to the docks. When I sarcastically asked “Does anyone want to keep canoeing around for a while?” I did not receive an answer.

As you can see, there are no photographs to document the event. On the way back I realized the camera was safe and sound at home, and breathed a HUGE sigh of relief. Cell phones are one thing, the digital camera is entirely another! I thanked God for my forgetfulness while also being quite humbled by my part in the whole ordeal.

Though a part of me (the stupid part), wishes I would’ve had the camera to document the Haggard boat summersion adventure (as if it would’ve remained dry). Or, had some supernatural power to hover over the situation just to give you the amusing visuals.

But then I come to my senses and realize that if you know any of us Haggards, my words and your imagination will be more than enough to reenact the story with a chuckle.

As for the cell phones . . .

Jason dried them out using alcohol and then left them in the oven (turned off, of course. We’re not that stupid). The combination of the alcohol and the warm pilot light in the gas oven resurrected Jared’s phone, though he lost the back to it somewhere in the scuffle. His contract is up to get a new phone anyway.

Justin’s phone works, but only if you plug it in. Which he did in the airport when he missed his flight the next day (another story)–though he couldn’t call any of us to come get him. He does have insurance and can get it replaced for a minimal fee.

Jason’s phone works, but doesn’t vibrate. And I can call people with mine, but the screen is dark. So, if I don’t know the phone number of someone I can’t call them. And I certainly don’t know who is calling me when it rings or if I’ve received any voicemails.

Thankfully, Mom & Dad Haggard and Dad Krohn are sending us their old phones.

So, despite all the stupid mistakes we made, God provided anyway –both bruised egos and replacement cell phones.

Coeur d’Alene boating trip

[Edit: I forgot to add links to all the photos I took.  See bolded below in the original text].

As promised, careful records of our boating weekend in Coeur d’Alene.

The following video covers our days on Lake Coeur d’Alene and Lake Pend Orielle (or Pond O’Reilly as Jason calls it). Both days the weather started out questionable but by the time we were ready to get in the water the sun was out and the temp was warm.

When we weren’t boating, we were grilling, watching the Olympics, and dancing with Lizzie (Mom). Here are pictures.

Gary, Penny, Christian, and Jason all left on Sunday, which left the girls (Mom, Caroline and I) to have fun. We did our Coeur d’Alene and Spokane shopping rounds, watched movies and just generally relaxed.

When we were brainstorming activities Caroline had the great idea of finding one of those paint-your-own-pottery shops. So while Mom was getting her hair cut on Tuesday, Caroline and I spent several hours painting the bud vases we had picked out.

I thought this was the most fun, relaxing thing we did. Mom and Caroline were patient with me, as I took the longest time on my project (3.5 hours!).

Later on Tuesday we visited Joy’s barn. Joy is Mom’s friend who loves horses and has lots of them, including two foals. Here’s Caroline with one of them:

And the rest of our girl time photos.

I ended my Coeur d’Alene visit with a good night’s sleep and an easy hour flight back to Seattle!

Minnesota memories

Jason and I got back on Monday from a 4th of July trip to Minnesota. Our time was spent either making memories, looking back on old ones, or getting excited about future ones.

Jason’s parents, Bill & Becky, met us in Minneapolis at my dad’s place on Thursday. The next morning Jason and I got up and walked/ran around Lake of the Isles. Then we went over to Linda’s to celebrate the 4th and Dad’s birthday with food, family, and a baby shower.

The Haggards, of course, brought an entertaining presence to the Krohn family gathering–especially when Jason flung the birthday cake across the living room floor, sparkly candle and all.

Thankfully, everyone (and the white carpet) survived. And the cake stayed relatively in tact. I’m still beating myself over the head for not video taping the whole ordeal.

That evening we came home pretty wiped out, but Jason, Bill, Becky & I stayed up late talking about marriage and parenthood. They shared what they learned from their experiences and encouraged us in the Lord of the joys of loving one another and our little munchkin. I was very blessed by this conversation. It made me think about all the memories we will all make.

That night (or maybe it was the night before?) I felt Baby H kick for the first time! Very exciting.

On Saturday we went over to St. Paul and toured Victoria Crossing and the old mansions along Summit Ave. Then Jason and I drove over to Wayzata, where I grew up. It was a really special experience to show him a place that holds so many memories for me.

Here’s a brief synopsis of our time there from Jason:

We finished the evening off in Minneapolis with dinner at Cafe Lurcat, a walk through the sculpture garden, and Sebastian Joe’s for ice cream. We thought we were wrapping up the evening, but instead we proceeded to get lost on the way home for about an hour and half.

God had something in mind with our little driving adventure–we stumbled across the church I grew up going to, Mount Olivet. I had no idea where it was or that we were even in close vicinity to it.

So we stopped and looked around in the dark and I told him about my experiences there. I was amazed to think about how God knows every moment and how they all connect, from the beginning of our lives until the end.

On Sunday we went to Bethlehem Baptist for church and then Jason and I visited my Aunt Karen and her lovely brood of animals. She took us to Highland Grill for lunch and then we sat around and chatted for a bit.

We ended that day out to dinner with Dad & Linda at Spill the Wine where we stuffed ourselves with calamari, potato gnocchi, and strawberry shortcake, among other things.

The trip was a total blessing–so much so that I didn’t want to come home! Praise God for celebrations, family, good food, beautiful weather and many memories (past, present and future).

See the rest of the pictures here.

Stehekin weekend

This weekend our Community Group went up to Stehekin on Lake Chelan to enjoy Memorial Day. Colleen’s family has a beautiful cabin they graciously let us use for a few days.

The first day we spent traveling, first by Georgia (humongous suburban) and then by boat (3.5 hours).

The rest of our time at Stehekin was spent hiking, biking, playing games, and sitting on the porch or around the fire. We opted out of swimming in the frigid waters, but apparently later on in the summer it is quite pleasant.

We also spent a lot of time eating, as Jason did all the cooking for us. His repertoire included homemade pizza, waffles, grilled and marinated chicken, burgers, and veggies, and lots of snacks.

One of the best things about our trip were all the animals we saw–one big horn sheep on the drive there, a lizard, several deer, a few hawks, and a whole pack of big horn sheep along a mountainside on the boat ride home. VERY exciting.

There were also a lot of ants in the cabin and evidences of a toilet-paper-eating mouse. NOT as exciting wildlife, but wildlife all the same.

And, on one of our hikes Courtney pointed out what sounded like a bear (Alaskans know these sort of things), but nothing attacked us, so we were thankful for that.

For those looking for a place to retreat, Stehekin is a great choice. Very remote, quiet, and absolutely beautiful.

Check out more photos from our trip.

Tulips?

Apparently not.

Things got a bit better from there. We found a field of daffodils a ways down the road and then gave up and headed to the outlet mall.

See pictures here and here.

Cadet envy?

We’re now back in Seattle after a great trip to Pennsylvania and New York. CPT and Mrs. Jordan Francis are now officially hitched. The wedding was beautiful and we had so much fun helping out with the festivities and seeing Jason’s friends from the military.

See photos from our trip.

And here’s a brief Best Man/1st LT/Junior Cadet interview, along with some behind-the-scenes footage of him and his men. The second scene may give some proof to the saying that in the military you spend a lot of time just standing around. 🙂

West Point wedding

Jordan & Elysia are finally almost to their wedding day (Saturday)! We’ve been awaiting this for months now.

Before heading to West Point for the big event, Jason and I flew into Harrisburg, PA on Tuesday night and spent a couple days with his Uncle John and Aunt Bonnie.

While there Jason wanted to make sure to take me to Hershey’s Chocolate World, one of his favorite places to go as a kid. The best part was the tour of how they make chocolate, complete with dancing cows wearing pink feather boas.

We also went and visited his Grandma Katherine who lives in a nursing home. She is not always in her right mind, but she did recognize Jason and remembered that we had recently gotten married. She talked a lot about Jesus and how she can’t wait to go to heaven and see Him. We were able to pray for her. This was, for me, was one of the best parts of our trip so far.

We also spent time driving through Lancaster County, the heart of Amish Country, and spent lots of time talking to John and Bonnie about Jason’s family history–what his grandparents were like, his dad and aunts and uncles growing up. And we finished our time there having dinner with Jason’s cousin Amy, her husband BJ, and their two kids, Kathleen and Emily.

Today we made it to West Point. Being here on a military base for the first time is really interesting for me. Before Jason I didn’t really know anything about the military. To be honest, I didn’t really want to know anything about it. But since Jason has told me about it, my respect and interest has grown.

Part of this learning has come through Christian’s death. I am starting to wrap my brain around how much of a lifestyle it is, how much people sacrifice to be involved in it, and how important things like honor and tradition are in the army.

An example–today when we walked out of a building on base at 5pm everyone all the sudden stopped and stood at attention (even civilians) and stared at the flag going down. I kept walking and turned around to say something to Jason and noticed what was going on. I stopped and did what they were doing but felt like an idiot. Later Jason told me that’s what they always do when the flag goes up in the morning and down in the evening, as a sign of respect.

These sort of traditions are important in the military and important to Jason for that reason. It really fascinates me. Even though Jason has never been to West Point before, he tells me all the bases are set up in pretty much the same way. He knows how to get himself around. And I am fascinated. This is a part of Jason’s life that I never knew because by the time I met him he was on inactive duty. Today I have really enjoyed getting a glimpse into something that was such a huge part of his life for so long.

Another thing I am learning about are my new friends, Jordan & Elysia and their families. They are all very outgoing and social people. They talk a lot, use dramatic gestures, laugh loudly and are very friendly. It’s all great fun but very different for a polite, anti-social Seattleite like myself. Add into that equation that I come from a long line of the more stoic German type (okay, we have a little bit of fun!) and you can imagine I get a bit overwhelmed at times by all the commotion.

But I think they’re rubbing off on me. I think I laughed and made more friends this evening over several glasses of wine than I normally would back home 🙂

Open skies, sunshine and snow

Scott, Courtney, Jason and I went snowshoeing up at Annette Lake this past Sunday. We had sunny weather and just enough warmth to break out a sweat for the uphill leg of the trip.

It felt so good to get out and get some fresh air. God has somehow miraculously made a way for healing souls through open blue skies and rays of sunshine in the snow. I don’t really know how He does it.

Plus, I felt very cute sporting the new primaloft jacket, snow pants and hiking boots Jason got me for adventures such as these.

The trip ended as every good trip should–a chocolate dip cone at Dairy Queen.

I didn’t take a ton of pictures, but here they are. Scott and Jason went up on the same trail a few weeks earlier, so you can take a look at those, too. The first time around they had a lot more snow.

Happy Birthday, Jason

Jason turned 32 this last Wednesday, January 2nd. I know it’s hard to believe since he could pass for a 25-year-old, but I assure you, he whines with the aches and pains of someone in his thirties (or older).

For his first birthday as a married man, I took on my wifely duties of concocting birthday fun with much enthusiasm. The celebration came in a three-part series:

Day 1 (Wednesday)

This was Jason’s actual birthday, but since it was on a work day, we couldn’t do much. I got up early in the morning to make him Swedish pancakes (one of his family favorites). When he got home we made dinner together and celebrated with Trophy Cupcakes (if you’ve never had a Trophy, let me assure you, you have never really lived).

Day 2 (Friday)

This part was somewhat unplanned. Part of Day 3’s festivities originally included going to Costco, but not knowing this, Jason told me on Thursday that he wanted me to pick up him so we could there after work on Friday. Being a seasoned surprise organizer who (on rare occasions) can deal with flexibility, I made the change in plans.

Going to Costco may seem like a weird thing to do to celebrate someone’s birthday, but it is one of Jason’s favorite places. He doesn’t have to have a list of things to buy, he just likes walking through all the aisles, eating the samples, and buying random stuff. The event occasionally concludes with the $1.50 hot dog and coke meal.

I, on the other hand, do not enjoy this activity. Costco stresses me out. My strategy is get in and get out. Needless to say, our previous Costco runs have resulted in me whining about 1) how long he’s taking and 2) that we came out of the store with a bunch of stuff we didn’t need. My gift to him was no whining. He could enjoy Costco to his heart’s delight and I would be right by his side supporting him.

Friday I also completed my leader’s recon. This is a military term Jason uses for the prepatory research it takes to successfully execute a mission. He usually does a recon before big dates he’s taking me out on. Learning from my husband, I did the same thing. All systems were a go.

Day 3 (Saturday)

This was the official celebration day. Jason loves surprises as much as I do, so I planned the entire day’s activities but told him nothing of the details. And I hyped it up big time all week. He was getting really excited.

Our first destination was the Wild Mountain Cafe in Greenwood. Alyssa recommended it for breakfast. The eggs benedict was pretty awesome.

We then we headed over to the Eastside with our first stop being REI in Redmond. We’re going snowshoeing next weekend and Jason has been saying he wants to get me some new boots for the occasion. So, we wandered around and looked at gear to his heart’s delight.

After that we drove to Woodinville for a tour and tasting at the Chateau St Michelle Winery. Jason and I have been studying up on wine so the education we got from our guide was a good supplementation to what we’ve been learning at home. Jason asked some really good questions, too. The tour ended in the wine shop with a tasting of three of their signature wines. Shortly thereafter we had an appointment for a special tasting in the Reserve Room.

This part was probably the most fun for Jason. I have never seen someone ask so many questions in my life. The woman helping us was very patient and tried to help him figure out the characteristics he likes in a merlot. Jason says next time he wants to go back and focus on another varietal. As you can see, he ended this part of the day by making friends with a local peacock.

After that we came back to Seattle. Jason didn’t know this at the time, but the grand finale was coming–a surprise birthday dinner at La Carta de Oaxaca. I had to kill some time with him, so we went Second Ascent to look at more outdoor gear and then wandered in and out of the shops in old Ballard. Meanwhile, Sally the amazing party people organizer, was on her way to La Carta to meet the rest of our friends and get in line for for a 15-person table.

Our friends did an amazing job with the surprise, hiding under the awning of the restaurant until right when we approached. Jason was shocked and confused when they all yelled “SURPRISE!”. We all had a great time at La Carta, especially Jason, who when we started to sing him Happy Birthday forgot that everybody was singing to him and happily added his voice (that is, until I elbowed him).

Above is a photo of all who attended. I assure you that even though Jason looks the most unhappy of everyone, he was having the most fun 🙂

After dinner we walked over to Cupcake Royale (not nearly as good as Trophy) with Scott, Courtney and Greg and got a sweet treat before heading to the Majestic Bay to see Charlie Wilson’s War. And that was it–a very full day.

Jason has proudly proclaimed his 32nd birthday to be the best one ever. Wife’s mission accomplished. Thank you to everyone who came and celebrated with us. You are dear friends and Jason felt very loved having you all there.