This was not a park I envisioned myself visiting when we started out on this adventure. After Sarah suggested we visit Craters Of The Moon and it turned out to be a great day-trip, I have been more open minded about places we visit. Originally we had picked a spot with water and electricity to stay for a few days while we explored the park. A super nice park ranger and I had a discussion though and she suggested we stay inside the park further at a camp called Jumbo Rocks. We filled up with water and then took her advice. Jumbo Rocks was in the middle of the National Park and like it’s name implies it had large boulders all around it. Although it was extremely difficult to get a spot and we barely fit into the one we settled on, it was an amazing camp and we enjoyed it thoroughly.
Before we knew for sure that we would sell our house and most of our possessions to go on the road full time, we had been planning for our family vacation. The destination……San Diego! There were a couple of reasons for choosing this location. Our vacation destinations had to be within driving distance, as paying for five people to fly would basically deplete the vacation fund before we even arrived. San Diego was somewhere we had never been and has many family friendly attractions. The big reason for choosing San Diego; however, was that for the whole month of October kids go free (with adult ticket purchase of course) to all the major attractions. This was going to save us some serious dough. So why change plans? No reason we could see and so to San Diego we did go!
We had originally planned on going down the entire coast of Oregon. Someone had a baby and we decided to cut the bottom of the coast out of the route. Then I got in touch with my brother I hadn’t talked to in twelve years, so we cut some more coast out of the trip. The good thing about being totally free to go where we please is that we can change plans quickly. Though we were sad to miss the coast of Oregon, it was worth it to get to see family.
Our entire adventure we haven’t made reservations and up to this point only one campsite was filled up (it only had 10 sites). Usually we leave it to fate and just try to arrive at a decent time. The camp we had picked out for this stop had a small train and it looked very kid friendly from the pictures on the website. We pulled up to the camp and there was a sign saying they were closed and to not bother them. Bummer. Well life has a way of working out though and the closest camp we could find was a state park called Silver Falls. This was an amazing campsite and I am so glad we ended up at it. There is a hiking trail called the trail of ten falls with a waterfall you can go behind. With Trip we can only hike four or five miles, so we visited three or four falls and had a blast. The kids did the junior ranger program and even collected litter along the trail. Later the locals recommended we visit Silver Falls, so everything worked out for the best. While staying here a neighbor came over and asked for help because she had accidentally locked herself out of their trailer. I had my tools in hand to work on our trailer, so instead I went over and tried to break in for her. Well an hour later her husband and I drilled the lock out because they make the trailers tough to break into. The couple gave us some excellent wine as thanks, which we enjoyed over the next week.
Our first stop upon returning to Oregon was in Astoria. We stayed at Fort Stevens state park which is located in the northern tip of the state. The campground was pretty full so we did not get the best site, it was basically attached to our neighbors site. This really didn’t matter though because it was kinda drizzly and raining off and on most of our time in the park. Luckily we had enough non-rainy weather that we could still get out and explore the area.
It was a really neat park with many things to see and do. The beach wasn’t to far, although it was a bit of a walk (about 1 mile each way). On our first visit to the beach we walked, but decided to drive after that due to the not so ideal weather. At this beach there are the remains of an old ship wreck. It is accessible to the public during low tide which the kids thought was pretty cool. It’s popular so right near the wreck was a little crowded, but further down the beach the people were all spread out. It is also a driving beach with four wheel drive access points, so we took the kids for their first drive on a beach. We had a great time visiting Oregon beaches, the kids even found buried treasure. We are looking forward to seeing more of the Oregon coast in our future travels.
We decided to stay down the highway from Olympia since the city didn’t have a good inexpensive campground. Sarah found a nice camp at Chehalis and we found a cool park in the town for the kids to play at. We always try to find nice playgrounds for the kids to get their energy out at because when your house is less than 300 square feet you don’t want three kids wrestling inside. The campground was a Good Sammember, so we finally joined a camping club and saved a little money. It will only take five nights of using the membership for it to pay for itself. The kids liked the camp too, since they found a secret forest clearing behind our trailer to play in.
Washington is such a beautiful state, and we were fortunate to visit three of their National Parks while we were there. North Cascades, which is located on the states northern border with Canada, was a different experience than any of the other parks we have visited thus far. Mt. Rainier is further south and east of the capitol city of Olympia, and was incredibly beautiful in the fall. Olympic is in the north, and includes parts of the coast, it has the only rain forest in the U.S. We have loved and been awed by all the national parks we have been able to spend time in, and the Washington parks were no exception.
The best part about our visit to north west Washington was the family. It was great to see everyone we got to see during our short visit. Our hosts were great and we were able to stay a little longer without hook ups than we normally can by using their kitchen and bathroom. (I will refrain from mentioning names since this is a public website and no one gave me the OK to mention them.) Someone amazing brought a bunch of food and a bunch of beers for us to feast on for our visit. One night we were able to get with different family members for a great dinner. Our kids had a blast with the animals, fort building, and meeting their relatives. When it was time to go, everyone was sad we couldn’t stay longer. We had reservations in San Diego though and it was going to be close getting all the way down the coast in time.
We managed to visit North Cascades National Park while we were in the area. When we visit places we always try to incorporate school/education into our plans, since the main purpose of our trip is to give the kids a unique education. North Cascades has several dams with a powerhouse at the bottom and they supply power to Seattle and the surrounding area. First we took the kids to Ross Dam and had a school session on top of the dam. We got lucky and there was workers cutting trees halfway down the front of the dam. It was cool to see how large the dam was with some perspective and the worker was a small speck by the time he had repelled half way down the face of the dam. After hiking back up to the car, we went back down the mountains to the powerhouse. After crossing a bridge people scared of heights won’t like, we checked out the small museum inside the power house. The kids got a kick out of the
hands on displays detailing how hydroelectric power is generated. Between the Junior Ranger program and the powerhouse the kids learned some things which is always a bonus.