Summer Vacation: the first of three

imageWith the kids being in year-round school we only get a three week summer break, but some other great breaks that make up for that. One of our breaks is what I call our first mini-summer vacation. The kids were our for a week and a half at the end of May/beginning of June, so we took advantage of it.

We have a goal in our family for all of us to visit all fifty states. (Read more about that on fourkidsfiftystates.wordpress.net) So far we had the west pretty much covered except for Washington and Oregon. And thus the inspiration for our Pacific Northwest trip.

I love traveling with our family. Whether we’re visiting somewhere new for all of us or somewhere Brian and I have been, we always  enjoy seeing what’s out there. This trip was a combination of both the new and the old.

Our first stop was Crater Lake in Oregon. Wow! We had to hike a little bit to get our first glimpse of the lake but as we came up around the bend and saw it we were all blown away. It was a short visit there and we headed to one of my most favorite spots on earth, the California Redwoods. I was so excited to go there with my family and to actually camp in the Redwoods. The entire time we were there I could not wipe the smile off my face. I kept saying to the kids, “I’m just so happy here!” And I’m so glad that even though it rained almost the whole two and a half days we were there, we all still loved it. Hugging trees, finding a star fish in a tide pool, chasing squirrels, seeing a banana slug, they are all great memories of our first family trip to the Redwoods.

After that we headed up the Oregon coast, stopping at beaches and lighthouses along the way. We stayed in Beaverton, Oregon with my old roommate Heather Raddatz. She welcomed us with signs on our doors and mints on our pillows. The kids were so excited to see her and it was just like staying with family. We got to spend one day seeing Portland, walking the Rose Gardens, eating from food trucks and  trying out Voodoo Donuts. Then we spent a day on the coast with Heather visiting Astoria, Indian Beach, Cannon Beach, Tillamook and more lighthouses. Oregon was perfectly rainy one day and full of sun the next. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect visit…although we did take one trip to the insta care. Poor Noah was playing/teasing Emmy and she pushed him and he hit his head right on the corner of the newel post at the top of the stairs. A slight delay in our schedule and a few stitches later we were on our way.

The morning we left Portland was Brian’s birthday. The kids and I served him breakfast in bed and showered him with handmade cards, since the few presents we had bought we’re left at home, oops! Then we headed out to see Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier. It was neat to see Mount St Helens but we didn’t get the up-close experience like we did at Rainier. It was absolutely breathtaking. I was so amazed at the beauty there. The kids were in awe too. We wished we had more time to spend there but we were able to do a couple of short hikes, one to a waterfall and one just around the base a bit. It was such an awe-inspiring place to be and we will definitely go back!

After Mount Rainier we were homeward bound. We ended up stopping for dinner at really the only place we could find along the way. It was a restaurant in the back of a store at a campground on a lake. The kids were clearly starving as they consumed their cheeseburgers exclaiming that they were the best burgers they had ever eaten! And it just happened to be the store owners birthday as well.

The next day we added on one last stop for the way home, Craters of the Moon in Idaho. It was definitely unlike any place we’ve been before and there are places where it really does seem like you’re walking on the moon. The kids’ favorite part was hiking up the black hill and running around like they were on a different planet. I love their sense of adventure. We certainly have times on the road where one or all of us are losing it, but the time we spend together and the places we discover will never be forgotten.

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