Tuesday, August 30, 2016
We knew we wanted to hit the Grand Canyon and visit some friends who moved back to Flagstaff last year. We're playing things by ear right now, no reservations. So from Kings Canyon, we started researching. When we headed out from the campground, we had a name of a campground. As we travelled, the car thermometer kept rising. At 7pm when we stopped for dinner in Baker, CA, it was 107. We had already made the decision, at that point, to skip the godforsaken land of California for somewhere that didn't feel like preparation for hell. At 2am we rolled into the Springhill Suites in Flagstaff. Can I tell you how freaking awesome a bed and four walls is? And there's a swimming pool here (never mind all the glacier fed rivers the kids have been swimming in, along with lakes and creeks). And laundry....cheap laundry! We shot our budget, but it has restored much happiness to our band of weary travellers. Oh, and I'm aware that the dictionary takes the singular "l" version of traveler/traveling. Doesn't that look stupid? Doesn't it just call for doubling? Yes, yes it does. And it used to, some lazy bastards just dropped the second "l" at some point in history, and majority rules. Buck the trends. Think outside the box. Be who you were born to be. A travelling freak show, that's who I am.
When the kids initially did their research for where they wanted to go on this part of the trip, G rooted for Sequoia National Park. I had said no because it's so far south in CA, and I didn't want to get hit with the heat. But at Pine Meadows (Cottage Grove, OR), our camp host convinced me that we really needed to head to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. He was so excited about it, he had spent a lot of time there as a kid, that I just said we should go for it. What a beautiful place. What polluted air. Despite it being a HUGE forest of HUGE trees, the air quality there is horrible. My allergies, which have been so mild on this trip, were raging. I had several nights where sleep was elusive because I was so congested. So while the temperatures were perfect and the parks were gorgeous, we decided not to extend our visit beyond our originally paid for four nights.
Friday, August 26, 2016
Right after making the last post, I had to use the campground toilets. They have the one accessible stall and the other, less inviting stall. As if a public stall can have some level of appeal. At any rate, the door scraped into me again. Love it. But this time, I noticed that the stall actually scraped the toilet. That's right, the toilet can hold the door open.
Thursday, August 25, 2016
We have been on the move so much, changing campsites every three or four days, we've just not been able to collect ourselves. Add to that all the trips we've been taking to see the sights and absorb so much, we've not had much down time or time to chill. On top of all our travels, we smell like monkeys in a zoo. So we try to take time to clean out the van and do our laundry when we can. It's been a bit exhausting of late. maybe two cars wide, but only in some places. We squeezed through gigantic trees, pulled over to let others pass, worried about the soft shoulder and the sheer drop just past it, and just took it slow. I loved it. It was a thrilling ride, that I took at 15 mph.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Schooling on the road is hard. My kids are getting a kickin' education, but the paper and bookwork is hard to fit in. Fortunately my youngest three have a math curriculum that has short and quick lessons, so they've finished up with those books and we are working on concepts a few minutes at a time. The older boys, not so lucky. G wants to change curriculum for his math, and I'm with him. The problems always seem to be something like: Problem 1. Problem 1a. Problem 1ai. And he'll have 63 or so problems. Plus all the a-c and the i-iii. Grading that for me, especially trying to figure out the weighting of it all, is such a pain in the ass. We're fortunate that my sister gave us Teaching Textbooks, so we can move G to Algebra in that curriculum. BUT, before we go that way, my mom lent us her Algebra 1 DVD course. I think NS will have more success if I can work one on one with him when we're at houses. Sigh. We're just not at places long enough to settle down and set up a schedule. Plus we're busting to see all there is to see. And we've seen amazing things and learned a great deal about our country. And maybe, just maybe, we'll learn a bit more about organization, cooperation, family life, and getting our work done.
Oh, how I love toilets. I especially love a toilet that's in a space I can fit into. Seriously, WHY are the stalls almost exactly the size of the toilet, and the door opens in? And the toilet paper dispenser overlaps the toilet. I don't want to kiss a public toilet's wall. I really don't. So on our trip down to Black Butte Lake, we stopped at a Burger King, whose toilet doors open OUT. Genius. So simple, yet it made my day. I don't understand why design so simple requires such great minds. Do other people just not use toilets? It's never occured to them that people might want to FIT into the stall? And you can go ahead and call me out as fat, that's fair, but my 10 year old slim and trim daughter has to straddle the toilet to close the door. So, ye designers of toilets and other spaces, square inches count, but so does comfort. Help a gal out.
Thursday, August 18, 2016
After scrambling to find a site to lay our weary heads, we again have reservations. At least for now. Collier Memorial State Park, near Chiloquin, OR. It's home to a logging museum!!!! Most of our stay here has been just using the campground as a jumping-off point, though. Our first full day here, we hit Crater Lake National Park. This park has been on my list for years and years. centennial Jr. Ranger booklet, but no one's had it. Until now. They didn't have the badges, but I got the badges at another visitor center to give to the kids when they did the activity booklet. Now it all comes together. YEAH!!!!!! I also got the centennial sticker that's been difficult for me to find. Sigh. Life's good! Lava Beds National Monument in CA. We went out for pizza our first night here, and the pizza dude said we should make the jaunt one day. I had planned on going camping there and hitting the Tule Lake Segregation Center, but he said they were so close by, we could easily go in a day. Off we went. It was not as quick as he promised, but it was a good day. And I'm glad we're not going to camp there, it's hot. Too hot. The kids fell in love with caving. Such a relief, since they HATED the caves at Lewis & Clark that we went to four years ago.
Sunday we hit mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Cottage Grove. After that, we decided to hit up an orchard. I've been wanting a u-pick experience for a while since we didn't get our garden this year and we didn't hit the berry patch before leaving CO. We headed up near Eugene, to the Detering Orchard. We picked Suncrest peaches. Oh.My.Goodness. Those things are GOOD!!!! They don't keep long, so they're not often found in stores. Such a good pick. We made dessert nachos with a third of our pickings, and ate the rest straight up. We also had chesterberries, which the kiddos gobbled up. What a great day!
After leaving Silver Falls, we had no reservation for three nights. I had found a first come-first served campground on the coast, so that's where we headed. Got there at 1:35, it was full. 1:00 is checkout time. EVERYWHERE was full. We drove, and drove, and drove, but there were no campsites to be found. The kids were so excited to camp on the coast, too. So sad. Finally, at 7:30 that night, we pulled into a campsite at Pine Meadows Campground on Cottage Grove Lake. God was looking out for us, because the site was reserved but had been abandoned. What a long, difficult day. Thank goodness we had pie for breakfast (again) to sustain us! To make up for the yuck that was Friday, K told us we needed to go on the dam tour. Only 15 are allowed on the tour, so Bill hustled over to the hosts and signed all seven of us up. When we arrived at the appointed time, we ended up being the only ones to go on the tour other than volunteers and the ranger! The ranger, by the way, was the same ranger from the night before who had to turn us away from another campground. The two are Army Corp of Engineers campgrounds, and she splits her time at the two. She was surprised to see we had actually gotten a site, since they're normally booked!
We switched up the days of doing things so that we could visit with Bill's aunt and uncle one more time. But before heading off to Portland to meet up with them, we decided to check out a local shop on the suggestion of Jennifer (from the alpaca ranch). Willamette Valley Pie Co. We had pie for breakfast. SOOOOOOOOOOOOO good!!!! They have a happy hour in the mornings that we just couldn't resist. And it was so very worth it!!! After our pie and a little bit of exercise on their playground, we headed out to Portland. We parked near Rick and Sharon's place, then headed out for a walk to Powell's City of Books. We had been feeling a wee bit book deprived (we only added to our travelling library once, at a Costco). Powell's is overwhelming with its huge collection. We did show some restraint, and many ninja mind control books got the kibosh, but we all managed to come out of there pleased. DMNS so that we could participate in the reciprocity program. DMNS is such a wonderful museum, it's hard to imagine finding others around the country that we would enjoy as much. OMSI was incredible, though. We got there mid-afternoon, and spent several hour perusing the exhibits. Space was neat and so different from what DMNS has. We got to watch videos featuring Bill's favorite astronaut, Chris Hadfield. I learned a lot about pee in space. A lot. There were a lot of things we did, but pee in space made an impression on me! K and NB worked on earthquake simulations, trying to build a steady/sturdy structure to withhold the stress. J made my hair stand on end in the physics lab. And we all enjoyed the health pinball machine. Who wouldn't? Overall, Portland was a fun city, we're very glad we went.
Monday, August 15, 2016
We decided to tour around and check out the surrounding areas. Mainly because driving home from Tillamook, we saw a sign telling of the Frank Lloyd Wright Gordon House. So we went to check that out. Unfortunately for us, you have to have tour reservations, and they never returned our phone call, so we had to limit our tour to the outside. Still really cool to see. Marquam Hill Ranch, where they raise alpacas! We were told at the visitor center that they were open until 5, which was perfect, since it was about quarter to 4. ALWAYS call first!!! Bill called, and they really close at 4, but Jennifer let us come on in for a tour and an amazing education about alpacas. What a splendid trip!!!!
Saturday, August 13, 2016
Silver Falls State Park is the largest state park in Oregon, and home to many waterfalls. So we headed out to see South Falls, the most popular hike in the park. Got to see a wedding party having pictures taken. Brilliant--get that done on a Tuesday morning. Especially since it was rainy and all. Which I'm sure didn't get her dress at all muddy. But I'm sure the pictures are GORGEOUS.
Cape Meares State Park and Lighthouse is also located adjacent to the Cape Meares Wildlife Refuge. We didn't explore tons and tons. We got out there after 2pm, and the rain was cold. We had to park about a half mile away because all the parking was taken. So we checked out their largest Sitka tree in all of Oregon, and then hiked down to see the shortest lighthouse.
Our first day at Silver Falls was rainy, but that was ok because we had already arranged with Bill's aunt and uncle to meet up at Tillamook for a tour. So off we went, content to spend a portion of our day indoors, out of the rain. We were a good 15 minutes into the trip when the telltale splatter hit the backseat. Now the van is truly ours, it's been marked with vomit. But, being the troopers we are, we forced Noah into continuing on with our day. And he turned out just fine after that, I think it was just a case of road weariness.
While we had no real rain at the rainforest, it rained for our travel day. And the next day as we toured Tillamook Cheese Factory and the Cape Meares Lighthouse. And the next day as we hiked the temperate rainforest at Silver Falls State Park. We've been very fortunate in that the weather has been pretty amazing as we travel around the country, but I guess the rain was bound to catch up to us.
Friday, August 12, 2016
In the western part of Olympic National Park lies a temperate rainforest. Hoh Rainforest is a wonderful place to camp. My sister didn't want to camp with us because she did not want to camp in the rain. We had wonderful weather the entire time we were there, right up until we left.
Thursday, August 4, 2016
Our Seattle visit is coming to a close. My sister and her family have been fantastic to us, and we've had a blast seeing Washington from their perspective.