* I would like to apologize for the delay in publishing the last part of our trip with the kids. While it was wonderful, and I normally love to share our adventures, this trip was very personal for me, and and I have been dragging my feet to finish this up*
So without further adieu…
The drive to Crater lake was uneventful, but hurried. The forecast called for afternoon thunderstorms, and Crater Lake has a reputation for getting socked-in with clouds. We didn’t want to miss the opportunity to show the kids this astounding place. We found a campsite at Annie Creek Snow Park then dropped and secured the camper. We rushed up the mountain to take in the sights. There was a lot of snow still on the ground, and Rim Road was inaccessible. We hiked a bit, and found a few great viewpoints for photo ops, before returning to camp.
A spirited game of Spades was played where yours truly went an unprecedented quadruple nello resulting in a 5 thousand point deficit. I will admit I made up the multiplying nello rule… never did I expect it to bite me in the booty like it did! Alas, never count me out… and consequently, never count me in! LOL.
We had another great day at Crater Lake, and partook in lunch at the world famous Becky’s Cafe on Rt. 62. Warm Huckleberry Pie, Peanut butter cream pie, a questionable vegetarian burger, and good local beer were all sampled.
It was finally time to bring the spawns to Grants Pass. We had been looking forward to this for quite some time, and our friend Wayd had planned to take us for a rafting trip down the mighty Rogue River. It was not to be. The skies clouded over, dumped rain, and made not only rafting unfeasable, but sightseeing as well. We parked the camper at Marty’s house, and went to have dinner at the Oregon Pour Authority. Marty and Karen were great company, and the spawns as usual charmed the socks off of anyone who happened by!
Daylight came early, and the Redwoods were on the radar. We set out from soggy Grants Pass and drove the camper down Redwood Highway, through the towns of Wonder, Wilderville, and Cave Junction. We cruised over the Cascade Crest and descended into California. The woods were dark and thick, bigfoots lurked behind every tree! We planned on staying where we stayed a two years ago on the Smith River, but were greeted by a new “no Camping” sign. After finding internet service and “recalculating’, we settled on Madrona campground on the middle fork of the Smith River. This is a small free campground with only 3-4 sites and we were very lucky to find a vacant one on such short notice. We were able over the next day and a half, to do a thorough tour of Jedidiah Smith’s understated Stout Grove and to see the boy scout tree, (where Maddy reveled in showing off their amazing aerial arts skills) and to make the much vaunted trip to Secret Beach outside of Brookings.
Unfortunately some of the more stunning features of Secret Beach are only available during negative low tides, and we were there for a standard 2-3 foot low tide. The spawns were impressed regardless, and many great photos were taken.
We packed up and rolled out of the Northern California/ Southern Oregon area bright and early on Friday morning. Speaking for myself, my heart was starting to sink. Time was getting short with my children, we had made so many great memories in only 8 short days, and now had to make the short but beautiful dash up the coast; they would be flying out of Portland on Sunday evening.
We made a quick stop at Natural Bridge just North of Brookings before continuing North to Bandon to view the Annual Sand Labyrinth at Face Rock.
This particular area of Oregon can be difficult for boondockers to find camping, and as a result, with the light fading, and hangryness setting in we opted for a tried and true campsite, with showers, and hookups at Bullards Beach State Park. The pickings were slim but we found a nice spot. Kepler and Maddy proceeded to cook us an unforgettable fish dinner. With the tent pitched, unlimited water and power, two glasses of spilled wine, full bellies, and lots of great conversation, we laid our heads down for the night.
Saturday morning came too soon, and the spawns had the camp, stow, trash, load, crosscheck system down pat. We were out in record time. More of Oregon’s coast lay ahead of us, and it was to be our last full day of the trip. We wandered up the coast stopping for a windy lunch at a beach outside Coos Bay where we took phenomenal pictures of the biggest sundog any of us had ever seen.
Then we continued through the Oregon dunes, stopping at unsuccessfully at Thor’s Well and Devils Churn. Again we were out of sync with the tides. A quick stop was made at Seal Rock, to look for Seals and then on to Dory Beach at Cape Kiwanda, where I finally was able to return the little rubber fish I found a year and a half ago. I had sworn to return her to the sand where I found her if we relocated to Oregon. More pizza was consumed and as the sun started it’s decent over the Pacific we continued on to our scheduled overnight spot at the Blue Heron French Cheese Company. This shop generously allows RVers to camp in their back pasture for the night, and in the morning we were able to visit the goats, sheep, and peacocks they had on the property. The shop was wonderful with lots of samples, great beverages, wonderful cheeses, crackers, jams, and chocolates….
Departure day was finally upon us. We made a quick dash up to Cannon Beach to see Haystack Rock (Goonie Rock to most folks) & it’s astounding tide pool before peeling away from the coast driving towards Portland. We made one more quick stop for lunch in beautiful victorian Astoria before finally settling the camper at Tanya’s house in Boring, Oregon (thanks Tanya! You were a lifesaver!) . The kids prepped their bags, checked and double checked their tickets, loaded the car and we left on the short drive to Portland. We had our last meal of the trip at the Mad Greek Deli. We recalled the wonderful experiences of the last 10 days before reluctantly getting up and heading to the airport.
Things had gone so much better on this trip that I could have ever hoped or dreamed of. It was absolutely flawless, we met every challenge, our spirits were high, and our experiences were second to none. Hopefully the first of many trips like this. A can opener was almost needed pull me away from the hugs of the children I am so proud of. Watching them wave at us through my tears in the rear view mirror as they walked into the terminal was bittersweet. Proud, independent, successful children, a wonderful…no, spectacular trip. What more could I ask for? Another long hug perhaps? Sigh……..
The camper felt lonely that night in Boring. Maddy’s protein powder on the counter, Kepler’s jacket left behind. We had a drink at the local pub and in the morning, and after getting word that the spawns had safely arrived back home, we made our way back to Grants Pass, stopping to take in a flower farm and get a picture of the worlds biggest doobie to distract us from the kids absence.
Our hearts were full, we were thankful for our luck on this trip…it had been everything we wished for and more. Thanks Madeline and Kepler for being such good sports and great travelers. We miss you and will see you soon.