Summertime in the Sunshine

The last time I left you, we were eyeballs deep in moving boxes and spring was in full swing.  Since then we have moved into the city, toured through two states on a family vacation, and welcomed sunny summertime to the Northwest.  A lot can happen in a month!

As I mentioned before, the move was a positive one.  Basically, Husband and I switched commutes.  We crossed the lake and are now in Seattle proper.  We’ve been looking at this neighborhood for a while now and finally ran across a rental house that fit our size and was in our price range.  (The for-sale housing market might be droopy right now, but it’s crazy competitive for rentals.  We beat out five other applicants!)  Then we made the move two days before we began our family vacation.  I know, nutty right?  But it all worked out well.

So, vacation.  We decided to stay close this year, while still getting out of town.  There are plenty of things to do in Washington and Oregon that are kid-friendly.  I went to pick up Son and Husband met us in Portland with the car loaded to begin our journey.  (Family will note here that I celebrated my birthday on an airplane – not by choice, mind you, as we were scheduled to land in Portland the day before – and have yet to celebrate properly.  Maybe I can talk Mom into making a Strawberry Trifle when I take Son to visit…)

First stop: Bend, Oregon.  Small town, yet oh so cool.  The eateries and downtown and parks make you swear you are in a bigger city.  But then, they have this great network of vacation rentals that put you in your own house or cottage right in the middle of the older neighborhoods.  It was awesome.  And then, right around the corner is Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters, volcanoes in the Cascade range, and a separate volcanic area  of lava domes, lava flows, lava tubes, and cinder cones.  Those last four are what we went specifically to Bend to see.  We hiked through a lava tube, which was the coolest cave I’ve ever been in.  You could see the bands on the wall where the lava cut its way through over and over again.  Son was supremely impressed.

Then we went to the surface features – a lava dome with a lava flow and cinder cone.

We were all blown away by these features.  This volcanic system isn’t part of the Cascade range, so it doesn’t make super tall shield volcanoes.  It oozes and pops out little cinders (the red, holey rocks that weigh next to nothing) more like the Hawaiian volcanoes do.  The flow pictured here is over 1000 years old.  And still nothing grows.  Pretty amazing stuff.

Next, we drove up the Oregon coast to the mouth of the Columbia River.  Along the way, we stopped at a natural sea lion cave to do a little wildlife watching.  We’ve seen them in zoos, but it’s always more fun to see them with the ocean waves crashing on them while they snooze on the rocks.  One bull was determined to hang out on the most vulnerable rock and kept leaping and riding the waves each time they came in.

The destination for that evening and the two days following was the campground at Cape Disappointment.  This is the place where Lewis and Clark decided they had reached the Pacific Ocean and gave up their search for a water route across the western territories.  It was an excellent place to camp, with the beach right near our campsite and the sound of the ocean waves lulling us to sleep each night.  There was plenty of playing in the sand, hikes in the woods, and fishing off the breakwater.

Son’s catch, tossed back of course.

It is at this point that I have to add…I was apparently so stressed and keyed up that it was well into the second day of camping before I could allow myself to just sit on the beach and relax properly.

This picture is for Dad, who allowed me to share Father’s Day with him (my birthday fell on the holiday this year).  Only a few days late on my end.

After a few days we headed north again, up the coast of the Olympic Peninsula.  We stopped to wander through a rain forest and marvel at how evergreen trees can grow so big.  (And these aren’t even the biggest ones!)

The road took us through Forks, where I am happy to say that no vampires or werewolves were spotted.  That night we camped at Salt Creek, on the Straight of Juan de Fuca, where the waves lulled us to sleep again and we could see Canada across the water.  We waved, but I don’t think they saw us.  Here, the rocks that are in the tidal zone are blanketed with mussels.  Watch your step!

By this point we had enjoyed an entire week of beautiful weather.  But on Friday afternoon, the ‘bottom fell out’ as we Southerners say.  It rained – hard, pounding rain – for two days.  So we cut our trip short, since we had planned to camp one more night, and caught the ferry across Puget Sound to our new home.  And a hot shower that I didn’t need to drop quarters in the slot to operate.

My jacket still smells a bit like campfire smoke.  Sigh.  I can almost still hear the ocean waves.

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