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Adventure begins to WA state along the Pacific Coast!

Road trip camping and sight-seeing with 3 growing boys

View Adventure begins from Home to WA state on TravelingDoll's travel map.


July 13th:
Off we go!! Left at 4:30AM to get started on our camping trip. We had just started driving normal speed on the grapevine when I drove over some metal stuff, one of which ended up on the bottom of my car. No time for that. We have a drive to do!

Our first campsite destination was Samuel P. Taylor State Park in Lagunitas, CA (about an hour past the Golden Gate Bridge). We stopped in Pismo Beach at the Dinosaur Caves Park so the kiddos could stretch their legs. Next stop was at Hearst San Simeon State Park where one of my kiddos was hesitant to walk on the pier at first. He ended up loving it, and we saw a dolphin too! Still a long drive to go but we were blessed to see clouds cover the entire ocean as we were driving along the mountainside. It was as if we were driving on clouds. Joshua said "I wish I could jump off the mountain and grab a cloud!" It was such a beautiful view!
While the scenery was definitely beautiful, I couldn't help but think that the road had the same in's and out's from the mountain....Curve inward, curve outward, drive straight a bit, watch for falling rock and bicyclists, then repeat. :/ We found a pretty trail called the Garrapata Trail which had a small waterfall....oh....and a snake that crossed our trail path. We all, including the snake, had a stare down. <shivers>.
Further along, we stopped and BBQ'd our dinner at Pomponio State Beach where the boys played in a fort someone else had made on the beach while I was being stalked by my favorite bird...a Seagull. The bird actually made contact with the bag my hamburger buns came in by trying to eat through the bag. I shewed him away in time but that bun went to the trash just in case.

About 5 hours after my "calculated" time for us to have already have arrived there, we made it to San Francisco. I did not take into better account the potty breaks and leg stretches.
A funny story that evening was that my gas light had come on and my kiddo was asking me about it. .....

Isaiah: "Mom, how long do you have after the light comes on to get gas?"
Me: "Oh, about 20-25 miles or so"
Isaiah: "Well, how many miles have you driven?"
Me: "Oh sweetie. Are you scared? Don't worry. We'll be fine. I'm almost to the gas station. Just a lot of traffic."
Isaiah: "Yeah, but doesn't it waste gas still?"
Me: <laughing> "Don't be scared. We're fine. And if we do run out of gas, you'll just have to push the car."
Isaiah: "That's EXACTLY what I don't want to happen!"
Me: <cracking up laughing>

We made our way to drive down Lombard street and marveled at how odd it would be to live on that street. The kids enjoyed seeing Alcatraz in the distance. Driving over the Golden Gate Bridge was nerve-racking at first for one of my kiddos but he "screamed" his way through it.

We finally made it to our campsite...at 9:30PM! Campsite sweet campsite. Let's sleep!

July 14th:
Up and on the road early to get to our next campsite at Humboldt Redwood State Park. Our scheduled stop at Fort Ross State Historic Park was awesome! It was the first fort we have been to(I think). Left that fort and drove onward until we stopped at a trail head area that led to a beach. I jumped into the frigid cold waters while the boys built "Fort Doll" with the logs stranded on the beach.

I realized on this drive that while it is a very scenic drive, it is quite daunting when the sun is straight in your face as you drive along a two lane winding and narrow highway where bicyclists take to the road too, and of course, are hoping you don't hit them!

We arrived at the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree at Drive Thru Tree Park in Leggett, CA (http://www.drivethrutree.com/home.html|). Redwoods are beautiful and breathtaking! Continued our journey to the campsite and we came across the World Famous Tree House(not that big of deal in my opinion), Confusion Hill, Southern entrance of Avenue of the Giants, and checked out The Living Chimney Tree(that one was cool!).
Arrived at our campground with a little light left to set up and cook dinner.

July 15th:
Up and out early again to make our way to our next campsite in Coos Bay, Oregon. Thanks to a billboard sign, we took a neat detour to the Ferndale Victorian Village in California. That was a place I didn't know existed. I was kind of hoping to see people dressed up in the attire of that day and age. THAT would have been cool...for me!
Moving on..., pulled into the city of Eureka to get gas... :/ ...yeah, well, maybe we hit it at a weird time....it was a weird experience.
Continuing on, we stopped at the Thomas Kuchel Visitor Center where we saw a video of how and why the Redwood National Park was created. Next was Elk Prairie Creek Visitor Center. Almost left because we did not find any parking but the kid inside me really, really, really wanted to cross the bridge on the trail I saw. It just looked fun! My kids laughed at me... and I am okay with that. Ended up finding a parking spot and we hiked a bit. Next viewing stop was Crescent City, CA where the winds were very strong. FINALLY crossed into Oregon, then found our way to the Whales Head Beach Park for what we thought would be a BBQ lunch but ended up being a 'grill fast, catch the food before the wind takes it, and get in the car to eat' kind of experience! A few more stops and stretches, we passed our exit for the campground because I had no phone reception! Thankfully I pulled off to look for a store that sold a small loaf of bread so we could welcome in the Shabbat that night. With phone reception granted and a small turn back, we made our way to Sunset Bay State Park campground where we arrived early enough to set up, have our Erev Shabbat meal, play, and praise dance on the beach and at the campground!

July 16th:
Continuing the scenic drive, we headed to our next campsite at Fort Stevens State Park! Saw some unfortunate accidents due to the rainy weather, and the cargo carrier got too wet which caused our sleeping bags to get wet too. After some small stops, we made it to the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, OR. It is free admission, though a donation is appreciated. It was very much worth our while to check out. I had such a laugh here because there was a computer game the kids could play where they were a walleye pollock which had to assess the risks and try to survive. Sammy was first to try it and when I asked how he did...:
Me: How's it going?
Sammy: <irritated tone> I died! I got eaten by my own kind.

Isaiah was second to try and while he died too, we erupted in laughter when the computer responds to his walleye pollock's death saying, "Oh no. You're dead!"

Okay, maybe you had to be there but we, well I, was laughing it up!!

The kids most favorite stop of the day however, was the Tillamook Cheese Factory Visitor's Center (in Tillamook, OR of course). It's a self-guided tour that you take, some free cheese samples you can get, and of course....buy some ice cream! And finally....ahhhhh....arrived at our Fort Stevens State Park campsite in Warrenton, OR where I successfully made a fire FINALLY on this last night of camping along the coast, lol! The kids had so much fun running around and playing at the playground.

July 17th(last day along the coast):
Stayed until checkout time enjoying it all. We had a discovery day planned before heading to Washington to stay with family. We adventured through the rest of Fort Stevens starting with the wreck of the Peter Iredale. That was fascinating to see. The beach where the wreck was located was pleasant and peaceful. We played with the GPS and got pretty close to the tip of Fort Stevens which hugs the Oregon/Washington border that lies along the Columbia River. We really enjoyed this state park. After leaving Fort Stevens, we headed to the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park/ Fort Clatsop National Memorial in nearby Astoria, OR. The fort is a replica of the winter encampment where Lewis and Clark lived during their stay in Oregon. They had costumed workers teaching on the fort and the history of the time spent there.
Our last stop in Oregon was the Astoria Column which forced us to exert a lot of energy as we climbed the tight spiral staircase with 164 steps to the top! Passing people on the stairs was not fun but it was a stunning view once we got to the top! We ended our Oregon adventure by crossing the Astoria-Megler Bridge into Washington state. That bridge was kinda fun!! Goodbye Oregon, Hello Washington!

Final thoughts on Hwy 1/101 scenic drive:
Watch out for bicyclists!
It is very much worth the scenery to make this drive. Breathtakingly beautiful. Waves crashing against the cliffs, miles of gorgeous ocean and sand. It all just makes for a VERY much longer drive but I'm glad we did it. My regret was the 1-night campsite stays since we were rushed to head out on time to get to the next planned tourist stops and the next campsite for the night with enough time to set up and relax. We had to make our way into Washington by a certain date. Still...it was quite an experience. I am also now darn adamant that I prefer flush toilets at my campgrounds and rest stops. Didn't care one way or the other before, but oh!...those smells.

Posted by TravelingDoll 16:50 Archived in USA Tagged coast california oregon scenery highway pacific washington Comments (0)

Washington State visit

Visiting with family and friends!

View Adventure begins from Home to WA state on TravelingDoll's travel map.


July 18th:
Ahhhhh, the first day that we didn't have to get up and start packing everything up again. Pulled in to their home at about 10PM the night before because Washington traffic on the 5 was snailing along. Many thanks to Uncle Freddy and cousins, Cecily and Abby, for opening their home to us. Not much to do this day except laundry, clean out the cooler, and finish eating the foods that need to be finished before we take off again. Cousin Abby was so kind to allow us to swim at her workplace. The boys really enjoyed that, along with meeting her dog Egor. He is such a cutie...with a ferocious bark! And finally, the answer is yes....yes I took more pictures of Egor than I did of my family. And yes....I feel bad about that!

July 19th:
My cousin Cecily made us a delicious breakfast this morning. She served it all nice and fancy too. Yum!
Out the door we went afterwards to meet up with a very sweet friend we made when we lived in Washington a few years back.
The way we met was quite funny. When my family and I were getting ready to disembark our plane that landed in Seattle almost 5 years ago, Janine overheard me say to someone that we were new to the area and the city we would be living in. As we found our way around the terminal late that night holding onto little hands and car seats, this woman with a baby in hand approached me and said she had overheard my conversation and lived near the city we were moving to. It wasn't an alarming approach. She had such a kindness in her demeanor and tone that I can't put into proper words, but the image still brings a smile to my face. Inviting me to one of the playgroups that her and other moms attended, we exchanged numbers and were on our way to our homes. We've kept in touch since. For this visit, we settled on meeting at the Kelsey Creek Farm Park in Bellevue. It was such a lovely and sunny day, whereas the day before had been rainy. I was introduced to her sister Silvy who was also visiting from out of town. There we were, 3 moms and 9 kids off to explore this Farm park. All the kids, except baby Solomon, had a grand time picking and eating the blackberries off the trees. That was a fun mess and I know my kids won't forget it.
My favorite story this day was when the kids were playing "Good Guys vs. Bad Guys". The "Good Guys" team included my son Sammy and Janine's daughter Liliana. The Bad Guys team included my son Isaiah and at some point Joshua joined in too. Team Captain Isaiah had a plan to "trick" the Good Guys. He had his teammate become a "traitor" who captured Isaiah and turned him over to the other team where he figured he would then be able to capture one of the opposing team members and bring him/her to the Bad Guys side. Good Guys team caught on and captured both "Bad Guys". While I did not hear it myself, Lilliana from the Good Guys team calls out about Isaiah(Bad Guys team) :

Liliana: <pleading tone> "Nooo. Don't hurt him!....<sinister tone> yet!! We have to get information from him first!"

When Silvy repeated what happened, we were all cracking up.

July 20th:
Those bus marketing signs work! Today's trip was to "The Art Of The Brick" exhibit. I hadn't planned much for this day except spending time with family and buying the things needed for the rest of our trip. I finished the latter one first thing in the morning. Family had to work so I decided to take advantage of attending the well marketed exhibit at the Pacific Science Center. What a marvelous exhibit to attend. As a mother of 3 boys who love to make things out of Lego's, artist Nathan Sawaya has astonishing creativity at using Lego's to make artwork.

July 21st:
We had planned to leave before dawn this day but scheduled a later time departure because my cousin was flying in to Seattle from South Korea where he had been stationed. Unfortunately, his flight got delayed. :( After getting all saddled up, we met up with my cousin Kevin for a quick hello and goodbye. It was then a straight drive to my friend Jen's house in Medford, Oregon. I so wanted to see waterfalls that I had read good reviews about in Oregon but, ohhhh traffic...., why oh why do you cause such delays?? Goodbye Washington.

Posted by TravelingDoll 16:50 Archived in USA Tagged center pacific washington science Comments (0)

Loving the adventure from Washington back to California!

Caverns, Lakes, Volcanic Mountains, and Gold-mining Ghost Towns!!


July 22nd:
Seriously only saw my friend Jen for a few minutes as she showed us where we would be sleeping. We were up and out of her house by about 6AM to get to our next stop on time. Traffic the day before had delayed us 3 hours over what was estimated causing us to get to her home super late. I am very grateful to her for letting us sleep in her home as car camping was not an option with all the things we had in the car, and the campsites being full when trying to make reservations.

Our morning adventure was making our way to Shasta Caverns to take the tour. As we were driving the narrow and winding road, we almost ran into a truck towing a fishing boat as he came around the bend at a fast rate of speed. I had to back up, which was nerve-racking since I could not see out my back window, and if I miscalculated would be down the mountainside. I found it funny afterwards though because Isaiah says "Don't worry mom, if we fall the trees will break our fall."

We had to jet out after the Caverns tour because I had a goal to make it from Shasta Caverns to Lassen Volcanic National Park to get a first-come, first-serve campsite. Praise Yahweh that we got the last campsite at the exact campground I wanted, and close to a bathroom(all of which I prayed for). Halleluyah! I so very much wanted, and was able to camp at Lassen. C'mon kiddos! Let's go hike and explore the heck out of this thing! As evening came, we welcomed in the Shabbat with delicious challah bread I bought from a Trader Joe's in Redding, CA. We were so very grateful and felt so much peace. Shabbat Shalom!

July 23rd:
Did you know that some national parks have audio tours? Well, I didn't until I was researching about the places I wanted to camp.[[https://www.nps.gov/lavo/learn/photosmultimedia/audio-tours.htm|. We got in the car and did the audio tour along with some trail hikes. History and hiking. I was in heaven! At night, we attended their campground educational teaching where we learned about the history of how National Parks came about. This year, 2016, the National Park service is celebrating it's 100th year since its establishment on August 25, 1916. Happy Centennial Birthday to the National Parks!

The centennial

July 24th:
Day of departure from Lassen. I began early in the morning to avoid the onslaught of flies when cooking breakfast. Packing stuff up was memorable as the boys got inventive with the bungee cords! After attending a Jr. Ranger program, we were out of the campsite to hike Lassen Peak. Aside from Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Lassen is the only volcano in the contiguous US that erupted in the 20th century.
We started our ascent a little later than I planned but I wasn't thinking the boys would make it to the top anyway. My thought was to climb as much as they could handle and then head to our next stop in Tahoe. But once Sammy heard that there were thousands of butterflies flying across the peak, he really wanted to climb to the top. And guess what? His brothers persevered past their tiredness for their big brother's desire. I loved that! After a lot of huffing and puffing....WE MADE IT TO THE TOP!!!! This 5 mile, 2000 ft elevation took us 2 hours 30 minutes up, and 1 hour 13 minutes down(my dear sweet Sammy timed it). There were many scary parts to the trail. We took many breaks, chatted with a lot of people, and the boys pushed through.

After the hike, we began our drive to our next stop in Tahoe to visit with our wonderful friend Josh("Tio Josh" to the kids...we forced him to adopt them as nephews). Driving those dark two lane roads was not the delight of my trip, especially with Deer appearing out of nowhere. Arriving very late again, we were "welcomed" by our friend Josh's playful dog Jax. Super cute and cuddly dog!

July 25th:
Tahoe baby!! We couldn't help but feel most welcomed by Tio Josh's very friendly sign.....

We spent the day at Commons Beach and the Marina where the boys enjoyed it all! I had a grand desire to take them on a wave runner and kayak...so I did! I wish I could have taken more pictures or video of that part but, well, my phone is not waterproof.

Come evening time, we were able to make the remainder of our s'mores supply at Tio Josh's. The poor marshmallows were mush, but the boys didn't mind...it's all sugar.

July 26th:
After some fun dart playing among the boys, we headed out to a miniature golf course(Magic Carpet Golf Course) I remembered going to on one of my visits to Tahoe almost 10 years ago. We then found a cool park near Burton Creek where we BBQ'd lunch and played in the lake. The boys found something odd which they said looked like a dinosaur neck and head. Tio Josh later teased them about finding "Tahoe Tessie".
I had it in my head and heart that on this trip, I was going to fulfill my desire to paddle board! Thankfully I was able to do it. I could completely feel the muscles in my body shake as they worked with me to keep my balance on that board. I laughed at myself numerous times after my falls. I'm thinking, "I got this. Stay steady. I'm fine". Before I knew it or could stop myself, I was in the water. Ha!

Our(My) last Tahoe adventure was to hike Eagle Rock. Since they had climbed Lassen Peak, the boys were really just done with ascending hikes altogether. I had to "reason" with them that hiking Eagle Rock would mean that all 5 in our family will have hiked it, albeit not all together at the same time. That excited them and up we went!

July 27th:
After giving our thanks for his hospitality, and saying our goodbyes to Tio Josh and Jax, we set out for Bodie State Historic Park. My plan was to tour Bodie and then camp overnight at a first-come, first serve site at Mammoth. The latter plan didn't work out, partly because we were late in arrival time for Mammoth and partly because everything was nicely packed that I didn't want to unload again for one overnight stay, so....we drove straight home after Bodie. It was fun to learn about and walk around in Bodie.

I don't remember the name exactly but I think it was near Mono Lake where we saw the places where a fire had taken place. Then as we approached Mammoth, we got hit with big drops of rain!

Late night arrival home. It was very nice waking up in our own beds. Home sweet home.

Final thoughts on the trip:
I can't say enough about the drive. Yeah, it could get boring after a while when you are constantly on the road and not stopping to enjoy it. The scenery was just wonderful though. We experienced all forms of weather and environments, minus actual snowing or lightning. The sights we saw from ocean to back country to rugged mountains and lakes....well, beautiful and peaceful just aren't strong enough words to describe it. Total mileage for the entire trip beginning July 13th and ending July 27th??.....2,754 miles

Posted by TravelingDoll 01:50 Archived in USA Tagged mountains park lake national tahoe centennial caverns shasta lassen Comments (0)

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