Sep 052010

After spending the weekend at Ocean Park for our family reunion, we packed up the ole Arctic Fox trailer and headed across the Columbia to Fort Stevens State Park. We have wanted to camp here for a long time but never made reservations early enough. This year I found a space available from Monday through Thursday that would fill the gap between our planned weekend camping spots. The 3,700 acre park has nine miles of bicycle trails, six miles of hiking trails, as well as miles of beach, so there is always plenty to do and explore. Kevin & Kyle would have no problem running the beach each day to get their 5 to 6 miles in for Cross Country pre-season practice.

We visited the historic military area which has a museum as well as the concrete bunkers built as military fortifications to guard the mouth of the Columbia River. The original earthwork fortifications were build during the Civil War were replaced by concrete structures and served as an active military base until the end of World War II. The kids enjoy exploring the dark interiors of the huge bunkers and posing next to the large guns.

We had great weather while at Fort Stevens! Not only did it not rain (much) on us, one evening the sky was not overcast at all and we had a great sunset. I drove back to the beach to get some photos of the 1904 shipwreck of the Peter Iredale with the setting sun. I got what I think are some fantastic shots.

We also signed up for the ranger-led kayak session on Coffenbury Lake. The rangers explained the history of Fort Stevens as we paddled around the lake early in the morning. The kids enjoyed themselves thoroughly. I really think we need to buy a couple of kayaks for the family to use on the Columbia River around home as well as when we are out camping.

Before we knew it our time at Fort Stevens was over and it was time to hook up the trailer and head toward warmer weather to finish out our vacation near Mount Rainier.

Aug 062010
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Leaving is always the hardest thing to do. Especially when you are leaving for a 10 day vacation in a 26′ travel trailer. We have found that rather than leaving in the morning, it is always best to leave the night before. It always takes an extra 2 hours to pack, so if you plan to leave town at 8am you never get out until 10, but if you plan to leave around 7pm you can get out of the house at 9pm, get a couple hundred miles down the road, and actually be on vacation the next morning.

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Multnomah Falls is a great place to stop for the night. After locking everything up we all crawled into bed around midnight. The train tracks are only about 40 yards away but if the train went by while we were there this year, I sure did not hear it. I was wakened at 6:30am by our little schnauzer, Fritz, who needed to do his business. I am so glad I forced myself out of bed and did not make the boys take him out. The air was clear, it was a gorgeous walk up to the falls, and I had the place to myself.

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After taking pictures of the falls, Fritz and I walked east along old Highway 30 and the train tracks. The sun was peaking around the mountain but I was not able to get a good photo of the sunrise. As we were walking I saw the train coming so I set up to take a picture of the train as it whizzed by. Well, the conductor had the last laugh. I was holding the camera to get just the right shot. The train had just reached me and the conductor blasted the train whistle. I must have jumped a foot and am sure the conductor was laughing all the way down the track.

When I got back to the trailer around 8am everyone was awake and we decided to hit the road and get breakfast and coffee in Wood Village, outside Portland where we had planned to make a pit stop anyway to visit Camping World.