Monday, March 28, 2011

Seaquest State Park (Trial trip part 3 and we are home)

After leaving Cape Disappointment as we are driving I am constantly looking out the window at the scenery and looking for wildlife. As we were driving I was getting a snack out for the girls when Sierra yells..."mommy look at those!" and I barely had time to pick up the camera and snap off a photo of the elk. We have seen a few on different days on this trip but I have never been quick enough to get a picture snapped off. Luckily Sierra saw them way off in the distance, and I had time to scramble for the camera. Not an excellent shot but a photo non the less.

We are headed to Seaquest State Park which is very close to the I5 so we can hop on it in the am and head home.
We arrived and took a quick drive around the park as it is self service this time of year. The park was empty. There was no one around at all and only 2 other campers arrived that night. We chose campsite #4 a pull through with electric and water service, a nice open area with the picnic area behind us and playground a crossed the road and lots of space for the kids to roam, explore and discover.

We took a quick walk to investigate a small playground just a hop skip and a jump away. It was a bit too big for Aayla but she made out just fine. There was a second playground as well that daddy made it to with the girls that had a couple of swing sets just on the other side of the picnic area.

Sierra collecting fallen branches for her wedding bouquet
as she walks along comes the bride!

The sun was shinning through the trees when we arrived so it was a nice little walk before heading out to Mt St Helens. The cashier at Safeway said to hurry up as fast as we could because the clouds roll in and cancel all hopes of any view at all. The drive up was pretty with lots of scenic over views.

With the warm sun shining down as we left we were ill prepared for this:

very snowy scene we quickly came upon as we climbed the mountain on our way to the Mt St Helens Visitor Centre.

FYI this time of year the momuments and visitor centres are closed. Closed to people and closed to cars. It would have been nice to be able to at least get into the parking lot instead of having to brave the snowbanks. Ian ended up with a couple of wet feet but made it in to at least read the signs. We popped into the main visitors centre right beside Seaquest as we pulled in but it was closing at 4 and we wanted to hurry up before we lost all chance of a view. It would have been nice if they informed me that everything was closed up before we left so we could have packed up the boots instead of just informing me that the road is 40 miles long...owell we had a fun drive anyway even if all we could see was this:

Right at the top of this photo above is where the volcano top is and yes, it is right behind the clouds as Murphys law would have it! If you have a really good imagination you can see through the clouds...LOL!
The next morning the girls had a quick bath, (yes they both fit in our little tub) we packed up and hit the road for home. Getting out of the park was a bit narrow but slowly and surly we made it out with no scratches :)

And then somewhere before Tacoma we saw a Cabela's on the left.

We have never been to Cabela's before as we don't have them near us in Canada. Let's just say as we pulled in I was amazed at how crowed the parking lot was and I couldn't image that all these cars were here for this store. The parking lot was huge and full and there was nothing else around so...

As we entered the store our jaws hit the ground I am sure. It was huge and it was 2 stories and even though the parking lot was jammed, the building was so big it didn't feel busy at all. We managed to dwindle away 2 hours in there. The girls loved the Mountain of taxidermies (animals of all shapes, types and sizes) and the mini aquarium inside.

I bought a pair of binoculars (Nikon Monarch 10X42 ATB) which should be more then I need but with the girls I wanted something durable, water proof and with a great warranty!

Ian got a scope for his Robson Arms XCR (the gun of his dreams he recently purchased...I must say it is taking me some time to get used to the guns as I have always been anti guns even in imaginative play with the kids...but I am trying to open up and might even visit a range with him this week so he can site it in???), a wood splitting axe (we had a heck of a time with the firewood this trip), and some other odds n ends...

Which makes me think about this post at Big Dawg and Freeway I read last night about gadgets...funny no matter how compact we are in our RV's there is always room for the gadgets and it's amazing at how quickly our lists of gadgets grow. We have a long list of iphones, laptops, GPS's, many cameras but there always seems to be something else on the an ipad, or a new camera lens... the possibilities are endless! How many gadgets do you have? What are your favourites and what could you have done without? We are considering an in dash GPS as we left home without our portable one on our trial trip and really missed it.

Overall our trial trip was a huge success, despite the rain and cloud cover, we had lots of fun exploring new areas, making new memories and getting a better taste for life on the road! With about 20 days left before our maiden voyage we need to get fixated on finding an internet solution as with the amount of time it takes to sift through pictures, edit them, upload them and write about them, an occasional hour at the coffee shop just won't cut it :) Any suggestions? And what about satellite?

WELCOME to PB & J Adventures! Thanks for joining us on our journey!

Cape Disappointment State Park REVIEW

Cape Disappointment State Park: website HERE

Value 4/5
Cost for full hook ups $28.
No need for dump station this time but for sites without full hook up the cost is included in your camping fees or $5 if just visiting for the day

Site Quality 4/5
These sites we stayed at were wonderful. Once again they were fairly close, but the site had lots of mature trees. The pad was paved and had full sewer, water and electricity on site.

Facility Fun 4/5
Many hiking trails, Amphitheater, Beachcoming, Bird watching, Horseshoe pit, Lewis and Clark Interpretive Centre ($5 and $2.50 kids 7-17), Softball fields, Volleyball fields, Wildlife viewing, Freshwater Boat ramp, Clamming, Crabbing, Fishing. There are 2 lighthouses. Cape disappointment Lighthouse which is locked up and the North Lighthouse which you can pay $2.50 to entre. (we ran out of time to do the North time) If you are looking for outdoor family fun this Park has lots to offer to keep everyone entertained. The beaches are windy enough for kites, but not too windy so they were not cold, the campsites are in circles and makes for great bike riding for the little ones.

Natural Surroundings 5/5
Many beaches, coves and caves to explore as well as lakes and hiking trails. Numerous scenic views and trails throughout the park. Beaches, Ocean and forests...pretty amazing beauty to us.

Bathrooms 5/5
Very clean and nice hot pay showers for $3.00. Again I didn't go in...oops but my husband did here and he said they were really nice.

Staff 5/5
Park Rangers were always friendly and very helpful

Location 4/5
There were many trails and natural areas to walk, play and explore along the beach and marsh areas and in the forests. There is a small store with a laundromat, pay phone and firewood to purchase. Park is near a small fishing town of Ilwaco where you can see many fishing boats etc on the docks and a bigger store then the park store. There is nearby golf, and horseback riding. Astoria Oregon is about 20-25 minutes away. We hit the Costco here for a new chainsaw and a few other things. It was a large and new Costco and not crowded!

Overall 4.5/5
This park is a great family park. There is lots to do and amazing scenery to do it in. We had lots of rain again but hey, we live on the West Coast and are quite used to the rain. If you aren't then be prepared to get wet. Invest in a good waterPROOF jacket to keep you warm and dry and the dampness out and you'll enjoy your time here to.

Above and below shows our campsite the first 2 nights. Lots of trees so you can't even tell the park road is behind us.

The beach was amazing. The black sand and the waves. From all the debris you can tell this shore takes a beating in the winter. The ocean washes ashore many treasures and aparently quite often old glass fishing buoys get washed ashore here. All we found was bits of debris and rope scraps.

The view of Cape Disappointment Lighthouse
Inlets on the way up to Cape Disappointment Lighthouse
The view of the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Centre from the lighthouse
Our site for nights 3 and 4 with a wonderful forest area behind and beside us so the kids could play
View into a vacant site near us
A look off

These guys are quite cheeky here so expected to see them a lot at night and be sure to keep your food away as they will sneak up to your picnic table as you are sitting beside it!

We liked this park and if we weren't going on our big trip this summer would come back this summer. We will definitely come back again in later years and want to explore the Oregon Coast more too!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Deception Pass State Park REVIEW

Deception Pass State Park: website HERE

Value 4/5
Cost for basic site no hook ups $21 when we camped. Fees are higher in peak season.
Our friends paid an extra $6 when they moved to an electric and water site beside us and the sites with full hook ups are only $1 more. Dump station free with campsite fees or $5 if just visiting.

We also had to pay a $5.00 non-resident fee to use the park which I don't recall reading on their website at all.

Site Quality 4/5
Although the sites are narrow, and fairly close together they still feel very private even in early spring when the bushes are bare. Base is hard packed gravel but was very level.

Facility Fun 4/5
2 Amphitheaters, Beachcombing, Bird Watching, 6 Fire Circles, 1 Horseshoe pit, Interpretive Activities, Mountain Biking, Wildlife Viewing, Boating, Fishing, Kayaking, Clamming, Crabbing and a playground we didn't see :(

Natural Surroundings 5/5
This park has it all. Sandy beaches and rocky beaches, wooded trails, calm lake, beautiful views of ocean, lake, islands, can't ask for better natural surroundings

Forgot to check.Will do better on future trips I promise ;) Our friends said they were clean and I think they said they had pay showers.

Staff 5/5
Park rangers were always friendly and very helpful

Location 4/5
There are many trails and natural areas to walk, play and explore in from sandy beaches, rocky beaches, lake side, wooded trails or walk the bridge and we didn't explore the North Park at all. Visitor centre is located just South of the park entrance, and a small store is just North of the park entrance. 1 block to laundromat. Park is about 11 miles (I think) from Oak Harbour where you can find lots to do or places to shop. (We hit the Walmart for some basic needs and noted their signs said no overnight parking)

Overall 4.5/5
We love this park. Even though both times we have stayed there it has had a lot of rain we really like all the privacy with so many mature trees even though some sites are close together. With being the Spring season here on the West coast we are quite used to the rain.

We had a back in site # 93 which was roomy enough to easily back in our 35' trailer and still had another 20' to have our truck hooked up when parked.

Side view of our site with picnic table, and fire pit with grill overlay
View from the back of our trailer to our friends site

West beach is a sandy beach on one side and Cranberry Lake on the other. The lake has a roped off swim area and non motorized boat rentals I believe during the high season. There is also a small store open during the high season. Washrooms have clean toilets and pay showers I think. I didn't go in, that is word from the people we were camping with.
The website states:

"Please note: U.S. Navy jets from nearby Naval Air Station Whidbey Island may fly over the campground at any time for several hours. Navy personnel conduct training missions which are not announced ahead of time. Depending on the direction of the wind, their flight pattern may put them above the park, creating noisy conditions for campers. State Parks cannot be responsible for this significant intrusion into your camping experience."

but we only saw a couple jets fly overhead and on Sunday night we heard a few very loud jets fly over about 5 or 6 times during a 1 hour period and that was it. Certainly nothing to warrant a bad review.
Above a jet flies over Cranberry Lake after take off
view above of a campsite closer to the lake with a partial view and below us all enjoying a walk to North Beach

Cape Disappointment State Park, and Oregon daytrip (Trial trip part 2)

After our late lunch at Sylvia Lake State Park we headed off in a hurry to get to Cape Disappointment State Park before dark. We have never been to that park so we weren't sure what to expect and wanted to have a bit of light upon arrival. We made it right at dusk, just in the nick of time.

Before continuing I'd like to apologize for the length of this post. We spent 4 days here and there are many pictures :) Also I'd like to Thank Ania as most of the pictures that I am in are from her. Quite often we go on adventures and come home and realize I never stepped out from behind the camera so...Thank you Ania for proving I was actually there ;)

The next morning since it was pouring we ventured out in our raingear and headed straight for the beach.

Ian and I enjoying the wet, rainy morning at the beach

Ian checking out an old ship that washed ashore. We spoke to another camper who said that last year the beach was about 20' longer and in the period of 1 year had eroded about 20'! As well last year the sand was brown and this year due to the erosion, the sand has turned black...from the eroded soil change.


Aayla at home in the wet mud loving girl!

A coast guard ship which we think was practicing on the waves as about 7 ships went by all but 1 zooming along on the top of the waves and below a MUD Party!

And all was fun until Aayla got some sand in her eyes and then rubbed them with her muddy mitten...not so much fun!

Ian pointing out the caves at the base of the cliffs.

Then we are off for a hike to the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. There is also a Lewis and Clark Interpretive Centre nearby but our little ones were tired after their hike and we skipped it.

Some ferns and moss growing along the trail. The rain makes everything so lush and green.

I am a sucker for fungi...I can't help but stop for a picture.

Aayla getting a ride from daddy as we near an old bunker which the kids had a blast playing in and then almost to the lighthouse.

The view of the interpretive centre from the lighthouse

The kids exploring the lighthouse and they were VERY disappointed that they couldn't go in. After our walk our tired kiddo's needed a nap so we took a drive to Astoria in Oregon and passed over this just over 6 KM (4mile) bridge.

We took a brief drive as far as Seaside. We were supposed to leave the next day but we decided to stay 2 more days so we could hopefully get some sun at our beach and maybe take another trip to Seaside. On our way home from Seaside we saw some deer enjoying some fresh new grass.

On our way back to Seaside this morning. This road is the entrance to the park but the way the moss grows on all the branches is so magical.

My tree monkey...Sierra became quite good at climbing trees

Aayla couldn't climb at first so she bounced on some low limbs but with some persistence she found some trees she could climb.

Finally a sunny morning to snap a few pics before heading back to Seaside.

Sierra can be such a cutie pie. She hates having her picture taken but today I got quite a few wonderful shots of her beautiful smile!

Sierra, Max and Aayla, after about 20 shots of trying to get them to pose, this is as good as it gets :)

Helping Sierra to straighten out her sock and dump out some sand.

We are now back in Seaside to enjoy the sun for a short bit before the clouds and the rain move in. We had a great time at this Seaside Beach.

I love the dunes and all the grasses.

Time for some serious sand castle building

Daddy and Aayla watching the waves.

Aayla decides to join in the fun

Sierra and her Mermaid kingdom

Aayla climbing the dunes (I am looking forward to White Sands National Monument this summer...the dunes should be soooooo much fun!)

Daddy playing with his new chainsaw we got at Costco in Astoria.

Max proud of his treasure

Aayla getting a piggy back ride from mommy. Her little legs can only go so far! She does great though!

Mountain climbers

Daddy helping Aayla to climb up and explore the driftwood graveyard at the end of the beach.

Aayla finds a ladybug

Sierra finds a beach bench. She was determined to carry it all the way back to the campsite...and almost did but daddy rescued her as she was looking pretty tired.

We decided the campfire wood in Washington is expensive and barely burns. We got some old pallets and we've been cutting them up for the campfires at night to add some heat to the fire. I swear whatever they sell around here for firewood would be good to build a house out of as it takes forever to burn! During the day today they enjoyed a propane fire as I hid inside to work on photos for a bit as I took over 1000 this week!

The sunset tonight was the best so far. The pictures just do not do it justice. The colours were so vivid and pretty.

Our little raccoon friend

One last visit to the beach before we head out on our way to Seaquest State Park and Mt St Helens. See Trial trip post #3 coming tomorrow