Thursday, July 31, 2014

Road Trip!

This year's big summer adventure was a two-week road trip up to the Columbia River Gorge and down the Oregon Coast - something I'd done with my family when I was a child. This time we traveled with my parents in a rented 31' RV, which was pretty nice. We had a few mechanical issues my poor dad had to deal with along the way, but overall it was a nice setup.

If we had to do it over again, we would have done it entirely differently, though. Experienced RVers usually tow another vehicle behind them in order to go out and site see once they reach their destination and get the RV hooked up, but we didn't do that. So once we got somewhere, we were stuck there until our next travel day. In retrospect, we should have taken my mom's minivan, and stayed in hotels along the way. We could have seen more that way, and it would have cost about the same. Live and learn...

Nevertheless, we did see some beautiful country. The Pacific Northwest is breathtaking.

After spending our first night parked outside of my great-aunt's home in Walnut Creek, we traveled north on Interstate 5. California is so big that it takes a long time to get out of the state. I did enjoy seeing the farmland in the northern part of the Central Valley, but it was so hot there. On our third travel day, we passed by the Mount Shasta recreation area. California is having a severe drought, and it was sad to see the lake so low. We had house boated on that lake years before, and it looked much different then.

Our first campground in Oregon was just outside of Medford. We spent park of the Fourth of July weekend there. I let my blogger/Facebook friend, April, know I'd be in her neck of the woods, and she drove out for a visit. It was the first time we'd ever met face-to-face. She is just as wonderful in person as she is online. I wish we'd had more time to visit!

Our next destination was the Columbia River Gorge, but to get there we had to go through central Oregon. We traveled on a two-lane road through heavy forest for a good part of the morning, and then we stopped for lunch with my mother's cousin and her husband in Bend. That afternoon we enjoyed seeing the Cascade Mountains to the west of the highway, and we tried to guess which mountains we were actually seeing. I didn't realize that the Cascades include Lassen Peak and Mt. Shasta which are in California - so we actually started seeing the Cascades a few days before. They are beautiful.

Late that afternoon we reached the Columbia River Gorge. Lots of people were still out on the river boating, windsurfing, and water skiing. It looked like lots of fun. We crossed over the river to stay two nights in a lovely campground in Washington state. We were not close enough to see the river there, but we were surrounded by a beautiful forest.

Once we got to the coast, we experienced some changes. The weather was much cooler, the campgrounds more crowded, and there were mosquitos due to swampy areas in the campgrounds. We spent two nights in the state campground at Fort Stevens. My dad's cousin and his wife, and their two sweet grandchildren, came down from Washington state to visit with us on our only full day there. Michaela was so happy to have other kids to play with! We tried to go to the beach, but it was terribly windy. A short walk/bike ride away was a really beautiful freshwater lake with a sandy beach.

It was hard for Michaela to say goodbye to Evan and Lily! She kept talking about them and expecting them to show up at our next campgrounds. Bless her heart!

From Fort Stevens we traveled to Honeyman State Park where my mother was pretty sure we'd stayed back in the day. We weren't happy with the section of the campground we were staying in, and our RV had a "sanitation issue" that needed to be dealt with. So we cancelled our second night, and traveled south to the Coos Bay area where stayed in a beautiful campground on a marina.

Not only was the campground at Winchester Bay in a lovely location, they had great amenities, and shops and restaurants were within walking distance. There was a mile-long path around the campground for walking or bike riding. The sunsets were breathtaking. Our RV was repaired onsite, too. So that was super convenient.

Our last two nights of camping were spent at Klamath River RV park on the banks of the aforementioned river. We all remembered staying there before. It is a very beautiful and peaceful spot. One evening the whole campground, or so it seemed, got very excited when a mother bear and her two cubs were spotted jogging along the other side of the river.

That RV park was just minutes away from the Trees of Mystery. The only thing I remembered about it from when I was a kid was the giant Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Michaela liked running along the path. They have a new sky tram that takes you up to a viewing deck, but the day we were there was cloudy and drizzly. So there wasn't much to see.

After that, it was time to head home. We spent two more days on the road, but we were just ready to be done. My mom and dad worked so hard before, during, and after the trip that they need a vacation from the vacation. As much as I wanted to like RVing, I just don't think it's the most enjoyable way for me to travel. I much prefer staying in an area, and having a home base from which to explore the points of interest. Like I said before, once we arrived at our campground(s), we were stuck until the next scheduled travel day.

The Pacific Northwest is absolutely beautiful, and I hope to see it again someday - differently!