Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Day 1: Crater Lake!

After a nice, uneventful 5-hour drive, we arrived at Crater Lake.  I have visited a couple times before and you never get tired of hearing yourself say, "Wow, it really is that blue...."  Seriously, this place is amazing.

The lake was created about 7500 years ago when the volcano Mt. Mazama erupted and then collapsed in on itself, making the crater which then filled with rain and snowmelt.  It is one of the clearest bodies of water in the world--and the deepest lake in the U.S.  Plus, it's on Oregon's quarter. :)

Geez, who dressed these yahoos?  Everett and his twin use binoculars to look for the Old Man of the Lake.  He's a log that has been floating vertically (yes, as in upright) in the lake for almost a hundred years!  We didn't spot him this trip, but Aaron asked a ranger who said he'd seen him on the far side of the lake about 3 days ago.  Maybe next time he'll float our way....

Day 1: We're Off!

Brian had a great opportunity to switch positions at work--but it meant he'd have to take his sabbatical next summer.  So, we're still taking a week & a half of vacation in the camper and have a little fun before school starts!  The plan is to leave today (Wednesday) and make the long drive to Crater Lake in southern Oregon, then hit the Redwoods in CA and sort of meander up the coast until heading over to Bend, OR by the 20th for the High & Dry Bluegrass Festival.  

We have campsite reservations through this weekend, but after that we'll have to see what's open.  I doubt we'll have trouble finding a place to camp during the week.

We've got fresh sheets on the beds, a full tank of gas, plenty of propane and a packed fridge & pantry.  What else do you need*?
*ah, yes, internet access would be nice so you can post about your trip while you're still on it.  We were blissfully off the grid for 95% of the trip, but I took good notes, so let's relive it together, shall we?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bluegrass Festival in Stevenson, WA

We loaded up and took the camper out for its first long weekend.  Brian has a friend from mandolin orchestra that camps a lot with his trailer, so we met him at the Columbia Gorge Bluegrass Festival just on the other side of the river.

The festival was at the Skamania County Fairgrounds and was really well organized. We worried that we might have trouble finding Rich, but he said he'd have his flag up and we'd know it when we saw it, whatever that meant.  We shouldn't have doubted him.  We were definitely in the right place:

They had all the camping spots marked on the ground and we'd already reserved one next to Rich on the end.  We soon learned that being on the end meant Brian had to back down a loooong grass driveway of sorts to the spot and Brian did an incredible job (minus taking out a garbage can) of backing the trailer into a just-wide-enough space:

The weekend was fun.  The big boys (and girls) played lots of music and got to go to some concerts--and jammed until 3am!  The littlest boy and I had a blast watching Aaron learn to ride his bike at long last!  The very next day we biked up to the Columbia Gorge Museum, less than .25 miles away on a paved path right from the campground!  He was an old pro by the time Sunday rolled around.  Plus, that meant that Everett graduated to the Trail-A-Bike behind Brian.  And Mom was finally biking by herself! :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Maiden Voyage

We wanted to take the camper on an easy & close "first time out" trip to figure out everything we don't know about loading the trailer, towing, parking, water/electrical hookups and all the other things that come with it.
Since we didn't head out until Saturday, lots of campgrounds were already full, but Brian found a Clackamas County park that's a little off the radar and had plenty of space.  Barton Park is on the Clackamas River in Estacada. It's just about 30 miles from our house and only 10 miles on the other side of Portland.  We stayed at the East campground in a pull-through site (yay--no backing in!) that had a good size field behind it for the boys to run around in.
The boys loved hanging out in the camper!  We played a few board games and then walked over to the playground to find that it was about as old as Mom and Dad but they enjoyed it, anyway.
A few of you have asked what our kitchen looks like, so here it is:
There's a double sink, a 3-burner stovetop, a teensy little oven and a microwave up top. (You can see the bunks in the background with the bottom one folded up where we've stored the bikes.)  Amanda made (real-from-potatoes) french fries in the oven while Brian did the burgers on the camper's grill.
He even caved and bought firewood from the park rangers so the boys could roast marshmallows. He taught them how to build a roaring fire that any scoutmaster would be proud of. And though it looks like Everett is about to poke Dad in the head with a marshmallow stick, we had no mishaps--although Aaron's roasting vs. eating ratio was a little lopsided as he learned how to not catch them ablaze.
All in all, it was a great quick trip.  We learned a lot--like don't forget the coffee!--and even made it through the experience of dumping the tanks for the first time with a minimum of fuss, although Amanda will be sure not to wear sandals next time...(nothing gross happened, but imagining the potential made her a little jittery). We go out next Thursday for a long weekend in Stevenson, Washington. See you soon!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Gear This Time Around

We're approaching Brian's second sabbatical* and this time we're going camping!  We bought a 2006 Trail Cruiser 23SB camping trailer a few weeks ago and have been eagerly anticipating taking it on its not-so-maiden voyage. Of course, we couldn't pull it with the RAV, so Brian finally got the pickup truck Amanda has been nudging him towards for years. ;)  He got a great deal on a 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 Big Horn HEMI. And, boy, does he love it! It is great for pulling the trailer although we're still getting used to what towing feels like and how to back the trailer into a parking spot. Brian is going to be an old pro in no time.
The trailer has a set of double bunks in the front and a slide-out queen in the back. The boys are excited and always want to play in it (Everett calls it the "twayluh"). Not sure what they'll think once we're in it for weeks on end, though.... In the meantime, Amanda is figuring out where everything is going to go in such a small space and what kinds of things we're going to be able to cook in the bitty kitchen.
Oh, and that door Everett is hanging out of?  The bottom bunk folds up and you can put your bikes in there! 
Not entirely sure what the BIG plan is, as things are a little up in the air at the moment, but we're trying to take it out this weekend for a short trip to test the waters and definitely taking it out next weekend to the Columbia Gorge Bluegrass Festival in Stevenson, WA.  Then hopefully on to Bend, OR, where my dad will be teaching the following week and continuing on down to Crater Lake/Giant Sequoias/Yosemite N.P.. We're aiming for a good 3-4 weeks, but will be flexible with what our sanity can allow. :)  The boys start school in September, so end-of-August is about the longest we can be gone.
Come with us!  It is sure to be an adventure! :)

*If you want to read the blog from our first sabbatical, it's over here.