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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Washington, United States

    Default PNW Weeklong (Geological?) Tour

    I planned this trip in a week and only made reservations at two campgrounds for eight days. No reservations meant no commitment to be anywhere at a certain time. I had a list of where I wanted to go, our two reservations, and enough food to last 8 days. The Pilot was packed to the gills with camping supplies for two adults and two kids (5 & 7), but we camp comfortably in our Tent Mahal.

    We left our house mid-morning Saturday August 2, and headed to Mount Rainier. We got there in time for lunch, which I had packed in a cooler in the front seat-PB&J and apples. We explored the mountain for several hours, even going on a short hike. Around 4 pm, we headed to the campground we had passed, but they were full and the ranger was able to tell us every CG in the park was full. So we headed around the mountain again to the 410 side to start looking for somewhere to set up the Tent Mahal for the night. Halfway around the mountain, the kids were demanding dinner, so we pulled off onto a lookout and heated up the dinner (Lime chicken soft tacos!) I had made before we left the house, ate it, and proceeded on our way. We eventually left the Park and found a dirt road in the Forest and set up the tent in time for the kids' bedtime.

    Sunday morning, we got up, made breakfast (oatmeal, boring) and lunch (meat & cheese sammies), and tore down camp. We headed south to Mt St Helens, arriving mid-morning. We ate our lunch and explored the volcano. Late afternoon, we headed south again to my sister in law's house in Kelso to spend the night with her family. She loaned us her portable hot water heater. and the kids all enjoyed the slip 'n' slide.

    Monday morning, we all headed south again to visit Fort Stevens in Astoria, OR. From Ft Stevens, we headed to the Wreck of the Peter Iredale. My sister in law went home, and we backtracked North a little and went to another sister in law's house in Vancouver to spend the night.

    Tuesday morning, we left Vancouver and went to Multnomah Falls and Bonneville Dam. We camped at Eagle Creek campground, which was quiet except for the TRAIN that goes by every 60-90 minutes all night. We locked both sets of keys in the car, along with everything but the tent and bedding.

    Wednesday morning, we got a late start due to waiting for the locksmith. Good times. After a quick breakfast of cold cereal, we headed for The Bomber Restaurant in Milwaukie, OR for lunch with my father in law. Until yesterday, they had a B17 bomber out front. She came down yesterday to go to a hangar where she will be fully restored for flight over the next 3-5 years. After lunch, we hit the road for Silver Falls State Park, where we had a reservation. We got there in time for dinner and the ranger's presentation on the Natives that once inhabited the area.

    On Thursday, we packed up camp and went hiking on the Trail of Ten Falls. Between a 5 year old with short legs and myself still recovering from multiple leg fractures last October, we only made it to four of the falls. We had lunch and hit the road towards Crater Lake. We got to our other reserved campsite at Broken Arrow Campground. It was a ghost town, but pretty. We made dinner and set up the tent and went to bed.

    Friday morning, we had breakfast, tore down and finished our trek to the lake. We explored until late afternoon, then started the journey back North. We stopped somewhere along I-5 in Oregon for dinner at a gas station/A&W. I was excited for root beer floats, but their regular root beer wasn't working and I can't drink diet. I was sorely disappointed. We had the option of spending another night in Kelso and finishing our trek in the morning. We didn't decide until we got to Kalama that we would just make a straight shot home. We arrived home around 12:30am Saturday morning.

    After Mount Rainier, I had the kids make the souvenir pennies everywhere it was possible. If anyone has Mt Rainier pennies or is headed to Mt Rainier and is willing to make two pennies, I would be happy to reimburse your $1.51 (two pennies, a dollar for making the pennies, and a stamp to mail them).
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 08-14-2014 at 09:50 AM. Reason: added some white space for easier reading

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default The key defining element of road trips!

    I completely agree with your desire to visit all of the national parks -- first voiced in this planning thread -- I've been to most -- I think there are only a dozen still on my personal must-see list...

    I loved your trip report -- the essence of all good road trips requires that something goes "wrong" and that's what makes road trips an adventure holiday and not a resort vacation.

    One time I locked the keys to our truck in a campground when my wife and I had gone to use the campground showers -- She was dressed in only a robe and I was in shorts and it was about 40 degrees -- and we were locked out. That was quite an adventure as well.

    Where are you going next?


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Washington, United States


    Since school starts in three weeks, we'll probably lay low for a year. "Laying low" for us usually involves family dirt bike rides at least monthly and 1-2 night camping trips to OHV parks when we can. :)

    We live within an hour of getting on the North Cascades Loop, and could easily make it a long weekend trip, but I have to work Labor Day weekend. I haven't checked the fire reports for two weeks, but the last time I checked, part of the loop was closed due to wildfires.

    I would have done that loop last week with the dirt bikes hauled along, but fires aren't awesome. Those fires already ruined a four day trip last month at the last minute!

    I may do the Cascades Loop with my kids for Spring Break.

  4. #4

    Default Smashed pennies & Junior Ranger?

    Great report, thanks for sharing your travels. We were just in your area this summer and really enjoyed the cooler temps! Luckily we had campground reservations at Mt. Rainer over the 4th of July and had spectacular weather.

    You mentioned not getting the smashed pennies at Mt Rainer. Where were they? We only found a set at the IGA in Packwood. I use an app and my husband prints out a list, by state, and neither of our sources show a machine in the park, just Packwood. Arghhhh, if we missed a set there.

    With kids aged 5 & 7 have you considered having them complete the Junior Ranger programs at most National Park sites? As a recently retired Senior I have been doing Senior or Junior (if Senior not available, as is usually the case) Ranger programs as we travel around. Most programs start at age 5 and have no problem with parent assistance. Kids love the activities and getting the badge and/or patch, my grandkids certainly do. I have been writing a blog detailing my Senior/Junior Ranger experiences. While at Mt. Rainer this summer I was able to complete their Junior Ranger and their new Citizen Ranger program for adults.

    Visiting National Park sites is a major focus of our travel. Just to clarify, the Department of Interior administers the National Park Service (as well as the BLM) and includes 401 sites, with just 59 labeled with Park. Many of the sites are labeled as National Monument, Historical Site, National Memorial and several other titles. Many people only focus on the big parks, from experience I can tell you the other 342 sites are just as rewarding to visit. Many are much smaller and less crowded. In Washington the San Juan Islands National Monument is a NPS site which is a very fun site to visit. In Oregon there is Oregon Caves National Monument, as well as others all over the country. Just a bit of information as an FYI.

    Looking forward to your next trip report, and better luck with the keys. We all have our road trip horror story, which become long term family memories. "Remember when. . . .?"


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