This year was no exception. I was looking forward to a camping trip, especially since we were unable to get away last summer, except for a quick trip to Leavenworth, Washington over the Labor Day weekend. Unfortunately, we kept hitting road blocks and I fretted if we were even going to be able to make it work. To begin with, the summer was already booked pretty solid with work, scout camps, band camp, and Michael leaving for the MTC. That left us with only a short block of time to squeeze in a trip, throw in a camp staff meeting and a snow make-up day at the end of the school year and we only had an extended weekend to do our excursion. We originally discussed taking a trip to Mt. Rainier, in view of the fact, we had not camped on the mountain for several years. When I went to make reservations, we found out because of sequestration, our favorite campground was closed until later in the month. We then decided we would visit the east side of the mountain instead and was actually looking forward to visiting since we had never seen the east side of Mt. Rainier. I found a campsite, but while checking road conditions, I discovered the road to Sunrise was not anticipated to be opened until later in the month and the second excursion to Crystal Mountain was out, because the gondola rides were closed the weekend we were supposed to be there. Sigh!
So. . . we did a complete 180 degree turn and headed to the Washington coast instead. We decided to visit Cape Disappointment State Park (formerly known as Fort Canby) because we had never visited the park, although we had visited Fort Stevens on the other side of the Columbia River. Camp Disappointment is where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean and where Lewis and Clark landed and explored when they reached the end of their journey to the Pacific. We drove to the park with hopes of finding a last minute site and we camped in a first-come, first serve campground in the park near Lake O'Neil, a little more primitive (no hook-ups) then other sites available in the park (those near the ocean), but still had water nearby, flush toilets, and showers. I would have liked to have camped at the sites on the Pacific Ocean side of the park, but I understand those fill up weeks and sometimes months in advance and even then it's a .25 mile hike to the beach from the campgrounds. Side note: Watch out for raccoon in this park, they are tenacious, are not afraid of humans, and will steal food and rummage through garbage. Had a bit of an adventure with a raccoon on our first day at the park. I was sitting in our pickup with the door wide open and a raccoon waddled over to the door and peaked inside. I shooed him away, but my youngest son who was sitting in the truck with me, wanted to know where he went. We found him a few moments later in the back of the truck bed trying to open a storage bin, which I might add, had no food inside. He gave up, climbed out of our truck, and then climbed onto a bumper of another truck. No fear. We kept the doors closed from then on.
While at the park, we enjoyed several short hikes. We hiked to both Camp Disappointment lighthouse and North Head lighthouse. I love lighthouses as much as I love forest fire lookouts - something about them stirs up the romantic in me. The call of seclusion. The guardians of the waterways. Fantasies of living in one many years ago. We were able to take a tour of North Head and climbed up the 66 steps to the top. Amazing and breath-taking views from up there. We also walked along the North Jetty, Beards Harrow, Waikiki Beach, Benson Beach, and toured the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Have some family history with the Lewis and Clark Expedition - my great-great-great-great grandfather, Alexander Hamilton Willard was with the corps.
Our final day at the coast, we drove up to Long Beach and spent the day walking along the boardwalk, driving on the beach, and shopping. I highly recommend Anna Lena's Quilt Shop - going to sound strange but she has amazing fudge! Then on our way home, we stopped at Fort Columbia State Park. This historical park protected the entrance to the Columbia River. It is one of the few intact coastal defense sites left in the United States. After lunch at Pizza Hut in Seaside, Oregon, we headed down the coastal highway towards Portland. Just a few miles from Hillsboro, we blew a tire on the trailer. Had a bit of an adventure as the trailer we had borrowed did not have a spare. Thank goodness, we left on a Saturday and not Sunday, because Les Schwab Tires are closed on Sundays. After purchasing a new tire, we were back on the road again, arriving back home late Saturday evening. On Sunday, Steffen left to work at a boys scout camp for the summer.