Wintering in Florida

Like many fulltime RV’ers we spent most of the winter in Florida. After spending the holidays with family in North Carolina we headed back to our hometown of Fernandina Beach, FL to stay at Ft. Clinch State Park in January. Most of the time we were there it was very cold, well by Florida standards that is. I know most northerners would question my definition of “cold”. We woke up one morning to find that the water coming into the RV from the outdoor spigot had frozen. We’ve traveled for 3 years and that has never happened. How ironic that it would happen in Florida of all places!

In spite of the cold we had a blast hanging out with friends, playing lots of games, enjoying lots of campfires and watching gorgeous sunsets.

We were so happy to be in town to attend one of our best friend’s surprise 50th birthday party!


Good friends Danny & Kim

So much fun with friends…


Game nights with Mimi


Catching up with Kym

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Camping with Kelli and the rest of the Norstrem family

One night while watching the sunset we were so excited to see a couple of dolphins playing so close to the shore. Photo credit to Kelli for these beautiful sunset pictures.



After almost 4 weeks in Fernandina we headed down to another one of our favorite places: Disney’s Ft. Wilderness campground. This time my parents, sister and brother-in-law joined us for some Disney fun.



Later in February we moved on to Three Flags Thousand Trails where some good friends were staying. In the past I have shared pictures of some of the incredible campsites we have been blessed with that included lots of space and gorgeous views. Well, sometimes we end up with a site with a lovely view of the neighbor’s camper with barely any room in between.


Jake and Jesse with their good friend Gavin

The sites at that park were pretty close together, but thankfully the neighbor was really nice. She brought treats over for the kids often and even told us we could use her golf cart anytime we needed it. We didn’t take her up on that, but I have to say she was one of the nicest neighbors we have ever had. In addition we got to hang out with some other Fulltime Families which made our stay there really fun.

Even though we didn’t have a lot of space between our campers, our back yard was pretty amazing with cows coming to visit us every day.



From there we moved on to “moochdock” at a friend’s house. We met these friends on the road 3 years ago. They recently bought property in Florida with a very nice, large RV spot.


Keith and Michele’s house

We went kayaking in Silver Springs while we were staying with them. That was lots of fun until we realized we missed a turn and ended up 2 miles downstream which meant we had the strenuous job of paddling back upstream that far. I was so thankful Keith tied a rope to my kayak and helped tow Jesse and me back!


Peaceful and beautiful while we were still heading downstream.

Next we spent a quiet weekend at a beautiful state park on the Suwannee River.


Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park

Lastly we attended our 6th Fulltime Families rally in Madison, FL at one of our favorite Jellystone Parks. We used to go on weekend camping trips to this Jellystone years ago before we started traveling fulltime. They have a really awesome water slide and lazy river. The entire week the boys were so excited for them to open the water park. It was a chilly week, but the campground promised they would open the water park for the rally no matter how the weather turned out.


Well, the campground kept their promise and many of the kids braved the cold to enjoy it one afternoon. The outside temperature was in the 60s, and I have no idea how cold the water was but based on the blue, shivering lips of most of the kids it was quite cold!



Photo Credit: Brooke Foster


Photo Credit: Brooke Foster

Rally weeks are always so busy and super fun. One day we had a field trip canoeing down the Suwannee River.


Another day they had field games like relay races and crab soccer.


We also had campfires, pot luck dinners and lots of other fun with old and new friends.


FtF Rally Group Picture – Photo Credit: Brooke Foster

So that wraps up our winter in Florida and now we are making our way up the east coast. We are so excited to begin another year of adventures and making memories.


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Cross Country Road Trip

After an amazing summer in the Pacific Northwest it was time to start making our way back east for the winter. We had 6 weeks to get from Washington to Florida. This post will cover the stops we made along the way.

First we spent a quiet week in eastern Oregon on the Idaho border, recovering from a couple of very busy weeks in Washington. We stayed at Farewell Bend Recreation Area on the Snake River across from Idaho. It was beautiful and peaceful!



The 2nd week we spent celebrating Jake’s 13th birthday in Park City, Utah which I already wrote about. You can see it here if you missed it:ย Birthday Celebration in Park City, Utah.

Week #3 was spent in South Fork, Colorado where the fall foliage was gorgeous! Our campground was right on the Rio Grande River.





We spent week #4 in Amarillo, Texas for a couple of days and then the rest of the week in Oklahoma City.

In Amarillo we used the complimentary limo service to go have dinner at the Big Texan. This was so much fun and a shining example of true Texas hospitality!




We also stopped by Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo to leave our mark on the classic cars and to meet up with our good friends the Thomas family. Somehow we always end up on the opposite side of the country as them, and our paths crossed here in Texas as they were headed west and we were headed east. Someday I hope we’ll be in the same state again for more than a day or two!


My beautiful friend Erica who I miss so much!


After a busy 2 days in Texas we moved on to Oklahoma City. Our campsite here was interesting, right on the mini golf course!


While in Oklahoma City we met up with my sister’s good friend Rene who gave us a personalized tour of the Oklahoma City National Memorial where she lived and worked at the time of the tragic bombing. This was a very sobering site to see, and so interesting to hear Rene’s story of the events that happened that day in 1995.



We also visited the Science Museum in Oklahoma City which we could go to for free on our ASTC reciprocal membership. The boys enjoyed this science museum very much!



We moved on to Arkansas for week #5 to visit Hot Springs National Park. I have to admit we were not all that impressed with this national park after all the amazing and scenic parks we’ve been to out west. This was basically just a town with historical bathhouses. Maybe were missing something, but it seems like it’s probably more interesting for adults… not including Chris and me, we’re not adulting right now. ๐Ÿ˜‰



It turns out we were parked next to another Fulltime Family at the Hot Springs KOA and we enjoyed getting to know them. I hope we meet up with them again in the near future.

The Mid America Science Museum is located near Hot Springs and it is also included on our ASTC membership so we went there too. Another super fun science museum that the boys really enjoyed!




After an overnight stop in Tupelo, Mississippi where Chris & I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary at a Japanese Hibachi grill along with our kids, we moved on for week #6 in Woodstock, Georgia where we were able to visit with my sister and her husband for the week. We stayed at Victoria Campground which had very nice and large sites and beautiful sunsets on Lake Allatoona. We had lots of fun with Cheryl & Chris playing games and just being our silly selves.



And then finally, after 6 weeks and over 3000 miles we were back “home” in Florida at our happy place, Disney World just in time for trick-or-treating at Ft. Wilderness.



We purchased new FL resident annual passes and got busy exploring our favorite amusement parks all over again. Lots of other Fulltime Families spend the winter in the Orlando area also, so it was fun to meet up with some of our friends at the Disney parks.






We even enjoyed a visit from my parents at Ft. Wilderness one weekend while they happened to be in the Orlando area.



As much as I love traveling out west, it is good to be home. We’ll spend the rest of this year hanging out with friends and family in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. I will probably be taking a break from blogging until we begin traveling again next year. Until then, I hope you all enjoy a blessed holiday season. Remember to make the most of your time with loved ones and be thankful. ๐Ÿ™‚


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Birthday Celebration in Park City, Utah

It was almost 3 years ago that we set out on this adventure of a lifetime. I started this blog 3 years ago this month with this post about why we are doing this. In that post I mentioned that the #1 reason we are doing this is because “blink and they are grown”. Truer words have never been spoken! It seems like just yesterday that my first child Jake was born, and the next thing I knew he became a teenager. How did that happen??

We were in Park City, Utah to celebrate his 13th birthday at the end of September where we spent the day at Park City Mountain riding alpine slides and coasters.


Getting ready for our first ride down the alpine coaster.


This was so much fun! We were able to ride it several times that day with little to no wait since it was a weekday and not crowded. On the alpine coaster you ride up the mountain in the coaster for about 5 minutes or so, enjoying the views, and then fly back down in much less time.

I took this picture on the way up, but I couldn’t take any pictures on the way down.


We also rode up the scenic chairlift a few times to ride the alpine slide.




Jake going down the alpine slide.

We purchased a day pass so we could have unlimited rides. The day pass also included the Legacy Launcher, gem mining and mini golf.


Jake on the Legacy Launcher


Gem mining.

After we closed the place down, we headed into the cute little mountain town of Park City to find some place to have a birthday dinner. We ended up having Mexican which seems to be what we go for most often.


The shops on Main Street were so cute!




We loved Park City Mountain and would really like to return there for skiing in the winter sometime.

We stayed at Jordanelle State Park that week which was gorgeous with the mountain views and beautiful fall colors. It was even snowing the day we got there but didn’t last very long as it warmed up slightly that week.


Beautiful campsite at Jordanelle State Park




I think this was a great place to spend Jake’s 13th birthday, and it’s definitely on the list to return again someday.

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Exploring Seattle

When my parents visited us in Washington, they flew into Seattle. We were staying in Port Angeles which was a 3 hour drive from Seattle. Rather than drive the whole way we decided to make it more interesting and include a lesson in modes of transportation for roadschooling that day: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (and ferries too!)

First we drove to Bainbridge Island (about 2 hours away from Port Angeles). From there we took a ferry across the Puget Sound to Seattle. The views from the ferry were so beautiful!


My handsome first born — soon to be a teenager!


Beautiful Seattle sky line.



Once we got to Seattle, we found the Link Light Rail train that goes all the way to the SeaTac Airport where we met up with the parental units. After another train ride back to Seattle we hopped aboard the ferry back to Bainbridge Island with 2 extra passengers in tow, one with quite an interesting hairstyle.


Don’t you just love my mom’s hair in that photo? It was just a bit windy that afternoon! I loved the Facebook comment from her sister Jackie: “That’s a riot! The Flying Nun is still alive!… And look at Tom! Cool as a cucumber. Every hair in its place!” Don’t worry, my mom has a great sense of humor. ๐Ÿ˜‰


Once we got to Bainbridge Island it was a challenge to find a place to eat a late lunch.ย I wanted to share this review I wrote on Trip Advisor about the cute little diner where we ended up — Madison Diner, the place that redeemed Bainbridge Island for me.

Trip Advisor Review: “This place redeemed our first impression of Bainbridge Island. To give some background, my parents flew out to Seattle from NC that day. My family and I were staying at a campground in Port Angeles so we traveled about 3 hours between driving, taking the ferry from Bainbridge to Seattle and then the train to the airport. By the time we had picked up my parents and made our way back to Bainbridge Island we were all famished and exhausted. It was about 2pm. We first went to Streamliner Diner because we had heard good things about that place. As soon as we walked in the door they told us we couldn’t stay because they were closing at 2:30pm. So we walked down the street and saw the Ale House. We assumed they also served food and my husband would have loved a beer. The 6 of us walked in (our 2 kids included), and the lady behind the counter immediately began yelling at us to get our kids out of there — that they weren’t allowed in there. Geez! Talk about feeling unwelcome. So after getting kicked out of 2 places and still feeling very hungry, we stumbled upon The Madison Diner. We hesitantly walked in the door wondering if they might also kick us out. But instead we found friendly faces and a welcoming atmosphere. The third try was a charm! They seated us outside in the back which we loved because it was a beautiful day. The food and service were all wonderful! Thank you Madison Diner for showing us such great customer service and changing our first impression that Bainbridge Island was not very friendly.”


So if you ever find yourself hungry in Bainbridge Island I would highly recommend Madison Diner.

So, fast forward 2 weeks later (after several fun adventures that I already wrote about), and it was time for the grandparents to return home. At this point we were camped in Concrete, WA, about a 2 hour drive to Seattle. We decided to spend the day exploring the city since their flight wasn’t until late that night.


Seattle Space Needle

We didn’t actually go up in the Space Needle because it is quite pricey. Instead we just took a picture in front of it and then went to the Pacific Science Center where we got in free on our ASTC reciprocal membership.



The outdoor water works section was really fun, and the indoor fast food window was a lot of fun too. The boys enjoyed taking orders at this window and informing the customers (us) how many calories are in the food choices we selected. If we selected unhealthy choices they would suggest healthier and lower calorie alternatives based on the script provided at the exhibit. Can you imagine a real fast food drive-thru doing this? “Excuse me sir, but you just ordered 1500 calories worth of food. Maybe you’d like to try again?” ๐Ÿ™‚


We had so much fun at this science center and spent several hours there.

Later we took the monorail to Pike Place Market, yet another form of transportation. Seattle sure has some excellent public transportation options!


A really cool place to check out here is the Pike Place Fish Market where the employees playfully throw fish around.


WARNING: these next photos might gross you out if you’re a germophobe.

The Gum Wall, where you can add your own gum to the collection!



The boys adding their own gum to the Gum Wall.

If you’re still reading, don’t say I didn’t warn you! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Lastly, we found an amazing playground right near the monorail. The kids played there for a bit before we had to say good-bye to Gramma and Grampa. They took the monorail to the Link Light Rail to the airport, and we headed back to the campground to rest up for a couple of days before leaving Washington and starting our trek back east.


Artists at Play Playground

Good-bye Washington and the lovely Pacific Northwest. We really enjoyed an amazing summer in that part of the country!

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San Juan Islands

Washington state has a great ferry system that we took advantage of a few times. The first time was when we went to Victoria, Canada. The second time we took a ferry from Anacortes, WA to the San Juan Islands. This is a cluster of islands off the northern shore of WA, but still a part of WA state. We only went to one of the islands known as Friday Harbor.


Just like on our trip to Victoria we chose to walk on the ferry rather than drive the big truck. It’s much cheaper that way, and then we used an island taxi service to take a drive over to Lime Kiln Point State Park, one of the most scenic places on the island. This park is also supposed to be one of the best whale-watching spots on earth, but unfortunately it was so foggy the day we were there that we didn’t see any whales.

Lime Kiln Point has a few short hikes, the first one we did was to Dead Man’s Cove. Interesting name for a hiking trail, don’t you think?


Hiking to Dead Man’s Cove



Dead Man’s Cove

We spent quite a while just hanging out and playing at this secluded little beach.


Jake (or is he Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn?) decided to make another raft out of the driftwood like he did back at Ruby Beach.



Later we hiked over to see the Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse.




Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse

We took another taxi back to Friday harbor and spent the rest of the day exploring the little seaside town including a visit to the Whale Museum.





Then we caught the evening ferry and sailed off into the sunset again, back to the mainland.





The boys enjoyed working on a partially completed puzzle on the ferry ride back. I wonder how many ferry trips it took before the puzzle was completed.



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North Cascades National Park

After we left Port Angeles we headed over to the little town of Concrete, Washington to visit North Cascades National Park.


This park is known for mountains, glaciers and lakes. The glaciers are a beautiful turquoise green color like in this iconic view of Diablo Lake.


Diablo Lake


A park ranger explained to us that the glaciers moving against the rocks over time result in the stunning green color in the water. I was curious why the glacial melt in Glacier National Park results in blue water while this park’s glacial melt results in green. The ranger showed us how rubbing 2 rocks together from this area creates a fine green dust, while the rocks in Glacier must be somewhat different in the color resulting in a blue dust.



We started the day at the Gorge Powerhouse, walking across the suspension bridge and then a short hike up to Ladder Creek Falls.





Ladder Creek Falls


Then we hiked the Thunder Knob Trail to see Diablo Lake. This hike was 3.6 miles round trip and to be honest it wasn’t really that interesting except for the end. There was not much to look at for the hike up, but once we got to the top we were rewarded with this view. This was an out and back hike so the hike back down was just as uninteresting, but easier of course as it was all downhill.




If you’re short on time I wouldn’t bother with this hike. You can get a much better view of Diablo Lake from the Diablo Lake Overlook (the pictures from the beginning of this post were taken at the overlook). I don’t mean to sound negative about this hike, but my personal preference is to hike trails where you have amazing views throughout the hike, not just at the end.

Next we drove further down the scenic North Cascades Highway to hike the Rainy Lake Trail. This was a short 2 mile out and back hike to a beautiful lake. Again, the hike wasn’t all that interesting, but it was short and paved, and ended at this awesome view.


Rainy Lake



A few more miles down the road we stopped at the Washington Pass Overlook for some spectacular mountain views.





Lastly, on the way out of the park we stopped at Cascadian Farms for some organic ice cream. I thought the blueberry ice cream was delicious!


We stayed at the Grandy Creek Thousand Trails while we were in this area, and also celebrated Jesse’s 11th birthday that week. We had been so busy sightseeing and exploring while Gramma and Grampa visited, and I think everyone felt the need for a break. Jesse requested that we stay home for his birthday and not go anywhere. So that’s what we did. We spent the day at the campground, playing games and mini golf. I made his favorite ice cream cake and one of his favorite dinners — lasagna, meatballs and homemade bread. I bet you didn’t think we could bake all that in an RV, did you? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Last Christmas my dad and Chris switched out our microwave oven with a combination convection/microwave and I love it! The standard oven that comes with an RV is pretty useless since hardly any pans even fit in it. The convection oven fits my lasagna pan and bread pan perfectly. And I cook meatballs in our Instant Pot, one of the best kitchen appliances for an RV.



I wasn’t sure how we could possibly top his 10th birthday that was celebrated at Mall of America, but he said this birthday was just as fun. Sometimes it’s the simple things in life I guess. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Two Amazing Days in Victoria Canada

When we were parked in Port Angeles, WA we were right near the Black Ball Ferry Line that goes to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. It’s much cheaper to walk on the ferry than drive on, so that’s what we did. We headed out bright and early, packed with a couple of overnight bags and walked on the ferry to sail across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and enjoy a super fun couple of days in Victoria.


Grampa and his boys waiting to set sail.


We’re on our way!



Arriving into the port at Victoria


Watching sea planes take off.

Victoria is a very pedestrian-friendly town where it was easy for us to get around without having a vehicle. And Chris sure was glad he didn’t have to drive the big truck for a couple of days! Our first order of business was to walk a couple of blocks to our hotel to drop off our luggage. Then we headed out to catch a bus to our first destination, the Butchart Gardens. On the way to the bus I just couldn’t get over the lovely architecture of this beautiful city!


Parliament Building


The Empress Hotel

Our bus driver informed us that we could enjoy afternoon tea at The Empress for a mere $75/person. Oh my, I think we’ll pass. Besides I don’t even like tea.

So it was on to the lovely Butchart Gardens.








I hope I didn’t bore you with too many flower pictures. They were all just so pretty it was hard to decide which pictures to use!

Later that evening we walked down to the Fisherman’s Wharf to eat dinner. All of the shops and restaurants in this area were literally floating!


Fisherman’s Wharf

Even the homes float! It was really fun to walk around and check out the charming little floating homes.





Chris may or may not have wanted to get this for the grands. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Just kidding, Mom and Dad!


We spent the night at the Royal Scot Hotel which had very nice large suites and an indoor pool and hot tub. That hot tub was wonderful after all the walking we did that day!

The next day we rode the hop-on-hop-off Big Bus Victoria all over the city, getting off the bus at times to explore.


One of the stops was in Chinatown.


Fan Tan Alley in Chinatown is the narrowest street in Canada.




Another quick stop to see this view of the bay.


We even stopped to see a castle!


Craigdarroch Castle

After our bus tour we shopped for t-shirts and souvenirs, had dinner and then it was time to go catch the ferry back to Port Angeles.


View from the ferry dock.

Then we sailed off into the sunset, literally. We enjoyed a spectacular sunset on our way back across to Washington, and then later a full moon!




Oh my goodness, we had such an amazing time in Victoria! And I just have to thank my Dad for doing the trip planning for this part of their trip to see us. He arranged the ferry tickets, hotel rooms, and trip to Butchart Gardens. It was so nice for someone else to take care of the plans for a change since I spend so much time all year long trip-planning. I don’t mind really, but it is a lot of work! So, thank you Dad! I love you!

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Olympic National Park

After 10 wonderful weeks in Oregon we moved on to Washington where my parents would be joining us for a couple of weeks. Our first stop in WA was Port Angeles in the Olympic Peninsula. My parents flew into Seattle which was about 3 hours away but the closest airport for them to fly into. We had a fun day of planes, trains & automobiles (and ferries too!) when we went to pick them up. I will write a separate post about Seattle later.

While we were in Port Angeles we visited Olympic National Park. This park is huge and takes up most of the northwestern part of the state. It includes mountains, lakes, the ocean and even a rain forest!


Port Angeles is near the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center so our first adventure at Olympic was hiking up to Hurricane Ridge. The views were spectacular! We were blessed with a beautiful, clear day and could see Victoria, British Columbia across the water where we went the next day. Stay tuned for a post about that amazing city.







After the strenuous climb it was time for a snack break!


Later that week we went to visit some other areas of Olympic that were close to Port Angeles including Marymere Falls and Lake Crescent.


Marymere Falls


Lake Crescent

It was quite smoky in the area that day due to wildfires in the northwest so it’s hard to get a good idea of just how clear this lake is. Standing over the edge of the dock the water was so clear you could see straight down to the bottom which was probably over 8 feet deep at that point, but it was really hard to tell.

We took an overnight trip over to the town of Forks, WA where the Twilight novels were based. This is the western side of Olympic but quite a drive from Port Angeles which is why we decided to spend the night instead of driving back and forth 2 days in a row.

Our first stop on this side of the park was the amazing Hoh Rain Forest. Near constant fog and mist in addition to 12 to 14 feet of rain each year result in this lush rain forest which has been designated one of the 7 wonders of Washington state.



Hall of Mosses


The boys earned their Junior Ranger badges at the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center.


Next we headed over to Ruby Beach which was beautiful and so much fun!






I love looking for colorful sea creatures in the tide pools, but I didn’t find any here, probably because the tide was coming back in.


Jake decided to build a raft out of driftwood and float down the waterways. Jesse decided to join him. I nicknamed them Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. ๐Ÿ™‚



Grampa liked skipping rocks.


The next morning we woke up to a rainy day. I know that is not uncommon for the Pacific Northwest, but we had been very blessed with mostly beautiful days for the entire summer. Anyway, we weren’t going to let a little rain keep us from searching the early morning low tide pools at Rialto Beach.

At first it was just a little drizzle and fog, not too bad as we hiked to Hole-in-the-Wall and Split Rock.



Split Rock

The rain picked up and we all got soaked, not to mention we were freezing! I don’t know about the rest of my people, but for me it was worth it. I saw the most beautiful and colorful starfish there. These were the best tide pools I saw in all of our time in the PNW!



I had been searching for a purple sea urchin for weeks and never did find one, but I did see this beautiful purple starfish which was good enough for me.



We saw lots of these green sea anemones everywhere!


Chris and Jesse hung in there with me for a while longer after Gramma, Grampa and Jake decided they had enough of the cold and rain and headed back to the truck.

Jesse collected lots of rocks.


We made it to Hole-in-the-Wall, looking just a little bit like drowned rats and feeling just a little bit cold!



It was worth it to me at least. Look at this wonderland of tide pools just waiting to be explored! I could have stayed here all day if we weren’t wet and freezing.


After this we walked/ran as quickly as we could back to some dry clothes and a warm truck. We had planned to go up to Cape Flattery next, the northwestern most point in the lower 48 states, but since the weather wasn’t cooperating we headed back to our cozy little home back in Port Angeles.

Up next… 2 beautiful days in Victoria, Canada.

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Cape Disappointment was NOT Disappointing

Cape Disappointment – what an unfortunate name for such a beautiful place! On July 6, 1788 explorer John Meares named Cape Disappointment because of his disappointment about not finding the Columbia River. Ironically Cape Disappointment is on the northern side of the mouth of the Columbia River.

We visited Cape Disappointment when we stayed at Fort Stevens in Oregon. Cape Disappointment is actually in Washington, but Fort Stevens was the closest we would be to it so we crossed over into Washington before actually “moving” there with our house.


Astoria-Megler Bridge to Washington

Don’t worry, I was not driving while taking this picture. We were actually stopped for one lane traffic due to road work on the bridge.

This park has 2 lighthouses! The Cape Disappointment Lighthouse was built in 1856 to watch over the entrance to the Columbia River.


Cape Disappointment Lighthouse



View of Visitor Center from lighthouse

The Cape Disappointment Lighthouse came into view too far south to warn ships approaching from the north so a 2nd lighthouseย (North Head Lighthouse) was built in 1898. This is the only location on the west coast with 2 lighthouses within 2 miles of each other.


North Head Lighthouse

North Head Lighthouse is under construction while Washington State Parks restore it to its original 1898 look.

We learned a lot about lighthouses while visiting the Oregon coast and later the Washington coast. Each lighthouse has its own unique signature or light pattern so ship captains can verify their location. The North Head lighthouse’s signature is 2 white flashes of light every 30 seconds. Yaquina Head Lighthouse that we toured a few weeks earlier in Oregon had a pattern of 2 seconds on, 2 seconds off, 2 seconds on, 14 seconds off. I thought it was very interesting how each lighthouse is unique and how ship captains use these signatures for navigation. I’m sure this was especially useful before the GPS was invented.

The Visitor Center had a lot of interesting information about how lighthouses work and also a lot of cool Coast Guard exhibits.


While we walked between the lighthouse and the visitor center we found a lovely little cove nestled between the cliffs. It was so warm there being sheltered from the wind so we spent a long time just enjoying the beach here.





Cute little driftwood forts were built on the beach too!


Mr. Meares probably had no idea that the “disappointment” name would last for over 2 centuries, and I wonder if he ever found out that he really was so close to the Columbia River. I would definitely not call this place disappointing. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Two Forts in Astoria, Oregon

We spent a total of 10 amazing weeks in my new favorite state of Oregon this summer, and we saved the best state park for last. Fort Stevens State Park is in the northwest corner of Oregon near the beautiful city of Astoria. This was my favorite state park we stayed at in Oregon. It was huge and so many of the sites have some trees and privacy. But the best part of the park was the miles of paved bike trails and historical places to visit.


Awesome paved bike trails!


Roadschooling one day consisted of touring the fort and a shipwreck on the beach. Fort Stevens was in service from the Civil War to World War II and guarded the mouth of the Columbia River.







The Peter Iredale ship ran ashore in 1906 and the wreckage is now a tourist attraction on the beach at Fort Stevens. The boys loved climbing on this shipwreck.



Peter Iredale shipwreck

The northern tip of the state park has beautiful views of the Pacific and the mouth of the Columbia River. You can also see the state of Washington across the river as well as the city of Astoria.


One of the lookout points at Fort Stevens

Early in our Oregon travels we met a family back in Chiloquin that we have met up with at a couple of different places since then, one of them was Fort Stevens. We had a great time with them touring another fort (Fort Clatsop) and Astoria.


The Lewis and Clark Expedition camped at Fort Clatsop during the winter of 1805-1806.



The boys earned new Junior Ranger badges with their friends.


After touring Fort Clatsop we explored the beautiful city of Astoria and had lunch at Mo’s. How is it we did not eat at Mo’s until the day before we left Oregon? There are several of them along the Oregon coast and they have the best clam chowder. Next time we’re in Oregon we’ll have to go there again.






We climbed the 164 steps to the top of the Astoria Column where we were rewarded with gorgeous view of the Columbia River and the Astoria-Megler Bridge that goes to Washington.


Astoria Column




The kids enjoyed running and rolling down the hill outside of the column.


It was a bittersweet day knowing it was our last day on the Oregon Coast. I thoroughly enjoyed our time exploring that part of this amazing country. I really hope to return again someday.

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