Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Camping time is upon us and as promised, here are some photos of our most recent outings.

This first one is of our pop-up tent trailer. After traversing the sides of numerous mountains and sleeping in tents on the cold hard ground, this is my new idea of ruffing it. We love this fun little trailer. It has beds that pop out on either end and a slide out on the back side where the "dining" table is. It makes for pretty decent room inside when it's set up, but is relatively compact when its folded down and is very easy to tow.

These first few photos are from two weeks ago when all four of us went out to the coast (Pacific City, OR) There's a nice RV campground right across the road from the beach. This spot makes a regular appearance on our schedule each year.

The fog kept pretty close to the coast line all weekend. Occasionally it would afford some nice shots like this one, of the monolith just off shore .

Along the north side of the cove there are a number of rocks that are rich with tide pools. Plenty of anemone, crabs, mussels, and other goodies to look at. At low tide we were treated to a whole host of exploration opportunities.

After we checked out the tide pools, we headed back down the beach and came upon a very strange sight. There in the middle of the sand were two giant footprints! I think they must have been left by Gulliver. Check them out for yourselves.

This past weekend was the guys camping trip. I had sandwiches made and as soon as the boys got out of school on Friday we had a quick bite and were on the road. Our destination was Fort Stevens State Park. We had about a two and a half hour drive and spent the whole time talking and laughing and carrying on. Yes, this was going to be a good trip.

Heading west along Hwy 26 through the coast range, there is this cool tunnel through the mountainside. As the boys closed their eyes, held their breath and raised their feet, it reminded me that not only are tunnels beautiful to look at, they are equally as fun to drive through. A reminder from the boys; Let go and enjoy. Thank you guys.

We got to the camp site around five o'clock and started unpacking. Anthony and Matt both eagerly helped set up the camper and then wanted to hop on their bikes to check out the surroundings. While they were familiarizing themselves with the area, I finished setting up and then got dinner going. My only guidelines for meal selection are as follows: It should be easy to prepare and the use of paper plates & plastic-ware whenever possible is a must. Night number one's menu consisted of pulled pork sandwiches (Cooked the meat on Thursday so I just had to re-heat it) and a small green salad. Now, just in case you were ready to stand up and applaud me for including something as healthy as a salad, don't worry, we did have double chocolate brownies for dessert. Yum-O!

It was kind of cold that night and was drizzly/foggy outside, so we opted to forgo the campfire and hang out inside for the rest of the evening. I taught Matthew and re-taught Anthony how to play cribbage. It brought me back to when I was a kid and learned how to play this card game from my dad, most likely on a camping trip somewhere.

After playing cards, we read about several of the shipwrecks that had happened in the area where we were. According the the pamphlet we had, since 1792, approximately 2000 ships had sunk trying to enter the Columbia River from the Pacific, earning it the ominous name of the "Graveyard of the Pacific".

The shipwreck we were most interested in was the Peter Iredale, a British sailing ship that ran aground on October 25, 1906. Fortunately no one died, but I'd be willing to bet the captain wanted to when he had to report back to England what had happened. The thing that makes this wreck so interesting is that a large section of the rusted metal bow still protrudes from the sand just at the surf line so that when the tide is right, you can walk right up to it. When we made it out to it the next afternoon the water was only about ankle deep around it so we were able to get right up close and check it out. It's kind of cool to see the skeleton that has been stuck in the sand and exposed to the elements for over a hundred years, but still stands at least twenty feet out of the water. We broke out our best "Arrrgh, skarve ye navies..." as we took in the sights.

Saturday morning brought with it cool temps, clearing skies and two hungry boys. While sitting at the table enjoying a hearty meal of hash browns, sausages and scrambled eggs, Matthew exclaimed, "This is a man's breakfast, and we're eating it cause we're men!" Coming from his eighty pound, nine year old body, it gave me a pretty good chuckle. I did manage to contain this chuckle to my inside though. After all this had been dubbed the guy's camping trip and I wasn't going to squash his enthusiasm.

With full stomachs and a spirit of adventure we hopped on our bicycles and headed off to explore. The trails through the park are really nice. They are all paved and meander through the trees, shrubs, wild huckleberries with just enough down hill runs to compliment the up hill spots.

Our first stop was at The Battery Russell. It served as the fort's southern lookout and gun placement. The concrete structures are all still there and provided for plenty of investigation for the the three of us. After giving the area a thorough going over it was back on the bikes and off to the main part of the fort a couple miles to the north.

We discovered a really beautiful wetland area in route with lush grasses and a lazy creek running through it. The boys enjoyed riding over the big wooden bridge most, but still managed to take a few moments to take in the scenery with me.

A little while later we were at the north end of the fort. We spent the next couple of hours checking out all the batteries, trucks, cannons/guns and other things. The boys found a jeep to jump in and offer up a salute.

All totaled, we figured we rode about twelve miles up and back and walked a couple more in the process of looking at things. By the time we got back to the camper everyone was a bit tired and you guessed it, hungry. I wonder, is there ever a time when boys are not hungry?

After a brief nap and lunch we went out to the beach to check out the ship wreck I told you about earlier. Later that night we made a big campfire and sat around it talking while the boys roasted marshmallows and turned them into smores. (graham crackers with roasted marshmallows and chocolate squished in between them.)

The campground emptied out pretty early on Sunday morning as they normally do. Most people were headed back to work or back to school. We had both of those things on our agenda as well, but we opted for a more leisurely approach. We gathered up a few things in the morning then went for another short bike ride to the nearby lake. We were having way too much fun to rush going home. Unfortunately, check-out time at the park is 1:00pm, so at 12:59 we fastened the last clip on the trailer and headed out.

On the way home we stopped at a place called Camp 18. It's a restaurant, but has several old rail cars and pieces of logging equipment out front to check out. We didn't eat there this time. (already had lunch back at camp), but figured we'd give it a try next time through. This is one of those spots along the road that is not where you intend on going and can easily be driven past in an effort to get to your destination. Such had been the case on other trips, but I decided I wasn't going to pass it up again and wonder what it was like. We ended up spending about a half an hour looking at all the neat things they had. I've already made a mental note to do this type of thing more often; stop and smell the roses, as it were.

Well, there you have it. A little taste of camping with us. Not sure where we're heading off to next time, but I'm sure it'l be a fun time.


Desert Songbird said...

What a cool and fun dad you are, Jeff! Times like these will stick in the memories of your sons for years to come, and they'll treasure the time spent with you.

Thanks for taking all of us along (even we gals) even though it was a guys weekend.

Nessa said...

Wow, you have great camping trips!

Sandee said...

How fun. Looks like the boys taught you to just have some fun. Good for them.

I love the brownies part. I was wondering how guys were just going to eat healthy. Rarely happens.

Have a terrific day. :)

Anonymous said...

What wonderful camping trips those were. I love the feet and the part about the brownies. Thank you for sharing. Wonderful pictures. Your boy's are lucky to have a great father like you :)

quilly said...

This was a fun trip. I enjoyed it very much! ;)

You are teaching your boys great things about how to be a father, rather than just a parent. Moments like these are what make the teen years easier to get through.

Akelamalu said...

That sounds like a great trip! The camper looks cool. :)

Jeff B said...

Songbird- Glad to have you along for the ride. Just think, you got to enjoy the camp trip without any of the mosquitoes or dirt.

Nessa- We tend to have a pretty good time when we're out and about.

Sandee- Wouldn't quite be camping if there wasn't some junk food involved somewhere.

Thom- Thanks, I feel pretty lucky to have such great kids. After making the "big feet" it opened the door for a whole bunch of sand art.

Quilly- I was lucky enough to have parents that did things like this with me too, so I guess it just comes natural to want to pass these memories on to my boys.

Akelamalu- We've had that camper for about five years now and really enjoy it. Soooooo much better than the old small tent days.

Finding Pam said...

Jeff, what fun you men had on your trip. We camped when our kids where that age. The good old days.

Mel said...

Himself was trying to talk me into a fold out camper earlier this week. I'm thinkin' it's an idea that he won't let go of for a while.

Cheaper than hotels, he says, easy enough to haul behind the Jeep, he says....

Sheeeeeshhhh....and then I get to hear about the fun you and the fellas had.

Just askin'....LOL

bettygram said...

You had a wonderful camping experience, thanks for sharing. We also camped when the family was young. We started in a tent, which was not like the new ones, but was difficult to pitch. We got a trailer like yours, much easier.

j said...

The shipwreck was COOL!

We visited a ship wreck out on Fort Morgan Penninsula (AL) last summer. It was on the beach and the kids enjoyed walking around it and checking things out.

Your camping trip looks like some serious fun. Your kids will never forget times like that!

Schmoop said...

GREAT stuff, Jeff. I loooove to camp. Camp as much as you can this summer. Cheers!!

Jeff B said...

Pam- It was a mantastic time had by all.

Mel- This post was not created for monetary gain whatsoever. . . really!!!

Bettygram- I remember when I was a kid we had this giant sized green canvas tent with about a hundred metal poles that all had to be put together just so or it wouldn't work. I think I remember hearing a few words from my dad during those set-up times that I couldn't repeat!

Jennifer- For something as relatively simple as what it was, it kept us entertained for quite a while.

Matt- I can only imagine how much fun it would be to sit around the fire BS'ing with you.

Ron said...

Ok...well, first of all, please know how much I HOWLED at the giant footprints!!!

That was GREAT, Jeff!

Oh man, believe it or not (coming from a city boy) I SO enjoy things like camping and being outdoors (as long as I have my eye cream and moisturizer) HAHAHAHA!

Anyhoo...I've never been to your side of the state, but everytime I seen photos I'm always impressed with how breathtakingly beautiful it is.

So glad you guys had a great time. And thanks so much for sharing this special time - enjoyed it!

Later gator!!!!!!!

Vinny "Bond" Marini said...

Wow...looks like a fantastic time was had by all...

Jeff B said...

Ron- I do my best to whine and complain about the rain every winter, but it sure does make everything nice and green.

The "Oh my gosh" look the boys gave cracked me up too.

Bond- It was indeed. When the boys said, "Doe we haft ta go home today (Sunday) I knew they truly had a good time.

Dianne said...

the fog and footprints photos are great!

the boys are so cute (don't tell them I used that word) and I can't believe how much older they look from the very first time I saw their photos

Anonymous said...

I was just talking to my husband about getting some camping in this summer. He's not crazy about it. He said he did it for a living so it's not a fun thing for him. (USMC), but I love it and these pics compell me to get some secondhand gear and take the kids out on my own. Thanks for the moto!

Jeff B said...

Dianne- I'll be sure to substitute in "handsome" for their benefit. With as much as they eat, it's no wonder they are sprouting up so fast. I swear they are like two legged garbage disposals!

Hope- I can understand his reluctance if he's done his time in the corps. Hopefully some good reviews from you and your kids will inspire him to give it a go anyway.

San said...

Great times. Jeff, it brings back memories of camping with my own family. Back when.

Travis Cody said...


Anonymous said...

My daughter cut her foot badly on the Peter Iredale. Beautiful and SHARP. We spent hours in the ER.

You have given the classic "Footprints in the Sand" a whole new meaning :).

Dana said...

I know I'm coming late to the party, but wanted to thank you for sharing this with us. It brought back wonderful childhood memories and reminded me why I need to encourage Cam to go camping!

Jeff B said...

San- It's never too late to hit the open road again.

Travis- I'm not sure what part of WA you're in, but Ft Stevens is just on the other side of the border, near Astoria. Being a military enthusiast, you would really enjoy this park.

TTWC- That certainly would be an unfortunate way to remember the shipwreck.

Dana- Places like this are a great way of introducing camping to a kid of any age. In an age where our children get the majority of their entertainment via electronics, this can be a great alternative.

Roan said...

I haven't been camping since the old pup tent in the back yard. That would have been many long years ago. Reading how much fun ya'll had makes me want to give it a try.

katherine. said...

catching up on everything...

I bet you bring the best food. What is it about cribbage and camping that seem to go so well together.

Matthew and Andrew look like they are having a great time...I echo the other commenter's...these times will be fondly remembered by them. Even in the trying teenage years.

I love the shipwreck photo.

thanks for sharing the trip.