Monday, July 17, 2017

Portland and the Home of Giant Berries

Heading north from Silver Falls quickly brought us back into Portland.  It was the first place we stopped in Oregon, and we were ready to get more time with some good friends here.  This time in Portland, we were not feeling like we needed to do "big city stuff", because we'd already done it two months ago.
We got to explore a little more like locals.  Friends took us berry picking on Sauvie Island. 

I thought I'd seen some berries before, but I was so wrong!  The variety of berries that Oregon produces is just amazing!  Holding these gigantic boysen berries made me feel like a scene out of James and the Giant Peach.
After our baskets and bellies were full, we headed further up the island for some beach time on the Columbia River.
Seems like Blossom is a true beach girl at heart.  She at least did her best to thoroughly soak in her last days in Oregon.
The next morning, we all woke up to the smell of berry pies coming out of the oven!  I am not ashamed to say that I ate pistachios and warm berry pie for dinner tonight.  No regrets.
We are sad to be leaving these friends and amazing Portland hosts.  We are also sad that it is our last night in Oregon.  Time to head home.  Not straight home, mind you... but a nearly 3,000 miles of driving awaits us, so we're reluctantly going to get started.
Loved Oregon so much.  It's definitely secured a place in our hearts.

We need a break!

All this vacationing has worn us out!  After Rainbow Gathering, OCF and a little meltdown from a 6 year old, we decided some down time was needed.  Back to the woods we headed...
We grabbed a camp spot on the river, at the trailhead to Bagby Hot Springs.  Not quite as magical as Cougar, but a perfect way to relax and clean up a bit, too! 
 The hike in to the hot springs was 1.5 miles and so beautiful!
 Blossom quickly made a campsite friend, and as they played all day, Bobby slept and I finished my Tom Robbins book (such a fun book, but a very slow read - it took me about 6 weeks to get through!).  It was the break we all needed to unwind.

After a couple nights at Bagby, we trekked about an hour West to Silver Falls State Park.  We camped here for 2 more nights and explored the beautiful waterfalls that are all such short hikes from one another.
Blossom and I were both enamored with all the wildflowers here.
She even took to drawing imaginary pictures of them as we walked the trails.
Blossom sure was a trooper, even though she didn't feel like one every day.  So much to see at this park left her sometimes feeling like she was all done with hiking!  But she kept finding new fun discoveries around each corner that helped her continue on.
This was such a lovely park!  It was also very crowded with other Summer travelers, and a good transition back to the road.

OCF

After we left the Rainbow Gathering, we drove the 4 hours back to Bend, picked up the van, returned the rental car, did a load of laundry, restocked the cooler and drove another 4 hours to Eugene.  We were headed to spend the weekend at the Oregon Country Fair.  By the time our tent was set up in the Fair campground and we finally collapsed on our sleeping mats, it was midnight.

The Oregon Country Fair (OCF) did not disappoint!

So much art, music, food.  We tried to walk and see everything on the first day and found that to be pretty impossible!  The next two days were spent at a slower pace exploring more nooks and crannies of the property and meeting up with friends to see music.
 Blossom loved all of it!  She was pulled around in the wagon since the crowds could get pretty intense at times, and I wanted to keep her close.  This saved all her energy for climbing tree houses, dancing and finding special treats like a live action video game!
We really loved this festival and can't wait to come back another year!

Stuck

This picture is of Blossom as happy as a clam... in the backseat of a tow truck.  The rest of us were not grinning so big.  We left Eugene excited to camp at Crater Lake.  We drove through beautiful mountains and almost made it to the lake when our van decided to quit.  We had it towed an hour to Bend, Oregon to find out it needed a new transmission.

We ended up spending the week walking around Bend.
We visited the farmers market, played in the river, explored parks and a Makers Studio, drank lots of Humm Kombucha (seriously... so good!), and even saw a movie at a brewery.  We probably spent a nearly equal amount of time snacking on serviceberries from seemingly untouched trees outside the brewery.

It seemed like a great town, but we were ready to go by the end of the week.  Unfortunately, our van was not ready for us yet.  With a holiday weekend approaching, we were looking at spending another 4 or 5 days a motel.  One of the big reasons we came to the Oregon was to attend the Rainbow Gathering and it started that Saturday.  We decided to rent a car and hit the road.  4 hours later and we were pulling a wagon of camping supplies in to the Malheur National Forest in Eastern Oregon.
Was so nice to unplug for the week and just join community.  We stayed until Thursday and came back to Bend to a fixed up van, ready to hit the road!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Loving It!

I could think of no better post title - we really love it out here!
We hardly crossed the border into Oregon before we set up camp at Valley of the Rogue State Park outside of Medford/Ashland area.  Not our favorite state park, but still had a nice little Rogue River trail to wander down (and take breaks in the shade - it was so hot here!)
All of our days were spent in or around Ashland.  Lithia Park runs right through town and has so many sweet places to explore!
We decided to come up to Eugene for the weekend to check out the famous Eugene Farmer's Market and Saturday Market.  Those were definitely fun!  We also really enjoyed exploring the city parks.  One had giant games and toys set out every weekday with live music and food trucks.  Blossom built herself an RV with these huge blocks.
Other parks had interesting statues.  Here's ZB with Rosa Parks at the Eugene Bus Station:
And we couldn't leave without visiting Voodoo Donuts, especially since we didn't do the one in Portland.  Hard to decide with this mesmerizing rotating donut case!
It was still very hot here (about 100 degrees during the day), so water time was a must.  The downtown parks are right on the Willamette river, so perfect for a little cooling off.

We definitely had the most enjoyable days actually getting out of town, though!  Our favorite spot was about an hour away at Cougar Hot Springs and Cougar Reservoir.  A short and beautiful 1/2 mile hike through Sequoia trees led to 3 rocks pools that cascaded into each other.  The hottest was at the top (about 110 degrees), cooling by a few degrees in each lower pool.  We mostly stayed in the lowest pool.  We met great people, relaxed in the magical forest and would love to come back here again!
Blossom is making friends everywhere she goes!
We had hoped to swim in the reservoir, but when we finished at the hot springs, it started lightening over the water, so we decided to head back into town.  But it was so beautiful, with such clear water and towering mountains, it was hard to not dive in!

Tomorrow morning, we are headed out of the city and back into the woods.  We will go explore Crater Lake before heading to Central Oregon to the Bend area.  Much love!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Gang Goes South

Checking in from a sweet airbnb rental with the Eel River in our backyard in Rio Dell (Humoldt County), CA!  3 weeks into this trip and we've found our rhythm, with only a couple kid meltdowns along the way.  The last week was spent along the coast, headed south to California to meet up with Reed's dad and send Reed off for the rest of his Summer.
From Portland, we headed West to a fun little coast town called Seaside.  The kids were practically rolling in the sand before we even got near the water.  The sand is so fine and soft down the PNW coast, not like our Southern Atlantic beaches at all!  And even when the chilly wind is making you wear a jacket, the sand is so warm under your bare feet.
Seaside was had a cute little strip right off the beach with arcades, a carousel, a cool aquarium and oh so many salt water taffy shops!  An embarrassing amount of taffy continued with us down the road (I think there's still some in the van).  This particular store had an impressive 170 flavors of taffy to choose from, the crew discovered some interesting ones!
We had planned to tent camp at the Sand Dunes, but there was a storm coming through, so we skipped that and just meandered down the coast for a few days, staying at random Hwy 101 beach motels.  It was nice having the extra time to explore lots of cool little pockets of the coast.
The first obligatory stop South of Seaside is Cannon Beach (Goonies Forever!).  Cold and windy and rainy weather made for a quick stop.
We went a little further South and checked really beautiful beaches and also things like the country's smallest lighthouse and the Octopus Tree (just the photo op my finger tentacle was waiting for)!

We got to go on a whale watching trip in Depoe Bay where a pod of gray whales lives off shore, so cool!  Blossom was not a huge fan of being out on the deck, but loved getting to see some whales, of course.
Exploring so many little state park beaches was great fun!  There are so many amazing places!  Rocky beaches, ones piled high with driftwood, ones straight off a cliff...
 That little white thing out on the rocks is Reed, who is exploring well past the fenced off area Hahaha!
 We explored a little ourselves here.  This was Cape Arago, which is a great place to see sea lions all on the rocks.  Blossom and I loved exploring our first tide pools and finding anemones and sea stars

We finally made it down to our next campground on the southern border of Oregon at Harris Beach State Park.  SO SO SO beautiful!!  Even the hike down to the beach was a fun little adventure with so many side hikes.  And so many tide pools!  It was hard to avoid stepping on anemones, they were everywhere!  We loved petting the sea stars and playing with hermit crabs.  The beaches here were just basically nature's playground!
 Soccer on the beach takes on a new challenge here where the ball constantly is drawn to the waves.



We all loved this campground and hope to come back again one day!  After a few days there, we packed up and headed South into California.  We spent a whole day driving and exploring around a road right near our Airbnb called Avenue of the Giants, just full of amazing Redwoods!



 This one is the biggest one in that forest, at 53.2' feet around and 362' tall!!!

Reed's dad met us here and took Reed back to St. Helena, CA for the next month.  We'll see him again when we return to Asheville.  For now, we are headed back North into Oregon, exploring to Medford/Ashland, Crater Lake, some hot springs, and maybe Eugene before heading a little East to Bend.  Love to you all!!!

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