Olympic Peninsula in Washington State

We started our journey with a shorter drive, only about 4.5 hours up into the Olympic Peninsula. We stayed at Shadow Mountain RV Park in Port Angeles. We set up camp and headed in to get the lay of the land. The boys enjoyed some playtime in the visitors center and watched a video about the park and hiked a short trail.

On Grandma Jo’s birthday, we drove down to the Hoh Rainforest, about a 2.5 hours drive from the campground but still in Olympic National Park. We hiked a rainforest trail and learned all about the temperate rain forests. We were amazed how big the trees were and how nurse logs led way to new growths of trees. It wasn’t wet as this was the dry season. We stayed around for a Junior Ranger talk and earned out badges for the park.

Next we drove to Ruby Beach to explore the area. It was really crowded but we found parking places and headed down the huge hill to the beach. It was magnificent. Driftwood logs lined the shore and giant craggily rocks towered from the beaches. We climbed all over the rocks and eventually found a few tide pools to explore. But the rocks won out in the long run and we had a blast scrambling all over them. Grandma and Grandpa stayed planted on the sand and enjoyed a stroll around the beach. The air was quite crisp yet people were out sunning and splashing in the waters. We were NOT that adventurous.

We celebrated Grandma Jo’s birthday with cheesecake after a quick meal out in a small town called Forks.

Dad worked all day the following day and we explored separate from Grandma and Grandpa. We opted to spend our day at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic NP. We arrived early and hiked the meadows and then the upper trails all the way out to Sunrise Point. The views were spectacular. The wild flowers were in bloom so everything was exploding with color. There was even a flower called the American Bistort that smelled just like dirty socks! We only smelled it once and they avoided it all together! The sky was clear and we could see all the way to Vancouver Island! We learned that this part of the park has a functioning ski lift in the winter. We saw it and thought it was abandoned. It still works and looked SCARY!

Mom kept singing The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music. Oddly later we found out Grandma Jo was doing the same. We wrapped out out Olympic MP Ocean Steward books and earned a really cool patch.

We joined a patio talk about the changing environment and stuck around at the end for an off the records discussion about alternate power and climate change and how the glaciers are melting faster than ever (in recorded history).

We then took a geology hike and learned about the glacier formations and the other geological impacts in the area. The boys had all the answers and dazzled the guide with their park and science knowledge.

We really enjoyed out time in the cooler fresh air! Tomorrow we head towards Canada.

Mount Rainer in Washington State

Another 9 hour drive towards Mt. Rainer NP. We passed the signed for Camas, where B’s friend lives but they were on a international vacation and not around. We were crushed to be so close yet so far away.

We had to spilt up from Grandma and Grandpa for our accommodations. We couldn’t get a sight for all three nights where they were so we were going to stay in the park itself but the webpage listed low branches and tight turns. We found a place called Gateway inn. It was small and quite and you can see the park entrance from the campsite. We didn’t fee like having to move the coach so just opted to stay all three nights there. Something when pop when the slide in the kitchen went out and it got out of alignment. Dad was able to get the right tools and take care of it by the time we departed. Thank goodness he is very handy. Problems will and do occur when you travel in a motorhome and knowing how to tackle and fix them is a huge advantage!

We set up camp and raced in to the visitors center before they closed. The boys got their ranger books and maps and set to work. We enjoyed a short hike and then a scenic drive around the park with Dad

We even saw a black bear down in the meadow! He is the center of the photo. We try to get Dad into the parks as much as we can around his work schedule. Since he works eastern time we have evening and late afternoons to explore with him.

We set off on our own in the morning to do a few guided hikes. We learned about the geography and geology of the park. We learned about the glaciers at the peak and some information on our changing climate. We hiked quite a few trails and took in the fresh air. We saw huge trees and gigantic plants.

The views of Mt. Rainer were spectacular. We saw a huge waterfall. The boys ran down he entire trail to get to the bottom and then ran back up. Mom was left behind at her own pace on the steep hills.

We saw another black bear in the meadow too!

The wildflowers were so amazing. The colors just popped out amongst the green meadows.

The boys hiked up a trail through the meadow when Mom went to grab lunch from the car.

We did another hike and learned from a Ranger about the timeline of the park. We saw deer and marmot. The boys earned their Jr Ranger badges and patches. The Junior Ranger program was fun and the boys were able to help the younger kids with some games.

We took a day off the park and headed to the Manhattan Project B Reactor where they made the plutonium in the 1940s. It was really impressive to see the plant, now decommissioned, in the state when it was shut down. Apparently, we have enough plutonium for a while and we really don’t use it for anything. We got to learn bout the production of the plutonium and how the plant was constructed. We toured the entire facility and saw the valve pit and control room. We worked on our very difficult Junior Ranger books and completed them just in time. We earned our badges back at the visitors center. We each bought a souvenir set of boron balls that would be used in shutting down the process if there was an emergency. The balls we got were NOT used in the reactor! What a near experience to see such a piece of our history.

On the road again tomorrow and headed towards the Olympic Peninsula.

Crater Lake in Oregon


Another long drive to Diamond Lake RV resort near Crater Lake NP in Oregon. A quick snag of a sphinx moth at a gas station along the route. Our first sighting of snow capped mountains! Finally new scenery, trees!


We arrived and set up camp and then Uncle Matt came over.He drove up from California for a few days visit with us. He is staying at the “resort” down the road. We had a nice dinner and spent time catching up and talking about our adventures. He brought us some new items for our rock collection. We spread them out all over the beds and had a great time examining everything. Thanks Matt!

The first morning we spent sightseeing and TRYING to hike trails. All the moderate to difficult trails seemed to be closed for one reason or another. We still found lots of snow and had some snowball fights.

The view of Crater Lake was amazing. The sky was a bit hazy but the blues really started to pop out.

We wore Emmerson out to the point he went goofy. He was erasing his footprints as we hiked so no-one could follow him. Strange bird! He perked up when we found more snow piles along the trails.

The boys attended a program and eared their badges and patches at the park.

We then walked the pinnacles. Old femoral vents from when this place was active volcanically. We walked out to the boundary of the park and headed back for an early night. Dad is trying to stay on East Coast time for work during the week. So bedtime is before sundown most days.

Another day of exploring with Uncle Matt and some more hiking.

We loved pretending that we just climbed out of the crater

We enjoyed looking down at the Pirate Ship. We even saw a marmot hiding in the rock wall near the over look.

We engaged in some serious snow ball fights  near the visitors center. We saw the HUGE plow they use in the winter! The chains alone were impressive! We learned the history of the crater and how it formed.

The earth is quite impressive.

Matt treated us to lunch at the Crater Lake Lodge and we said our good-byes. The boys are dying to go out to California during the snow seasons soon and learn to ski or snowboard or sled and tube! Thanks Matt for a great visit!

We wrapped up with some bug catching at the campground while Mom did more laundry. Off to Washington next.

Craters of the Moon and Arco, Idaho

One more FULL day of driving through flat plains and finally some distant mountains. Emmerson spent his day making pillow forts int he back bedroom while Breighton read more books on his Kindle and taking photos at 65MPH.

We arrived at the Craters of the Moon KOA in Arco, Idaho. We set up camp and scurried over to the Craters of the moon Visitors Center. We arrived in time to catch a patio talk about bats and White Nose Syndrome. We got our ranger books, cave permit and maps and took a quick loop through the park to get our bearings for the morning. We hiked a little trail and learned about different lava types, Pahoehoe and ‘A’A. We hit the grocery store and found out they sell soft serve Dole Whip! Some more evening bug hunting  and an ice cream social at the campground while mom cleaned off the front window of Luna.

In the morning we were up early and towards the park. We opted to take a Ranger Guided Hike of the Buffalo Caves. We saw lots of yellow grasshoppers all over the trails. We learned about the history of the caves and how they are really just lava tubes. The Ranger was awesome and really gave great information about the geology of the area. We learned that the Yellowstone hot spot was once here and it is what caused a lot of the activity. We learned about shield and splatter cone volcanos. The trees looked weird. We learned it was from a dwarf mistletoe that grew in the trees causing the trees to develop witches broom. We saw different types of lava and the blue dragon. We also got to hold a lava bomb! We learned about lichen and how it is beneficial to the rocks and an indicator of air quality. We saw bread crust lava too. Up next was DOWN into the caves. Quite a difficult wiggle to get through the sharp lava to the caves but worth the effort. Up and out and our hike back to the parking lot. We spotted many wildflowers that amazingly find a way to live here in the cracks of the rocks. The boys took lots of photos for 4-H. These adventures always produce many great photos! The boys earned their Junior Ranger badges and took another oath to protect the parks.

Dad had to go back at the campground and work after the hike so we all took our own paths. Mom, B and E opted for another guided hike and more cave exploring. Breighton was selected to be a SEED in the rocks (a special treat to walk off trail a little as well) during the program. Ranger Maura was funny and informative. He is working at the parks as part of the Mosaics in Science program to bring more diversity to the parks. He safely led us to the caves and educated everyone about the caves. The boys had all the answers! We hiked down into the caves and then took the long hard way out over all the rock scree. The boys loved that! Emmerson’s shoelace was grabbed by a piece of A’A’ and he went crashing tot he ground, thankfully just a few minor scratches easily bandaged up on the trail. We then transverse the top of the lava tubes and followed pole to pole to get back to the main path. SUCCESS! Of course we had to go into every cave we were allowed to enter. Mom wasn’t thrilled but grinned and made it through.

Back at the campground the boys went swimming while mom worked on laundry.

The next day we tackled the snow cone to see the snow still inside! Then joined a junior ranger hike to earn the kids their park patches.

After lunch we headed to the EBR-1 reactor. Arco was the first town ever powered by atomic power! We learned about the SCRAM button and how it would shut down the reactor. The boys had a lot of fun playing with the mock control panel.

We aren’t sure if radiation or hantavirus is more scary?


Back at the campground the boys rented banana bikes and had a blast until a tire popped on Breighton’s.  On the road again in the morning towards Diamond Lake near Crater Lake, Oregon! We leave you with this cute baby bird that Emmerson found.

Through Texas and Colorado


Two LONG days of driving. We were on the road for nearly 12 hours one day and 14 the next.  A quick look out the front window at the wide open nothingness and the back window at our tail-gunner!  We tried making chicken in the Joule. It was a bit wiggly and bouncy but the meal turned out great and was a welcome delight after the long driving.

The first stop was north of Dallas, Tx. It was a nice a nice place to park at Wichita Bend RV Park for the night. An unexpected surprise, dear sweet Zoe and Dawn just HAPPENED to be in Dallas! They came over to visit at the campground for a few hours. The boys were extremely excited for this surprise!

More driving in wide open nothingness of our Great Plains of the US. We arrived in Fort Collins, Colorado for a one night stop. We left really early and pushed hard on the drive since the Fort Collins KOA campground had lots of activities included with the overnight stay.

The caterpillars seem to be doing well. Do caterpillars get car sick? hmmm.

The boys enjoyed a massive playground, a huge slide (they both chickened out!), the bouncy pad, roping Mom into a peddle car ride, tooling around the lake in a paddle boat (a dragon of course), and some fighting bumper boat action! We were all EXHAUSTED and hit the pillows hard.