Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fourth of July weekend... Camping & Fireworks!

Can you still call it Fourth of July weekend, if the fourth is on a Monday? Hmm...I don't know. But, I've already written the title and it's saved like that, so we're going with it!

Last year during our big family campout, my cousin was telling us about a campground that had camped at earlier in the year. It was small enough that they watched their daughter ride her bike around the entire campground, had a river for fishing and just sounded all-around wonderful. I knew I wanted to go camping there this Summer, especially since we actually had a vehicle we could fit us and camping gear in now (still lovin' our Yukon!).

After checking our schedules, it turned out the only available time we could go between all of our other activities, was the day after our anniversary (nine years, baby!) and the weekend before the fourth.

So, the morning of we headed out early, and made a couple stops for groceries. We had, of course, gotten the address and an idea of where we were headed before we left. Hubby was using the GPS on his phone, so we were set. We wanted to get there kind of early, since this particular campground didn't take reservations (which made this control-freak a little nervous) but after the grocery stop, a potty stop (which luckily occurred at a KFC so we could also get lunch) and two more stops (for roasting forks...oops, nobody was apparently in charge of packing those...! and firewood) it was taking longer than expected And, it was further than we anticipated too... It seemed like we just kept driving and driving, and the kids' “Are we there yet?” from the backseat certainly didn't help!

But, finally we saw the sign for Salmonberry campground (in Alsea, OR)! We pulled in and were impressed immediately. The campground was beautiful, small and cozy and all the tent sites were settled back against the tree line, giving a nice big grassy area to play, sunbathe, etc.
We picked out a site and before we could even get the tent, aka vacation home (our tent is huge) up, Z was already begging to go fishing.

He and Avalee were quickly distracted by a cute, fuzzy little caterpillar, which gave us the time we needed to get set up. ;o)

After getting settled in we headed to the boat dock so Z could get in some fishing.

As I expected, his impatience got the better of him and not much fishing was had.

The kiddos still had lots of fun swimming in the river, digging in the mud and chasing butterflies.
Avalee decided she wanted to try some fishing too.

After we got back to camp, we discovered why we were seeing so many butterflies! This cocoon was huge and full of (probably hundreds!) of caterpillars! I've never seen anything like it, and we were all just fascinated with it!

Dinner that night consisted of roasted sausages, salad and chips.
We decided, in order to save space (since Grandma was coming with) we would leave the grill at home. I was a little nervous that we would be relying on just the campfire, but packed bread and PB&J, just in case. Haha!
Dessert was, of course, s'mores. Unless, you're Avalee and just want the marshmallows!

And, even camping, you still have to get bedtime stories from Daddy!

After Avalee went to bed, Z was "bored" and decided ton put on a show for us with glowsticks (it was much cooler in the dark, but the flash on the camera lit him up). Silly guy!

In the morning, we managed to heat up water over the campfire for hot chocolate, which is a very important aspect of the camping trip. Unfortunately, I forgot cereal bowls, so we had to wing it and use plastic cups...oops!

Then, it was onto our next showers! When it says on the website to bring lots of quarters, you should probably do just that. We kind of put it off, and once we got there realized it was $.25/minute...yikes! Colin and I decided to take kids in together and each take one. It went, eh, okay, but lets just say there was a lot of furious scrubbing going on!

After a nice afternoon of swimming in the river, some more fishing, riding bikes, etc we realized we were getting pretty low on wood. And, since dinner was going to be hobo stew, we decided to go back into town for wood.

After a very interesting interaction at the all-around general store (grocery/hardware/deli...) with the locals, we were told there was no wood available. do you not have wood??
Yet, we somehow found ourselves following one gal to her house where her dad agreed to sell us some of his wood. Sure, enough when we arrived at the (kind) stranger's house, there was a boy outside chopping wood for us! And, we ended up with an entire back end of wood plus kindling. Wow, such service! Love that small town feel!

So, we ended plenty of wood for our hobo strew dinner that night...haha! And, let me just say that was some gooood hobo stew! I remember when we were kids and we made the traditional style, with a hamburger patty, carrots potatoes and onions. I decided to go with something different, so did mine with a chicken breast, sliced red and green bell peppers, onion, potatoes with olive oil and salt/pepper. After they cooked on the coals, I topped it with a slice of swiss...yummm!

After dinner, the kids each found new camping friends to hang out with. Z's was a little boy about a year younger than him, but who was riding without training wheels. This proved fascinating for Z and gave the other boy a bit of the advantage in adventurous riding. Avalee's new little friend happened to be a boy. Ohh, and not just any boy, but a boy wearing cool goggles and wielding a plastic ax. A very manly boy that of course was trying to woo her into eventually marrying him and moving far, far away.

At least, that's what Avalee's Daddy thought...hehe!

We were sad to depart the next day, but vowed to make return trips to this beautiful campground very soon!

Of course, one has to make time for one final cup of hot chocolate. And, how cool is this dude, right??

Little Miss A got her hands on a doughnut!

Since we had discovered on the long ride in that we were only about 30 miles from the coast, we decided to head back that way and take advantage of the beautiful Sunday afternoon.
We ended up stopping at Nye Beach, which is an area we don't often venture, since it's usually further South than we go, but it was a great area.
The only hitch was where we decided to actually go down to the beach. It was a bit of a descent, or so we thought...until we started down. We quickly realized it was almost straight down! It proved to be a little more difficult than we first thought, and let's just say we had Colin go back solo and drive down to the pier to pick us up!

The beach itself was gorgeous and we had perfect weather (perfect weather in Oregon coast terms means little wind, some sun and no rain...haha). We also enjoyed all the rock formations, some of which were perfect photo spots and all the jellyfish.

We spent some time there gathering shells, digging in the sand, chasing birds and being chased by waves, and then decided it was time to head back home.

It was definitely an amazing, much-needed stay-cation and we all went back home happy and relaxed. :o)

The next day was the Fourth of July, of course, and we realized we had no fireworks. Oops! So, we headed off to find a few fireworks to buy, and after visiting a couple different stands finally had some of our favorites. Then, to the store to grab some eats and back home.

After dinner, we headed out to let the kiddos do some snakes (why do they love these so much I'll never know!) and sparklers. Once it got a little darker, we started some of our goodies.

We don't buy too much, because our neighbors always put on quite the display of (illegal) fabulous fireworks all evening (and sometimes the following day) so we don't want to miss out on those. This year was definitely not an exception, and we enjoyed fireworks all evening!

We actually lost track of the time, until Zavion dragged himself over to me and said, “Mom, can we just do my baseball (we always let him get one 'big' fountain as the finale...this year it was a baseball one) because I'm cold and tired.” I checked the time and it was 10PM! Two hours after their bedtime...oops!

So, we did his fountain and took two tired kiddos inside for bed (of course, they fell asleep immediately) and called it an evening.

It was a great evening following a fantastic weekend, and I could hardly believe the end to our little vacation (since our anniversary was the day before camping, Colin had been off for five whole days!) and back to reality the next day! :)

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