Four AM, Saturday before the eclipse, a family of six left their home hoping to avoid the apocalyptic traffic that was forecasted to occur. Well, there was NO TRAFFIC, none. We made it to our campsite outside of Bend, OR in record time. We hit no apocalypse- we were able to get gas, groceries and explore the area- all things we were told would be impossible. We were able to hike to a waterfall, cliff jump (just Dada, don’t worry), play with friends, watch a friend bungee jump, feed alpacas, float down rivers and witness the eclipse in one of the most beautiful places we have ever been, Smith Rock.
To say everything worked out great would be an understatement. After learning that where we were staying was not in the path of totality- we decided to get up early (apparently the hour of four in the morning was appealing to us on this trip) and head the few miles north so we could get a spot at the state park (they were only letting in 300 cars). Well, we got in, we had a fabulous parking lot breakfast and coffee, hiked around and witnessed one of the most amazing sights ever. So worth the early mornings, so worth the long drive, so worth the crabby kiddos that afternoon- it was amazing. I must admit, I did not understand the importance of being able to see the eclipse in totality. Words can not express- both Chris and I got a little misty eyed, Rory was terrified by the howling (by people, not wolves) when it got dark but we hope it will be something the boys remember (not the terrifying part, but the really, really cool part). We celebrated with parking lot mimosas and good friends. It was perfect.
The rest of our trip did not go as planned… We cancelled continuing on to Crater Lake due to wild fires and spent an extra day in Bend where the boys floated down the Deschutes River while Thacker and I hung out in the car (while he napped) and under the shade of a tree. The boys were both scared and delighted by the experience. Although I heard it was cold. I think this was to make me feel better as I was very jealous and stated that next time I will be the one floating down the river and the rest can wait for me under a tree. Kidding, they can come too.
We then headed northwest to LL. Stubs State Park, which we were lucky to find a few camp spots. As we were cruising through the smoky Deschutes National Forest, we shredded a camper tire and spent a good hour finding a wrench that would take the bolts off wheel (the one we had did not fit the camper wheels, just the van). We made it to Salem, OR for a picnic lunch and then we separated from our friends for a few hours- they went shopping, we went to Les Schwab (not all bad, they have free popcorn and you can walk up and down the aisles hitting tires…). Chris maintained his cool more than I could have ever expected ( I thanked our friends, I think if it was just us, he would have been a lot more cranky…) and we left Salem with two brand new camper tires and a few hundred less dollars.
We made it to our campground around dinnertime and set up camp. We spent two days at LL Stub and it will not be our last time there. The campsite was great. They had an awesome Jr. Ranger program where we got to go on an orienteering adventure. We had a great hike and only regretted a few times that we did not bring our bikes (adults, kiddos had there’s) as there was a great bike path. Next time!
We then headed to the other side of Portland and visited our last stop, Cascade Locks. We explored Marina Park and Thunder Island before heading to our campground. Let’s just say we had been spoiled with campsites for the first part of the trip, this place was a bit to be desired (think giant dirt pit… and children…). We were entertained by the firefighting planes that were filling up at the Columbia River and fighting a fire just over the ridge of where we were staying. It was very cool to watch.
The next morning we toured the Bonneville Dam, said good-bye to our friends, ate at Burgerville (because, when in Oregon…), tried to hike around Multnomah Falls (someone, who is my first born, was hot… and tired… and panting like a dog), ended up at the beach (much more our thing anyway) and ended the evening with a nice dinner overlooking the river and watching the fire planes again.
It was bittersweet to see our trip come to an end. We were all ready to be home and showered and in our own beds. But on the other hand our vacation was over. It was a fantastic trip- we had whining and laughter, fun and grumpiness. We are in denial that summer is coming to an end, so we are going to soak up these last few weeks of no obligations. I do so love adventuring with these boys of mine. I am so proud of them all- they went with the flow, even when we didn’t know where that flow was leading us. They got up early and stayed up late. Honestly, two days home and we are still recovering. Can’t wait to see what our next adventure brings.