Monday, July 11, 2011

Mom-Daughter Camping

Scott and I decided to do something different this year.  Usually, if money is available, we go camping for 3-4 days in Cannon Beach.  We have a favorite campground there this is, literally, 4 blocks from the beach.  This year, however, we decided to take camping trips with each child individually.   First, Scott took Josh camping at Primrose Point State Park.  This past weekend, Mikaela and I found a campsite on Willapa Bay near the Pacific Ocean.  It was located almost equidistant from Westport and Long Beach.  Next, Samuel and Scott will be coming up north somewhere and utilizing a great groupon for a kayaking tour.

At first, I was a little worried about camping with just us girls.  The last time I had been camping without a male, I ended up with a campsite directly across from a solo man who started drinking by noon.  I wasn't comfortable with that situation at all.  But this time, I found a KOA Kampground, which seemed safer because of their family-friendly nature.  It turned out to be a great place, and I never felt uneasy during our stay.  

We had a great time.  Here are some highlights of our trip:

This is our campsite.  I think it was the best one in our campground, and we plan on bringing the whole family back. As you can see, I successfully got our site set up.

As soon as we had our site set up, we headed north towards Tokeland and Westport.  We found this beach with lots of drift wood and downed trees.  There were no shells, though, so we didn't stay long.  Across the street from this beach was a small cemetery with tombstones from the late 1800s and early 1900s.  There were a few recent ones, too.  On the cliff overlooking the beach was a house for sale.  We decided that it would be perfect for our family, but with the $1,295,000 price tag, it was a bit out of our range.

After this beach, we headed north and stopped at Grayland Beach to see if it had an shells; it didn't.

Then we went to Westport and had dinner at a little place we saw last time we went to Westport a couple weeks ago.  Mikaela wanted to try clams, and I had a rather large bacon cheeseburger.  After dinner, we walked along a long pier located there, and watched various people pull up and measure crabs.  One group was doing well and had enough crabs for all of them for dinner that night.  We talked about coming back and renting crab nets when we come back with the rest of the family.

We headed back to camp and decided to check out their beach (just a short trail-walk away) for sunset.  This is the view in one direction.  It was high tide.

Mikaela loved this beach.  It was covered in shells.  Here she is sifting through one pile.  We gathered a ton of clam shells; she wants to cover a picture frame with them.  We also found one gastropod shell, which we later discovered belonged to snails in the water.  

After our visit to the beach, we headed back up to the campground where we visited with the camp directors who were hanging out at a community fire.  They shared some pineapple cherry dump cake they had made as part of a cooking demonstration.  We looked at the stars once it was dark enough and headed for bed.

Day two started with cereal and fresh fruit for breakfast before we headed south to Long Beach.  Our first stop was Marsh's Free Museum, home of Jake the Alligator Man. 

Mikaela was in heaven when she saw the bins full of shells.  We looked through them all, browsed through the store, and then picked out the shells she wanted to buy.  She got everything from penny shells (miniature shells) to larger shells (but not the huge nautilus or conchs) to a green sea urchin and a starfish.  She was very happy with her purchases.

At $30 plus, she could afford these big shells, but she loved looking at and touching them.

After Marsh's, we headed for Long Beach's board walk.  After making sandwiches at the car, we carried them with us for our walk along the board walk.  It was a gorgeous day for it.  We walked back along the water where we saw a sand sculpture working on a small castle, some cool worm-like creatures in the sand, and some awesome kite flying.

Then we headed for Cape Disappointment State Park.  The first thing we came to was this overlook with stunning views overlooking Beard's Hollow and the ocean.  The picture doesn't do it justice.

A little further along the road was a turn off for Beard's Hollow, a wetland area.  There's a nice bike trail running through this area.  Mikaela had enough walking so we just looked out over the wetland from the first bridge next to the parking lot.  My key fob stopped working.  We were a little worried before I remembered that I could use the key like normal if I put it directly into the ignition.  I ended up setting off my car alarm anyway, but at least we knew we wouldn't be locked out of the car.
The next stop was the North Head Lighthouse which is a quarter mile walk from the parking lot with great views of the ocean all the way.  The lighthouse's stairs are currently closed, so we didn't pay for a tour, but I was told that they stairs are expected to be repaired and reopened sometime next month.  

Here's one of the views from the lighthouse.  

After that, we came to Waikiki Beach.  Originally, we had planned on playing/swimming at this beach but it was too cold, and Mikaela was getting tired of walking.  So, we stopped just long enough for me to get a look.  It looks like the perfect little beach for families with littles; the waves were very small.

Our last stop was Fort Canby and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.  Both are a 1/3 mile walk uphill from the parking lot.  We walked through the Fort and then visited the interpretive center.

This is the view from outside the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.  That's Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, which you cannot tour.  If you want to see it up close, you'll need to walk 1/2 a mile from the parking lot.

The interpretive center was interesting with plenty of hands on exhibits.  Here Mikaela is seeing what it was like to sight game using a gun like Lewis and Clark's guns.  Next to the gun is a scope like the kind they would have used.  They had some stuffed animals, pressed plants, a 15 minute movie, and other exhibits as well.  While this interpretive center was nice, I'd choose Fort Clatsop if I could only visit one Lewis and Clark sight.  One room had windows along one entire wall overlooking the ocean.  They had a scope set up on a tripod and another couple of handheld scopes you could look through.  There was also some shipwreck findings, a boat, and a lighthouse lantern in the room.

After the interpretive center, we headed back to the campground where we went back to the beach and found low tide.  This is the same view as above except that I'm standing where the water used to be.

We decided to head out towards the water to check out the people who were clamming.  Apparently, you can find plenty of manilla clams and cockles here.  In fact, the campsite rents clamming rakes for $3 a day.  

We also found the living version of the gastropod shell we found the day before.  These are either one of two species of oyster drills (non-native, invasive snails accidentally introduced in the area) or native whelks.  They look too similar for us to tell the difference.

We also noticed that the hillside was blasted full of clam shells.  We were wondering how they got there because they are several feet above high tide.

This is the second set of stairs on the trail back to the campsite.

Back at the campsite, Mikaela begged me to rent fun bikes.  They were fun riding all around the campground.  There were other kids riding around with us, too.  We also found out that our new neighbor for the night was a man who had biked here all the way from Wisconsin.  He had left home on June 1st and got here a week earlier than expect so he was enjoying the coast before heading down to San Fransisco.  I can't imagine traveling so far on bicycle!

After 45 minutes of riding, I decided to quite while I could still walk and start dinner.  We had ribeye steak and caesar salad.  We finished dinner just in time to join the campsite's ice cream social.  Then Mikaela played at the campground and we hung out until bed time.

In the morning, we packed up camp, rode bikes again, and headed for home.  It was a good weekend.

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Pam said...

Well that sounded like a great weekend. Except for the actual tent camping part. :P

Hallie said...

That looks like a great trip!! We went to Longbeach last fall and it was just miserable and cold.. I'd like to go back again when it's warmer! I'll have to look up that campground! Thanks so much for sharing!! I love learning about so many places around us! :)