We left off yesterday at the end of the Disney portion of our trip… I mean, it’s just a requirement if we’re in Southern California, we can’t help it! And yes… Mack and I totally have to go even if the kids aren’t with us. 🙂
The next morning, July 24th, we hit the road again and headed for San Francisco!
Jack has, at one point or another, said every single city we saw was his favorite. But he really soaked up San Francisco.
That is…. until he fell asleep on his salad plate at Mel’s Diner. 😉
Having not gotten enough of the Golden Gate Bridge for the kiddos, we drove up into the hills so they could get a better view.
When we left San Fran, we were still headed north, and the drive was GORGEOUS. We arrived at Humboldt Redwood State Park just in time to get our tent up before it got dark, but we were all excited for our first camping stop of the trip.
We hiked a lot that next day, thoroughly exploring all the trails we could find anywhere near our campsite. The walk through the forest around the Founders’ Tree was our favorite.
We told this story on Instagram but I can’t resist telling it again.
Dorothy saw graffiti inside the huge old trees. That kind of thing immediately gives me rage, because WHAT KIND OF PUNK DOES THAT? Ugh. Anyway. Rather than seeing it that way, Dorothy immediately assumed the best, and told us all they were messages from the fairies who protect the forest and have important meetings in these old trees. Near every single scrawled message she could see, she drew a heart in the sand. She said it was to let the fairies know that she had been there, and she’d help keep their secret.
She also told this tree, which had been badly burned but continued to grow, “I am SO proud of you for still growing after that fire. When I’m old, you’ll still be here, and you’ll be good as new.”
So yeah, I basically cried the entire time this magical girl was in the forest.
Sometimes Jack is such a “tween”… even an early teenager. But other times he’s still just my boy, like when he uses ash to draw warrior designs on his face and pretends to be a forest Indian.
That evening, we decided to try our luck at finding a swimming hole on Eel River. We knew there WAS one, but the map was unclear… and then a family we passed on the trail said they’d hiked “forever” and never found it, so they were giving up.
I’m glad we pressed forward! While they’re right, we never got to anything that looked like a sanctioned swimming hole, we did find a PERFECT spot to splash & play. Jack immediately started diving off boulders…
… but it took a little longer to convince Dorothy to brave the cold.
When she finally got in, I said, “See? It’s not that bad.” And she replied, “Whatever, I’m freezing to death, I just didn’t want to miss swimming!” Fair enough.
We left the Redwoods early the next morning, because we really wanted to try to get to Portland in time to eat dinner at a restaurant I was excited about. I definitely didn’t help the situation by demanding to pull over so often for pictures, but COME ON!
Just outside Portland, we made another unplanned stop… this time at the Enchanted Forest.
I have a vivid memory from just before my 4th birthday of visiting this little local theme park with my parents. I distinctly remembered standing in Hansel & Gretel’s witch’s mouth… and not much else. But I remember being thrilled to pieces and loving it. So when I realized we were going to drive right by this place, I just couldn’t help but stop!
I had no idea if it would be super lame, or super crowded, or what… but luckily, it was exactly like when I was a little girl. Which is to say, well, kind of lame. But so beautiful. It’s a homegrown thing, run by one family since the 60s. Because it’s not corporately influenced (and I guess because it’s so small), it’s the kind of place where you can just set your kids free to run around. Rickety stairs without handrails, ridiculously small scary dark stone tunnels to climb through… it feels like being a kid in the early 80s, before everything required helmets and safety waivers.
And thankfully, my kids totally loved it, too.
I was so excited about dinner in Portland that night… we ate at Gruner, a German restaurant downtown, and it was seriously the best meal I had on the entire trip. I want to go back JUST to eat there again.
On our way from Portland to Seattle, we made a few stops. At this one, there was a sign that claimed to have a great view of the bridge… but we hiked for a long time and never saw anything. Certainly longer than the mile it claimed.
But as we headed back to the car, Jack said, “I have an idea! I think if we go that direction off the trail, we’ll be able to see it.”
Dorothy had to go to the restroom, so Mack took her back up to the road while Jack and I did a little off-trail exploring. That meant both of us falling down a scree hill, scraping ourselves up terribly, and finding this amazing spot where we could really appreciate the design of this super cool bridge. Worth it.
We also diverted off the interstate to go up to the crater viewing outpost at Mount St. Helens. To go from such lush forest to the desolation STILL left from 30 years ago by that eruption… it’s really jarring. As beautiful as it is, it’s still pretty crazy to think of the brute power of nature.
Finally… Seattle! Spending a day at the market was one of the most important things to Mack about this trip, and it did NOT disappoint… we all had such a blast, and found so many goodies!
We (spent way too much money and) got fresh sliced meats from an Italian Butcher, fresh bread from a bakery, and plum jam from a farm stand. We found a quiet shady place in Discovery Park where we could rest and watch the dogs play.
Then… well, everyone but Jack fell asleep, and he read comic books & took sleeping pictures of us. 🙂
Our next stop was just a couple hours up the road in Bellingham, Washington. There, I got to meet a gorgeous lady who I’ve been internet friends with for about 5 years, and her precious husband & his kids. They took such fantastic care of us, and we can’t wait to go see them again!
In addition to her company, I was also super grateful that Sarah took us to Mt. Baker to hike, and actually WANTED to take some photos of us! She is a super talented photographer who recently immigrated from Australia, and I was thrilled to have some “better than selfie” photos of us in this gorgeous spot!
We hiked all the way to the summit of Tabletop Rock, and again, I was so proud of the kids. They are just SUCH great little adventurers.
Jack obtained permission to go ahead of the group when the trail wasn’t too dangerous, so most of my photos from that day are like this…
Can you find Jack in this one??
I think that might have been my favorite day of the whole trip… hiking at Mt. Baker will remain one of my coolest adventure memories of all time, and I’m SO thankful that Sarah & Sean opened their house to my crazy crew and really introduced us to how gorgeous that area is. We DEFINITELY plan to come visit again. 🙂
There’s a little left of our trip… if you’re not tired of vacation pictures yet, come check out the blog tomorrow for the last installment!