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Ultimate Road Trip With Kids – Washington to Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge

    As we did not get to camp until after dark the previous night, we set out to explore our campsite that next morning. We stayed at Cape Disappointment State Park which was one of my favorite camping spots of the trip.

    We had a perfect spot that we knew was close to the ocean as it had lulled us all to sleep. Scott was smart to pick campsites next to the water so as it would not be dead quiet for my camping experiences; I like white noise and obviously no fans in the wild so the rushing water at the last site and the waves here were lovely.

    Our site was about 100 yards from the ocean. There were all kinds of driftwood to build with and play on, we had a very amusing time on a makeshift teeter-totter. Seriously hours of fun, trying to balance without falling was hilarious. The kids also played in the waves and dug holes and explored caves, and made new friends. The people in the campsite next to us also had five kids (3 boys and 2 girls, one of whom was also named Lily)!

    When we left, we had only an hour’s drive to Cannon Beach, Oregon! Our hotel was right on the beach and we had a fantastic view of the lighthouse. We stayed at Schooner’s Cove which was ideally located and spacious enough for our family.

    We were in a suite with a separate bedroom, a separate bedroom, and a main living area with a full kitchen, an eating area as well as a sitting area with a pullout couch. The hotel offered laundry services, a Jacuzzi, and a beachfront lawn with grills. The kids were so excited to play on the beach (dig holes, play in the waves, make sand angels) but they would have loved it about 10 degrees warmer (or maybe that was just me).



    We explored the beach, went for dinner, enjoyed a family Jacuzzi in the hot tub overlooking the beach, and then went back down to the beach to enjoy the sunset.


    Watching the sunset was beautiful – the colors were so vibrant.


    It hit me that watching the sunset is only an event you can really watch over an ocean or really flat horizon as at home when the sunsets.  It just goes down over the houses but you don’t see it disappear and it’s actually light for a while after – but here we actually watched it set…bit by bit…awesome.


    The kids couldn’t wait to get to the beach that next morning. They had a fun time digging in the sand and even found a crab, it was dead when they found it but it was the entire body. They were thrilled. Me, not so much – because –ewww.


    We decided to go to the Columbia River Gorge and headed out. The funniest thing, we stopped to get gas and an attendant came out to pump it for us. Apparently, it is against the law to pump your own gas in Oregon. This made me curious so I looked up other fun facts.

    • Oregon offers an example of EVERY geographic terrain on the planet within its borders.
    • Oregon has more ghost towns than any other state.
    • Oregon and New Jersey are the only states without self-serve gas stations.
    • Half of Oregon’s total area is forested – 30 million acres.

    (See how we are all learning!)

    Once we arrived at the gorge we stopped for a picnic lunch where we found the biggest blow flowers that we’d ever seen and made some wishes.



    On a side note, we bought a cooler that allowed us to plug it into the van for this vacation which allowed us to essentially have a mini-refrigerator for the entire trip. This was especially helpful for lunch and snacks.

    We tried to have a bigger breakfast provided complimentary by the hotel if we stayed in a hotel or made by us with grocery purchases if we had the amenities. We would fill the cooler as necessary at grocery stores to keep lunch costs lower. We kept it stocked with yogurt, cheeses, fruits, veggies and dip, and lunch meat. We also kept a bin full of dry foods (bread, crackers, granola bars, cereal, peanut butter, chips, and of course graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bars).

    We also purchased a 5-gallon water container that we could use to refill our water bottles. This was so handy as it helped us to stay hydrated and was very much cheaper (and more green) than the $1-$2 plastic bottles from the gas station. Can you imagine how quickly that would add up –seven people times a couple of waters daily times $1 a bottle would be $14/day just in water! Times 56 days would be almost $800 in WATER for the trip! These 3 ideas refrigerator cooler, dry food bin, and water container with reusable water bottles saved us quite a bit of money!

    We drove the historic highway and the kids learned there was a Junior Ranger program so they were excited to complete that. We learned that there are apparently 70 waterfalls in 70 miles. We stopped to see 5 of them. Our favorite was Bridal Veil Falls. It was one of the only falls that we could not see from the roadside.


    We had to walk 1/3 mile down the hill and 1/3 mile back. After enjoying the serenity of the falls, Dax decided he did not want to walk back up the trail. Lily offered to carry him and a few other tourists stopped to take their picture as they couldn’t believe she would carry him that whole way.


    The biggest excitement was Multnomah Falls although it was only the most exciting because we got ice cream and sat to enjoy the view while the kids completed their Junior Ranger books. It was just about dinner time and when Grace asked what was for dinner I told her we were just going to have the ice cream, she was thrilled and declared today “the best day ever” for that reason!


    We went “home” and ended up having pizza for dinner too. A family Jacuzzi and some beach time after was a good end to the day. Up until we got back to our room and I started looking through the hotel information which added an extra laugh to my night. Apparently, we were in a tsunami zone (that is not the funny part- that part was pretty weird to think about) but the funny part was that the information said that if we heard a loud mooing of cows, that was just the practice siren. HA! What a funny practice siren. As a pretty cool finale, a one-legged seagull came to sit on our deck.



    On our last day there, we spent a relaxing day having fun at the beach. Morning, afternoon, and then evening too. 🙂

    The Oregon coast is not warm so each time we went to take a walk we reminded the kids to not get wet. And every time we went, the kids somehow managed to get wet from head to toe. They promised me it is not THEIR fault it is the waves’. (Lol.) Each time they got wet, we needed to go change as they were FREEZING. Then we went for a walk again and the whole process started all over.

    We finally ended up in swimsuits, though I am not sure that was all that helpful as they got wet, got cold, and then needed to change again as they were FREEZING again. I thought keeping the laundry caught up was tricky with the cold weather clothes as I did not bring many choices but the laundry with wet sandy clothes is crazy.


    We splurged on lunch as Scott and I wanted seafood. We ate overlooking haystack rock and then walked down to peek at the tide pools but the tide was too high.

    We ended up walking to another group of rocks and found a bunch of anemones, some crabs, and a whole island full of puffins which apparently nest here. It was super cool.


    We built a sandcastle, Joe found a couple of intact sand dollars, and we built a sand turtle.

    Next on the agenda, we were off to camp for TWO nights in a row. This was the first time we were doing that this trip and the first time I had done that EVER. I was sort of happy with the “show up at camp late and then leave the next day to go to a hotel for a shower” camping. I was a little nervous about the “spend two entire days at a campground” camping. I think God heard and understood, you’ll see.

    Ultimate Road Trip 2014


    Terri L

    Terri has been married to her best friend, Scott, for 20 years and together they have 5 children. She has been blessed to be able to be a SAHM since her first was born over 14 years ago. In addition to finding new and creative ways to entertain 5 children, she enjoys date nights with her husband, photography, reading, and traveling with her crew.