One of the things we love the very most about being here in western Oregon is our proximity to the beach. A quick hop over the coast range and we can enjoy the sand and surf. So every summer we have to make at least one trip to the beach. This week it was camping a little further north at Nehalem Bay with our friends the Jessops (our eldest daughter’s new in-laws and good family friends) and to participate on their sandcastle building team for the first time in a competition. Well… it’s their third year, but their first year to try the “pro” division and the first year my family members have been invited to participate.
The preparation, of course, started days before. It takes me awhile to make sure I have my “caravan” all set up and ready for travel like some kind of gypsy band. The packing for the week of “fun” is one of the main deterrents I have with “going on vacation.” Seriously! Who really needs that much work? And they call this vacation. I don’t know about you all, but I find it perfectly insane that that I load up half of my house, food for a week in coolers risking some kind of food poisoning, and “fun” activities into a pop up trailer and 2 cars. Crazy! And I do all this so that we can sleep on lousy mattresses, eat food that puts our digestive systems into some kind of arrest, and to have neighbors 5 feet away with paper this walls for shelter. This is insane!
The goal was to start our 2 hour and 45 minute drive at 9:30. Some things never change. As a kid I could count on any family outing to begin at least one hour after the announced time. I think it’s a “dad” thing. Whenever the dad is added to the equation, the time is thrown off a bit. Still, 10:30 departure is rather respectable. Most of the kids and 2 of the dogs stuffed into my Suburban and one kid and one dog hopped into my husband’s Honda. Off we went. After driving for 45 minutes the road was beginning to be rather curvy. It’s not like I drive like a crazy person. I was even driving slower than usual because I was pulling the camp trailer. But somehow, I lost my husband. We didn’t have cell reception in the coastal mountains so I couldn’t find out what was happening. Finally, we made contact. The dog was barfing (ewe!) Poor thing doesn’t travel well and we didn’t give him enough Dramamine. He lost yesterday’s lunch three of four times over the coastal pass.
We hooked up again at Tillamook Cheese Factory and spent some time cleaning up the car and enjoying the sights and tastes of a cheese factory. Everyone enjoyed some ice cream, lunch, and the free tastes of yummy cheese. The best part was that our daughter and her husband met us there and she got to hang out with us for the day.
We arrived at the camp ground and spent the rest of the afternoon setting up camp and starting dinner. I decided to make baked potatoes and sloppy joes. We got the meal into the Dutch ovens and continued to set up the tent trailer, the extra camp and the rain flies. The kids took off to play with their friends and my youngest took off on her bike to ride round and round the camp loops. We were camping, no agenda, no time constraints, nothing to do but sit around and WATCH other people sit around and WATCH us. LOL! It was fun to round out the day with a yummy desert of banana boats.
Thursday the dogs had us up early. So much for sleeping in. After making a yummy breakfast of fruit and pancakes… ok I will pause and give you the truth about those pancakes. The first time I mixed the buckwheat pancake mix I asked John to bring me some water. He said he had some hot water ready for hot chocolate and poured it into my fix. Instant lumps! I added cold water, but that didn’t help much. I hate wasting food, so we decided to cook the batter anyway. Can’t say I recommend that. The “pancake”, and I use the term lightly, looked more like mashed potato hash browns. Pancakes aren’t supposed to look like hash browns. The kids wouldn’t touch them. We started over. The second try was much better and by all accounts was yummy. I had gluten free pancakes with my fruit.
After we cleaned up breakfast, we all jumped in the car to drive up to Seaside to enjoy the funny little mall there. The town is like a mini year round carnival. But that would have to wait. We had to deal with our “vacation tradition” first. Wait for it… you guessed it. The car wouldn’t start. I can’t think of a vacation that we haven’t had to work on the car and this vacation was not breaking with tradition. We tried to jump start it. Nothing. The ranger came. He didn’t want us to block the loop and said he would bring a special thing to jump start the car. First he had to get his vehicle going. It wouldn’t start it either. LOL. John said he would stay and see about getting the car running. Eventually, they succeeded. But the rest of us had jumped into the Jessops car and went along our merry way. In Seaside we looked through shops, found a funny mime dancer guy, and Lilli got to ride the carousel.
We returned to camp around lunch time and enjoyed a green salad and bratwursts. We then spent the rest of the afternoon playing at the beach. John flew his kite… Chad tried to boogie board… Kimber sat at the beach and we chatted… McKay and Hannah frolicked in the surf… and Lilli did a little of everything. We returned to camp and made dinner… chili and corn bread. For desert we made smores… then we walked back to the beach for a bon fire on the beach at dusk. It was COLD.
The best part of the day was listening to Chad tell his stories. Someday he is going to be the life of the party with all the grandkids, like my brother Paul. He really is so funny! For instance, he and Jon Jessop were walking back from the bathroom around midnight. A couple shadowy figures were following them, so Chad turns around and says, “why are you following us you creepers?” “Park rangers. You two are breaking park rules.” Oops, I guess it wasn’t the sisters trying to creep you out then son, was it? The best story was him trying to get wet swim attire back on after using the bathroom and needing to get to the shower with a bare bum hanging out. I really can’t do his story telling justice, but he was hilarious!
The next morning the dogs had us up early again. This time we made mountain man. It takes a little longer because the Dutch oven needs to heat up. We did a little fireside reading while we waited. McKay and Chad took off to Cannon Beach to practice building sand castles. Lilli talked the rest of us into going on a bike ride with the dogs in tow… reverse that. The dogs towed us! Hannah’s back was hurting her so she rode my nice bike. John rode Hannah’s bike and had a hold of Charlie. Lilli was hanging onto Kirby and John lowered the seat on his bike as far as it could go and I rode it while keeping Missy on a leash. We made a test run around the camp loop. The dogs… and us made it through the learning curve and decided to hit the bike trail out to the bay. We were all laughing at the sight of each other. We really didn’t need to pedal. We had dog powered bikes! Kirby needs a little more training. He runs wherever he wants to. Charlie is a goober and runs where he wants to too. Trouble is, he is bigger and can do some damage to the poor person that is responsible for him.
After safely arriving back to the tent we headed out to the beach to see the progress of the practice castle building. What a beautiful day! Lathered in sunscreen, we headed out with lunch to enjoy the beach. We didn’t suspect a thing when the car fired up just fine and we arrived at our destination. However, things changed when we needed to head out to get drinks for our picnic. Once again we needed a jump start. John left us at the beach and drove into Seaside to see if Les Schwab could test the battery and alternator. Everything tested out fine. Problem? We needed a new starter. So… still going with vacation tradition… John bought the started and fixed the engine in our camp sight. This is one vacation tradition I’d like to change. Too bad karma isn’t on my side. We ended up having time at the beach, with perfect weather, perfect waves and perfect water. The kids had a blast.
The beach castle practice went very well. The castle looked great. Everyone was sunburned. Lunch of sandwiches (hold-the-sand) and chips was delicious. Dinner was burgers and salad hit the spot. We finished off the night with stories in the tent while teens in camp had a “chubby bunny” contest. Chad came in a close second, but Jon won out in the end.
While we were sitting around the camp fire, John was muttering to himself, completely satisfied with the level of preparation we put into our camping experience. “I kinda’ wish it would rain just a little deluge! Just so we could show how prepared we were. …All we got is blue sky! That stinks!!!”
Famous last words. That night the rains descended.
We were planning on pulling up stakes in the morning and moving down the coast for a couple more days of “west and welaxation.” It was time to rethink the plan. We decided to come back a few days early from our camping drip due to the somewhat “wet” weather.
Our friends and our older kids took off at 6:30 in the morning to build sand castles in the rain while our youngest two kids helped us take down camp in the pouring rain.
Although a popup camper, also commonly called a tent camper or folding camper, isn’t quite that easy to set up, the theory behind it is similar. A person uses either a hand crank or hydraulic lift to open and lift up the top portion of the camper, the beds on the ends are slid out, and any other slides included on the camper are slid out, and a person is well on their way to getting their camper set up. To take it all down is fairly simple too. You just do the whole process in reverse.
But setting up the camper or taking down the camper in inclement weather, such as a driving rain, is no fun. Everything we picked up had to be wiped down because it was soaking wet and muddy. We trapped all the dogs in the car for hours because we didn’t want to deal with muddy dogs. Eventually, we were ready to push in the sides and bring the top down… again… and again.. and again. It seemed that something was very wrong. We couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Frankly, we were all getting a little irritable. Suddenly, John got an idea… push the beds in further. Bingo! We were able to finish up and get moving again.
We pulled out of camp just at check out time and moved up the highway toward the sand castle competition. We dropped off the girls and told them to hurry and find our team, then we went searching for a place to park… not an easy thing to do when you are carting around a big trailer, 3 dogs and two cars. Just as we were ready to hike to the beach, we got the call… we had missed the whole thing! The good news: the team did well and earned $200 for 5th place… not bad for creating in the mist, rain and cold. The bad news: 1 girl was crying because she missed supporting her hubby in his sand castle competition, one girl was crying because she didn’t make it to the potty and peed her pants; one girl was crying because she was tired, sandy, freezing and wet; one girl was completely confused; and one boy was grumpy because all the girls were crying. Meanwhile, I was fighting my way across town trying to find where everyone was while pulling a trailer and calming 3 hyper dogs.
Finally, everyone was reunited and we headed home. This time I remembered to give the dogs extra Dramamine to the dogs. Between the drugged dogs and the kids, it’s official, I am a better driver then John. No one got sick. We all arrived home. And I parked the trailer all by myself.
I now need a vacation from my vacation.