Summer 2016 is nearly in the books. The last time I blogged we spent a week in southwest Washington at a middle school camp and left only a few days later for a Midwest adventure.
Since that time, life slowed down a bit. I would say we experienced growing pains as we adjusted from a family of little kids to a family with a junior higher, mid elementary and lower elementary kid. The dynamics in our family are much different than they were even one summer ago. While at times, I felt like I was ill equipped to parent–the last two weeks God has given me renewed strength. I daresay we are stronger because of it. I have seen my kids in a new light–or maybe I am seeing myself in a better light. A bit of both.
With that being said…even amidst challenging times…we saw some beautiful parts of Oregon this summer. We played, explored, and experienced this amazing part of the country we call home. Since we came home from the Midwest in mid July these are ten awesome places we visited.
- Neskowin: It is a small little coastal town and one we have grown to love. It was our second year in a row going here with friends. It was a bit misty and not very sunny. That did not stop the kids from swimming in the Neskowin creek that feeds into the ocean and playing in the rocks and crevices. I love this place!
Devils Lake Campground & D River Beach–Lincoln City, Oregon. We have been to Lincoln City many times and camped in the same campground last September. This time we ditched the tent and spent two nights in a yurt. The weather was very windy and cool. Again the kids still got wet and had a blast running on the beach.
3. Harts C0ve–Cascade Head–between Lincoln City and Neskowin. This was ranked as the #1 coastal hike. Since the youngest is 6 1/2 I figured she could do an almost five mile hike. She is pretty tough. Little did I know this was the exact same hike my husband and I did in the fall a couple of years ago. We just knew it by a different name. The kids all did amazing even despite a lot of uphill hiking on the way back. The cove was spectacular and you could hear the sounds of sea lions.
4. LL Stub Stewart State Park–Buxton, Oregon. I love Washington County, Oregon because it is close to the city (Portland) but it is still woodsy and natural. I took my three kids and my daughter’s friend and we stayed in a cabin. We went for a little hike through the state park and saw a pretty sunset over the coastal range.
5. Henry Hagg Lake–Gaston, Oregon. After camping in Buxton we drove to Hagg Lake. This is the lake I did my first open water triathlon on in July of 2014 and also a timed open water swim in May. The weather was gorgeous. The lake temperature was perfect. The only downside was prickly plants along the water’s edge that gave some of us slivers. I felt like I had to do minor surgery on my foot.
6. Scout Lake–just outside of Camp Sherman, OR. We went to Scout Lake on the final day of our middle school youth group camp out. This is officially my new favorite Oregon lake. The water temperature was manageable and there was huge pieces of floating driftwood. We made our own boats and floating city! No need for rafts or inner tubes. I will be coming back to this one!
7. Suttle Lake–outside of Camp Sherman, OR. We camped on Suttle Lake which is about a mile from Scout Lake. The water temperature was fairly cold, but we managed to swim a bit anyway. We spent lots of time sitting by the lake, doing a four mile hike around it, and fishing. Our campsite was spacious and we had amazing campfires both nights. The downside was I slept terribly the second night in the tent and probably got no more than 4 hours of sleep. I am bringing an air mattress next time. We also dealt with LOTS of yellow jackets and I got stung on my toe. That didn’t stop us from having a good time.
8. Lava Caves–Bend, Oregon. This was my third time doing the one mile hike through the lava tubes. I love being underground and seeing all the rock formations. After hiking the tube and walking through the lava fields (and it was hot–probably in the 90’s) the middle school kids were extremely worn out. I thought I must be in pretty good shape (especially because I have not done much running this summer) because I still had lots of energy.
9. Henline Falls–near the North Santiam River a few miles from Mill City. My friend wanted to do this 1.8 mile hike. The fact it was not far from home and seemed more relaxing than grueling–and a waterfall at the end. We jumped at the opportunity. It was a nice picturesque hike with a beautiful waterfall.
10. Minto Brown Park–Salem, Oregon. You have to explore the places close to you. Some people live in cities for years without venturing out to the beautiful green spaces only a few miles from where they live. My son and I went off roading biking at Minto Brown. It was a little harder than I suspected as my husband’s bike rides different than my road bike. Plus the path I chose was more stones and rocks versus dirt (I thought it was dirt–I didn’t remember it correctly). But we still had fun.
Then today my husband took the kids to Portland for the day. I did a 5 mile walk/hike starting at Fairmount Park, going through the woods, walking 1/4 mile along a busy road into Minto Brown, along a path at Minto Brown by the river, and then back to Fairmount. I still love to run and bike. However, I took a long break from it the last few weeks with hopes of starting when school begins. I found walking and hiking helps you breathe and experience nature around you. I guess it would be the equivalent of taking a rowboat out on the water versus a speed boat. I was able to stop and watch a blue heron along the marsh, sit on a bench for 20 minutes and read a book, pick a few blackberries, and enjoy the morning.
Being from the Midwest having once lived seven miles from the Lake Michigan lake shore, I crave the natural bodies of water. It was fun to discover a few this summer.
So even in a summer that might include more times of growth and challenges, we are still blessed. God’s handiwork is evident in all the beauty we experience and in His own work in our lives.