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Out with the Kids: Into the Woods

I can’t believe it’s almost the weekend again! I got so much accomplished last weekend, including spray painting some kid furniture, organizing my craft drawers and purging a ton of stuff. For whatever reason I was highly motivated, and hope that some of that motivation will carry over into this weekend as well. We also had a day of fun family adventure, too! David decided we’d take the kids fishing, and despite the cold Pacific Northwest weather, that is what we did!

It isn’t always easy taking kids this young somewhere this remote. In fact, sometimes it is really hard. You can’t let them out of your sight for a minute. But it’s always worth it. The kids see and find all kinds of things, and I want them to have these experiences in nature, with no house for miles and miles. Of course, I would never take them out this far by myself, but with two parents (or people) its fine. It does take a bit of planning though.

For us, planning usually falls into three categories:

1. Food & Snacks.
2. Entertainment
3. Clothing & Gear

Food & Snacks are a given, especially on long trips. It is so much cheaper to bring food, and often the next town is too far away to bother. Also, snacks can work wonders on long car rides, so they really double as entertainment.

While we try to have the kids just look out the windows and talk about what we see (including songs, i spy, etc), sometimes its easier after a while to just hand Chloe her ipad and headphones. At twenty-months, Leo is a pretty good traveler. Sometimes he’ll nap or be content to snack on something. When that doesn’t work we’ll hand him back various toys (cars, little animals, small board books) and as a last resort sometimes we’ll hand him an iphone. Unfortunately, he isn’t into shows like Chloe is, but he has a few apps that interest him right now like Peekaboo Wild, Where’s Gumbo, Wheels on the Bus and Itsy Bitsy Spider (the two latter by Duck Duck Moose). When we get where we’re going there always seems to be plenty to do – in this case, collecting rocks, seeing waterfalls, and discussing how a beaver gnaws down trees with his teeth to make his home.

Lastly there is Clothing & Gear. If there is mud, the kids will fall in it. If there is water, the kids will splash in it. That is life. I know this and always bring a full change of clothes and shoes. One thing I always make sure the kids have is quality long-underwear, usually purchased on deep discount from REI outlet. Chloe’s old ones get handed down to Leo (which is why his current bottoms are pink, but now I am buying them in neutral colors). Diapers and wipes are also necessities. Gear depends on where we go, but I always bring our becco baby carrier and sometimes we’ll bring our Kelty backpack carrier as well. For this trip, David also brought our pop-up shelter, which works as a “base” and makes a nice covered place to share a meal or hang out.

Like I mentioned earlier, it isn’t always easy. But easy isn’t always as meaningful, either, is it? So the kids get dirty and wet and I let them, knowing we’re prepared to clean them up once we get back to the car. We also try and listen and let the kids tell us when they’ve had enough. If they are too cold or uncomfortable, then no fun will be had and that isn’t the point.

And then we arrive back home to our cozy house and warm beds and all is right with the world…

 


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Rain forest, detail

I was looking through our recent Lake Quinault camping photos again and noticed that I didn’t include any of the detail shots. It’s easy to be bowled over by the big picture (so green! giant trees! lots of rain!), but a lot of what makes the rain forest such a special place are the little things – the carpets of clover, the furry mosses, the delicate unfurling of a fern frond – all those tiny lives being forged out of the clouds and mist. It’s amazing. I think its worth a second look, don’t you?


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Camping at Lake Quinault, Olympic National Forest

I hope everyone had a happy Memorial Day weekend!

We decided to go on a rare camping trip to the Lake Quinault area of the Olympic National Forest. It was cloudy, wet, and very cold (Hello! Rain forest!), but we did enjoy a brief break when the sun made an appearance on the second evening. I was finally able to pull out my camera and once I started I could hardly stop taking pictures. Everything was just so verdant and sparkling.

We pitched our tent in a beautiful spot, surrounded by lush vegetation and old-growth trees, right beside the lake. With Chloe in her framed backpack carrier, we explored the nearby rainforest trails, including one leading to the largest Sitka spruce in the world. The Lake Quinault Lodge was also picturesque and charming with it’s rough, weathered facade and stately presence.

Overall, the weather proved to be our biggest challenge, and sadly, our air mattress sprung a leak the very first night. We had bought a new REI Kingdom 4 “family” tent on sale just a few days earlier, and although roomy, it had a poorly designed fly that didn’t keep out the rain. Luckily David played it safe and packed our old Mountain Hardware tent, too, which was much more suited to the wet and cold environment.

I think I was the one who enjoyed our trip the most. Chloe wasn’t thrilled about the long car ride, or sleeping in her coat, but she did remarkably well and had a good time. I’m also proud to say we packed everything we needed, including food for delicious and easy camp-friendly meals. Our last night we enjoyed a special dinner at the Salmon House Restaurant in the Rainforest Resort Village while we watched the sun go down behind the mountains. It was a moment of perfection for me. I can’t wait until next time (when hopefully it will be just a little bit warmer!)

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