Lassen, July 2017

Yay Lassen! This was a long awaited part of our trip. Bunny’s birthday on the road!

In honor of Bunny’s birthday, and because we were so close to our former home, we made arrangements with a great group of friends to meet for the Fourth of July weekend.

We kicked it off right away, with an, as requested, Pokémon Birthday Party! Woot woot! There was much rejoicing.

We took it very easy at this park. A good part was still closed due to the massively wet winter. But we did manage a few hikes. The first half of the trip, the girls’ best friends were around, so we basically had a three day campground play date. No one minded this!

The kids enjoyed the shallow stream by the visitor center. They spent a bit of time considering the ice cold water.

Goose even spotted a bald eagle!

If you’re in this campground, scout around for the big logs in the back of the sites. They’re technically in shared land, so feel free to walk over. It’s a good idea to remind any kids where the site boundaries are. Most campers don’t appreciate kids running through their site.

The hikes we managed were Paradise Meadows and Crags Lake. Both are good little climbs, but certainly in range for our little hikers. Paradise Meadows is probably where I first fell in love with Lassen. Our last time out here, (September 2016),we found a gorgeous meadow cut by a thin, but deep, creek. Throughout the creek, little water flowers were blooming, and the whole scene, framed by high peaked mountains, just blew my mind. (Photos of flowers from September 2016)

This time, it was much earlier in the season, so the flowers hadn’t bloomed and the meadow was much wetter. I found some treasures, hidden in damp corners, and we even had a visit from a local deer. Moments like this always remind me, how every time you visit a park, it’s always going to be a different park when you come back.

Crags Lake, lives up to its name and finishes at a lake under an impressive craggy peak. It’s a popular trail, but we didn’t feel crowded. My parents did this hike separately from us, and they recommend starting it early. The climb will be much more comfortable in the morning. (We tend to hike mid-day, just for lifestyle and laziness.)

At the end of our stay, we had another friend come and visit. As it was my friend’s son’s first camping trip, we had to cover some basics.

We also did some sightseeing, we drove out to Burney Falls and made a quick stop at the Subway Cave. Burney Falls is a California State Park, just north of Lassen. It’s very popular, and it’s worth bearing the crowds. A very short, accessible (but steep) trail takes you to a great overlook of the Falls. This was all we did, but there are some hiking trails and historic sites in the park. Always good to leave something for next time!

Next up, Subway Cave! As with most caves in the area, this is a lava tube! The tubes are formed from a river of lava. The outer surface of the flow cools faster and hardens. Over time, the walls melt and reform over and over, widening the tube. When the river runs dry, all that will be left is the tube. (When visiting caves, it’s always good to review “white nose syndrome,” a fungus that has devastated the world bat population. The caves in California and surrounding are free of the fungus, and would like to stay so. This cave is bat free, but it’s still good policy. Save the bats!)

We missed a lot of Lassen, it’s a wonderful, under-visited gem of Northern California. It has examples of all three types of volcanoes and some spectacular geothermal features. It has a short season, aim for early autumn, especially when after a wet winter.

Bend, OR – June 2017

We had heard a lot of good things about Bend, and were looking forward to our short stop here. We stayed outside of town, pretty close to the Newberry Volcanic National Monument. I hadn’t even realized there was a park here until we drove past it. There was also a museum, which was highly recommended by friends and reviewers. We only had one day to explore, so we had to pick one – we picked Newberry.

Newberry Volcanic National Monument is home to an assortment of Volcanic goodies. There are cinder cones, lake filled calderas, and the longest lava tube in the US. We took a short walk into the lava tube, and then took a drive through the Monument.

The Newberry Caldera was formed when the magma chamber emptied and the top of the volcano collapsed. Over time, Lake Paulina and East Lake formed inside the Caldera. We stopped at Paulina Falls for lunch. (Bonus, there’s a Pokémon Gym here!). It wasn’t crowded at all and completely accessible. Great views for little work.

I was particularly interested in The Big Obsidian Flow. I imagined it would be big and have lots of obsidian. I was right! The trail is a short, but steep in places, that tours you through a tiny corner of the flow. It’s something to avoid on a hot day. The big hunks of obsidian were a treat and the views from the flow are quite nice too.

We spent our evening walking around town. We hit up 10 Barrel Brewing for some afternoon beer and killer nachos. I fully recommend.

We walked off the food by hitting up some Pokéstops in Bend. We poked our head in a few galleries and bookstores as well.

We could spend a good week here, and hopefully it will show up on our itinerary for next year.

Mount St Helens-June 2017

I had almost forgot! Before we got to Cascade Locks, we camped in Chehalis, WA. It’s pretty close to Rainier and St Helens. We chose St Helens.

We were camped at the Thousand Trails in the area, which was quite nice. They had a good playground, and there were quite a few friends to play with.

For the trip to St Helens, we couldn’t have asked for a better day. The air was clear, the weather was pleasant and the location? Well it doesn’t get much better.

We took a hike from the visitor center, it was easy enough. Started off downhill, meandered a bit, and had great views of the volcano.

We lucked out with flowers. They were jaw dropping! I took about a thousand pictures of the impressive fields, I’ll only share a few.

Coming back, I would definitely time my trip for the spring. The views are amazing, but with the added flowers? Breathtaking!

Cascade Locks, OR – June 2017

Super behind here! Bear with me as I catch up.

After the North Cascades, we started to make our way south. We spent a few days with friends in and around Cascade Locks, which is town less than an hour inland from Portland.

We did grab one hike in the area. We walked out to Dry Falls, an easy hike filled with wild flowers and beautiful forests, with a grand finale at a dramatic falls.

My roommate from college is in Portland and she came out with her daughter to experience the Jolly lifestyle. We were at the KOA in town, so thankfully, there was a pool and playground. Needless to say we made great use of both.

Our other friends live out in the Dalles, which is less than an hour in the other direction. Bear had some errands to run, so for the first part of the day, our friends treated us to some local food experiences! First stop, to gather our strength, was insane soft serve cones. Seriously, the ice cream was the size of my kids head! I’m no fan of soft serve, but I am a fan of curly fries, so I enjoyed the meal too! We then took a drive through the Fruit Loop, which is a pretty route through the local fruit growing region. We got our fruit, met some alpacas, and ate some delicious cookies. I even picked up a few pies for my husband. Like all Bears, he loves pie.

After all that fun, we met up with Bear in The Dalles and spent some time at their library. They had a really nice kids section, complete with whatever these are!

My friend owns a shop in town and works at the local tap house, Route 30 Bottles and Brews. The steampunk design was really neat, and we enjoyed chatting with some locals over a few beers!

The stay here was short, and wonderful. It was the first time in awhile that we got to spend time with people we weren’t meeting for the first time.