Thursday 5/9-got out the door at 7:10 am for our 11 hour drive today. This is a record in one day for us. We drove to Bonneville salt flats and got out, tasted the salt, admired the crystals, drove on it a bit and then headed on our way. Later we stopped for lunch at KFC, then in Reno we stopped at a planetarium. It was $2/person for the exhibits. Worth it as we learned and had fun. A little later we stopped at Denny's near Sacramento for dinner and then drove The remaining 1.5 hours to our hotel. We're staying at Super 8 Vallejo/Napa valley. The kids did fantastic including Rachel. I was really surprised and feel really blessed. We filled time in the car with looking out the window, coloring, reading, sleeping, 2 movies, music and I listened to my audiobook (I'm listening to "Legend" which has been so good!). We ended up buying tickets to six flags for tomorrow here at the hotel because they were cheaper than we could find online.
Saturday 5/11-We packed up, had breakfast and headed to the Exploatorium which was a 30 minute drive in the wrong direction but it sounded like a lot of fun so we went for it. Very expensive at $30/adult and $20/child over 2 and parking was another $20. It was the coolest science museum we've ever been to though by far. We kept having to add more and more time to parking (luckily we could do that from our phone) because after 4 hours we couldn't leave- there was still way too much to explore. Tons of different sections with different themes for example light, sounds, color, nature and the list goes on. We had a really great time here. Then we drove to the golden gate bridge which was really cool although I wish we had time to walk across it rather than drive. We grabbed dinner and headed on our 6 hour drive to Crecent City over by the Redwoods. We're staying at Westward Inn for the next two nights. We're got in just past 11 pm.
Sunday 5/12- Breakfast and then church in Crecent City. They were really nice and I got a cookie and rose (which I gave away so it wouldn't die 😊) for mother's day. Our first stop was Walker's way/Jedidiah State Park which is part of Redwood National and State Parks. It was SO incredible! So many trees to climb on, slide down and admire them. Ginormous! I had no idea how cool it would be to be among them. The kids were in Heaven!! We also found a couple banana slugs which were neat. Then we stopped to have a picnic along Walker's way next to a river. We headed to Hiouchi visitors center and they were helpful in giving us suggestions. We went to Stout Grove and Howland Hill which was a .5 mile loop which was awesome. It was filled with a large concentration of the redwood trees which we found out it's because the address floods a lot weeding out the other trees. The kids found a few trees that were good for sliding which were a lot of fun and of course the climbing opportunities were fantastic. Driving through them was also neat. Then we drove to the beach in Crecent City and the kids built sand castles and got really muddy. We came back to the hotel and showered, ate cup o noodles and popcorn for dinner 😁 and watched cast away on TV. Westward Inn has been decent. We like the room, but they forgot to clean it ... So that was a bummer. Breakfast was decent but a very small eating area. Would we stay here again? Probably.
Monday 5/13-After eating breakfast and packing up we headed to "Trees of Mystery". It costed $56 for our family with Caden and Rachel being free. We're glad we did it. At the entrance there's a GIANT Paul Bundee and ox. They had a bunch of unique trees like "Big Tree", the "Cathedral of Trees" where people get married, "Infernal Tree" where the inside burned from lightening and the outside stayed, "octopus tree" etc. Really really cool. They had a 7 minute gondola tire that's included where you go through the treeline to the treetops. That was fun too. Then they have a big section (little hike) through carved Redwood trees that tell stories of Paul Bundee and speakers that tell the stories that the carved pictures tell. Then at the end you can sample fudge. After we finished we headed to "Big Tree Wayside" and did a hike there. There were a big concentration of BIG trees here that were really cool, then on the way back up North we did "High Bluff Overlook" where we saw seals from a distance, went to "Klamath River Overlook" which was an amazing overlook where we saw at least 7 WHALES including a Mom and baby!! Best seen with our binoculars or through my camera lens but really neat to see!, Then we drove further north into OREGON, grabbed fast dinner and onto Samuel H. Boardman Scenic cooridor. There's lots of stops along the cooridor. We really liked "Natural Bridges". We made it to our hotel in Bandon, "Best Western At Face Rock" and we went swimming and hot tubbing after getting settled in.
Tuesday 5/14- breakfast was phenomenal. Probably the best hotel breakfast we've had. There was a host anticipating our needs, they had biscuits and gravy, sausage, pancakes, eggs, waffles, toppings, oatmeal, cereal, about 10 kinds of yogurt, fruit cups, muffins etc. Best of all it was a large room with plenty of seating and a fireplace. Really impressed. After breakfast we started with going to "Face Rock Point" which was really cool but also freezing, it was rainy and windy. After that we went to "Coquille River Lighthouse". It was an ok lighthouse. We decided to brave the cold, windy reason and go down to the beach here and lol for cool rocks. Although really cold it was cool as they had a ton of rocks along the beach. Then we went to "Old Town Bandon", looked through the toy shop, had lunch at "Bandon Fish n Chips" where they had large portions. Darrin and Parker had Cod Fish, and the rest of us had corn dog/chicken strips. It was really good. After lunch we went to "Cranberry's Sweets". They had tons of free samples there all around the store. It was pretty incredible. Don't think anyone could go to Bandon without going there. By this time the rain finally stopped! I'm so grateful! Low tide was at 3:21 and it was almost 2 so we decided to start tide pooling. We went to Coquille Point. It was INCREDIBLE!! Everything I'd imagined Oregon to be! We saw countless starfish that were purple, red and orange. We also saw tons of seals including babies even seeing them nurse not far away. It was so neat! And we saw really cool sea anemone that was bright green in the water and looked like a blubbery closed up blob out of the water and also saw tons and tons of Muscles. It was blue skies for the most part too. Cold wind but doable. After here we went to the hotel and walked to the hotels beach access which was a 3 minute walk away. No more tide pools here but the sand was SUPER soft at the beach. Darrin slept in the sand while Caden and Spencer burried themselves in the sand and made a sand slide, Parker dug a hole the whole time and Rachel was rock collecting with me and digging. Then we came back to the hotel and went swimming/hot tubbing. After that we got dinner at "Wilson's Market" where they smoke their meat and make nachos, burritos and tacos with it. It was good and huge portions. We brought it back to the hotel to eat and then watched a little TV before bed. What a great day when I was worried about it because of the rain. Would we stay at this hotel again? ABSOLUTELY. We did get a great deal on it using snaptravel which we've never used before and really liked it.
Wednesday 5/15 after packing and breakfast we made our way towards Waldport where our rental was. It was rainy day all day long which was a bummer but we made the most of it. The first stop along the route was "McCollough memorial Bridge" (drove through), then "Umpqua lighthouse" which we decided to take a tour of and we're glad we did. It was $8/adults and $4/kids 5+. It included the museum and a tour of the lighthouse itself even climbing to the top where the light is which is still in use! It was beautiful and really cool to see and hear all about it. "Oregon dunes" was the next stop which was really cool to see sand dunes among a forest of trees with the ocean near by. It was raining still so we just got out at a lookout for a minute. Next was "Suislaw River Bridge" (drive through-really cool) . "Darlingtonia State Park" was up next which is a little walk where you can go see "Cobra Lilly's" which are insect eating plants. There were tons of them. Really neat quick stop. Next was "Sea Lion Caves" where they have the largest seacave in the world and it's filled with Sea Lions! It was $44/total for our family. We weren't sure if it'd be worth it but it was. We saw SO many sea lions not only in the cave but on the shorelines leading up to the elevators that take you down to the cave. They had a really nice set up in the cave to view the sea lions in their natural cave without disturbing them. They also had two skeletons of sea lions one dating back before 1880 when the cave was found! Another amazing part about this stop was that we saw SO MANY WHALES on the path right by the elevators. Mom's and baby's too. If I had to guess how many we saw I'd say 25? So much fun to watch it was hard to leave. Just just kept popping up. Lastly, we drove to Waldport to our rental called "A Little Bit of Heaven". Holy smokes this place is incredible. Ellie and Kelly are the owners and they greeted us (turns out they have kids going to BYU and they're LDS) and gave us a tour around the place. Their attention to detail and extras is amazing. Fresh baked cookies for us, robes for all of us including for Rachel, complimentary foods like English muffins and jam, hot chocolate, herbal tea, popcorn, oatmeal, bottled water etc the list goes on. And the way she's decorated the place is so neat like your in the clouds. Everything is clean and neat. They also gave countless recommendations for places near by, have beach toys, chairs, fire pit etc. The property also has kayak's and a bay when at full tide you can go out kayaking! We went to the grocery store near by and then came back to have dinner and watch a DVD which were provided. What a great day!
Thursday 5/16 we chilled this morning at this cozy place with the provided games and toys. Darrin and I worked on a game plan for the next few days. At high tide, around 10:30, we went out in the kayak's. She told us sometimes you see seals. Parker and Spencer had their own kayak's and the rest of us were in one. We paddled out quite a ways and then we started to see a few seals from a distance but could tell they were seals. So fun! We saw tons of fish jumping out of the water and smallish crabs along the floor-tons of them. The sun was out and the weather was PERFECT to see everything in the clear, glassy water. Then we saw a bank with about 15 seals on it! We headed that direction and a lot of the seals were so curious and kept popping their heads up all around us including a few sets of babies and mom's. You could totally tell they were curious. We just sat there for the longest time saying "there's another one! Look how close! Look at that baby! Another one!" I was so sad I didn't bring my camera in fear of it getting wet. We went in after bring out for about an hour and a half. Rachel slept half the time but woke up just in time to see all the seals and she loved it too. As we got back I asked Ellie how much time was left before low tide and they said a good hour so Parker and I went back out with my camera to see if I could catch any of it. We did! It was so much fun to go back out and see more and have some one on one time with Parker. Pure magic out there! And did I mention we had the whole Bay to ourselves both times?! Serenity at it's finest. We had lunch, and then headed out to "seal rock" for tide pooling. It was beautiful there. Perfect sand for sand castles and a gorgeous setting. We didn't see any seals on seal rock but way down the way we saw a handful on a small rock. The tide pools were just ok but we couldn't complain! We probably spent 3 hours here playing. Then we came back for dinner, laundry and a movie.
Friday 5/16 we got an early start to gave time for crabbing today at high tide in Newport Oregon. Sad to leave "A Little bit of Heaven" it was a great stay there! We rented crabbing gear from "Harry's Bait & Tackle". It was $26 total for everything we needed after getting our $30 deposit back after returning the trap. That included a $19 fishing license for Darrin that's good for 3 days. We were totally new to crabbing but wanted to do it per recommendation of our brother and sis in law who did it. It was pretty simple to do. Tie the bait (a chunk of mink meat in our case) to the center of the trap, throw it in off the pier, wait for about 10 minutes and pull it up quickly. We caught both "Red Rock Crab" (a lot more common) and "Dungeness Crab" (bigger but less common and more restrictions). There Red Rock crabs you could keep any of, the Dungeness had to be a certain size and only males-the rest had to be put back. We kept 11 total all of which were Red Rock crabs. We caught more than that but decided to put many back because they were too small. We caught two Dungeness but one was female and one was a bit too small. They taste the same just one is more meaty. We probably spent 4 hours crabbing and it was pretty exciting and fun! The boys all got into holding them and putting them in the bucket and every time pulling up the trap was intense 😁. After we were finished we took our Crab to "South Beach Fish Market" and they cooked them for us at $0.50/crab and even gave us tools to eat them with and melted butter. I will say I enjoyed catching them a lot better than preparing them to eat. It was a lot of work and a lot of cracking. We literally were watching YouTube videos of how to get the meat out right there at the eating establishment 😁. And it was messy. And the kids were impatient. Parker was really into it though and Spencer and Caden enjoyed playing with the dead crabs 😂. I'm was pretty embarrassing though. Lessons learned: only keep the really big ones, have alternate for for kids that can't wait to eat while their parents and cracking away/slaving away getting crab meat for them, and know how to prepare them BEFORE going. I will say I don't even like seafood. In fact I hate it. But I promised I'd try it, I did, and it was actually quite good. Darrin and the kids loved the taste. .After our crabbing adventure we went to "Devil's Punch Bowl" in Otter Rock which was really neat and a great stop. It was low tide so we got to see three arches and two sea caves which were fun to explore. We drove to our one night hotel, "The Waves of Newport", had dinner, and went swimming/hot tubbing/they even have a sauna. Then we watched TV for a while and crashed. The hotel is not the nicest (really outdated) although the pool area was really nice. Would we stay here again? Maybe...
5.18.19 we got a slow start to our day on purpose and it was great! After breakfast/loading up, we left the hotel at around 10. We went to "Devil's Punch Bowl" again to see it at a little higher tide which was so beautiful! We also saw a few surfers which was fun. We headed to Depoe Bay, and went to the "whaling center" which ended up being across the street from our whale watching tour. It was free and they had a cool little whale watching museum and observation areas to whale watch where we saw a few whales. They had whale bones, barnacles, helpful volunteers and even coloring stuff for the kids. Then we checked in for our whale watching tour with "Tradewinds". The ocean was SUPER choppy which was hard for sea sickness for me and Spencer. But we made survived to tell the tale 😁. The kids actually really liked the choppy ride. We saw whales pop up about 7 times unfortunately fairly far out but it was still a lot of fun. Darrin did see one that was close enough he saw it's eye but unfortunately I didn't see that one. They were really close to rocky shores that the boys couldn't go and the water was splashing against the rocky shores making it hard to see them and their spouts. It was an hour tour that we paid $60 for our family. We were still glad we did it even though it wasn't all glamorous. We did see a little baby seal and mother when coming back in which was adorable. We picked up fast food and started making our way to Portland area. On our way to Tillamook we stopped at an incredible look out "3 capes" which was the ocean connecting to a bay and a peninsula. So gorgeous. We stopped at "Blue Heron French cheese company" which was fun. They had some free samples and a free petting zoo which was good. It's only 2 minutes from "Tillamook Cheese Factory"! Then we headed to the Tillamook factory and took our self guided tour which included learning about the company's history, about how cheese is made seeing the factory workers work and the cheese being made/packaged. There were samples too. Then we bought a half gallon of monster cookie ice cream which was delicious. After this we made the rest of the drive to Portland. When we got to our hotel in Portland at about 9pm (Day's Inn) we saw a ton of homeless people literally right outside the hotel fence which was scetchy but when checking in the guy asked how many we had, I told him and he rudely said he'll cancel our reservation and we can't stay there with that many people. It was really frustrating. I asked what he suggested I do and he said, I suggest you find an establishment willing to take that many people." I went back to the car and started calling other hotels. Another told us no, another told us they were full and another said they'd check if it'd be ok with 6 people. Parker turned to be and said, “Mom, did we find a hotel yet? I just prayed to ask for help finding one”. The person on the phone then told us we had too many people. Darrin thought to ask to speak to the front desk (he had been talking to their call center) and he convinced them that we could stay!!! I know it was because of Parker's prayer and faith! I'm so grateful for his example! Stop really frustrating to be hotel searching and kept being turned away though. So we wended up at Super 8.
5.19.19 after having breakfast (one of the least impressive we've had) we went to church 4 minutes away. Then we made our way to Boise and took I-84 with the Columbia River Highway which was a GORGEOUS drive! We stopped at "Wahkeena Falls" which was 0.5 miles paved and a pretty waterfall. Then we stopped at Multnomah Falls which was really crowded but worth the stop for sure. There was a bridge in between two waterfalls you could stand on and it was a really tall one. We had a picnic at a table along the highway too. We also had our Come Follow Me lesson in the car. It was a great discussion about The Family: a Proclamation to the World. Then Darrin drive the next 5 hours straight to Cottonwood Suites Riverside in Boise, Idaho. The room had a sliding door leading to a parkway and river which was cool. We had EZmac and cup-o-noodles for dinner and watched some TV.
5.20.19 breakfast was really good at the hotel. We'd stay there again for sure. We swam at the pool and hot tub after breakfast which was really nice, and then packed up and checked out. We spend some time at "Freak Alley Gallery" in Boise which was pretty awesome graffiti/artwork down several alleys. We went to "Old Idaho State Penitentiary" next and did a self guided tour. It was $6 for adults and $3 6+. So cool!! Lots of stories of break outs, riots, about the prisoners, seeing contraband they found in the yard or on prisoners, seeing all the different buildings with Max security, "the dungeon" where they had to go if they did something wrong, the kitchen, the yard, the laundry room, the cells, max security, the women's Ward, death row and even where they hanged prisoners. It was so interesting and unique. We grabbed lunch and from there drove an hour and a half to get to "Shoshone Falls" in Twin Falls Idaho. It was 30 minutes out of the way but worth it-it was really impressive and beautiful. The kids also loved rolling down the big grassy hill. The remainder of the drive was 3.5 hours to get home.