Rivers, salmon, and marshmallows

On our second day of camping at Milo McIver State Park, we visited the Clackamas River Fish Hatchery, did some light hiking, and generally had fun exploring the forest and river bank.

The hatchery at Milo McIver releases nearly a million fish a year into the Clackamas River, to help boost the salmon and trout populations in Oregon for sport fishing as well as general population support for imperiled salmon population. There’s a dam at Milo McIver, so I imagine the hatchery was constructed to offset the damage that dams do to the salmon population. It’s totally open to the public, and we had fun looking at the baby, “teen-aged,” and adult salmon.

Then we went down to play on the bank of the Clackamas River a bit before lunchtime. Amelia and Baxter took off their shoes and clambered on the rocks. Neither got into the river after dipping a finger in, though. 🙂 We saw some crawdad shells and spotted an eagles’ nest (but no eagle).

While Baxter and Tom took a nap, Amelia and I whittled a bit and then did a little biking and hiking together, which was super-fun. Then the whole family played at the river for a little while longer; we saw a sign that the Second Tallest Yew Tree in the Nation was to be found, but there was no plaque/sign anywhere so we never were sure if we found it.

Finally, we went back to camp for a tasty dinner of grilled chicken and baked potatoes (in the crockpot!). Oh, and we spotted a salamander on our way back from a trip to the bathroom.  Then it was s’mores/marshmallows and bedtime.

This morning, it was COLD!!! The kids were bummed that we (unwisely) burned all the firewood on the previous night. But a tasty breakfast of eggs, bacon, and fried potatoes helped us all warm up.

Despite the cold (and Tom’s accidentally breaking his new iPhone screen), we had a really great time! Can’t wait to come back to Milo McIver next summer.

Milo McIver camp site

This is probably the worst-planned camping trip we’ve ever taken. We forgot to bring cups, we forgot to bring garbage bags, we forgot to bring lots of things. 


That said, the park is beautiful. The campsite are roomy and well-shaded. The canopy is lovely, we slept on a bed of pine needles last night (not literally), and the kids are having a great time exploring the forested area near the campsite. This is their “hideout.”

This morning we decided to drive into Estacada to get breakfast, and had a great meal at the Harvest Bakery. Donuts, bagels, fresh bread, and everything else was all delish, though slightly under-salted to my taste. 

There’s a salmon hatchery here, which we’re looking forward to exploring, and I’m sure that soon the relentless cycling around the camping loop will begin. I was worried it would be too cold or rainy but it’s been really pleasant so far. It’s always risky to camp this late in the season in Oregon, but I think this time we won. 

Tonight we’ll have baked potatoes (in the crockpot in the trailer! winning!) and grilled chicken and hopefully our neighbors will be quieter this evening. The only low point so far is that tom dropped his fairly-new iPhone and shattered the screen. 

Just booked the last camping trip of the season

The Clackamas River flowing through Milo McIver state park
Photo credit: FlickreviewR

At the end of the month we’ll be spending a few days at Milo McIver State Park to close out our sporadic summer of camping.

We had to cancel most of the week we had planned to spend camping along the coast due to Tom’s changing employers over the summer to a company that doesn’t offer PTO for the first three months of employment. Instead, we just made it a long weekend at Fort Stevens with the support of my dad and stepmom. Despite the short stay, we had a super-fun time, especially the kids, and so we want to get out there one more time before the cold and rain set in.

One of the things that tickled the kids the most was the opportunity to ride their bikes (Baxter on a scoot bike) around the camping loop, all on their own. They’d ride for an hour at a time, finally flopping down at the campsite in a happy, sweaty heap. They made friends with kids at other camp sites and one night even threaded glow sticks through their bike tires at sunset. If you knew how much my kids love glow sticks, your eyes would be widening at the pure unadulturated awesomeness of this fact, for them. 🙂 Seriously, it was nearly their favorite thing about that camping trip, which prominently figured THE BEACH.

Anyway, so now we’ll be camping with our bikes every time, thank you very much! And looking forward to enjoying the fall foliage at the Clackamas River later this month. Yay!

Happy happy beach time 

We found a stretch of beach we liked, actually in the mouth of the Columbia River, with a nice amount of wet and dry sand, plenty of wind, and not many people. The sun kept the wind from freezing us the death, and the great volume of wind made kite flying a serious occupation. Of course both kids got wet and sandy, but that’s why you go to the beach, right? 

We stopped off at a wildlife blind as well, on the other side of the peninsula — a mere 5m walk — and there was no wind at all. Amelia and I sat on a log near the gently lapping water and listened to the terns scream “give it BACK!” at each other as they flew overhead. Baxter collected “wheat” from the grass growing in the sand dunes, hoping to give it to Bob (of Bob’s Red Mill) so he could grind it into flour. 

Dinner was chicken sausages and Asian slaw; delish!

This morning we had a tasty egg and bacon breakfast, and then the kids rode bikes while the adults packed up. We spent another hour or so on the sand before we drove home to Portland.  


Camping at Fort Stevens

We made friends with our campsite chipmunk, whom we named Pouncy! We saw the wreck of the Peter Iredale, which is over 100 years old. Supper was grilled salmon, pesto noodles, and corn salad. This morning the kids have enjoyed biking in their PJs while Tom made pancakes. We let Grandma and Grandpa sleep in until 8am, which was not easy.  








Camping vignettes: Friday


campfire dress rehearsal
the child loves throwing sand
head down
“Amelia!” “What?”
how to best spend a friday afternoon
chillaxing by the fire
weenie roast
Tom’s serious about camping
roasting marshmallows
is it done?
glowstick party in the trailer!
baby rave

We booked our camp sites!

Yep, that’s right — we’re headed to the Oregon Coast in August for 6 nights of camping! Two nights at Fort Stevens, 2 nights at Nehalem State Park, and 2 nights at Beverly Beach. We thought about hitting Champoeg on the way back to Portland, but with two little kids in tow, I’m fairly sure we’re going to run out of clean clothes on Wednesday. 😉  Pickings are a little slim, but all the good sites are NOT booked up 100% yet, shew!

Now we can plan more carefully what we want to do when we’re not on the beach — which will probably not be a lot of the time, unless the weather is just stinking. Currently I’m pretty excited about historical reenactors at Fort Clatsop. Looking forward to getting my Lewis and Clark on this summer! Maybe I’ll start researching lighthouses too, otherwise known as the “how far up the narrow stairs will Amelia start whining that her legs are tired” game. 

We were going to do Tillicum instead of Beverly Beach near Newport, but realized just in time that it had no showers. For days 5 & 6 of camping on the coast, I think I require hot showers. We’ll see about the kids. 😉 We camped at a Beverly Beach when Baxter was quite little (just for one night), and we really liked how forested it was, so close to the beach.  Our campsite this year is right next to the playground, yay!

In Newport we plan to see the aquarium at least, and we may or may not see the Sea Lion Caves. My dad says it’s not worth it, but we’ll see. Maybe we’ll go super touristy, maybe we’ll stay on the sand every moment possible. Speaking of, should I get Tom a wetsuit?