Originally, we were just going to see Oregon. But when I realized how close Portland (where we were flying home) was to Washington, I knew we needed to add that state in, too. Mt. St. Helens seemed like the perfect addition - close to Oregon, and something Carl really wanted to see. But then I found Mount Rainier National Park. And I saw photos like these.
And I just knew that I HAD to find a way to make Mount Rainier happen. I had a hard time narrowing down this trip. As I've started plotting our 50 States travels, I was curious just how much ground we could cover on one day. This was a test, of sorts, because we would be changing locations almost every night. But since we had it condensed into only one week of travels, the potential for disaster was less than on other big trips.
I did my best to balance the things I really wanted to see and do, like Crater Lake, Cannon Beach and Multnomah Falls, with things I thought Carl would like (volcanoes) and things I thought the boys would want to do (renting ATVs for sand dunes). I think I came up with a pretty good mix. Frankly, I'd have liked another week so we could have slowed the driving down a bit, and to have been able to add in Seattle and Olympic National Park. But I decided I could save them for whenever we take a cruise to Alaska, so all was good.
Day 1: Willow Creek, California - Redwood National Park, California - Gold Beach, Oregon
Day 2: Gold Beach (jet boat Rogue River) - Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (ATV on sand dunes) - Roseburg
Day 3: Roseburg - Crater Lake National Park -Bend
Day 4: Bend -Mount Hood/Timberline Lodge - Hood River for Columbia River Gorge Valley and “Fruit Loop” for wineries, lavender farm, and fruit orchards
Day 5: Hood River - Multnomah Falls - Mount. St. Helens, Washington - Ashford
Day 6: Mount Rainier National Park
Day 7: Mount Rainier - Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, Oregon - Cannon Beach - Portland
Day 8: Portland - Austin
Every vacation, I learn something new about what works and doesn't work for us as a family. What doesn't work: long car drives for Carl. What does work? Flying somewhere and taking smaller roadtrips in a rental car. What doesn't work: big cities for little boys. What does work: a couple of hours at a historic location. And lots and lots of geocaches.
It's always an adventure. But that's what makes life fun and interesting.