Our family has this challenging goal of visiting all fifty states as a family of four. For the past few months, we have been enjoying the gorgeous state of California where we have been working as camp hosts in various state parks. We have had the pleasure of seeing the towering Redwoods and enjoying the beauty of the Bay Area. But, we all get the itch to get on the road even with so much to explore in California.
Let’s Make Some Progress
A couple of weeks ago, Mike mentioned the idea of traveling to a new state while his school had a brief break. “Why don’t we head to Oregon?” Now, there are a couple of reasons that we jumped at the idea of adding Oregon to our “done” list of states. One, it was only a five and a half hour drive north. Two, if you have a veteran pass, camping in Oregon is free up to ten days in a month. Three, after living in an urban state park for four months, we were missing mountains and forests. So, Mike and Jensen scoured the Oregon state park website and found a state park that would meet our wanderlust needs. Jensen also added the wish to be able to swim in a lake. Now, of course, after we made the reservation with the state park, fires engulfed parts of NorCal and Southern Oregon. We didn’t change our plans; we go with the flow, after all. Our on way North, we drove past acres of scorched California land. We saw homes destroyed by the flames and homes that were miraculously intact while the land around them was charred. We saw “Thank you Firefighters” signs large and small, covering bridges over the interstate and draped over barns that were saved from the flames. It was a sight I will never forget.
Along the Way
Our journey on road trips always brings surprises. It took me a few trips to be okay with that. I am a planner, and “just winging it” drives me crazy. But I’ve learned to stop stressing, that we will find a gas station that has diesel, and that everything will be okay in the end. Often, we set a destination and just “go with the flow” along the way. That was the case with our adventure to Oregon. By chance, we ate at the original Black Bear Diner; we almost ran out of diesel as the fuel stations did not have the clearance for our rig to fit under them. (yes, if necessary, we would have unhooked the rig and fueled the truck separate.) But, two exits up was the hub of semi truck friendly stations, oddly enough in “Weed”, California. (Yep, real name) We didn’t know at the time that we were right beside the gorgeous volcano, Mount Shasta. When we were fueling up, we were surrounded by thick smoke from nearby fires.
We arrived at the Joseph H. Stewart State Recreation with plenty of daylight left to set up camp with ease. Mike found a great site that had plenty of room for both our rig and tow vehicle. We quickly unpacked the bikes, and our kids took off to explore. The campground had a nice fenced in area for Buttons and Chocolate to run around and go to the bathroom. (This seems rare in state parks; our pups enjoyed it.) Mike and I walked the dogs around the whole campground which had four loops, each with its own camp host. The trees here were unique in that the branches grew all the way to the ground. They looked like giant Christmas trees to us. Although, trees will never be the same to us after having lived beneath Redwood giants for months.
Our campsite had electric and water hookups and a dump station was provided. The electric service was 30amp just like most state parks (we have an adapter for our 50amp cord/plug). We are able to run one a/c unit on that and most of the appliances we need. On our fourth day at the park, we did load up everything and use the dump station. We planned it when we arrived, and we monitored water usage during those days. Unfortunately, we were under a burn ban for the first few days of our visit which is not ideal for a true camping experience. What?! No camp fire and s’mores? Yes, we were a little disappointed, but the smoke rolling in every morning reminded us that missing out on a campfire wasn’t so bad. As the smoke would clear out by late morning, the rest of the day was usually clear.
Our experience of making progress on our goal of visiting all fifty states was quite wonderful. It was full of memories and problems to solve. It also included two delicious meals at Miguel’s Mexican Restaurant in Shady Cove, OR a few miles south of the state park and an awesome day on a rented boat which we will describe in another blog post.