A couple of hours after leaving Ruby Beach, we arrived at the only place to stay in Lake Quinault, at the bottom of Olympic National Park. Alas, they didn’t have our reservation. No problem; we just kept driving and found a Travelodge that could accommodate all of us just north of the Washington-Oregon border. The next day, we got up and decided that rather than driving back to Olympic National Park, we would just head towards Portland and see what came our way. Soon, we kept seeing this mountain in the distance. I’ll admit we had to stop and ask what mountain it was. Turned out to be Mount St. Helen’s… and it was only 80 miles out of our way! A quick Google search revealed a super cool hike – through a lave tube, deep under the ground. Ape Cave Trail was formed by lava that remained flowing underneath Mount St. Helen’s, insulated by the lava on top that had already cooled and hardened.
It was COLD – 42 degrees, with breezes. We were underprepared.
After we came out of the cave, we took a pretty, sunny little hike up to a nice view of Mount St. Helen’s. I took more pics like the first one, but… yawn. They kind of all looked similar.
The next day, we went to visit the VERY popular Multnomah Falls.
Eh. Too many people. Fortunately, there were 5 other falls connected by both trails and a road to Multnomah. They were far, far fewer people at these falls, and we had the opportunity to walk down and around them, to be drenched in their mist, and to throw rocks into their churning waters.
One of my favorite pictures of the entire trip. Marcus is so, so tiny compared to the falls. Everything in his posture and body language expresses the awe that we felt. There were water droplets all over my lens because the mist coming off the falls were so heavy. It may not be a great photo – i would never know because I’m so emotionally attached to it. When I see this, I can hear the roar of the falls and remember how badly I was slipping on the wet rocks to get this shot.
I don’t have a great shot of this wall that we hiked by (on a tiny, skinny ledge) because I was letting Marcus use my camera for a while. It was… weeping. We could see the bigger drops, but it wasn’t until we got closer that we realized there was a curtain of tiny drops coming off the wall.
Later that evening, we ate an AMAZING dinner at the best food truck in the world, and arrived at our lodging at our earliest time yet. The plan was to play in the pool and then maybe read some Harry Potter out loud. That was foiled when Jack cracked his head on the edge of the pool, requiring 8 stitches. He was an absolute trooper about the pain and took total responsibility for the wound care. The bitterest pill was that he had to hang out with me and the little kids the next day while John and Marcus rode ATV’s all over the Oregon Dunes.
We did take a short hike to the dunes after collecting Marcus and John from the rental outfit.
They were breathtaking. It was absolutely exhilarating to stand in their presence… and when the wind started blowing the sand against us… just incredible. A sense of smallness and powerlessness and awe equal to being in an ocean.
I love this photo where Marcus turned around and ran back to Nicholas, who was completely overwhelmed.
Most definitely PRE-“sandstorm”.
Having a contest to see who could jump the farthest off.
See the bandage from his fresh cut/stitches? He looked like the English Patient as he climbed all over the dunes.
And purposely rolled down.
Next: Crater Lake.
First, it was surrounded by this beautiful desert.
Second: snow everywhere. Roads were still closed down for snow!! In mid-July!!
We took the very, very steep path down to the only place in Crater Lake where you can go into the water.
I was just one switchback higher than John and Joshua here – we were truly going down a cliff. Most people know I’m a pretty relaxed mom when it comes to this type of stuff – I let them test their physical boundaries as far as they choose to do so. But this cliff really bothered me.
The water was pretty cold (see the snow in the background), but so was all the water on our trip. This definitely was not the worst. I spent a lot of time in it because I knew we had the sunny, dusty hike back up and I wanted to be as cool and wet as possible to start!!
As we drove away, we came across a few snowbanks. We couldn’t say no to running barefoot in the snow in July!
Next… California. It was shockingly breathtaking. I can’t wait to share photos – you’ll truly think I edited them to look the way they did. I didn’t.