Photo of Middle Lewis River Falls located in Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Lewis River Lower Falls, A 5+ Star Campground!!

What Makes Lower Falls a 5 Star Campground?

Everything!!!  I’m a member of Campendium, a site where parks are reviewed and rated on a 1-5 star basis.  My goal is to eventually go full-time RVing, and I’ve found their site to be quite helpful.  A few posts back I lamented that my beach house doesn’t fit into the tent section at Millersylvania State Park. Lower Falls Campground is the answer!  The campground has everything I could have asked for!  Well, except for a lake to go kayaking on, but I’ll take this park any day.  It is a gorgeous, green, lush campground that RVs can fit into.  The sites are huge and spaced far apart giving families the privacy they seek in a camping experience.  Campers actually feel like they’re out in the woods.  Children have plenty of space to play and won’t be quite as tempted to cross into other’s sites.  The trails are easily accessible from the campground and hikers can be down at the river to view the beautiful waterfalls in a short time.

Trailer Access

The campground was easy to drive to, however, the National Forest Service website does warn that it might be difficult for trailers to get through a short section of gravel road and that you drive at your own risk.  I called the forest service the day before to confirm the warning was still in effect and to determine whether or not we should go.  The lady I spoke to said it should be okay if we drive slow.  The mile long section of road is passible, but slow going is definitely the key.  Fortunately I drove it very late at night and couldn’t see what I was driving over.  It didn’t look so bad then!  Driving out I put the truck in 4 wheel drive; probably didn’t need it, but it made me feel better.  The other obstacle while towing a trailer is dodging the overgrown trees, even on the paved roads.  I hit a few branches on the way in, but didn’t damage anything.  On the way out I drove down the center of the road as much as possible to avoid them.

The road doesn’t look so bad in the video, but Amber’s having a difficult time holding the camera still due to the road conditions.

Trails & Waterfalls

The crown jewels of this park are the waterfalls!  They are photographic heaven!!  The only thing I didn’t bring were the right shoes to stand in the middle of the river to photograph the lower falls.  It wasn’t possible to stand in the river at the middle falls, and I didn’t see a way, other than swimming, to get across the river to put myself at a better angle for those images.  There must be some other way across, but that will have to wait for another day.  Most of the trails we hiked were easily accessible with great views of the falls and several points to stop and enjoy the surrounding areas.

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Woman kayaking on the Columbia River

Kayaking on the Columbia

We’ve been on vacation for a couple weeks and didn’t have access to internet for much of that time, so I haven’t posted in a while.  I’ll begin with our weekend in Irrigon and follow up with some posts about our California trip.

Boondocking on Farmland

We experienced the most awesome weekend in Irrigon visiting with my cousin Laurie and her family! Irrigon, as with most of the surrounding area, is largely farmland, and the beach house was parked just outside Laurie’s property with a view of horses out our front door.  Country noises of farm animals and frogs were a welcome change to the city’s sirens and constant traffic.  I think we saw only a couple cars drive by the entire weekend!  What more could anyone ask for in a boondocking spot?

Photo Shoot

The main purpose of our excursion was to deliver a Nikon D7000 that I helped Laurie purchase for her daughter’s birthday.  We did two photo shoots with Tresa’s six beautiful children who were absolutely a joy to work with!  The morning shoot was done at Hat Rock State Park.  The sunlight was beautiful, and we were able to get some great photos of the kids in tall grass, in the trees and on some logs.  The kids also wanted to take photos on a bridge that worked out perfectly.  After a potluck dinner we took the kids to a beach near a wildlife refuge for a sunset photo shoot.  We captured some 4th of July photos as well as shots of the kids playing in the water.  Unfortunately, the filter on my lens had marks on it and resulted in sun spots on many of the photos.  I’ll have to go back and do that photo shoot again.

Kayaking on the Columbia River

The plan for Sunday was to go kayaking, and I let Laurie know that since our kayaks are inflatables, I prefer to kayak on calm water such as lakes and ponds.  Tresa suggested Warehouse Beach, so off we went to Wallula Lake.  Little did we know that this “lake” is part of the Columbia River!  It doesn’t actually meet the formal definition, but resembles more of an inlet or bay.   At that point I couldn’t back out so went for it.  The lake’s configuration resulted in rougher waters with waves that crashed over the top of my kayak before I was able to get myself or the dog in.  Amber, on the other hand managed to stay dry getting into her kayak. And then Laurie in all her cousinly love thought to catch my plight on her phone and post to Facebook!  Oh well, it was fun and the water with the cool breeze felt wonderful in the 100 degree weather.

I had not previously kayaked or done anything else on the Columbia River, but it was very peaceful and the serenity of the river and birds was much appreciated.  I like to imagine people’s lives in earlier times and could see Lewis and Clark paddling down the Columbia to the Pacific Ocean.  I’m sure it was much rougher and more challenging when they made the journey.  While I was hesitant to take an inflatable kayak onto the river, I would highly recommend paddling on the Columbia if you have the opportunity.

Maryhill State Park, WA

Maryhill State Park Site 49
The Beach House in Site 49

This past weekend we took a friend and her daughter, who had never been camping, to Maryhill State Park on the Columbia River.  We rarely camp on the eastern side of the state, but had a great time exploring the area and will return again.

We went Kayaking at Horsethief Lake in Columbia Hills State Park.  It was a bit windy, but the lake was perfect for people who had never been paddling in a canoe or kayak.  Petroglyphs can also be seen at this park.  We plan to go back and do the ranger tour.

Horsethief Lake

Karman loving kayaking!
Karman loved kayaking!  She got me sopping wet with her paddle, but had a blast and then beat her mom in a race to the shore!

After lunch we toured the Maryhill Museum of Art.  The museum had many wonderful exhibits that wouldn’t be expected in the middle of nowhere!  It’s very well worth the time to visit.  The international chess sets and the Marie, Queen of Romania exhibits were most fascinating.  I also enjoyed the history exhibit of the Columbia Gorge roads.

Later in the day we visited the Stonehenge replica overlooking the Columbia River.

 

Maryhilll State Park is very clean and well maintained.  The quiet, peaceful setting was greatly appreciated.  Considering that the park sits on the Columbia River between two highways and two train tracks, the noise level was quite low.  Watching the traffic roll by and the boats floating down the river are part of the ambience of the area.

Shao and Karman had a great time, and now want to try camping on their own!

Sutton Campground – Siuslaw National Forest, OR

Tucked safely into the campsite.
Tucked safely into the campsite.

Amber and I went to Sutton Campground near Florence, Oregon last weekend.  It was our first attempt at taking the fifth-wheel to a national forest campground, and it was well worth the 3 hour drive.  The campground roads and sites are tight, but we were able to get into our pull-through, site A13.  Sutton Campground is beautiful and well maintained.  Most of the sites are surrounded by foliage providing campers with a great sense of privacy.  While we were in a pull-through site and close to the road we couldn’t see other campsites beyond ours when we stepped outside our door.  As typical of NF campgrounds there is a lot of space between sites, so even though we were close to the road we didn’t feel like we were trailer on top of trailer.

We decided to take out the dutch ovens and try the new dutch oven table we found at Sportsman’s Warehouse on a discount night.  Then we got a further discount because it was the last one left and didn’t have a box.  Amber’s the dutch oven fire starter and loved her new toy.  The baking powder biscuits, sausage gravy, eggs, and maple sausages were yummy!

We’ve always camped on the coast, but usually stay at Honeyman when we’re near Florence.  This last weekend we wanted to stay at a NF park, go kayaking and explore other places in the area.  It ended up being too windy and cold for kayaking, but we found three lakes we want to try next time we visit.  Mercer Lake, Sutton Lake and Alder Lake were all close by.  Then Cleowox Lake is at Honeyman State Park just a few miles south of Florence.  We went out to North Jetty, but the wind was making the sand sting as it hit us, so we didn’t stay long.  Instead we found Harbor Vista Campground that appeared be a quiet place for camping.  It’s a small park that I believe is operated by Lane County.

While walking through the campground we found the Darlingtonia Walkway.

Before going home on Sunday we practiced backing the 5th wheel into some other sites.  I also took several pictures of the campground and some sites we might be able to use for our next visit.

 

 

 

 

Ft. Stevens State Park, OR

Amber and I went to Ft. Stevens this past weekend with the intent of getting some more work done on the beach house before taking it to Iowa to visit Misty-Jade over  spring break.  My goal was to sanitize the water system and repack the storage area.  The water system got finished, but due to rain we didn’t get the storage areas done.  We took some time to explore the park a bit while the sun was out, thus the real reason for the storage areas not being repacked.  The last time we went to Ft. Stevens in July a couple years ago we got caught in a downpour and were sopping wet, so we thought spending time exploring while the sun was out was a better idea.

The shipwreck appears to have deteriorated over the years and gotten smaller.  Obviously that’s what happens, but I seem to remember it being much larger when I moved back to Oregon in 1985.

I didn’t know vehicles were allowed on the beach, but we had to try it out!  Tessa road in the back and loved it.

On one of our many trips to the store for supplies we were treated to this sight!  It reminded me of the moose that would come into our yard when we lived in Alaska.

Elk in Warrantor, OR
Elk in Warrenton, OR
Just too cute!
Just too cute!

We tried to go Kayaking at Coffenbury Lake, but just as we were setting up the rain started again.  We’re planning another trip here later this year and will bring the bikes as well as the kayaks.

The Newest Beach House!

After much research and planning I purchased the newest Beach House!  I love our Somerset pop-up, but want to do some traveling across the country and the pop-up isn’t very convenient for that.  Amber and I picked up our new Arctic Fox 27-5L on February 6 and took it to Sandy Riverfront RV Resort in Troutdale, OR where we transferred the camping supplies from the pop-up to the 5th wheel.  The following weekend we went camping at Beverly Beach.  The rained poured and flooded the campground, but we had fun and still walked out on the beach.

Arctic Fox 27-5L Front Side
Arctic Fox 27-5L Front Side
Arctic Fox 27-5L Back Side
Arctic Fox 27-5L Back Side