Panther Creek Falls – Carson, Washington…

Even though we were staying in Oregon, we did a lot of going back and forth between Oregon and Washington since we were so close to the state line.

Saturday we met up with some friends from Texas who now live in Washington. Kari is the daughter of some friends we went to church with for many years. She and her husband have four boys and she is pregnant with another boy. She is an amazing boy mom!

We took a beautiful route from Portland to Carson, Washington to get to Panther Creek Falls.

We hiked a short way down and were able to view the water fall from above.

Then, we hiked further down. It was a somewhat difficult trail to hike for very young kids, but it was doable and enjoyable.

Manning and Rhythm loved having other boys around! They talked and had a good time with Julean, Kamden, Aydan and Brayson.

We were stunned by the beauty of Panther Creek Falls when we got to the bottom of it.

It looked like it was glowing. It is one of the prettiest waterfalls I’ve ever seen!

The trail was fun to hike. It was cool, nice weather, and there were beautiful views in all directions.

We loved getting to hang out with friends and see Panther Creek Falls!

Hayden Island – Portland, Oregon…

Last Thursday we moved from our RV park near Seattle to a park on Hayden Island in Portland. We debated whether we should keep our reservation due to the rioting in Portland, but after talking to some locals we felt we would be safe at the location we chose.

We arrived and got settled. It used to take us so long to set up and tear down. After having done it so many times, now we are pretty fast.

Upon arrival, Ryan and I work together to decide where we want the RV parked in our site. That can be tricky. We have to consider where our vehicles will fit and if there are trees or electrical boxes that will be in the way of our slides, stairs or opening our outdoor kitchen. Once we get the RV where we want it, Ryan puts the front jacks down and unhitches our 5th wheel from our truck. I then hit an auto level button that levels our RV. Manning, Cherish and Liberty set up all our outdoor stuff – rugs, trash can, tables, chairs and shoe cubbies. I make sure nothing is out of place and then put out our slides. Ryan hooks up the sewer, water and electric. Rhythm sweeps the inside of the RV. I vacuum the indoor rugs. Then Ryan mops the floors inside while I put things back in place that I put away for moving. This is the only time we have no kids in the RV and the easiest time to do a quick floor cleaning. Tapestry watches and entertains our little kids in the air-conditioned van while we do all this. It takes about 20 minutes.

On Hayden Island, we were just across the Washington/Oregon state line. Tapestry suggested we walk the bridge across the Columbia River for our evening walk that first evening.

We thought that sounded like an interesting adventure so we went for it. It was fun crossing from Oregon into Washington and then back into Oregon.

We loved seeing the sun set on the Columbia River and watching a ship go under the bridge beneath us.

Our walk across the bridge was refreshing and a great way to start our time in Oregon!

Olympic National Park – Washington…

On our last day in Washington, we went to Olympic National Park. It was a long 2 1/2 hour drive from our RV park, so we headed out early and arrived just before noon.

We parked at the main visitor center and ate a quick lunch in the van. Then we headed to talk to a ranger about recommended hikes and sites to see. We were given suggestions and were excited about the day ahead.

The first thing we chose to do was drive to the Storm King Ranger Station to park. From there we walked down to the beautiful Lake Crescent. The water was such a pretty blue.

Most of our kids skipped stones as Bravely collected rocks and sticks. That is one of her favorite things to do.

From there we chose to hike the Marymere Falls Trail.

It was a really pretty trail leading us through a mossy green forest.

There were some very large trees, similar to the size we saw at Sequoia National Park in California.

I was totally enamored by this tree bridge. Every time we see a bridge, one of our kids asks, “You want a picture of us on the bridge?” They know me. Haha.

At the end of the trail, we arrived at the beautiful Marymere Falls.

Looking at and listening to a waterfall never gets old.

After seeing the waterfall, we made our way back down the trail and to our van. Then, we made the hour drive to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.

I definitely recommend filling up with gas before visiting any national park, and count on using quite a bit of time driving once you are in a park.

When we first arrived at Olympic National Park, we were told the Hurricane Ridge parking was full and there was a line to get there. A ranger recommended going around 4 or 5PM, so that is what we did. It required some extra driving, but it was worth it.

From the Hurricane Ridge parking area, we climbed a trail up a mountain and looked out on breathtaking mountain views.

This day was truly picture-perfect, but it wasn’t quite like most of our amazing national park experiences.

Ryan and I got into an argument on the way to the park, another during our time there and then another on the way home. Ugh! Do you ever have one of those days that you just aren’t in a good groove? It was one of those days for us! Thankfully, we’ve worked through our frustrations and can still look back on the good memories we did make on this day!

Mount Rainier National Park – Washington…

On Monday we got our van fixed, thankfully! We had to have our spark plugs and coils replaced. They were damaged and causing misfire due to the recommended fuel injector cleaning we had done a couple weeks earlier.

Tuesday afternoon we were happy to securely be back on the road! We drove about an hour and a half from our RV park, Seattle/Tacoma KOA, to Mount Rainier National Park.

Like all national parks, we were able to get in free with Cherish’s 4th grade pass. If you have a 4th grader and want to visit any of the national parks for free, you can get a pass here. I am going to get Liberty one and start using hers soon, as she is now our 4th grader.

We parked at the Sunrise Visitor Center. We weren’t able to go into the visitor center, but there were tables set up outside where our kids were able to get their passport books stamped. We purchased a Christmas ornament and postcards there, picked up a map and got a ranger’s advice on what to see and do.

First, we chose to walk the Silver Forest Trail. It starts at the Sunrise Visitor Center parking lot and is a 2.4 mile hike roundtrip. We were able to push the jog stroller, and it was an overall easy hike.

The views of Mount Rainier, an active volcano, were stunning.

The trail was lined with many different types of flowers on both sides. Our kids enjoyed using a pamphlet to identify flowers.

We felt it necessary to pause and sing a little song here. We couldn’t miss the opportunity, and it made all of us burst into laughter.

We loved the Silver Forest Trail and were very happy that we chose to hike it.

Next, we drove to Tipsoo Lake. We parked and ate some uncrustables and chips for supper. We’ve come up with a few different easy meal options when on the go. Meals and snacks are definitely something we have to think through because it’s not easy to just pick something up or grab a snack for a family of twelve.

After we ate, we walked over to Tipsoo Lake. It was a small lake with beautiful flowers surrounding. We had seen photos with amazing reflections in the water but it didn’t really appear that way in person…until we took a picture.

We were stunned looking at photos after taking few. The reflections were amazing!

We enjoyed walking around the lake, and we were excited when we caught an almost invisible view of Mount Rainier.

By the time we finished our walk around Tipsoo Lake it was after 7PM, so we decided to head home.

It was another great national park experience with so much beauty to behold!

The Gum Wall – Seattle, Washington…

Late Friday evening we made it to our RV park near Seattle. We didn’t do much the first few days as we were waiting to get our van fixed. The van was still drivable, though, so we did decide to drive into Seattle late Sunday afternoon to check out the city.

We drove by the Space Needle, a Seattle icon. And we went to Kerry Park to view the Seattle skyline.

When I googled “what to see in Seattle”, I saw the Gum Wall. I immediately wanted to go. Ha!

There, two alley walls in downtown Seattle are covered in chewed gum.

We stopped by a convenience store on our way to the Gum Wall and picked up five packs of gum.

We drove to a parking spot near the alley. We all picked some gum to chew, popped it in our mouths and headed to the Gum Wall.

Our kids absolutely loved this! They thought it was the funnest, funniest thing.

There were several other people there taking pictures, including a couple getting engagement photos done.

When I posted this experience on Facebook, I loved the different reactions. Some said seeing the chewed gum made them gag and others thought it looked so fun.

What really made me laugh was when one of our kids said to me, “Hey, we saw a post covered in chewed gum at Stone Mountain and you said it was gross and not to touch it.” Haha! That is true. Somehow this felt different to me, like a fun work of art.

We chewed, chewed, chewed. We blew bubbles. We walked around taking fun photos in different places along the wall. We had a blast.

I had the easiest time getting photos because the kids were posing and asking me to take their pictures.

In the end, we contributed our chewed gum to the artwork. Then, we walked back to the van and immediately sanitized all of our hands. Haha!

That was a unique, weird, quirky and fun adventure I’m sure our kids will remember and tell!

What do you think about the Seattle Gum Wall – disgusting, fun or something in between?

Not everything is perfect – Spokane, WA…

We enjoyed our four nights near Spokane. There wasn’t anything major we were hoping or wanting to do, but our days were filled with adventure nonetheless.

Liberty patiently waited 4 months after her 9th birthday to finally get her ears pierced. Our first evening in Spokane, Liberty and I wore our mandatory masks and went to Claire’s for her piercing. The video wasn’t near as exciting with a mask on, not being able to see her reaction well. But hey, she’s pierced and she has an interesting story to tell about her wait. She is so happy, and we are so happy for her!

The next evening, Manning redeemed his 13th birthday dinner date. He and I had planned to go to the Melting Pot in Nashville in March. It shut down a couple days before Manning’s birthday, though.

We were happy to find a Melting Pot in Spokane, and we thoroughly enjoyed our Melting Pot experience. We had a blast talking, cooking and trying different foods. Manning and I are two of the pickiest eaters in our family, so that added for some humor.

After dinner, we walked and met the rest of the family at Riverfront Park.

The kids loved this giant Radio Flyer wagon. There was a ladder to climb up, a slide to slide down and monkey bars underneath.

We walked around for awhile, just looking around and hanging out.

Then we saw Spokane Falls, a waterfall and dam on the Spokane River. It was really pretty!

There, Liberty got stung three times by a bee, twice on the hand and once on her newly pierced ear. It was her first time to be stung, so it really scared her and upset her. We decided to head back to the RV then.

Did I mention it was really hot in Spokane? Like, Texas hot – over 100 degrees during the day. We had gotten used to and thoroughly enjoy cooler temperatures, so we mostly went out during the evenings.

Wednesday evening we drove to Mount Spokane State Park. We hiked a really pretty trail in an area filled with evergreens and flowers as we watched the sun set.

We celebrated Jubilee’s birthday on Thursday, and then, it happened. Ryan went to fill up both vehicles, just as he always does the night before we travel to a new place. He realized 8 gallons too late that he’d been filling our diesel truck with unleaded gas. After googling, we quickly found out that was a very big deal. I told Ryan that I might be mad if I was positive I’d never do such a thing, but fortunately for him, I’ve had so very many human mistake moments that I just couldn’t muster up a bit of anger.

We woke up early the next morning and started calling mechanics. The third one said he could not promise to get the tank flushed by noon, but he would try. That was music to our ears! We had the truck towed and the tank flushed. We picked up our truck around 2PM, attached the RV and set out on our 4 1/2 hour drive to our next destination.

Also, we got our oil changed in Kalispell about a week earlier. It was recommended we have our fuel injectors cleaned. We don’t often go for recommendations, but we decided to do it since we do heavily rely on our vehicles for traveling. Immediately after we noticed our van jerking upon acceleration. It has continued jerking for over a week, and now our check engine light is on and we are getting a cylinder 3 misfire code. Apparently getting fuel injectors cleaned can damage spark plugs and cause misfire. Tomorrow we will be having spark plugs replaced. Thankfully, both vehicle issues we are able to submit to insurance.

One more crazy to top off the week, River got an infected mosquito bite. We’ve had two kids who have had bad infections in the past, so thankfully, I knew pretty early that it was likely infected. I messaged back and forth with our awesome doctor in Texas. She sent in an antibiotic. River’s infection continued to get worse and turn into staph. Our doctor taught me how to drain it and sent in two other prescriptions. It’s finally looking much better! After three kids with major infections from minor things, Ryan and I wonder how on earth we survived our childhoods without even knowing this was a possible problem! Ha.

We love our current lifestyle of travel. We have beautiful photos, wonderful memories and great stories to tell. We, also, have bumps in the road, tricky things to sort through, frustrations, aches and pains. Bee stings, vehicle issues and infected bug bites are all minor issues, and for that we are thankful, but I never want to paint an unrealistic picture that all is perfect in our little corner of the world. There is beauty in the good and there is beauty in the broken – this is the life we live. ♥️