Great Oregon Road Trip: Heceta Head Lighthouse and Home Sweet Home

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After 10 days on the road, it was finally time to head back home. Our comfy beds were awaiting us and I know the boys were eager to get back to their toys. Absence makes the heart grown fonder, especially when it comes to Lego.

On the drive up Highway 101, we made one final stop at the Heceta Head Lighthouse, a beautifully historic landmark just North of Florence. Kei and I walked up to the top with the boys while Mum and Dad took in the ocean view from the parking lot.

After the walk back down the hill, Thomas and I spent some time on the beach.


It was a fitting farewell to a wonderful vacation. In a few hours we’d be home and then, in just a couple of days, my parents were headed on the next part of their adventure. We soon headed back to work and school, but with the satisfied feeling that comes from a vacation well spent. Thanks for the memories, Oregon.

Great Oregon Road Trip: Goodbye Florence

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We spent our final few hours in Florence enjoying a little shopping on the main street (salt water taffy!) and just taking it easy. Our vacation was coming to an end and it was time to head home. But, first, a few more photos and one last Pacific sunset.

We visited the Books and Bears store (which sells exactly what the store name promises) a couple of times. I love it that my boys were more excited about the prospect of browsing a bookstore than a toy store.

After a sadly unsatisfying meal at the Maple Street Grille (frozen shrimp, ugh!), we headed back to the hotel and one last sunset over the dunes.

Then Samuel came outside and blessed me with a couple of photos in the gorgeous fading light.

Goodbye Florence. Tomorrow we head home.

Great Oregon Road Trip: Dunes National Recreation Area

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On day two of our stay in Florence Oregon, we decided to explore The Dunes. Thankfully, we were there on a weekday toward the end of Summer so we had them almost entirely to ourselves, but unfortunately, my Dad and my Husband were feeling under the wether so we didn’t spend as much time there as I would have liked. It was also very windy and cold on the beach side of the dunes so our visit was short.

The dunes still made an impression though, even if we didn’t jump in a dune buggy. A walk was enough adventure for our little group… as well as a few photos, of course.

Great Oregon Road Trip: Florence, Oregon Coast

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Florence, Oregon was our pitstop of choice on the drive back up the Oregon Coast to Portland.

It’s a pretty little seaside town that just happens to border the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. We stayed at the River House Inn which was reasonably priced, very clean and only a short walk from the historic district and boat docks.

We spent the first evening walking around the historic district before getting dinner at 1285 Restobar which I would highly recommend for their Cioppino (seriously delicious!). Although I wouldn’t recommend sitting outside if you can help it. It was a little chilly for the adults in our group who were feeling under the weather.

Our hotel was located near the bridge so I spent some time after dinner photographing the bridge and the surrounding area in various states of sunset.

Great Oregon Road Trip: Endert Beach, Crescent City

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Our our way back from the Redwoods, we decided to stop to explore some tide pools at Endert Beach. What we thought was going to be a short stroll down from the parking lot turned out to be a mile and a half, 45 degree hike downhill. I thought the kids would struggle after an already busy day, but they seemed to have an endless supply of energy. I can’t say the same for all of the adults in the group. At the bottom of the (very long) trail, we emerged onto a nearly-deserted beach. The tide was on it’s way in but we still managed to find a few shallow rockpools with some colorful surprises. After just a few minutes, the grandparents decided the tide was coming in too quickly and went to find higher ground. And then after just a few more minutes, Kei and decided that we should probably start heading for higher ground as well (note to self: check for low tides before heading in search of rock pools). It was a short visit, especially after such a long hike, but I think it was worth it if only for the good night’s sleep that we all got as a result. On our final our evening in Crescent City, the sunset, the lighthouse and the moon all bid us a fond farewell. Next: The final leg of our journey

Great Oregon Road Trip: Redwoods National Forest

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I promise that I’m nearly done with all the Oregon Road Trip posts. It’s taking me so long because we did something different every day – which adds up to a lot of posts – and my insane work schedule has prevented me from updating the blog regularly.

But, never, fear, we ARE in the home stretch and now we’re getting to some good stuff thanks to a forest of giant Redwood Trees.

We decided to see the Redwoods in the Northernmost part of California because the thought of adding an extra six hour round trip in the mini van may have pushed us all over the edge. But, despite the fact that we decided to see the “less impressive” part of the Redwood forest, we still managed to experience the majesty of these giant, prehistoric trees.

It’s difficult to describe just how big and beautiful the Redwoods really are. In fact it’s hard to comprehend their size when you’re standing at the base of one of these giants. I’ll try and share our experience in photos but I’m sure I’m not doing it justice.

We drove the Howland Hill road through the forest and stopped after about 20 minutes to take a walk down a short trail.

I think they were doing a little Return of the Jedi role play. Seemed appropriate.

The tree ferns took me back to my childhood – I grew up in a place called Ferntree Gully so, yeah, lots of tree ferns.

The boys spent a lot of time looking for animals in fallen trees. I spent a lot of timing hoping they wouldn’t find any.



Banana slug!

We then drove further down the road to Stout Grove which was amazing and well worth the dusty drive.

Also, Amish people having a picnic! Now that is something you don’t see every day – unless you live in Pennsylvania, I suppose.

On the walk around the grove I took many, many photos of ordinary-sized people next to giant trees. It was my way of trying to capture their size but I’m not sure it worked.

We came across a lot of tree bumps that looked like faces – which, of course, made me think about Game of Thrones.

I really don’t know what’s going on here – maybe a musical performance?

And then we said goodbye to the Redwoods. I know we’ll be back – and maybe next time we’ll brave the extra three hour drive further south to explore deeper into the forest.

Halloween 2013

This year’s trick-or-treat included a Viking, a second year Harry Potter and my trusty old witch hat (although I switched out the tights and wore a different black dress). The best part about our costumes was that they almost didn’t cost me a cent. Samuel was quite happy digging in the dress up box for the cape and shield (a christmas present last year), while Thomas didn’t seem interested in choosing a costume and so defaulted to last year’s Harry Potter cape that no longer drags on the ground. My only costumes purchases were the new purple-striped tights and a Viking helmet that I bought for about $4 from a local toy store (easily the BEST $4 I’ve spent in a long time). That’s just how I like my Halloweens – cheap and easy.

Before there was trick or treating, however, there was school Halloween parade. One child got fully into the Halloween spirit while the other decided that he didn’t want to wear his costume in the parade because people always point and stare at him and say he’s Harry Potter. I tried to explain to Thomas that this must be how the “real” Harry Potter feels  and could be part of getting into character, be wasn’t having it. Instead he spent all day answering the question “who are you dressed as?” with “myself”.

Parents of five-year-olds, a tip. Enjoy taking photos of your children now because, by the time they turn eight, getting them to even look in the direction of the camera is next to impossible. Thomas spent a good 10 minutes hiding from me while Samuel turned the corner and gave me this:

Later, after a classroom party and a short period of time where I tried to get some work done with the kids at home, Harry was reunited with Hermione…


…and a few other characters…

And then we walked around the neighborhood like one giant pack of misfits.

Love the pumpkins on this porch.

I headed home after a few houses to start handing out candy. Mostly, I volunteered because my witch shoes are not made for long walks around the neighborhood.

This crew knows that they have to pose for a photo before they get any candy at my house. Samuel helped me hand out candy later and I had to explain that I don’t require a photo from everyone who comes by. I don’t want to be known as THAT weird neighbor.

We turned the light off at about 8pm, but not before I remembered to take some photos of the pumpkins we hastily carved the night before.

Someone posted a hand-written sign on our front porch next to the bird pumpkin the following day saying we won second place in the pumpkin contest. I think they made a mistake, though. Kei carved the bird and, clearly, my ghostly eyes and alien were far superior (and I carved TWO designs). Maybe they lost my first place sign.

And that’s a wrap for Halloween 2013. Many thanks to the weather gods for keeping the skies warm and our costumes dry.