Our plan was this: since we were going to drive all the way there, we wanted to make the trip worth our while. My sweet bestie Nicholas lives in Portland, so we decided that we would spend a few days with him in the City of Roses. Then we would meet up with my sister and her family and spend some time playing together on the beach as we made our way up the coast to Anacortes. Besides our few nights in Nick's apartment, we would "tent it" in the lovely state campgrounds of Oregon.
I spent a lot of time planning ways to keep the children (and their parents!) sane during the long drive, which we planned to break into two 6-hour chunks. I bought them each a plastic container and filled the containers with fun things-- construction paper, safety scissors, glue sticks, notebooks, colored pencils, beads, a weaving kit. I planned snacks. I planned meals. Abe packed earplugs. We squeezed the children in between stacks of compacted camping supplies and, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, left for the coast.
We couldn't resist this photo op at a gas station.
Sadly, Liam didn't really get what we were going for and Soren felt silly -- so the posing isn't the best.Within two hours of our leaving, all the beads had been thrown on the floor of the car. All the weaving materials had been thrown on the floor of the car. Much of the construction paper had been crumpled and thrown on the floor of the car. The children had covered themselves in a thick paste of glue stick and fruit snack The only toy they actually played with along the way was an Etch-a-Sketch my mom had loaned us as an afterthought.
After the exertion of throwing everything on the floor, the boys needed a little rest.
Soren, blessedly, only had one break with reality, and that wasn't until about hour four. We successfully used our earplugs to get through the worst of the unearthly screaming, and a few hours later we found ourselves in an Eastern Oregon campground.
We settled in, set up our tent, ate dinner, and got the kids ready for bed. I was exhausted, but Liam was running around the tent like a tiny madman and Soren-- well, um, let's just say something happened with Soren that significantly lowered my morale. But we got that issue resolved and eventually Liam came down from his manic high and we all settled into our sleeping bags.
And then the sun went down and the wind picked up.
And it turns out our tent doesn't have windows that can be zipped closed.
So the wind gusted freely through our tent, shaking its walls and rattling the zippers like an angry ghost. Soren was terrified. For what seemed like hours he begged and pleaded to be allowed to sleep with us while Abe insisted that he was not going to sleep with us because he was too big and I tried to keep them both happy. When Soren was finally comforted to sleep by a prayer, and Abe finally fell asleep because he's a Skousen and that's what they do, I found myself lying awake in the windy tent for quite a while, angry and tired and anxious. Finally, I, too, slept, only to be awakened an hour or so later (5:00 AM) by Liam, who was enthusiastically telling everyone it was morning time.
After breakfast, Abe told me he thought we should just turn around and go back home. "Oh no we're not going back home!" I said. "We've come this far, by gum, and we're going to go the rest of the way!" And then I stomped off to take a shower-- what turned out to be a cold shower--in the campground's grimy bathroom.
And as the the morning wore slowly on, I realized that, while we could push through and do this thing, nine more nights of camping with the children loomed very large and very exhausting and I didn't want to do it. But I didn't want to go home yet, either.
So this is what we did instead:
We turned around and went back to Boise and checked into a hotel.
We went to the Discovery Center of Idaho.
We visited the Boise Zoo.
We got Happy Meals (in boxes!) at McDonald's.
We ate pizza in a park.
We visited Twin Falls.
We swam in Dierkes lake.
We visited Shoshone Falls.
We stayed in hotels and swam in the swimming pools and ate delicious free breakfasts.
We endured a couple of potty accidents.
And then we went home.
It was not a family reunion. And it wasn't a visit with our dear friend. And it wasn't the ocean. But it was a good family vacation, and I'm happy we did it the way we did.