Fast forward to the summer of 2016. We lived in this thing for a week and it was SO MUCH FUN!! The girls are the perfect age for this! We all had fun schlepping across the state with our shelter on our backs. It was so easy to have our clothes and food with us.
Our first stop was Kennewick. My dad's two sisters live there with many of their kids and grandkids. Since we had missed the family reunion in July as well as the 2015 reunion, we wanted to catch up with people. Scott and I were so glad we made this stop! We spent two days and nights in Kennewick. The girls got to meet many cousins they hadn't met before or didn't remember meeting. They got to form relationships with my aunts and uncles and hear stories about my grandparents that were different from the ones they hear from my dad or me. My aunts and uncles organized two big family meals and several outings for us. We could not have asked for better hospitality!
While we were there we also visited The Reach which was quite an experience! I grew up with all of this just a few hours away and had no idea! I learned so much about the Manhattan Project in Washington. The deep patriotism of that era still impresses me. Whether you agree with nuclear weaponry or not, it is hard to argue that the sense of unity in the US was deep.
Leaving Kennewick we stopped in in Moxee to visit Scott's cousins. They have three small kiddos in the heart of hops country. It was fun to swing by and visit them and get to know them better. They have a big backyard with a pool and a trampoline, so the girls made themselves right at home. Passing through Yakima we visited the famous Miner's . Somehow we had never visited there in our 4 years driving back and forth from Ellensburg to Washougal & Battle Ground. It was fantastic...and HUGE! Here is Scott packaging up our leftovers to store in the camper.
When you're in Eastern Washington you stop at a fruit stand. If you're in Yakima you stop at THE fruit stand. It's what you do!
One person's antique is another person's day-to-day trash can. We are still using these quite effectively at our school. Maybe we are sitting on a goldmine??
We continued on into Ellensburg that afternoon.
Pictures cannot show the depth of beauty as you enter the Kittitas Valley. The patchwork of fields separated by strips of asphalt. The Ellensburg water tower in the distance. It moves me, even 20 years later!
We swung by Jerrol's which was the off campus bookstore when Scott and I were in college. Since actual college textbooks are apparently a thing of the past, the inventory there looked a bit different. We picked up sweatshirts for the girls, a shirt for me, and a hat for Scott. I envisioned a pic of us rocking our CWU gear, but that hasn't happened yet!
We drove around campus, but the kids were too tired by this point to get out and hike around much. These are from other points on the trip, but you get the idea. Something about that Cummins diesel just lulls them to sleep!
That evening we went to Roslyn, where Scott and I had our first date 20 years prior. We ate at Village Pizza and walked around a bit.
We spent the night at the Eagle Valley Campground in nearby Cle Elum. It was truly a hidden gem--I'd highly recommend it if you're in the area. The kids loved eating breakfast in the camper. It's the little things!
The next day we headed over the pass and through Seattle. We purposely took I-5 through Seattle, just so the kids could see and experience it. We got stopped in traffic and everything...they weren't so impressed with that part, but they did like seeing the city out the window. We stopped in Olympia to visit an old friend of Scott's who is now a Catholic priest. It was so fun to catch up with him! We also found a Sonic...
From Olympia we headed up to Mt. St. Helens. We covered some ground! It was late in the afternoon, but we pushed through and made it up to the mountain that night.
We got to Johnston Ridge after the visitor's center had closed for the day and needed to leave the next morning before we could get back up and back so we had to settle for some signs and an interpretive walk. Luckily the signs were great and Scott and I have enough knowledge about the eruption and the area to make it meaningful for the kids. We left planning to pop back up some time when we are down visiting. It is really not far from Battle Ground, so an easy day trip. We spent the night in Castle Rock and headed for the beach the next morning. Our first stop was at Fort Stevens State Park. It was a great experience! We paid for the truck tour which is provided and hosted by the Friends of Fort Stevens State Park group. The truck tour and the friends volunteers made the visit for us. They made the experience memorable and connected it to history so well for the girls. I vaguely remember visiting Fort Stevens as a kid, but I didn't remember that it had its beginning during the Civil War. A deep history!
The base jail was another highlight. The volunteers there were outstanding as well!
Ft. Stevens is also home to the wreck of the Peter Iredale which we visited. Sadly people were climbing all over it, so I didn't take any pictures of it. Here we are on the beach, though!
It was a beautiful afternoon in the park! From there we headed north to Ocean Park to meet up with Scott's sister and her husband along with his parents at the beach house. I'll tell you all about it next time!