Our July 4th started with a pancake breakfast and bike parade at church. Gavin participated in his first flag-raising ceremony.
We headed home to pack the car for our camping trip. We had been too tired and too busy to pack it the night before, which turned out to be a big mistake. Instead of leaving at 9 a.m., we left just after noon, thinking Logan would nap in the car. Well, Logan hasn’t napped in the car since he was six months old. He did great for the first hour or so, about until we hit the famous Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
The next four hours… not so great. He screamed and screamed and screamed. Not scream-crying, but scream-yelling. We would say, “Use your words!” And he would say, “GET OUT!” And we would say, “You can’t get out right now. We are driving.” And he would shriek. After a while, no movies or snacks or even brief stops to run around or get ice cream would appease him. The Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway, with its twists and turns, seemed like the pathway to hell.
Like all miserable child travel experiences, it eventually ended. We arrived at our first destination, Hobuck Beach Resort. I immediately took the kids out to the beach while Christopher set up our camp. They got soaked and dirty (I should have had them in bathing suits in the car). Ben just wanted to throw wet sand. He had been great in the car and made up for it once he was loose.
When we joined the rest of the camp, Christopher had our tent set up. We had just bought it from Costco and it was bigger than anyone else’s and quickly dubbed the Taj Mahal. We had hot dogs and watermelon and chips for dinner and it wasn’t long before we settled the little boys down to bed. We were able to set up the GoCrib easily and Logan fell asleep quickly and slept all night. Ben fell asleep fine, too, but ended up having a rough, delirious kind of night. I don’t know what his deal was. And Gavin requested to go to bed early, even when Megan and Christopher went to the beach with the rest of the group to light fireworks. We were beat. The campground was pretty nice, and while people had fun with fireworks until well after dark, they never woke the boys.
The next morning the little boys slept in, which was a blessing. After a breakfast of French toast and fruit, we started to pack up. The group was headed to camp the second night at Shi Shi Beach, where you can camp right on the beach, only accessible via a moderately-strenuous 2.5-mile hike. Gavin was laying in the tent with a stomachache (he gets them frequently after he eats, we are trying to figure out what he’s sensitive to), and we thought we might just head home, or even stay another night at Hobuck, but eventually Gavin gave it a “15 to 30 percent chance” he would feel better, and we packed up for Shi Shi.
If you are overnight camping, you can’t park at the Shi Shi trailhead, so Christopher dropped us off with the gear and parked in someone’s yard about a mile away for ten bucks. He and Jansen and all the other guys walked back to where the families were waiting and we took off on our hike through the Olympic National Forest. Christopher carried an enormous pack with our food, water, clothes, sleeping bags, tent, and more; Megan and Gavin carried more sleeping bags and blankets and water; Ben carried water and his sleeping bag. I carried Logan, our lunch, and a pail of beach toys which I probably should have left in the car. We knew it would be muddy, so we were all wearing our sport sandals and Ben was wearing a pair of throwaway sneakers. We didn’t realize quite how muddy. We also knew there would be some “steep switchbacks” on the way down to the beach. Yeah, basically we had to climb down a cliff face. You know the beach in the Twilight movie, with the forest and the cliffs? We hiked down one of those cliffs.
Thankfully we didn’t die, and instead of camping right on the beach, we set up our little camp with Jansen and Holly in the forest, right at a little trail down to the beach. Logan took a little nap while I played on the beach with the big kids. It definitely wasn’t a swimming beach; the water was cold and the waves powerful. But low tide was at 5:15 and there were a lot of fun tide pools to explore.
We boiled water for Mountain House freeze dried meals for dinner. They were surprisingly tasty, and we roasted marshmallows after. Ben conked out as soon as we tucked him in his sleeping bag, and we sent the big kids to bed around nine. Logan, after his brief nap, was super alert, so he got to watch the sunset with us.
And then it was time for bed. All six of us snuggled in our little tent, right next to Jansen and Holly and their three kids in their little tent.
It couldn’t have been past midnight when Hank woke up, screaming. When he settled down, Logan was up, screaming. And then Ben up, crying. Logan and Ben continued to wake each other up over and over again until the sun came up. Logan does not do well outside his crib.
Exhausted, we boiled water for oatmeal and hot chocolate for breakfast. We decided we wouldn’t spend much time on the beach, saving our energy for the journey home. But we did check out the super low tide the morning brought, with really cool tide pools–starfish, crabs, and other Pacific marine life. The sunlight streaming through the forest was really gorgeous.
Then, it was time to pack up and do the journey in reverse. The hike was easier on the way back; climbing up a cliff is less treacherous than down, and we had learned to avoid much of the mud. We even found Ben’s jacket that we had lost on the way in; someone had picked it up and hung it on a branch.
The drive was almost as bad going home. Ben dozed off immediately. At one point, Logan took a nap. We ate snacks until we got to the McDonald’s in Port Angeles. And instead of driving around the Sound through Tacoma, we took the ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle. There, we realized we we parked next to Jansen and Holly, who had left the campsite before us, hours earlier.
In the end, I’m glad we did it. Megan and Gavin and Ben all had a blast. Shi Shi was more primitive than I had ever experienced (no running water or bathrooms!), but it really was beautiful. And when Logan is capable of relaxing in his car seat and sleeping outside a crib, I’m sure we will have many, many more adventures.