Back to the real world!

The trailer is unloaded, the last dirt and grime is washed off of us (still need to wash the car and trailer), laundry has been started, dinner has been eaten, a very exhausted boy has been put to bed, and now I can tell you about our latest trip!

We did a 4-day trip to Silver Falls State Park, outside of Silverton (Salem), Oregon this week. It is one of my favorite places to camp for a couple of reasons. First off, the campground is gorgeous and really comfortable. Second, it is so close to some of the most beautiful scenery in Oregon and the home to 10 waterfalls.

One other fantastic thing for me – we have friends who live very close by and come up to camp with us. Camping with friends is always a treat! On this trip, I was also able to introduce my cousin to the way we camp. Since she hadn’t been camping since she was 7, we treated her to the best Dutch Oven cooking, double layers of Therma-rest mattresses, cozy down sleeping bags, and plenty of nature! I think she was especially happy when I brought this out for breakfast this morning (plus 2 lattes and a hot cocoa!).

Who wouldn’t love camping with a fine breakfast like this?!

One of the days we were there, we did our annual trip to the Enchanted Forest . Some friends drove down for the day from Portland and met us there. It was a fun time and we walked away completely exhausted. We tried a few new rides we wanted to tell you about (since our review last year): the Challenge of Mondor, the Log Ride, and we went in the Haunted House. Laddy turns 5 soon, and he found the Haunted House just a bit too scary right now (but we haven’t had any nightmares yet!). The log ride was great, and thankfully they provide plastic ponchos, because you can get REALLY wet. The Challenge of Mondor is fun, and reminded me a bit of the Toy Story ride at Disney’s California Adventure (but it isn’t 3D like the Disney ride). Instead of zapping the little green aliens, you aim at blue lights (which usually have a dragon or some other Medieval mystical creature attached) and try to get the highest score.

Unless you don’t mind getting wet, I suggest grabbing one of the plastic ponchos before boarding your log!

This year was special for me, because I was able to get Laddy to do 2 bigger hikes, as well as one smaller one. We didn’t get much hiking in last year, and he is old enough where it is becoming more fun and interesting for both of us. The 2 big hikes were around 2.5 miles each. The first bigger hike was a loop from the Lodge at Upper South Falls, past Frenchie Falls and Lower South Falls. You walk down 128 steps (if we counted right, and I am remembering right!). We then went back up the Maple Ridge Trail which had 5 switchbacks and was quite challenging. We were told we went the hard way (even though I thought the stairs+steep to get out seemed as challenging). Laddy did great, and we only had to bribe him a little (a few tips on hiking with kids).

The Lower South Falls: This side of Silver Creek has the stairs, and you can walk behind both the Upper and Lower South Falls

The second long hike was down Winter Falls Trail and out to Double Falls. It is a steep climb down and back out, but it is short and we found this hike to be much easier. In those 2 miles we saw 7 of the 10 waterfalls. Laddy said his favorite was Double Falls, which also happens to be the tallest in the park (by 1 foot). Make sure you pick up one of the color brochures on the State Park with the Trail of Ten Falls and use that map. We found that to be more accurate than the other black and white copy we had.

Middle North Falls: being August and not having had much rain, this was one of the more powerful falls, but isn’t anywhere near it’s full volume

We did one short hike the night we got there. We just followed the Campground Trail, which might be 2 miles, but it is all flat and easy. A nice, quick hike after dinner.

Laddy also enjoyed working on the Jr. Park Ranger booklet.  They have a series of 3 booklets, and the kids have to do a certain number of activities in each booklet to earn a prize. He got through the first booklet, and has been wearing the badge he earned, ever since, with great pride!

Next year we are hoping Laddy will be riding a 2 wheeler and I will have a bike, so we can explore their bike trails. There is a decent system through the park, and it would be great. There are also horse trails and camp, if you have a 4-legged friend along!

All in all, it was a wonderful trip and I learned a couple of things. Like, if you haven’t used your tent in a while, take it out before packing it to make sure the pole cord is still good (oops!). It was sure stretched out, but we were able to jerry-rig it, and had no problems. Looks like I have a couple of camping projects to keep me busy this winter!

My current set up, and things are fine…can’t say as much about my former set up! Bummer!

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