Tag Archives: camping


We were on our way back to the campground from Crater Lake, and it seemed the closer we got the stormier it got. We hit a small town just 5 miles or so from our turn-off, the rain was just beginning to fall. It was 7:30 in the evening and though we had snacked a lot we had yet to eat dinner. The plan was to heat some chile on the camp stove, but as we watched the scary black clouds overhead we knew that plan wouldn’t work.

We were dismally deciding on PB&J when at the end of town a shining beacon stood before us – Taco Bell. Paul and I looked at each other, gave an affirmative nod and pulled into the restaurant. I fed the baby while all the kids took a bathroom break and Paul ordered food. The great thing about Taco Bell is that everyone can get plenty of food for really cheap – even a family of 7 woohoo!

After everyone was back out in the car I went in for the icewater. As I brought the water out the rain really began to fall, big fat drops splatted up and down my arms. We divied out the waters and began to drive to the campground.

We turned onto the road that climbed up into the mountains toward our campground. The higher we got the harder the rain fell. Then there was a distinct pinging sound.

“Wow,” Paul said, “that’s hail.”

The pinging soon became roaring, so deafening that I could hardly hear my own words. The higher we went the harder and faster it came down. The hail started out the size of small pebbles, within a few moments it grew to the size of large marbles slamming into our winshield.

“Pray,” Paul said, his knuckles white gripping the steering wheel. I cringed as even more hail slammed into the windshield, now the size of large quarters.

It was so loud I couldn’t hear myself, and my thoughts would not pull enough together to form a coherent prayer. Finally I managed, “Heavenly Father, you know what we need, please help.”

Not even a minute after I finished my prayer a turn off into a snow park appeared. Paul felt the prompting to turn into the park and pull under the tree just to the left of the driveway. He did so immediately. As soon as he did the hail seemed to explode around us as it came down even harder and faster. We still got pummled, even under the tree, but not nearly as bad as we would have without the prompting to turn into the park. We would have broken our windshield for sure if we had kept going. As it was, we came home sporting numerous little dents all over the car.

We expected to find our tent and camp ruined, and were surprised to find everything completely intact. The storm was moving on and after speaking with the kids and praying, we felt that we would be fine staying the night. Regardless Paul packed the car as much as possible before turning in for the night in case we needed to leave in the face of another major storm.

The morning was foggy and cool, but we made it through the night, and began our journey home. We were very grateful for the protection that Heavenly Father gave us.


Filed under Family, Miracles, Nature, Religion

Part Three – Crater Lake

We were shaken out of our sleeping bags Thursday Morning by claps of thunder so loud they shook the tent. While the kids were a bit scared – especially Elizabeth – ever since she was a little girl she has been extremely sensitive to loud noises, and this thunder was LOUD – Paul and I found it rather exciting. I have always enjoyed thunder and lightning a great deal, so I looked at it as quite the treat. It was raining big fat drops as we raced to the bathroom and flung all the kids in the car. It would be another makeshift breakfast in the car on the road as we drove down to Crater Lake. Thunder accompanied a good part of our drive as lightning trees lit the sky around us. Of sourse we did start getting nervous when I began counting between the lightning and the thunder – “One one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand-” CRACK!!!! The stuff was right on top of us.

It wasn’t too long though before we had driven out of the storm and by the time we got to Crater Lake (two hours away from our campground) it was a bright sunny, warm day. We drove into the park and got our first glimpse of Crater Lake at the first viewpoint we found.
Crater Lake

View from Crater Lake

The Fam

Tree clinging to life

Crater Lake

There was still a lot of snow, and the kids insisted we stop along the road.

Our first major e vent of the day was climbing Watchman Peak.
Watchman Peak

It was only 3/4 mile up the trail to the peak, but in that 3/4 mile you climbed 420 ft. Paul slung the baby on his back and we started hiking up the trail.
Starting off up Watchman Peak

Right off the bat we found more snow – Jacob had fun throwing snowballs at me 🙂
Playing in the Snow along Watchman Peak Trail

After we played a bit, the real work began.
A hiking we go - Watchman Peak

Climbing Watchman Peak

The the hiking was hard work the views we were awarded with along the way were amazing.
View along Watchman Peak trail

Jacob especially had a hard time towards the top, granted he is only three years old and managed to climb to the top – but more than that we realized as we enjoyed the spectacular views – he’s a three year old with a heart defect! We wondered if the high altitude and the strenuous climb made it more difficult for him. Anyway, I was impressed with all the kids, but especially my little brave heart. 🙂
Watchman Peak

Another neat thing was that at the top of the peak we met a 28 year old lady who had recently recovered from brain surgery, AND had had heart surgery as an infant to repair an ASD. It was cool to chat with her – she was very impressed with Jacob’s climb too – and to once again see what wonderful and full lives these little brave hearts can grow to enjoy.

The view of Wizard Island and the surrounding areas were amazing. There was also a visit from a little furry friend – he was about a foot away from me.

Wizard Island from Watchman Peak

View from Watchman peak

Chipmunk on Watchman Peak

After Watchman peak we stopped at the visitor center and learned more about the lake. I got some views all the way around the lake – and pieced them together best I could. We also stopped for a picnic in the most amazing picnic area EVER!
Crater Lake Panoramic


We made many stops as we made our way around the lake. A favorite was Vidae Falls.
Vidae Falls 3

Vidae Falls 2

Vidae Falls 1

We stopped then at the Phantom Ship overlook – the kids loved the fact that the little island looked so much like a pirate ship.
Phantom Ship 2

Phantom Ship 1

After viewing the phantom ship we drove out to the Pinacles – one of my favorite things around Crater Lake. I remembered them from years ago when I had come with my parents. The pinacles are a colorful collection of 100-foot-tall spires that are being eroded from the canyon wall. The spires are “Fossil Fumaroles,” each marking a spot where volcanic gas rose up through hot ash deposits, cementing the ash into solid rock.
Pinacles 3

Pinacles 1

Pinacles 5

Pinacles 6

Pinacles 2

Pinacles 4

The trail was short – but near a cliff, so we were grateful it was hard-packed dirt and we could keep Jacob in the stroller. Near the end of the trail we passed a sign declaring we were exiting the national park and heading into the Winema National Forest. So, of course we had to give the children the opportunity of being in two places at the same time!
In 2 places at the same time

After the pinacles we finished our drive around the lake stopping for occasional views. Storm clouds were beginning to roll in and shrouding the lake in a heavy mist. We headed back to camp at about 6:00 in the evening. The trek home was an exciting one, but that story will have to wait until tomorrow.


Filed under Dot, Em, Family, Jacob, James, Lizy, Nature, Photography

Day 2 – the Lava Cast Forest, Lava Tube Cave, and Big Obsedian Flow

Wednesday Morning we arose to a slight drizzle and a cool morning. A nice change to the heat of the day before. We gathered sweatshirts and hopped in the car to get an early start – munching on cold cereal as we drove out to the Lava Cast Forest. Reading from the brochure, it says that the Lava cast forest was formed about 6,000 years when Newberry Volcano erupted along a series of fissures on its northwest flank. It sent smooth -textured pahoehoe lava noto the surgace through many vents located along the fissures. The Lava surged through the forest, engulfing everything it encountered. A mile long trail wound through the flow with views of miles and miles of lava presenting a barren and wild landscape.
Lava Cast Forest 11

In the Lava Cast Forest you can find everything from the twisted and dying, to young beauty struggling and thriving.
Lava Cast Forest 9

Lava Cast Forest 7

Lava Cast Forest 1

Lava Cast Forest 3

The reason for the name Lava Cast Forest is because of the casts the lava formed around trees. As the lava rushed up against a tree it would cool rapidly, but the tree would burn and disintigrate – leaving a hole where the tree once stood. Many of these holes are visible. The deepest one we found was tall than Paul’s six foot walking stick. Many of the holes that we can’t see along the path are deeper than 15 or more feet.
Lava Cast Forest 2

Lava Cast Forest 8

Here you can see where a log lay sideways when it was engulfed by lava.
Lava Cast Forest 5

After our exciting mile long hike around the Lava Cast Forest we drove a little further down the road to the Lava River Cave. It is a mile long lava tube that extends deep underground. Lava tubes are formed in flows of pahoehoe basalt. Lava tubes are crusted over channels which condust lava to the advancing frount of the flows. Crust formation starts near the vent where the lava spews fromt he earth, then gradually progresses downslope along the lava stream. It builds and builds until the molten reiver of lava stops, the tube drains leaving an empty cave. In most places the tube is close to 30 feet tall – with another 30 meet of ground above you. We went armed with flashlights, and decided to just see how far we would get – after all Jacob had to walk, and he had already walked a mile that morning.

Descending into the cave.
Lava River Cave 7

Lava River Cave 6

The cave was pitch black and very rough going – gratefully we had a lot of batteries – and there were a lot of people down there, so we had plenty of light just from passing people. I was mildly surprised that none of the kids were scared. It was cold – the caves are an even 42 degrees faranheit year round. We had sweatshirts, but by the end everybody’s hands were very cold.
Lava River Cave 3

In some areas the flow split – you can see here where a second tube is above Paul’s head.
Lava River Cave 2

One of the neatest things in the caves was the sand garden, which was too hard to get a decent picture of. Water would leak through cracks and crevices and little by little erode the sand in the tube forming neat patterns and rows. There were little hills and deep crevices. It was fascinating to see something so delicate that had been create over hundreds of years.

We walked all the way to the end – well the where we couldn’t go anyfurther with the baby backpack on anyway, and turned back. After two miles in darkness (one mile there, one mile back) we were very grateful to see the light. Jacob managed to walk the whole way – though he was having a really tough time by the end of the walk. We were doing anything we could think of (aside from carrying him) to keep him happy and focused. That little guy is such a trooper.
Lava River Cave 9

We were all greatful for the heat when we climed out of the cave. The sun had burned off the morning fog and mist and it was HOT. We ate a picnic lunch and made a new friend.
Lava River Cave 8

We were nearing on into late afternoon, and there was one final stop that I wanted to make that day. – the Big Obsedian Flow, located a little ways past our campsite. So we drove back up past Paulina Lake and turned into the parking lot. Some ominous gray clouds were aproaching in the distance, but we felt good about taking the short 3/4 mile walk through the flow. We took Jacob as far as we could in the stroller, and then he had to walk again. It was amazing walk through gigantic chunks of sleek black obsidian, mixed with other more pumice like varieties of obsidian. When the clouds passed away from the sun the entire flow would sparkle.
Big Obsedian Flow 5

We climbed a short set of stairs onto the flow – and were able to look down over Lost Lake. It amazes me first how abruptly the flow comes to a stop, and second how deep the flow was.
Big Obsedian Flow 7

The trail was an exciting one winding between huge rocks with astounding views of the flow around us.
Big Obsedian Flow 3

Big Obsedian Flow 4

Big Obsedian Flow 6

The clouds continued to move in and by the time Paul and the girls hit that tree we were feeling like we had best get off the flow. After all standing on a glass mountain when a storm comes isn’t too bright.
Big Obsedian Flow 1

Paul, the girls, and Jacob headed back down while I scoped out the view from the tree and took a few pictures. The more pictures I stopped to take the more urgent a feeling I had to get off the mountain NOW. Giant raindrops began to splat upon my face urging me onward. When I heard a distant clap of thunder I really began to move.
Big Obsedian Flow 2

Big Obsedian Flow

We made it down and to the car as a second clap of thunder sounded nearby. By the time we were back to camp large drops of rain were plopping all around. The kids and I hung out in the tent coloring while Paul sat outside. There was no thunder, so we wondered what the urgenct had been, but we were grateful we had listened. Soon the clouds passed and the sun came out. Things were nice and cool, rather than the heavy heat, and we could relax with a yummy dinner. Jacob was exhausted, after having walked over three miles that day, and fell asleep quickly while I read to the girls at the campfire long into the night. They were amazed at the stars and were awarded with two falling stars. We even found a big toad on our late evening trip to the bathroom. I caught it and took it back to camp to show dad – the girls were delighted when it peed on me.

We finally turned in and dreamt of our adventures to come on our trip to Crater Lake the next day.


Filed under Dot, Em, Family, Jacob, James, Lizy, Nature, Photography

Camping, Camping, Camping!

What do you get when you take an overloaded car, five kids, and two parents on a five day, four night camping trip? A TON of fun, a little stress, and lots to write about!

Monday we packed up the car and cartop carrier, loaded up the kiddos, and headed off to the Newberry National Volcanic Monument in the Deschutes National Forest (near Bend) for a week long camping trip. We arrived at Paulina Lake and found a nice secluded little spot away from all the other campers. We set up our tent and spent the afternoon and evening scavengering for wood for our campfire, roasting hotdogs and s’mores, singing songs, and telling stories around the campfire. It was the roughest night of the trip as Jacob was full of energy and excited about his first night in a tent – in a sleeping bag. We had gone camping last year and other times, but he was always in the port-a-crib, but now the baby has taken that spot.

We awoke early Tuesday morning and probably made more noise telling our kids to be quiet because other campers were still sleeping than they (the kids) were making in the first place. heh 🙂 We cooked up a yummy breakfast, complete with hot cocoa and headed off. Our first stop was back to bend to get more mosquito repellent and batteries – the mosquitos were eating us alive, and we quickly had used up what we had taken with us. While I was grabbing the stuff at Wal-Mart, Paul’s glasses busted. So I ended up sitting in a car with five restless children while Paul tried to figure out what to do about his glasses. He finally found a solution – but by the time we left Wal-Mart we had been sitting there for over an hour, and every one was frazzled. I was about ready to go back to camp pack up, and just go home. Thankfully we didn’t, because we ended up having the funnest week ever.

After the Wal-mart and glasses fiasco we headed to the Lava Lands Visitor Center just outside of Bend. We took the loop trail of Molton Lava from the Lava Lands Visitor Center out across the lava flow to its source at the base of Lava Butte. It was really exciting to walk through corridors of lava rock and see trees and brush struggling to survive and grow. The views of the Cascade Mountain range were astounding – especially visible were Mt. Bachelor, the Three Sisters, and Broken Top. The lava flow from Lava Butte is 30 to 100 feet thick and covers over 9 square miles. We also had the opportunity to drive up lava butte and see an amazing view in which we could even spot Mt Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, and many other mountains. We passed on the crater rim walk, as the trail looked narrow – we decided to wait ubntil the kids are a bit older to do that one. 🙂 And now, I shall swamp you with some pictures of Lava Lands…

As the trail wound through the flow you almost felt as though you were on some alien planet.
Lava Lands 2

Lava Lands 7

Looking across the flow up to Lava Butte
Lava Lands 11

Lava Lands 4

At some of the higher points of the flow we were gifted some amazing views across the flow and out to the nearby mountains.
Lava Lands 10

Lava Lands 3

Lava Lands 9

Some of the lava rocks were huge and impressive. And it was fascinating to see dead and twisted trees, as well as young thriving trees managing to grow from the little nutrients they could seek out around the flow.
Lava Lands 1

Lava Lands 5

Lava Lands 6

Lava Lands 8

This one was a lava ball. Lava balls grow when a small fragment of solidified lava rolls along the surface of an active flow and lava sticks or accretes to its surface. The growth of a lava ball is similar to the way a giant snowball grows when soft, sticky snow adheres to its surface as it rolls downslope.
Lava Ball at Lava Lands

After our walk we drove up the butte – and walked up the steep trail to the lookout tower from which you had a panoramic view of the surrounding area – it was simply amazing.

Lava Butte

When we descended from the butte it was way past lunchtime, so we had a picnic and then began our drive back to our camp at Paulina Lake. On the way though we stopped at Paulina Falls – and took the short walk to a gorgeous view.

Paulina Falls

Then we decided to drive up to Paulina Peak – it was a very narrow, very steep dirt road, that had all of us holding our breath as we drove to the top. Along the way we saw this guy standing right at the edge of the road – I took the photo out Paul’s window – without zooming at all – I was afraid he would run away if I took the time. 🙂
Deer on the way up Paulina Peak 2

Deer on the way up Paulina Peak 1

We managed to get to the top of the peak and were awarded by amazing views of the Newberry Caldera.
View from Paulina Peak 2

View from Paulina Peak 1

View from Paulina Peak 3

We drove back to camp around 5:30 and everyone was hot, grouchy and tired. We decided that a swim before dinner would do us all good, so we donned our suits and drove five miles down to East Lake for some water fun.
East Lake 2

East Lake 4

Trying to warm up on the dock.
East Lake 3

East Lake 1

We ended our second day with a dinner of vegies and ramen, and a games of uno inside the tent.


Filed under Dot, Em, Family, Jacob, James, Lizy, Nature, Photography