This year we asked the girls, independent of each other, if there was anywhere we could go as a family where they would like that to be. They both gave the same answer: Crater Lake. When asked if we could go two places, they both responded with the Redwoods. Needless to say, summer vacations were pretty easy to plan. They had each been to both destinations, but we had not been to either of them all together. First up was Crater Lake.
The girls had fun at the park sign, as usual.
Ellie wasn't familiar with photo bombing, so Jim took the opportunity to educate her. I'm still not sure she gets it since we haven't looked through pictures together yet.
This trip we decided to hike down to the water. We avoided it before because the park reports it as "strenuous" and we weren't sure what that would mean for the kids. Turns out, it was easy-peasy for them. We've already found that half the park service reported distances for hikes are off, and we figure they are extremely conservative in all their assessments just to be safe. It was about 2 miles round trip, and in one mile changed 800 feet in elevation. Down was a breeze.
We made it to the water and took our shoes off with very little hesitation. Boy, did that cold water feel good! Crater lake is such a dusty, dirty place to camp (darn volcanic ash) and it felt amazing.
My handsome baby daddy. We have so much fun together.
The view from the lake is far less spectacular than from the rim. Looking down you get a much better view of the stunning blue and the size of the caldera. From the lake, it just feels like another lake. We could see Wizard Island but did not mortgage our lives to pay for boat rides over. Granted, they were sold out anyway.
On the way out we let the girls go ahead of us. It turns out that elevation + pregnancy + steep grade = really, really hard for me. I felt like a wimp since I was moving pretty slow and had to stop periodically because my heart rate would be going out of control. There were a couple little boys right behind our girls and the girls were DETERMINED to beat them to the top. They did. It took 22 minutes to hike down, and about 25 minutes to hike up. They seriously rocked the trail and we are really proud of them. As we found the next day, they were not prepared for the sore glutes that hiking up a hill gave them.
One of my favorite things about camping is the way the kids have no choice but to use their imagination because we don't let them take toys. The girls built this "campfire" and spent hours pretending to run a restaurant and cook things to order.
Plus all manner of other play that I was not privy to.
We took the kids' bikes and that was the best decision ever! Ellie was so happy about her bike and even happier about the Camelbak my parents gave her last summer. She ran around wearing her helmet and the pack for hours. Jim joked about how different it was when we were kids and what it would have been like to run around in a helmet that long... ah, thank goodness for safety awareness progression through the ages.
Don't read too much into those faces: they really did love riding their bikes around camp without us by their side every second.
Crater Lake was a blast. It surprises us a little how much the girls like it because there isn't as much to do there as in other parks, but they both love it. I'm going to choose to believe it's because of the park itself and not because we buy ice cream from the campground store.