Ft. Stevens State Park-2017


Ft. Stevens State Park is up at the tip of Oregon, by the ocean.  We love to camp there because there’s so much to do in the surrounding area.  The park has a lake, Coffinbury Lake, where we like to fish.  Even on a “bad” fishing trip, we usually catch something.   On this trip, we went fishing 3-4 times, and caught a total of 5 trout.

For the first 1/2 of our stay, Rob and I only had 1 child with us, Patsy.  That is such a difference from our “norm” that I did nothing but sleep and fish for the first day!  During the second half of our stay, our nephew, Jake joined us, giving us a little more excitement:)  By then, we were rested up, and enjoyed doing things with both kids.



Rob helped Jake catch a little bass, but we did not keep it.


One day, we went crabbing off a bridge in nearby Seaside.  We got 2 keepers!  A kind man who was cleaning his freezer drove by the bridge where we were crabbing and offered us some old clams and some clam guts.  We gratefully accepted and that’s what we got the 2 keepers on.  We pulled up lots of females and too-small crabs on our usual chicken, but there were so many traps in the water that the larger, male crabs must have been in the mood for a change.


We were disappointed because we were not able to catch razor clams this year.  Last summer, we had so much fun and got a lot.  We brought all of our equipment, but were informed that razor clamming was closed due to some kind of toxicity in the clams.   Sad as we were, we did not want to take any chances eating unsafe clams, so we did not follow any (bad) advice we were given by several older men to “just do it anyway” because they ate them and were still alive.  No thank you.  It may open again in October, we will see.


Instead, we visited nearby Battery Russell, and the Ft. Stevens military museum and the site where the actual fort had been.  Most of the information dealt with defending the coastline during World War II.  Jake especially loved the guns, tanks and other military items.  It was his first time there.


We saw deer, squirrels, birds of all sorts, and elk!  Several elk were meandering through the nearby town of Hammond one day while we were driving through.  I’m glad I don’t have to contend with those coming near my garden!!


Of course, no beach trip is complete without digging in the sand, for the kids, at least!


We went down by the wreck of the Peter Iredale, which is the carcass of a ship that’s been down on the beach near our campsite for as long as I can remember.


We went to the mouth of the Columbia River and the kids fed the seagulls the old pancakes that were leftover from breakfast.  We got to see several boats, some of which were going out (maybe fishing) and some coming in (probably bringing in cargo).

We drove over the 4-mile bridge that separates the state of Oregon from the state of Washington.  We always enjoy doing that and the kids love it, too!  Between all of those activities, the kids built Legos, watched movies, and read books.  They listened to stories on c.d. from the library while we drove.

On Friday morning, we packed up early and headed back home.  It was a fun, busy, educational week, packed with lots of outdoor activities.  It was especially satisfying because we had wanted to give Jake experiences he did not usually engage in, and boy, did we succeed.  He wants to go camping some more, and that’s just how we wanted it to turn out!

Detroit Lake State Park-Memorial Day 2017


We went camping at Detroit Lake for Memorial Day weekend.  We stayed 3 nights, and were blessed with exceptionally nice weather.  It was especially welcome since we have had such a rainy, wet spring.


The wild rhododendrons were in bloom.


There were a couple of unusual strains of Scotch Broom–usually it’s just yellow.


There were many ducks and geese, but not as many as we have seen in years past.


Even this chipmunk was cooperative when I wanted to take a picture!


Some geese had babies.



Patsy and I had a great hike one day, circling the campground.  One side runs along the road, but they’ve done a great job of making you feel like you are more secluded than you are.  The other side runs along the lake, and that is always a treat.  We talked to people who were fishing, and some caught fish, but we did not this time.


We did enjoy some quiet time next to the lake, though, in the early morning on Saturday.  It’s rare for Rob and I to get any time alone, so that was one of my favorite times of the entire trip.  I also enjoyed time spent with family members who came up to visit us later that morning, and enjoy the lake as well for the day.  Rob cooked chicken over the fire, which is a favorite of everyone.  People pitched in and brought some things, so we sat and happily munched on chips, veggies, and melon.  One evening, we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire.  On Sunday afternoon, I got a big nap.  All in all, the trip was just what we needed–some time to get away from the hustle and bustle that our life is, and just enjoy some time out in God’s beautiful creation.



Time to Get the Camper Organized for Camping


It is hard to get a block of time to organize the entire camper.  I decided to break it up into chunks this year.  I doubt I’ll ever have an entire day to accomplish that task, so I though I’d get started really early to make sure it was done before I wanted to go, thus hopefully alleviating stress at the time.

I went out there and looked through the freezer a few days ago.  I was amazed at what had migrated into it.  I removed a bag of rolls, probably leftover from Thanksgiving or Christmas, some cranberries (?), and a few other items.  I noticed some of our daughter’s food items lurking in there, as well.  I’ve told her they have to go soon.  The fridge was relatively empty, save for a few extra eggs and cheese, that are in there for lack of space in the kitchen fridge.  I won’t stock the fridge until right before we go camping.  But, the freezer is a different story.  I plan to put a few packages of hamburger, bacon, sausage, etc. in there.  It keeps as well there as in any other freezer, so it’s a way I can pre-plan.

I usually make a casserole or spaghetti sauce and freeze for easy cooking on rainy camping nights when we don’t want to cook over a fire.  I can thaw, and pop into the mini oven we have in the camper.   I put the casserole(s) into dishes and pans from the camper, so they fit into the oven, and I can just put them away out there after we eat the casserole.  Close to the time of the camping trip, I make a few food items like potato salad, or cooked chicken or a casserole and put the prepared items in the fridge for the first night, when we are busy setting up and have no time to cook.  We have a really aversion to trying to get fast food for the kids while pulling a camper–too hard, so it’s nice to say “dinner’s in the fridge, no need to stop.”  If we are going to be on the road a lot, I pack a lunch and put it in a cooler right inside the door to the camper, so we can reach in, grab it, and hand out sandwiches, etc. without even having to put the steps down.

Today, I went through some of the food cupboards.  Remember, we lived in the camper all summer last year, so I had quite a bit of food in there.  A lot of it was partial packages, as I was cooking in there daily last summer.

I always keep the camper cupboards well-stocked.  When we are camping, we may eat out occasionally as a vacation treat, but most of the time we cook at the camper.  Sometimes, we camp a long ways from restaurants, but not always.  Unfortunately, much restaurant food makes me extremely sick, due to my several gluten intolerance.  We like our own cooking way too much anyway, and I feel so much better eating our food, so we cook, even when we are camping in a populated area like the coast.   It also saves money. We often experiment with different campfire cooking recipes, especially Rob, and tend to have more big breakfasts with things like bacon, fried potatoes and pancakes.  So, I stock spices, and ingredients for many recipes and take lots of food.


During this past winter,  we occasionally went out to the camper, looking for an ingredient or two for a recipe,  so I wasn’t sure what was in there anymore.  It was time to sort it out!  I do try to organize the cupboards in the late winter every year, anyway, to keep things fresh and to know what I have and don’t have, but this year it was critical.


I pulled partial packages of things out.  I made cookies with all the bits of chocolate chips and M and M’s I found.  I found an empty sugar container and filled it.  I saw I did not have marshmallows.  The syrup is almost gone, as is the pan spray, and so it went.  A couple of things had spilled or leaked slightly.  I wiped them up.  I am making a list of what is needed and will slip a few items onto my grocery list each time I go so I won’t cost me a fortune to re-stock at any one time.  I’ve already slipped a case of water, some cookies I got for free from Fred Meyers Friday Freebies, and some chips.

After I sort out and re-stock the cupboards, I will go through the entertainment cupboard. I like to keep books, games, toys and craft kits in there, especially for Patsy, as she is still young enough to want things to do to keep her busy. She likes to embroider dish towels, so I’ll make sure there are some of those kind of supplies in there as well.   I will sort out the DVDs as well to make sure there’s plenty of interesting movies for times when I want a nap.

I will make sure the bathroom supplies are stocked.  I robbed shampoo and conditioner from there during the winter, as well as body wash, etc.  I will make sure there are enough old towels out there, that too many have not been pilfered during the winter.

We will also make the beds with clean sheets.  The camper was used as a guest house a couple of times, so sheets need to be replaced on the bed because they were used and washed.


I always keep a sewing machine in the camper.  I will make sure I have a sewing project or 2, either a garment for one of the girls or a quilting project.  My daily life is so busy that I often quilt ONLY while camping.  Sad, but true, so I make sure I have supplies in the camper, because I really enjoy it.  It’s the main reason why I finish so few projects.  When you only work on them a couple of times per year–well, you don’t finish very fast.  I also like handwork like embroidery or crocheting, so I make sure I have a project or 2 along.  I will visit the library before we go each time and stock up on reading materials.

Rob will fill the lower outside compartments with fishing poles and supplies, crab traps, and cast iron cooking kettles and supplies such as charcoal.  Bait will be purchased when we actually go camping.  He will make sure all the mechanical things are working well, such as the water heater, tires, jacks, etc.  He is also in charge of the outside kitchen, and we will need to go through it once we get to the campsite.  Where we have it parked, we cannot open it up properly, but I know it’s pretty messy in there from last summer.  We love that feature and used it a lot last summer.


As we finish sorting and renewing our supplies over the next few weeks, we will hopefully be able to take a moment and remember the wonderful summer we had last year.  This year, we hope to clam, crab, fish, hike, play and walk on the beach, and visit the mountains.  Since Rob’s job ended up being with the school system, he has the summer off.  I do not, but do have flexibility with my job, as I am a personal support worker for my DD service niece and nephew.  There are some times when they are going on vacation with their family, so I’m free then. Also, I can take them with us if we want to go camping for a couple of days when I’m supposed to be working.  It will be a great experience for them as well, and fun for all.  Part of what I do when I am working with them is help them have new experiences, grow and develop as people, gain life skills, etc., and I can do that while camping, fishing, crabbing, etc.   In-between camping trips, we hope to grow a big garden, can and freeze the produce, and participate in several church activities for both the kids and ourselves.  It’s shaping up to be a great summer!








Honeyman State Park and Barbecue


This past week, we were camped at Honeyman State Park, near Florence, Oregon.  It was our first time there.  There were some things we liked, and some we weren’t as enthusiastic about.

Before we left, Rob barbecued lunch for the extended family on Sunday, as he often does.  He decided to make tator tots on the grill.  2 pans were lined with foil and the frozen tots were placed in them.  They were placed on the grill and the cover was lowered.  They took about the same time as the hamburgers.  He learned that they needed to be stirred occasionally, as they tend to burn on the bottoms.  He repeated this at the state park this week, as it worked well.


We enjoyed our time camping.  The park has 2 large lakes and many sand dunes.  We do not have ATV’s or sand buggies, or a boat, so we did not take advantage of those opportunities.  What we did was go out to a jetty and take a walk, take a drive and eat ice cream, do laundry, grocery shop, and drove back to the valley one day for business.


We feel like we are ready for a week at camp, where we are going to volunteer, cooking.  There is not wifi or cell reception, so I will be out of touch until next week.  I’m looking forward to staying put for an entire week!


South Beach State Park-Newport


This week we are at South Beach State Park in Newport.  It is quite a bit south from Ft. Stevens, where we were last week, and is on the central Oregon coast.  We did land at my sister’s house for a few days in-between the 2 campgrounds, where we got the garden in shape, picked produce, grocery shopped and spent Sunday going to church and with family.

At South Beach State Park, there are no full hook-ups, only electric and water.  Therefore, we are using the central bathrooms as much as possible, especially for showers so our tanks don’t get too full.  There is a place to empty those tanks after our stay.

So far, we went for a family bike ride yesterday, and the girls literally rode for miles today. The bike/hike trail leads to the South Beach Jetty.

Today, Rob and the girls went out and caught some sand shrimp during the early morning low tide for bait.  Then he went fishing off the rocks at the jetty while the girls rode around on their bikes and I watched.


He used his biggest pole and put 2 sand shrimps on 2 hooks.  He was worried that the pole was too big for the job, and spent some time using a smaller one, only to return to this stronger one.  He got several good, strong bites, but did not catch a fish.  No one else we saw caught one, either, and we were there for a couple of hours.  Then, a seal came along and scared the fish away, we presume, since there were no more bites after that.    Rob has fished off the rocks before, in the ocean, but it has been many years since he had time for it.  It was fun, but would have been even more fun if he had caught something!  It was a lovely day, though, and I really enjoyed looking at the boats going in and out of Yaquina Bay, the bridge, the blueness of the water and the birds and tiny crabs scuttling around the rocks right below where we were sitting.



Ft. Stevens-Day 2 and 3-May 2016


Friday morning started very early–around 4 a.m., when I heard a lot of noise outside the camper.  Upon opening the door, this little guy was trying to get into Rob’s cooler full of fishing bait.  He succeeded in opening the cooler, but we chased him away before he could get the bait.  There was also chicken in there, and we saved that, too.  Good thing I’m not much of a sleeper in the wee hours of the morning!


It must have been wildlife day, because on our way to the beach, we saw this herd of elk.  There were quite a few of them, and we stopped and watched them for a while before heading on our way.


We wanted to go clamming for the first time in about 25 years.  To get to the place where a man and woman said the clamming was good, we had to climb down this jetty.  It was challenging, but we made it, with our containers, clam gun, shovel and coats.  J wanted to bring her coffee she had made in the camper, so she did.  That’s dexterity:)

We had great success–39 clams in total.  We could have had 60 (15 each), but it began to pour rain on us, so we stopped.  It was extremely fun, and I plan to do a post on how we dealt with those clams after we caught them.


Saturday morning, Rob and Patsy went fishing for trout in Coffenbury Lake.  J and I walked over, down the trail, and joined them.  He caught one, and we went back. It was very cold and windy, and we build a big fire and enjoyed toasting ourselves around it.

On Friday, some of our 4H friends joined us, and on Saturday, another family arrived.  We enjoyed some time around the fire, visiting, and the kids rode bikes and scooters along the many paths.


We ended up with a good old-fashioned marshmallow roast after dinner.

Sunday, we went to Ft. Clatsop and enjoyed the history behind the Lewis and Clark journey.  Many of the kids did the Jr. Ranger program and got lovely patches and/or badges.  Most of them are now down at the beach, playing.  We are having a great time!

Memorial Day Weekend-2016-Day 1


We had an easy drive down to Ft. Stevens State Park, near Astoria on Thursday.  After setting up camp, we decided to go fishing in the mouth of the Columbia River.  Actually, Rob wanted to go fishing, the rest of us went along for the ride.

We drove down the road, and turned into the place where Rob had fished years ago.  Our “Summer of Adventure” got off to a great start when the road was no longer there, and it turned quickly into a sand path.  Obviously, others had traveled down that way, so we tried to as well.  We quickly changed our minds and turned around.  Much to our dismay, our van was not up to the task, and the wheels began to hopelessly spin in the sand.  Oops!  After fruitlessly spinning for a while, going a bit, then getting stuck again, I declared I needed OUT!  NOW!  So, I jumped out while Rob, with a determined look on his face, gunned the engine, got going and blasted his way out of that predicament!  Whew.  To get out of the sand, he was going pretty fast, and got a little ways down the road, while I trotted behind.  He stopped.  I got back in and we both started giggling hopelessly.  “Summer of Adventure” we chorused in unison!

The next place we tried was better.  There was a parking lot.  Nice and firm.  We parked and got out, and went down the path.  Sadly, that one led to a drop-off and we knew that we could get down, but probably not back up–so it was a no-go.  We hiked first one way, and then another, and Ja’Ana found a way.  This was through quite a few bushes, I will say, which was interesting with the fishing poles, but we made it.


Rob has a 2-pole license, so he set up the 2 poles, and the rest of us read, sat on chairs, or roamed the beach at will.  He got 1 bite, but had fun.

We were treated to the sight of the lumber ship, pictured above, leaving the mouth of the Columbia, heading out for unknown ports.  It was a majestic sight, weaving between the markers that led it through the channel.

It started raining, so we packed it up and headed back to the camper.  Day 1 was a success.

Macaroni Pizza in the Camper


When I cook in the camper, I rely on my stockpile of basic food items that I keep in there.  I also try to buy a few vegetables and salad ingredients before we take off to enjoy.  Still, it isn’t as large as a selection as I have at home.  On this last camping trip, I had to make some creative changes in my menu.

I had made some nice little pizza crust mixes and stored them in the camper a few weeks ago.  I planned to make pizza with one of them, and brought everything I needed.  I THOUGHT!  Much to my dismay, I forgot the yeast.  So, I had to change plans mid-stream.  Patsy was already grating cheese when I discovered this mistake, and that’s a girl who likes her pizza.  I remembered that I had made macaroni pizza long ago and tried to remember what I had done so long ago.

I pulled some quinoa corkscrew pasta from the cupboard and boiled 1/2 box, according to the package directions.   I left it al dente.Any pasta will do, I am just limited to gluten-free kinds.  I did not want leftovers as we were returning home soon after making this meal.  I sprayed a bread pan with non-stick spray and put the cooked pasta in it.


I covered the pasta with 1/2 can of tomato sauce and sprinkled it with parmesan cheese.


I put the remaining sauce in a baggie, can and all.  This is how I store runny things in the camper fridge, for the most part—-really sealed up tight.  I’ve had things jump out at me when we reached our destination, and it’s not pleasant to have a 1/2 jar of dill pickles all over the camper floor, or anything else for that matter.  To help with the shifting, especially on the trip home when we’ve eaten a lot of food, I pack the spaces with the dirty dish towels, as long as they are just damp.


I keep 2 small baskets stacked in the cupboard with things like spices and baking soda.  I use small containers I bought years ago at yard sales.  So, I sprinkled the sauce with Italian seasoning to impart a “pizza” flavor.

Then, I added the toppings we had on hand.  Any toppings could be used.  I start with whatever kind of cheese I have.  A leftover crumbled hamburger, the last of a can of pineapple, some olives, leftover peppers or mushrooms, some ham from breakfast, etc.–it all works.

I baked the casserole for 20 minutes in the camper oven, and we enjoyed it very much.  This could be doubled and cooked in the kitchen oven at home, as well.  You could spread the toppings out more, too, if you were trying to be economical–I was trying to use things up!  It sure was yummy, though.IMG_2296

We had it with home-canned green beans and cantaloupe.

Rob’s Way of Campfire Cooking


When Rob cooks over a fire, he builds it carefully, in a certain way.  First, he starts a fire, using kindling, as normal, and then adds larger wood chunks.  He lets that burn for a while, until coals start forming on the larger pieces of wood.  Then, he carefully moves the coals under the grate, and pushes the larger (still burning) pieces to the end of the fire pit. He then feeds the coals with small pieces of wood he has cut down, a few at a time.  He wants to keep the fire going, but he needs to keep the heat down where he is going to be cooking.  As he also feeds fuel to the larger pieces of wood as well, they generate more coals, which can then be pushed under the grate as needed.  This takes both time and patience.  Starting your fire an hour before you want to cook would not be too early.  You really want a good bed of coals to cook on so the food is cooked evenly and not burnt on the outside or raw in the middle.

He has an old rack from a discarded barbecue that he takes with us whenever he wants to do fire cooking.  It has a smaller distance between the grates, and doesn’t let food fall through as easily as the larger, provided rack does.  He also can raise and lower the rack to keep the heat even, using rocks and sticks.

We have even taken old cookie-cooling racks to use in the past, when we were backpacking.  Rob propped them up on rocks out in the forest.

Rob puts the grill rack onto the fire and heats it up.  Then, he cleans it off with newspaper.

Once everything is set up, and the coals are hot, you add the food.  If you are using skewers, you do need to soak them in water first.  Otherwise, they catch on fire.  He also keeps some water nearby to pour onto the coals to keep the temperature down, if needed, and to put out any burning skewers, etc.  If you have long-handled tongs to move the food around with, that is great.  If not, 2 sticks will work.  A pot holder is a handy thing to have on hand, as well.  If you were far out in the wilderness, a shirt or other piece of  clothing could be used.  BUT, you do need to use something to protect hands and fingers, especially if you are showing kids how to do this.  Clearly, fire cooking is done on a fire…….


There are several methods Rob likes to use in fire cooking.  Kabobs can be cooked on skewers.  He makes chicken and other meat straight on the grill.  This chicken was marinated in a purchased marinade, then cooked over the fire.  Tin foil is another favorite method.  The potato that is shown was cooked in foil down in the coals the day before, and is just being warmed up for dinner.  They can be put directly in the coals, but the skins are more edible when wrapped in foil. The foil packet is a good way to do foil dinners and  vegetables.  It holds cauliflower in this picture.  He also uses foil to make a little “pan” when he wants to cook something delicate, like fish, that might fall apart into the fire.  Last, but not least, is the time-honored method of simply poking the food with a stick and roasting it over the fire.  That is the fastest, and most used method at our campfire!

Campfire cooking is a skill that takes patience and practice.  But, for us, it is worth the time and energy to gather around a campfire and take a step back in time as we enjoy our dinner outside, while also enjoying the sights and sounds of nature around us, and each other’s company.  You also can’t beat the clean-up!

What have you been cooking on a fire lately?



Detroit Lake Campground Trail


The trail around the Detroit Lake Oregon State Park campground was easy and fun.  About 2 years ago, we had camped there, and they were just building it.  We hiked around, but there were some interesting parts where we were on the edge of a steep bank, walking in little creeks, etc.  Now, it is all finished and was a good hike.   There are stairs like these to get around some of the worst spots, now, and cute little bridges to cross the creeks.


On our recent camping trip, we hiked different parts of the trail on different days.   One side runs along HWY 22, inside a fence, and curves between the campsites and the road.  The other side of the trail goes along Detroit Lake itself.  It makes a loop.


On the west end, you can see Mt. Jefferson peeking out between the hills.  Right now, the lake is pretty low, because it is a reservoir, and they let the water in and out as needed.


On one of our hikes, we witnessed a male Canada goose chasing away others from “his” territory and mate.  On other trips, we saw many, many baby geese.  It’s just too early for that, yet.

It would be a good hike to take if, even if you were just passing through the area on the way to Central Oregon.  I think you would have to pay the day-use fee, though, if you parked in the campground itself.  Of course, when you are camping, it’s included.IMG_0790

This picture is from a couple of years ago, but I’m sure the sight will be repeated this spring, as usual.  I cannot tell you how cute the babies were to see in person–we enjoyed them.  Detroit Lake Campground will always hold a special place in our hearts, since it is the first place we ever took Patsy camping.  It has been heartwarming to see how she has learned to enjoy it so much when we all go together.