At the beginning of the summer our family took a camping trip into the middle of nowhere of the Umatilla National Forest.
We had the best time and we all concurred that it will be an annual trip. This post is really more to document our time for the memories, but feel free to read on if you are interested!
(One quick note- I mention every single meal in this post because when I made notes about our trip, my kids insisted I include what we ate 🙂 )
After driving about six hours on a Friday, we arrived in the dark in the middle of a lightning storm. Lane got the RV all arranged, and we read a couple of chapters from Grandma’s Attic and went to bed.
The next morning we woke up to sunshine and blue skies. Lane had been camping in this spot before, but the rest of us were seeing it for the first time. We were pulled in far from the rutted road we came in on, and we were in a field surrounded by fir trees. Behind our spot the ground sloped down to a creek. Beyond that, we could see tree-covered hills in the distance for miles. It felt like we were completely secluded from anything or anyone. It was wonderful.
We had eggs and sausage for breakfast. Then we packed sandwiches and fishing gear and headed to the lake.
At the lake, the boys, Elle, and Lane fished while Nat, Sascha, and I walked around the lake and explored. We found a pretty stream that was fun to hike around, but difficult with Sascha who was not used to being on the leash.
When we left the lake, Lane drove us around, pulling over and doing turkey calls here and there. Unfortunately, we heard nothing in return.
That evening we grilled steak fajitas and ate them while we watched the clouds come in and darken. We decided to explore anyhow, so we loaded the kids and dog in the back of the pick-up and headed out.
As we were driving, large drops of rain began to fall sporadically. Before we knew it, there was a full-blown lightning storm. We stopped the truck and the kids piled into the cab.
The next morning was beautiful again, and we started the day with toaster waffles- a RVing tradition for our family. The lake was our destination once again to fish and hike around.
Our late lunch consisted of hotdogs and hamburgers back at the campsite. After that, Lane had some viewpoints he wanted to show us.
He drove us to the spot he had in mind and we started the hike to see the view. As we began, we noticed mosquitoes beginning to swarm around us. We kept moving, hoping that maybe there was some standing water nearby that was attracting them. However, as we continued, they only seemed to get more dense. We tried to move quickly to avoid them landing on us. Everyone pulled on their long-sleeves despite the heat to attempt to cover as much skin as possible.
We arrived at the spot that Lane wanted to show us, but by that point we were all so distracted slapping mosquitoes off our legs and one another’s heads that we could not fully enjoy the beauty. The whole family was laughing, but we ended up running back to the truck as fast as possible to avoid being completely eaten alive.
Lane still wanted us to see some nice views, so he drove us to a couple more spots. When the truck stopped each time, we observed so many mosquitoes out the windows that we chose to stay in the vehicle.
On the North side of a butte swarming with mosquitoes, I prayed that we could find one decent spot and enjoy a view as a family.
As always, God answered my prayers.
It took awhile to drive around to the South side of the butte. The drive was through forest that was darkening as the sun was beginning to go down. When we came around to the south side, we were once again in the sunlight. A large valley spread out below us. We parked and decided to hike out to a lookout spot.
Evidently we had come to the edge of the national forest, because there were two or three houses in the valley below. It was dusk and there was a slight breeze and no signs of mosquitoes. When we arrived at the lookout point, Lane set up his scope. We watched as eight deer meandered just below us in the valley. We found deer and elk scat, many tracks, and even some bones. That evening was one of those times that you realize you are making a lasting memory as it is happening. You wish you could click the pause button on time, but you have to just enjoy it and soak it all in as it is happening.
It began to grow dark, so we hiked back out and drove back to the campsite. Dinner was chicken pitas. It was a clear night, and very cold. The boys slept out in a tent with Sascha.
Monday morning we had a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, leftover steak, and hash browns. On our way to the lake that morning Lane spotted a turkey hen- the first sign of a turkey we had seen all weekend.
Lane and the kids fished while I walked around and relaxed a bit. Just as we were about to leave, Lane cast in one more time and caught a foot long rainbow trout! As he was gutting it (with our three youngest watching and eagerly listening to him explain the anatomy) James caught a trout as well!
After the fish were gutted, we drove out to the Heppner unit and set up the grill and some targets. We ate hotdogs and did some shooting. As Lane helped each kiddo with their target practice, I explored around with the other kids. We found all sorts of tracks, including hooves and paw prints as big as my hand.
It started getting late, and the mosquitoes came out again, so we packed up and headed back to camp.
The next morning Lane and James woke up before the sun to try to call in a turkey. They had no luck, but it was a good learning experience for James. After that we packed up and made the day trip back home.
The beauty of the forest and lake, and the peacefulness of being out in the middle of it with nothing else around was wonderful. We have decided it will for sure be an annual trip for our family. Although next year we may go a little later in the season and hope for less mosquitoes!