Leaving Oregon was one of the hardest parts of the trip for us. It was unanimously decided that Oregon was one of our favorite states. However, we were totally looking forward to being reunited with the Hamilton family, one of our favorite crews to meet up with each summer. Last summer, we were not able to meet up when the Hamiltons headed east for a family reunion, and of course, the Hoffpack was out west in the Rockies. I always love telling the story of the year we drove all the way out to California, thinking nobody would plan their vacation alongside us all the way out by the Pacific, yet Jeanne drove her camper all the way across the country with their three young daughters, picked Brian up in Phoenix (who had limited vacation time), and met us on the west coast. Now, that’s a tough woman!
My cousin Jill, Chuck’s sister Kimmy, and our crew drove up to Seaquest State Park in Washington and met up with the Hamiltons for a quick trip up to Mt. St. Helens.
After quickly setting up camp in this beautiful state park, we headed off for the famous volcano. It’s amazing that the campground was nearly an hour away, yet it was pretty much as close as we could get to the mountain. There really isn’t much of anything around this national park, a precaution put in place for the next eruption? I can’t imagine having that drive to work everyday! The girls have become very interested in mountains and volcanic activity, so they were especially excited to learn more about Mt. St. Helens. These little sponges quickly earned their junior ranger badges. They were comforted to know that the next time she erupts, scientists will be able to predict when that may happen, so thankfully, they were more than willing to hike along the ridge for a better view. The movie at the visitor center was one of the best national park videos we have seen, and even better when they lift the screen for a beautiful view of the mountain.
The kids could not have been happier to see each other. Our kids don’t have any cousins their age, but the Hamiltons certainly fit the bill for pseudo cousins.
The adults were just as thrilled to be reunited. Chuck and Brian went to college together, and when they get together, they revert to the good ‘ol college days and add to the kid count 😉
One of the things I will never forget about Mt. St. Helens is the beautiful array of wildflowers scattered everywhere, a reminder of the rebirth of life in an area that was once annihilated. Jill now has the iPhone 7 plus, and the portrait setting sure can do amazing things! I so want one!
One of the things we love most about having my super-positive, trooper of a cousin along with us is her willingness to go with the flow. As we were trying to empty the fridge to fit in more food for the next segment with no grocery stores along the way, Jill was all about eating the leftover pickles and even drinking the pickle juice. She also claims to “like” the burnt pie irons coming off the fire, which of course the kids won’t eat. How cool is she?
With such a big crew, we struggled to come up with a way to share meals, something we commonly do with the Hamiltons. Lucky for us, the super organized Jeanne had made lots of dinner meals and froze them before heading out to meet us. We picked up the remainder of the breakfast and lunch meals, and Jill and Kimmy loaded up with fruits, snacks, and desserts. It worked out perfectly. The kids were loving all the berries they brought with!
We finished off our one night stay at Seaquest (travel dates 7/8-7/9) with a fun fire, and all our cross county kiddos did some strengthening exercises and a nice run. That is one thing I regret not having more pictures of, but it is definitely noteworthy how hard these kids worked on vacation. Even though we were pretty tired at the end of the day after hiking (especially our feet), these kids were so committed to heading out for their runs. We love their commitment and hope they have some great cross county seasons!