Around mid-afternoon on Friday, John gave me a phone call and announced, "Let's go camping". Brayden had suggested it on Thursday night (well, kind of whined about why everyone else goes camping more often than our family....), but John had explained that he had to be at the church for a Mens' Round-Up table on Sunday so we wouldn't be able to go anywhere. Well, John had a change of heart, and decided someone else could run the table - as getting away with just our family was more important.
So, upon letting me know of these plans, Brayden and I started brainstorming on what would be the best thing to do for the weekend. (Mikayla was off on a playdate with Kenady, so Brayden and I were running errands together). We talked about trying to find a place to take the boat, but that would be a difficult endeavor, given we would be trying to find a coveted camping spot at "boat lake sites" on a Saturday - on a weekend predicted to hit the high 90's (thus everyone else and their dog would want to do the same thing). And, then, speaking of dogs - we wanted to take Sydney with us, and we agreed that if we took the boat, it would be too much time away from her. So, we considered camping sans the boat - and I thought the Metolius area might be just the trick.
It's located about 1 hour and 45 minutes away - about 10 miles from Sisters - and is an area I have not explored for over 15 years. John had never been there. We impressed ourselves as a family that we were able to leave the house by 10am on Saturday, without having had prepared anything until that morning. Clearly, we are learning to streamline the camping-packing process - and the kids are getting much better at learning to help.
John was super-impressed with the Metolius area. Our first stop was the tiny "town" of Camp Sherman. It has several upscale cottages and a cafe - as well as the greatest little general store ever. It's clear it is the "hub" of the Metolius River community as folks just love to hang out at the picnic tables out front or chat with the very friendly store owners. We found ourselves some yummy camping treats - got directions and the inside "411" about the best place to camp - and then we were on our way.
There are about 10 different campgrounds in this area, but knowing how busy the weekend was, and with the advice of the store owners, we headed to the furthest out of the campgrounds and landed an ideal little location at Candle Creek Campground. We felt very blessed.
After setting up camp (once again, in record time - love that new tent and helpful campers) - we played some volleyball (Mikayla and I) and football (Brayden and John) - and then decided to go for an adventure. The Metolius Recreation area has oodles of hiking trails and destinations. Since the kids wanted to go swimming with Sydney, we thought we'd follow the road that took us to the Jefferson Lake Trailhead. We drove there - and it was beautiful, but were thwarted by the trailhead sign that announced it was a 7 1/2 mile hike to get to the lake. Hmm, not where we were at as a family at 4pm to take that one on (maybe Michele and I will take that adventure next year). So, then we opted for another suggestion from the folks at the country store. We ventured off to the head of Jack Creek - where, upon hiking about a mile, you actually see this creek come bubbling forth right from the ground - actually it looks like it's coming straight from a tree trunk.
I'd LOVE to show you all the pictures of this, and of all of us on the hike - the joy of Sydney wading in the water, the fun smiley face someone left in the trail made from pinecones, or a great shot of John and I posing in a hollowed out tree. BUT.......my camera ate the pictures! UGHHHH - this is the second time that this has happened (the last time was the day we spent at MGM Studios in Orlando) - and this time it happened when the camera was in John's hands. Both times, neither one of us can understand why on earth it happened, so frustrating. That happened by the campfire on Saturday night - so we only have pictures from then on......
After a remarkable night's sleep (the other bummer of the trip was having to make a run for Sisters because one of our air mattresses had a hole in it - at least we figured it out before bedtime....) - we all arose in happy moods - made even happier by yummy cinnamon rolls and the night-before's berry cobbler.
Sydney had so much fun. She so desperately wanted to catch one of the dozens of chipmunks we saw (along with the 6 deer - and get this, NO MOSQUITOS!). Brayden had her smiling big-time in this pic.
This was the only other vacant campsite in our campground - right across from us. The campground is surrounded on both sides by creeks/rivers - so beautiful.
Us, posing with our sports-practicing kiddos.....
This is the view of Mt. Jefferson, right around the corner from our campground.
And, the view of the "Lower Bridge" of the Metolius - the point where you can start using regular rods to catch fish - as the upper area is strictly fly-fishing only.
One of the things that makes the Metolius River unique, is that it just "emerges" from the ground - here's the sign that describes this.
On our way out of the area this afternoon, we strolled the path down to check this "phenomenon" out. This is the view of the river as it emerges.
And this is what I refer to as a "Plymouth Rock picture". Way back when, when Brayden was just 6 months old, we took a family trip to Boston for the company that John was employed by at the time. On one of the days he was working, I took Brayden to visit "Plymouth Rock" with me. I took pictures of the replica ship - of Brayden, and the area, but never snapped a shot of the very tiny remnant which is all that is left of the great "Plymouth Rock" where the pilgrims landed. It seemed pointless because the picture would reveal nothing more than a small stone. But, John has never let me live it down, giving me such a hard time that I never took a picture of the "most important thing". So, as we laughed about that story with the kids today, I made sure to take this picture, even though it really looks like nothing (it is where the water is originating). Sadly, the pictures at Jack Creek were much more impressive......but they are gone.
Mikayla, getting a piggy-back ride on the way on out. I can almost guarantee we'll be back to this area for future camping adventures. We all had so much fun as a family, and it was really so easy to make happen. And, of course, John was salivating about all of the picture opportunities, so we'll make sure to bring his camera next time too.....