Now that the weather is turning cold in Southern Oregon, I can more-happily reflect on record-setting summer temperatures that recently exceeded 100 degrees. Temperatures that high tend to drive us either indoors or out of town!
As mentioned in our previous post, Brookings, Oregon is a favorite escape where we can quickly be at the beach and Redwoods or simply enjoy some hiking for the day. This summer we decided to try our hand at camping.
We invested in a Lifetime Camping Tent Trailer, which doubles as a utility trailer when not camping (Jared wanted a utility trailer anyways—so it was a win/win!). We had considered a pop up trailer, but that would have required us to upgrade our vehicle, not to mention install bike racks on the top of the trailer—taking us way over our goal budget. When we saw Costco run a killer sale on the trailer, we jumped on it!
This cargo style tent trailer allowed us to pack up everyone’s bikes, lockable cargo totes with our belongings, and a cooler—with plenty of room to spare. The back of our van was packed with camping pads to use in the tent.
After unloading all of the cargo, we set up our tent in about 15 minutes. I have to admit—we love it. It has three sleeping areas. The bottom center fits a queen size camping pad, and the two side sleeping areas fit twin/full size sleeping pads. We ended up finding really luxurious pads that fit the sides perfectly (they’re a highly unusual size), and we purchased two inflatable pads to lay side by side in the bottom center.
We selected a campsite at the (very full/popular) Alfred A. Loeb State Park along the Chetco River. The campsites are located along a loop through the grounds, and the kids enjoyed endless fun racing their bikes in circles with the other kids.
In the evening we moved the inflatable pads aside and set up a folding table in the middle to play cards. We were able to stay away from bugs, and keep warm as the temperatures started dropping.
For dinner I had packed some African Quinoa Soup (a family favorite) that I began cooking at home before we left, and then transported in our Wonderbag—a portable slow cooker (that requires no electricity). It cooked the soup perfectly, and was ready to eat that evening.
When we all started fading, we crept into our sleeping bags and hoped for the best. Eli was not too thrilled about sleeping among everyone else (he is not a good co-sleeper). I also discovered an odd problem I had never thought of before—my sleeping bag is backwards. 12+ years ago I purchased my high quality sleeping bag at a huge discount from an outdoor store in Alaska (where I was living for the summer). The thing was, the sleeping bag was a child’s bag (no problem—I’m only 5’ and it is a 5’ bag), but the real clincher I had forgotten was that the bag is for LEFTIES. It opens on the left, which is quite annoying when your baby is sleeping and nursing on your right (and I’m right-handed). Hmph. I think my lefty son may soon be inheriting my othewise-super-comfy bag, and I may yet enjoy an upgrade!
The mattress pads all measured up perfectly, but after a night of sleeping in the center with the baby and Jared, I coveted the luxurious thick camping pads on the sides, and vowed to sleep up there with the baby next time (Jared and I won’t both fit, although two kids can share).
We realize it was still “fancy camping”, and we were hardly roughing it. I think any night when you’re not sleeping in a real bed and you cram multiple side-by-side is challenge enough (first-world problem, I know).
In all, it was a significant improvement over our last camping experience in Mexico THREE YEARS AGO (yes, I really wrote that!). After all, one of the reasons we moved back to the US was because we discovered that most other cultures don’t do outdoor recreation like Americans, and we missed it!
Anyway, back to Loeb State Park, we woke up in the morning and made pancakes on the camp stove, and then took our kids to the beach area within a short walking distance. It was still quite cool out, and it took them awhile to build up any confidence to enter the frigid water.
Ethan decided he was happier playing in the sand.
And Eli simply decided he was happy.
Finally, both girls immersed themselves, and built little mini-pools out of rocks.
Two sisters getting along is a beautiful (and sometimes rare) sight!
Most of the popular swimming areas on the Chetco River at Loeb Park are quite rocky, but this particular area has more sand and was therefore more child-friendly for our small ones. The clock was ticking for checkout, so we eventually made the kids leave their fun and return to the campsite to clean up, break down the tent, and pack the bikes up (a one-day camping trip is way too short!).
Maiya and Ethan busied themselves eating wild blackberries that grew all over the grounds (the camp hosts confirmed they were un-sprayed and perfectly fine to pick), while Ella was dubbed the babysitter. She managed to cart Eli around in the camping backpack for a good 5 minutes until she got bored/tired 🙂
Cute girl, and such an amazing big sister!
Alfred A. Loeb park was definitely a great camping spot—but it’s no secret. Next time we’ll plan to come during a weekday to avoid the crowds. It’s first-come-first-serve for campsites, so an early arrival is necessary on holiday weekends. Cute cabins are also available for rent for $40 (max 5 people), which is a great option (reservations available)! Also, since it’s one of the few places that has full services like bathrooms andshowers, it’s definitely one of Brookings’ most appealing campgrounds for families with kids!