Grab your coffee, it might be a long one~
Last fall we reserved our campsites for Fort Stevens…..a Wednesday arrival and Sunday departure. We woke up normal time on Wednesday and relatively leisurely packed up the trailer with a goal departure of 9am. We didn’t want to get there too early. Check in is not technically until 4pm, but for the past few years we’ve lucked out and our spot has been vacant when we pull in. (I actually check the reservation site a few days before we head out to see if anyone has it reserved. If it was reserved, we’d just park in one of the neighboring sites and wait it out….check out is 1pm).
Oh, let me back up a bit.
Monday night we went to my parents’ house to take the canvas cover off the the trailer and inspect for mouse poopies and make sure all our stuff is still in there. Of course there were mouse poopies. Great. No mouse damage, just droppings. So we get out the vacuum and the cleaning solution and get to work. Fortunately I keep all our linens and cooking pots/pans boxed up and out of reach from the mice, but our silverware drawer was affected- so I had to bag all that up to take home to wash. Ugh.
We get everything else cleaned and ready and just before we hook up the truck to pull out, I notice that the fridge isn’t working. Uh oh. We had taken it in to Hillsboro RV at the end of August and they were performing some sort of maintenance recall on the fridge….I hoped that the fridge not working was the result of them not plugging something back in. Ugh. This means we get to drop the trailer off at the repair place, instead of bringing it home to start packing.
Suddenly Jim exclaims “Oh man- I hope they didn’t leave the hot water tank on when they replaced the element!” Crud. They did. The tank was empty. And that’s how you burn up a hot water heating element- by having the hot water tank on with no water in it. We’ve never had a working one anyway, always just used the propane heater instead, but still. We just paid to have it fixed.
So we drop it off and leave a note (about the fridge, not the hot water heater) and the next day they call and sure enough- they left something unplugged. WHEW!
Back to the original story…
We left just before 9:30 and got to the campground shortly after 11am. Our site was vacant as I’d assumed it would be so we backed the trailer in and then it started throwing up all over (that’s the term we use when we open the door and start throwing all our stuff out: outdoor games, plastic tables, folding chairs, BBQ stand, coolers, pop-up tents, welcome sign, sports balls, totes, etc.)
Sufficiently purged my job is to work on organizing the inside while Jim works on getting all the connections done. We take it slow, no rush, the kids are playing and having fun. Our friends arrived about 40 minutes behind us so we’re chatting it up and just taking it easy.
It’s been a couple hours already and Jim asks me to turn on the water faucet because he’s connected the hose to the water supply and he’s ready to turn it on. Having a faucet open helps eliminate all the air in the lines and gets the water flowing. Um, no water. I can hear water gushing, but it’s not coming out of the faucet.
Turns out the outdoor shower was turned on, full blast. Hmmmmm….. Well that wouldn’t have been us. Why would I have left the outdoor shower on? Come to think of it, I don’t think we ever purge those lines when we winterize our trailer! So that was a little strange.
Jim turned off the park spigot and got the shower knobs turned off and we waited a minute then turned on the spigot again.
Still no water going to the kitchen faucet. Weird.
Jim comes in the trailer and heads to the bathroom faucet to see if he can get water to come up those lines. And then we hear it…..running water. Spraying water, actually. I see water pooling out from under the bathroom cabinet. I open the cabinet and water is spraying everywhere. Jim runs out to turn off the spigot and drain the lines as quickly as he can- mysteriously both of our undersink connections are broken. Hmmmm. Weird. Really weird.
We go through about 6 bath towels to clean up the mess, there was at least a 1/2″ of water in the bathroom area and it continued to seep out of the woodwork for the next 40 minutes or so. We’re hoping that minimal amount of time wasn’t enough to cause any permanent nasty damage, it should be OK.
So there’s no way to turn on the water to the trailer without either replacing those 2 lines, or capping them, and we have neither of those in our supply box. So we head to Home Depot. We get what we think we need and head back to camp. Nada. Doesn’t fit. Apparently a 1/2″ sink connection hose doesn’t have a 1/2″ connection on both ends. So we go to a local RV/Marine supply store I found on my phone. Nada. They close at 4pm on weekdays. It was 4:30 by then. So we go to a Builders Supply store in Warrenton. Nada. They refer us to George Morlan Plumbing. Success!! The guy actually recognized the hose type as we walked in the door and yelled, “Half Inch both ends?” Yep! We also picked up 2 caps in case this happens again.
We really don’t know if it was foul play on the RV repair place or not. We did make them a little frustrated with us last year when they repaired our fender bender. I can’t remember what all happened, but we wanted the trailer back in perfect shape and they thought “repaired” shape was good enough. No, we want it perfect.
We can’t see how all this is just coincidental. Oh, and fortunately the hot water tank DOES work! Whew!
OK, so here’s the truck when we first backed it in to the campsite:
The one thing we really really like about this campsite is how spacious it is. Here’s a picture of “camp”:
It was too windy to have our trailer awning out, and fortunately it only sprinkled a couple times in a 24-hour period.
The first full day at camp was Thursday. The kids played and rode their bikes, and we all went on a bike ride to check out the beach where the Peter Iredale is. The kids dug in the sand, waded in the water, and just plain ol’ had fun.
And we had Trevor snap a picture of us:
The kids found this fort on the beach:
And of course they had to get wet:
(Pictured above: Riley, Chelsy, Sarah, Jake and Brooke)
We rode back to camp (it’s a 1 mile ride) and Brooke had a pretty big crash going down one of the hills. She loves to go FAST and doesn’t want to slow down and just lost control as she approached the tunnel. Nothing injured and no bleeding…whew! She’s a tough cookie!
That afternoon the guys went crabbing. They left shortly after noon and were gone for several hours. Sarah H. and I packed up the kids (there were 7 total!!) and headed for the Clatsop Spit to sit in the sun and let the kids play on the Columbia River beachside where we could see the guys out on their boat. The plan was for them to come ashore and hang out with us, but ill-timing caused them to beach seconds prior to a series of waves from a barge that had passed moments earlier. Sam’s boat was getting buried in the sand and waves were crashing over the back of the boat. Everything in the boat was flooded (or floating!) and it took quite an effort to get the boat unstuck. Once they did, it took nearly 15 minutes for the bilge to pump all the water out- Sam was scooping it with buckets and pouring it out, too!
They didn’t try that again. We were there for probably 2 hours I’d guess? The kids were having fun and as long as the sun was shining Sarah and I were feeling good. But when the clouds came out and the wind kicked up we’d had enough. We gave the 15-minute warning and then rounded them up and headed back to camp.
They guys came to camp about 2 hours after that….bringing lots of crab with them! Yippee! So it was crab and chicken with rice for dinner that night.
Jake brought his custom crab pot to cook them in:
The next day was Friday. Typical day at Fort Stevens….bike rides, playing at the playground, riding bikes to the beach, playing at the beach, etc. etc. The guys went crabbing again. And once again they came home with more crab! Brooke and Kyle became best pals and did just about everything together. Here they are playing “fishing” in the back of Jake’s utility trailer. Brooke of course is EATING.
Saturday we toured the Fort Stevens Historic Military site. Since my Grandma lives nearby we called her and arranged to meet there so she could tour the site with us, get to see the kids, get to see me, you know- all that good stuff.
We tour Fort Stevens almost every time we go, and for some reason always end up seeing the exact same parts and we don’t tour the other lesser seen side. Next year we decided we’re going to ride our bikes there- and tour all the side buildings that aren’t on that main path.
It was disappointing to see how much of the fort is in disrepair now. The Indian Longhouse is falling over so it was fenced off. The top “deck” of the main battery is unstable so it’s fenced off. One set of stairs going up to the grassy area is taped off. It’s kind of sad, really.
And yes, Brooke took a dress camping…and she wore it 4 out of the 5 days.
Our first night at camp we noticed some kids had taped some glowsticks to the spokes on their bicycles, so Friday we went to the Dollar Tree and bought glowsticks for our kids! I picked up one pack of bracelets (5 per pack) for each kid. They looked pretty cool. The other kids had already left camp, so there was no competition and the kids felt like they were king of the campground. Lots of Ooohs and Ahhhhs as they rode around.
We knew there would be more kids with glow sticks the next day, so Sarah went to the Dollar Tree again and this time I picked up 2 packs per kid plus a pack of 21″ necklaces. The bikes were super decked out this time. Brooke opted to wear a bracelet around her wrists and ankles for added effect.
I didn’t try to take pictures because obviously it was getting dark and the bikes are in motion and it would just be a big blurry neon blob in the photograph. I got the bright idea of taking some video, but same deal- the camera wasn’t built for low-light conditions and the bikes are really hard to see. But you get the idea. Just know that it wasn’t really that dark!!
and another video:
Here’s the aftermath of the bracelets (taken off the bikes just before bedtime):
This was the first camping trip where the kids spent practically zero time in the trailer. They were always outside- playing, drawing, riding bikes, at the beach, playing at the playground, going for walks, etc. It was an amazing time and I cannot wait to go back next year!