Category Archives: Camping

Father/Son Camping Weekend 2014

When he was five, Tristan wanted to go fishing and sleep in a tent. He had never done either one. I reached out to a couple of our friends who had boys Tristan’s age and suggested a camping weekend at Clear Lake, Oregon.

Fast forward five years — we went with three other dads and their respective boys to Twin Lakes in Eastern Oregon this month. We arrived on a Thursday and departed that Sunday. What a splendid time. We had three campsites with three trailers and a tent. We were fully equipped with microwaves, fridge freezers, A/C and TVs — yes, we were roughing it.  🙂

During the day we gave the kids our undivided attention and did basically anything they wanted, including rafting, kayaking, swimming, playing games, etc. One of the dads even purchased a paddle board for the trip. This was very cool as most of us had never used one. This year was a little different in that they were mostly all 10 years old. In the past we had to keep a closer eye on them when they were riding around the park and playing in the trees. This year they had more autonomy to show their responsibility.

After dinner we changed the pace of things a bit. The kids all go into one of the trailers for movies, games or whatever they choose to do. At this point the dads break out the poker and adult beverages. It’s a great group of dads who go on this trip, and we all get along very well. We play cards well into the early hours of the morning. I did feel a little sorry for our campsite neighbors this year as we were not exactly quiet after 10 pm. It’s amazing how you can solve the world’s problems with a little rum and whisky while playing poker. 🙂

The kids get along great (for the most part). A sign of a successful trip was once again the kids not being happy to go home and already asking the dads where we are going next year.

That brings up a good point as these trips do not just happen, and it involves a lot of planning and preparation. Usually we spend some time during the year at a bar playing poker and accomplishing a little planning. 😉

DSC_4194 DSC_4195 DSC_4201

Bring on the planning meeting!!!!

Happy Trails

Father/Daughter Camping Weekend

Last weekend Rachel and I took our annual camping trip together. It’s a time for her and I to get away on our own, leaving Tristan and Mum behind. This year she chose to go to Casey’s RV Park, in Oakridge, Oregon, one of our favorite places. I love the opportunity to escape with the kids individually and connect one-on-one. Tristan and I have been going on a father-son camping weekend with some of his friends and dads for the last five years.

When we arrived at Casey’s, we did the most important thing first. No, it was not setting up the trailer and campsite; it was buying ice cream. Once Rachel was set, I could have a little time to set up camp. We had a great day of swimming in the pool and riding bikes. She got to choose all of the meals for the weekend and the special treats we took with us. In the evenings we read books and played games. It was nice to not have the distraction of TV and life.

In the mornings we got up, had breakfast and sat outside, watching the river run by. We relished the tranquility of our surroundings reading books. I like the fact that the kids are at a stage where they can sit peacefully for a while and just relax without going a mile-a-minute.


She is already asking where we will go next year!

Happy Trails

Day 14 of Our Trip to Yellowstone National Park.

Day 14 of Our Trip to Yellowstone National Park.

Today we made it home after 14 days on the road and 2,584 miles. We averaged 11.3 MPG and spent $827.00 in fuel. OMG!

The last few days of our trip were spent along the beautiful McKenzie River in Oregon. We met up with five other families who were staying at the Horse Creek Lodge; we were just down the street at the Holiday Farm RV Park. We spent Friday night enjoying a little R&R along with drinking a little home brew. Three of us make our own beer, so we had 15 gallons of brew ready to pour. I made a Chinook IPA, Jeff made “Wit the Heck” and Brian made “Artic Blonde.” We all drank and were merry. The kids played with all of their friends and were able to burn of a lot of energy, which was needed after all the smores and sugary drinks.


On Saturday segments of our group rafted down the McKenzie River. They were well prepared with wetsuits and splash jackets. The river guides were the owners of the lodge where everyone stayed, and by all accounts they were fantastic at their job. Rachel, of course, was all about going faster and over more white water and rocks. I’m going to have to watch out for that girl; she’s going to be hard for me to keep up with. 😉


After the rafting trip everyone went down to an inlet on the river and jumped off logs and used rope swings. The kids had a great time! Saturday night brought about more games and partying. We spend hours playing “Corn Hole.”

On Sunday we had a leisurely breakfast, and then we left to break camp. We were home around 12:30 p.m. and spent the rest of the day cleaning the trailer and doing laundry.

All in all it was a fantastic trip that I think the kids will remember for a very long time. Looking forward to the next adventure!!!

Happy Trails

Day 8 of Our Trip to Yellowstone National Park

Day 8 of Our Trip to Yellowstone National Park.

We left Yellowstone yesterday after four wonderful days in the park and surrounding area. On our last day in the park we saw a grizzly bear! I think that made the trip for the kids. I never truly understood how big the park was until we drove it. We put on just over 500 miles in four days. The scenery in the park is breathtaking from Old Faithful to the waterfalls and the Yellowstone version of the Grand Canyon.

The KOA at West Yellowstone was a fantastic camp location. The amenities were clean, and there was a lot for the kids to do in the evenings. We would certainly stay there again. We had spot 23, which was conveniently located by the coffee stand and ice cream bar.

We left the park yesterday to head to Hailey, Idaho, with our friends Ang and Ben. We are currently dry camping in their driveway. They live in a beautiful location at the base of a mountain along a river. Today we drove up to Sun Valley and Ketchum to look around. The Sun Valley Lodge is amazing and has so much history of the area. If you did not know where you were, you could step out into their courtyard and feel like you were in a small village in Austria. I am already making plans to come back here at the end of January for a ski weekend with Ben. We found a great Starbucks in Ketchum which I can highly recommend. Not only do they serve coffee but also beer and wine. 🙂


We have one more full day here, then we begin the trail home on Thursday. Our plan is to make it home on Sunday after spending the weekend in McKenzie Bridge, Oregon, with five other families for a little camp out. By the time we make it home, I will need a rest from the vacation!

Happy Trails

The Nicolson’s Visit Yellowstone National Park

Day 2 of our trip to Yellowstone National Park for Tristan’s 9th birthday.

We left Eugene, Oregon, yesterday and night stopped in Burns, Oregon.  We found a nice Good Sam campground right off the road.  We will also stay there on our return trip. While in Burns we found a nice city park for the kids to burn off a little energy.

Today we took a short 4-hour drive to Mountain Home, Idaho.  It is a KOA, although a rather rundown one. Once we got checked in (which was a challenge), we unhooked and headed into Boise for dinner and a walk along the river.  We found a nice Irish pub and a well-deserved pint. The weather was kind of crazy today.  When we left for Boise, we hit a rain storm and the temperature dropped from 94 to 73 in a matter of 5 minutes.  It lasted for about 10 miles, then we were back in the 90s



It seems like we have been pulling the trailer uphill for the last two days.  We never seemed to go downhill much.  The elevation change was only a 2,772 foot increase, although it seemed like much more.  The Toyota Sequoia did a fantastic job of pulling the 2008 24’ Keystone Passport even if we only got an average of 9.7 MPG.

Tomorrow we head to the KOA at West Yellowstone.  We are meeting up with some of our best friends along the way, and they will be joining us for our adventures.  It’s been too long since we have seen them, and we are all looking forward to the adventure.

Happy Trails!

First camping trip of the year – 2013

This last weekend we took our first camping trip of the year. It was my birthday and Michelle planned a weekend away in Ashland Oregon. The weather was beautiful for this time of year, we had 88 degree temps. We stayed at Glenyan RV and campsite just outside of Ashland, which was a very nice place with a little stream running through the park. I love Ashland for all that it offers for both summer and winter activities. Mt Ashland ski resort is just a short 30 minute drive up the road, and then there is the Shakespeare festival, and all the great food. Great food being a relative term depending on your taste. We have been to Ashland several times but only eaten at one restaurant. I love the Black Sheep Pub, coming from England I enjoy the traditional pub atmosphere, food and drink.

On Saturday we drove up to the ski area just to look around. We have yet to ski there. In the afternoon we went to “My Fair Lady”. It was a fantastic performance. The kids did great during this 3 hour show. Tristan’s favorite part was “Eliza where are my slippers!”. Yep it was funny, guess you had to be there though. We ate and drank at the Black Sheep twice that day. On Sunday it was mother’s day, we had a slow start to the day packing up the trailer and taking a walk with Sadie. We checked out late so that we could go into town for a brunch. Yep you guessed it; we ate at the Black Sheep.

All in all I had a great birthday weekend tied in with mother’s day. The kids were fantastic and it left me looking forward to the next trip. This happens to be this upcoming weekend. Daddy Daughter camping weekend.

Untraditional Thanksgiving

Once again this year we chose to celebrate Thanksgiving in an untraditional way.  Instead of sitting around and making a huge meal and veg’ing for the weekend, we escaped.  We are putting our new trailer to good use.  Historically we head to the Portland Zoo around this time of year to let the kids see the Zoo Lights, which we have done for a couple of years.  We have also gone to Wildlife Safari for their Christmas lights.  This year we wanted to visit the Christmas lights at Shore Acres down by Coos Bay, Oregon.

We loaded up the trailer and the kids on Thanksgiving Day and headed south on the Oregon coast.  We booked into the campsite at the Mill Casino in North Bend.  Not the traditional place to take kids. The RV Park is away from the casino, yet we had all the amenities at the hotel.  The kids loved that we could use the hotel pool, the hot tub and, most importantly for them, the arcade.  We spent a fair amount of time in the arcade with the kids, aka the kid version of the slot machines.  There were several of those machines that you put in $.50 and get a cheap plastic toy.  Tristan decided he needed one of the plastic people holding various sports balls.  Unfortunately his first attempt got him the soccer ball guy and NOT the baseball guy he really wanted.  Three more attempts yielded him the same result.  He wanted to try again, but we headed him off. We then used this as a learning experience relating his desire to keep putting money in on the chance that he would get the guy he wanted to the people playing slots down the hall.

In addition to visiting the Christmas lights, playing around the campsite and swimming in the pool, we also went to a couple of beaches.  We found two really nice beaches on the way to Shore Acres.  The kids loved splashing around in the surf, checking out the tidal pools and digging in the sand.  All in all they got wet and messy, not exactly what Dad likes, but I tried to go with the flow.

Our last camping trip to the coast was less than stellar. This trip, however, was fantastic.  Everyone got along well; kids interacted well and did not fight.

Happy Trails

Lincoln City, Oregon – Where all things were not quite as they appear!!!

This last weekend we traveled over to Lincoln City, Oregon, for a short weekend away with the kids.   Lincoln City is located on the scenic Oregon Coast and situated 11 feet above sea level.  There a beautiful sandy beaches where you can make sand castles, fly kites and generally relax. The kids enjoyed flying their kites and digging in the sand to reach water.  This was very exciting.  They also took the opportunity to run in the surf and in general get wet and sandy, but had a good time.

While we were at the beach we also saw some Kitesurfing.  This is an amazing sport that we had not seen before.  We saw people jump the surf and literally fly for several hundred feet.

We also traveled about 1 hour north to the town of Tillamook where the Tillamook Cheese Factory is located. We had a nice time touring and sampling the cheese products.

The kids played soccer, played in the park, took walks, played on the beach, saw new scenery and generally had a great time, or so it appeared in small snapshots.

I would love to say that this was a nice relaxing weekend however; it was not one of our better ones.  While the kids had moments of pleasure playing with each other and enjoying the time away, they were short lived.  Most of the time they spent at each other’s throats bickering and tattling.  As you can imagine, this did not make for understanding and relaxed parents.  When we left today we had planned to take the trailer down the Oregon coast and head inland at Florence. However their behavior left us wanting the fastest and most direct route home.

I’m sure we are not the only ones that have experienced trips like this and I’m sure it will not be the last; nevertheless it does not make this trip less disappointing.  Our youngest last night, after not been given what she had wanted, even went as far as to say, “It’s not fair, we’ve done nothing fun this trip.”

So I’m left with the thought of a “do-over” — do we get do-overs as parents? Did we add to this dismal weekend or are we just at that stage of life where an 8 year old boy and an almost 6 year old girl start to push the boundaries even further than they have in the past? Is this our new reality until the next phase?

We do love our familiy, the trailer and all the adventures they bring however; at the moment I cannot quite picture the next trip.

Happy trails!

Boys Camping Weekend

This last weekend we embarked on our annual boys camping weekend. This is something we started 3 years ago. Tristan really wanted to go camping, and we also wanted some one-on-one time with the kids. For the first two trips we all camped in tents. This year was the first time we took two travel trailers. Boy what a difference. It was nice to have some of the mod-cons of home. It was my kind of camping with heater, air conditioning, microwave and bathroom. Yes, I am going soft in my old age.

This year we had 5 boys and 4 dads who came along. The last two years we went to Clear Lake Resort in Oregon. This year one of the other dads coordinated the planning of the trip, and we went to Twin Lakes Resort near Bend, Oregon. The resort is located in central Oregon and just minutes from the peaks of the Cascade Mountains. The scenery is amazing.

Twin Lakes Resort is a great place with lots for the kids to do. We went swimming and kayaking in the lake, mountain bike riding over some little jumps, and played lots of games. The kids had more snacks and treats that they normally would, especially since the mums were not there. If they were quiet and safe and eating treats, all was good. The boys had a great time. Our trailer has four bunk beds and the first night they were all full with the boys. Two of the dads lucked out with their tents all to themselves.

It’s not all for the young boys. The big boys had some fun too. We stayed up and played poker and cribbage and drank a little. It was my first time playing poker, and I’m pleased to say I beat the others in three straight games. Beginner’s luck, I guess. I would be remised if I did not mention the food. Boy did we eat well. We divvy up the meals so that not everyone is cooking and to ensure we do not double up on everything. Everyone is assigned a meal to prep and cook along with bringing the supplies. There was SO MUCH good food; we have some great cooks.

Unfortunately Rachel is the only girl in the group; none of the others have younger sisters. Rachel and I went on our own little camping trip a few weeks before this one. Once she starts public school next week, my hope is that she will find a friend that we could start this tradition with — a daddy-daughter camping trip with some of her friends.

We had such a great time at this location that we booked next year’s trip before we left and decided we needed to extend it by one day. While these trips have always been fun, they are certainly getting more so and easier as the kids get older.

Camp Yale

This last weekend we went camping with some friends of ours at Camp Yale.  Camp Yale is located approximately 56 miles east of Eugene, Oregon, and is part of Belknap Hot Springs.  Belknap Hot Springs is located on the McKenzie River.  The hot springs are mineral based and normally run around 104 degrees.  It is a wonderful way to relax and rejuvenate.

Our campsite was nestled among some trees and had some nice trails.  The kids and their friend Gabe had a lot of fun playing cards, riding bikes, making smores, and swimming in the hot springs among other activities. It’s one thing to go camping on your own, but it is much more fun to go with friends.  We had two trailers side-by-side full of more food than we needed and a wee drink or two.





Saturday night however turned the tides of the weekend.  We still had an enjoyable time, but Rachel got sick around 1 am, which caused us to change the sheet in our bed (yes she had come to our bed because she was not feeling well).  She proceeded to throw-up about every 45 minutes for the remainder of the night.  Michelle went to sleep in Rachel’s bunk bed in an attempt to get a little sleep.  By 6 am Rachel and I got up and went to do laundry.  Luckily the camp site had laundry facilities.

This trip saw no issues with the trailer; thankfully we seem to have resolved all of the initial issues we had with the trailer.  Looking forward to our next trip in a couple of weeks when Tristan and I go off for our father-son camping weekend to Twin Lakes Resort.