Category Archives: camping

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–September 15, 2021

This past week, we went camping down at the coast. Although we have been doing homeschool for the past couple of weeks, this was our outdoor school. We did regular schoolwork with the kids in the mornings and then did fun, outdoor activities in the afternoons.

One day, I read a book about a silly, fantastic sand castle contest and then we went down to a beach and the kids built their own.

We read fall-themed books and decorated fall-shaped sugar cookies.

We read about sea creatures, then went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Rob organized this project. He melted old candles he collected from friends and family and some shells from the Dollar Store to make sand candles. He took the kids to the beach to collect the sand, and got the wicks from Amazon.

I thought they looked great.

There were lots of trips to the playground at the campground, and many, many times where the kids rode their bikes and I trotted along behind as fast as my short legs would trot:). We took a couple of drives down the coastline, and stopped at a candy store and for French fries. I read aloud for hours. The kids are enjoying Trixie Belden books right now. Of course Patsy has encountered them before, but they are all new to Jake and he’s loving them.

It was a very busy week, but a fun one. The weather was perfect and I’m so glad we got one last camping trip in before the fall rains come.

Once we got home, the garden needed attention. I picked tomatoes, we picked and chopped peppers to freeze. Just tonight, I canned 9 pints of crushed tomatoes. Rob’s been doing load after load of laundry and we’ve all been folding like crazy. There was more than usual because since this is our last camping trip for a while, there was extra bedding and such that needed washing.

We’ve been eating the leftover camping food for the past couple of days. I also unloaded the camper freezer, and we’ve been using the items that were in there. I always keep some chicken, hamburger, bread products, etc. in there for the entire summer, replacing as we use them on camping trips. So, I didn’t need to shop except for some milk, 1/2 and 1/2 and bananas.

Last evening, I dug up my old strawberry raised bed, put in some bags of steer manure, compost, coffee grounds and worm castings, and planted a few fall veggies. It may be too late to get much of anything, but it was worth a try and I simply couldn’t get it done before we went, as I was spending every minute canning. Those berries were done. They only last 3 years. I have some different berries in other places for next summer. So it feels good to have that mentally-daunting job done, whether I get any fall veggies or not.

Thriving In My thrifty Week–August 27, 2021

This past week, we were blessed with so much produce! My sister had already frozen a lot of corn from her garden, so offered us the extra. We happily accepted. (The pan of meatballs was something I made early Tuesday morning. Our mantra soon became, “At least we have meatballs,” as the week got busier and busier and my cooking got less and less!).

It was more than any of us thought. We ended up with 2 coolers full! She added some pears she was given, the Gravestein apples she had purchased for us at our request (she got everybody’s at once), some tomatoes from her garden, and lots of peaches. (The tomatoes on the chair are only part of what I got from my own garden!)

But wait….there’s more! The same day we were making plans to pick all the produce from my sister’s house, Rob’s cousin offered him two rows of corn they did not need. So, we went on Monday night to pick from my sister’s and he and Patsy went the next morning to get the additional corn. It was also more than anyone thought! It ended up being 3 rows. He got 3 coolers full of shucked corn! I cannot tell you how much corn that is. There are no words. And then, she gave him 3 boxes of tomatoes, which we were not expecting!

We canned 14 quarts and 36 pints of corn. We froze a bunch of corn. I made peach salsa and peach pie filling. I’ve made pizza/pasta sauce, canned whole tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce so far. I still have a large bowl of Roma tomatoes to made salsa from. Thankfully, they hold well.

Little Z is obviously too little to enjoy corn like his brother does, but he sure grew in the short time that passed between visits.

I made 14 jars of dill pickles and 4 small jars of dilly beans from the produce from my garden. I canned 7 quarts of pears and we dried several dryers full. I also dried some zucchini.

So it’s a Very. Good. Thing. that we spent a few days down at the beach last week. We went camping at Ft. Stevens State Park. We spent some time with Jake and Michaela, and we spent some time completely alone since Patsy went to spend a couple of nights with their family at the condo they had in a nearby town. We had planned all along to swap kids back and forth a bit. Rob and I haven’t gotten away alone together for so long, I can’t remember. It was amazing and I got a LOT of sleep. I knew I was going to be busy when I got back, so I made a 4 page, both-sided list. Then all that produce showed up……Needless to say, I’ve only got a few items done from my list, but I’m thrilled to have all that canning done. Things are ripening early and so prolific this year. My October is going to be so much easier!

My sister and brother-in-law took us out for dinner. It was so awesome to eat at a restaurant. We ate outdoors and were delighted to feel mist coming down as we ate. At least Rob and I were. We’ve been so hot. It felt great, mostly because it didn’t last long. We’ve had a little rain here, too. It wasn’t much, but it’s not hot and miserable here anymore. Whew! What a great week for canning.

As always, we ate at the camper most of the time. I had pre-made food, as usual, and kept it very simple. I realized I had forgotten some things in my haste to take care of the garden produce before we left, but we made out just fine. I did send Rob to the Safeway for the 99c/lb turkey burger, along with new toothbrushes. There was a little mix-up. Someone used mine a couple of times before I figured out what was going on. I cooked with one turkey burger there, and saved the other one I was allowed for next time. I did not save the new toothbrushes for later. 🙂

We walked on the beach a lot, and on the trails. We didn’t crab, clam or fish this time. Instead, I read and napped. One day, I played games with Jake all morning. That day, Rob took Patsy and Micheala on a drive across the bridge from Oregon to Washington. It’s becoming a tradition since Michaela loves doing that.

We visited the Ft. Stevens Military museum, which includes a small indoor museum and a large outdoor compound of bunkers and ruins from the past. Even thought the kids got behind bars, they soon showed that they could “break out” from a different window. They had fun crawling out of the “jail.” We found a nearby playground and let them swing and play. It’s the simple things that go over the best with our crew.

We saw lots of wildlife including elk, deer, baby fawns, birds of many kinds and even whales! It was an amazing week on a lot of levels and I’m glad we could go.

Before we left, I did slip away one day to the 4-H fair where we used to live and judge the food preservation for the 4-H. I haven’t been able to do that for a couple of years, and it’s so fun to do. As a bonus, I also got paid, but it’s so fun I’d probably do it for free. Shhh….don’t tell them. I’ve already got plans for that little bit of extra money.

I’ve got 2 big boxes of apples to preserve in the next few days. There is salsa to make. I’m ignoring the fact that I can see red tomatoes appearing on the bushes again. I’m also ignoring all the weeds. After ignoring the house cleaning all week, Patsy and I got busy with that for a while this morning and at least there is a place to sit down in peace between canning. And, there’s hope that a person could actually sit at the table to eat in a day or two. Thank goodness, Rob did not ignore the laundry and has washed and folded it all. I don’t have to can wearing my Sunday clothes. Whew!

I plan to get back to regular posting, hopefully early in the week as is my habit, but I make no promises until this pile of produce is safely in jars and the freezer. It’s that time of year. So, I may be spotty for a little while longer before I can bask in the glory of full cupboards and freezers.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–June 21, 2021

We took a vacation this past week. We pulled the camper over to Central Oregon to visit friends. We camped at LaPine State Park and spent the week doing outdoor activities and visiting. Our friends live only a very short drive away from the park so it was easy to go back and forth. We had planned this trip last summer, but most of our trips got cancelled due to a combination of Covid, Rob’s surgery and wildfires. So you can imagine how excited we were to see our friends. It had been way too long.

This is North Twin Lake.

Rob went up to that lake several times to fish. He saw lots of wildlife and birds and was delighted when he caught several huge fish. His friend caught some, too, but poor Patsy didn’t this time. She still had fun. I went over to my friend’s house and visited once and another time we took a walk along the trails in the park where we were camped.

During the trips, he saw this dragon fly, bald eagles, red-wing blackbirds, goldfinches, deer, and more.

Both he and our friend had great luck. We brought home several large trout for our freezer. Thankfully, he caught the most on the last day before we left and there was room in our camper freezer for several. He brought the rest home in a cooler, on ice.

Rob grilled a couple over the fire one evening for us and our friends, along with some marinated chicken legs. I made a large stir-fry that included my home-grown snow peas, broccoli, and onions along with carrots, celery and mushrooms I took along. We also had green salad and home-canned corn. As always, I took food with us and we packed picnics whenever we weren’t at the campsite. We got early starts on our travel days, as it was a distance. On the way over, we stopped at a park in Sisters for lunch and a good walk. On the way back, it was tremendously hot, so we forged forward to get over the mountains before the temperature rose too high. It’s easier on the van that way and easier to unpack at home before the day reaches it’s hottest. We ate over at our friends’ house one night, and the last day, after they guys went fishing all morning, our friends took us to a cider company in town with a food truck, live music, a small farmer’s market, and relaxing chairs for us to sit on while we ate our Mexican food and visited.

One day we went rock hunting.

Rob and Patsy dug for thunder eggs. They found a few small ones.

They found rainbow obsidian in one place and mahogany obsidian in another.

We had a great picnic along the Crooked River.

We took several hikes during the week. This one was to Benham Falls. We had not been there before. We hiked down the trail, dodging huge mud puddles from recent thunderstorms, and quite a few bicyclists who were also dodging those same puddles. At least most of them dodged the puddles. It kept us on our toes to leap out of the way of those who went right through those above mentioned puddles….until we reached our destination–we think. We weren’t sure we had found the falls, as it was not like we were used to. We were looking for water going over a tall cliff, like at Silver Falls. These falls were more like large, turbulent rapids. We figured it was the falls, though, because of the railings, well-worn path, and large stream of people going to view it:). And, it does fall a bit, especially on the left hand side of the picture.

Whether or not it was a typical waterfall like we are used to seeing in our area, it was very breath-taking and beautiful, and we were glad we went to see it. We definitely wouldn’t want to go over it in a kayak, even though it’s listed in my friend’s book as part of the “Paddle Trail of the Deschutes.” Yikes!

Another day, we drove up to the top of Lava Butte. Patsy had been there once when we first got her, and thought it would be fun to go there again.

We went up to the fire lookout and had just started to listen to the guide give his spiel, when he said, “Folks, it looks like lightening is on the way. (as a large strike lit up the sky in the distance) You are at the highest point up here. So, it you want to walk around the crater, get going, or I may have to kick you all off this mountain in a few minutes.” The next thing you know, Rob had his trekker poles and off we went, along with every other person there. Just so you know….the storm did not reach us after all.

Rob has not been able to walk around the crater for years, so he was eager to go. It wasn’t a long hike, but parts were uneven and steep. Like he said several times–“I’m not turning anything down this trip, because I can do it now!”

You really do feel as if you are on top of the world up there.

The visitors’ center is closed down below, due to Covid. There were some trails through the lava flow that were open, but we did not hike them this time.

Another day, we drove out to the Lava Cast Forest and hiked the trail through there. We bought a forest pass to use here, at the crater and at the Benham Fall area. We are going to see if there are any places around home that we can go to and use it more.

It’s amazing to see flowers growing in such harsh conditions.

Although is seems as if we got no rest at all, we actually did. It’s a good thing, because I’ve been working outside since I got back home, especially in the garden and yard. I hope to do a garden update post later in the week, if I can find the time. It really grew a lot while we were gone, and so did the weeds. These are Rob’s poppies that he grew, next to the alyssum and pansies that he also grew. I loved being greeted by them we we drove in.

It was a great vacation. I’m glad we went, and so glad to have seen our friends, and had ample time to spend with them.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–April 12, 2021

We had another nice, long weekend camping. This trip was different in several ways. One difference is in the amount of outdoor activities we were able to engage in, since the weather was so nice. I’m glad we had so much fun, because this is the last trip for a while.

We had some out-of-town relatives who were staying down at the beach and my aunt got a condo down there so she could visit with them. That condo comes with a crab dock. Need I say more?

After 2 afternoons of crabbing, a few were captured. They aren’t showing up well in this bucket, as they were Red Rock Crabs. One Dungeness was also caught. All were eaten by us, aunts/uncles/nieces/nephews/ etc.

We had one nice, group dinner over at the condo and enjoyed visiting. We were camped at a near-by campground and everyone came and went at will.

One day, our family hiked the Drift Creek Falls Trail.

We hiked 2.9 miles down into a canyon, along a little creek, up the other side, across a suspension bridge and to the water fall. We enjoyed the hike very much, especially the part where we climbed right back out of that canyon without too much trouble. We surprised ourselves, in a good way! I will say Rob overdid a little though, because with his 2 trips down to the ocean that day rock collecting, plus this hike, he did over 7 miles. He was a little sore the next day, but the dog couldn’t move for 2 days, so…..Rob wins:)

We raked for cockle clams at low tide one day. Patsy got 1 measly clam. The rest of us got skunked. We put the baby back to live another day. We will try again some day when the tide is lower.

The weather was gorgeous. It only rained one night, and not very much. There was quite a bit of wind at times, which felt cold, but mostly it was pleasant and sunny. Yesterday, while Rob and our older nephew were crabbing, Patsy, Jake and I walked to the boardwalk viewing area. I know the picture does not show them well, but those tiny specks in the sky are people surfing with large 1/2 parachutes (parasurfing?). There was also a windsurfer with a bright sail out in the water. I hadn’t seen that before in this location.

Another different thing for us was today. We needed to come home, but had nothing pressing in the afternoon to return early for, so decided to stay down there until early afternoon. (We usually leave first thing in the morning when coming home). We decided to drive to a nearby beach and take a walk before hooking up and driving home. I was delighted to find that beautiful rock/sand formation pictured above while I was walking. The rest of them hunted for rocks and shells and a certain little boy got his shoes completely wet in a creek, and had to come home barefoot. Now, that’s a beach trip. I love it!

As usual, we got a large amount of fun for a very small fist full of dollars. Obviously, nothing is free, and we used gas to drive around. Thankfully, we had some gas rewards on our Fred Meyer card, so we used those. We always save them for when the van needs gas.

We used our park pass to camp. We used the dock at my aunt’s condo to crab with equipment we have owned for years. Rob bought some chicken to crab with, but a lady on the dock gave him hers when she got tired of crabbing, so we cooked ours, as it was on ice and perfectly good, and used hers for crabbing. We used our rakes to rake for clams. Rob had recently picked up another one at a garage sale and painted its tines blue, just for this purpose.

The Drift Creek Falls Trail had a very small parking fee, which was nice since our park pass doesn’t cover that place.

Several times we put food from the camper in a bag and took it along when we drove somewhere. We got some food from McDonald’s and used the app to save money. (McD’s is Jake’s favorite and we wanted everyone to get to do something they wanted.). We ate meals at the camper and, once, at the condo. We enjoyed visiting with all family members who were there.

I was able to use up several items in the camper fridge, such as spreadable butter, from a couple of weeks ago, and many things from our fridge. I love putting leftovers from the house right into the camper fridge so they get used, and vice versa when we return. I bought a few things from Grocery Outlet before we went and we didn’t have to shop, except for milk, while we were there. There’s plenty left so I don’t have to shop for a few days now, unless I’m SO tempted by the 97c ice cream at Safeway that I can’t stand not to get it….

We don’t have any more camping trips planned for quite some time, and I’m o.k. with that–there’s lots to do around here. We’ve already started doing the laundry from the trip and I’m looking forward to getting out into the yard and garden as the week progresses. It should be a fun week, in its own way.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week– March 1, 2021

We finally got to go camping! We had hoped to go a week ago, but the ice storm ruined our fun. Last summer, trip after trip was cancelled from Rob’s surgery, wildfires, Covid closing campsites, and so on. We hardly got to go. It was starting to feel like de ja vu, but we found an available spot when we had to postpone.

Most of last week was spent busily cooking, cleaning, watching the baby and driving the girls around, as they did not get power until Tuesday night. They were out for 11 nights–they finally went home that very night once power was restored. That day was beyond busy, as there were so many errands, trips to take people here and there, that Rob and I think we drove out 13 times between the two of us to take someone somewhere, or get prescriptions, etc.! Yikes. Hands down, it’s the most we’ve done in one day since Covid started!!!

We even managed to squeeze in our son, Anthony’s, birthday party. We had to change times on him once, which is not good for autistic/Aspberger’s sons, as he loves his routine, so we had to just carry on by putting them on one end of the table, us on the other and all the girls and baby in the other room with their plates. It felt great to be able to get together at last and he had a good time.

I made him a cake–chocolate, as requested. Of course, this all happened on the same day as all the errands, and the power returning to the girls’ house. So, while Rob was taking him home, I took the girls home, helped turn on the breakers, helped clean the rotten food from the fridge, and took Lovana shopping. We went to Grocery Outlet, and she re-filled her fridge. At least most things were bargains at that store. The next day, I picked up a few other items for them that were forgotten, and took a few things from my storage. It was so nice to have extra to share.

The baby was gifted a port-a-crib by one of my friends, and he was popped right in it in front of their gas fireplace and was settling down all cozy and warm when I finally went home.

I finished getting ready Wednesday, then we finally got away on Thursday. We were pretty tired, so the first day, we didn’t do much, and in fact swapped off taking naps.

We took a few walks. We saw this tree on a hike we took.

Rob and Patsy went rock hunting, but the surf was so wild, and high that they didn’t stay long. Rob felt it was actually dangerous where they were, so left after they scrambled higher onto the path and watched waves cover the path where they just were a minute before. We took a drive one day, and saw even more wild waves. That was the day we got candy at a candy store, and Rob waited in line outside of a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant next door to the candy shop and ordered 2 large fries, thinking we could all share. What he got was 2 huge take-out cartons of plank fries, piping hot and delicious, and we couldn’t even finish them between the 4 of us. What a nice treat!

I had been preparing the camper for this camping season for several weeks–cleaning, organizing, and so forth. I had already filled the fridge with fresh veggies and dairy products when we realized we were not actually going last week. I was able to bring all of that into the house, of course, and not waste it. I found great deals when I went to replace it when we found we could get away last Thursday. One item was milk for 44c/1/2 gallon. I prefer 1/2 gallons in the camper anyway, so it was a super sweet deal for me.

We take our own food, purchased at sale prices or in bulk and transferred into containers. Even the most hard-core McDonald’s lover realized that we cannot pull through a drive through on our way to camping, so he does not beg us to do that. Whew!!! I cooked several things ahead of time such as chili, pork Chile verde, taco meat, hard-boiled eggs and cooked white rice (for Jake mostly). I bought bagels and cream cheese for an easy breakfast in the car this morning on our way home. (Rob never wants to cook a big breakfast, or even sit down while he is packing up, so eats in the car on the day we go home.). Our camper has a very nice propane stove, fridge and freezer, they are just small. Rob often cooks outside, but we knew the weather was going to be rainy part of the time, so I made other arrangements this trip. We did manage one hot dog roast, though.

Of course, Jake went camping with us, as he does every time he can manage it. I did several hours of school with him Friday morning, but otherwise, he was free to play.

Rob and the kids found a garage sale and Jake bought a Mousetrap game for $1. He and I spent an afternoon building the trap and simply trapping the plastic mice. It was pretty fun. He and Patsy played with it another hour or so, and I put it away for next time we go. We also played Quixx and he built his camper Legos. I read aloud for hours, as he became interested in a book about the Dutch resistance in WWII, “The Winged Watchman.”

We even got to go to church on Sunday. We chose one Rob had heard good things about in the town near the campground, and had a nice, socially distanced service. They were following mask wearing to the max, so we felt very safe, and had a wonderful time. Since last Sunday was our first time back in any church building for a year, we didn’t want to miss the second chance we had to go! Everyone was as friendly as can be from 6 feet distance, the sermon was enlightening, and the kids got cookies in little packages afterwards, making them very happy!

It was fun to get away, and equally fun to come home. We got everything put away, and the laundry was started. The weather was so nice this afternoon, Rob and I took a good walk, then I worked outside in the yard, clipping and pruning and weeding, until the yard debris bin was full, just in time for it to be emptied tomorrow. I always like it when it starts to feel like spring and I can get outside!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–October 13, 2020

We slipped away this week for a few days and went camping.

We went to South Beach State Park, at Newport. The weather ranged from nice, warm and relatively sunny to stormy, windy and rainy. It was extreme and very changeable! One stormy day, we took a short drive south on Hwy. 101 and saw lots of beaches that would be fun to explore on a nicer day than that one.

Rob and Patsy spent several afternoons down on the sand, collecting rocks. Even on days that were rainy and windy, they enjoyed their time down there. I stayed back at the camper and read several books, sewed, and slept. I had downloaded several books from the library app to read, and took a couple of actual books, too. At the last minute before we left, I grabbed some fabric and my sewing machine and during the trip, I worked on putting together a quilt top with fabric I’ve had for a long time. I also used several pieces I received in kits at a shop hop I went to a year ago. I had decided I didn’t want to make those particular blocks, but didn’t want to waste the fabric. I’ve got a ways to go, but I have a plan now, and am making progress.

I took several long walks with them, went for a drive, and we took Patsy to the candy/ice cream store one time.

Camping is super fun and economical for us. We used our park pass to pay for the campsite. We took food for all our meals, and I packed a picnic for the first day. Lots of our home-preserved food was used in those meals. Our trip was fairly short this time, so we wanted to get down there early. We knew our campsite wouldn’t be ready until afternoon, so we just went to the day use area until it was time. It was funny when we checked in to see if we could get into our spot early. The ranger suggested we drive into town for a “bite to eat” while we waited. I politely said we’d be back at 2, like he told us, and got back in the van, inwardly chuckling. Think that one over….why would we want to drive a 15-passenger van towing a 32 foot trailer back to town, find a place to park it, and eat at a restaurant and then find a spot to turn it around to come back? During Covid-19, no less? Someone else might want to do that, but not us–it was much easier to pack some food into a cooler:).

Last evening, I took one more quick walk down the beach look-out path. We woke up again to a windy, stormy, rainy day.

Rob hooked up the camper while standing in about 2 inches of water this morning. I helped him. The rain was blowing sideways in the gusty, strong wind. Because you have to empty your trailer tanks at the entrance of this park, we put dry clothes inside the camper door, and just changed real quick after we hooked up, then drove to empty, so we didn’t have to stay soaking, sopping wet!

Before we went, I was able to pick several items from the garden to use in meals, and we took the rest with us. I was surprised at how much garden lettuce I ended up with. We had salad every day, mixed with a head I had on hand. Yum! I packed leftovers into the camper out of the fridge in the house and we ate them up. I cooked rice and marinated some chicken for the first night to make it easy. I did some cupboard cleaning while I was camping, and pulled out a basket of food that needs to be used. I ran out of time and didn’t make it to the store for last minute food items before we left. We made out fine. I won’t go again until next weekend, as there is still plenty, which always saves me money when I skip a week of shopping. I have several meals planned for the next few days, starting with chicken-rice soup, which I made for supper tonight. Jake will come over tomorrow, as usual, and he eats that, so I won’t have to run to the store for “Jake-food” for a few days.

It was great to get the camper out. For various reasons, we’ve had to cancel almost every reservation we’ve made, so this was only our second camping trip during the last year. Hopefully, there will be more before too long!