Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mossyrock Park Camping - Tacoma Power

Just an hour and twenty minutes South East of Olympia you can find four different camping grounds owned and maintained by Tacoma Power.  These parks are reserved on the State park website, but in my opinion are far superior to state campgrounds.  Maybe not so much privacy on the sites, but very well kept and full of activities.

We booked our second trip to Mossyrock Park (the last trip several years ago) and it was just as nice as I recalled.  We arrived and easily found our space #161 on the upper camping level.  This was by far the largest campsite we've ever reserved, although part of it was technically the "horse shoe" play area, but no one ever came to use it.  It had a great peak-a-boo view of the lake and just a short walk away was a playground for the kids.  My daughter noticed it the moment we pulled in and immediately dragged me over to play, which worked out well for letting my husband set up camp. 
We were actually surprised by the warm weather we received and I was a little hot because I had packed for rain and cold.  If your family has a boat or enjoys water activities, this is the place to be! Riffe Lake is vast and many people come with a boat or jet skies in tow. 

Don't want to get in the water? Take a 15min drive East towards the City of Morton and stop at the Mossyrock Dam for an amazing site!  This Dam is Washington State's tallest and very impressive to say the least.  If you've got some time, continue on to the small but charming town of Morton to hit the local grocery store to stock up on camping supplies or anything you may have left from home.  Although Mossyrock does have a small convienence store in town if there is anything you need to get right away while camping, as well as a small one inside the campground.

Overall this was a great camping trip for our family.  I know camping is about hiking and activities and things you don't normally do at home, but the playground was the biggest entertainment for my kids, second to riding bikes. 

Vist any one of the four Tacoma Power Campgrounds and I am sure you won't be disappointed.  It's not the "nature lover's" campgrounds, but there's plenty to see and do in and around the lake.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dreaming of a Gondola in Paris - Foto Fun Friday

Ok, so this isn't exactly Paris, but it has me dreaming.  One of my favorite quick gettaway cities has these fun boats and even the Eiffle tower. What U.S City is this?


Friday, September 17, 2010

Jacks Canyon - Foto Fun Friday

A beautiful sight during a solo trip I took of Jacks Canyon. What state is this Canyon?

September 3, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Ultimate place for families in Vancouver, B.C. - Stanley Park

When we woke up that morning in our downtown Vancouver, B.C. hotel, we were excited to take the kids for a relaxing ride through Stanley Park after a long drive the day before.  We headed for the parking garage and quickly realized my bicycle had been stolen off our Suburban.  After a few tears from my 6 year old daughter, a long talk with security and a great Hyatt customer service manager who promptly got me a bike rental, we made our way over to Stanley Park.

Downtown Vacouver is a large, clean, but a very business focused city. Once you enter Stanley Park you feel as though you've entered a whole new world.  Beautiful water views from the entire 6 mile walking and biking seawall trail is not to be missed.  You'll find plenty of other trails throughout the 1,000 acre park as well.

We spent our entire afternoon riding the seawall around Stanley Park on our bikes.  We are far from being seasoned riders and I honestly don't remember the last time we rode, so don't worry if your not in the best of shape.  The paths are farely flat and just a little narrow in a couple of areas, but I managed to pull two kids in a wide trailer without incident. 

You can't go wrong bringing the family here, whether you enjoy biking, hiking, swimming, or visiting an aquarium, they have a ton of activities to do.  Our choice to ride bikes was for the scenery, ease of pulling the kids around and also the cheaper of our options.  Swimming in the public pool, a visit to the aqaurium, a horse drawn carriage ride or a stop at the concession stand will cost you money.  Two hamburgers, one fry and one drink $20 dollars, OUCH!

Visiting the Park on a budget with Kids


Transportation:  Did you bring the car? If you're not already paying a ridiculously high hourly price at your hotel, leave the car behind and hop onto a trolley or bus to the park.  Parking rates in and around Stanley park are hefty.  We found ourselves paying $9/hr to park in an outside lot and parking inside the park can be hard to find on a nice sunny afternoon.
Playtime: We came across a couple great play areas for the kids. One fun looking water park, which was just breezy enough that day to not get wet in, but some other kids didn't seem to mind.  You can find this park closer to the Lions Gate Bridge viewing area off the seawall trail.

Near the entrance of the park from downtown you will find two great parks for the kids.  Along with the public pool and concession stand. 

Food: PACK A LUNCH or whatever meal it is you may need while in the park.  Once you ride over or park for the day and begin exploring Stanley Park, you won't want to leave just for a meal. 

Say "Hello" to the Canadian Geese!  This is just a must do while in Canada, or I guess you could say "AY!"  Along side the creek near the aquarium you will find lots of geese, ducks and beautiful swans.

During our long weekend in Vancouver, Stanley Park was by far the highlight of our trip.  Plan your visit with some sunshine and you could spend an entire weekend alone in Stanley Park doing tons of activities with the family.  I was sad that after a long day of bike riding and playing at the park we were just too tired to visit the Aquarium that we had planned to see.  So if you want to visit the Aquarium, I suggest making it your first stop in Stanley Park.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Father and Daughter Kiting at the Ocean - Foto Fun Friday

One of our favorite Washington Beaches isn't for tanning, but always gives us great winds for the kite. Love this shot of my husband and daugther.

Can you name this popular Washington Beach destination?


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Crossing the Canadian Border with Kids

Getting there and...Waiting
If your planning a trip North to visit our good neighbors, the Canadians, be sure you're ready to cross the border.  If your crossing to Canada via I-5 in Western Washington you have two options for crossing - the Peace Arch or the Pacific Highway crossing also know as the "Truck Crossing", but don't let the name fool you, cars and other vehicles are welcome to use this crossing as well.  You will come up to an electronic display sign as you near your options.  Hopefully it will give you an accurate reading of the wait times at each crossing for you to choose which one to use.  When we arrived it stated 45min Peace Arch and 20min Pacific Highway crossing time.  We chose Pacific Hwy and it was probably more like a 30 minute wait, but still not too bad for a Saturday afternoon.  Many people have complained that the accuracy of the sign is off and a 90min wait can realistically lead to a 3hr wait, so just be prepared.

A typical border crossing can take an hour up to several hours depending on traffic and if you have any delays in having the pleasant opportunity of a random search.

Crossing with Kids
If your traveling with children, use this time for maybe a fun lesson on borders and the differences of Canada and the U.S.A and why we must stop to provide identification.  After stopping for the border my daughter quickly set up a lesson of her own asking many questions about Canada and why we had to go through security, etc.  So you may want to brush up on your Canadian/U.S. knowledge before taking the trip, your kids may put you on the spot as a History teacher!

Also take this time to explain that crossing is a serious time and once you get to the booth (or "policeman" as we described to our 6yr old) that being loud or saying anything without being asked is not appropriate.  I once crossed the border into Mexico with a group of teens and after one "jokingly" said he was from Mexico as we were entering back into the U.S, it quickly prompted a couple hour delay in our crossing.

Items you will need to Cross:
  • First and most importantly: Everyone's PASSPORT!  This is a new requirement within the last couple of years that you must have a Passport to cross to Canada, no matter how you get there.
  • If your a single parent, divorced or just crossing solo with the kids, get written permission from the other parent of your child to make crossing easier.
  • If your taking children that are not your own, you will definitely need written permission from the child's parents to cross. 
  • If your bringing your "other child" the family pet you will need signed and dated certificates from a veterinarian verifying that they have been vaccinated against rabies within the last three years
  • Knowledge of where your headed, why your headed there and how long you will be staying.  As the travel planner of the family I have to remind my husband before we pull up to the line what hotel we are staying at and how long.
Packing some Extra
Whether your expecting a long border crossing wait or not, consider your travel time and whether you could be held up during lunch or dinner time.  If lines are hours long you will be asked to turn off your vehicle while you wait, so pack some games or a lunch/dinner and get out of the car if it's nice.  Stay near by so once the line moves you can move along with it.  There is plenty of grassy area and bathrooms for your use while you wait. 

For more technical crossing information you can visit ShareThis

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Butterfly in the Caymans - Foto Fun Friday

This butterfly picture was taken on a trip to Georgetown, Grand Cayman islands. 

Can you name the type of butterfly it is? My friend who is a enthusiast knew it right when he saw the picture.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Silverwood Theme Park and Boulder Beach Waterpark in Idaho

On a recent trip to Eastern Washington my family and I were invited to visit Silverwood Theme Park and Boulder Beach Water park near Coeur d'Alene Idaho.  We packed  up from Spokane, Washington where we were camping and took the 45min drive over to Idaho Sunday morning.

With the park opening at 11am that morning, we packed our own lunch and were pleasantly surprised to see a nice area next to the parking lot at Silverwood where we were able to use a picnic table under a shaded tree.  
My daughter wanted to visit Boulder Beach first and she screamed with excitement when she saw the huge Polliwog play area for kids.  My sites were set on the Lazy River just across the way and after some playtime on the slides, waterfalls and shallow pool we took the entire family into the lazy river, including my two year old son who had a blast.  The park provides life vests so it was great to know they were safe in the water with plenty of lifeguards at every turn you take.

After hours of playing in the water on different rides, slides and pools, we realized we had to head over to the other side of Silverwood theme park to ride the roller coasters and kids rides.

Before we went over, we grabbed a snack at Boulder Beach and I was surprised by the prices and quantity of food they provided.  Unlike other big name parks they don't charge ridiculous prices for their food and a single scoop of ice cream was more like four scoops.  We opted for the Sliders miniature hamburgers which was enough to feed our family of four for a quick snack.  In one meal we each got a burger and a handful of fries.  If your looking for a bigger selection on food, head over towards the Silverwood park entrance where I found Salads, sandwiches, chicken and plenty of healthier options at a great price as well.

Warning: Gushy motherly moment is about to take place. 

My favorite part about the Silverwood theme park was finally getting to see my two year old son ride the rides and enjoy them with his sister, it truly brought tears to my eyes.  The height limits in this park are very forgiving and are mostly set at "maximum height" limits in the kids Garfield Camp area.  He was able to ride the helicopters and planes over and over again with a big smile!  The lines were short and quick and both my children had a blast. 

With a six year old who is not yet a fan of roller coasters or big rides and a two year old, we spent alot of time in Garfield's Camp.  But we walked the entire park and the adults were able to enjoy a few of the larger rides such as the Panic Plunge and Timber Terror wooden coaster.  There are also a few smaller kid rides mixed in with the roller coasters so don't just stay in the kids area for smaller rides.
Ok, he really WAS smiling, but he's a pretty serious kid  
Overall we ended up staying at the park from open to close and still didn't get to do everything they had to offer.  Our children left tired, but extremely happy and had a great day!  I left happy knowing that the great Northwest does have a theme park to brag about.  I can't wait to plan a trip to Idaho again to get back to Silverwood. 

Plan your Silverwood Trip
Silverwood has two great parks to visit, each of which could entertain your family for the entire day.  Silverwood has it's very own Campground right across the street next to the parking lot.  Why not plan a weekend camping trip with theme parks? Plus, you get discount tickets to the park during your stay.

Looking for discount tickets? Before talking with Silverwood I had priced out the best tickets for the park and found that Costco was providing the best overall entrance price.  You can also visit Silverwood's website for e-ticket pricing and list of current offers. 

*Silverwood gave my family complimentary entry to the park. However, this does not affect my personal opinions in this article. ShareThis