How To Find Great Hikes In Washington

When we first moved to Seattle, we were clueless about hiking. CLUELESS. As in, we didn’t even own hiking pants. Tim wore jeans, I wore yoga pants. We didn’t have proper kid carriers, we didn’t know anything about the 10 essentials, we didn’t know how to even find good hikes, but I did know that I wanted to learn all of the things and that I loved hiking – based on our very limited experience hiking in Colorado when we had visited the RMNP.

One of the first things we did when we moved here was to find a hiking trail. We asked Tim’s coworker where a good place to hike (with a toddler) would be and he responded “Poo Poo Point!” (Yes, that is its real name.)

Well, little did we know that this man was not a hiker. Nor did he have a toddler. Plus, we actually got on the wrong trail that led to the same place but was steeper… So after walking 1.5 miles up the Chirico Trail, that eventually led to Poo Poo Point, and still not reaching the top, we gave up. The switchbacks were not for us. Our toddler was screaming and my pregnant body was exhausted. Our first hike in the PNW was a failure.

Since then we have learned the errors of our ways! We have done a lot of hiking since then, and it has been a much better experience, although there is a learning curve.

How To Find Great Hikes in WashingtonThe hike in this image is Thunder Knob in the North Cascades

If you’re just starting out, here’s my advice on how to find great hikes in Washington:

Washington Trails Association

Every time I consider a hike I always check the Washington Trails Association website. Specifically, I read the description, check the mileage of a hike, look to see if I need a parking pass, look at the trip reviews to see if the conditions are ok, I look at the elevation gain, and I screenshot the directions to the trailhead in case I don’t get signal when we arrive close to the location.

Hike It Baby

If you’re hiking with a young child, Hike It Baby is a useful way to find hikes. Whether or not you join the groups that are going out, which I only did a few times, it is a great resource for learning about hikes that are easy enough for moms and babies to do. I recommend finding your local branch on Facebook and joining it!

Best Hikes with Kids: Western Washington (book)

There are a bunch of hiking books out there, but I like this one for finding easy hikes with kids! I also own Pacific Northwest Hiking, which I picked up in a used bookstore. Older hiking books are generally still good, but I always recommend buying newer versions if you aren’t going to fact-check online, because some hikes change, trailheads change, etc. and you really want to have current information.

AllTrails

The AllTrails site is another good site to find quick facts about hikes, and sometimes I check it out when I’m researching a hike. I also like that you can add hikes to lists and keep track of what you’ve already done. I’m sure there are many ways to use this website, but it’s not my go-to so I haven’t familiarized myself with all of the functionality. I know there’s also an app, which seems like it’d be useful if I was someone who did a ton of hikes and wanted to keep track of everything. (I just write them down the old fashioned way for now!)

Other Facebook Groups

I hesitate to recommend Facebook Groups in general because there is so much negativity/craziness on all pages, but honestly I hear about so many hikes on these groups! I’m part of Washington Hikers and Climbers, Adventure Mamas of the Pacific Northwest, and PNW Outdoor Women. I don’t participate in these groups, per se, but I do get some hiking inspiration & trail ideas from them!

Of course, it’s always best to ask your friends their recommendations, too! Just make sure that your friends actually hike and don’t just send you to a trail they may have heard about.

Happy hiking!

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Weekend Favorites (v12)

It’s been a hot minute (or two months, whatevs) since I posted a weekend favorites post, so I’m sure you’ve been in great suspense about what I’ve been up to.

Well, you’re in luck, because it’s baaaack.

Things I’m Into:

+ The current sale at Juniper Print Shop. One of my current fav prints (other than the ones I’ve recently bought) is this one.

+ I’m taking ‘The Science of Well-Being’ course through Coursera and I’m only on week 1, but it seems really interesting so far! I’ve taken a few evaluations to figure out a happiness score for myself and also took an evaluation to determine my character strengths. This stuff is right up my alley.

+ I read a few good books in a row lately! Woohooo! (Most recently this one, this one, and this one. I rate them all 4/5 stars.)

+ I got sleepy just reading this article, so I’m thinking this hack to fall asleep will work! I plan on trying it tonight.

+ Do you listen to The Popcast? This episode about weddings cracked me up.

I hope you’re having a great weekend! We went strawberry picking on Saturday so now I’m off to create jam. Wish me luck. This is a new culinary endeavor and it seems a little bit more complicated than I was anticipating…

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Adventuring with Kids: Camping at Cape Disappointment

This past week we spent two nights camping at Cape Disappointment State Park campground. It’s a place mentioned in lots and lots of books/blog posts/articles/etc as one of the best places to camp in Washington, so I had high expectations! And they were met.

A fun weekend trip from Seattle or Portland! A summary of our experience camping at Cape Disappointment State Park with young kids.

Now the campground itself wasn’t so spectacular in terms of the actual sites and amenities. (I mean, everything was fine, but the sites were pretty close together.) But the location is just amazing and more than makes up for it. We stayed in a cabin, which was in Loop D, near O’Neil Lake. We had never camped in a cabin before, and were really happy with the experience.

Cape Disappointment State Park is wonderful. There are gorgeous beaches, light houses, hiking trails, views of the Pacific Ocean and Columbia River, and some historical significance – since this is the point where Lewis and Clark ended their trek.

It also has the advantage of being in close proximity to the town of Long Beach and other coastal towns on both the Washington and Oregon coasts. I think it’s a place we could have easily spent 4-5 days.

A fun weekend trip from Seattle or Portland! A summary of our experience camping at Cape Disappointment State Park with young kids. A fun weekend trip from Seattle or Portland! A summary of our experience camping at Cape Disappointment State Park with young kids. A fun weekend trip from Seattle or Portland! A summary of our experience camping at Cape Disappointment State Park with young kids. A fun weekend trip from Seattle or Portland! A summary of our experience camping at Cape Disappointment State Park with young kids.

Here’s what we did:

  • Put our feet in the water at Waikiki Beach.
  • Learned some facts at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. 
  • Hiked near the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.
  • Ate a wonderful (albeit expensive) meal at The Depot in Seaview. We ate fried oysters, clam pasta, salmon, pasta with crab (for the girls)… everything was delicious. As a bonus, the girls were really well behaved and Phoebe just relaxed in her carseat the whole meal.
  • Walked along Long Beach – the longest beach in the world – and saw a real whale skeleton on display.
  • Drove to Oregon to see the Wreck of Peter Iredale in Fort Stevens State Park. The drive itself is really pretty because you get to cross a gorgeous bridge to Astoria and then another (less impressive) bridge towards the state park.
  • Walked around a gun battery in Fort Stevens State Park.
  • Drank my first Bulletproof coffee from Roots in Ilwaco (right outside Cape Disappointment State Park). They also had great smoothies and acai bowls!

… and that was all in a day and a half! Imagine what we could have done with more time! Actually, I know what I would have done. If we had more time (and Phoebe was a bit older), we would have biked on the Discovery Trail in Long Beach. Maybe we would have done horse rides on the beach, too! We saw other people doing that and it looked like fun. I would have also liked to swim in the lakes in Fort Stevens State Park. Oh, and driven up to Oysterville (a bit north of Long Beach) to see the old Victorian houses. OH! And I would have definitely driven down to Cannon Beach (about 30 minutes south of Fort Stevens State Park)… and probably stopped at every beach town along the way. Basically, this area has so much to do and shouldn’t be missed!

(Can you tell I’m an enneagram 7 and just want to do all of the things?! Luckily my family just goes along with my plans and are good sports about it all.)

A ‘spicy take’ (as Jamie & Knox at The Popcast say): If I was going to do it again (with kids), I’d camp in a cabin at Fort Stevens State Park. It’s near the the shipwreck, it has lakes you can swim in, it has flat biking trails, it has a not-impressive playground (but my girls still love a playground), it is closer to the Oregon coast towns south of it… plus the campsites itself seemed great. Like Cape Disappointment, the Fort Stevens campground offers yurts and cabins – except their cabins are even better and there are more of them! If you’re thinking of staying in the area, just check it out. But still spend a day at Cape Disappointment, because there is so much to see there, too.

We will definitely be back in that area to camp again! This was our easiest camping trip yet and it made me confident that we can continue to do this thing in the future. Yay!

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15 Book Recommendations

I will admit that I am picky when it comes to books. Maybe it’s because I read so many of them that I’m not impressed with very many stories, especially fiction stories. However, when I find one I love, I recommend it to absolutely everyone. Book recommendations (giving and receiving them) are my love language. Same goes for podcasts. Anyways, to share the love, I want to give you some summer reading recommendations.

Add these to your summer list! (15 Book Recommendations)

15 books I have recently rated 5/5 stars

(* denotes a fiction book. The rest are non-fiction)

+ Just Mercy – I’m not sure why I didn’t read this book sooner (I think I thought it must be overrated since everyone loves it so much) but now I consider it a must-read for absolutely everyone. It deserves all of the praise it’s gotten! It made me think a lot about what justice is, how our criminal justice system is broken, and what can be done about it.

+ The Last Cowboys – reading this book had me obsessed with all things rodeo for WEEKS. Actually, I’m still kind of fascinated by rodeos and the culture surrounding them because of this book. It follows a family of bronco riders as they go through the rodeo circuit for a season. These guys are still out there riding, so I went down a whole rabbit whole of finding videos and their IG pages and all of that stuff… I love feeling like I can still follow along with the ‘characters’ of this story!

Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets – This book takes place in Chicago so I extra-love it. But it’s one of those books that I’ll never forget because it’s just so dang interesting. It takes place a few decades ago and is about a student at the University of Chicago who basically starts shadowing a gang leader and learns all about the gang culture in Chicago.

Educated – You have CERTAINLY heard of this book, right? It’s just as good as everyone claims it is. It’s a memoir about a girl who is born into a family of survivalists in Idaho and doesn’t receive a formal education until she’s in her late teens. It’s also about family and boundaries and grief and perspectives and all of the things. No summary can do it justice, so just read the book.

Hillbilly Elegy – If you liked ‘Educated’ you’ll probably love this book, too. It’s another memoir, but this one takes place in Appalachia and is about a working class family. This is more a commentary on our society in general, and how hard it is to get out of the lower and middle classes if you’re born into them. I was fascinated with the Appalachian region after reading this book, and watched some documentaries on similar topics… fascinating stuff.

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly – I read this after Anthony Bourdain died, because I really didn’t know very much about him. This was an entertaining memoir about him and the culinary trade in general and I’ll never eat at any restaurant without questioning whether I should really be ordering certain items on the menu!

How Not To Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease – I appreciate how this book tells you what to eat instead of just what not to eat. Although, I do feel better about my choice to not eat meat after reading it! I didn’t read every single word of this book, but I did read the sections that most interested me and skimmed the rest. If you’re into food and nutrition, definitely read this one!

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery – I’m an enneagram type 7 and love reading all things about myself and everyone else I know. I really feel like I understand people better from learning about these personality types! This is one of the best books I’ve read about the enneagram.

The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth – This book (also about the enneagram, as is obvious from the title), is good, too! I forced my church group to read it so we could all learn more about each other – and I thought it was enlightening! “The Sacred Enneagram” has more of a religious context to the enneagram than “The Road Back to You” and was not as easy of a read. (Still awesome, though!)

Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life – I’m considering this one another ‘must read’. I honestly thought I wouldn’t learn anything from it, but how very wrong I was! I learned so freakin’ much and as I’m writing this I’m thinking I should re-read it. If you’re a woman, you simply must read this book. I promise you’ll be talking about it to your partner, friends, EVERYONE.

Tiger Woods – When I give people this book recommendation they’re always like, “really?!” Yes, I don’t even like Tiger Woods, but I loved this book. And he just won another Masters title, so he’s still relevant in the golf world, people! And probably will be forever. This is a biography and it’s long but well written. I didn’t realize what a complex character Tiger Woods truly is, and while I don’t necessarily respect him as a person, I do respect his talent.

(Since it’s hard to say exactly why I like fiction novels, I’ll just include the book summaries from Amazon. These are well-written, entertaining, and worth reading!)

+ Where the Crawdads Sing * Amazon summary: For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

The Bear and the Nightingale * Amazon summary: … But Vasya’s stepmother only grows harsher, determined to remake the village to her liking and to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for marriage or a convent. As the village’s defenses weaken and evil from the forest creeps nearer, Vasilisa must call upon dangerous gifts she has long concealed—to protect her family from a threat sprung to life from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

The Alice Network * Amazon summary: An enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

The Pillars of the Earth * This is one of my favorite books of all-time, and I’ve read it a few times. I suggest you do, too! Amazon summary: Set in 12th-century England, the narrative concerns the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge. The ambitions of three men merge, conflict and collide through 40 years of social and political upheaval as internal church politics affect the progress of the cathedral and the fortunes of the protagonists. “Follett has written a novel that entertains, instructs and satisfies on a grand scale.”

If you’ve recently read a really great book, leave a comment and let me know about it!

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My Third C-Section (Phoebe’s Birth Story!)

It feels like Phoebe has been a part of our family forever, so it feels very belated to be writing her birth story… but in actuality, it’s been a short seven weeks! It took me a year to write out Isabelle’s birth story so I feel like I’m way ahead of the game this time. (#momwin!)

At the beginning of April I wrote about my anxiety going into my third c-section. Well, I’m happy to report that things went really, really well!

Phoebe's Birth Story (My Third C-section)

Starting at the beginning….

I expected to feel so much anxiety that I wouldn’t be able to sleep the night before, but I slept fine and woke up ready to go! Although, because I’m a huge procrastinator I was still trying to organize things around the house and pack a hospital bag a few minutes before heading to the hospital. This is not surprising, though. Anyways. We arrived at the hospital 2 hours before the c-section and checked in and chatted with the nurses forever, answering all of the bijillion questions they need to ask.

We also met with the anesthesiologist briefly so I could explain to him my last few L&D experiences (which he knew about from looking at my chart) so that we could all be on the same page that this delivery HAD to go better than all of that drama.

Finally, they gave me a gown and hair cover thingy (that’s the technical name, right?) and Tim a hazmat suit (Scrubs? Clothes coverer?) to wear into the OR and then we waited. And waited. And people came in every once in a while to tell us they were still waiting on someone or other who wasn’t where they were supposed to be. Tim and I made small talk and kind of scrolled our phones and at some point I tried to read from my Kindle, but it’s a little bit strange to wait around in anticipation of your baby being born! 30 minutes after our scheduled procedure time we finally walked into the OR. It felt a bit surreal to not be in labor yet still walking in to have the baby.

When I got into the room, a lot of people introduced themselves and the anesthesiologist placed the spinal block. In case you haven’t done this before, I basically sat on the operating table and they had me bend way over (maybe I held a pillow? Or maybe I’m just remember hunching over my bump?), placed a clear sheet of something that feels like saran wrap over my back, and put in the needle. I think they also give a local anesthesia? It just feels like pinching and a little burning – nothing too bad. My OB was there to rub my shoulders and tell me I was doing a great job, because Tim had to wait outside the OR until they were done giving me the anesthesia. Then as soon as the anesthesiologist was done they instructed me to quickly lay down on the table so that the drugs would distribute evenly to the lower half of my body.

Within a few moments my legs felt heavy, and then I couldn’t feel my lower half at all. They did some sort of ‘pinch test’ and declared I was ready to go! (They also commented on how well they could see the baby move and how they could tell which parts of her were squirming in there as I was lying on the table… it was surreal knowing she was going to be out in just a few minutes, and she was obliviously just hanging out in there!)

Everything happens so quickly with a c-section. They had the blue drape up just below my shoulders in no time and got to work. The anesthesiologist and Tim were both by my head so I could report any discomfort I was feeling. Tim was pretty nervous so he just held my hand. Actually maybe he rubbed my forehead? Who knows what he was doing. He was there, and that was enough! Husbands are kind of the most useless person in the room during the whole procedure, now that I think about it. I actually felt really comfortable during the actual surgery. Once I told the anesthesiologist I was nauseous, and he fixed it right away. Another time I told him my chest felt heavy, and he reassured me that was normal and it went away quickly, too.

Eventually (after about 15 minutes, probably), they announced the baby was coming out and they dropped the blue drape and a clear one remained up, so I could see the baby being lifted up. (This is part of the “gentle c-section” that my hospital offers) Tim announced she was a girl because 1) my eyes were filled with tears and 2) I didn’t have the best angle to see all of the parts. (He also said that he could see my abdomen being held open and some parts of my insides… Thankfully from a laying down position I couldn’t see any of that, because then I really would have been feeling nauseous!)

Phoebe was born covered in vernix (so she looked super white), and crying, which gave me a huge sense of relief. She was immediately put on my chest, and it was just the best. Although, when I say “chest” I really mean she was kind of put on my neck like a scarf. It’s really awkward. But at least I was able to touch her!

So that was that! They closed me up, I held my baby as best I could, Tim and I were super, super happy, and eventually they lifted me onto another table so they could wheel me into my room and everyone in the hallway could say “congrats!” which was super sweet.

And then the recovery began! More on that later, though.

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