Our first KOA Campground experience

(Before we get started, I’m offering a review of this location, but this is not a sponsored post and unfortunately no one offered to compensate for my stay. Womp. I’m just excited to share about my experience in case you’ve been considering staying at a KOA campground!) 

I want to put a disclaimer into the universe right away that I’m a very novice camper. My first ever camping experience was in 2012 in the Serengeti, and I swore never to do it again. Then we moved to the PNW and happened to make friends with people who camp… and the rest is history. Now we’re campers. At least a few times per year.

But camping with small babies/toddlers is hard. I mean, I don’t really know what it’s like without them, but I’m assuming it involves a lot less yelling “Get back from the fire! One more step back!” And maybe less yelling in general.

I had high hopes that we would do all of these great camping trips this summer, but then I got pregnant with Phoebe and we put all plans on hold. However, after she came into the world and I realized she’s a good sleeper (all of the praise hands!) I booked a few last minute camping trips, one of which was to Winthrop – a place we had traveled to a few years ago and absolutely loved.

I already posted on the Winthrop trip in general, so now I want to tell you about where we stayed. Because of the lack of available cabins in nearby campgrounds, I chose to book a cabin at the Winthrop / N. Cascades National Park KOA. I was especially excited because the cabin we booked had A/C, and I know that temperatures over there can be pretty hot as early as June! (I personally don’t need air conditioning, but it made me nervous not to have it with Phoebe, since last time we visited there it was 100 degrees.)

Have you stayed in a KOA campground? We loved our first experience!

We stayed in a deluxe cabin at the KOA, and it was a huge upgrade from the cabin we stayed in at Cape Disappointment (at the state campground).

  • It had its own linens and towels
  • There was a hair dryer and hand soap
  • There was a very comfortable queen bed
  • Like the state park, there was a set of bunkbeds with a full and twin bed. Except at this cabin the bunkbeds had their own little room!
  • There was A/C
  • There were some dishes
  • There was a microwave and refrigerator
  • And there was even a TV! (Which of course we never used, but still!)
  • There was a full grill out front
  • And a large porch with table and chairs
  • PLUS, we had our own bathroom!

Basically, this was glamping. For sure. But I still consider it camping because we cooked outside and ate our meals at the picnic table and only went inside to sleep. It was so great.

Here is what I loved about the Winthrop / N Cascades National Park KOA:

+ We were surrounded by families. So many families stay at KOAs (apparently)! The girls met new friends every day and we met the parents and enjoyed some great chats. We also stayed at the cabin closest to the playground so when we were unpacking, cleaning up, cooking, packing, needing a break, etc, we told the girls to go play and off they went with their friends. It was really cute and fun for the girls.

+ The playground and bounce pad and pool. No matter how awesome my planned adventures were, they were never going to beat the playground, bounce pad, and pool at the campsite. It’s all the girls wanted to do.

+ Clean bathrooms. I actually never used the bathrooms (since we had one in our cabin) but Tim said they were clean and private. And of course there was hot water for showers.

+ Laundry facilities. Thankfully we didn’t have to use these, but sometimes it’s nice to know that you can do laundry – even at a campsite. (For instance, if your kid has a middle-of-the-night accident and you didn’t pack an extra sleeping bag or set of sheets, etc. Not that that’s ever happened…)

+ A lot of cabins. There are a lot of cabins available! One bedroom, two bedrooms, with a/c and without, deluxe cabins… take your pick! This makes camping easy and accessible for those who have smaller kids or who find tent camping intimidating for any reason – especially if your anxiety is weather related! It rained on our trip and I was very glad to be in a cabin and not even have to deal with it.

+ Proximity to Winthrop. I know that sometimes KOA campgrounds can be in weird locations, but this one is right outside of ‘downtown’ Winthrop.

Overall verdict: I loved it.

Of course, the downside is the price. If you’re used to camping in national forests or the state parks, it’s going to be a bit more expensive than that. The deluxe cabin was super expensive by camping standards, but it was cheaper than renting a house through Airbnb or another service like that. Since there are quite a few around us, we will certainly be camping at a KOA campground again in the future!

If you’ve ever stayed at a KOA campground, I want to hear about your experience!

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Weekend Favorites (v13)

Tim and I just got back home after dropping the girls off at school (and participating in Clara’s ‘birthday circle’ celebration there! Super cute.) and it turns out no one is in Seattle. No one. There’s no traffic. Only a few kids were at school. Everyone is in the mountains, I guess! I love it. But also, my FOMO is activated and now I have to figure out what we’re doing this weekend immediately. But first…

Things I’m Into:

+ Did I binge watch ‘Dead To Me’ in one day? Yes I did. All of Season 1. Have you watched it?!

+ Speaking of which… Raise your hand if you watch TV with closed captioning turned on! I do, always.

+ We should probably definitely all be doing more to save the planet but sometimes I feel kind of defeated by the whole thing.

+ A question to ask yourself.

+ I’m all about minimalism – especially when it comes to working out!

+ I may have shared this already but I read more and I love every single one of these advice column posts. Hilarious.

Now I’m off to clean the house… we just got back from yet another trip on Wednesday and our home is pure chaos. Well, actually I’m going to think about cleaning the house and in actuality I’m going to think of some fun things to get up to this weekend. And maybe workout. And maybe finish eating my breakfast. And maybe listen to a podcast. And I might even work! The day is young and I have 2 whole hours before preschool pick-up!

Happy Friday, friends!

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Adventuring with Kids: Traveling to Winthrop

At the end of last month we traveled to Winthrop, WA and had the best time! We had been a few years ago, but wanted to go back and explore areas we hadn’t been able to see the first time around. (Read our first trip recap.) Winthrop is one of the best weekend trips from Seattle, in my opinion… especially for families! It has things to do in every season, but winter is actually busiest because of the cross country skiing trails it’s known for. We’ve only been to Winthrop in the summer and have loved it!

A great family-friendly weekend getaway from Seattle: Winthrop, WA

Here’s what we did:

  • Put our feet in Pearrygin Lake and enjoyed a picnic on the beach there. The scenery was gorgeous. This is a must-do if you’re in the area!
  • Bought outdoor gear from one of the many shops in town.
  • Drank coffee from Kind Grinds. I also loved the superfood bowls and bought them for lunch every day. Perfect post-hike fuel!
  • We also drank coffee from Rocking Horse Bakery and I enjoyed some of their quiche, but I thought Kind Grinds had better coffee.
  • Hiked to Falls Creek Falls. This is a super-short ‘hike’ to the falls, but you can go miles further than the falls to see more pretty scenery. It got pretty tricky for little legs before we eventually turned around!
  • Ate ice cream at Sheri’s Sweet Shoppe – because how could we not?! So many flavors!
  • Also went mini-golfing at Sheri’s. Sidenote: Don’t do this until kids are like… 15. 4 & 3 is too young! I mean, the girls had a blast, but if the course had been more crowded we would have had a line of like 80 people behind us!
  • Ordered pizza from East 20 and ate it at our campsite. (Delicious!)
  • Swam in the pool at the KOA Campground we were staying at.
  • Shopped and ate at the The Mazama Store. We ate lunch on the picnic tables outside. Get the baguette. (Is it a French baguette? I’m not sure. All I know is that it’s warm, soft, and sprinkled with sea salt and I’m willing to drive the three hours just to buy it again! So-freakin-good.) Last year we stopped here and road our bikes along the roads surrounding it… gorgeous scenery.

Other fun things to do include going to see the fish hatchery, spending time seeing the views and exploring the area around Sun Mountain Lodge, going to farmers markets in Twisp and Winthrop, mountain biking on local trails, rafting/kayaking on the rivers, fishing, horseback riding… there are so many possibilities!

If you’re looking for a weekend trip from Seattle (with or without kids), put this one on your list!

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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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