Summer’s Surprise

Angel's Rest
Angel’s Rest, Columbia River Gorge

I love summer. More specifically, I love stretches of long, sunny days hovering around 80 degrees. I’ve often said I wish I were born in a sunnier place like California or Hawaii. In the end though, I’m glad I live in Oregon. Summers here are special, probably because they are such a stark contrast  to what can be long and dreary winters.

Growing up I was fortunate enough to spend 2-3 weeks each summer at the beach house my great-grandfather built in the 1940’s on the Oregon Coast. The house is still in our family and the tradition of spending time there in the summer has continued every year. Usually my family and I spend at least a week there during July or August, often able to share time with visiting friends and family. It is a treasured time of relaxation and building memories together.

Silver Falls
Silver Falls

This summer, I was late checking the house calendar and much to my dismay, when I finally got around to it, all of the available weeks were taken. I was really bummed because the long standing tradition would be broken and because my family wouldn’t be able to have a full-week vacation together. It’s not only a special place but it’s an affordable vacation, so I actually threw a bit of a fit. I realize I might sound spoiled, but it can be quite disappointing when our expectations are not met and our long-standing plans are forced to change.

Three Pools
Three Pools – Little North Fork, Santiam River

Eventually I decided rather than sulking about what this summer wouldn’t be, I should make the best of it and look for other options. I started by taking off every Friday that I could and planning day trips around the local area. Around that time, a friend of mine posted a link on Facebook that listed some of Oregon’s best swimming holes. I love anything to do with water, and my boys love swimming, so I decided to use that as the guide plan to our adventures. Over the summer visited 4-5 of the places listed on the site and some not on it. We’ve discovered some amazing new places almost in our backyard! A few of them were literally on the drive to the beach and I had probably passed them many times driving by.

Footbridge Day Use Area
Footbridge Day Use Area, Wilson River

While going to our beach house for a week would have been great, I’m amazed at how much fun it has been to discover these new places together, and in many ways, these experiences have been even richer and may build more lasting memories because they are new to us. It’s also been so fun to watch our boys discover the joys of “cliff” jumping, something I thoroughly enjoyed as a kid (I put cliff in quotes because they haven’t been jumping from very high, but it is still exciting to them). They’ve caught the bug and have been asking when we can go check out the next new swimming hole.

Throughout this post I’ve sprinkled pictures of our adventures, along with the location in the captions. If you Google the location you can find out more  or visit my new favorite adventure site for other great ideas.

Naked Falls
Naked Falls, Washougal River, WA

We were also able to find a long weekend in June at the family beach house and made the best of the shortened time. In fact, it ended up being one of the best beach trips we’ve had in a while. We had great weather, which can be rare at the Oregon Coast in June. In fact, the header picture of this blog is of a sunset taken from the front yard of the house during that weekend. It was one of the most stunningI’ve ever seen there.

In the end this summer has turned out much better than I could have imagined. I’m so glad I didn’t let my initial disappointment get in the way for too long as I would have missed out on so much.

There’s still a few weeks left of summer so I hope you can make the most of it and find your own adventure.