We head out on so many awesome little weekend trips these days I wanted to start keeping better track of where we went and what we did. If you’re in the market for Oregon-based family vacation inspiration, maybe this stuff will be useful to you, too. Although I realize the chances of that are pretty small. In fact, you should probably skip up this boring little writeup altogether and check out this awesome video of 25 movie scenes that were at least partially unscripted.

Where to go: Crescent Lake in Central Oregon, east of the Cascade Mountain Range. About 80 miles from Eugene.

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Why to go: Ridicugorgeous scenery, tons of stuff to do. The lake has glorious sandy beaches, stunning blue-green water, and great fishing. All kinds of hiking, camping, biking, etc in the surrounding Deschutes National Forest.

What to do: Here’s what I recommend, because it’s what we did and we had a great time. Go to the Crescent Lake Resort and rent a 14-foot fishing boat for an hour for $30 (they provide life jackets). Noodle around the lake for a while catching absolutely nothing despite the monster kokanee salmon and rainbow/brown trout lurking below the surface who are presumably laughing at your incompetence, and just enjoy the view. Afterwards, drive around the lake to a deserted spot on the shore for more fishing, rock-throwing, and sand-wallowing. Later, go for a hike in the lodgepole pine/mountain hemlock-scented woods until everyone builds up enough appetite for a pulled pork sandwich and fries at the When Pigs Fly BBQ joint.

Where to stay: Lots of camping and cabins in the area, and we really liked the (well-reviewed) Willamette Pass Inn. Great staff and super comfortable rustic rooms that all have kitchenettes and fireplaces (we paid $135 for their “extra large” room, which was quite a bit more expensive than our usual roadside motel stopover, but a worth-it splurge to have the space). They have a huge video library onsite for the groovy old-school VHS players in each room, which the kids loved. (I loved how it shut them up for two hours. I did not, however, love the repeat viewing of The Phantom Menace. My GOD, Lucas. MEESA HATE YOU SO MUCH FOR JAR JAR BINKS.)

What might suck: It’s still early in the season, and I suspect that in full-on summer the mosquitos are pretty gnarly. In fact, from this site: “Camping is best in the early season while some snow is still on the ground or later after the heat of the summer has killed off the mosquito population.” So if you head there in July/August, be prepared with plenty of bug spray or repellant gadgets or however you keep skeeters at bay (me, I coat myself in 100% DEET, and then I still get eaten alive).

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(The boys are smelling an elk bed here. Next they’ll be tasting scat for freshness.)

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Way back in 2008, someone left me a blog comment on this post: “Photos are great. Like the ducks you’re managing to keep things looking well on the surface despite all the furious paddling going on underneath.”

Stan, if by any chance you’re still out there, I’ve never forgotten that particular turn of phrase. It’s just so wonderfully perfect, and often remains true to this day. For instance, the utter and RELENTLESS shitshow of setting up a photo in which I appear with my own children.

When I take a photo of JB with the boys, I often do it when they’re not looking. Or I ask them to look up from whatever they’re doing and quickly snap the photo. I don’t pose them, is my point, because posing is a fucking nightmare.

Photos of me and the kids? Almost always posed. And then this happens:

“Guys, can I — guys! GUYS! GUYS. Pay attention. Stand over here for a second so I can — GUYS!!!

“Okay, Riley, you stand here, and Dylan, you — Dylan. DYLAN. Hello? Okay, can you — RILEY COME BACK HERE.”

“All right, I’m just going to stand behind … Riley, don’t do that with your tongue. Riley. RILEY. Okay, Dylan — Dylan?”

“Jesus, you guys. Okay, smile at Dad. Smile at Dad. Come on you guys, Dad is right there. Can you just … Riley. Your TONGUE. Put it BACK. In your MOUTH.”

“Dylan, if you don’t stop picking your nose I swear to god.”

“Okay! OKAY EVERYONE — what? Can you wait to pee for ONE SECOND?”

“One! Two! Three! SMILE! Whew. Was that really so har — what? He was what? Oh god.”

“Seriously you guys, come here. Huddle up. Look at me. Listen, I just want one photo. One photo. It shouldn’t be this difficult. Stand still and smile for one second and I swear I won’t bother you again. You can run around peeing and nose-picking for the whole rest of the day. Just one photo. Are we together on this? Are we a team? Okay high five! TEAM SHARPS!”


“Last try. And then I hurl myself off this mountain. Last try. I’m a broken woman. You’ve broken me. Just smile at the camera. Or don’t. I don’t care any more. Life is unmanageable chaos, who was I to think otherwise. Entropy descends upon us all.”

“Dylan please open your eyes. For the LOVE.”

“You know what, I –”


“What do you mean, look at it and tell you if it’s good enough? It’s good enough. Whatever the shit is on that camera roll, it is now officially good enough. I hate everything and everyone. Let’s go.”

All that paddling, but the amazing part is when I look back on the image — even just minutes later — I only see the surface. The happiness of our outing rather than the shitty experience and imperfect results of the dumb picture session. Photos are truly a miraculous thing.

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