Every summer when we visit California, the kiddos get ice cream sundaes every night. There’s something about grandparents spoiling grandkids—which is exactly how it should be. Except this summer we aren’t heading down. And while we do Sunday Sundaes here at home, it’s not the same as having ice cream every day.
No California. No nightly sundaes. Rough life these kiddos have.
With California not happening, we now had an opening on my obsessively planned out summer calendar. I’m one of those moms who over-schedules summer. Even though I aim to have a carefree summer every year. (This has yet to happen. Lesson NOT learned.) Between our planned trip to California, summer camps, swimming lessons, and a few other trips—and finding days to play with friends of each kiddo—our summer is fairly packed. Other than the week in August I planned to be free. How pathetic is that, that I planned a free week?! Haha. I have obsessive scheduling issues. So with a free week, I came up with a plan (because I have obsessive scheduling issues).
The plan: a hiking and ice cream camp. Every day, for five days, I’d take the kiddos hiking and we’d grab ice cream after. I planned it all out—because of course I did—and set up hikes each day with different friends, and selected ice cream shops to hit afterwards. And I planned it so every-other day I would have Maive on my back versus in the stroller. If I can do anything well, other than popping out kiddos, it’s plan.
Like always, something happens. The plan didn’t go exactly as planned. But it all worked out in the end, and we managed to hike and have ice cream five days in a row!
Day One: Oxbow Loop Trail & The Swirl
Back to Oxbow Loop Trail. I took Brian and the three younger gals on this one, back in March. Blaise and Laine hadn’t been yet and our friends wanted to check it out. We met at the trailhead at 10:30am on Tuesday morning. There was only one other car there and whomever was driving it, we never ran into them. It felt like we had the trail all to ourselves. Maybe the coyote who was in the middle of the road as we drove in was around, but he didn’t show himself again. Cute little guy!
After getting set up with kiddo backpacks and Maive in the stroller, we went straight at the start of the trail instead of right, the other option (that we took back in March). The kiddos immediately saw all the salmonberries along the trail. They picked several to eat as we made our way around the lake. The kids did great, picking up rocks along the way and checking out—and climbing—the different trees. There was some excitement finding a frog near the edge of the trail. All the kids stopped to check it out.
We meandered on at a kid pace, stopping at all the different seating options. I think that’s my favorite part of this trail, the log benches and chairs. The kiddos stopped at one seating arrangement where they held a trial to determine who ate the last pickle. An imaginary pickle. There was a judge, jury, witnesses, and someone was the guilty party but the case was never solved. It was a bit chaotic.
Another frog was found on the edge of the trail before we made it back to the beginning of the loop. We never passed a single person. And there were two more cars parked at the trailhead. The kiddos lunched on the log benches at the start of the trail until it started raining. They moved to our cars to lunch, for cover.
After a successful hike and lunch, we left for frozen yogurt in North Bend. At The Swirl. Blaise and Laine are convinced it is the best frozen yogurt they’ve ever had.
Day one, check.
Day Two: Garfield Ledges & Scott’s Dairy Freeze
Garfield Ledges is a great hike for kiddos. We first went last summer when I heard about it from a friend. It was also the first time I ventured down the loooong forest road. I know the road well now, after checking off a few of the trails since. We made plans with friends to meet at 10:30am. I had taken Saige and Baby on this hike the week before, with their friends. And since Saige wasn’t feeling very well before we left, I was cool with her and Baby sitting this one out.
The Garfield Ledges trailhead is near the tail end of the forest road. There’s one last river crossing before the parking lot and end of the road. And that river crossing is pothole city. Maive laughed every time we dipped down driving over the potholes. We had recently been to Silverwood so Blaise and Laine encouraged her to raise her arms as if she were on a roller coaster. She was all in with that idea. We parked and readied to hike, while we waited for our friends. They arrived not long after and we were ready to get our hike on.
After the standard trailhead picture, we set up the trail. This is a short hike, a bit over one mile to the ledge. We had the trail to ourselves, never passing a single person going up or down. Weekday hiking is the best. Because we only had older kiddos, we were up pretty quickly. There were only a few stops to climb boulders and check out some downed trees.
At the ledge, the kiddos lunched. Blaise didn’t go with us last summer; he was at a camp. This was his first time. And he doesn’t love heights. He was freaking out that I was letting Maive walk around with the ledge right there. I assured him it was fine, that I’ve managed to keep five kids alive thus far. He freaked out every time she’d get close to the edge (she was never really that close). We eventually packed up and went back dow. It was a straight shot. No stopping.
Driving in on the forest road I told the kiddos about the super cool Pratt River bridge. It’s at the start of a trailhead before reaching the Garfield Ledges parking lot. They asked if we could check it out on our way out. Of course we could. I have a thing for bridges. The kiddos thought it was cool but aren’t into bridges like I am, haha.
This day we went to Scott’s Dairy Freeze in North Bend. Their focus in the ice cream arena is milkshakes. They do have soft serve cones: vanilla, chocolate, or a swirl of both. The kiddos went with milkshakes, caramel flavored. Maive scored a kid-size vanilla milkshake.
Day two, check.
Day Three: Snoqualmie Valley Trail & Blake’s
Plans changed this day. We were supposed to hike around Gold Creek Pond. Rumor has it the hike is beautiful and super kiddo-friendly. I was excited to check it out. But the night before, Baby went to bed with a 101 degree fever and Saige said she still wasn’t feeling well. I cancelled our plans before going to bed, wishing Baby and Saige felt better by morning. And disappointed we weren’t going.
Saige and Baby were both up early and raring to go. No fevers. I didn’t think it was a great idea to drive over an hour to Gold Creek Pond like originally planned. Just in case they went downhill. And I wasn’t thinking it was a great idea to take the girls out anywhere after not feeling well. But they were game and had energy, and I figured fresh air would be good for them. So we stayed close to home and hit the Snoqualmie Valley trail.
It’s not even a five minute walk to the trail from our house. One of the main reasons why I love living here. The kiddos geared up with face masks and shoes, while I readied Maive in the stroller. Blaise had just sauntered downstairs and didn’t really want to go, but I highly encouraged him to join us. He agreed to tag along. Off we went at 9:15am.
Funny enough, the day that didn’t go as planned was our longest stroll of the week. Four miles. The kiddos know the route; it’s the one I take them on often. We stopped at all the standard things: the climbing tree, the stairs down to the middle school, the river, the playground at Tolt MacDonald.
We made it to the playground around 10:15am. Blake’s opens at 11am. I suggested the kiddos play a bit so we could time leaving to walk to Blake’s to get there when they opened. But because I can never be late, I gathered the kiddos earlier than I should have, arriving to Blake’s 10 minutes early. They walked surprisingly fast from the playground to Blake’s!
After waiting for them to open at one of their picnic tables out front, the neon light open sign eventually clicked on at 11:03am and we were the first customers of the day. Each kiddo ordered and we ice creamed it up, before lunch. Before breakfast for Blaise. We sat a bit outside before we needed to head home. While on the trail, Laine’s buddy texted, asking if they could pick her up around lunch. We needed to be home by noon.
With ice cream cones in hand, we walked down the main drag in Carnation, before making it home. There may have been some expressed frustration on my part with Saige, who let her ice cream drip out of the bottom of her cone all down her hand, continuing on down her leg, and falling on her shoe. Why, Saige?!
Day three, check.
Day Four: Asahel Curtis Nature Trail & The Swirl (Again)
Yet another day that didn’t go as planned. The plan was to hike Asahel Curtis Nature Trail in the morning. With Brian, who was going to take the day off from work. We didn’t hike in the morning. Brian didn’t take the day off from work.
I woke up like usual around 5am. Already knowing the day wasn’t going to go as planned. We made the heart-wrenching decision to say goodbye to Moose, which was happening at 10:30am. I went for a run to clear my head and work though my heavy emotions. The morning went on like a usual home morning. The kiddos all eventually woke up and ate breakfast; I checked off all my morning tasks and spent time with Moose. And then 10:30am came. That happened and I was an emotional wreck. I needed to get out, away from where Moose no longer was.
Long story short, our afternoon plans of strawberry picking were cancelled. We now had the entire rest of the day wide open. Asahel Curtis could now happen. And it did.
We hit the trail in the afternoon. This isn’t my usual but it worked out so well. I may take on some afternoon hikes, after this heat nonsense. Triple-digits, in the PNW?! WTF? Haha. Asahel Curtis is a short hike, perfect for the kiddos. Not that they can’t hike longer but not hearing any how much longer questions gives short hikes bonus points. Instead of going on and on about it here, there’s this. It was a fun, much needed outing for all of us. And it totally helped take my mind off of missing Moose.
And a total score! We had free frozen yogurt. The kiddos asked to hit The Swirl in North Bend again. Because it was the last day of school, a local real estate agency was picking up the tab from 2-4pm. I had no idea until I went to pay, and was told it was covered. What a lovely gesture from whichever real estate agency.
Driving home, we stopped to check out Snoqualmie Falls. It’s always beautiful and didn’t disappoint.
Day four, check.
Day Five: Heybrook Lookout & Yoforit
Between rain throwing off the start of day one, to kiddos not feeling well and adjusting plans, and dealing with Moose, I wasn’t sure I’d succeed in my five days in a row goal. But we did. Day five happened. On a Saturday. With Brian. And everyone else.
After checking off Heybrook Lookout and day five of hiking, we hit up Yoforit frozen yogurt in Monroe. It was tasty and really expensive. The consensus is The Swirl in North Bend is better (and more reasonably priced).
Day five, check.
It was a fun week! The kiddos seemed to enjoy each day, even if I was asked by a tired kid each morning, “Are we going hiking again?” Until the next time I find a free week on the calendar, only to fill it up with something.