May kicked off in Cannon Beach, Great Wolf Lodge, and the Hands On Children’s Museum. Three field trips in one. That’s what Baby calls vacations, field trips. Last summer when we left Cannon Beach, I booked three nights in May. I knew we’d be back. We go every year. There’s something about Cannon Beach that does it for me. I absolutely love it there. Probably because it’s a super nice and quiet, quaint coastal town with a fabulous beach. And also that it’s become routine for us to visit. I’m a sucker for routines and nostalgia. We first went for our 10 year anniversary. I randomly picked an Oregon Coastal town and hotel, and we set off with Blaise and Laine as toddlers. Almost 10 years later—and three more kiddos—we go back to the same random hotel I originally booked and we pretty much do the same thing each time.
Life had been busy leading up to the weekend we were set to leave. The plan was to stay in Cannon Beach Saturday through Tuesday, hit Great Wolf Lodge Tuesday to Wednesday, and stop at the Hands On Children’s Museum on our way home Wednesday. Feeling exhausted from the week, we decided to leave Sunday morning instead. We took Saturday off and it was much needed. And it helped having a down day to prepare for the trip. I cannot leave for a trip without having a clean house. Saturday allowed me to get things in order without stressing about time. And bonus, the kiddos all packed Saturday night and we loaded the car with almost everything except toothbrushes.
Sunday morning we were up and out by 9am. It was a smooth drive down with no traffic. We even made it through Lewis-McChord without traffic. That’s almost unheard of, haha. All the kiddos are excellent travelers and we didn’t have to stop once. Blaise’s first road trip was at three weeks old, when we drove 11 hours home to California. The air conditioning died around Redding. And it was hot. We had it fixed for the drive home. That was a trip! All the kiddos made the drive to California in their first few months. Maybe this helped them become road trippers?!
It was just after 1pm when we made it to Seaside—Cannon Beach is about 10 minutes south. We stopped to eat lunch. Last year we found a Mexican restaurant that we really liked and decided it would be perfect for lunch. And it was. There was no wait and we were seated right away. The service was great and fast, and we all ate delicious food. We left for the Wayside Inn. Check in is 4pm but we went for it at 2:30pm, hoping our room would be ready. And it was, score. We quickly unloaded the car and settled into the room. We’ve been staying in the same room the past few years, once we added Maive. It’s essentially a two-bedroom apartment. It’s perfect for our family. Brian and I take the smaller bedroom with the king-size bed; Saige, Baby, and Maive take the larger bedroom with the queen-size bed; and Blaise and Laine take the pull-out couch since the family room has a DVD player connected to the television. The hotel has a great selection of movies you can borrow, and they even toss in a packet of microwave popcorn.
All settled in. The kiddos wanted to hit the swimming pool first. They all suited up and jumped between the pool and spa. They only lasted about a half-hour before wanting to head over to the beach.
Cannon Beach kiddos!
To the beach we went. It felt like we had it to ourselves. Sure, there were other people. Maybe 40 people spread out on the entire beach?! And it wasn’t windy. It was eerily calm. The kiddos got straight to playing in the sand and dipping their toes in the ocean. I sat and watched them all. It one of those cheesy parenting moments where I like to watch the kids be kids. They each play in their own way, engrossed in what they’re doing. Brian makes the rounds to each kiddo and plays with them a bit.
We spent a little over two hours at the beach before going back to the hotel. It was dinner time. Usually we grab pizza from a place in downtown Cannon Beach. But because we needed to grab a few things from the store—and had to head back up to Seaside to hit Safeway—we went with the cost-effective Domino’s Pizza. There is this super cute grocery store across the street from the Wayside Inn but it was closed Sunday for an employee appreciate day. Good for them. We usually spend close to $100 on pizza from the downtown Cannon Beach joint. Three pizzas at Domino’s was a mere $23. So that was a plus. Brian shopped at Safeway and picked up the pizzas, and we ate a late dinner in the hotel suite about 7pm.
Maive was spent. It was bedtime for the three younger gals at 8pm. We’re sticklers for kiddo sleep, even on vacation. We let them stay up a bit later here and there, but we’re no fun. Haha. All three were asleep pretty fast, with Maive in the middle. Maive still sleeps with us. Rather, she falls asleep in her own bed and we move her to our bed when we call it a night. Otherwise she jumps in our bed sometime in the middle of the night and we’d rather pull her in than have her wake us at 3am. All the other kiddos were in their own rooms around one year. Eh, Maive’s the fifth. And last. We know this is it when it comes to kiddos in our bed—we’re milking it a bit longer than planned. As much as we both want her out of our bed, we both still like having her in bed. Whatever. It won’t last forever.
While Brian was getting the gals down, I set out for an evening beach walk. Last year I went south on the beach and really wanted to continue on another mile or so, but ended up turning around. I always feel like I’m on a time limit with kiddo schedules and all. Even when I’m not. It’s a hang up of mine. This Sunday night I made it down to the point I have before, where I wanted to continue on. But it was getting close to sunset and I didn’t want to continue on just to have to walk back in the dark. I turned around—like last year—and made my way back to the hotel with the plan to continue on the next day. Annoying but it was the right call. I had all day Monday.
A quiet evening beach walk! I took a photo of these people. I probably shouldn’t have, but no faces from afar. Is this internet appropriate?! It was moving. I think they were scattering ashes of a loved one into the ocean. They were all quietly, calmly standing—even the pup—taking turns walking to the water with what looked like ashes. It gave me goose bumps. It was a special moment for them. And me?! Even though I have no idea who these people are or who they were scattering. Maybe because that’s how I envision being scattered?
Blaise and Laine settled in on the pull-out bed in the family room, and popped in a DVD they selected from the hotel lobby. They made it maybe 20 minutes in before the DVD stopped; it was scratched. They ended up finding Futurama on some channel and watched until 10pm. Bedtime for them. Rather, vacation bedtime for them. They’re a bit older, age benefits. Brian and I were asleep not much longer, and we all slept in the next morning. Bonus that Maive STAYED in bed with Saige and Baby ALL night! This was a first.
It was Monday. We had no plan and yet a plan, based on what we typically do when we visit Cannon Beach. First up was breakfast. Because we all had slept in a bit later than usual, Brian went to the store across the street and bought some fruit and donuts. Easy. It was enough to hold everyone over until a proper meal. We all got dressed and Brian thought it’d be best to stop in downtown Cannon Beach at the candy store before going to Seaside. Each kiddo selected a candy item. Usually we let them make a custom bag of candy but it usually ends up half-wasted. They each like candy and all, but in small amounts. They eat a bit while were on vacation and then back home, it gets stuffed in the pantry to never be touched again. And I end up tossing it a few weeks later.
Each kiddo picked a candy item and I bought my standard box of walnut fudge. It’s the only time I ever buy fudge which I think makes it that much better. Candy, check. To the Pig ‘N Pancake in Seaside for lunch. But first, I wanted to stop at Carter’s. Maive needed some summer outfits and since it’s right there with ample parking—and no sales tax—I was able to get some clothes for her. And a few things for the other kiddos. I always appreciate when I’m with only Maive and someone thinks she’s my only kiddos. Brian took the other four with him to an outdoor store next to Carter’s while Maive and I shopped. The sweet older woman commented how cute Maive was and how she’s at such a fun age, and how I’ll enjoy the coming years. I smiled and thanked her, and we continued shopping. Brian and the other kiddos finished up next door and came over to Carter’s. Checking out, the lady asked, almost shocked, are they ALL yours?! How many are there? Haha.
Careter’s, check. Next up, food. We parked and grabbed a few photos at the Greetings from Seaside mural before lunch. There was a table large enough for us without having to wait and we settled down. Because we eat there each time, everyone already knew what they wanted. Easy peasy. We ordered and crossworded, connected the dots, tic-tac-toed, and colored as we waited for our food. The food came quickly and as we were finishing up, a nice older woman—who was at the table across from ours—stopped by our table and complimented our family. That’s always nice to hear.
It was Seaside Aquarium time. Brian has to feed the seals every time we head down. It reminds us of the Morro Bay Aquarium. Those seals were the laziest beggars ever. But super adorable. Much like the Seaside seals. Brian and the kids fed the them; I don’t touch dead fish parts. The kiddos nosed around the aquarium before loaded back in the car for the hotel.
It was early afternoon and we all needed down time. Saige and Baby watched some television; Laine watched TikTok; Blaise gamed on his Switch (shocker!); and Maive putzed around making the rounds to everyone. I’m pretty sure Brian napped. He had gone for a morning beach run that wiped him out. I decided I’d hit the beach and head south, with the goal of continuing on past the point where I stopped last year and Sunday night. I was not on a time limit, score!
Jesus Christ. It was high tide. I figured as much when I first stepped on the beach. Where the water was and all. But I was dead set on passing the damn spot I’ve turned around twice before. I went for it. A little over a mile later—where the infamous turn around spot is—the water was all the way up to the rocks. I was determined and started climbing the rocks. But when I realized I was the only one around, I decided not to aim for a Darwin Award and turned around. AGAIN. Fucking Christ. Talk about frustration. But whatever, life goes on. I went back to the hotel annoyed. I searched tide times, and sure enough I left 30 minutes after high tide. Of course I did. It wasn’t going to be low tide until after dark. And again the next morning. I had one last shot before we left for Great Wolf Lodge.
Fucking high tide! But cute bunnies. I always seem to forget about the wild bunnies in Cannon Beach until we go back every single year.
Because I can’t let this go: High tide on the left, Monday night. Low tide on the right, Tuesday morning. Almost the same spot. I think I took the low tide photo slightly further back.
Back at the hotel, everyone was still chilling. It was beach time again. We made the quick walk over to the beach and found a spot to claim as our own. The beach was dead again. It was so nice. The kiddos decided to join together and dig an enormous hole. Even Maive helped. I sat and went between watching them behind me and enjoying the ocean. A middle-aged man appeared in a wetsuit and started boogie boarding. He was focused.
Running from the cold water!
How beautiful are these clouds over the water?! I could easily live on the coast. We did, but I took it for granted. I probably would again.
Everyone lasted maybe an hour before we packed up. It was windy and cold. And it was getting close to dinner time. But first, the pool and spa. We all suited up and had the entire pool and spa area to ourselves. The kids went between the pool and spa, daring each other to do all sorts of things. We lasted maybe 45-minutes. Back in the hotel suite, everyone readied for dinner.
As much as I don’t like Mo’s, I like the location of Mo’s. It’s across the street from the hotel; a quick walk. And it’s on the beach. To Mo’s we went. Again, no wait. There was a large table by the window. We settled in and decided on what we wanted to order. Score! They now have the Beyond Burger. Last year when we went to Mo’s, their vegetarian burger patty was awful. Like a homemade crumbly mess with corn. I barely ate the thing. We all ordered and waited for our food by coloring the kiddo menus. As we were coloring an older woman—who was seated with her husband at the table behind us—came over. She complimented our family and said they had five kids also, and how rare it is to see families with five kids these days. She said it was nice to see our family on a trip to the ocean because they were never able to take their kids growing up as money was tight. She was sweet and complimented the kiddos, and thanked us for our time before sitting back down with her husband. Our food came quickly and we all ate everything up.
Monday was a success! We were all tired and ready to call it a day. The younger gals were in bed at 8pm again, and Blaise and Laine only lasted until about 9:30pm. Brian and I called it a night about then also. I wanted to get up early and hit the beach. It was going to be low tide and I was going to hit my beach walking goal.
My alarm went off at 6am Tuesday morning. As much as I wanted to continue sleeping—I didn’t sleep well—I was determined to hit the beach. I set out not long after my alarm went off. I made it the 1.15 miles where I’ve always turned around. But not this time! I continued on! And I had the ENTIRE beach to myself. Not a single sole in sight past the turning point; and nobody crossed paths with me. Glorious. I made it past the next beach that I’ve had my sights on, only to discover another beach past a large rock formation. Google Maps tells me it’s Arcadia Beach. New goal. I started walking down Arcadia Beach with the goal of going as long as I could until I had to turn around. But time wasn’t on my side. I mean, I could have kept going. But I needed to be back at the hotel around 9:30am to shower and pack up, and leave for Great Wolf Lodge. It’s all good. I was thrilled to make it as far as I did. My Apple Watch booked 4.13 miles. Next year, I’m carving out a day with no time limit—at low tide—and I’m booking it down Cannon and Arcadia Beachs as far as I can. Even if it means I need to stay an extra day, it’s happening.
Low tide walk. Finally!
And because I’m stuck on this: on the left is where I got stopped thanks to high tide. The right is where I made it during low tide. Next time, I’m checking off Arcadia Beach.
Walking back to the hotel, there were a few beach walkers closer to Haystack Rock. I never even made my way down there this trip. Maybe next year on my unlimited walking day, I’ll go as far south as I can and back, and continue on to Haystack Rock. I did pass one dog walker on the beach as I got closer to the hotel. The pup’s name was Peanut Louise and she should not have been off leash. She was small but man, a nipper. She ran right up to me and as I said hello to her, she nipped my ankles. The lady said she was being moody. Eh, being moody and a biter are kind of two different things. Thankfully for her, I’m a dog person and didn’t make a big deal about the biting. But she should be careful with that one.
Back at the hotel, Blaise and Laine were still conked out. Even with the three younger gals up and moving about, the big kiddos continued sleeping. Brian and I showered and got ready, and started packing up. The kiddos were all eventually up and dressed, and packed. We loaded up close to check out time at 11am. After turning in the hotel keys, we set off to Astoria. It was another Pig ‘N Pancake day. But first, we stopped at Costco along the way. We need a new pots and pan set and I figured since we were in Oregon, we may as well save the $30 bucks or so on sales tax. Brian disagreed—he’s all about convenience and didn’t think toting a large box of pots and pans back home was worth the savings. I ended up agreeing with him and passed on buying pots and pans. But that didn’t stop us from shopping at Costco. We could have bought pots and pans for what we spent on hammocks, books, clothes, and random snacks. Eh, Costco.
On the way to Astoria, Brian commented how we had so many looks in Costco. Haha. I’m used to looks. They started when I was pregnant with Baby. It’s like two kids is normal. Maybe three. Only three if the first two are the same sex. But four, the looks started. And five, it’s looks all the time. You can see peoples’ wheels turning—internally questioning if they’re all siblings, how old they are, if I’m the mom, and whatnot. At least over here on the West Coast it happens. Perhaps in Utah things are different. But I had to laugh, that Brian just then noticed the looks.
Driving into Astoria and seeing the Astoria–Megler Bridge, I commented that there is a run each year that spans the bridge. As much as I don’t like heights, I think it’s something we’ll check off the list. It’s a 10K that happens every October. Probably 2023. But maybe 2022.
Pig ‘N Pancake in Astoria had a table large enough for us without having to wait. We really lucked out this trip with restaurant seating. It was the standard order, we’re all suckers for routine. Bellies full, it was time to hit the road for Great Wolf Lodge. The goal was to make it there between 2-3pm. We pulled out of Astoria around 12:30pm.
Every time we go to Great Wolf Lodge I’m reminded why I don’t like Great Wolf Lodge. We arrived about 2:15pm. Brian parked and waited in the car while I went inside to check in. The line was incredibly long. All I could think was don’t people go to work and kids go to school?! Haha. As we were there mid-week with kids. It’s not exactly my crowd. To be fair, any crowd is not my crowd. But it’s a clusterfuck of people, myself included.
It took about a half-hour to get checked in. Thankfully our room was ready early. Brian and the kiddos unloaded the car, and we went up to the eighth floor. Not my favorite; I had requested a ground floor room but no luck. Great Wolf Lodge has fabulous rooms. They’re spacious and clean, and they have rooms large enough for our family. The large room has two queen beds separated by a partial wall, and then a couch—that is also a pull-out bed. And the room has an attached bedroom with separate bathroom, with a door we could close. It was similar to the room we stayed in back in December. Not too shabby!
Yay, Great Wolf Lodge. Haha.
Not planned, but one of Laine’s buddies was at Great Wolf Lodge the night before. They checked out the day we arrived but stayed in the waterpark all day so the girls could hang out. We all quickly settled in and suited up. To the waterpark we went. So. Many. People. Laine found her buddy, and they and Blaise took off. We let Blaise and Laine explore on their own. They’re old enough and great swimmers, and it’s an enclosed area with lifeguards galore. Brian took Saige and Baby to the wave pool. I took on Maive and we hit up the toddler area. Not five minutes there, they closed it for cleaning. I don’t even want to know why they were cleaning. Ugh. Shared water is disgusting. I’m always proud when our kids get out of the water to go to the restroom mid-swim. Because you rarely see anyone get out of water to use the restroom. Another, why do we go to Great Wolf Lodge?! reason.
Maive and I went to the wave pool to find Brian. I told him Maive and I were going to exit the waterpark and nose around the lodge until the toddler area opened again. The toddler and I went back to the room so I could get and some clothes to put over her suit while we roamed around. We eventually made it back down to the lodge and hit Build-A-Bear. Maive picked out a rainbow wolf and went through the building process. Next, ice cream. Maive went with a strawberry cone. Looking back, this was a bad idea. I don’t like strawberry ice cream and yet I had to clean up the cone as it melted onto her hand. No good. We checked back to see if the toddler area was open yet. Nope. We went back to the room to drop off her new rainbow wolf. Jerry. Its name is Jerry.
Eventually the toddler area opened back up and I was able to pull a smooth move. Haha. Brian took Maive because Saige and Baby were with Laine’s buddy’s dad. Laine’s buddy has a younger sister whom Baby is friends with. I ended up sitting out the rest of the day, relaxing at a table. Maybe not relaxing but not on kiddo duty. Brian and the kids took a water break for dinner. We ordered pizza there and it was ready in no time. They were hungry from all the swimming. Refueled, they were all back in the water in no time. The plan was to pull the younger gals at 8pm, get them ready for bed, and then hit the dance party. Blaise and Laine were going to stay in the waterpark until it closed at 9pm. At least we thought it closed at 9pm. That’s when it closed back in December. Not this time. At 8pm they closed it all down. All the kiddos had to exit.
Back at the room, everyone got their jammies on for the dance party. Except Blaise. He wouldn’t be caught dead wearing jammies in public. The kiddos dance partied—even Blaise—which went on for what felt like a long time. It finally ended and I took Baby and Maive up to the room. They were exhausted. Brian stayed with Blaise, Laine, and Saige, and took them to the arcade for a bit. Brian was taken aback at how much some parents spend on arcade cards. It’s like gambling for kids. Maybe we’re conservative with wasting money. The kids were annoyed they didn’t get to spend more. They were back in the room not long after I left them. I think everyone was tired. We all went to bed.
Brian and I were on crowd overload. Specifically Great Wolf Lodge crowd overload. Admittedly, we live in a very small bubble. And any time we go outside of this bubble, it’s… jolting maybe? Like the next morning when we were exiting Great Wolf Lodge with our luggage, there was a middle-aged, incredibly large—tall and wide—woman sitting on a bench with four security guards surrounding her. They were telling her to stay outside for a half-hour to calm down. I had seen her the day before in the waterpark, and she looked like someone who gets pressed about anything and everything. And someone who would cause a scene about anything and everything. Guess I nailed her. We had to walk past her a few times. Brian said she gave me the most aggressive head-to-toe look a few times. I knew she was there but I ignored her, plus she was smoking so I made an effort to walk further away from her. I’m sure she has a nice side.
Before we pulled out Wednesday, we had a simple breakfast in our room. At Costco the day before, we picked up some muffins and fruit, and called that breakfast. Brian and I were tired of eating out. Not only does it add up but it’s not exactly the most relaxing time with five kiddos. The kiddos seemed full enough. They’re all fruit hounds. No complaints here. I’d rather them eat a ridiculous amount of fruit than extra muffins.
Packed up again, we left Great Wolf Lodge for the Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia. It’s by far my favorite children’s museum I’ve visited. Not that’s Ive been to many, maybe 10. The drive was smooth. It’s maybe 30 minutes from Great Wolf Lodge. We easily parked and unloaded all the kiddos. Online it suggested registering for a time slot but we winged it, hoping on a random May Wednesday there would be room for the seven of us. Yep. We paid and made our way into the museum. Saige got sucked into the kitchen and restaurant area, making fast friends with another gal around her age. Baby powered through each area, checking out everything and moving on quickly. Blaise and Laine stayed close to Maive, following her lead. Well, Laine at first. She got caught up with the water and vacuum tubes. I went with Blaise and Maive and they made their way around downstairs. Baby was close by. Saige stayed with her new friend in the play food area.
Everyone made the rounds inside—upstairs and downstairs—before we moved outside. I have to say, the upstairs is probably my favorite inside area. There is this large vacuum tube maze where one can stick soft balls or scarves in the tubes and they shoot at from the top. It’s nothing particularly special but I enjoy the large room with a window wall, and window seats. It’s my kind of space. And because it gets boring quickly, it’s not filled with people. I think Brian enjoyed the upstairs also, and got in on the action making coffee filter parachutes for the wind tube.
My favorite museum! Only a handful of play areas pictured. Outside is amazing.
It turned into a nice afternoon; it was sunny and warm. Warm for Washington standards. Maybe low 60s? The outside area has been added to since we last went. They now have a rock climbing boulder and some other new features. I think the pirate ship is new?! Maybe it was there before? All the kiddos found something to keep their interest out there for well over an hour. Maive was a maniac—here, there, and everywhere the entire time. She even took it upon herself to grab a bike helmet and tricycle, and started riding around the track. In the wrong direction. And her helmet wasn’t buckled. But she wasn’t going to miss out. Haha. I helped her out.
It had been over two hours and we were all tired. I was ready to head home. Laine lost it over some competition she had with Blaise and Brian on the climbing boulder. Laine was definitely tired. Maive was all wet from playing with the water pump in the mud kitchen area. Baby would have happily stayed but didn’t complain when we called it a day. Blaise goes with the flow. Saige was still with her new friend. I went inside to tell her we were leaving and her parents were like, oh, we didn’t know who she belonged to! Eh, okay. Brian and I had both checked on her several times while we were there. We knew where she was and whom she was with. And, they could have easily asked her.
Back in the car after a quick clothing change for Maive. She selected new jammies from the Carter’s haul, ‘mingo jams as Maive calls them (‘mingo being flamingo). It was time to go home. But first, a drive around the state capitol. Blaise wanted to check it out. Thankfully we had the cargo box on our roof because we look like a government vehicle otherwise. Black Suburban with tinted windows. Brian circled the building on the roads open to everyone. Blaise would have loved a tour if possible. Maybe they have some again post-Covid? We toured the capitol in Sacramento with the kiddos back in 2018. Memories of childhood field trips. Growing up in the Sacramento area, a state capitol trip is almost mandatory. And I vaguely remember eating in the basement restaurant with my grandparents once. I think they had floor-to-ceiling fish tanks?!
Home bound. Finally. It had been a great trip, jam-packed, but I was more than ready to be home. And bonus that would make it home late afternoon; we could enjoy some down time before bed. There was a bit of a hiccup grabbing McDonald’s for lunch. Brian pulled into one in Olympia and briefly parked to confirm orders. But Laine and Saige kept changing their order and then adding to their new order, it was absurd. We were trying to make it easy and just get burgers, nuggets, and fries, and yet those two complicated things. Brian—who rarely ever gets frustrated—got frustrated and we left without ordering anything. Tears galore. It’s not like they were starving. We had fruit in the car and it was a 90-minute drive home. But no, they didn’t want to eat anything we had.
Of course Brian stopped at another McDonald’s about 10 minutes up the road. Laine and Saige were quiet. Thankfully. We have road tripping down. I make a note on my phone with the order so Brian can just read it when they ask for his order. Always with a warning beforehand that it’s a large order. Food in hand, and no complaints, we weren’t stopping again.
And we didn’t. Except to pick up Mel from his BFF’s house. We made it home about 4:30pm—all eight of us. Enough time to thoroughly unpack and get everything vacation put away. Brian unloads the car, vacuums the inside (kids eat in the car on road trips), and takes off the cargo box. I immediately start laundry and unpack Maive and me. And then I find homes for anything new we picked up along the way. I can’t deal with clutter on counters or tables; everything must have a home. Even all the kids unpacked their suitcases and put their stuff away. Laine tried to pull a fast one, and put all of her clothes from her suitcase in the washing machine. Clean clothes. I called her on it and she tried to say the clothes were dirty but quickly quieted down when I put them back in her room. They were magically put away the next time I walked past her room.
Another field trip (trips) down. My goal has been to take the kids somewhere once a month. And while we’re sticking with this goal, it’s becoming exhausting. I’m on a few weeks break now before we head out again in June (and July, August…). It’ll be fun and worthwhile. It’s all about making memories, right?!