Should be a fun outing – bring your bikes, your skates, or your strollers and (if we’re lucky) your sunscreen!
Just a heads up about a fun activity next weekend- May 15th.
The old railroad bridge/new bike path at River Front Park (The Union Street Walking Bridge) is reopening and families are invited to help celebrate. Festivities last from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Each family is invited to pick up a passport and visit a variety of locations in River Front Park and Wallace Park to receive a passport stamps. And if enjoying these great Salem parks isn’t fun enough…. your family receives free admission to A.C. Gilbert Village once you have filled your passport!
Should be a fun outing – bring your bikes, your skates, or your strollers and (if we’re lucky) your sunscreen!
With the spring weather upon us, my youngest son is eager to ride his bike. While our neighborhood is a good start, it’s also great fun to ride more ‘open trails.’ I like the change of scenery. He loves the faster pace of a driveway-free zone.
Here’s just two of the places, in Salem, he loves to ride:
A recent trip to the Salem Public Library included a backdoor exit for my family. It was a change of plan that made
my seven year-old feel on top of the world!
While most days we go in-and-out of the main library doors (toward the parking structure), we took advantage
of a recent sunny day to visit Peace Plaza.
To reach the park (which stands between the library and
Salem City Hall) folks need to exit from the library basement. My boys and I stopped first at the Queen of Tarts Bakery & Café to buy a super-sized peanut butter cookie.
A bit of climbing, running, and nibbling made for
a nice change of pace from our regular routine.
My boys said they’d like to go back again with their bikes.
I’m interested in another cookie.
My husband is an outdoor guy. His dream vacation would be to hike into the mountains (as far away from civilization as possible) and just soak in the trees, air, water, dirt. I, on the other hand, have already had my fill of insects & dirt in this lifetime and prefer to vacation in the heart of the big city, so as to soak in the gorgeous architecture, gourmet food, and live entertainment. Happily married – we usually meet somewhere in between.
This month we decided to revisit the lost art of cross-country skiing. I can’t believe this was our first family outing of this kind- it was fabulous! In fact, I’d rate it as my favorite activity all winter.
Let me break it down in case you want to ski too:
South Salem Cycleworks rents cross country skis for the low rate of $18 a day. On the weekend, pick ‘em up on Saturday and return on Monday and you are set to go with skis, boots, and poles. They have a variety of sizes – all the way down to a perfect fit for your kindergartener.
Although we’ve looked for other places closer to home - our recent trip to Maxwell Butte SnoPark proved to be the ideal winter spot for families. An hour and a half from Salem, this snow park has a variety of perks.
Trail loops: There are several different trails of several different sizes starting from the parking lot. The shortest (just over a mile) starts at the main trail head/road gate on the far side of the parking lot. (Turn left at each blue marker on the trail. You’ll return to find yourself near the bathrooms closest to the parking lot entrance.)
Bathrooms: The best on the butte – I’m told. These composting toilets were surprising clean. I neither held by breath, lost my breath, nor swore under my breath while using them.
Parking: An Oregon Sno-park parking pass is need to park at Maxwell Butte. Valid for one day only, the passes cost just $3.50.
Free play: On the east side of the parking lot, a small meadow is ideal for free play. When we were there, my seven year old continued to fine tune his skiing while my five year old and I took a few runs on the sledding hill. Later Daddy Obery and son built a snow fort while I just sat and enjoyed the view.
They say the Boy Scouts are always prepared – but I think Mothers of preschoolers have got them beat every time.
Here’s my snow trip must haves:
Packed lunch (big ones)
Snacks for car ride (twice as much as you think you’ll need)
Bottled water (three times as much as you think you’ll need)
Large Thermos of hot chocolate
Kleenex Box/Stack of Napkins
3 layers of clothes for everyone
3 more layers of clothing for everyone (Trust me – cold is bad, but wet and cold is downright miserable!)
Comfy cozy clothes for everyone to wear when riding home (including underwear).
First Aid Kit with Tylenol/Advil
Plastic Bag (Garbage bag, barf bag, dirty clothes hamper, the catch-all item)
Lawn Chair to relax as the kiddos run wild.Camera!!!!
After a day in the snow – a hot meal hits the spot. Preferably that meal comes before the kids fall asleep in the car. This month we discovered the Idanha Grill on the drive back to Salem: Cute little place for sure. We give the home made potato chips two thumbs up and (although the Chicken Alfredo dish wasn’t anywhere near remarkable) the cheeseburger was great!
We spent this beautiful fall day at Willamette Mission Park. Just outside of Keizer, this state park has well maintained bike trails, lots and lots of picnic tables, and a direct path to the Wheatland Ferry. My husband, boys and I rode our bikes, enjoyed lunch, rode our bikes, crossed the river on the ferry (free of charge), and rode some more. All together we figure it was a total of 7 miles – - - pretty impressive for our 4 year old and his training wheels!
We saw folks of all ages there today. There were hikers, horseback riders, cyclists, and countless families enjoying the picnic areas. Here’s a quick list of all you need to make this easy outing a success: Bikes or good walking shoes, $3 cash for required parking permit, a good picnic lunch, water to drink, binoculars (if you want a good view of the many osprey nests in the area), and a camera to capture the good times.
We tried our hand at fishing again today at Walter Wirth Lake in Salem. While this pond isn’t the ideal natural beauty (you can hear the I-5 traffic), the fishing experience can’t be beat for young anglers.
The lake is just inside Cascade Gateway Park. Bring water to drink, LOTS of sunscreen, your fishing pole and a whole lot of night crawlers.
My boys didn’t have their hooks in the water more than 30 seconds before getting the first bite, and it continued that way for over an hour. My four year old was able to land six fish. His older brother scored two. Of course, the catch was never more than four inches long but it’s not the size of the fish that matters – it’s the non-stop action of bait, cast, hook, and reel.
Oregon has but one National Park: Crater Lake. You may have seen pictures, or license plates, or the occasional OPB special, but these representations do not do justice to this natural wonder. After miles and miles of driving, we arrived at the crater’s rim and were rewarded with a wonderfully untouched view of what was once the largest mountain in Oregon. Of course, more than 7,000 years ago that mountain/volcano blew its top and rain/snow and subsequent volcano eruptions created the seventh deepest lake in the world. It's a location worth the trip!
Here are some of the highlights from our visit:
Lodging at the park is limited. Either; plan a short visit and drive in-and-out in one day (I DO NOT recommend being on the roads in the dark because of the steep cliffs near the rim); or reserve camping, cabins or lodge rooms within the park - far in advance. Our family splurged on a lodge room and loved the opportunity to sit on the rim-perched veranda each night and watch darkness descend on the lake.
While hiking abounds at the park, only one trail actually leads to the water’s edge. The Cleetwood Cove Trail is steep and one mile in length (one way). However, the trail is wide, has several benches along the way and fine for kids; as long as you give yourself the needed time. At the water’s edge you’ll find a boat dock, fishing spots, and a great swimming hole for the brave of heart.
Ranger-led boat tours vary in length and can be reserved in advance. We opted for the tour that drops families at Wizard Island for a three hour stay. I was nervous about such an adventure with our four year-old, but he was a trooper and we enjoyed lunch and hiking on the island. The hike to the top of Wizard Island is extremely steep, but worth the efforts, as the summit provides a magnificent view from within the great caldera. Bring more water than you think you’ll need for this outing. Once back at the dock, we actually purchased more water, as the return hike to the rim (the equivalent of 70 flights of stairs) can be a slow-go with kids after a full-day on the lake.
The visitor’s centers, trails, and viewpoints provide a variety of things to see and do:
- Earn a badge (Children 6-12) through the Jr. Ranger program.
- Check out the animal footprints in the sidewalk pavement
by Annie’s Creek Restaurant at Mazama Village.
-Visit the Rim Village Café for ready-made sandwiches to stock
your picnic basket.
- Enjoy the friendly chipmunks and ground squirrels (but
please do not feed them).
-Marvel at mother nature and her awesome power and
Zebras on the road.
While my ultimate dream is to take my family on an African safari in Tanzania, our recent trip to Wildlife Safari in Winston provided a good adventure for this summer. Nestled in the hills of Southern Oregon, Wildlife Safari is a 600 acre park and home to over 500 animals. Visitors drive their own cars along a 4.5 dirt road and can come face-to-face with giraffes, zebras, emus, elk, and bears.
Bison just outside my window!
Visitors can also sign-up for special ‘animal encounters.’ Our family delighted in two such programs: the elephant car wash and the bear feeding. The bear feeding was really interesting – the animals are beautiful and any extra time to talk with the animal caretakers is worth the effort.
A once in a lifetime view!
The elephant carwash was really an unexpected delight. The caretaker told us that each elephant has their very own method for the task. One of the elephants, that doused our car, placed its trunk right on the side window and then blew the water out with all its might. Once the water gone, you could see right up the elephant’s trunk. The whole thing had us all in fits of giggles.
Even little ones can keep up!
Folks just traveling through the area could make a quick 2 hour tour of the park, but I would recommend dedicating the whole day so that you can stroll through the Safari Village, ride the train, play on the playground, and participate in the tortoise walk or listen to the Cheetah Keeper Talk.
- Admission allows you to drive through the park twice.
- For the drive; pack water, snacks, and a camera.
- Check the park's daily schedule so you don’t miss a thing.
I’d be remiss if I failed to mention the
newest water feature in the city of Salem.
This new spray fountain at Riverfront Park is a gem.
Come prepared and enjoy the running, jumping,
splashing, squealing of a good-time!
---- FYI -----
There is NO shade:
Don’t forget the sunscreen, shades, and sun umbrella.
Bring water to drink:
(but also look for the water fountain at the
top of the stairs near the boat ramp.)
Go before you go:
It’s a hike to the nearest bathroom.
Visit the Carousel first-
for safety reasons the Carousel turns away wet kids.
My boys went fishing with their Grandpa this weekend. They didn’t catch anything – but just sitting on the bank and holding the fishing pole was exciting.
We walked in to the ponds just outside of Adair Village. You can sign-up for a fishing license (free for children 13 and under) at the trailhead and eat the delicious blackberries as you walk the path into the ponds. There’s not much shade – but plenty of picnic tables.
Click here to find Oregon fishing spots
in your neck of the woods.
On the Go