Living simply in the wild

Great Outdoors

Just Keep Pulling: On Shooting Firearms and Empaths

I did not grow up around guns. In fact Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles were outlawed in our home. Perhaps that plays into the fact that i’m sensitive. Most the time, extremely sensitive.

The first time shooting firearms it scared me. No, it terrified me and shook me at my core. It wasn’t a little BB gun or a 22, it was a 40 caliber hand gun.

We were out in no mans land back in Chelan Washington. Up in the evergreen covered hills with a giant dirt mound as our backstop. Not a soul around for days. I was both equally excited and nervous as this was my first time shooting a handgun. I’d seen photos of friends at shooting ranges smiling next to their paper cutout sprayed with holes they’d just shot. It looked like they had a blast. I was with my husband who I trust completely and who has been firing guns since he was probably younger then our kids are now.


Ranger sat there carefully explaining the gun to me. He explained the parts of the gun, how it worked, how to hold it, how to stand, i’m pretty sure he covered it all. He was very thorough and precise with his instructions.

I only had 2 questions when he finally was done with his firearms lecture.

“How loud is it going to be?”


“Is it going to kick back at me?”

He answered with, “uh, It’ll be a loud pop, and it will only kick back a little”. I confirmed his answers as I wanted to know exactly what to expect. Looking back I shouldn’t have accepted such vague answers.

I took my stance. Legs apart, knees bent, elbows locked. I took a moment to feel my breath as I took aim at the piece of plastic that was about to meet its end. I held steady feeling my breath between my lips. 1….2….keep pulling….keep pulling….3….the gun fired.

Everything went silent. The world around me seemed to start a slow spin. I looked over at Ranger who had a huge smile on his face…until he saw mine. The world was muffled and ringing and for a moment I was completely lost. My heart was beating so hard I could feel each beat pounding in my ears. I stood there for a split second not knowing a thing. Not a voice, not a thought. The sound of the gun going off was enough to paralyze my hearing (and me) for those few moments. The power of the bullet flying out of the barrel was enough to make my palms sweat and go completely numb.

Ranger came rushing towards me and grabbed the gun out of my hands, I’m not even sure how I was still holding onto it. I wanted to drop it and bury it in the dirt right then and there. But my brain had not caught up to tell my hand to drop the gun just yet.

“No.” Is all I could get out of my mouth and I walked away quickly. Tears welled up in my eyes. I had no way to stop them, they just came. I was shaken to my core and needed time to breath. Breath….somehow my body remembered to breath, I think.

Truth is i had no idea I’d have that reaction. That wasn’t something you could predict. I can’t explain why it happened or why I reacted the way I did. I’m not the tough girl. I’m strong, but i’m not tough. There are things i’m incredibly sensitive to and sometimes those things surprise me.

With three boys in the house, one being in Law enforcement, I believe its incredibly important to know how to use a gun and to know the proper way to handle a gun. I did learn that. I also learned that shooting a gun is not something I enjoy. At all. Ranger took me out just the other week to go shooting again. I was prepared this time. I knew what to expect.

I gathered myself, I grounded myself, and breathed. I kept breathing and kept squeezing that trigger. I’d stop before it fired and breathed again. I relaxed my stance and said I couldn’t do it. I held my ground, aimed, and pulled the trigger some more. Yet each time i’d stop shy of it firing.

Keep pulling. Keep pulling. I had a great battle within myself that day. My brain was begging me, hounding me, to do something and I tried so hard to do it. But something within me stopped me every time. That day my brain was doing everything it could to keep me pulling that trigger tighter and tighter and something else inside was fighting right back just as fiercely.

It’s funny how that can be translated into life. There are things you know you should do. But no matter how hard you try to do them there is a force battling against you. Think of how hard it is sometimes to apologize, to say I love you, to say that the other person is right. It’s a downright battle at times!

I finally braced myself a little harder. Let out another breath slowly and kept pulling until it shot. It fired once and I just stood there breathing again. Tears welled up in my eyes, but not from terror this time. Well, maybe a little from terror. I’d done it, I had made myself do it. I had met resistance and I pushed through and I survived. It was scary. My hands were tingling and I handed the gun off as soon as I could. But i had done it.

I know this is a small feat for most. Crying and being emotional over shooting a gun may seem ridiculous. Trust me, Ranger completely agrees with that! I can’t predict when floods of emotion will find their way into my daily life and spill over. For some reason when that gun fired it shook me. It rattled something loose and it took over a year to even think about shooting firearms again.

Just know that in life this happens and it’s ok. Especially for those of us who are extra tender. Those of us who feel with everything that they are. The empaths out there. It’s ok to feel, it’s ok to be scared. Just keep standing there grounded, breathing. Just keep pulling that trigger. Eventually things will fire and the dust will settle and you’ll see that you are still standing. Your feet may even be planted further in the ground then before.

Just keep pulling.



That time when you find: Home.

IMGP1180The charm oozes out of the pacific northwest more then any other place I’ve ever been to. The seasons change by the hour, islands pop up out of the waters and are yours for the discovering. The rains sing sweet songs whenever you’re listening. Sasquatch peers behind the trees. The colors are plucked directly from the rainbow.


One room cabins built from the wood harvested off of the properties they sit upon. Hand cut, carved and placed with effort and love. Decades later they are the escape of the city dwellers and peace seekers. Places to have solidarity, to burn logs in the wood burning stoves that were placed years before. A place to sip hot coffee that’s been ground from beans while sitting on the front porch while being sheltered from the constant drizzle.


That is currently where I sit. Under a small, hand built roof, sheltered from the drizzle with a cup of coffee whose steam rises into the air.  A few rain drops of course finding their way under and landing themselves upon my boots. This is what its all about. This is the Pacific Northwest to me. Trees and ferns so thick you can see but a few yards into the forest. Having to cross over onto an island to get to where your cabin sits.  Grey skys, melodies of rain drops hitting the roofs, leafs, and trees. Spiderwebs knitted across the leafs catching the rain drops as they fall.


The Juniors of course are up in the tree house in some magical world. Coming to tell me of their great adventures every few minutes. Truthfully I think the only reason they come over is to pluck a handful of blue huckleberries off the bush beside me.  I don’t blame them, they are perfectly ripe.


Somewhere beyond the thick trees, the green ferns, the grey skys and the clouds I know mount Rainer is standing boldly on the horizon. We caught of glimpse of him yesterday. There is something about the magnitude of him that will take your breath away each and every time. Pictures do no justice to this magnificent beast.


The Puget sound lends its waters to everyone. Whether its fishing, crabbing, digging for clams or oysters, finding starfish, and sand dollars. Walking its shores, boating its waters.  The Puget is a place that can calm the roughest of moods and lift the darkest of spirits.


Many people curse the grey days, they wish them away. Here in the northwest we revel in them. We pull on our rubber boots, we sip coffee outdoors in our hoodies. And to be quite honest…we never carry an umbrella.  We feel the rain on our face, we let it sprinkle our glasses, and drip off our hair. Without these days this place wouldn’t be so alive. Without the rain or the grey the ferns wouldn’t be so vibrantly green and the blue days so incredibly sacred.


The coast is incredible and alive, but the Puget sound is home.



Mr. Crabby Pants

As many of you know, we have failed at fishing. Ranger may or may not be slightly crabby about the whole ordeal. After all, we are living in a place surrounded by some of the best seafood you may ever get your hands on, and we can barely even catch a fish.

But I am proud to announce we finally caught thee Mr. Elusive Crab. Kind of.

Ranger spent all of monday designing and crafting a complete homemade crab trap that he could cast out into the surf (in ocean lingo; Surf is where…well people surf at. No brainer, but thought i’d clarify).

The man even knit is own fishing net for the trap. WITH a netting needle he crafted himself out of a paint stick. Seriously, could he be anymore crafty?


So the next morning we got out to the ocean at low tide. The weather was dreary and misty but we could smell it. Literally the whole beach smelled like crab.  We were going to be catching crabs that day!

Ranger proudly struts off towards the waves in is onsie. Ok, their actually called waders…but seriously, it’s a onsie.

He flings his pole back and shoots it forward. Boy did that crab trap fly far…way further then his line was able to go. SNAP. The line had broke and the trap flew off into the waves, never to be seen by us again. Poor Ranger and all his hard work. No catching crabs with that sweet contraption.


I’m not counting, but this is the 4th crab trap contraption that has been lost at sea. We could of had a nice crab dinner with the money thats been lost to the waves by now. Anyhow. Ranger always seems to have a backup plan and was able to cast out another contraption and reel in 3 crabs. It was no surprise they were all female crabs. I had to step in and shoe those babes away. He’s a married man.

Meanwhile, the ever so attentive Jr Ranger was watching and yelled to his dad telling him he saw something in the sand where the waves where crashing. Ranger went to check it out inbetween the waves and sure enough…he pulled out a big fat MALE crab!


So technically Ranger has still yet to catch anything. But we did get to enjoy a nice crab for lunch that day.

I will also mention that we are now the proud owners of an official crab pot and Ranger has plans to put his boat in the River and do some real crabbing here soon. We’re just waiting for the perfect day. We now live our lives at the mercy of the tides. Stay tuned, unless our tiny boat capsizes and we too get lost at sea. Not a funny joke I know, but I’m terrified of the thought and laughing about it makes me look like i’m that really calm cool chick who is up for anything.



Ancient Art of Flint Knapping

We let our children play with knives.


There I said it. You may have had your suspicions up until now, but now you know. And by play I mean use responsibly. So please don’t call CPS on us just yet.

They each have their own pocket knife that they are allowed to use should they feel the need to whittle a stick, carve some bark, cut some grass, or whatever else a knife should be used for. They are being taught strict knife safety rules and if they abuse those rules or if they are irresponsible while using one then they will lose the privilege of being able to use use knives. So far they have been incredible responsible and cautious.

So letting them break and cut a stone that could easily cut through skin, well of course as a mom I was a bit nervous but knew they were going to be cautious and responsible. Plus the fashionable gloves and goggles they are sporting added to the safety measure required for the activity.

Our goal is to foster their interests. Everywhere you look there is history to be seen. It’s in the buildings, in the trees, in the formations on land, the rocks, it’s everywhere. They are becoming quite interested in the history of the things we encounter.

So what better way to show them history then by doing a little history ourselves. We took the Juniors to go see and try out on of the earliest forms of tool making.

Fint Knapping


The Interpretive Ranger that held this class is a wealth of knowledge. He actually makes and hunts with his own handmade tools.


He showed the boys how to hit the Obsidian with another rock to break off a razor sharp piece. Then how to sand the edges to create the shape i.e. arrowheads. The boys were amazed that they were able to make something and then slice through a piece of leather like butter.


They were able to see and touch ancient arrowheads carved out of a variety of different types of materials, different shapes and sizes.


But slamming another rock into another and it breaking off a piece that was incredibly sharp was the highlight of their day. If I didn’t know any better they were pretty close to strapping on a loin cloth, grabbing a bow and heading off to prove their man hood by taking down a bear with their one arrow they just made.





Cama Beach State Park Review

Cama Beach State Park is set in a spectacular, 433-acre waterfront location against a forested backdrop. Visit the state parks website for more info here.

Heading to Cama Beach State Park is like stepping back in time. The drive through the country side seems foreign yet like home. It is what I imagine a place like Ireland would be like. Rolling green hills after rolling green hills.


Photo credit Joe Mabel

We decided to stay in a cabin during our stay as it looked to be a pretty wet weekend, and boy did we make the right decision!


Photo Credit Joe Mabel

There are two types of beachfront cabins you can stay in. The Standard and the Delux. The only difference being the Delux has a private bathroom with a toilet, shower and sink. In the Standard you have to high tail it to the nearest bathhouse, which is nearby, don’t you worry your little face. All cabins have 2-3 beds that will house 4-5 people. They have a kitchen sink, fridge, and microwave. Bed linens and cooking items are not included.


Photo Credit Joe Mabel

The thing we really enjoyed about the cabins is that on the shelves you will find games and books that have been left behind for you to use, take, or exchange. There was also a very nice laminated hand out describing the flora and fauna of the area. I think we obsessed over this for quite some time as we are very interested in all the new things to see and were so happy we would actually be able to know what we were looking at.


The one thing we were a bit shocked to find out was that we were unable to drive down to the cabins. You actually have to catch a ride on the shuttle that takes you down to the cabin rows. It was pretty painless. The shuttles are large vans and buses with plenty of room to pile your things into and there are carts at the bottom for you to load up and take to your cabin. The shuttles do not run 24 hours so it is best to time your arrival and departure for when the shuttles are running.

Be sure to check the schedule when you arrive to see the activities going on while you were there. The Juniors were able to build wooden boats during our stay. Most activites are free but do have a suggested donation box to help keep the programs running.


Things To Do:

  • Beach combing

  • Visit the old boat house and build wooden boats

  • Swing on the Swing Set

  • play in a Sand box

  • walk the Trails

  • eat at the Cafe


There is an information desk/park store to buy suveniors at and the have stacks of toys and games to rent out during your stay. The park store does not sell food items, so come prepared in that aspect. But they are well equipped to handle entertainment ideas for your stay.

While in the area be sure to make a stop at Freedom Park. It has to be one of the best playgrounds we’ve seen.

Even though it was rainy the boys…all 3 of them had a blast!


We love visiting other state parks and this one we thoroughly enjoyed!


Cheap Things to do in Lake Chelan: 29 fun activities

Cheap Things to do in Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan offers so much for a family vacation. Even if we all can’t afford the lake front condo, private boat rentals, and luxery win tours. You still can have an amazing time in the valley on a budget. Use this guide of 29 cheap things to do in Lake Chelan to enjoy a nice relaxing vacation without breaking the bank.

1. Chelan State Park

If you already have a Washington State Discover Pass go there first! If you don’t have a pass it’s $10/day for the park or the Discover Pass is $30 for the year and will grant you access to:

Once inside Lake Chelan State Park you can enjoy:

lake chelan state park

lake chelan state park

  • RV and tent camping.
  • A playground your kids will thank you for.
  • 6,000 feet of shoreline
  • Roped off Swim beach area.
  • Restrooms.
  • Little Bear Trail.
  • A creek to walk along.
  • Boat launch.
  • Hose shoe pits.
  • Volleyball net.
  • Picnic tables (covered and uncovered).
  • Amphitheater.
  • And a huge green space, so bring your frisbee.

 2. Hang out at Riverwalk Park

Just park in downtown Chelan and head to Riverwalk Park (between Woodin St & Dan Gordon Bridges). It’s a great spot for a short stroll or bike ride on a paved walkway.

  • 12 acres
  • restrooms
  • picnic areas
  • picnic shelter (rentable)
  • boat launch
  • short-term moorage
  • boat trailer parking
  • one-mile paved scenic river loop trail
  • grass playfield

3. Manson Bay Park

There’s quite a few places you could hop in the Lake if you need to cool off. And I do mean cool off. That water is COLD. Head Past the safeway, past Red Apple and go into Manson, about 8miles. At the end of the downtown strip and just before the fire station there is a great swim beach.


  • Lifeguards on duty
  • restrooms
  • shallow area roped off
  • Docks to jump off
  • Green space for picnics

4. Go Hiking or Mountain Biking

Trails and Trails and more trails!

cheap things to do in lake chelan

Pick up some trail maps at the State Park or at the Chelan Ranger District 428 W Woodin Ave

5. Gone Fishing

Kids fish free (some rules apply). You can pick up an adult fishing license at Walmart or in downtown Chelan at Kelly’s Ace Hardware. You can fish the lake from a number of spots or head to fish some of the smaller lakes around the valley.

  • Lake Chelan
  • Wapato Lake in Manson
  • Antilon Lake in Manson
  • Dry Lake just outside Manson
  • Roses Lake in Manson
  • Alta Lake near Peteros
  • Chelan River at the Riverwalk Park
  • Columbia River down Chelan Falls Road (Hwy 150)

6. Get Outdoors. Go Camping!

Whether you want an place to park your RV, need amenities around, or if you really want to get back to nature Chelan has it all.

For RVs and Tent campers who like amenities:

For those looking to go a little cheaper and a little more backcountry:

There are 22 primitive campgrounds that the Chelan Ranger District has. They are first come, first served.

10 “boat-in” campgrounds are located up Lake Chelan. They do require a Dock Site Permit ($5/day or $40/season).

You can “Drive to” 7 campgrounds:

  • Snowberry Bowl (daily fee)
  • Antilon Lake (free)
  • Grouse Mountain (free)
  • Handy Springs (free)
  • Junior Point (free)
  • South Navarre (free)
  • Windy Camp (free)

Windy Camp

There are 5 “hike-in” campgrounds that are free including:

  • Boiling Lake
  • Cub Lake
  • Domke Lake
  • Hatchery Camp
  • Holden Ballpark

All Chelan Ranger District Campgrounds include some form of picnic tables, toilets, fire-rings and some include group shelters.

Be sure to check with the Ranger station at 428 W. Woodin Ave in Chelan for current status of these before heading out.

7. Head to the Shores of the Lake and watch boaters, jet skiers, and other water sports.

Where ever you can catch a glimpse of the water, you’re sure to see some water sports going on in the summer.

8. Don Morse Park

Don Morse Park is A great park with a lot to offer.

  • 2,000 feet of waterfront
  • 40 acres
  • Swimming
  • Boat launch
  • volleyball courts
  • skate park
  • tennis and basketball courts.
  • playground area
  • picnic shelters with electric, water, and BBQ

9. Head to the Library

The Chelan library moved to its beautifully remodeled building fall 2013 located at 216 N Emerson Street, caddy-corner from the Post Office.

  • Grab a good book to read
  • Play in the kids area
  • Surf the internet
  • Baby Rhyme Time every friday 10am. Ages 0-3
  • Story Time every wednesday 11am. All ages.

Manson also has a library with great events going on

  • STORYTIME Wednesday at 3:45pm. Ages 4 to 9, but children of all ages are welcome!
  • MANSON BOOK GROUP. Second Tuesday of each month at 6:00pm.

10. Drive up the Butte

As you’re heading into Town on HWY 97, right across from Lakeside Park and just before you hit Little Stone Church, turn and head up Chelan Butte Rd. This will wind you up the hillside 15-20 minutes. *This drive is not for the faint of heart*


Prepare for a bumpy ride, but the view is worth it! Lake Chelan on one side, Columbia basin on the other.

On the perfect day you may even catch a hang glider or parasailer take off.

11. Catch a Festival

Schedule your visit during and festival and you won’t be disappointed.



  • March
    • Top Dog Parade
  • April
    • Garage-a-rama aka Sidewalk sales!
    • Earth Day Fair
  • May
    • Beach-n-fly hang gliding contest
    • Manson Apple Blossom Festival
    • Spring Barrel Tasting
    • Memorial Parade
  • June
    • CruiZin Chelan Car Show
  • July
    • Manson and Chelan fireworks
    • Bach Fest
    • Chelan Man
  • August
    • Rodeo
    • Fine Arts festival
  • September
    • Car show and cruise
    • Sailing Regatta
    • Hydrofest
  • October
    • Crush Festival
    • Harvest Festival
    • Ciderfest
    • Trick-or-treat downtown Chelan
  • November
    • Veterans day parade
    • Fall barrel tasting
    • Manson winter festival and village of lights
  • December
    • Echo Valleys Ski Area New Years Eve Party

12. Farmers Market & Berry Picking

Head out to the evening farmers market in the Riverwalk Park every Thursday in the summer from 4-7pm. Snack on treats, find fresh fruits and veggies, enjoy entertainment. There’s something for everyone, literally.

Other farmers market include:

  • June-Oct Saturday 8am-12pm in the Chambers parking lot
  • Manson Market June-Oct Sat/Wed 8:30am-11:30 at the Grange Hall

Come in April to see Pear trees blooming beautifully. Apples will follow shortly after and other glorious fruits will follow. Stop by these places pick your own berries and fruits or make your own Apple Cider!

The freshest produce you can get!

13. Visit Themed towns around the area

  • Leavenworth: A Bavarian Themed town. Beautiful architecture. Great food. Fun festivals. It’s like a little Germany. There’s trails and camping and rivers to explore!



  • Twisp: Grab your cowboy boots and strap your saddle on your horse. This Western town is filled with small shops along a boardwalk for even the toughest cowboy. Rafting down the river is also a grand time.

camping leavenworth


14. Wine Tasting

With a plethora of wineries around the valley the only problem you’ll run into is which one to go visit. A lot of the wineries around offer complimentary tasting, and others have a small fee (around $5) that can be applied toward your purchase.

For info and a map of wineries in the area:…/our-wineries.html

15. Live Music

There are a few places around town that offer some live music.

The Vogue Liquid Lounge (117 E Woodin Ave), full service coffee and wine bar. They have live music on the weekends with no cover and are a family friendly joint.

Valeries Waterfront Bistro (114 E Woodin Ave) features:

  • Mindful Mondays: open forum discussion 8pm
  • Date Night Tuesday: 10″ pizza, large salad, 2 fountain sodas $24.00
  • 50/50 Thursday: Flip for a chance to win 50% off of your drink
  • Music and dancing Fridays and Saturday

16. Visit Riverwalk Books

Riverwalk Books is a fun little bookstore. The kids always head straight upstairs for a seat on the throne and to test drive new toys and books.

17. Lakeside Park

Right off Highway 97A Lakeside Park provides a great place to view Lady of the Lake, water sports, and might even see a paraglider or two.

  • Sand volleyball court
  • basketball half court
  • restrooms
  • 17,500 square feet of sandy beach
  • swimming area
  • picnic tables
  • playground
  • boat launch

18. Window Shop Downtown

Downtown Chelan has a great shopping strip with tons of fun stores to look through.

Our personal favorites are

19. Beach combing

Chelan is filled with amazing rocks and stones and even some tiny shells. Just remember to leave the treasures you find for the next treasure hunters.

cheap things to do in lake chelan

  • Don Morse Park at the beach west of the Marina
  • Lakeside Park
  • Beebe Bridge Park across the bridge from Chelan Falls (along the Columbia River)
  • Chelan Falls Park on the Columbia River has good sandy beaches.
  • Willow Point Park 1 mile west of Manson

*Some beaches are covered during high water in the summer

20. Field’s Point Landing

Field’s Point Landing is 17 miles up lake from Chelan along South Lakeshore Road. Here you can see catching the ferry boat uplake to Stehekin.

It is a National Forest Service and National Park Service site.

  • picnic tables
  • benches
  • Interpretive site
  • paved pathway  walk around the “point.”

21. Hit The Road

Pack a picnic, buckle your seatbelt and hit up a scenic drive

  • S. Lakeshore Road:You can only go so far uplake. So take a drive to the end of the South Lakeshore Road. Any further uplake you’ll have to take the boat ferry, seaplane, or hike up to one of the most remote communities in the lower 48.
  • Manson Loop: will take you along the back paved roads of Manson. You’ll wind through orchards and vinayards and will give you stunning views of the lake


  • Forest Service Roads: grab a map from the Ranger station and head up above 25-mile creek state park. Climb up creek-copper mountain. Bear Mountain. Stormy Mountain. The views are stunning! And the terrain….hold on tight in some places.

22. Tweet: Bird Watching

Head to any of the parks and lakes with some binoculars and you’ll see birds and wildlife everywhere. Visit for local bird watching guides.

23. Geocache

If geocache is your thing grab your GPS and go around to locate the local Geocaches. *there’s one inside Lake Chelan State Park

Zip codes in the area are

  • Chelan 98816
  • Manson 98831
  • Chelan Falls 98817

24. Audio Walking Tour

Goto and download the free mp3 guide and have fun on your journey.

25. Surf: The Web

You’ll find free wifi around town

  • The Vogue
  • Riverwalk Books
  • Starbucks
  • Westside pizza

26. It’s Game Time

If you want a little indoor time head over to Company Creek Pizza. They have big tables, lots of pizza and a small arcade the kids can sit and play while you sip, or gulp…I won’t judge, a nice cold beer.

Chelan Lanes also has a small arcade/bowling alley/and food for the whole family.

27. The Chelan Museum

Grab a piece of Chelans history and visit the Chelan Museum in downtown Chelan. 

  • Native American baskets, clothing, arrowheads, tools
  • Wapato Indian displays
  • A mining cabin
  • Old-time kitchen, home and store displays
  • Memorabilia of local life and families
  • Old newspapers
  • Research copies of many books on the history of North Central Washington
  • Logging tools
  • Toys

The entrance fee is only a few dollars a person, definitely worth the history lesson! Ask about their Treasure Hunt For Kids.

28. Fun in the Sun

If you want to get out on the water a lot the rental places offer specials. You can rent all types of equipment….kayaks, paddles boards, jet skies, boats, water toys, bikes  etc….. 10% discounts on their rentals during the weekdays Mon-Thurs morning 1/2 day specials Early bird special from 7am till 9am.

www.chelanjetskis.comweekday morning jet ski special 

*call or check website to confirm specials and prices

29: First Fridays of the Month

If your lucky enough to be visiting on the first friday of month from June-September you must head to Downtown Chelan. It’s family friendly and usually follows a fun theme. The shops stay open until 8pm and there are special deals, free samples, free kids activities, musicians and local artists on display and other fun things to check out.


There’s your list of 29 cheap things to do in Lake Chelan. Enjoy your stay in the Valley!

*if you have an idea or business that you feel is missing from the list leave a comment or email

Cape Disappointment State Park Camping Review

We spent 2 nights in April camping at Cape Disappointment (Cape D) State Park on the Long Beach Peninsula. Cape D sits at the mouth of the columbia river, the Pacific Ocean kisses its edges and Oregon is a quick 4 mile bridge away.IMGP9336

Cape D is just shy of 2,000 acres. It offers year round camping right beside the Pacific Ocean.

  • 137 standard campsite
  • 60 full hookup sites
  • 18 sites with water and electricity
  • 5 primitive campsites
  • 14 Yurts
  • 3 Cabins
  • 1 dump station
  • 8 Restrooms
  • 14 private Shower rooms


Cape Disappointment State Park Camping Review

There’s two miles of ocean beach to comb, two lighthouses, a beautiful interpretive center located on a stunning 200 foot high cliff, and loads of hiking trails. Visitors enjoy beach combing, crabbing, clamming, salt and fresh water fishing, ship watching, and exploring the area’s natural and cultural history.

We stayed in one of the Yurts and were lulled to sleep each night by the crashing waves of the Pacific.


The Yurts are pretty standard. They have a bunk bed that sleeps 3 and a Futon that pulls out. We had a table, two chairs, and a night stand. They do have electricity, with one outlet, a small heater that just keeps the chill off, a mirror, a hanging light, and some hooks to hang your rain coats….yes, bring your rain coats. They all have a covered porch, a fire pit and a picnic table.


All in all they were nice and cozy. If you sleep hot you’ll be fine but if you tend to get chilly at night be sure to bring an extra blanket or two.

There is a skylight in the Yurts which I thought would be really awesome, and then the sun came through at 5:45am and woke the kids up. So that was a little downfall.


(curtains, rug and string lights not included, it was my attempt at ‘Glamping’)

The restrooms were less then a minute walk away and were cleaned daily. 3 stalls and 1 shower.

If you take a minute or two drive you’ll reach the shower house that has private shower rooms and private restrooms that are also cleaned daily. All restrooms were a little chilly and the water takes a bit to warm up so bring an extra quarter with you when you shower.

The Rangers and Park Aids were all very friendly and so helpful with any and all questions.

Check in is a breeze, even if you arrive after hours. There’s no self check-in envelopes most parks have. All you do is pick up the yellow phone at the contact station and check-in with them. Super easy and painless.

In order to get to the Park you need to go through Illwaco. This is a very small fisherman’s town that they are determined to keep it exactly the same as it’s always been. There is a very small grocery store and pharmacy on the corner as you’re headed to the park if you happen to forget something you absolutely need.

There is also a Park Store right in front of the main park entrance. It wasn’t open when we were there but their hours are listed on their site

The park store offers  Camping supplies – Beer & wine – groceries – ice – fire wood – gifts – and more. It has a café offering summer foods including artisan pizza, salads, sandwiches and local seafood. I heard they even deliver to your campsite. Seriously!


  • A visit to the 2 light houses
  • The Interpretation Center-great place to learn the history and catch an amazing view
  • Nearby coastal towns- long Beach and Astoria has many fun events spring/summer
  • Nearby State Parks
  • Looking at the Jetty-use caution!


If you’re at Cape D you might as well check out the other State Parks nearby.

Visit the Nearby Coastal Towns

Continuing up north along the Long Beach Peninsula you’ll run into Long Beach, a cute little coastal town with a fun strip of shops and seafood joints. You’ll find a few day-use only State Parks such a Loomis Lake and Pacific Pines which offer beach access and picnicking. Then at the very tip of the Peninsula is Leadbetter Point State Park where there’s 7 miles of trails that will take you from the Ocean to the Willapa Bay.

If you head down the Columbia about 25min from Cape D you’ll run into another day-use only park named Fort Columbia that was active for almost 50 years starting back in 1896.

It’s one of the few intact coastal defense sites left with old buildings, bunkers and batteries to explore. There’s 5 miles of trails through mature forest and you can also rent two of the old homes as vacation rentals, both of which will give you a million dollar view!


From Fort Columbia Oregon is just a 10-15min drive across the mouth of the Columbia. It offers some bigger named stores and shopping. Oh by the way….they pump your gas for you in Oregon, AND there is no sales tax!

Cape Disappointment is no disappointment at all. In fact while you’re there i encourage you to find the historic meaning of WHY it is called Cape Disappointment. The park has so many things to offer along with the other day-use parks in the area. Enough to fill a family vacation with wonderful memories.


Be warned though…if there’s a storm passing through be sure to take rain gear, extra sets of dry clothes and shoes, and tarps to rig up if your cooking over the fire pit. Get a hold of me if you need to find a laundry mat to go dry all your stuff in, we know where they are 🙂