Our Saturday was COMPLETELY open. We kept the kids up late on Friday night and they actually slept in until 7 a.m., then watched cartoons until 8 a.m., so we could sleep. We got up, brewed fresh Starbucks coffee, fried bacon to a perfect crisp, and cooked pancakes loaded with fresh Oregon blueberries. After we filled our bellies, we laid around in our jammies voting on how to spend a weekend day completely free of obligations.
We decided to head to Silver Falls State Park, about an hour and fifteen minute drive from our house. The park boasts hiking trails through Oregon's amazing rain forest and one 8.7 mile loop that passes 10 waterfalls hidden in the forest. We packed a picnic lunch, beach towels, swim suits, camera, stroller, and park map and headed out.
It was a GLORIOUS day - low 80's with no humidity, clear blue skies, birds singing, and water skipping over rocks in the creek. We ate our lunch on a grassy knoll, ran some Olympic races (to stay patriotic), and found the breath-taking view point of the 107 foot Upper South Falls. From the top, we had a birds-eye view of the steep descent to get to the falls and of the trail, that actually went behind the waterfall. The cascading water had over the years broken huge cracks in the rock, leaving caves to climb in and around behind the falls. The kids were fascinated with the caves until we HEARD the bats and then saw one dart out of a deep cave and then back in again.
The hike we took was about a 4 mile loop and our kids (ages 7, 6, 4, and 2) never complained, although Paige had it easy in the stroller. We hiked up, over, and behind two gorgeous waterfalls, dipped our feet in the FRIGID mountain creek water, stared in awe at Oregon's dense rain forest, marveled at the different types of ferns and moss, waded in a mountain creek, caught a crayfish, balanced on fallen logs, took tons of pictures, and had a fantastic time doing it. At one point, we gazed around the rain forest and commented, "I didn't know there could be so many shades of green."
When we reached our van, the kids shoveled in snacks as fast as they could eat, and then begged to stop at the public picnic area that had a designated "swimming" area. We sat on the bank as the kids gasped and squealed and tried to get brave enough to submerse themselves in the icy water. When they had their fill, we loaded up and came home, tired and content.
We unanimously agreed there was no better way to spend our Saturday!