Cape Disappointment did NOT disappoint! It was a fantastic weekend with friends.
Since this was our first family tent-camping trip, I compiled a packing list from this mom’s blog and added my own ideas too. I’m happy to say that we brought pretty much everything we needed—although I would definitely bring more paper towels, Styrofoam cups, and trash bags in the future. Other things to add to my must-have list are an electric griddle, propane stove, and bike rack. It had been over 11 years since I had camped in a tent, but I felt like the camping life came back easily to me and my muscle memory somehow kicked in. (Thanks, Dad!)
Campsites in Oregon and Washington state parks are often reserved months in advance, so we decided to take our chances with a walk-up site at Cape Disappointment State Park. The Cape is in WA, just across the bay north of Astoria, OR. It’s named Cape Disappointment because explorer John Meares was looking for the Columbia River when he missed the bay and rounded the cape. Hence the name.
Thankfully, we checked the reservation website a few days before our trip, and an RV site within walking distance to the ocean opened up. I’d definitely choose an RV site again since it was convenient to have electricity and water right there.
After a week of triple digit and 90 degree heat here at home, the temps of 50s and 60s on the Cape were a welcome relief. We set up our tent and waited for our friends to arrive. This was Holly and Jon’s first family camping trip as well, so they set up their tent for the very first time. It turned out to be the biggest tent I’ve ever seen—it just kept coming. We laughed so hard at that thing! It wasn’t a tent, it was a chateau.
The campsite was perfect. The sites were on the outer edge of a circle with trees and a natural sandpit in the middle where the kids could play. Since our friends’ kids are the same ages as our boys and play extremely well together, we had a weekend of relaxed parenting.
Holly and I split the meal prep. I brought walking tacos in Doritos bags for the first night, and provided bacon, eggs, and TX toast for breakfast the next morning. Holly and Jon brought brats for lunch and chicken quesadillas for supper. Of course we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores with Holly putting a new spin on the s’mores using Reese’s cups. Another fun dessert we tried were banana boats (bananas split and filled with chocolate, peanut butter chips, and marshmallows; then roasted in foil over the fire).
We camped just two nights, but there was lots to do. The coast was gorgeous with its vee’s of pelicans, cliffs, nearby ships, and a lighthouse. Between the cold water, the wind, and the rip tide, our kids only waded in up to their knees, but it was a new adventure to camp so close to the Pacific.
I didn’t realize—when we first decided on Cape Disappointment—that it’s the westernmost point of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. We visited the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, the WW2 gun batteries, and hiked the steep walk up to Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.
Holly picked up some powder that, when thrown in the campfire, made it change a beautiful turquoise, blue, and purple. We deemed it “magic fire.” That was one of the boys’ favorite parts of the trip. It was relaxing to put the kids to sleep first and then sit around the fire talking until late.
The weather was perfect, the company was fun, and the location was beautiful! Camping success.