Tag Archives: outdoors

Camping with my girls

A few years ago, I took my oldest son camping at a state campground on the beach along the Washington coast.  We enjoyed our time together.  After returning, my older three daughters wanted to know when I was planning to take them for a weekend camping trip.  I was a bit surprised they wanted to but I was up for it.  Camping is something we have enjoyed as a family over the years and something I hoped and my children would want to do, so I was extremely happy to know my girls wanted to go.  For the last year, we have had it on the calendar and planning on this weekend.

Most of the state campgrounds in the PACNW (Pacific Northwest) fill up fast.  Early in the year, you have to call and make reservations.  You can plan to be on hold anywhere up to an hour to place your reservations.  It is a bit on the insane side.  Most places are booked by April for the entire summer, so if you want one you better be up and going the day the phone lines open.  I chose not to do this but take a risk.  I actually took my son in September after school was back in session so it was not a problem.  I did call and check to see if I might get lucky but there was not anything available.

I knew my Aunt owns property up near this area and she was fine with letting us use her property.  The property is strictly that property, neighbors on either side have developed their property, but her property has a lot that could be done with it still.  She told me she would inform her neighbors of our coming.  The night before we leave she calls to tell me when speaking with her neighbors they said they’ve seen a male black bear roaming around on her property and reminded me of it having no facilities (bathrooms/showers).  She was not sure if I still wanted to go, but I assured her we would be fine.  With my West Coast Hipster Dad Ninja Skills and growing up in Montana, I was not afraid of any bears bothering us.

Friday morning we loaded up the van, placed my I pod on shuffle and took off.  The drive takes around 2 hours and I had planned to stop along the way and do some site seeing and show my daughters different sites.  We stopped and visited the Tillamook Cheese Factory, which is always a cool place to visit, get some great samples of cheese, and eat some delicious ice cream.  Continuing north up the coast, stopping at one of our family favorite places – Mo’s Chowder House in Cannon Beach, the weather was gorgeous and we sat outside right off the beach and ate a delicious lunch.  We got to see a guy surf using a very large kite he had attached to himself.  After lunch, I drove until we made it to our destination.

We got camp set up, unfortunately, my girls forgot to pack their camping chairs, and there was not anything to use for a fire pit.  We drove back into town, purchased a shovel and a few other supplies, went back to our site and I dug a very large pit in the ground.  As we explored a bit, we found a couple of larger trees that were down and had been cut, these were used as our chairs, just like I remembered watching Grizzly Adams used.  I got the fire going, we had dinner, and the girls went to bed.  I began thinking about the black bear and that took me to a scene from the movie “Never Cry Wolf” so I marked our territory and stayed up for awhile with shovel in hand.  Having camped out in the forest before I know it is not wise to leave food out as it not only can attract bears but other little friends, so I cleaned up camp, locked everything back up in our van and spend some time just being quiet and talking to God.

The next day I got up, made the girl’s breakfast, we got dressed and headed out for a day of adventure.  We explored Oysterville and up walking out on the bogs.  I always find it is most beautiful in the early morning to walk around there as the sun comes up on the bay.  Walking around we had some great conversations and commented on how it reminded them of Sarah Plain and Tall.

We continued exploring other little towns went on a walk on a trail to the “Metal Tree” which is where Lewis and Clark ended their expedition and marks the spot of that once they had reached the West Coast.  The tree is completely metal and stands about 8 feet tall.  Next up was Long Beach and exploring the little town, doing some shopping and checking out all the little stores along the main street.

We made our way to the state park where my son and I had stayed.  It has two Lighthouses, one on each end of the park that I wanted to show my daughters.  We drove up to the first area and as I drove up I began seeing signs that you were now required to purchase a pass to park their.  I could see the Park Ranger engaged in a heated discussion with some very frustrated women and I saw other folks walking towards the sign to pay for the parking.  As I was walking back to our van a man was standing in a parking space, another man was in his car, and trying to park in the space, only he was not patient enough to wait for the guy to move and bumped into him.  They began yelling at each other and the man in the car continued to try to inch his way forward.  The man standing in the spot had some friends with him who ran over and started yelling at the guy in the car and some guy leaned inside the window of the car.  At this point, the Park Ranger who was near my van talking to one of the upset women, dropped his clipboard, yelled he was a police officer, and ran over to the situation.  As he approached, he pulled out his Billy club and began hitting the guy who was leaning into the car in his calf area.  He ordered him to lie down on the ground with his hands behind his head, to which the guy complied.  The Park Ranger began yelling at everyone to back up and was radioing for backup.  It was at this time I decided I was not going to stick around for any more drama, I got in my van and left.  As we drove away, back up began arriving.

We ended up going to the main park entrance, purchased a park pass, and then ventured onto the other lighthouse.  We got to go on a great hike and explore the area and then hiked down to a small cove.  This cove is one of the absolute best areas all along the coast.  I could spend hours just sitting there.  As we made our way back from the hike and to our van, we decided to head to the main beach area in the campground.  We ate lunch, swam and played around for quite a few areas and then made our way back to the lighthouse we had not gotten to see.  Thankfully, there was no drama this time and we got to go check it out.  We left and headed back to our campsite.

We ate dinner, hung out, had S’mores and the girls went to bed.  In the morning, we packed up and headed out.  On our way back, we crossed the 4-mile Astoria Bridge, which can be a bit nerve-racking to drive across.  My oldest daughter kept her eyes close the entire time.  Once in Astoria we went to the Astoria Column, climbed all the way to the top, and looked out over the entire town.  Once we made it down, we began looking for the house filmed in the movie Goonies; the address I found and plugged into my GPS did not take us to it, but rather a museum.  Although we did not find the house, we continued on our way back home.  As we drove home, I asked my daughters what they wanted to do next year and they all agreed they would prefer to go to the beach house.  So much for the love of camping being passed on.

Reflecting back over the weekend with my girls reminded me of a couple of things –

1 – I love these girls with all my heart and I would go to any level to protect and take care of them and I always will.

2 Even though I can protect them and as a loving father should, it is limited and I have to trust God on the rest.

3 – Somehow I feel safer in my house protecting them, than out in the woods camping.

4 – Driving along the coast I was reminded of many camping trips we had taken on the coast over the years, but when I asked my oldest if she remembered our trips, she couldn’t recall them.

5 – The coast was one of the main reasons I moved to Oregon, it has always rejuvenated me.

6 – Apparently I have watched a lot of movies and they tie into my being outdoors

7 – There is nothing like getting away from life, disconnecting, and focusing on those things that mean the most to you.


Mondays with Peter

Saturday night I closed a chapter in my life that I didn’t think would happen, or I should say not this soon.  As one season of life ends a new season of life begins. In Ecclesiastes 3 it speaks of different seasons/

1For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

7 years ago we were living in a 3 story house that had been built in 1913. The house had been turned into a duplex. Our family had the 2nd and 3rd floors and below us a newlywed couple had moved in.  Peter and Jessica, they had moved out here from Nebraska where they had attended college, gotten married and moved to Portland to start a new life.  As with anyone that moved in below us, we greeted them and welcomed them to the neighborhood.

At that point in my life I wasn’t much for starting a conversation let alone engaging my neighbors in them.  A casual hi to the neighbors was the most you got from me.  Over the next couple of weeks as our paths continued to cross.  Once morning I was getting ready to go to work, sitting in my van waiting for it to warm up not really paying attention, suddenly a man is standing pressed up against my window growling at me.  It scared me to the point that I actually yelled out loud.  Peter was having a great laugh at my expense.  He thought it was quite funny seeing the look of shock on my face.  Score 1 for Peter.

About a month after they had moved in, one night there was a knock on the door and Peter asked to talk to me. We sat outside on the front steps talking.  He informed me he had been praying and looking for another guy he could hang out with, be real with and just have some guy time.  He wanted to know if I might be interested in doing something like that.  Peter told me to think about it and he’d check in with me in a couple of days.  Ironically, I had praying and asking God to bring another guy into my life that I could build a relationship with and get real with.  The church we were attending was a toxic environment and the relationships I had with other men, had fizzled out.   Although suspicious and apprehensive it seemed as though this could be an answer to my prayers.

I continued to think through this and when we met a few days later I told him I was apprehensive but this I was looking for something like this and excited to start.  Both of us were in agreement during our first time together we would spill our guts to one another, be transparent, open and honest and just get all the junk out on the table. We set aside one night a week where we would get together and hang out, spend time talking, praying for each other and being very real with where things were at in our lives.  We chose Monday night as the night to hang out.

That following Monday night we met. We walked over to the park near our house, sat down and completely spilled our guts to each other.  We shared struggles, hurts and pains we had and wounds from our fathers.  We talked about where we were at with our wives and just being guys.  We both opened up and shared freely with no apprehension.  It was a very new and different experience for me, but one that seemed to come easily. From the beginning we both talked about wanting to be intentional in our own lives, each others and in the lives of other men.  We both wanted to make a difference and have God use us.  Looking back now we just never knew God would use us in the lives of other men.

Since that night Peter (except for periods of times where he was out-of-town because of his job or school) we’ve met on a weekly basis. Our time together have generally consisted of talking and sharing where we were at, praying for each other, and either watching a movie or playing cards.  I developed a love for watching Hero’s, Chuck and V from Peter and he learned to gracefully loose to me in many games of Rummy. Although we never agreed on Micro-brews we did agree his skills for making mixed drinks was awesome.

I am 10 years older than Peter and he’s never let me forget that.  He’s been there for me as my wife and I purchased our first home and brought an additional 2 kids into our home.  He’s seen me at some of my darkest days and never once has he turned away.  I’ve watched Peter change his degree in school, jobs, and outlook on life.  I’ve seen him at his lowest points and I have also seen him at some of the best places in his life.  I’ve watched God move in his life and do some major changes in his heart.  I’ve rejoiced with him as he bought his first house and at the birth of his first child a son (whom I nick named Anakin).

The years we spend together are something I wish everyone could experience.  It has absolutely been one of the sweetest experiences of my life. Spending time in a relationship where investing from both ends has rewards that are life changing.  We both have a passion for life that includes being intentional in the lives of other men, pursuing God, being great husbands and fathers. This also goes along the lines of the great outdoors, Peter being more active than I in hunting and fishing.  We’ve both tried very hard to live out what we have wanted to see and continued to encourage and pray God would work through us in this area.

In the last 3 months, our relationship grew closer than it ever had in the past.  On a daily basis we were texting or checking in with each other.  We didn’t make it through a week where we weren’t challenging each other to be better than we had ever been.  We became vigilant in our quest to spur each other on to greatness.

Peter completed his degree as a biologist and has spent the last 12 months looking for a job.  Off and on he’s been out in the mountains doing stream management and inspections.  I’ve watched as he’s begun to lose hope and wonder if God was really listening to him.  More than anything he wanted to be able to have a career in which he could put all of his skills, education and knowledge into practice so he could take care of his family and his wife wouldn’t have to work anymore.  6 weeks ago he got a lead on a job and headed out to Colorado to interview.  We prayed if this was where God wanted him to be, he’d open up the doors for him.  He had the interview and we continued to pray about it and were waiting.  I got a call informing me he’d gotten the job and they were moving in 6 weeks.  It was a hard call to hear; selfishly I didn’t want him to get the job because I knew what it meant.  Through tears I told him I was happy but I didn’t want him to leave.

Now here I stood on Saturday night, listening to other men talk about how intentional Peter had been in their life. How Peter made connections with men’s from all walks of life and through his words backed up what he said.  Obviously God has worked through him. I was fighting back tears listening to what they said.  I couldn’t say anything out loud because I couldn’t maintain my composure. As he walked me out I held onto him and gave him the tightest hug I have ever given another man.  I will miss you Peter and miss our Monday nights together.  Thank you God for bringing this man into my life and for what we have shared.  I am truly blessed.

So have you ever experienced Monday nights with Peter for yourself?