Jamie McMurtery was 6 this summer, an age at which a kid is less like baggage and more like a companion on a trip.
His parents, Jeff and Monica, saw the door opening to outdoor adventure.
First the family made a two-week road trip to hit iconic Western outdoor sites, including a hike on Wizard Island in Crater Lake National Park in Oregon and putting themselves in perspective under the towering giants at California’s Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.
The tide pools on the Oregon Coast are a slam dunk for any family looking to pique a kid’s interest in the outdoors. The McMurterys devoted enough time for bonus thrills, such as seeing seals and sea lions along with gray whales and humpbacks.
Returning through the Columbia Gorge, Jamie had muscled up to the challenge of hiking to the top of Multnomah Falls, where he was rewarded with a glimpse of a pika – a critter he recalled from the ranger talk at Crater Lake.
That was Phase One.
Upon returning home, Monica was treated to her own mini vacation – “She deserves a break from us,” Jeff said – to make way for the annual father-son camping trip.
This year, the adventure expanded to two nights based out of the Colville National Forest campground at Lake Thomas.
“We fished and Jamie paddled a kayak solo for the first time,” Jeff said. “We explored some of the area trails on foot and on our bikes.
“We started all of our campfires with no matches!
“When we returned home, I was reading Jamie’s bedtime story and he said, ‘Dad, I wish we were still camping.’
“Next year,” Jeff promised, “three nights for sure.”
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