Roadtrip with Toddlers: Marymere Falls in Olympic National Park and a Car Ferry!
After visiting the Kalaloch Tree Cave, we headed northeast towards Port Angeles. We only had time for one more stop in Olympic National Park, and we decided to hike to Marymere Falls. It is beautiful and a good distance with kids, and it starts at Cresent Lake, so we would be able to see that as well. And it was close enough to Port Angeles that we wouldn't feel rushed as we headed up there to catch our car ferry. You can find more info out about Marymere Falls here and Crescent Lake here.
This was a great hike for little kids. It was long enough to wear them out but not so long that they couldn't walk for (most) of it. There is one part with very steep stairs so I brought my baby carrier (I swear by the Ergo 360. So worth the money!). Our one-year-old went into it for the stairs. My husband walked carefully with our three-year-old for that part, and he did great.
I really like hiking with kids because they make you stop and enjoy the little wonders of nature. My kids have two speeds 1. running or 2. walking soooooo slow. Like 1 MPH slow. During the slow parts on this hike we saw so many things to talk about. Fallen trees! Trees with "caves". Giant ferns. A river! My mother-in-law does this adorable thing where she takes her grandkids on "that's interesting!" walks. They walk and point at the things that are interesting that they see. I took a page out of her book on this walk and it was so fun. One of my favorite parts of parenthood is the conversations I have with my son. I like seeing the world through his eyes, seeing what he notices and is interested in, and hearing the funny little things he says, like "tree caves". Even though my baby doesn't say too many words yet, it was still really fun to experience this hike with him. He would stop and stare and point up at the biggest trees, he would touch the bark and the ferns, and then he would take off running down the path with one of his big grins. Either he was really excited to be out of the car or he really likes nature (let's say both 😉).
Did I mention that the waterfall was amazing? The fallen tree stuck at the top is kinda crazy to me.
The sun was getting low on the lake when we drove out, and it was just so beautiful. I wish we would have gotten more time to spend in Olympic National Park. The drink I got just left me thirsty for more. Mountains, lakes, forest, and beaches all in one National Park? It's like the landscape of my dreams.
And after all this beautiful nature, we drove up to Port Angeles and drove our car onto a boat.
Have you ever done a car ferry? I've been on one as a passenger without a car when I went to Scotland a decade ago, and that experience was really memorable, but we had our car this time, so it was totally different. We were so excited, we hung out at the docks eating dinner and watching for the ferry to arrive My husband actually put the go-pro on our car as we drove in because it was that exciting for us. We ended up doing a car ferry four times this trip, but this first drive on was really memorable. I mean you're just driving your car onto a boat (!), but it seemed so crazy and just was FUN. This was our only ferry at night, so after the initial excitement of driving onto the boat we checked out the different places we could sit and walked around the deck once, and then crashed. We really loved it though, and all of our ferry experiences. This was our only trip with the Blackball Ferry line, you can find more info about taking this ferry here.
I've been thinking about why traveling with my kids is so important to me, why we leave our home and routine for so long. It's really, really fun, but not gonna lie, it's also really really hard. It's a long time in the car. Kids get cranky. There's some stuff you just can't do with kids, or not as well. There's soooo much loading and unloading. Routines get disrupted and unfortunately naps often do to. Naps = sanity over here. And my biggest complaint- it's hard to get enough sleep when traveling with kids. Sometimes all four of us are in one room (or tent) and sometimes we have two sleeping spaces but with all the change and disruption my kids do not sleep great on trips, which means I don't either.
But despite all that, when I look at these pictures and think back about our time, just the four of us off exploring a new part of the world, I remember blue skies and my babies running and happy and my heart filling with sweet sweet feelings. Days spent in nature, solely committed to adventures with my family. No to-do list calling, no social obligations. Just little hands to hold and little words to hear and little faces to imprint on my memory. So yes. I like to explore the world and learning about it makes me a better person and mom. And yes. I appreciate all the new experiences and cultures traveling exposes me to. And yes yes yes, I so appreciate the beauty of nature. But more than anything, what I love about traveling with my family is that it's us time. It's the time that I'm best at really connecting, and trying hard, and being present. I think that's when the best memories are made. Attention plus connection, and a beautiful backdrop of wonder doesn't hurt.
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