If you’re anything like our family, the holiday season includes many get togethers with family and friends. With 3 Thanksgiving days on our calendar this year, we scheduled our 2nd annual Thanksgiving trip with our RV. Since our trip would also lead into December this year, it was a great way to kick off the holiday season with lots of fun for our family of 4 before the Christmas rush. While the weather in our neck of the woods is sure to shut down camping season (aka towing season) by Christmas, we’ve appreciated the chance to squeeze in one final trip over Thanksgiving. With the birth of our second child in June, this past summer didn’t include many camping adventures, so we were grateful for this opportunity.

Planning a trip in the cold season for us meant finding some indoor entertainment when we weren’t celebrating Thanksgiving (times three). A nice warm place to move around and burn off some energy, and to keep our little ones out of the cold weather for extended periods of time. Also, while attending our family gatherings closer to the big cities, it gave us “country folk” a little time to enjoy dining out, shopping, and taking in some city conveniences normally out of our reach.

For lodging plans we arranged to park our trailer overnight at our families houses the night of each Thanksgiving gathering. This not only was convenient and cut costs, but mainly it allowed us to maximize our time at each gathering. As always, we used our trailer as mobile napping quarters for our 2 kids. And when their early bedtimes came we were able to put them to bed, grab the baby monitor and then go back to spending time with extended family. When camping away from families homes my husband did careful research in advance to find a campground or location that was still open during this late season. Definitely something to plan ahead for.

The first day we left home was on my husband’s birthday. On his request we took my parents up on their offer to babysit so he and I could go out on a date to celebrate. We parked our trailer at my parents’ house, got the kids settled, and took off to enjoy some lunch at a Japanese buffet nearby. We were thankful to linger in our time together one on one - though some of the time was spent talking about how it felt like we should be entertaining our kids or wiping their faces.

 

We finished up at the restaurant and then headed to some stores to run a couple errands and pick up some groceries and supplies for our trip. Then we drove back, celebrated with some candles and birthday cake, and got some play time with our kids before getting them down for bed. We spent some time with my parents before heading out to the trailer ourselves for an early bedtime. The next morning we went to a previously scheduled appointment in town for our son and spent the rest of the day relaxing together with our family of 4, as the next 3 days would be spent with extended family for Thanksgiving…s.

On our way to Thanksgiving #1, we stopped to play at a park just a few minutes away. Nolan had fun all bundled up exploring and climbing around a new area and going down the slides. Once we arrived at our destination we soaked up quality time with family and dived in to some great food. Thanksgiving #2 included fun times making Thanksgiving crafts, enjoying family favorite recipes and playing our traditional version of Thanksgiving “telephone pictionary”. At Thanksgiving #3 we gathered with a group of around 45 people – eating, going for a walk- through town and sharing what we were thankful for.

Through it all we had such a fun time visiting with family and catching up with those we hadn’t seen in too long, all while eating great food. Our 5-month-old daughter Molly spent her first Thanksgiving(s) enjoying extra snuggles being passed around among family members. Nolan, our 2-year-old son, loved playing with new toys in new places, while running around with his cousins.

After all the festivities our kids were exhausted and ready for some relax time. The morning after Thanksgiving #3, we woke up to some freshly fallen snow. With Thanksgiving now behind us, this was such a fun way to kick off the Christmas season! After spending some time outside, we said goodbye to our family once again and hit the road. As we clocked some miles, we were soon crossing the Oregon border for the first time with our little ones. They’ve officially been to 2 states now! 2 down 48 to go!

We headed to Astoria to check out a location where sea lions frequent the dock. Unfortunately, the dock access recently closed to the public, so while we couldn’t see them up close, we could still see them from where we stood just off the dock. And we could definitely hear them. This was such a unique experience for our Nolan. He kept trying to copy the sounds they were making.

Our next stop was Seaside, Oregon. After finding street parking that was trailer approved, we got some lunch out and then got the kids settled down for naps. Street parking or not, the view was great. We were parked right along a dock style walkway overlooking some water. So peaceful for just being on the side of the road. Once nap time was over we were all anxious to check out Seaside!

Being late November, we obviously didn’t expect much time on the beach. We spent some time walking around like tourists, but bundled up for the cold instead of in beach gear. We had fun taking in the sights and enjoying life at a slower pace. We were all taking a picture when Nolan said “I see a chicken!” You know your child hasn’t been to the beach much if he doesn’t recognize a seagull. He sure enjoyed watching them. And they were watching him too. Hold on to your snack cup Nolan!

For some indoor entertainment at Seaside we had some fun ideas up our sleeves. We headed towards a shopping area and took the kids on their first ride on a carousel! One of the perks about going off season - we had the whole thing to ourselves. After getting a family picture together we headed to our next stop - the arcade. Meanwhile, Nolan excitedly chattered away about his carousel animal going up and down and around in a circle. Despite it being the off season, the arcade still had a decent number of people there, though it was still much calmer than usual. We had fun playing fascination, skee ball, watching the flashing lights and playing games that let you press a button or throw rings- Nolan’s favorites. But the favorite of all was when Daddy played the claw game and won a stuffed elephant! The joy on our little boy’s face as he hugged that toy tight was enough to melt any parent’s heart. Such a precious memory for me as I still have a stuffed dog that my dad won for me from a Seaside claw game.

Though we were all having fun it was time to head back to where we parked the trailer and drive to our camping destination for the night. It was time to get ready for more fun in the days ahead. More about our holiday trip coming soon! Happy Holidays to you all!

Emily Helgeson
Author: Emily HelgesonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Emily Helgeson lives with her husband and two children in Eastern Washington. They enjoy adventuring together and are learning how to use their RV to continue this lifestyle with their growing family.

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