This past week my husband, Brad and I had the pleasure of taking our son, Nolan to visit his Great Grandma. Despite living less than 2 hours away, we hadn’t been for a visit in almost a year. If you’ve read my articles before, you may know that my son does not sleep in the car. So of course, to make this trip enjoyable for all of us, we brought along our travel trailer and turned this visit into a mini-vacation. This way, we could take a break in the day to let our son go down for nap before he had the chance to get upset during the ride.

With the help of my Father-in-Law, we researched some free locations where we could camp with our trailer to find areas that were still open for the season. I was surprised to see how many places are gated off before any inclement weather hits, simply because summer is officially over. We settled on Frenchman Hills #3, and while the title may make it sound insignificant, at times this is apparently a pretty popular place to be.

Our first stop on our trip was to the care facility to visit Great Grandma. We were so glad to connect again and watch Nolan interact with his Great Grandma all on his own now that he’s older. He enjoyed playing peek-a-boo with her and admiring all the light switches in her room. As we accompanied her to the dining room, Nolan got so much attention from other Grandmas and Grandpas as people waved and talked to him. Now that he’s passing his shy stage, he really enjoyed the attention as well.


Fun Visit with Great Grandma

When we said our goodbyes, we knew nap time was getting close and we needed to park nearby where Nolan could get some rest. To multitask and get to some business done at the same time, we pulled in to the nearby Costco. With the nearest Costco being over an hour away from our home, we don’t make it there too often, so when we go we need to stock up. While I got Nolan down for nap, my husband picked up the groceries we needed. When he returned, I helped him quietly load the groceries in the trailer and we enjoyed a not so healthy lunch of Brad’s favorite Costco pizza.

With our business out of the way and our son still sleeping, we did what any parents of young children dream of…we napped. Hours later, we all woke up well-rested and ready to get moving. After a quick break to run around and stretch, we hit the road to our camping destination - Frenchman Hills #3. As we turned on to the bumpy dirt road, this could definitely be described as being “off the beaten path”, but it had beautiful desert-type views and the lake was so peaceful aside from the movement of many small fish. At first glance, this spot may seem less than impressive since it’s simply a gravel lot, but it was soon home to fishing, puddle jumping, exploring and so much more. We all had a great time, but Nolan sure had a blast! Before we knew it, the sun was setting. So we got some dinner and put Nolan down for bed. Then we sat visiting around the campfire and admiring the stars while he drifted off to sleep.


Enjoying the Campsite

The next day we woke up to another beautiful day. Once the chill went away, we got our paddle boat out of the truck bed and enjoyed our first boat ride as a family of three. A paddle boat, while slow moving, really is such a great family option since it’s so stable, even with wiggly children. It was so peaceful on the water and exciting to boat in because the tall grass kept poking high out of the water leaving you curious about what lay ahead.


Scenic Fishing from the Paddle Boat

When Nolan got too antsy to sit still any longer, we went back to the shore and he returned to puddle jumping and exploring, while Brad started fishing. Once Nolan was down for his nap I took advantage of the time to go running on the road we came in on and then continued along the orchards filled with apples, pears, and many hard-working hands. It was fun to watch the process as they picked the fruit, loaded the crates, moved the crates with tractors and then filled up the semi-trucks. If we make it back here again, I know Nolan would love to watch this process as well.


Nolan Playing in the Puddles


Brad Fishing

Back at our campsite Brad had much better luck fishing from the paddle boat. I then enjoyed some peace as I read a book...something I don’t get to do nearly enough especially since being a mom. The peace and quiet didn’t last too long though. We were soon in the company of three other trucks and RVs, boats and bird dogs running in excitement. Apparently, this was the coveted place to be for hunters since it was days away from the opening of duck season. I sure felt like we were “city folk” since the thought of hunters camping hadn’t even crossed my mind. With the hunters ensuring us that many more people and rigs were on the way, and it would soon be packed, we decided our peaceful mini-vacation would be cut short a night. We packed up and headed out before we could be woken up by boat motors and generators early in the morning. Needless to say, in the future we will be sure to check the calendar to be aware of the hunting season and opening days - you may want to as well. Hope this reminder keeps you from getting caught in the masses.


Relaxing with a Good Book

Despite this interruption, we still had such a great time during our stay. We were so thankful to have a place to camp to keep from having such a long drive in one day. The rest and relaxation we received for only what it cost us in gas, just could not be beat. I could definitely see us returning here again…just maybe not during hunting season! Wishing you peace and joy as you camp this Fall, through hunting season and beyond.

Emily Helgeson
Author: Emily Helgeson
Emily Helgeson lives with her husband and son 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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