Camping in November

An out of focus photo of Ft. Warden Light near Pt. Townsend Washington.img_3466I probably should say that we went glamping as we stayed in our travel trailer and out of the cold, inclement weather.  Since I didn’t have to work on Veteran’s Day, I had a space of five days free and we decided at the last minute to travel to the Olympic Peninsula in Western Washington State.  For us this entails a ferry ride since we live on Whidbey Island.

Early on Thursday, my first day off, we headed to the Keystone Ferry in the middle of Whidbey.  This ferry takes us to Pt. Townsend, one of my favorite towns in Washington.  It has an 19th century charm that is going though restoration off and on, but still in keeping with the National Historic District status.  Beautiful three and four story brick buildings with Victorian flair.

We stayed at Pt. Hudson our last night and visited the town, but the first day we headed for Sequim (pronounced SQUIM).  John Wayne owned a substantial piece of waterfront on Sequim Bay many years ago where he moored his yacht, The Grey Goose, when he was in the area.  The land was donated to the county and is now a beautiful marina, campground, boat launching area and more, well protected by the long spit that juts across the mouth of the bay.  Calmer seas prevail here as the spit almost encloses the bay with a small passage out to the Straits of Juan de Fuca outside the passage.

Kingfishers, herons, seagulls and crows love the beach by the RV park.  I love watching the kingfishers dive into the water, coming up with small fish. Their turquoise and green iridescence makes them spectacular.  They look a little crazy with such big heads and small bodies.

Next we went to Joyce, Washington to stay at Salt Creek State Park.  This park has a very rocky precipice overlooking the Straits.  Waves crash on the rocks below the cliffs.  The park is a fairly steep hill which has been terraced for the RVs.  We backed into a space in the highest tear, thus having an unobstructed view of the straits and the shipping lanes there.  I love to watch the ships go by and I can do it from my dinette table inside.  We saw oil tankers, car carriers, and container ships interspersed with the minuscule fishing boats. The two lighthouses on Vancouver Island were visible flashing their lights after dark.  They were hardly visible through the fog and moisture in the air during the day.

We took a day trip to Forks and LaPush and had lunch one day.  Hiked around the campground another as it is an old fort from WWI.  The neighboring bay, Crescent Beach, was packed with surfers, though there wasn’t much for surf the day we watched. Cougars had been sighted in the region and they suggested you keep you children and pets on a short leash.

We did see some seals out in a large bull kelp bed.  Picked up some shells and beach glass while wondering beaches.

It was warmish, with the temperatures in the mid 50s.  Sunday, however there was a gale that made it hard to push open the door of the travel trailer to get out.  We were glad to be in Pt. Townsend and not at home that night.  (Our home is situated in a treed area and often we need to leave home if storms are to dangerous.) We were only staying one night, but we unhitched as it was difficult to walk against the wind to downtown, many blocks away.  Had a great dinner, once again, at The Fountain Cafe.  They never fail to please us and we are very hard to please.

Mostly, this was a relaxing trip.  We took our time, did a lot of reading in the evenings, slept late, and were generally lazy.  We didn’t have to be anyplace and any particular time and we just wandered, a great way to spend a little time off.

 

 

 

 

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Camping or should I say Glamping

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(the photos are not my rig, but they Are beautiful)

In recent times, the term glamping has come into use in the U.S.  This is a combination of glamour and camping.  No more cooking over a fire (good most summers when there are severe fire restrictions, as right now).  No more sleeping with the slugs crawling over you.  No more freezing nights when you have to wear everything you brought with you in order to keep warm. No more going without washing for days on end.

I participated in all of this for years, dirty body, dirty clothes, half washed dishes if washed at all.  The dog can do a better job of washing the dishes than a paper towel any day and what do I do with the dirty paper towel, I have to carry it out.  I have slept on picnic tables to avoid rattlesnakes cuddling up with me for warmth, I have had my sleeping bag soaked and not drying for a week. I have had slugs sucking on my neck. Yuck!

I am now a glamper.  I think at seventy-one years old I have earned this right, paid my dues.  I also think that my age and my physical condition probably would be best camped a little closer to civilization rather in the hinterland somewhere.  I miss those wild, remote, private places, but I can still enjoy the fresh mountain air, the walks in the woods around the campground, and the smell of bacon cooking in the fresh morning air.

Yesterday nine deer walked up to the area where my travel trailer is sitting at Curlew Lake State Park in Eastern Washington State.  One of them even followed one of the other campers back to her rig, probably hoping for a handout. Today they have come down from the desert above to eat all the fallen leaves on the grass.  The park attendant will not have to rake leaves as they ate every one of them.  Cleaned it up beautifully. Perhaps there is a mineral or vitamin they lack in their usual environment.  I did notice that they do not eat the lush green grass around the campground, preferring the dry brush and grasses up the hill.

I have been painting crows recently and am looking to get more reference photos for my work.  Crows visit all campgrounds and there was a murder of crows consisting of fifteen sitting in the shade of one of the deciduous trees just up the hill. I try to entice them with the “old maids” from last night’s popcorn when I can snap a few photos.  They are very camera shy.

This campground seems devoid of chipmunks and squirrels, but the last one in the higher elevations had many gathering last minute foodstuffs for their winter’s sleep.  Fat and furry, they were almost ready as some areas have already had their first frosts.

Bears, rattlesnakes, poison sumac, ivy and oak are some of the hazards of camping, even at this easier form.  Bears are attracted to the goodies left around by careless campers and can ransack a sight while your back is turned, even in broad daylight.  Squirrels and crows can do almost as much damage as the bears.

In this area we have seen black bear and moose, both which you should avoid.  Haven’t seen any snakes as the nights are in the low 50’s and they are probably far outside the bustle of the campground.

Fishing is a big past time here, but we haven’t participated in that in recent years.  I used to be a worm dangler with a good book and my husband a fly fisherman, but our differing styles don’t make for compatible fishing.  Now I just like to watch the turtles sunning themselves on deadheads (floating dead trees in the water) in the lake.  Sometimes they come inland and you might scare them when walking through tall grass and mistake them for a rattler.

Glamping means I can cook in my usual style, which is gourmet extravagant.  With a three burner gas stove, oven, refer, and double sink, I can cook almost anything I can make at home.  I have a shower with hot and cold water.  Some glampers even have clothes washers and dryers, but that is a bit much for me.  I have a soft bed with real sheets.  I also have heat for the cold nights in the mountains.

Glamour camping, glamping, may have its drawbacks, it may seem extravagant, it probably seems silly to the hard core, but at my age I can still enjoy the scene and the wildlife around me without the hazards of needing to be airlifted out if I fall and break something.  I can still enjoy the great outdoors and be comfortable.glamping

A Good Vacation

Arches national park 5It was a good trip, not a great trip, but a good one.  We made it home from Moab, Utah on time for me to get to my obligations.  We put 3000 miles on the truck, two-thirds of which were when we were pulling the fifth wheel trailer.  We saw lots of sites, did quite a few things and in general had a passable vacation.

They say a change is as good as a vacation.  Since it was raining here, I guess snow was a change.  We had checked for several weeks before we left to see what the weather was doing down in that part of the country and they were having sunshine.  So off we went in search of sunshine.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get sunshine.  We got snow.

We had also hoped to boondock (dry camping without benefit of water, electricity, sewer). We have a propane furnace in the trailer and it works well if we are plugged in to electricity so the fan can distribute the heat.  It was COLD every night which necessitated being able to plug in to keep warm.  A couple of nights, we had three quilts on and it was still on the chilly side.

We went there for warmth.  Boy were we misguided.  We did get some sunshine, but it was the cool, watery sort that does not warm the bones.

Moab Utah is a sporting town.  Folks who go there are into danger sports of which many can be found there. They had just had a LARGE jeep rally that had made it almost impossible to find a campground to stay.  Luckily we found one that was relatively new and it had availability.  The folks were wonderful though the site still needs a lot of contouring to make it more comfortable.

The best part of Utah was the rocks which were spectacular even though we had to wait almost a half hour to get into the park the line was so long. (In the photo above, the rock balancing on a thinner column is called a Hoodoo.) We get into the parks free on the Senior National Parks Pass.  It is $10 for your lifetime.  Good starting when you turn 62.  I really recommend that you get one if you are that age or older.  You can also camp half price at a lot of BLM, National Forests and other National sites.

We spent a good deal of our time in the Arches National Park and the CanyonLands National Park.  We also visited the Fremont Indian Museum in Sevier, Utah which I found most interesting.  Geology is great, but I like it mixed with a little Paleontology and Anthropology as well. A couple of museums we went to see were closed unfortunately.  I was sorry to miss the one in Green River, Utah.  Another in Lehi, Utah was difficult to visit while towing the trailer.

We returned through Idaho, spending the night in McCall where the temperature was 27.  Thank goodness we were plugged in and the furnace was going full blast.  You have to realize that most trailers are not insulated very well. They get very hot in summer and cold at nights in the winter.

We came back to Washington State and stayed at the city park in Soap Lake, Washington for two days and I have to say that they were the best days of the whole trip.  It is beautiful country with lots of rocky buttes and towers, caves and wonderful formations but, unfortunately, without the spectacular colors of Utah.  They are columnar basalt formations with amazing patterns caused by lava flowing into water.  Very dark in color with few of the reds seen in the south.  Some have beautiful yellow lichen growing on them.

Soap Lake is a mineral lake and the “waters” are taken for their health benefits which include a high saline content.  You can float easily.  The school was on spring break and the sun was shining and the kids were out swimming and paddle boarding and kayaking.

I guess the lesson to be learned here is that we don’t need to travel 1100 miles to find our vacation dreams, some are right in our own back yard!