Linger On

After four days, I still carry the scent of campfire in my hair. This pleases me deeply. Won’t someone please capture this delightful oder in a shampoo?

Memorial Day Camping Recap

Esswine is an amazing spot outside of Granite Falls, WA. It is well worth the $60/night price to reserve a private campground which fits up to 25 people and several cars. Dogs welcome. A stone’s throw away from a peaceful river and short driving distance to many transcendent hikes.

We were unable to check out the ice caves due to a road closure, so instead we hiked the stone train track ruins of the Old Robe Trail. This was some serious Indiana Jones shit.

We scaled rocks and fallen trees, crossed streams on logs…
oldrobetrail

…and walked through tunnels.
oldrobetrail

The trail was alongside a rushing river most of the way. It felt exciting but still safe. It ended right after the second cave, dropping off into the river.
oldrobetrail

And oh my god, was it beautiful.

The rest of the time, we played Bocce Ball, ate our weight in camping treats, smelted aluminum in the fire to make treasures and giggled our way through the weekend. What a great group of people! What a kick-ass spot! What a delightful way to kick off the Summer of Love.

smelting

Granite Falls also seemed like a pretty cool little town. One of these weekend, we have to go back, get a motel room, and absorb the local color via their several taverns, one of which boasts Friday night karaoke.

Summer Aught Eight!!!

Weekend Recap

I haven't done one of these in a while. I had a really great long weekend though. After spending a lovely, sunny 4th at 2 different BBQs, Brugos and I packed up the 'Stang and headed to the coast for a couple of days of beach camping.

Our trip got off to a slightly rocky start when the direction flew out of the car. Therein lies the problem with convertibles. But we'd read them and could (mostly) remember them and we figured signs would help us the rest of the way. After we made a wrong turn, I felt REALLY bad about losing the directions. But we turned around and were soon on the right track again.

When we finally arrived at La Push's Second Beach (the internet claimed it was the best of the 3 options), we parked the car and strapped on our hiking packs. We had to hike about half a mile down to the beach. Because we had all of our food and water for the next two days on our bodies, it was kind of a rough hike. But it was mostly downhill. When we got down to the beach and scaled the driftwood, we saw our new temporary home. It was truly breathtaking. It was also, miraculously, still warm and sunny which mislead us into thinking it would stay that way. We pitched our tent (we're getting really good at doing it quickly) and lay some rocks inside it to keep it from blowing away. (It was THAT windy). We then set about building a lean-to with driftwood to hopefully block some of the wind. Unfortunately, driftwood is much heavier than it looks and our lean-to ended up not making much of a difference. It was, however, a blast to build. And quite cool looking, if I do say so myself.

We ate dinner (everything we brought was dehydrated so we'd only need to boil water for cooking) and then sat around the little fire we built for a while, playing Uno. The view was amazing. Those rocks jutting out of the water look almost other-worldly. The whole scene was really quite romantic.

The next day, we awoke to a rather windy and cold morning. Given how sunny it was the day before, I thought surely the clouds would burn off. They never did. But Brugos and I are pretty much used to camping in inclimate weather anyway. We bundled up and set about exploring the beach. First, we went out to the big rock that was no accessible due to low-tide. We saw hordes of starfish and muscles doubtless unnerved by their exposure. Then we walked from end to end of the beach, enjoying the scenery and laughing at the post-apocalyptic looking communities other campers had set up. Someone had written Jacob in the sand and we hypothesized that Jacob was the hard but just leader of their community. We were in his territory now and we must abide by his laws or suffer his wrath.

The other end of the beach was much more isolated and we climbed the rocks and sat down in solitude for a bit before heading back to our tent to cook dinner. We whiled away the time playing cards. We couldn't really remember any 2 person card games so we kind of made up rules to Gin Rummy and Go-Fish. Yes, we couldn't even remember Go Fish very well. It was that kind of camping.

Saturday we woke up to mist covering the water. It was warmer than the previous day, but still a bit chilly, so we kept our sweaters on, ate breakfast and packed up. We weren't looking forward to the uphill hike back to the car. Luckily, we didn't have to lug the water anymore. Sadly, that was the only thing we'd brought that we used up and was also heavy. Our dried soups, though now gone, were pretty insignificant in weight. Luckily, there were benches along the way for the more grueling portions of the hike. That was nice of them. Half a mile seems like an eternity when you have a heavy pack.

Our next destination, for which I'd also lost the directions, was the Olympic Hot Springs. There is a commercial hot springs near by called Sol Duc, but we wanted to go back to nature, baby. So at Sol Duc, we asked directions to the natural springs. Their directions weren't very clear and the springs weren't listed on the map they gave us. So we drove on. We were briefly stuck in traffic as they cleared a head-on collision off of highway 101. After we got through, we stopped at Granny's Diner to fulfill my love of roadside diners. Our waitress was a somewhat maniacal young lady who was amazed at how much water we were drinking and who wandered around the restaurant commenting loudly on everything. Turns out she's from whatever town we were in outside of Port Angeles. I guess being a small town girl makes you kind of crazy. Also, for some reason, it took 45 minutes for them to prepare a veggie burger and a bowl of chili. We were on Granny's time. No matter. She knew where the springs were. And while we waited, we got to meet some goats, chickens and a cat with the biggest thumbs I've ever seen. They all lived out back.

Bellies full, we drove to the springs. It was an 8 mile drive up the mountain and then another 3 mile hike from the trail head. Maybe it was because of our after-lunch smoke, but the hike up to the springs was an eternity. We thought we'd never find the things. We also noticed something weird about the people who were passing us on the way back to the car. The closer we got to the springs, the more “swimmy” people looked. By the time we got there, we were passed by people with towels, and one completely naked hippie girl. Oh yeah, the springs are closing optional. Ew. Brugos also pointed out that whenever we seem to find a hike grueling, we are always passed by smiley old couples who seem to be doing fine. That helps us cowboy us a little.

We smelled the springs before we found them. We staked out a nice private one, stripped to our swim suits and climbed into the hot, smelly water. I know it doesn't sound very romantic, especially since our springs kind of looked like the outlet for a sewer, but it really was. The hot water felt really good.

We got out and made the trek back to the car which, of course, felt much shorter going back. Then we headed home, satisfied with our nice Northwestern Couple excursion!

See pics of our adventures here!

enormous beaux

WEEKEND RECAP

FRIDAY
After packing and a few pre-funk drinks, Brugos and I met Alex at the Capital Hill Block Party to see some bands I’d never heard of. Even though most of the bands that WERE playing were kind of crappy, I’m glad we stuck around for a band that Alex came to see called The Cops. They played last and they were REALLY good. Alex compared them to The Clash, which I didn’t quite see, but they definitely had that classic punk vibe to them and a young John Fogarty on guitar.

SATURDAY
Brugos and I had to get up fairly early to hit the road. We were on our way to Larrabee State Park (just south of Bellingham) for Roxy’s birthday camping. We got a slightly later start than we’d intended on account of me forgetting things, but we still got to the campsite in time for lunch. I’ve never been camping in designated campsite area before. It felt kind of weird driving in, like we were entering a commune or something. We found the Brunswick’s lot and unloaded our gear, and then drove off to find a parking spot. As we drove through what appeared to be a family reunion, a small, dead-eyed blonde child stepped in front of B.’s car. B., naturally, stopped the car and waited for the child to move. The child did not move. He stared at us with an empty face. What was this child’s deal? Was he retarded? Extremely inbred? World-weary? Who knows. B. didn’t honk because he thought that would be rude, but he gestured for the child to get out of the way. The child did not budge. Finally, his older brother ran into the road and carried the child out of the way, and we were able to drive forward. But…if these are our neighbors, I thought, it’s going to be a weird day.

We drove to what we thought was the parking lot, but a sign clearly warned us that all cars parked there after dark would be impounded. We drove back to our lot to ask the Brunswicks where they thought we should park. There were only two parking spaces per lot and they were already occupied. Luckily, the cars were small, and someone was kind enough to move their car over and let us squeeze in.

Our lot was conveniently situated spitting distance from an active train track, and the trains were on a regular schedule. Sleeping would be fun. Our neighbors, apparently, had a predilection for dance music.

We set up the tent and then it was clearly hot dog and Franzia time. After lunch, I finally caught up with the rest of America and learned how to play Texas Hold ‘Em. It was fun and I didn’t entirely suck, but I still have no interest in playing for money.

The sun came out and it seemed like the perfect time for a hike. The hike that Larrabee boasted was a two mile hike to Fragrance Lake. Provided this wasn’t an ironic name, this sounded like an extremely pleasant hike. What the signs neglected to tell us was that this was some miracle lake that resided on the TOP of a MOUNTAIN, after hiking straight up. And sure, perhaps the distance from ground to lake is two miles, but from all the meandering we were doing, we surely went farther than two miles. I’m guessing 4, actually. Now, no one present was particularly sporty and we had all been drinking, so the complaining began early on. For whatever reason, however, we carried on. It became evident to me that the hills were going to be murder on my knees coming back down, but something kept me going as well. Perhaps it was my frustration over being so out of shape (the knees weren’t a problem going up…the lungs were). Perhaps it was that no one else, despite complaints, seemed to want to give up. Perhaps none of us gave up because we kept coming across OLD PEOPLE AND CHILDREN happily passing us on their way down the mountain. Did these people actually complete the hike?

Seemingly an eternity later, we came across a sign that said “Fragrance Lake 1.1 miles”. It was then that we determined we were actually in some kind of REI Hell dimension and we had no choice but to see what this “Fragrance Lake” looked like.

We finally made it to the lake, and it was indeed pretty. We sat down for a bit and watched dogs come and go. Rocko skipped some rocks and eventually went in for a dip. After a rest, we turned back.

The way down was indeed painful for me, but B. was kind enough to escort grandma down the mountain at her own pace. I wonder if doing this kind of thing more often would be better or worse for my knees. All I know is that there were a LOT of old people hiking that thing.

When we returned to camp, we broke out the Apples to Apples and were serenaded by some wood nymphs playing what I swear was “Age of Aquarius” on the pan flute. This was indeed a strange camp site. The others had arrived on Friday and told us that they’d taken an evening stroll to the beach and happened upon a Western Washington University performance of Godspell, which they hilariously crashed during the crucifixion scene. We were hoping that they did a different musical every night.

As we played, a small child lapped the roundabout on his scooter. He did this for an impressive amount of time without getting bored. It became rather maddening for some of us.

Dinner time came and, sadly, two of the party had to return to Seattle. After dinner, we broke out the Totally 80’s Trivial Pursuit and asked each other questions. They questions were disappointingly lacking in kitsch value. This was mostly disappointing, I imagine, because most of us didn’t know the answers.

While we stared at the fire, we were approached by a couple in matching beige outfits. “We noticed that you have an extra car. We are going to need to charge you for that,” they said. B. forked over the $10. “Also, we wanted to point out that it’s quiet hours now. Your neighbors are trying to sleep. We had some reports that you were noisy last night. We don’t know if it was you or that other group, but we would appreciate it if you would watch your noise level tonight.” We, of course, agreed and our camp R.A.s left.

The Brunswicks decided to walk down to the beach again and, perhaps, enjoy some more musical theatre. The rest of us stayed behind and stared at the fire. The Brunswicks returned with no tales to tell, and we all turned in.

Almost immediately after having settled into our tent, it began to rain. The rain didn’t let up the entire night. The trains, thankfully, stopped running after 3am.

SUNDAY
When we woke in the morning, it was still raining. It sounded like it was coming down pretty hard. This is why I put off going to pee. Of course, the rain only made it more difficult to put this off, so eventually B. and I conceded. When we got outside, we found that the tent made it sound worse than it was. Still, it seemed prudent to pack up everything and go into town for breakfast, rather than try and wait out the rain.

B. managed to get a fire going to make some tea, so that we could have the extra energy needed to pack up. Before long, we were on the road to Bellingham for some delicious, dry breakfast.

We went to the Ranch Room in downtown B-Ham. I’d been to this place with the GadZookies during the Projections Film Festival and really enjoyed it. This morning, the service was rather neglectful, and the B-Ham townies were certainly eccentric, but the food was delicious.

Our bellies full, we hit the road back home.

I think this is the last time I want to camp in a heavily populated and designated camping area. Sure, it’s nice to have a toilet and running water nearby, (thought that becomes less convenient after dark, because I would really rather just pee in the woods next to my tent than find my way to the bathroom) but having to deal with weird children, loud trains, dance music, squares and watching your noise level seems counter to the whole spirit of camping to me. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time. But there’s something very freeing about being the only people in at least a mile radius.

After unpacking and getting cleaned up, B. and I finished off Deadwood Season 1 with the Boobergs, followed by 2 games of Settlers of Catan at Brugos’. I played poorly. I’m still getting my bearings in this game and while I certainly find it fun, I haven’t yet mastered all of the rules, making strategy impossible. My theory is that one day it will hit me all at once, and I will henceforth become an unstoppable force.

Here are some pictures from camping!