Salted Honey Caramels Instead of Cake

We woke up to a bit of rain and decided to leave the batwing battened down and head into town for breakfast. That’s one of the joys of camping at this county park, Friday Harbor is just 20 minutes away.

The Rocky Bay Cafe on Spring Street proved to be a great choice. Everyone was masked and respectful. The staff were cheerful and engaging. They were looking forward to a cafe staff trip to Las Vegas the next day. Kind of cool!

I had eggs benedict over hash browns (I almost always have eggs benedict if it’s an option) and Bill had eggs, bacon, and toast. The food was good and the coffee hot and frequently refilled. We sat at a window seat and watched the soft rain. Warm and comfortable.

The rain dropped to a mist and we headed to the farmers’ market. We picked up a really nice map outside Coldwell banker on our way.

What a great market! Vegetables, meat, foraged food, bakery items, artisans, and live music. San Juan Island Sea Salt, Cady Davis Creations, San Juan Silk (Mary Sly), and Inspired Earth Tea got our custom, but we loved it all.

Cady Davis Creation Bill bought me for my birthday. Cady found the beach glass on Brown Island, just across from Friday Harbor.

Westside Preserve

After spending some time in town, we headed back to the west side of the island. We walked around the Westside Preserve and parked at Limekiln Point State Park.

Limekiln Point and Deadman Bay

Of course we looked for whales, but we looked while we walked the third-mile trail to Deadman Bay. It’s a nice trail right along the headland. Deadman Bay is beautiful–a sheltered sunny spot on this unexpectedly fine fall day. (some of our camping neighbors let us know that they had big hiking plans, but took a three-hour nap on the beach here instead.)

We walked back from Deadman Bay and continued on past the lighthouse. All the while keeping our eyes out for whale.

We didn’t spot whale, but our camp neighbors saw a pod heading north just off the county park. (We had great camp neighbors, including a UW professor who studies raptors in the Amazon and teaches classes about crows–Hi Ursula! Hi Todd!)

English camp

After lunching on toasted ham and cheese sandwiches back at Brave Horatio, we headed to the north end of the island and English Camp. Totally different situation from American Camp. This end of the island is low and forested. English Camp is on the beach meadow of Garrison Bay and the adjoining uplands. Garrison bay has only a narrow opening connecting it to the rest of the Salish Sea. From Haro Straight you take Mosquito Pass and the small opening into Horseshoe Bay, turning before Bell Point into Garrison Bay.

It’s a pretty idyllic place, beautiful and bountiful.

The emphasis on disputes between colonizers and the ever larger houses on the island remind me that I am on the traditional lands and waters of the Coast Salish people, including Lummi, Saanich, Samish, Semiahmoo, Songhee, Sooke, and Swinomish. These nations, current and historic, care for and harvest this land. I honor their inherent, aboriginal and treaty rights passed down through generations.

Roche Harbor

I guess Sarah and I used a bit more propane than I thought on our Ozette Lake adventure. Our chubby little tank ran out at lunch. We had several smaller bottles, but decided to see if we could fill chubby back up. We took a detour to Roche Harbor.

I love the road to Roche Harbor. I love the airstrip where planes share space with geese. I love the sculpture garden. I do not love Roche Harbor. It’s a bit too twee, a bit too privileged, a bit too buttoned up. As an antidote, it also has some nifty history and art.

We poked into the Company Store and they explained how to get our propane fill (meet guy by the old generator plant and pay down at the fuel dock). Don’t plan to buy hardware here–they have lots of wine though.

Evening at the park

San Juan County Park is a beautiful place to camp. Site 10 is just off the high meadow. There is a tiny beach just below us accessed by a path just around the corner. On the other side of the meadow is a trail out to the point of the larger, but still small, bay. Beautiful.

The weather moved between mist and clear so we started a campfire. We’d picked up some drier wood at a stand outside the park so tonight’s fire was easier to start and didn’t need attention every few minutes. We opened some wine enjoyed the flames while we waited for coals.

We grilled our dinner of steak and asparagus over beautiful coals. A couple of asparagus spears leapt into the fire, but we had lots, so no worries. We ate in the dark warmed by the fire. In lieu of a birthday cake, we enjoyed San Juan Island Se Salt honey caramels purchased at the Farmers Market this morning.

Beautiful day! Beautiful evening!

Drying out our soggy affairs

Mattress, mattress pad, sheets,  and blanket still soggy.

We did stay warm and get some sleep, Me more than Bill. Good thing we had three car blankets. They shielded us from the worst of the damp.

The forecast is much better today and we have a plan.

After bagels, smoked salmon, cream cheese, onion, and capers… with Batdorf and Bronson coffee! We spread the car blankets out in Freya, clamped soggy bedding to our little above bed shelf, opened B Horatio’s vent and windows, locked his doors and headed up North Steens Mountain Drive.

We weren’t ignoring the problem, we we’re reconoitering. Our original plan before the deluge and truck joust was to camp up Steens Mountain at Fish Lake Campground.

We’re off to check out Fish Lake before hauling  Brave Horatio up to over 7,000 feet on a nice, but gravel road.

Steens Mountain is amazing in October. The Quaking Aspen are in various stages of decidging (my son’s very useful word). They were bright white and gold. Junipers and sage and bitter brush and who knows what. A tapestry of muted vibrancy.

Fish Lake looks great. We’ll come camp some late spring. A skiff of snow made our decision for us. We explored a little further and turned around.

It’s Sunday and lots of folks headed out. We moved to spot 6, near the river, in the sun, and — most important — graced with some well spaced trees.

We strung line and had soggy bedding hung out wicked quick. Looked a little like the Clampett’s, but we’ll sleep dry tonight!

We left thing drying out in camp and ducked into French Glenn for firewood and toothpaste then spent a couple hours driving Malheur’s Center Line road.

We discovered a great new way to make the bed, walked to a beautiful spring on the Blitzen River Trail, had a roaring good campfire and roaring hot chili and tucked into our dry, warm nest.

And we didn’t die!

We planned to spend September 2020 visiting friends in Perth (Hi, Jane and Tom) and borrowing their campervan for a trip up the west coast to Karijini National Park.

The world had other plans.

My stint with the Department of Health’s Covid-19 case investigation/contact tracing team ended in September so we decided to camp for a week somewhere remote and uncrowded.  Steens Mountain here we come!

We did our final packing at 5:30 am in the rain. It was predicted and unpleasant.

If the rest of the week follows the forecasts, today will be our only aquacamping day. Fingers crossed.

Freya’s brand new, all-weather tires are an unexpected disappointment. We hydroplaned a LOT down I-5. The tires did not track at all. Skittering and slipping on the freeway wakes you up right quick. Something to discuss with Honda when we get back.

A quick stop in Sandy for gas and cocoa and we headed up and up and up Mt. Hood then down and down and down. Out of the Doug Fir and into Ponderosa and Quakies.

On the Warm Springs flat the rain let up. Looking across the the rocky prairie to the sunkissed hills–gorgeous. Mill Creek Gorge–gorgeous. All that rimrock–so gorgeous.


Oh, holy hell!

About 30 miles from Bend we’re driving along on 97 approaching a wide, flat, paved intersection when an old truck just starts crossing the highway in front of us…not nearly far enough in front. It’s heading right at us.

Can’t slow down, we’d be toast.  Luckily the pavement was dry. Luckily their was no oncoming traffic in the two opposing lanes. Luckily the highway was wide enough. Luckily Bill can think and act quickly.

Bill swerved way out into the oncoming lanes as the truck just kept crossing the highway. No reaction from the driver…I don’t think they noticed our fairly large rig pulling a small, but noticeable trailer. I think we cleared that truck by about 3 feet.

We moved into the slow lane, hearts beating. As people passed us, they smiled in disbelief and offered emphatic thumbs up.

I’m glad we’re not dead. I’m glad our adventure didn’t end with tow trucks and rental cars. I’m glad Brave Horatio follows along so closely.

Life goes on

Stopped for take-out lunch at Life and Times in Bend then through another heavy rain storm and off across the Western Juniper plains of highway 20.

Pulled into Page Springs Campground about 5:30. Raining off and on. Only one spot left (Hooray, 1 spot left!) Discovered that Freya also needs larger mud flaps. Poor Brave Horatio was a little bit drowned.

Ate beans and weenies in the car. Made a plan to allow some sleep on soggy bedding. Not the best camp evening ever.

Found a beautiful spot for our 195th evening singing “What a Wonderful World”

Covid-Conscious Camping

I like working at my office surrounded by other interesting people. I like to explore ideas in coffee rooms and hallways and over cube walls.

I love my team and interacting with folks who do very different work from me. Discovering differing perspectives and different approaches always adds value to what I do.

Back in October, well before Covid, my office space was dismantled and everyone was sent home to work while our new space was configured. That,  of course took much longer than anticipated. I was looking forward to moving into new work digs mid-March…which, of course, didn’t happen.

Instead Bill moved his office into our other spare bedroom and we started commuting upstairs together every morning

I begrudged work intruding into my home when it was due to a poorly planned move. Doing my bit to slow the spread of a pandemic just makes me grateful.

Both Bill and I have jobs and can do those jobs from home. Our kids are adults living on their own. Their old bedrooms are some of the largest rooms in our house and make pretty pleasant workspaces. We’re lucky and we know it.

We both work in Public Health and take modeling safe behavior seriously. We’ve been staying home except for twice a month grocery runs and at least weekly dinner pickup from local restaurants. (and that one day we popped out to buy Freya.)

Socializing has included weekly Zoom meetings with friends, less frequent Zoom or Skype with family and a lovely curbside cocktail hour with our across the street neighbors at least once a week (kind of like a reverse parade, we each stay on our side of the street and wave at the occasional car.) We’ve also been singing “What A Wonderful World” on our front porch at 6pm every evening since March 29.

We miss playing music with friends and miss camping.

Today we’re headed off to do both!

Did I mention that we’re lucky?

Mark,  Jess, and Julie recently organized the purchase of some camp land with a group of friends.  We opted out of buying in, but are joining them there this weekend.

The weather forecast is iffy so this might be the first auquacamp weekend of the year.

Bill missed the Purdy Cutoff so we thought we’d take the Skokomish River Road. Despite the large official looking sign, you can’t use it. You get ready to turn, notice it’s a dirt track with daisies down the middle, drive past, turn around, decide dirt tracks can be delightful, make the turn and see the large no trespassing/no motorized vehicles signs. Brave Horatio’s diminutive size made it possible to ooch ourselves around and head back to the Purdy Cutoff.

Past Two Margaritas and The Robinhood watching kayakers in the canal and the beautiful Olympics.

We knew we were ahead of our hosts so we checked out Belfair State Park. We’re headed there with Ben, Alex and their folks in August.

We’re going to have so much fun.

Three of the 9 spots were occupied when we pulled in.  Jess and Mark directed us to campsite 3 and we bounced between setting up and checking out the camp.

Flamingos guard Jess and Mark’s campsite

Beautiful Dreamer’s spot is tucked in among Doug fir, cedar, and huckleberry. He’s got a flagpole out front that flys a number of Caribbean and yachting flags. He also has his very own shed and yard decorations. Pretty fancy.

We all tried to keep a six-foot distance and generally suceeded. Bill and I sang “What a Wonderful World” at six pm as we have since March 29. We usually sing on our front porch. Today our front porch was the woods.

It was nice to be outside our house and yard. It was nice to be in the middle of trees. It was nice to eat dinner around a campfire. It was more than nice to play music and sing around that fire before heading off to bed.

Purple batwing versus the rain

It rained.

Not too hard, but enough to test our huge purple batwing tarp. It worked–covering the entire picnic table with room on the sides for supplies and at the front for our folding chairs.

Breakfast was a little chilly even with coffee and cocoa.

So we drove around the mountain

One of the joys of Mt. Rainier is your ability to chase the weather. When it is wet on the west side, it is often dry and sunny on the east. We gathered layers, toys, snacks, and other essentials and headed for Sunrise.

As a bonus, we got snow and a deer at lunch!

This doe hung around our picnic. Her friends were nearby.
Picnic with puppy

We started up the nature trail at a pretty quick clip. It’s amazing how quickly you gain height.

Ben with his grands.

Any way you looked it was breathtakingly gorgeous.

The top had it’s own kind of barren beauty.

Turn of the trail

We saw a hoary marmot up close. Lynsey spotted it right beside the trail. It paralleled the trail for quite awhile before finally crossing and heading downhill. The melting snow left neat tubes of dirt where some critter had burrowed. They were everywhere.

Ben soldiered on, trotting, trudging, stopping to play with rocks, and spending a little time on dad’s shoulders. He decided that a very short pair of hiking poles would be pretty fantastic. Rob’s telescoped down small. Score!

Lynsey took most of the pictures on this trip. Thanks Lyns!

Intruder in the night

Sleep-over in Ocean Shores

‘Cause we’re Curlew’s Call groupies

Had lunch at State & Central with James then hooked up Brave Horatio and drove through streaming rain to Ocean Shores.

The campsite was a puddle — a huge, deep puddle that flooded the fire ring, picnic table, and part of the parking spot. We were just sleeping over—no campfire, no cooking—and we had Brave Horatio, so it was just fine.

Teardrops in the mist

We watched Julie, Jess, and Mark as Curlew’s Call at the Galway Bay Pub until midnight. Good food, good drinks, good music, good friends.

Slept well and had a dry trip home.

BUT—oh yes—the intruder in the night…

As I was trying to ignore my bladder and go back to sleep, I heard someone fiddling with the tongue of the trailer. What the hell? I woke right up. I nudged Bill and whispered “shhhh!”

“Uuuaaaaawgh!” was his very loud reply.

I’d thought we could quietly make a plan as some crazy person pulled us along by hand down the park road.

Apparently not.

Two more tries yielded no better results.

Nothing for it. I was on my own.

When more odd noises began beside my door, I opened it and shone my flashlight around.

Glowing orange eyes stared back but did not give an inch of ground. That raccoon was not leaving his prize—the paper bag that earlier held our muffin treats.

My rubbermaid tub, the one the bag had been in, was floating in the middle of our campsite puddle like a crazy boat. Lesson learned. Those tubs are definitely not critter proof. From now on, they’ll only keep my shoes dry.

Finally the raccoon left, I peed and retrieved my floating shoe tub.

In the morning I waded back in and rescued the soggy muffin bag.

Lesson learned.

Messing with marshmallows

Shakedown Cruise, day 1–Pickup in Eugene/camping in Bandon

So excited to pick up Brave Horatio. We spent Friday night at Amy and Dave’s in Portland, got up early, had breakfast with Lin and Arthur at the Sunrise Café in Eugene and met Brave Horatio at Sawyer and Jon’s at eleven.

One cashier’s check, lots of nice discussion, and some angle grinding later we were off to Bullard’s State Park just north of Bandon. We stopped at my folks to check on dad’s convalescence, made and shared spaghetti, then drove to A-loop to set up camp.

Jon used his angle grinder to modify LuLuBelle’s odd hitch.

It was raining a little. Not a problem.

We put on raincoats and unpacked. It was a little like playing house—finding the best, or at least a reasonable spot for each item.

There was a surprising amount of space.

There is more than enough room in Brave Horatio’s galley to store tableware for 6 (including wine glasses), ample cookware and food. The counter hatch leads to a ton of under counter space.

We made the bed with our lovely new Pendleton blanket—Raven and the Box of Knowledge, based on a work by Preston Singletary, and a fluffy down comforter. All the fancy dining stuff found homes and the food had plenty of room down under the hatch.


We celebrated with a glass of Happy Camper Red provided by Sarah and Erik. While we sipped by the fire we tried to figure out where to hang their sign.

This sign started here, migrated to the middle of the utensil drawer, and now lives on the inside of the galley hatch cover.

I began my quest to roast marshmallow whip coated something in the campfire. The whip was too cold. I persevered, molding stiff marshmallow whip around a vertically sliced banana and hershey bar sandwich, jamming it toward the coals, and twirling in a fruitless ☺ effort to keep the whip on the fruit. What looked so easy on the Martha Stewart webpage turned out to be a gloopy, gloppy mess. Fun though.

We slept well. Warm, quiet, snug.