Homeward bound

We woke up about 7 after a snug night’s rest. Our ferry reservation was for 9:50, so we didn’t have to rush. I started coffee and heated up the 5 Bs bakery cinnamon rolls in the dutch oven. Bill took down the purple batwing.

We had a last leisurely island drive into Friday Harbor, parked in the standby lot and got coffee at the convenient stand across the street.

There were a grand of 18 vehicles and two e-bikes on the Chelan as we left Friday Harbor. The e-bikes got off on Lopez Island and 17 more vehicles boarded, including a small school bus. I thought our boat over was empty–this one was ever so much more so.

I like signs and ferry signs do not disappoint.

I have a habit of obtaining maps after they’re needed. I’m always better prepared for the next time out. The map from the realty office served us well, but I wanted a larger map that showed all the islands in some detail. The kind lady at the Anacortes Visitors Center directed me to Marine Supply & Hardware. This is my kind of store…and they had the perfect map!

I explored the map and looked up information about Deception Pass State Park. I’m thinking about Bowman Bay. If I’m lucky we’ll reserve site 280. I’ve got an alert set on my phone to make the call. Fingers crossed. (I don’t really like to plan so far ahead. Figuring out the exact time to call to reserve a top spot is not my thing, but I’m going to try it this once.)

Back at home we put Brave Horatio to bed, popped the 5 Bs bakery chicken pot pie in the oven and relaxed.

Whales! We Saw Whales!

The whales we saw were likely the transient T2C pod minus T2C4. The Center for Whale Research reports an encounter same day, same time, same general location. Apparently these four Orca had been hunting a lone minke whale, but gave up that chase prior to our sighting. (We did hear about others who saw a minke whale a bit farther south.)

This family of Biggs Orca includes Tumbo (T2C2). Tumbo has scoliosis. His family takes care of him–bringing him dinner and circling back to make sure he doesn’t get too far behind. One of Tumbo’s aunts had a condition that caused partial loss of pigmentation and an uncle had a malformed jaw.

It makes me happy to know the names of the whales we saw. I’d still like to see some of our Southern Resident Orcas (now down to a total population of 73 individuals).

Sara Shimazu, one of Maya Legacy’s captains, shares marvelous photos and information about the Orcas of the Salish Sea through patreon, instagram, and facebook. Sara is a great photographer with a vast love for Orca.

I wish someone would create baseball-like cards for Orca. I’d like to be able to flip through them to see if I could ID individuals. (If you know where to obtain these, please let me know.)

Other delights

The whales were a BIG highlight to the day, but it was great in other ways too.

I took my coffee, boots, the wine guys, and a canoe I found on Deadman’s bay down to the tiny beach below our campsite. Bill joined us with his camera. Wine guys off on an adventure!

Looking for Orca

Bill and I usually spend between 5 minutes and 15 minutes at viewpoints. This morning we `resolved to go to Limekiln prepared to observe. We loaded coffee, cookies, scope, binoculars, camera, a waterproof blanket, and field guides into packs and walked down to the lovely observation point.

Limekiln is one of the best places for spotting whales from land. Whoever laid out the picnic tables did a stellar job. They are scattered along the trail. Not obtrusive for trail walkers and offering great views of Haro Straight to table sitters.

I would have been proud of us, even if we didn’t see whale. We stayed and watched for several hours. We met Victoria Obermeyer, videographer and co-producer of Co-Extinction a documentary about Southern Resident Orca. AND we saw whales!

Disaster averted

Suffused with the beauty of the world, I took a short solo walk down the little path off the south end of the meadow. I exchanged hellos with the couple smoking their picnic and walked to the point above the larger bay (Smallpox bay, poor thing). It’s a short, but beautiful walk. A perfect little piece of calm after watching Orca.

As I wandered back to camp, I was pondering the benefits of hot cocoa versus tea versus decaf. I put the kettle on and reached for and didn’t find my mug.

I did a quick search of Brave Horatio’s galley, the picnic table, and the camp. No mug.

It slowly dawned on me that I’d brought my coffee to the beach to launch the wine guys on their adventure. I couldn’t remember having it when I returned. Oh no!

I slowly walked to the meadow and down to the tiny beach. This morning the rock on the beach was high and dry. Now it was surrounded by water to at least knee-depth. The tiny beach was super tiny, just a little crescent of dry. No mug in sight.

I walked back up to the meadow and around to approach the tiny beach from the rock side. I could just see the silver glint of my mug nestled under the water among bladder wrack. Sadly it was maybe waist deep and a couple yards offshore. Luckily, it looked to be constrained by a little curve of rock.

Back at camp I shared the sad plight of my coffee mug with Bill. He asked if I thought I could get it with a stick. Nope.

A few minutes later Bill got that look on his face–the one that means he’s thinking strategically. He started taking down a tarp pole.

Bill doesn’t talk while he’s thinking. He often doesn’t talk when he’s putting his plans into action. You have to ask.

He was thinking of sacrificing a roasting fork–to make a hook to gaff tape to the end of a loooooong tarp pole–to use as a coffee mug fishing pole. I suggested using one of our many tent pegs. Some have nice size hooks.

I convinced Bill to construct the super long pole after we reached the fishing point. I didn’t want to do the walk of shame past our camp and meadow neighbors. Conspicuous weirdos off to fish for a mug.

Bill’s boots are higher than mine and he’s got way better hand-eye coordination. He carefully stepped into the bladder wrack and extended the tarp pole hook (about 10 foot of it). A few seconds later my mug was safely home!

Shopping San Juan

It’s still mid-Covid and also, we’re camping, so we didn’t explore many stores in Friday Harbor. The bookstore was pretty fantastic, the co-op too. I, however, was on a search for honey. Wherever I go, I look for local honey. I love the variety of flavors from different locales. Honesty stands are also one of the joys of my life (people TRUST me…there’s hope for the world). I also enjoy talking with and buying from farmers.

We pulled into Amaro Farms in search of honey and stayed to talk to xxxx about Flat Hat Distillery and Amaro’s Valais sheep. The restored barn that Flat Hat shares with the farm store is so gorgeous. They didn’t have honey, but we left with some tea and a small flock of stuffed lambs for our grandniblings.

Fine dining Brave Horatio style

San Juan Island Food Coop provided us with 5 Bs bakery cinnamon rolls for tomorrow’s breakfast, a frozen chicken pot pie for tomorrow’s dinner, and a Brown Bear Bakery gluten free boule for tonight’s for crab feast.

We found the best seafood market down on the Friday Harbor docks. It welcomed us in with bright painted fish and flowers and friendly staff.

When deciding on whole crab or crab meat, remember only about a quarter of the weight of a whole crab is meat. Multiply the cost of whole crab by four–and think about what you will do with the aromatic remains at your campsite. We popped for pre-picked crab–quite a lot of it.

It was raining when we got back, but it finally eased off then stopped. While we were waiting out the rain we got new neighbors, a Sprinter van decked out for camping and shared by a bunch of friends from Santa Cruz.

The weather finally cooperated and we heated our bread and a little pot of butter over the campfire. We had a beautiful dinner with Michael and Jan last week that included a bottle of Michael’s viognier (very nice!). Michael gifted me with a bottle of his Roussanne for this trip and I was excited to try it. Roussanne is not a wine I’m familiar with. It was soft and lovely and perfect for the evening. Thanks Michael!

We sat by the fire in our camp rockers dipping crab meat in the pot of warm butter. Warm butter dipped crab alternated with warm bread and sips of nice `wine is an amazing way to end an evening!

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. Their 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!

One-foot Wanda

I slept soundly and woke up refreshed. Sarah struggled through my snoring and got up a little more haggard. Oh well.

Our bacon, egg and polenta breakfast perked Sarah up and we had a leisurely morning drinking coffee, straightening camp a bit, and getting the kayaks off Freya. Freya is TALL but we prevailed.

Polenta, bacon and eggs are a great camp breakfast

On our walk to the lake to scout launch points and conditions we went past a group of white front geese. There were about a dozen, all but one juveniles. They looked quite at home on the grassy part of the campsite across the road and around the bend from us.

The adult speckle belly moved by hopping on one leg. As we got closer we could see her other leg held up and at an odd angle. It looked like it ended at the ankle. We named her–Wanda the one-foot speckle belly seemed to be doing just fine.

Mid-day Kayaking

Ozette campground has one picnic-only spot right on the lake. It’s a nice kayak launch point. We shouldered a kayak each from site 7 down to the lake and launched without even getting wet.

We stayed on the east side heading south, discovered that there’s cell coverage once you’re out in the lake a bit, and paddled steadily on. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring binoculars.

It was cloudy but calm and what wind there was came from the south. Ozette campground is at the north end of the lake and the Ozette river flows from that end. Perfect conditions for kayaking.

Sarah spotted a lump on the east shore and headed toward it. I headed toward a point on the west shore. Out in the middle I realized I’d forgotten to put in the large sponges we use to bail, I was pretty much in the middle of a deep cold lake, and was putting more and more distance between Sarah and I.

Mary heading to Eagle Point

Sarah was heading toward me by this time, so I turned and headed back toward her. We met and headed to the point together.

The small swells were perfectly perpendicular to our line of travel. It was fun to cut through them. The one other boat we saw was fishing toward us. They dropped to their trolling motor when they saw us. Super nice.

We were nearing Eagle Point when my phone rang. Such a strange thing in a huge area with no cell coverage. Bill and I talked for a bit as I drifted then I hung up and joined Sarah on Eagle Point.

We took pictures, enjoyed some huckleberries, chose a few pebbles to take home, peed, ate our snacks (Sarah’s honey zingers were excellent!), and wandered the point. I especially liked watching the wind and current make a swell pattern that curled around the point from South to North.

The sky was darkening a little so we kept the west-shore relatively close on the return trip. I love the way the lake surface appears to curve from the middle down to the edges. I don’t think we saw a single bird and I only saw one fish splash. The boat fishers seemed content slowly making their way north. They were usually just within our sight.

Ozette Campground to Eagle Point and back was the perfect paddle for us. We were tired enough to bring the kayaks back to camp in two trips sharing the weight using the front and back loops instead of each of us shouldering our own kayak.

While Sarah warmed up with dry clothes, I made us cocoa. We brought lots of cocoa…instant and Ibara…also a container of those little dryish marshmallows which you can get at US Foods Chef’s Store (formerly Cash & Carry).

Our dinner of pork tenderloin, warm quinoa with onion and dried cherries, and an avocado and tomato salad was excellent.

Sarah is a fantastic fiddler but on this trip she left her fiddle at home and brought her tenor guitar. She’s learning it so my muddled whistle playing was right at home. We had a good time playing by the fire.

Beaches should have real names

All summer I’d wanted to camp with Sarah at Lake Ozette. Summer flew by hot and dry for Olympia. October was coming up fast and we finally decided to go.

Brave Horatio has never been anywhere without Bill. Bill does most of the driving and, until now, all of the backing up. There’s a first time for everything.

I got a short lesson in coaxing Brave Horatio backward. Turn the bottom of the steering wheel the way you want BH to go. Move the vehicles very slowly, but the steering wheel quite a bit. Don’t do too much at once.

I successfully backed Brave Horatio into site 7 at Ozette Campground without using my unhitch and push backup plan

It was odd to plan and pack without Bill. He helped with grocery shopping and getting the kayaks on their racks, because he’s nice like that, but planning and cooking was my gig this time.

Usually I wake up to the sound of Bill making camp coffee and starting breakfast. Sarah has pretty severe Raynaud’s, so I knew that early mornings and anything cool or cold would be my responsibility.

I chose to put off some packing until the morning of. I thought I’d pick Sarah up about eight and we’d have breakfast. By the time we got to Hash, it was almost eleven, so the second part of the plan worked out great. We didn’t really have a deadline and everything was fine.

So many great choices. Sarah and I both had corned beef hash.

We finally got going about noon, full of corned beef hash and coffee.

We decided to approach Lake Ozette via the bottom of the peninsula.

Heading west

Big Trees

We took a short detour near Quinault Lake lured by a signpost to the world’s largest Sitka Spruce and bladder pressure.

We followed the first available restroom signs into a nice little pullout with a short trail through the forest to some big trees. It was a pretty trail. Pretty creek, pretty ferns and other plants, pretty big trees….but the worlds largest Sitka Spruce was down the road a bit.

World’s largest Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis)

A mile or so down the road, past Lake Quinault Lodge and Rainforest Resort Village we parked across the street from the trail to the World’s Largest Sitka Spruce. A short walk later the trail opened up and the Spruce stood ancient and beautiful across the creek.

According to the American Forests Association there are six world-record trees in the Quinault Valley–Valley of the Rainforest Giants. The world’s largest Sitka Spruce, Western Redcedar, Douglas fir, Alaska (yellow) cedar, Western Hemlock and Mountain Hemlock.

Might be the basis for a future “big tree” trip.

Louis the swimming wooly bear

Heading back to Freya and Brave Horatio, we lingered on the bridge over the creek enjoying the sun and the slowly running water. We noticed a wooly bear in the middle of the creek. At first we were a bit sad, poor little caterpillar in the middle of all that water. But as we watched we noticed that the wooly bear was swimming!

It didn’t lead with its head or its tail or any part really. It slowly undulated, mostly, but not totally sideways. It wasn’t just drifting with the steam and when it had the chance to climb a stem into the dry it swam on.

The wooly bear finally made it under the bridge and I turned to go. Sarah explained that it was a bit like Pooh Sticks and we needed to wait to see the caterpillar emerge from the other side. I thought that might take hours.

We made a funny site kneeling on the bridge deck with our heads stuck out and under the bridge urging the wooly bear on. Several people stopped and stayed to see if we were nuts or not.

The wooly bear made it! It didn’t even take that long–maybe five minutes, which must be some kind of swim-speed record for a caterpillar. One lady named him Louis. Louis joined my list of heroes. He didn’t care, he just swam on toward Lake Quinault.

I’m thinking about starting a nature documentary series.

Upset on behalf of numbered beaches

Back on the road, I considered the gas gauge. We definitely had plenty to get to our campsite and back to Lake Quinault, but I wanted to make sure. I asked Sarah to help keep an eye out for a gas station just as we sailed past one. Farther on a road sign alerted us to a gas station in 1/4 mile. Sailed past that one too. Decided to gas up in Forks.

Just past Queets, Highway 101 moves over to the coast. I don’t know who was in charge of naming the beaches along this stretch, but they had no imagination and should be ashamed of themselves. Beach 1, Beach 2, Beach 3….really!

As we drove by these disgruntled (I would be) beaches I may have gotten a little vocal.

Little diatribe about naming beaches

Really people. Name your beaches with descriptive or funny names. Name them after nearby geographic features or your old graunt (that’s great-aunt for those not in the know). Name them after other beaches if you must. Do not just give them a number. Poor beaches.

They looked lovely. Long stretches of sand. They deserve better names.

More big trees

Sarah saw a sign and we turned off in search of more big trees.

Freya thought we were offroading.

Mary, practicing for a gold medal in napping

So many mushrooms!

The Olympic Rainforest is mushroom mecca. So many colors, sizes, and shapes!

All terrain is working hard to get to the beach

Highway 101, like all Pacific Northwest coastal roads, is trying to go to the beach. The abundant rainfall makes for super saturated soil and wet soil slips. This leads to unusual traffic controls, like this stop light from nowhere.

Setting up camp

Our first glimpse of Ozette Campground was a very welcome sight. What with our late start and lazy journey, it was getting on to evening. We’d stopped at a firewood honesty stand a couple miles from the campground and bought some bundles of smallish branches (small was what they had). After setting up camp, we backtracked a 1/4 mile or so and bought some bigger stuff from Lost Resort (the store was closed, but they had an honesty box).

Ozette Campground has an odd site layout. It’s nice, but different. There are 15 spots. Some, like site 7, have some privacy. Others would be excellent for people camping with friends. Some site’s are accessed by driving up and behind others, or angle off side access roads.

Next time I’m going to try for campsite 2. It’s access angles off between site 1 and 3 and ends up behind site 1, screened by brush. It’s right on the lake. I also liked site 3. Both were occupied this trip and site 7 is great. Off the lake is probably a good choice in October as the wind gets knocked back a bit.

Yes, it’s an easy spot to back into AND I did it!

We grilled steak and roasted dutch oven potatoes over a terrific campfire (thanks Sarah!) and finally went to bed about 11 pm.

Back to Hunkering Down

Grandparenting is fun and this weekend much too short.

One last splash in the creek. One last barefoot in the mud. One last speed-crawl across the dusty grass. Then homeward.

Bill and I explored a little on the way home. We walked some of the Theler Wetlands Preserve trails and made plans to return to kayak the Union River (which we did several weeks later. We had a lovely, lazy paddle, pole, and drag. The tide was pretty low, but the sandy bottom was nice.)

We’re looking forward to our next grandparenting outing!

Kayaking and marshmallow guns

This morning was overcast and pleasant. I asked Ben how he slept in the over-cab bunk and he said he had “30 winks.” His dad’s morning grogginess verified that 3/4 of a night’s sleep was about right.

Breakfast pancakes were fine even though I remembered too late that the mason jar in the cooler was ice cream mix–the milk was in the other cooler in a mineral water bottle. Sweet pancakes don’t need syrup and we didn’t really need ice cream anyway.

Lynsey, Bill, Rob and Ben spent some time on the beach while Alex and I napped and read. Ben was intrigued by the clams, oysters, tiny crabs and seaweed poppers. He also got used to the mud.

The lovely, shady, shallow creek near our campsite opened into the canal a short walk away. Bill carried the kayaks down for us and I took Ben for a paddle. We have Walden Paddlers. They’re flat-bottomed, extremely stable boats. We’ve had three-year-olds happily paddling around in them.

I hooked Ben’s boat to mine with a tow rope and we headed out. I thought I was paddling in the direction he chose, but quickly realized that he wanted to cross the canal. Um, nope!

Ben used his paddle to poke at the stuff he saw under water, bright green seaweed, dark green grassy water weeds, medium green seaweed with air pockets, many other underwater plants, shellfish, and lots of multicolor rocks. Ben seemed fascinated with his new perspective on the world.

When we beached, Ben got very concerned and very busy. He dug the super big red carabiner into the rocks. Put a big rock on top and let me know “that should hold it for awhile.” I guess he’s been learning about anchors.

Lynsey and Alex watched from the beach

I’m learning Gramma skills. Next time I’ll bring regular yellow French’s mustard and Swiss Miss. Save the spicy brown Gulden’s and artisanal cocoa with nibs for other trips.

I’m not a total Gramma-fail. I remembered to pack my marshmallow guns. The adults had some sustained conversation time while Alex crawled around and Ben gleefully shot marshmallows at tree, stump, and rock targets and ran off some energy retrieving marshmallows.

Should we be doing this?

Belfair State Park Weekend

It’s Saturday afternoon and we’re heading back toward Hood Canal to camp at Belfair State Park. Covid is still raging as I’m very well aware.

I’ve spent the last month calling people with positive Covid tests and their close contacts. My team collects data to inform our state public health response and to make sure those who need it most have accurate information about isolation and quarantine. We’re also trying to provide resources so these folks can safely stay away from others.

Most of the people I talk to are conciously trying to help stop Covid spreading– doing their best based on their understanding.  Me too.

Bill and I have been been staying home.  He goes into the office once a week for about 20 minutes to swap paper files. He wears a mask and there’s usually no one else there. Bill does our shopping once every week or two. Sarah and a Erik are at our house for Pinniped practice on Sundays–outside and distanced with more tunes and less songs–Sarah’s immune system is not robust,  we’re especially careful around her.

So why am I spending the weekend camping with my grandkids and their parents?

It’s not the safest choice for us or our society and I’m not certain it’s a responsible choice.

Yes, I will hug the kids,  hold hands with the kids,  and read books to the kids while they snuggle on my lap. We’ll wear masks in public areas but not in our campsite.  We’ll self impose a 2 week quarantine on ourselves just in case.  Enough?  I don’t know.  I’ll check back in two weeks with an update.

Belfair State Park

Rob picked great campsites.  A few trees, a perfect creek, and the beach just down the road. They rented a motorhome so we all had comfy beds.

Ben is four. He wanted to take off his water shoes so they wouldn’t get wet in the creek.

He happily stood right on the edge of the water and built a line of rocks. A particularly nice rock in the middle of the creek caught his eye and he asked if I’d carry him out to it.

I said I’d hold his hand.

A minute later he was tromping up and down the creek, giggling when it reached the bottom of his shorts and generally having a great time.

The line of rocks turned into a very long T.

Alex, at nine months, isn’t quite walking, but he’s close. He pulls himself up and cruises along. He loves to walk if you hold his hands. Alex got very grubby, very fast crawling everywhere. (Alex takes after me!)

We always bring our scope for looking at birds. Tonight we used it for spectacular views of Saturn, Jupiter, and the Moon. Saturn was tilted just right. The rings were so clear. We could see several of Jupiter’s moons, and craters on our moon. Lovely.

Naked eye viewing was beautiful too!

UPDATE: All is well. Parents, Grandparents, and kids all fine. I’m limiting my interactions to Zoom, Skype, and Teams from now until an effective vaccine is available.

 

 

Getting Grubby

Rain pounding on Brave Horatio’s roof at four am signaled a wet morning.  Good thing we travel with the batwing–too bad we didn’t deploy it yesterday.

After the first points are attached you can work mostly in the dry and it wasn’t raining hard. We were soon drinking coffee and breakfasting on eggs, bacon and polenta while the rest of the camp slept.

Brane Horatio and the batwing (after my adventure in the creek)

We drank after-breakfast cocoa and read in our new camp rockers while the rest of the camp woke. I’m loving our rockers!

Bill joined a group doing some infrastructure work and I headed off to find the creek. Down the newly cut trail, past the treehouse/zen tea room (deer blind) and into DNR forest. There was a scrambly bit to a lower trail. I could see I should have kept going to the switchback. Reminder for return leg.

The trail got a little narrower and a little more scrambly. Pretty clearly marked though and definitely heading downward toward the creek.

I like a good scramble.

My phone had a dead battery so I left it charging at camp. So sad. I wanted to take pictures of the rock cairns I built (one in the middle of a log that spanned the creek).

Looking upstream, the devil’s club was beautiful with the sun behind it. There were also a couple steep banks covered in maidenhair fern. So lovely.

That devil’s club…I was careful. I used two sticks to move those spiky stems so I could climb under and over logs and make my way up the creek. I came out mostly unscathed. Sure felt the couple that got me though.

I wandered up the creek a bit–walking through the water, picking up stones, trying to outsmart the devil’s club, and generally having a relaxing, enjoyable time.

Finally the devil’s club looked to be turning into a thicket and I started to think about heading back. I could have retraced my steps, but a maple and an alder had both fallen down the bank about a foot apart. I thought I could walk up assisting myself with my hands–maybe one leg on each trunk.

Um. No.

Did I mention that the creek was in a ravine? Not particularly deep, but pretty damn steep. At a guess it was a 60-70 degree slope from the creek to the trail. But there were those tree trunks and I like a scramble.

The alder had little broken off limbs on it’s underside every couple of feet. I started out with both feet on one side and my arms around it hauling on those little stubs. The bank was nearly vertical. I ended up astride the trunk on my belly, which worked great until the stubs stopped.

I was more than half-way up. It looked even steeper from here. A dirty slide back to the creek or an impossible-looking inching to the top. I’d stopped right over a pretty vigourous seep. Neat moss and other tiny, tiny plants. Good reason to rest and take them in.

I decided on up.

There were lots of ferns and the base of sword ferns are pretty solidly adhered. I planted my feet, hugged that trunk and inched upward.

It’s an interesting viewpoint and one I don’t think I’d experienced before. Looking down seemed far steeper than it had from the bottom. I looked up into the underside of a large artist conk. Bright white and glowing in the sun. It looked like the path was just the other side of the stump that was hosting it.

A few more thoughtful rests. A few more slow foot placements and slower pressing upward. A final foot on a final friendly sword fern and I was up!

I backtracked along the little trail, passing the point where I’d scrambled down heading for that switchback. The trail just kind of ended so I bushwacked.

I couldn’t get lost. Not a chance. The camp was up. Just up. And the slope was wimpy now that I was over the lip of the ravine.

The trail and I converged and I waltzed back to camp. Wet, thoroughly grubby, and triumphant.

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.