Posts Tagged ‘vampires’

Friday morning saw camping-buddy Lavon and myself heading out to the Olympic peninsula for a weekend of camping.  The plan was to spend two nights at the Hoh rainforest, with a roughly six mile hike up the river as our Saturday activity.  First things first, though; Friday was also an eventful day for our little town: the grand opening of our very own Trader Joe’s.  We stopped in on our way out of town and experienced live music, hula dancers, and something I’d never seen in a grocery store before: lines 15 people deep in which every person was cheerful and smiling.  We picked up some of Joe’s Spicy Chai Latte just-add-water mix, which turned out to be quite tasty and an excellent thing to take camping because it meany we could have chai without bringing along milk.

It’s 160 miles from my house to the Hoh, so we made a couple of stops along the way.  The first, at Hurricane Coffee in Sequim, is a stop we make nearly every time we pass by.  The place has a really nice atmosphere and some pretty delicious coffee and bagels.  Later, we had a picnic lunch (falafel with olives, capers, tsaziki, and tomatoes in pita) at La Poel, a small peninsula that sticks out into Lake Crescent, which, I learned on this trip, used to contain a truck stop with cabins and a tavern, but now just has picnic tables and fire pits.  No overnight camping is allowed at La Poel, but it makes a tranquil mid-day retreat.

As we passed through Forks, Lavon and I started planning an imaginary Twilight themed ice cream shop.  We had fun thinking up flavors to go with books we’d never read until we came to the turn off to get to the Hoh…  where we were stopped by a ranger.  He informed us that there was a mother elk that had just given birth and was charging at people, so they had to close the area.  There went that plan.  We turned around, made our way back through the Twilight Zone–I mean, Forks–and headed to the coast to camp at Mora, right across the Quillayute River from La Push.

There appears to be some force in the universe that is constantly driving me towards Mora.  I have camped there four or five times, yet only one of those times was intentional.  When other campgrounds are full or close, Mora is where I end up.  And I don’t mind, because Mora is actually my favorite campground of any that I’ve been to.

So we snagged site 31 at Mora, a cozy little site with a tent pad set back in what Lavon called a grotto made of vine maple and elderberry bushes.  Most of the rest of the afternoon was spent mapping out the campground, which took quite a while as there are nearly 100 sites between five irregularly shaped loops.  Loops C and D were closed because the campground wasn’t very busy, and A hardly had anyone in it, so we got to walk into a whole bunch of the sites to really get a feel for them.  #18, in loop A, had this really cool stump in it:

For dinner we had sausages with sauted onions and mushrooms and polenta (perfect camp fare: hearty and delicious), after which we went a mile further down the road to its end at Rialto Beach, where we watched the waves under a darkening grey sky.  Back at camp, my home-made fire starters worked reasonably well.  I wish I had taken the time to fill them up further with wax so they would burn longer, but they got the job done.

Sleep that night should have been easy.  There was a lovely chorus of frogs, and while our neighbor did snore, he was far enough away not to be a nuisance.  The rain that started around 11:30, on the other hand, was a problem.  Our lovely little tent grotto sent large drips hammering down on the tent’s rain fly, making a terrible racket.  The noise, along with my constant worry that all our stuff would become soaked as it touched the edge of the tent, kept me awake, though I know I did get some sleep, and probably more than I thought.

The rain was still going come morning, though by that time it was more of a heavy mist.  After breakfast, when we had saturated a towel mopping up small puddles in the tent, we decided to cut our losses and pack up.  When I lifted my sleeping pad off the tent floor, I discovered a small lake waiting underneath.  By some miracle I had remained dry for the night, but I doubt I would have remained so for a second one.

We made our way home, tired and damp, but still glad we had gone.


Read Full Post »

So today is the second day of Spring. (Actually, the third now, because wordpress was down yesterday when I tried to post this.)  It’s the time of year when my camping planning is in full force.  It’s almost like an addiction—no, a ritual, yes, that sounds much better: a ritual.  Some time in mid-February I just can’t take the cold and the dark overcast skies (despite what I tell all my friends about liking overcast days) and the tremendous work ethic one is supposed to have in the winter months, and I just have to start plotting how I can spend multiple days outside—in nicer weather, of course, because I am a bit of a wimp.

Last year it was a trip to Yellowstone for a week.  It was very fitting that all my planning had been done in February because, despite it being June by the time I got there, the weather was much the same: cold and wet.  Actually, not that wet because the precipitation that fell came in the form of snow!  I was very glad that I had invested in some thermal underwear before we left.

This year I will be sticking closer to home.  You see, I have this crazy goal to visit all of the campgrounds in Olympic National Park, and then to write a guide book about them.  I guess the urge comes out of my obsessive spring camp-planning.  Each year, as I decide on an exciting new place to visit, I start collecting as much information as I can: natural features to visit, weather patterns, what wild flowers grow in the area… I look at tons of maps, check out guide books from the library, and visit National Park websites countless times.  I gather lots of good information, but one thing I can never find much of is info about campgrounds in the park.  The official park sites give you two sentences of description if you’re lucky, along with the number of sites and if there are flush toilets.  Guide books try to cover so much that you’re lucky if the campground you’re looking at gets half a page devoted to it.

So I’m going to try to step in and fill the void.  I want to provide people with the kind of information I want to know when planning a camping trip to a national park:

What kind of plants and animals I expect to see in and around the campground?

Can I eat those wild berries?

What can I do nearby?

Who is my neighbor likely to be?  A giant RV?  20 college students out to drink all weekend in the woods?

What are the best campsites like and which ones are they?

How about a map of the campground? And another of the nearby park features?

What should I do if it pours all week?

Can the vampires get me if I camp at Mora?

Join me as I try to answer these questions over the next several months.

Read Full Post »