As this summer is rapidly unfolding – dubbed “The Year of the DeNikes” by one of our friends – we have already logged three camping trips throughout our visually stunning state of Washington. We have traveled to some amazing sites with wonderful friends and returned home with indelible memories. The last two camping trips (in two weeks) have inspired a “Camping Top 15” blog series because frankly a “Top 10” just wasn’t enough to capture it all. So read on for the first of three installments as we count it down to #1.
Two weeks ago we traveled with the Yocums (Dennis & Allison) to Iron Creek campground in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest on the east side of Mt. St. Helens. Last weekend we joined the Faleys (Tom & Jen) in the Mt. Rainier National Forest at Cougar Rock campground in the shadow of the mighty Mt. Rainier. Both trips yielded a profusion of experiences – read on for numbers 15 through 11:
15. Perfect weather – Although this summer has been anything but beautiful, we actually had amazing weather on both weekends. Not a drop of rain and each morning we woke to blue skies. There is nothing like looking out the window when camping to see blue sky above the trees.
14. Have you seen my glasses? – On our first night with the Faleys, Tom misplaced his glasses at the campfire. Unfortunately he found them under the bottom of his shoe. Somehow I was able to get both lenses back into the frames, although they are hopelessly scratched. But they worked well enough for him to see his wine glass around the campfire.
13. Wally’s Drive-In and Basecamp Grill – We have started our own tradition (inspired by the Yokums) of finding a fun, local place to eat lunch on the drive home. On the first weekend, we finally hit the road about 12:30 and were hoping to eat soon after our departure. Unfortunately we didn’t find anything until almost 3 p.m. Luckily, we had snacks for the kids and Wally’s Drive-In in Buckley was worth the wait. Having learned our lesson from the week before, we picked a place early on the drive home from Rainier, the Basecamp Grill in Ashford. Both places were exactly what we were craving — soft serve ice cream and burgers.
12. Playing at the Cispus river “dung pool” – If that description doesn’t scream “family fun” then what does, right? From our campsite at Iron Creek, the Cispus river was about a five minute walk. The river was very cold and moving extremely fast thanks to our late and cold spring, but we found a rock beach area that had a small pool fed by the river and kept full by a fallen tree and a rock dam. We nicknamed it the “dung pool”, because the water was pretty cloudy. The kids had so much fun playing in and around the pool. The parents loved sitting on the rock beach watching and sipping cocktails. Saturday it was quite hot so Jim and Dennis decided to move their chairs into the river.
11. Tripping in the hole – At Iron Creek an enormous tree had fallen through the Yocum’s campsite. It was great for the kids but a challenge to navigate. A portion of the fallen tree that ran through the actual site was removed leaving a large ditch, named “the hole”, that happened to run right under the picnic table. I think we all tripped in the hole every time we walked up to that side of the table. We all even joked about stepping in it the next time and usually did.
Check in tomorrow for numbers 10 through 6. Camping memories are endless and often formed from the unexpected. What are your Top Camping Memories?