Camping Success!

Wow. It’s been a while, huh? Every since we moved to Seattle and got real adult jobs we’ve become all sorts of boring. But now, finally there is joyous news to report! We have successfully camped. Yes. We got very very close to successfully camping earlier this summer, but there were some issues that prevented it from being a complete success. Two weekends ago (Oct 3) though, we managed to 100% successfully camp. Well, 100% might be an exaggeration, but definitely 90% or higher. That’s good enough for me.

We started the big weekend by me getting home from work on Friday, throwing all our stuff in the car, and driving together about a billion miles to the middle of nowhere. At least that’s what it felt like. Joni did all the planning. I didn’t even know where we were going. Turns out we were going to Silver Falls campsite out in Eastern Washington. Total drive time was about four hours, a lot of it in the dark. We tend to not drive in the dark since we mostly take the bus, so it was weird just being out and about in the pitch black of Washington state. Or at least those were my thoughts for the first three hours. Then we left civilization. Our final instructions for how to get there was to turn left in Entiat onto a road, then just drive until we run into it.

As soon as we turned onto the road things started to get spooky. Signs reading “Road ends 31 miles”, “Last chance to buy beer”, etc. started showing up almost immediately. Houses disappeared just as quickly. Soon we were driving in complete darkness through the forest. It was really eerie. We nearly ran into some deer, but Joni was driving a nice slow, safe speed and we easily stopped. They ran off. That was all the life we’d see the whole way out there.

About 20 miles in, the road suddenly changed into a different asphalt and got a little bumpier. That signaled our transition into the national park and the US Forestry Service road. That meant we were getting close. Ten miles later we finally spotted the sign in the pitch black forest. And we spotted a truck coming out of the camp ground. Lo and behold it was one of the people we were meeting! We were saved! At least that’s how I felt. It was really fortuitous that we ran into him. There are two sections to the campground. They were in the other section that had literally no one else in it. The area he was coming out from had a few campers. The area he took us to had none. It was great. The whole weekend we didn’t have anyone else in our half of the campground except for a few people that wandered in from the other half, took one look at the four of us (plus two large dogs), and ran back to their side. It was our campground.

We got our tent set up and sat around the fire talking for a couple of hours, then we went to bed. One of the big draws for camping so late in the season would be to try our hand at cold weather camping. We passed with flying colors. We got all suited up in sweatshirts and long underwear, climbed into our dual sleeping bag, and fell soundly asleep. If we had remembered to bring pillows, I probably would have even slept well…

The next morning we woke up at who-knows-when-we-weren’t-looking-at-clocks o’clock and got a fire going for breakfast. We fried up some potatoes and veggies, boiled water for oatmeal, and made coffee. It was scrumptious. Nothing like campfire fueled cooking. The rest of the morning was spent trying to figure out how to make soap. We forgot that too and had a bunch of dirty dishes. Making soap from ashes is totally a thing, but we sucked at it. Bad. We just ended up with black greasy dishes. Oh well. The attempt had to be made.

We spent the day wandering around our half of the campground looking at the creek and nearby river. We never did actually get to seeing the Silver Falls though… The girls were brave and actually waded into the river a bit. Us sane men stayed on the nice dry shore. After that we played cards and listened to some music. Soon enough it was lunch and we made up some beans and hot dogs. Again, nothing brings out that primal feeling quite like campfire cooked food.

We men took some time in the afternoon to steal some wood from a brush pile (don’t cut down live tress when camping) and hacked them up for firewood. I made it my goal to get a full foot wide by foot tall log burning that evening. I succeeded. Right after we had our sweet potato tacos I fired that sucker up and got a roaring bonfire going. Joni might brag about how the women folk kicked out butts at euchre, but they didn’t make a big fire.

It gets dark in Washington pretty early now, so by 7PM it was getting dark. That didn’t stop us from carrying on like crazy people though. We just moved from the picnic table to the campfire and roasted a few marshmallows and attempted campfire popcorn. We failed to bring a sturdy enough container for the popcorn though, so it didn’t go so well. But the attempt had to be made.

After a few hours we ventured back out in shifts to the river bank to look at the stars. They were wondrous. I’d forgotten just how pretty stars are. Seattle doesn’t have the worst light pollution I’ve ever seen, but we don’t get those kinds of views in the big city. I’d say this even gave the countryside back home a good run for its money.

We didn’t last too much longer. We talked around the campfire, but pretty soon we were all sleepy and decided to go to bed… after cleaning up the campsite to not attract bears, of course. Apparently we were near a grizzly bear recovery area, so while not likely, a bear was possible. We didn’t see any bears.

The second night was not as fun. It wasn’t too cold, but I was up with two charlie horses, one in each leg, twice during the night. And I decided to go use the bathroom and walk around a bit after one of them, so I spent some time walking through the terrifying pitch black forest to get to the outhouse. I will admit that I didn’t dawdle. The night wasn’t terrible though. Soon enough I fell asleep for a few good hours and awoke to a sunny warm day. We got the fire going again and did up some more potatoes for breakfast.

It was a long drive back to Seattle though, so we packed up, made sure the fire was completely and totally and unequivocally out, then headed back down the terror road to civilization. Turns out that the terror road wasn’t even remotely scary. In the light of day it had shacks and houses and people and farms and great views the whole way. It’s almost like the darkness was the only scary thing out there…

Four hours later we were back in Seattle. The car was unpacked, laundry was done, and naps were had before we needed to get to bed to return to work. And thus concluded our successful camping trip. We’ll see if we can get one more success in before it actually does get too cold to go camping!

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