Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Camping at Ocean Shores

Once Westly was all cleaned up and ready to go, we wanted to hit the road for some camping, but decided to try a "dry run" at home first.  I had just cleared tons of junk off a concrete slab beside my shop, so we set up camp there.

Van Kid is psyched about his first night in the Westy 
It was a warm early September evening.  We opened the pop top and snapped in the rear hatch bug screen.  Our portable barrel stove provided the camp fire, and the means to prepare S'mores.  Van Kid's sister decided to join us for the novelty of the event.  After star gazing and running to the house to use the bathroom, we settled down to a peaceful rest - the kids in the top bunk, I was below.  The morning air was cool, but we soon warmed in the sun.  This Westy was not equipped with a skylight vent, although it has a place molded into the top for it.  That's a project for the future, but I did add a battery operated LED light in the pop top and couple of other places around the van.  These are easy to stick on, don't require any wiring and the batteries last a long time.  My eyes are not as comfortable in the harsh LED light, but I'm getting used to them.

Pondering the campfire at Ocean Shores - the trees provide
a little break from the sand blowing off the dunes 
Later in September, Van Kid and I camped at Ocean City State Park in Ocean Shores, WA.  Leaving Seattle, we followed I-5 south to Olympia, then veered off to Hwy 101 by Capitol Lake.  At the south end of Eld Inlet, we took Hwy 8 which winds around through forests and meadows bordering the Capitol State Forest and passes through McCleary before joining  Hwy 12 at Elma.  From there the road ambles along among backwater sloughs, former logging towns, even a nuclear reactor site.  I once saw a complete arc of a brilliant rainbow along this road, ending in a field with a few cows straggling about.  The road meets Gray's Harbor at Aberdeen, and from there you can choose SR 105 to Westport and the south spit of the harbor or SR 109 to Ocean Shores on the north spit.  We chose north, and at Oyehut-Hogans Corner went left on SR 115 to make our destination.

View Larger Map

It was an easy drive, about 268 miles round trip but when we arrived the weather was stormy.  We had a little camp fire, but heavy rain soon doused it.  A previous camper had left behind a little travel game set with cribbage, chess, cards & so on.  Some of the pieces were missing, but all the dominoes were there so after we stuffed ourselves with tortellini, we played a few games then hit the sleeping bags.

Van Kid endorses a hearty breakfast before exploring the coast

Dunes were garbage free thanks to the boy scouts

On the jetty, keeping a wary eye out for rogue waves
Next morning there were a few sun breaks, so we hiked through the dunes, along the beach and clambered around the jetty.  There were few visitors on the beach but a troop of boy scouts was combing the dunes for litter and they had several large bags full.  A sign warned us that we must be careful here of "rogue waves".  Even on a calm day (which this was not) an extra large swell can come up without notice and wash you out to sea.  Something to think about when you're walking on the jetty or laying on the sand by the water's edge.
Van Kid with the giant sea horse
We visited the Ocean Shores Interpretive Center and learned much about the area.  The entire area had been a cattle ranch until 1960 when a group of investors bought it, laid out the city and began selling lots.  The docents at the Center were very attentive and they presented excellent displays of sea creatures, forest animals, geology, weather, history, ship wrecks and so on.

Westly, Van Kid, and my thumb
After a couple of nights at the State Park, it was time to return home for school and work.

Next - Some needed repair

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