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Last week, the girls and I took the camper over the mountains to camp in the shadow of one of the iconic northwest volcanoes. After the massive heat dome that brought us record-breaking high temperatures recently, it was good to be someplace cooler and greener. We even had a couple of overcast days and Luna was able to do two six-mile hikes! At her age, she cannot tolerate the sun and temperatures much over 70°. She (and Sky too) had great fun in a new place smelling all the smells and exploring everything. And wouldn’t you know it, Sky discovered a much-abused tennis ball three miles up the flank of the volcano. It was just one of four balls that she found on this trip.

I noticed that this trail started off as an old road. Farther up the trail, I began to notice large old stumps, reminders of the old growth that once blanketed much of western Washington. Later I read that the area had been logged all the way to the tree line, back in the day. When I was out on my kayak, I could see the outlines of the old clear-cuts.

Since it was an overcast day, we did not get to see views of the big mountain. We did enjoy the cool temperatures and even some fog. Back at home temperatures remained in the 90’s and a lightning storm ignited several forest fires. I am glad we got away for bit.

The girls and I headed to the eastern part of the county for a week-long camping trip. We enjoyed tall larch trees and a quiet lake. Ken joined us for the last two nights and we also enjoyed visits with several good friends. There were a few flowers blooming, including a small patch of coralroot orchids. It’s still very green with lush new growth on all of the conifers. It looked like there had been a big windstorm this spring. Many trees were uprooted or broken.

Here’s a bit of camping life.

What do you do when you go camping? Sometimes I get asked that. On this last trip, there was a lot of sitting and watching the world go by. I saw a beaver and an otter, a couple marmots, lots of birds and turtles too and a few fish. The fish were trying to climb a long steep spillway into one of the lakes, just as if they were salmon returning from the sea, conquering waterfalls to return to the place of their birth. This little fish had no chance of conquering the spillway.

Dippers had a nest under a bridge. They went to and fro with nesting material and dipped for bugs.

And turtles. So many turtles. What do turtles do besides lay on logs in the afternoon sun?

We took the new camper to Blackpine Lake last weekend to try it out and look for any issues it might have. It was a good time to do it as we had rain and chilly weather. We found a leak but it was probably because the fan vent was not closed up tight. And we also discovered a power issue. Even though the thing is pretty new, it turns out the battery is bad. That’s easy enough to fix. Other than that, it all worked and was super comfy. I thought we could share the couch area with the dogs but they just took up more room than they did in the old camper!

Blackpine Lake is a new place for us even though it’s less than an hour from home. It is a Forest Service campground. We’ve been up there on day outings but this was the first time we camped there. No doubt, we will return. After Friday afternoon’s rain, the light on the mountains was unbelievable. The next morning was nearly as lovely. There is a nice trail along the lake and a couple of docks for fishing and swimming seems popular in the summer. I imagine it’s pretty busy during the warmer months but we had the place nearly all to ourselves. The forest around the campground is full of lovely large ponderosa pines, doug firs and aspens too. Really beautiful trees.

We spent last week camped at Odlin Park on Lopez Island in the San Juan archipelago. The weather was mostly lovely with just one windy day and we were able to be on the water a fair amount. Sky got to try dock diving and Luna poked around the wrack line for smelly stuff, occasionally going in the water. We set crab traps, lost two of them on the windy day, and Ken fished (unsuccessfully) for salmon. We shared good food with good friends at our beachfront picnic table. The day we left, wildfire smoke from Oregon and California filled the air and we were ok with the end of the camping trip.

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