Friday, October 30, 2009

More Camping: Lopez Island

I was interviewed on a radio show last week (Yes, me. Sadly, it was about being a nerd instead of in in-depth discussion of shoe trends), and the host asked if being a nerd was a hobby for me (I paraphrase. He said it in a nicer way than that). And… I realized that the honest answer was "yes."

This promptly led to another realization: I really, really need to get some better hobbies. Because budget data is BORING. I could attempt to argue that my shoe-love is a hobby but 1) it’s more of a calling and 2) I can’t afford it, which makes it tough to put in the category of Things I Do.


Curly and my boy have strongly and repeatedly requested a cease and desist on discussions of school district issues, unless it relates to their upcoming field trips, and they also want to know: do I plan on chaperoning?

Well played, keeeds. 1) they raised a legitimate gripe about the of-late single topic of discussion by grown-ups in our house and 2) totally put me on the defensive. Because although fall is lovely I am NOT hoping to go on 2 outdoor field trips in late October/early November with elementary school students. At all. I’ve done my time on that sort of thing, and it usually ends with me having an unpleasant reunion with antibiotics.

So. I’m going to write about what may have been my favorite weekend of the summer (there were a lot of candidates, so it doesn't nab the title definitively), when we went camping on Lopez Island.
Am I aware that Crappy! Chart! Thursday! came and went and there was not a single chart? Erm… yes. But there are other things in life, and it behooves all of us to think about them now and then. Also, I'm a little tired of charts. So no charts.

I’ll lead with the kvetching, so it’s out of the way. Odlin County Park, where we camped, is next to a ferry route. That may not seem like a big deal, but on a foggy morning at 6am, you realize just how goddamn FREAKING loud a foghorn is. So, 6am: ferry foghorn. Crows going beserk in a ferocious rebuttal to the foghorn. Then the noise dwindling down to silence, with just the sound of lapping water. Then: FOGHORN. And crows. And back down and then… yep, about like that, until we surrendered and got blearily up. Even with the joy of a 6am Sunday ferry using its foghorn, I would go back to Odlin in a flash.
The setting is serenely beautiful. The campground is just about on the beach, and the kids promptly started playing with some other boys there. They all scrounged some kelp tubes, which allowed them to shoot water at one another (fill kelp tube with water, and then put your mouth to the slimy end of it, while pointing the other end the way you want to shoot, and bloooow. Gross, but effective), and build kelp tube volcanoes (build a mound of sand to hide the water-filled kelp tube, and blow to create an eruption), and generally get happily dirty and soaking wet. The view of Shaw and Canoe islands across the water was deeply serene. I found myself thinking: I love it here. Time for a nap. And then the kids jumped on me, but remembered in the nick of time that I would undoubtedly restrict access to bakery treats if they so much as tapped me with a slimy, wet kelp tube. No kelp whackings for me, but no nap, either.

Instead, the four of us went and saw seal pups out by Shark Reef, did a thorough survey of the bakery’s offerings, and ambled around the campground. And we kayaked, which was fantastic. The kids are finally big enough for kayaking with them to be genuinely fun, instead of a mix of panic (because they do something unwise near frigid waters with current), frustration (because of whining or mulishness), exhaustion and a small dab of pleasure. It was great, even if it was tiring. It was so great, in fact, that I have started poring over the Cascadia Marine Trail information. The price of double sea kayaks that will work for camping trips has deterred me a little bit. If it comes to a decision between Rome and a pair of sea kayaks, I’ll be eating gelato in a piazza, thanks. I’ve been on enough disastrous canoe trips to be well aware of just how awry a camping trip in boats can go (VERY. while trips to Rome? Not so much). We went to the farmer’s market, idly cruised the island, walked around the campsite, and watched the kids play on the beach (because it would seem that nothing says fun like throwing dead crabs and kelp at one another while mucking through the low tide sludge and then rolling around in the sand).
Our list of things to do for next summer is already longer than can be completed. The kids want to go back to the Redwood Forest, and they want to see Sequioia National Park, too. They want me to take them to Yellowstone. And San Juan. And Ashland. And, and, and. Lopez is firmly on my list.


The San Juan County parks are on the expensive side for campgrounds (Odlin runs $19-22 for those of us who car camp. San Juan runs $30-40, and $40 is steep but if you ever manage to snag site #18 it is worth every damn penny. Shaw runs $14-18), but they are superbly located and well-tended.

We rented kayaks from Outdoor Adventures in Spencer Spit State Park and the guy there, whose name I have forgotten, took the time to walk both kids through what they were doing, point out to Stumpy and I a couple of options for an hour-long paddle and make sure everyone was comfortable with what they were doing. Having sea kayaks instead of sit-on-tops was a huge plus.

The bakery on Lopez is expensive (island costs; the same issue hits you on the other San Juans), but nice. It's in town, in the shopping center across from the supermarket. Their fruit pastries were particularly good.

No comments: