On Mother’s Day weekend, the temperature and sunlight were perfect, far too perfect to be wasted on chores or household tasks. We set out to use it well, so took the ferry across from Mukilteo to Kingston, over the Hood Canal Bridge, and then drove west and north towards Port Townsend. We passed through Port Gamble, a pin-perfect little moment on the road with a grave yard full of souls originally from Maine, an “everything” store with a museum of sea creatures on the second floor balcony, a state Champion Elm Tree, an anchor, a book store, and an amazing store of wool yarns and things. There’s more, but that’s what we saw. The road kept calling, so we kept yielding.
North again to a place called “Indian Island”. It may have had beauty once, but is now a sad and spooky place whose razor wire and chain-link fence whisk you along the road towards Marrowstone Island. A little hop over a tidal flow and we were there. At the top of Marrowstone Island lies Fort Flagler State Park. The camp ground there is an RV heaven, with a sweeping view of the water and islands, long empty beaches and a handy campers’ survival store, complete with fries and maps. The campground was full.
After chatting with the camp host and a friendly ranger, we were $30.00 poorer, for the Discover Pass to all the state campgrounds for one year. A bargain, for it’s $10.00 a day otherwise. We were also “in the know” that the “upper campground” was newly open and not on the schedule. We took it. The road up to it is winding and beautiful. At the top is a terrific lookout over the beaches below, with a staircase down the cliff for access. Where the RV camp was busy and fun-sounding, the upper camp was almost silent. Even the two or three children spoke in hushed tones.
We coughed up another $20 for the campground, put out our sleeping bags, built a fire and had our remaining peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner. We had not truly prepared for a night out, but then, the sky was clear and the weather warm.
As we settled in, we heard the scream of an eagle, and looked up to see two of them racing over the trees to claim the top of a two-branched fir right at the edge or our site. And there they sat until it was too dark to see. I pointed my camera in their general direction and shot the flash in the dark. One of the two was still there in the AM.
I have had friends look at me funny when I say that Steve and I take our sleeping bags and just throw them out under the stars. I think they think a tent is “safer”. Yes, we have a tent, and great camping supplies. Why bother when the night is beautiful? Our best nights have been without the tent: Last year, I felt Steve nudge my elbow and say “look”. There at my feet stood a doe in the dawn light, one foot on my sleeping bag. She was simply looking at me, and I at her. This past weekend’s night, as I got up to address nature’s call (much easier without a tent) I had the good sense to look up. There, perfectly balanced in the opening of the trees surrounding the site, hung the Big Dipper. I wanted to reach up and take a star.
So, peanut-butter meals, cold legs at night, pine-cones under my hips, stiff in the AM, breakfast delayed —was it worth it? For eagles I could almost smell, stars I could almost touch, a sunset, super photos, and the experience of breakfast in the little fisherman’s greasy-spoon….Oh YES my friends, Oh YES!