Thanksgiving camping trip

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Ever since Laurie and I moved in together back in 1999, we have gone camping for Thanksgiving. Our preferred destination is the short backpack from Lake Ozette out to Sand Point Campground on the Washington coast. In fact, we discovered that hike on our first Thanksgiving together when we camped and kayaked at Lake Ozette and did day hikes to Sand Point and Cape Alava.

1999 - Camp and kayak at Lake Ozette, and go on day hikes to Sand Point and Cape Alava. I discovered that the boardwalk sections of the trail can get incredibly slippery, so I get some Get-A-Grips before our next rip out there. Half the campground at Ozette is under water from the extreme flooding that year.

2000 - This year we make it out to Sand point to camp. We had already camped out there once the previous spring. I brought along a small pre-cooked section of turkey breast and stuffing that I had bought. We ended up eating our thanksgiving dinner sitting on logs , watching a beautiful sunset over the surf. This is also the trip where we start referring to the eagles as "bald seagulls" due to the number of them hopping around on the beach mixed in with the flocks of gulls.

2001 - We planned on going to Lake Ozette and paddling out to a campground on the lake, but we got a late start. By the time we got to the ferry, there were a good 6 to 8 boats worth of cars in line. We decided to try driving down to the Tacoma Narrows bridge, but due to an accident, that was backed up as well. We ended up driving down through Olympia and Aberdeen to the coast, with the plan to head up to Lake Ozette, but with all the holiday traffic through Tacoma, we would not have made it to Ozette till around 10:00 PM. On our way up 101, we spotted the National Forest campground on the north shore of Lake Quinalt, which only had an outhouse available in the winter, which was fine with us, so we stayed there. This was our first trip with our large camping tarp, and we had a wonderful, dry, Thanksgiving dinner with the rain pouring down around us.

2002 and 2003 - We actually make it out to Sand Point both years. We discover that there is almost never anyone else out there on Wednesday or Thursday, but Friday and Saturday night bring big crowds with the extended weekends. We switch to 2 nights out instead of 3 or 4.

2004 - We were both battling colds off and on, so we decided to head down to the Oregon coast and rent a Yurt for a couple of nights. We didn't make any reservations since they certainly would not be all booked up in November, even if it is a holiday weekend. We were wrong! We spent Wednesday night in one park, then had to go to another one that was hidden away to even get to have one on Thanksgiving evening. For Friday night, we ended up spending the night in a Shilo Inn in Astoria. Who would have thought it?

Which brings us to this year. We now have a dog, Sammy, so we can't take him to National Parks, so Ozette is out, and all the National Forest campgrounds are closed for the season, including the one on Lake Quinalt that we used before. So we look into the Washington State Parks that have campgrounds.

Lewis & Clark on is down just off I-5 and highway 12, and they list the campground as being "Partially Open" on their website. No big deal, a lot of parks close off part of their campground during the off season, so they have fewer bathrooms to clean and such. Well, in this case, there were about 8 RV sites right along the highway that were the only thing open in the park. There weren't even any bathrooms. I'm sorry, that is not "Partially Open" that is "Virtually Closed".

After some consulting of the map, we decided to head out to the coast along highway 6 and decide at Raymond if we wanted to head north to Ocean Shores or South to Cape Defiance. But before we could get out there, we passed a sign for Rainbow Falls State Park, and figured "what the hell" and went in to check it out. It wasn't anything special, but their campground was open, it was getting late, and there were at least some hiking trails to wander on.

I seriously would not want to stay there for much more than one night, but it really was pleasant enough. We set up the tent and the tarp, and headed out for a walk. It was really funny watching Sammy meet horses for the first time. The park is in farm land, and we walked over ot the fence by the park entrance and the horses came over to investigate. He got really nervous to have such big things leaning over the fence to sniff at him.

That night we had a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat. I had smoked up a turkey breast on Tuesday, and cooked cornbread sausage stuffing and spelt dinner rolls on Wednesday. I took our biggest camp skillet, spread out the carved turkey on one half, and the stuffing on the other half and heated it up till there was some browning on both. I dished out Laurie's part without gravy, and poured some gravy over mine to heat the gravy. We even had some Garlic Smashed Potatoes along, but we were too stuffed to heat them up.

We went to bed feeling good, and planning on a leasurly breakfast and a trip out to the coast for the day. Around midnight, it started raining . . . HARD. By the time we got up in the morning, one of the stakes for the tarp had pulled out the the soaked ground, and when I tried to put that one back in, two more pulled out!

The decision was clear, pull up the rest of the stakes and head home. Yup, is seems that in our old age, we are starting to get a little bit more sensible.

Next year, I think we will try and make reservations for a Yurt or a cabin somewhere. We hate planning ahead like that, but it sure would be nice to have a hassle-free Thanksgiving one of these years.