Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Grandparent Camp on the Road!

Monday morning, July 29--we headed out for Grandparent Camp on the Road!  When John was 5, he started coming to Cherry Log by himself for a week of Grandparent Camp--the name was first coined by our kids' grandparents when they used to go spend some alone time with them.  This summer, since we're not in Cherry Log, we brought Grandparent Camp to John!  We spent the week touring the Olympic Peninsula and the rain forest, and we had a ball!  We started out the first day with a lunch stop at a state park along the water, where we watched sailboats, chased seagulls and threw rocks into the water!  Then on to the visitor center as we entered Olympic National Park, and on to Sol Duc Hot Springs, where we spent the first night.  The campground was attached to the hot springs resort, so we had a great evening in the pools.  They had 4 separate pools, all at different temperatures.  The big pool for swimming was quite chilly, but the other ones were at gradually increasing temperatures and it was wonderful to soak in them, especially after John and I spent some time in the chilly big pool!  Unlike the hot springs pools we had visited in Ouray, Colorado, though, this one really had a powerfully strong sulphur odor, which took some getting used to, for sure.  Then we topped off the evening with a campfire and, of course, smores!!  What camping trip would be complete without these wonderfully gooey sweet treats??  Trisha and I behaved ourselves, though, and just enjoyed them vicariously as John had fun, lighting his marshmallows, blowing them out, relighting them, etc., until they were crispy crunchy and sticky, and all the delights that melting chocolate and marshmallow can bring to a graham cracker!

The next morning started out with one of the favorite traditions of our kids when we took them camping--doughboys!!  For those who may not be familiar with this delectable treat, you find a good stick about an inch and a half in diameter, whittle it smooth and round the end of it.  Then you smear this end with butter, break open a can of refrigerated biscuits, wrap the end of the stick with biscuit dough and you're ready to have some fun!  Sitting around the morning campfire, gently toasting these doughboys was one of the things we so enjoyed with our kids back in the day.  Of course, we were tent camping back then, often at our special place on Lake Alatoona we called Echo Point--sweet, sweet memories.  The secret is to keep the doughboy high enough above the fire to cook the inside biscuit dough slowly before toasting the outside too much, which is always a challenge for a kid, since the anticipation is so great.  When it's finally done, it just slides off the stick, leaving a butter lined pocket to fill with honey or jam--pure campfire heaven!!  John had never done this, since the time his Cub Scout pack was meeting with this as the program, he and Todd were both sick and had to miss the meeting.  So he was quite excited to learn this, and is looking forward to scout camping trips where he can show off his newfound skill!

After filling up with doughboys, and steelcut oatmeal with fresh blueberries for Pop and Yaya, we took our first hike in the incredible forests that fill the Olympic Peninsula.  Though not technically yet in the Hoh Rain Forest, the woods are still filled with moss covered trees and ferns and it's such a remarkable sensation to be in the midst of this environment.  This rain forest is one of only three in the world, and it's just really something that we have it here in the USA.  Reading the info from the visitor center, we learned that they get an average of 175 inches of rain a year--quite the contrast to some of the places we've been so far, like southern Utah where they may get 9 inches of precipitation in any given year!  Met some folks on the hike who were starting out on a 3 day trek, and they were just fascinated by John's curiosity--he is so quick to make friends and they asked him to take their picture, and then wanted one with him in it as well!

Then we headed on to La Push, on the Quillaoute Indian Reservation.  The RV park was right next to the beach and we had fun flying a kite--John had an inflatable kite, which I'd never seen before, but he had a ball running along the beach with it.  It was windy enough to fly it, and indeed too chilly for me to want to get in the water, but, of course, not too cold for a 9 year old!  John had fun digging in the sand, running in the surf, and generally doing what little kids do at the beach--one of which is to get every bit of fine beach sand in every possible place of one's clothes and body!  When we came back to the RV, John was fascinated to learn that it's equipped with an outside shower hose to rinse off with before going inside to take a shower.  Dinner was camping kabobs, or silver turtles, in the Cub Scout lingo, and more smores around the campfire later.  Had a little rain overnight, and the fog was all over when we woke up, which was a cool effect, especially as we sat by the fire cooking doughboys.  We saw a building not too far from the campground with a totem pole so we wanted to drive closer for some pictures before leaving the area.  When we approached the building to get a good picture, John saw the sign on the front that said Senior Center, so he said "Pop, I guess you and Yaya can go in there!"

Then it was off to Forks, the land of the Twilight series of books and movies.  Everywhere you go there it's all about Twilight.  Apparently the author set the story here, though most of the movies were shot in Canada.  Stopped at the Timber Museum, where John thoroughly enjoyed the displays of vintage gadgets, like hand operated adding machines, rotary dial phones--Why are there little holes in this wheel with the numbers, Pop?--and the 10 foot tall carving of a lumberjack, in the little memorial they have to honor loggers and other timber industry workers over the years.

Then into the Hoh Rain Forest, and is this place just magically wonderful!  We had first visited here with Todd and Karen, 13 years ago and loved it so much then, we have really been looking forward to coming back on this trip.  Huge trees, covered in thick moss, great big ferns, swampy areas, the ground cover along the trails always glistening with moisture, nurse logs that have fallen down, to give nourishment to new growth trees off the trunk as it decays.  Just love this place!

Then off to Kalalach, in the National Park.  This is a wonderful beach and we had stayed at the lodge there when we were with Karen and Todd on our previous visit.  We were so lucky, since I was able to get the last available campsite when I made the reservation a couple of weeks ago--and we had a site right on the edge of the cliffs, overlooking the beach!  It was spectacular, even if it was cloudy and lots of fog, as our site was lined with bushes for privacy from the neighboring sites, and had a break in the bushes at the back of the site so we could see the ocean.  Amazing good fortune we've been having, getting the last available spot in so many of the campgrounds where we've stayed.  So John and I headed straight for the beach, where he spent the afternoon making sand castles, chasing seagulls, watching the tide come in and wash away his creations, start all over again, watched the surf wash up tons of crabs--all dead; not sure why, but they were all over the beach.  We watched some men building what I at first thought was just some log cabin like structure out of the huge driftwood logs that are all up and down the beach, but which we discovered was the base for an incredible bonfire they lit after it got dark.  So we grilled burgers for John and had a great little campfire for smores after.  We had a great vantage point for watching the big bonfire on the beach before one tired little boy--get this--asked if he could go to bed!!  Don't remember too many nights when I asked to go to bed before being told when I was his age!!  The next morning after breakfast doughboys John and I went down to the beach and Trisha was able to sit out by the edge of the campsite and knit as she watched us.  She'd been working on this beautiful sweater for John, and she was really working hard to get it finished before we ended our trip.  She did indeed get it done, and John looks so cute in it--nice and warm, a beautiful blue yarn, complete with a hoodie to keep his ears warm!

The next day we explored around Lake Quinnault, and stayed at an RV park right on the lake.  Had lots of fun throwing rocks and sticks into the lake and watching the wind send them back to shore.  John has such an incredible imagination--I was the captain and he was the first mate as we sent our armada of ships (sticks of various sizes) out to do battle with the invading alien navy, sending our enemies crashing into their inevitable shipwrecks amongst the rocks and big stumps along the shore!  When we came back to the campsite, a young family was setting up a few sites down; a young couple with two preschool age little girls and one great big furry dog.  John just can't resist wanting to pet every dog he sees, so he ran over to do that and he's anything but shy, so he was giving these folks a running play by play of all he'd been doing.  A bit later the man came over to the campsite to chat, and turns out he's a school teacher.  We talked about how he and his wife try to travel to see as much of the country as they can each summer, as an educational experience for their daughters, and he laughed at how much John was telling, and said "That boy has success written all over him--he's bound to be a salesman of some sort!"  Later, as John was absorbed in the National Geographic Angry Birds book about the unusual behaviors of various species--we had gotten it at a national park earlier on our trip--a retired PE teacher came to the site next to ours and she came over for a visit.  Later, when John and I were out exploring, she told Trisha that she had a 9 year old nephew that she wished were half as interested in reading about animals as John is.  All this was nice to hear and to be able to report to his parents when we returned to Seattle!

Then on to Pacific Beach State Park, as we continued our journey around the Peninsula.  This is a great park and we were fortunate to have a campsite only a short walk to the edge of the campground where we could access the beach.  There were two families with a total of four little kids in the sites next to us and John made some new friends.  This helped him get over the disappointment when we learned upon checkin that the state parks had just that day instituted a total fire ban due to the dry conditions (at least everywhere but the rain forest!).  He was so cute--after supper he put on his sweater as he and his new friends went down to the beach to play, and after he was running around a while he was getting hot, but I heard him tell his friends that he had to be careful not to get sand in his new sweater that his grandmother had made for him!  So, he came running up to me where I was sitting on the rocks overlooking the area where they were playing to let me keep it safe--and clean--while they played on the beach.  Naturally, he had already had a shower before supper since he was so sandy, and this later time on the beach of course gave him another load of sand!  But, hey, this is the no hurries no worries tour, right?  And you're supposed to get everything all sandy when you're at the beach!

While I was sitting there watching them play, some of the parents came up to visit and told me that all their kids were convinced that Santa Claus was camping right next to them!  So I got all their names and told the parents I'd come around at bedtime for a visit.  So I got the picture cards all signed with each child's name and later went over to visit, and had so much fun.  John was already in bed reading by this time, and he was so sweet when I came back--Pop, those kids had their dreams come true, and you're now their very own Santa!"  Navigating my alter ego role as Santa versus my role as his grandfather has always been a bit tricky with John.  The first summer he came to Georgia, he and I were sitting at Burger King one day when a woman came over and said "Son, you're so lucky you get to spend all this time with Santa!"  John looked at her like she was from Mars and said "That's not Santa, that's just Pop!"  Every year since then, you can see his little mind working on how this can be, that his grandfather is Santa, or am I the real Santa, etc.  One year Todd told me he just out the blue asked "Daddy, does Pop make all those toys?"  Then one year he said "Daddy, Pop could dress up as Santa for his Halloween costume!"  Then last year he saw some pictures of me in my suit around the house and asked me if I played Santa at Christmas time.  This year, when we first got here I showed him my "Santa On Vacation" cap and told him that since everyone thinks I look like Santa I just decided to play along with it, and he was cool with that.  I had frankly thought he was to the point of having it all figured out, but realized, almost too late, that he still is into it--which of course makes me so happy!  Anyway, after I had visited the kids next door and had gone back into our RV, a few minutes later, they came over to bring me their wish lists.  After they left and as I was reading the lists out loud for Trisha, John asked "Pop are you going to get all those toys for them?"  So I said, well, that will be up to their parents, to which he exclaimed "I knew it was Mommy and Daddy!!"  Fortunately the Spirit of Christmas didn't fail me and I just quickly said, well, you know that Santa always talks to the parents after kids tell him what they want, just to make sure it's okay to bring them things.  Just imagine if you asked Santa for a pony, a horse, sixteen dogs, etc.--what would Mommy and Daddy do if all these things just showed up on Christmas morning?  So Santa always has a chat with Mommy and Daddy so they can tell Santa what's the best thing to bring.  Well, he thought about this for a second and said "Yeah, that makes sense,"  and went back to reading his book!  Whew!  That was close!  How horrible would that have been if the one who finally broke the spell for him was none other than the guy in the red suit??!!

Morning broke on Saturday, Aug. 3--our last day on the road with John, and also our 45th wedding anniversary!  This day always brings back floods of memories of our wedding time, as well as a time of reflection on all we've experienced together  over these years.  Over the years I've always enjoyed surprising Trisha with a gift she's not expecting, and flowers, or some special adventure.  Since the day happened to fall on this trip when we had John with us, it was a bit more complicated, but I was still able to pull it off--I had found a necklace and earring set in Taos, New Mexico while she was in a yarn shop back in May, and was able to keep it hidden in the RV since then.  Still a little tricky to get it out of hiding and on the table for when she woke up without disturbing her, but it worked!  John got into it, too, and was excited along with us!  He was so funny--the day before when he and I were down on the beach, I had called a florist back in Seattle to have flowers delivered to Todd and Karen's house for Trisha on Saturday, but as he was busily working on a sand castle a little ways away from my chair, I hadn't thought he was paying any attention--wrong!  When Trisha saw her present and opened the card and started talking about our anniversary, John said, "Yaya, Pop was talking to someone on the phone yesterday about this!"  Fortunately, he didn't give any more details, so Trisha was still able to be surprised by the flowers waiting when we got back to their house!

On the way home the next day we stopped at Gray Harbor for a hike along a nature trail in a wildlife preserve.  It was supposed to be a place to see lots of wildlife, especially birds, but we really didn't see too many.  It was interesting as the trail was right by a small airport, and along a channel into the harbor, so we did see a large container ship leaving and a couple of small planes taking off.

Karen was so sweet to do her best to fix foods for us while here that would satisfy our vegan eating habits, made some wonderful curried veggies, and veggie pizzas.  Todd makes a wonderful whole wheat pizza dough and, while they had meat and cheese, they had some with just veggies for us.  And, when we went to Red Robin Restaurant for dinner last night, when we asked if they could bring us salads without the chicken or cheese, they even said that they could substitute their vegan burger patty for the meat--pretty cool!  One funny thing--since Karen and Todd had told John about how we are eating, and that we have spinach and kale smoothies for breakfast, he was worried that we would force him to eat the same thing, and he is adamant that he does not like spinach!  Well, of course we told him we would have his regular foods for him, but that he should at least try a smoothie.  So, I would make them, without letting him see what goes into it and when he tried it, he even asked for seconds!  So, after a few days of this, I asked him if he really like them, and he said yes; would he tell mommy and daddy that he liked them, yes; did he really like them enough for seconds, yes.  When I then told him about the spinach in them, he started suddenly unliking them!!  Too funny!

Heading off to the Olympic Peninsula!

 Lunch at Shine Tidelands State Park

Stuffed elk in the visitor center as we entered Olympic National Park

Traveling with a 9 year old adds such a fun dimension!

 Looking out over one of the many bays on the edge of the peninsula as we began our drive around the perimeter
 Emerald Lake in Olympic N.P.

Making the campfire at Sol Duc Hot Springs
 Smores!! Yum, yum!

 Hiking the next morning

Overnight shelter for hikers--really cool the way they made an area under the front portico for a fire, with a fire pit and an opening in top for the smoke, so you could have a fire protected from the rain

 Looking down from a bridge over a falls

 Falls with the mist rising
Pretty cool to catch this rainbow in the mist from the falls!

 John with his new hiking buddies!

 Love these little holes!

 Hiking later in the day, looking for ripe blackberries
 Eewww, that one was really sour!!

 Beautiful beach with these wonderful rocks out in the surf at the campground in La Push

 All these seagulls lined up on the roof line of a building near the beach

Totem pole at the Senior Center
 Traditional native canoe
 This shape was prominent on the front of canoes, boats and lots of buildings

 The early morning fog
 Looking down on the campground as we were leaving La Push
 Old hollowed out canoe
 Totems in the little village

One of many log filled trucks along the road
 Timber Museum in Forks

 Inside a big log!  All you Cherry Loggers notice the Pink Pig tshirt!!

 John and the 10 ft. lumberjack
Hiking in the Hoh Rain Forest

 John, practicing his "I'm too cool to smile" pose, which I'm sure we'll see more of when he becomes s teenager!!
 Huge mushroom at the base of a tree

 The Hoh River

 Nurse log, giving rise to new trees

 Remarkable mushroom

 Just chillin with a couple of bears we saw having a cup of coffee on the patio of this outfitters store!

At Kalalach beach
 This was the bonfire structure these guys were building

 Some of the dead crabs along the surf

 Looking back at our campsite from the beach

 Another night, another time for smokes!!
 Honest, Yaya, I like 'em burned!

 Yaya, you can have some too!

 This was the view from our campsite--not too shabby, huh?

 Trisha, enjoying a cup of tea while knitting John's sweater
Neat bonfire!
 The next morning, on the beach; remnants of the bonfire, after the high tide came in

 Inspecting some new crabs on the beach
 Another new friend
 Lovely early morning fog

 Banana slug on a hike as we headed toward Lake Quinnault

 An old homestead

 Hey Pop, you think we can get this thing to run again??

 Brilliant white mushroom

 A tree hugger!!

In the rain forest, moss grows everywhere, even on this phone booth at the visitor center

 Amazingly, trees are already starting to turn their fall colors

 Lake Quinnault

 Gorgeous hydrangeas!

 Lake Quinnault Lodge, beautiful old hotel
 John in his new sweater, an original Yaya creation!

 Little salmon fry, in the national fish hatchery at Quinnault.  We learned here that chinnok salmon can jump nearly 8 ft in their migration back upstream to spawn!

Pacific Beach State Park

 A bird nest near the last hike

 Cargo ship

 Migrating geese

At our anniversary dinner!


  1. Looks like Grandparent Camp was a rousing success! John is absolutely adorable and sounds like he'll become quite an accomplished young man. He also looks like a bit like a budding Kris Kringle-- perhaps he'll follow in Pop's footsteps one day?!! Happy Anniversary to you and Trisha, what a great time you're having this summer!

    1. Yes, Lynne, Gradparent Camp was a wonderful time for all!! John does get a kick out of my telling him that when I was his age, my hair was exactly the shade of red his is now, so who knows, maybe he will end up carrying on the family business one day!

  2. Wonderful post love it...........