Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Brown Creek Campground & Lopez Island (WA)

Following our stop at Mount Ranier, we headed to the place Margaret next wanted to camp—Olympic National Park. While stopped for gas in Port Orchard (WA), our nephew, Joshua, contacted me, surprised that we were "already" in Washington and not too far away from where he and his family were anchored on their sailboat. After a lot of back-and-forth discussion, we decided to head north to visit them, but only after a couple nights of restful camping at the remote Brown Creek Campground.

Brown Creek Campground sign. Photo by Margaret.

We arrived at the campground at nearly 9:00 p.m. on 29 Jul 2019 but lucked out and found a nice pull-through campsite. Unlike the campground we last stayed at, Brown Creek was quiet and any campfires elsewhere in the campground didn't affect us. There was a hand pump for potable water, but Margaret wasn't able to get it to pump any water. (There is no longer any water, as the well has since failed.) There were vault toilets but no trash service. It had a lovely little creek and a rather stagnant-looking pond, but the trees offered shade, and it was quiet and smoke-free. With Margaret's senior pass discount, it was only $7.00 per night.

Brown Creek. Photo by Margaret.

We stayed there two nights; and on the morning of 31 July, we were on the road (Interstate 5) north to catch the ferry in Anacortes. Margaret does not like driving in big city traffic (Really, who does?), and the interstate traffic was intense through Tacoma and Seattle. Once we were a bit north of there, it was much more pleasant driving conditions. In Anacortes, we gassed up the Roadtrek and made a grocery stop at Safeway. We caught the next to last ferry of the day to Lopez Island, and over the water, we went. (Pretty exciting for these ferry riding novices!) It was a beautiful 45 minutes or so on the ferry. Once we disembarked, it was just about a mile to Odlin County Park (pronounced ODD-linn) where we were extremely fortunate to get a lovely campsite for two nights.

The Salish Sea shoreline at Odlin County Park. Photo by Margaret.

During our two-night stay at Odlin County Park, Margaret took Peaches for a long walk on a trail. We enjoyed watching in wonder as a doe and her two fawns grazed very near to the Roadtrek both days. It also rained during our second night, which is lovely to watch and listen to through the usually-open jalousie windows next to our beds.

Peaches on one of her "adventure walks" with Margaret at Odlin County Park. Photo by Margaret. 

Our nephew told us that people are allowed to park their vehicles for free up to 72 hours on Tower Drive in Lopez Village, so we planned accordingly—two nights at the county park and three nights in the village. There were public restrooms and showers (which we took advantage of immediately!) in the village park. Shortly after our showers, our nephew and his family arrived! We hadn't seen our deceased sister, Jacqueline's, son, Joshua, for nine years; and I had not met his wife, Breanne (although Margaret had years ago), or their four young sons. Fortuitously, Jacqueline's other son, Caleb, was going to be visiting the same weekend. The first visit we spent catching up and getting to know Breanne and our great-nephews—ages 8, 5, 3, and 15 months. The adults sat and talked while the three older boys kept busy running around, and the baby toddled about. After Josh and his family went back to their boat, Margaret treated us to delicious udon noodle bowls at Satsunai Noodle Bar. Yum!

My delicious dinner: veggie udon noodles. Photo by Virginia.

Bright and early the next morning, Caleb arrived on a ferry; and he and Josh took Margaret and me to a laundromat. Showers and clean clothes...what an amazing feeling! Later in the morning, we all went to Shark Reef Sanctuary, including Peaches, for a lovely mile or so walk over exposed tree roots and embedded rocks. The trail ended at some rocky cliffs with a view of San Juan Island and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The "boys" climbed the rocks and trees, while we women merely walked and talked. Just offshore on some rocks were a number of sea lions sunning, which we all enjoyed watching. We concluded our walk at a shaded picnic table to enjoy some refreshing watermelon. We all had a great time together.

Climbing rocks (L to R): Silas, Malachi (MAL-uh-kye), Caleb, Josiah, & Josh. Photo by Virginia.

The Salish Sea and San Juan Island. Photo by Virginia.

Breanne carrying Micah (MYE-cuh). Photo by Virginia.

Later that afternoon, Joshua picked up Margaret and me and took us in his tiny dinghy to his 45' sailboat, where we were treated to a delicious veggie spaghetti dinner. There wasn't enough wind to sail, so he motored us out in a huge loop from Fisherman Bay north to near Friday Harbor on San Juan Island and back to Lopez Island. 

Lopez Island from the sailboat. Photo by Margaret.

Josh's three older boys are seasoned sailors and are very much at home on their home on the water. The five-year-old is especially fearless and had me quite nervous as I watched him maneuver his way around the boat.

Fearless five-year-old, Malachi. Photo by Virginia.

Following behind in the wake of the huge ferry made for a rockin' and rollin' good time!

The ferry, NV Chinook, leaving Friday Harbor. Photo by Margaret.

Our extremely knowledgeable and capable nephew had a goal to live on the water and worked hard to make it happen. His wife, Breanne, is a very supportive and flexible partner and first mate. Watching her with their four extremely active sons, she exhibited nothing but kindness and patience.

Our nephew, Josh, the captain. Photo by Margaret.

We brought our camp chairs along so we could sit on the foredeck. I didn't trust my balance at all and stayed put. The cool weather, pleasant company, and incredible views were all available to me right there and I was supremely happy! When Josiah, our oldest great-nephew (8 years), asked me to read his favorite book to him, my initial feeling was panic, as I hadn't read to a child since I last read to my daughter about 13 years ago. I had to draw on the many years dormant sense of enthusiastic delivery required to hold a young child's interest in a story. I was relieved it went as well as it did. Josiah, (nephew) Caleb, and I all seemed to have a great time, though. Whew! 

(l to R) Margaret, Caleb, Virginia, and Josh. Photo by Breanne.

That evening the sunset and its reflection on the water was a strikingly vivid orange. Its glowing warm hue contributed greatly to my feeling of serenity when partnered with the gentle movement of the boat over the calm waters.  

San Juan Islands sunset. Photo by Virginia.

Although I absolutely love bodies of water of every kind, I do not have "sea legs," as I have many issues with balance. I also feel a strong avoidance of being in water I can't see through and where there are native "inhabitants." So, getting in and out of the tiny dinghy that delivered us to and from the large sailboat sort of freaked me out, especially since it was nearly dark on our return to land. Josh and Margaret were patient with me; and I didn't fall out, which made the entire evening positively memorable. Yay!

The next morning they took us to Watmough Bay on the southeastern end of Lopez Island. It was an easy walk, and the bay was lovely. The older "boys" again went rock climbing, while we women, Peaches, and the two youngest great-nephews, Silas and Micah, stayed on the ground. After tiring of waiting in the sun, Margaret decided to take Peaches on a different trail back to the parking lot. It was much more challenging than the one we came in on, but they made it back okay to Breanne and me returning on the first trail. The brothers and the two older boys arrived shortly after Margaret and Peaches on the second trail, as well.

Part of the family by Watmough Bay. Photo by Virginia.

We had a lovely picnic lunch in Lopez Village Park, after which Caleb left to catch an afternoon ferry back to the mainland. Hopefully, we will see him before another nine years go by.

Aunties, nephews, niece, and great-nephews. Photo by Breanne.

After a bit of a rest, Josh came to take Margaret for her first kayaking experience, which she absolutely loved! Uh oh, where exactly are we going to put a kayak on the Roadtrek? :>)

 Margaret during her first kayaking experience. Photo by Josh.

Fairly early the next morning, Margaret and I drove away from Lopez Village and got in line for the ferry back to Anacortes. Josh, Breanne, and the boys came and hung out with us until it was time to board. Then we were back on the water contemplating our weekend with family on the laid back and charming Lopez Island and thinking about the next leg of our adventure, which turned out to be another island. Cool!

NOTE: Clicking on the photos in the post will open them in a larger view (recommended!). If you want to see more photos of the beautiful places we've shared, we have them in this Flickr Collection: Over the Hill Sisters Photo Collection.


Cleo said...

Loved reading your adventures. I would love to meet you one day. So glad you got to go spend time with the kids. (my adorable grandkids :))

Anonymous said...

Beautiful journal and photography! Watmough is my happy place. You know I lived about a mile from it. 💚 ~ Polli

Virginia Hill said...

Hi Cleo, I'm catching up now that I have Wi-Fi and use of my computer. Thank you for your comment. We are extremely pleased that we were able to spend time with Josh, Breanne, and the boys. Who knows, we may head up that way again. It certainly was lovely!

Virginia Hill said...

Thanks Paula! Yes, I saw your old street and yelled out, "That's where Paula lived!"