Saturday, September 08, 2012

Lake Wenatchee

After our successful trip to Dash Point, we decided to squeeze in another trip. This time we wanted to head east a little bit in hopes of chasing down the last remnants of summer like weather, something that has mostly left western Washington already. Now that the kids are a little older they can handle a slightly longer car ride so we opted for Lake Wenatchee.

The state park is actually divided into two different sections, separated by about a mile and the Wenatchee River. The south loop offers tent camping sites, a designated swimming area, playground and general coolness. The north loop offers utility sites and no advertized coolness. Of course we chose the north loop. Attempting to learn from our Dash Point experience, we bough a "dogbone" which coverts a 30 amp plug to a standard plug. Not to fooled again, I also talked to a co-worker to has a motorhome and mentioned that some sites use a 50 amp plug which is different still from the 30 amp plug. So we bought a 50 to 30 dogbone as well. We were covered. When we arrived the first thing I did was open the electrical box and found...that this box offered a 50 amp plug, a 30 amp plug and two standard plugs. Sweet. Well the good news is that I'll be able to use my machine and we'll be able to use pretty much any utility site the state has to offer in the future.

We found an unforeseen beauty in going camping during the first week of September; this is the first week of school for just about everyone - the campground was nearly deserted. We had the place to ourselves. We didn't need to tell the kids to be quite, we could create our own shortcuts to the bathroom through other sites and generally treat the place like our own personal playground.

Central Washington is still quite warm at this time of year, each day we were there hitting in the mid 80's. Awesome. The Wenatchee River, and by extension Lake Wenatchee, is glacier feed. So you pretty much need 80+ degree weather before stepping foot into these waters. The shores of the lake are shallow enough to actually get a little warm which is all the better.

The terrain in in central Washington is such a contrast to what we are used to seeing, the forest density is much less and the color palette is a bit more monochrome as well. Our site was on the outside of the loop so the back of the site opened to a small hill. Finn and Jade found this to be the perfect exploring spot. Quickly finding their perfect walking sticks and climbing away. We were able to keep our eye on them the whole time so from a parenting perspective it was the perfect site. There was actually a fairly decent playground in the north loop within eyesight was well.

We found a trail down to the lake on this un-cool north loop that was like winning the lottery. This trail led to a small playground, a bathroom and open beach area. Since there weren't many people in the north loop we had the beach to ourselves both times we went there. Spending several hours playing in and around the water. The lake stays shallow for quite a distance so it was great for the kids because they could walk out and really play. Finn perched himself on a rock and then started yelling. Jade and Ainsley were oblivious. After what seemed like hours of yelling and remaining motionless I made my way out to the rock. Despite getting nice and toasty warm in the sun this water still struck me a cold once I got deep enough (i.e. as the water came close to my waist, nudge nudge). Once I got out there Finn explained to me that there was something scary in the water. I looked to where he was pointed and discovered...a shadow from a fellow rock. Hanging my head I made my way back to shore to detail the horrors of the lake to Christy.

We took a small day trip into Leavenworth. Ainsley quickly grew quite fond of the area and asked if we could move. Jade followed suit, proving again that the younger sister older sister bond knows no boundries. Finn like it too, but that was because we started the day with ice cream cones for the kids. We hiked down to the river front and found a great place to play. The girls collected the best looking rocks they could find and Finn found sticks to throw. Christy and I just watched staying somewhere between lifeguard on duty and dotting parents. Ainsley remembered to bring purse and absolutely had to find a gift shop to lighten her load. Christy found a pen that smelled like pizza for Finn and one that smelled like ice cream for Jade. Finn took a whiff and declare "it doesn't smell like pizza, it smells gross". He was right, there is a faint hint of oregano, but that's it. Jade loves hers. Go figure.

This trip provide a much more level tent surface for us and the fire wood created yet another perfect environment for marshmallows and smoking sticks. This time Jade joined in the smoking stick fun, but she doesn't add the same sound effects that Finn does.

Ainsley brought her rubiks cube. She is getting very good at solving one side, even to the point of being able to nearly solve one side without looking. It won't be long before she is able to solve the whole thing.

Give the great weather and the great accommodations we've already started looking forward to next Septembers trip. Of course there will be ice cream in Leavenworth.

Dash Point

Camping has been a bit of challenge for us the last couple of years. First, just the sheer effort involved in preparing and going on a trip is at times too overwhelming. There seems to always been more than a few obstacles that make it difficult. One constant issue is my need for electricity. Not in the electric grandmother type of way, but for my CPAP breathing machine to make sure that I make it through the trip. This year, although it is a little late in the year, we decided to try using the utility sites offered at many of the state parks. Since we weren't sure how this was going to go we opted for a park we've been to before and for something close by; Dash Point.

We first visited this site back in 2003 when we were still living in Renton. It was really late in the season and much of the campground was closed, it rained and I don't think we got the full Dash Point experience.

This time around was different. The weather was great and the campground was full, which means there were other kids for Finley and Jade to play with. There is a really nice half mile hike down to the beach from within the campground. So we spent a fair amount of time both days at the beach, playing in the water and watching the osprey dive into Puget Sound and attempt to grab salmon. Sometimes they were successful, which is impressive to watch, and most of the time they were not which is actually a little more entertaining. Sometimes their eyes are bigger than their ability. We saw one osprey make a successful grab a giant salmon out of the water, but it was so large the bird could hardly hold onto the thrashing fish, eventually dropping it.

Of course there were fire roasted marshmallows. We continue to use our technique of placing the chocolate into the marshmallows prior to roasting. This makes for a nicely melted chocolate experience. Our family doesn't even bother with the graham crackers, they just fill you up and get in the way of eating more mallows and chocolate.

We can now officially brand Finn a firebug. Any chance he could get to throw something into the fire he'd take it. Watching the flames like a hawk he'd quickly suggest that he stoke the fire with an additional log if there was even the remote chance that the fire was starting to die down. There was also the flaming sticks. Placing the tip of a long stick into the fire and then quickly extinguishing it so that it would smoke. Of course there is really one one way thing to do with a smoking stick; swing it around and make all kinds of noises (I mean "sound effects"). These can range from a train, to a rocket, missile or newly forged sword. Being the extremely creative kid that he is this provided him with near endless entertainment. I think he would have been pretty happy if we had a fire going the entire time we were camping.

Did I mention that we were using a utility site? Well you are allowed to use a tent in these sites, which works for us, but they aren't really situated for one. Our tent it pretty big and has a slightly odd shape making placement a challenge in most sites. Site four at Dash Point was really tricky. We moved the picnic table twice, eventually returning it to its original spot and then proceeded to spend the next three nights sleeping at what can only be described as a obtuse angle. Actually only three of use got stuck on this slope, Christy and Finn were spared. The last night Christy did switch with me and laughed quite hard when she first laid down for the night.

Anyways, these utility sites come with both water and electricity. We brought 150 feet of extension cords along with us not knowing how far away the tent was going to be from the outlet. However, within minutes of getting setup I hear Christy say "we have an electrical problem". Now I know that I packed the extension cords, that couldn't possibly be the issue. I walk over and take a look. The outlet is a 30 amp plug, which is an large triangle shaped plug that looks nothing like a standard outlet and there is no hope of a standard plug fitting into. Sweet. Apparently RVs and motor homes don't use standard outlets. Foiled again. The lack of a sleeping aid and the extreme angular position made for a long couple of first nights, but I survived and good time was had by all.