Tuesday, September 3 (continued)
I had given up all hope.
The crew and I are on our way to see Mt. St. Helens. We stop at a viewpoint that gives another look at Spirit Lake.
A small group of people are gathered around, listening to a man in uniform.
“There was a herd of about a hundred here yesterday,” he remarks. Hmm . . . a hundred tourists on Labor Day . . . Wait a minute! A herd?
A scope sits atop a tripod. People are taking turns looking through it. Could it be? Could this be my chance to see . . . an elk?
I step up and take a look.
What I see through the scope is . . .
A magnificent, 12-point bull elk lying down peacefully by the lake! The scope makes it look like he’s less than 15 feet away. Ooh, how I’d love to take a photo of that beautiful animal.
The crew and I traveled from Georgia through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, California, and New Mexico without ever seeing an elk. Not one! Until now, here in the state of Washington.
I’m not disappointed that the crater of Mt. St. Helens is hidden by clouds today.
I saw an elk!
Wednesday, September 4
The BLT is hitched to the PTV. We’re leaving North Fork Campground today. Shortly before we take off, camp hosts Sally and Jack stop their truck at our campsite. Sally did some switching of reservations so the crew and I could keep our primo campsite through Labor Day Weekend. We talk for a bit and share a few laughs before saying goodbye . . . or rather, until we meet again.
I want to mention the two guys I met, fellow campers Jerry and Stan. They were very helpful, answering my questions about roads, getting out a map, sharing firewood and kindling . . . . It’s true what you’ve heard: You meet the nicest people while full-timing!
Gifford-Pinchot National Forest, Washington
Off to a new camp!
I drive us west on Route 12, pick up Interstate 5 and shoot north through Chehalis and Centralia. It’s a dark, dreary day and the interstate traffic is terrible. From Tumwater I take two-lane Route 101 through Shelton to Potlach where it traces the western shore of Hood Canal. Shortly past the tiny village of Eldon I turn onto Forest Road 25 and drive six miles into Olympic National Forest.
We make camp at Hamma Hamma Campground.
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