Chimacum and islands in Puget Sound

Monday, September 9

The crew and I are back at our Falls View campsite south of Quilcene, Washington, after driving to the Mt. Walker viewpoint and walking the trail at Lake Leland.  It’s early evening and I’m pulling another gallon jug of drinking water out of the Perfect Tow Vehicle.

“Hey, there!”

I look up and see a car idling in front of our campsite. 

Walking over I recognize Les!  I met Les at North Fork Campground.  He’s car camping.

“Well, hello, Les!  What a surprise!”

We don’t talk long.   Pulling into the campground this late in the day, he’s probably been on the road a long time and is tired.

“Go ahead, Les, and find a site.  I’ll come over to your campsite in the morning and we can talk then.”

Tuesday, September 10

I take a seat at Les’s picnic table.  Bridget and Spike lie down at my feet underneath the table.  Les tells me he drove south to Bend and La Pine, Oregon, since we camped at North Fork.  It’s amazing that our paths came together at this point in time.

“I had a feeling we’d meet again, Les.  I don’t know why.”

“Yeah, me, too!” he exclaims.

The conversation flies all over the place. 

We look at maps together.  He gives me some paperbacks . . .Michener’s Space and William W. Johnstone’s Rage of Eagles.  I realize the morning is slipping away and I tell Les I need to go.

“A friend has sent me a package and it’s waiting for me at the Chimacum post office,” I explain.  “As long as I’m going up that way, I want to look around some.  We can talk more this evening, if you want.”  Les says he needs a day to rest after all the traveling he’s done.

The crew and I take Center Road to Chimacum.

While looking for the post office, I come upon Chimacum Corner Farmstand.  Mmm. . . I want some more Washington fruit!

1-P1070200I pick out two fat peaches, three freestone nectarines, and two pears.  Returning to the PTV I see a flag waving up the street.  Maybe that’s the post office . . .

Nope, it’s the community center.

Gee, I see trash bins.  I’m turning in!  I park next to the bins as two ladies come out of the building.  They give me directions to the post office and tell me it’s okay to dump my trash in the bins.

In front of the P.O. grows this huge, flowering bush.

1-P1070201It’s about twelve feet across!

1-P1070205Inside, the postlady hands me the package.  I’m the only customer, so I ask, “Is that a rose-of-sharon bush out front?”

“I don’t know,” she responds.  “I’ll go check.”  She goes behind a partition where I assume she does a search on her computer.

“That’s what it is,” she reports smiling.  “It’s pretty, isn’t it.”

Out in the PTV, I tear into the package.

I pull out a smaller box containing a SONY Cyber-shot digital camera (DSC-Hx20v) with up to 40X zoom!  Several neat accessories are included, as well as a quality Samsonite case.  What a great gift!  Thank you, Mick!

By now it’s one o’clock and I’m hungry.

That cafe next door looks interesting.  Lots of cars parked all around.  Must be a good place.  I zip on over to the Chimacum Cafe.

1-P1070207A little face watches me take the photo. 

As soon as I walk in, I like what I see.  A long counter stretches from the door.  Over to one side is a wide opening to a cheerful dining area with tables along the front windows.  Beyond the end of the counter are booths.  I take a seat at the counter and pull a menu from the holder in front of me.

Three burly guys are working the kitchen.

They toss up loaded plates to the window for the three waitresses.  The cooks and the waitresses are in constant motion. They wear tee shirts that say, “Chimacum Cafe — since 1955.”

People get up to leave, others take their place.  I order a veggie burger and it arrives stacked high with tomato, lettuce and thick, sweet onion slices.  I grab that baby and squeeze the bun so I can fit it between my jaws.  Boy, is it good!

Then I remember the blog.  The bun is all shmushed with a big bite taken out of it.  Darn!  Shoulda’ snapped a picture before I tore into it. 

From Chimacum the crew and I go to Port Hadlock.

We cross a bridge to Indian Island and continue to Marrowstone Island.

1-P1070225The sky is clear and the sun is bright on the water.

1-P1070221This is a Discover Pass area so we only stay a few minutes, enough time to take a few photos.

1-P1070220Fort Flagler State Park is at the northern tip of Marrowstone Island.

The approach looks like the entrance to a country club. 

Freshly mowed grass borders the sides of the perfect black-top road.  Signs announce it’s a fee area and one needs to have a Discover Pass.  Well, I only want to look around so we’ll be okay.  The road funnels us to a booth.  A huge Class A sits there, the driver talking with the person in the booth.  I see signs about reservations.  This is a pricey place.  As I sit there I get annoyed.

Warning:  Big gripe ahead

I don’t think it’s right that state property should be designed to cater to the upper income people at the exclusion of everyone else.  I realize I’ve never paid a dime in taxes to the state of Washington.  Even so, it bothers me that a state runs what I consider to be elitist campgrounds.  First you have to buy a Discover Pass ($10 a day or $30 a year).  Okay, a little high for the average family  (Thirty dollars is a lot when you earn minimum wage and have a few mouths to feed), but it’s okay.

Here’s the fee schedule for state park campgrounds:

Basic camping fees:
May 15 – Sept. 15 (peak season)
Primitive campsite and water trail camping: $12
Standard campsite: $23 non-premium site, $26 premium site
Partial-utility campsite*: $30 non-premium site, $35 premium site
Full-utility campsite*: $32 non-premium site, $37 premium site

Flagler State Park website says it has “116 standard tent sites, 57 utility spaces, 2 primitive sites.”   I take that to mean all the sites are $23 – $37 a night, except for two . . . TWO! . . . that are $12 a night.

Now doesn’t that seem a bit elitist? 

It does to me.  There are a heckuva lot of people who want to camp and who are shut out by those fees.  Shouldn’t a government campground be more inclusive?

I wouldn’t gripe — I know state parks sit on prime real estate — but I get the same impression with all the Washington state parks I’ve researched that I’ve stopped considering them as an option.

Thinking about this, I lose interest.  I back up and out of the checkpoint lane, turn around and leave.

Old Fort Townsend State Park . . . same deal.  I love everything about Washington, except for this one gripe.

Okay, I’m done.

Nevertheless, it’s a fun day!  I stop at a county park.  Bridget and Spike are fascinated by the seashore aromas.

1-P1070213Clam shells and oyster shells litter the rocky beach.

1-P1070212On the road again, we encounter some shellfish humor . . .









Boat scenes remind me of childhood trips to the Maine coast.  Well, we’ve come a long way, baby . . .

1-P1070215Back at camp . . . 

After supper the crew and I walk over to Les’s campsite.

Les and I share some big laughs.  You know, the kind where you double over and you can’t finish what you’re trying to say because you’re out of breath with laughter.  What a great day . . .

Next post . . . The crew and I ride a ferry!



It’s fun seeing what readers buy from Amazon.  Here are some examples:

FireStarters Lighter Cubes
Portable Table-Top Stainless Steel Cob Grill
Family Handyman Magazine
Permanent State Sticker
Dual Speed Sound Conditioner
GSI Outdoors Enamelware Percolator

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76 Responses to Chimacum and islands in Puget Sound

  1. Marcia GB in MA says:

    Hi Sue-
    A peeve of mine, too. Some of the state parks in many states are pricey and most don’t offer a senior discount. From what I’ve read, a lot of states have closed parks because they can’t afford to maintain them. And some have raised their fees a lot in the past couple of years. I guess that’s the lesser of two evils but it’s a shame that it excludes some folks.

    • PNW Alison says:

      Marcia is right, the Parks are hurting financially. There is no income tax in Washington and then over the last 10 years a “no tax” activist has run several succesful initative to cut or abolish various vehicle registration and property taxes. There isn’t enough money to go around, our governer actually cried in a press conference about the new budget a few years ago. Programs for education, health and public safety were cut back and so were park budgets. Several state parks closed. Then they came up with the Discover pass.
      I will say though that the elite around here mostly have their own second homes in the islands or mountains. I dont think you find them at the state parks. or they have boats. I don’t go much to state parks because like Sue I find them too crowded. Fortunately we are blessed with alot of wonderful national forests here.

  2. EmilyO of KS (Soon to be NM) says:

    Ouch, I could hardly afford 1/2 nite at those rates. It’s obvious who they are catering too. Too bad.

  3. klbexplores says:

    Yup, the Discover Pass is a new pass in Washington. You do not have to have a Discover Pass to Camp in the State Campgrounds, as it is included in the Price but when you are camping your camp pass allows you to use any day use area as well. (However there is no discount on camping fees provided to Pass Holders.) In Washington, there is also a Senior Discount for 65 and older for low income folks and I fully intend on making use of that pass. One additional issue I have is many of the BLM campgrounds in the state are now being managed by the state campgrounds and the prices have gone up as a result and the former BLM campgrounds are no longer honoring the senior pass. Many campgrounds in the state were slated for closure prior to the adoption of the Discovery Pass. I am happy to support the state pass system to keep the parks and day use areas open.

  4. Angie2B says:

    Our state parks have gotten pretty pricey in Indiana.

  5. susan says:

    I believe Washington State has no income tax so only the people who use the campsites pay.
    I dont live in Washington, but I think that may be the thinking behind the fees. Low income people are not paying to maintain camp sites they dont use unless they choose to use them.

  6. Barb says:

    Sue I hear this every day… sometimes MANY times a day. I won’t even say the words about the ‘optional $5 park fee’ that is tacked on to EVERY license tab renewal (we take it off at our office, as Webster’s considers the word optional to be OPTIONAL!).

    You do get into the park if you are camping there… it is covered as the prior writer said… but no discount if you already have the Discover Pass… not fair in my book. And I still think Sr.’s should get a discount (the hubs is 66).

    Yes, we have had MANY parks close, and unfortunately a small group (mainly meth heads) have caused many problems and destruction to our parks… so the fees have been raised to maintain them.

    Personally, I use the parks enough that I am OK with it (our $30 pass ends up costing about $1 a trip…) but I would like to be able to have a HOT shower for my 50cents/3 minutes, and honestly it is usually about 2 minutes of COLD… 🙁 LOL

    You keep adding new places for me to visit! Your photos are GORGEOUS! I want to try that burger place!

    Hugs from Hoquiam! where it is a lovely 72 degrees!

  7. mockturtle says:

    Last year I got a ‘Limited Income Senior Pass’ and use it regularly. 🙂 It gives me 1/2 off camping. If I choose non-hookup sites–and I do–it only costs about 11.50/day. Not as cheap as NFS with geezer pass but more year-’round opportunities. Yes, our state parks have become prohibitively expensive for most people. 🙁

  8. Alan Rabe says:

    Makes private campgrounds with full hookups and security from meth addicts look pretty good.

  9. Jeff W says:

    The GSI percolator arrived today. Plan on using it for the next camping trip to Matagorda State Park with the kids.
    Once upon a time back in my Marine Corps days spent a lot of time at the Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island.
    Deception Pass was a neat place to check out.
    There is an old army fort on the island where they filmed Richard Gere and Louis Gossett Jr in Officer and a Gentleman.

  10. longdog2 says:

    The $30 Discovery Pass does not seem at all unrealistic when one knows that there is no state income tax. Something has to pay for the parks. The overnight charges seem a little high but then I don’t know what RV parks charge in that area.

    • Barb says:

      True about the income tax, but wow do we have us some nasty sales tax!

      RV parks vary between 30-45 depending on amenities (that is for our 22 ft trailer–not sure about others). We go to a private place near Eatonville that is $23 a night on a lake, with full hooks and great spaces. Love that place. Busy on weekends though.

      • Barb, I grew up in Eatonville, which lake is it that you camp at?

        • Barb says:

          Camp Lakeview. The camp is year round, and has both tent and full hookups. They also run a conference center. It is privately own, and a no alcohol camp… so a lot of AA groups use it for retreats (and churches). I don’t mind that, as I am not much of a drinker (my SIL’s aren’t’ thrilled 🙂 ). My kids live in Tacoma and Orting so it makes it fairly convenient. We have been going there 4 years.

      • Alan Rabe says:

        You got to stay for a month or 2, that is when it is worth it. It is usually about 2.5 weeks for the fee. The ones that charge separate for electricity are the best if you are setup for full on solar, you might only have to plug in once a week. Oh and if they have Resort on the end of their name look elsewhere, It is just a gimmick to hike their price.

  11. Rob says:

    The $30 pass helps keeps places open, I understand that & bought one. As the camping fees went up in Washington it turned into something we had to plan for rather than just do, at least at the state parks.

  12. Bob says:

    I agree with you on State Parks, you will not like Colo. Parks either. Their senior pass is somewhere around $70 a year now, and sites in the 20+ range and maybe $3 senior discount. same rate for resident/non resident, and I’ve been paying taxes here for 60 + years. I will not pay it, go to fed parks for $6 per nite or boondock.

  13. cinandjules (NY) says:

    So many different rules……….quite confusing.

    Sure is beautiful…cute little place.

    Gotta keep it short tonight..between t-storms and lightning. Somethings up with this weather….34 degrees the other nite…today was 91 and humid. Have a great nite!

  14. Rita from Phoenix says:

    Wow beautiful coast line…I wonder what Bridge and spike think of sights and smells. I traveled thru there too fast and didn’t stop to smell the roses LOL. I think some parks keep their fees high due to economy and also to discourage too many users who trash the place. I know you’ve blogged about some areas you camped where you had to clean up. If it’s free, people tend to take parks, campgrounds, etc. for granted. I live next to a city park and OMG we complained so much they had to close the park down and have meetings with local neighborhood to get them to stop trashing the park. The beautiful shrubs, flowers and many of the trees were vandalized. I’m glad I was one of the complainers cuz there would be nothing left to enjoy had we not put a stop to people not obeying park rules. I asked the city officials if our neighborhood could donate to refurbish our neighborhood park but it’s not guaranteed the money will go to the park…the donation goes to a general city fund.

  15. Anne H says:

    Sad that the economy is putting such pressure on campgrounds . . . I recently got an email from the Washington state parks system announcing another level to the variable pricing scheme for next year – ‘desirable’ sites will cost even more – you know, the ones near the water or with the best views. I’ve already seen this at some Oregon parks.

    I used to really love the state parks – but they are so crowded these days and increasingly expensive – i’m glad that I invested in solar and can take more advantage of the forest service campgrounds.

  16. Janet Johns says:

    Its every campground that is getting more expensive and elitist. Back in 1984 when we got serious about showing our kids our country, we used to go from Pa to Yellowstone camping in State and National Forest Campgrounds that cost $0.00. We watched them grow from that $0.00 to today’s 12.00-24.00 for the exact same site with the same pit toilets and no showers. When we did it with two kids we could show them all of the USA with the $100.00 my Mom gave us for Christmas. Good luck on that today even taking into account inflation. Its a sin that we are allowing that to occur. I don’t worry about the seniors (who hopefully have been there, done that) as much as I do our Children and Grandchildren .

  17. PNW Alison says:

    On a different note, aren’t those County Parks great! Looks like this was the first sniff of saltwater this year for the crew – and you too I suppose! Hope the good weather holds up for you.
    How wonderful to receive the generous gift of the camera! And just in time for you to see the Roosevelt Elk of the Olympic peninsula! Can’t wait to see what you do with it.

  18. Bobbie says:

    I think the Discover pass misses the boat. It should have been marketed to campers, who are the ones who care about the parks staying open, and should give some kind of perk, like free extra car. (Even if you have a Discover Pass, an extra car on site costs $10 a night.) I bought one the first two years, but now they are raising the campground fees and still nothing for Discover Pass holders. And, as you so clearly illustrate, it seems very unfriendly to out of state visitors.

    On the other hand, California hasn’t had free day use areas in 30 years or more, park fees are just as high, and it DOES have a state income tax. (Also very unfriendly to visitors and low-income folk.)

  19. Ilse says:

    Too bad you had a burger. The Chimmacum Cafe is famous for its pies.
    People who make minimum wage can neither afford nor have the time to go camping. It takes a car and equipment, not to speak of some paid vacation. We have no income tax, which is one reason why I took my CA pension and moved up here. The state first tried to impose a $5 parking fee, which didn’t fly. I think the discover pass is quite reasonable for a year of visiting and parking at state parks. The pass is not for the camp grounds. A state is not required to provide campgrounds at their parks. I can’t see what should be wrong with charging appropriate fees. As somebody pointed out, the campgrounds are crowded, which means there are plenty of people who gladly pay the price.
    Also, please don’t believe those who try to tell you that Washington is full of drug addicts.

  20. cinandjules (NY) says:

    Top of the morning sunshine!

    WOW 40x zoom………..that means your already gorgeous pictures are going to be more stunning! Can’t wait. Nice gift St Mick.

    Never had a veggie burger…..what exactly do they taste like? I’ve seen them at the store…Morning Sun or something to that effect.. Kind of hesitant….all I can imagine is cardboard tasting. So I’m curious now that you’ve ordered one.

    Good day!

  21. Mick, thank you for gifting Sue with yet another camera! When you give a gift to Sue, you actually gift all of us because we get to enjoy her photographs and travels!
    We are having more rain down here in SWestern New Mexico, rained almost 24 hours straight on t\Tues, Wednesday allowed it all to soak in, now they say rain all day today! YAY! We sure needed it, may set some all time rain records for the state!
    Sue, love your adventures and that little Cafe looks like the kind of joint Chuck and I love to eat at! Next time, take a picture of the burger darn it! LOL!

    • Mick says:

      Hi Geri & Chuck, Poor RVSue keeps getting my hand-me-downs. So far they have been high end compact cameras but if she gets my new Sony NEX-6, in a couple years, it is a mini DSLR with interchangeable lens. I have a 16-50mm (24-75mm; 35mm equivalent) and a 55-210mm (82.5-315 equiv.). This allows the use of filters to cut through some of the PNW fog/mist but the real question is if RVSue is ready for the complexity? The NEX-6 is bigger but still small compared to the DSLR that you use.

  22. rvsueandcrew says:

    Hi, everybody!

    The crew and I have a full day planned! That’s why I’m not responding to each comment individually. Also it’s early in the morning and the batteries haven’t had time to charge. It takes a while for the sun to be high enough in the sky for the rays to penetrate the trees and hit the panel.

    Few points … I don’t have any gripe with the Discover Pass. It’s probably the least painful way to ensure some funds for the state parks. I haven’t needed to buy one, but I will if it seems like I’ll use it.

    Yes, the state parks’ prices are comparable to private, commercial RV parks. That’s where the rub is, IMHO. State parks are no longer about camping. Some time in the past decisions were made in a mindset of turning the state parks into “resorts” — manicured lawns, perfectly blacktopped roads, paved walkways, numerous hook-ups (taking away non-hook-up sites), cable tv, WiFi, topnotch restroom and showers… etc.

    Once all those things are expected by the public (i.e. well-to-do public) and provided by the state, they have to be paid for with high fees. That guy edging the lawn or the crew remodeling the restroom needs to be paid.

    I’ve only been camping for 2 years. Already I see a divide. . . . One extreme: people who want to “camp” in a gated-community-on-wheels with all the amenities (unlimited electric appliances, manicured lawn, restricted access by people of lower status and income, high security, etc.)

    The other extreme: people who want to “camp” in the original sense in a rustic environment with few amenities, simply a table, a fire ring, water spigot (or not), basic toilet facility, where the environment is left “natural” and the overhead is much, much lower.

    Another point … I’m not faulting the state of Washington. The state government responded to rising expectations of people who were buying bigger and more elaborate RVs. (And I don’t fault people who drive big RVs.) I love Washington… It’s a great place (and it’s not full of drug addicts)!

    I know what it’s like to live on minimum wage. I got two weeks paid vacation a year, but I didn’t go anywhere or do what I wanted because I couldn’t afford it. That’s why I bristle when I see the divide between the haves and the have-nots in a government facility. It was as tough for me to pay taxes as anyone else.

    I’m unrealistic to the point of being idealistic. In an ideal America, state governments would provide outdoor camping facilities as well as outdoor RVing facilities. Every taxpayer, whether active in the workforce or retired, would have access to state parks.
    But, as we all know, even though we tend to overlook it, a class system exists in America.

    Your discussion of the situation is very interesting and informative. I enjoy reading your thoughts on this topic!

    And I almost ordered the pie at the Chimacum cafe but I didn’t because of guilt over the Tillamook “red raspberry with white chocolate” ice cream sitting in my freezer. One spoonful and I realized I’ve never lived until that moment. 🙂

    • Alan Rabe says:

      I do both Sue, I have my RV with all the amenities that I use as a home base, kinda like a motel but a lot cheaper. Then I find all the little adventures around where I am based, sometimes for several months, and do day trips where I either camp in the car or a tent. I am looking for the prime light for photography which is sunset or sunrise. It is nice to go back to a shower and food after a shoot.

  23. mockturtle says:

    Oooh! Red raspberry with white chocolate? And I thought Tillamook Mountain Huckleberry was the ultimate ice cream!

  24. mockturtle says:

    Washington State is, I’m sad to say, ‘full of drug addicts’. The fact that you haven’t met any in your brief stay in campgrounds doesn’t negate the facts.

  25. Caroline near Seattle says:

    As always, lovely photos Sue. So peaceful.
    Make the most of the next few sunny days … the weather forecast for Seattle is rain starting Sunday, and thru Tuesday. So I’m sure you’ll get your fair share.

  26. Caroline near Seattle says:

    That ice cream sounds fabulous! Hadn’t heard of it; I wonder if it’s a seasonal flavour.
    If you’re driving the Oregon coast, you’ll enjoy a stop at the Tillamook factory…. samples of cheese and ice cream!

  27. Yes, I agree about the prices. Who needs the campgrounds? I think it’s usually the ‘average Joe’ type of camper, not the millionaires who drive around in brand new 41 foot motor homes. Enough of that!

    I, too, have a Sony Cyber Shot. I’ll be anxious to see your photos. Mine’s a little larger than I would have liked to carry about all day, but the zoom lens makes it all worthwhile. Happy shooting!

  28. Alan Rabe says:

    Goody, Goody a new toy. Question for Mick. can you determine if one of these
    will work on Sue’s new camera. She really needs a polarizer.

    Question, Why is a plant that looks like a Hibiscus called a Rose Of Sharon?

    • Mick says:

      That Magfilter is a great idea Alan. The Magfilter website does not mention the Sony HX20 but I looked at the picture and it might work. I would be a bit concerned about knocking it off but modern adhesives are very good. I doubt RVSue would do this but she does need filters. See my response to Geri above in this discussion.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Alan… To answer your question about the flower . . .

      The name comes from the Old Testament:
      “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.” (Solomon 2:1)

      Sharon, a place in Palestine, was considered a place of beauty. Jesus is symbolically referred to as “the rose of Sharon” and there’s a song/hymn in which He’s referred to as “the lily of the valley.”

      Maybe the purple-red is seen as His blood against the white of His purity. I don’t know. Just guessing here!

      • Alan Rabe says:

        Thanks Sue, I knew the biblical meaning. I just googled and found that the rose is a hibiscus, just a different variety from the tropical hibiscus.

  29. PNW Alison says:

    Sue, I hope you had a great time on the ferry and Whidbey!

    I think the grooming you see at Fort Warden and Fort Flagler State Parks might be a way of respecting those places’ recent history as military outposts. This is true of many waterfront parks around here.

    My perspective on the divide between campers…
    I’m a little different than most of you in that I’m a car & tent boondocker, for shorter periods of time.It used to make me mad to see the big RVs with all the amenities, and I’d think how can they call that camping? I’d just want a quiet weekend in the mountains, and people nearby would be watching TV! This was 20+ yrs ago before I realized I could boondock. Sometimes primitive campsites were the worst. At least in a hook up place, people didn’t run those loud smelly generators!

    I don’t like myself when I feel so judgemental so I reflected on it. It dawned on me that that there are many ways of “camping” and motivations for doing it (in retrospect, duh!). At the time it was a revelation to me that for some people, their RV was like a second home, and so naturally they wanted the amenities of home (like elec., plumbing etc). Which i would also want if it was my home. They weren’t thinking of their RV as a very large tent and they weren’t trying to have the kind of experience that I was.

    When I realized this I felt much more comfortable with RV campers. Which is good, because I may well retire into an RV of some sort! I also decided to focus on what we had in common, which was a love for natural beauty. Rather than the ways we were different.

    Although 10-15 yrs ago I did begin to avoid the big parks and began boondocking, it just feels better not to be angry or judging those times I do want to camp in a large campground, like on the Oregon coast. (As Sue wisely said the other day, it’s easy to be nonjudgmental when you’re not around other people!)

    Most importantly, I backpack. That’s where you can find solitude. I’ll save my speech about that for some other forum 😉

    • Alan Rabe says:

      Exactly, my RV is my home. I find the least expensive rv campground in the area I want to explore and then when the need hits me I take the car and tent and head for the boondocks, usually mid week to avoid the weekenders. I stay a night or two and when done I can go back to my shower and bed.

  30. stan watkins says:

    A few years back I was checking out at the local grocery when the checker asked if I wanted to donate a dollar to the California State Parks.I politely declined because we have felt the sting of Arnold and crew nearly doubling the camp fees.A few months later the State park system found nearly 40 million bucks just laying around.Incompetence run a muck. Lord please preserve us here in Cali.

  31. Big See says:

    I enjoy your blog a lot. Reading about your frustration with the Discover Pass reminds me of when I was about 15 (25 years ago) and my Dad, brother and I were in the Yosemite area and wanted to drive through. We pulled up to the booth and the ranger informed my Dad that there was a fee (I want to say $20) to enter the park, good for 7 days.

    My Dad FLIPPED OUT! We would visit Yosemite in the early ’70s and I think there was either no fee at all or it was nominal ($2). He could not understand why citizens of the USA had to PAY to enter National Parks that our taxes already funded. We sat at that booth for about 3 minutes as he argued with this poor little ranger. In the end he refused to pay and we turned around and left!

    At the time I was embarrassed, but as I grow older I sympathize with his reasoning. I understand the reasons why National Parks charge fees, and I even support it I guess, but there just seems to be an inherent sense of injustice when a U.S. citizen has to pay to enjoy our natural wonders, especially when it is justified by Congress cutting funding to the NPS because of budget issues. It always seems to come back to the same thing (for me at least): Bloated government and mismanagement of funds. If we didn’t have so much waste in spending, maybe we wouldn’t have to charge so much for regular citizens to enter our National Parks.

    Anyways, thanks for the blog, it’s very entertaining and I genuinely look forward to it.

  32. cinandjules (NY) says:

    Sue and Crew,

    Just to let you know…I have to fly to California tomorrow morning. Doctors think my mom has a compressed spinal fracture. My dad doesn’t get around without the help from my mom…and frankly she can’t help herself right about now.

    I don’t know how long I will be gone…but I just didn’t want you to think I fell off the face of the earth. The house I will be staying at doesn’t have internet.

    Safe travels to you and the crew.

    • Alan Rabe says:

      cinandjules, So sorry to here about your mom. I hope everything works out for her. Have a safe trip and try not to worry too much.

      Wishing you the best!

    • PNW Alison says:

      Cinanjules – hope your trip goes well, will be thinking of you.

    • Mick says:

      Me too!

      • DeAnne in TN says:


        • Phyllis says:


          Safe trip and hope your mom gets well soon. I type this as I am staying in my mom’s home for the past 2 weeks because of her recent heart surgery.

          And well I went and bought a wifi box because we too had internet issues.
          Phyllis in Oklahoma

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You probably won’t see this until you get back home. Anyway… Want to wish your mother a good recovery and you a safe trip. It must be very difficult for all involved. I’ll miss you and will think of you often . . .

    • gingerda says:

      Safe travels…hope your mom will be ok. It’s hard as we age to deal with some of these health issues. I have some serious things going on right now and I can’t even think straight.

  33. Pat says:

    I am enjoying the discussion about fees in National parks. Back in 1962 my parents brought my brother and me from New York to AZ to visit the Grand Canyon in our un-air conditioned, black car. I have never been so hot in my life. We draped wet towels on our heads. Anyway, the point is not what it cost to enter the park. I don’t even remember what it cost. The roads were rough, large gravel and scrub board surfaces. My Dad was so concerned about the rocks damaging his oil pan that after 30 minutes of gazing in wonder at the immensity of the canyon Dad said, “Okay, have you seen enough?” And we left. He drove us back to Gallup, NM where we had spent the previous night in one cheap hotel and he checked us into another cheap hotel. Over the years I have told that story to my husband many times, so that when we went to the canyon, we stayed for a week. Then he asked if I’d seen enough and we left.

    • Alan Rabe says:

      The canyon is very difficult to enjoy from just one point. It is too large and doesn’t change all that much. You have to get down in to it to really enjoy and go often during different seasons. If you can, do an oar powered raft trip down the river, it is the best way to see it. One of my best times was a hike down to Tapeats rapids via Thunder river, wonderful vistas. And I got to drink the best water I have ever had. Thunder river is an underground river that exits out of the face of the north rim and cascades down a series of falls to Tapeats creek. It is only about a mile long. I was there in spring and the water just exploded out of the cliff. You heard the river before you saw it. Spelunkers have gone in it a low flow for miles, and never found the start of it.

  34. Gayle says:

    Re camping fees, et al, does anyone have any experience/opinions about Thousand Trails? Their website lists lots of WA and OR campgrounds within their Northwest Camping Pass. Seems like they have pretty locations and amenities. For us, I thought it would be good to prepay the fees so that the two of us don’t have to argue about the fees at we travel from campground to campground.

  35. BARB GEORGE says:

    We ‘won’ a three day trip from them…we never got that, but did get a hard sell two hour ache of energy. We came THIS close to buying in.. came home and researched it. Not worth IMO. they have closed many of the ten dollar parks.

    • Gayle says:

      Thanks! That might have been a few years ago. They stopped with the time share torture and do an annual pass for zones. We’ve stayed at KOAs, who have a zip-boom-bah attitude, until you arrive. Once we pulled into one of their parks and the mgr comes out of his house and yells: “What do you want?” I almost said: “A nice room at the Holiday Inn, thank you!” Sue, you’ve got it right. Stay OUT THERE, WAY OUT THERE!

  36. stan watkins says:

    Re thousand trails. What is the buy in now $2000? $7000? What is the yearly fee? 250?. Get that straightened out before proceeding. A guy once offered to give me his Coast to Coast membership but the yearly fee was $250 and that was 17 years ago.

    • Gayle says:

      Thousand Trails (Trials!?) abandoned that membership approach and only sell camping passes for Northwest, Southwest, Midwest for $500 approx. and you can supposedly stay for $3 per day. Website will have the real dope (poor choice of words due to WA drug addict situation — or not — that I’m reading about!) Wondering if anyone has stayed at their “resorts.”

  37. Reine in Plano says:

    Since there’s been a lot of discussion about State Park Fees, let me throw in my 2 cents. Here in Texas there’s a per person/per day charge to enter the state parks and a per night camping fee usually in the $15 to $25 range. However, you can purchase a state parks pass for $70 that gets your carload in for free and gives you four coupons for half off one night of a two night stay. I figure we save between $35 and $40 off our camping so the true cost of the pass is more like $35. And it doesn’t take many visits before you’re way ahead on the $$$. One thing I like about the Texas state parks is that the campsites are usually not crammed together so each site has a bit of privacy – at least in the parts of the state with trees:)

    Paul and I prefer national parks and forest service or COE campgrounds where we can use our geezer pass but there aren’t that many in our area. We AVOID commercial campgrounds (unless we’re going to a rally). We don’t need a swimming pool, rec room, etc. We camp to relax.

    Although I don’t necessarily agree, I can understand the point of some folks who never camp or go to state parks when they believe the users should foot the bill even though it ends up costing me more money.

  38. Bill & Ann says:

    Okay; are you tired of hearing this? Beautiful, beautiful pictures, Sue! Wish we were visiting up your way. Reading “The Forest Lover” by Susan Vreeland at this moment. Your pictures and Ms. Vreeland’s wrighting abilities are filling my senses with the beauty of your current surroundings in Washington! Any totem poles?

  39. AZ Jim says:

    Just riding along and wanted to say Hi to all. If I don’t have anything brilliant to share, I usually don’t post. That being the case it’s a wonder I ever post. This week I received another notice of a cousin passing away. I was tempted to send an email to all the surviving cousins with “please do not notify me of anymore deaths, it undermines my belief of my own immortality”.

    • DeAnne in TN says:

      Thank you for the smile, AZJim. The brilliant thing doesn’t hit my thought processes too often either, but I teach middle school. Not too much leftover every day after that.

  40. Jenny says:

    One thing you are missing on the Discover Pass. It covers land managed by three agencies. Department of Fish and Wildlife and Department of Natural Resources as well as State Parks. DFW and DNR have free primitive campsites and dispersed camping with a Discover Pass. Both agencies have a lot of land all over the state. That’s a pretty good deal.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, Jenny. I didn’t realize that until several months after we visited the state of Washington. I appreciate you clarifying that here for me and anyone who reads my older posts.

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