World's Largest Book, Mandalay Myanmar, Jan. 2019

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Making Reservations vs. Stopping When and Where We Want

We stayed over a week at Mossyrock Park, which is run by the Tacoma Power District.

 Evening at Riffe Lake, Mossyrock Park

This was the first year I made reservations, mostly at State and National Parks, for all of our over 90 nights of summer travel, before we left Jojoba in Spring. In other years I have made reservations for special places, like when I made reservations at Florida State parks in the Keys eleven months ahead. But I mostly have relied on making online reservations a few days or week ahead. I found this only worked part of the time and I sometimes ended up calling commercial parks as we traveled. These were mostly one night stays, that I picked  out of the Passport America book or used the Allstays site on the web. I do try to look at some of the reviews, but if it was same day, it was hard. Personally, I find hunting for a park or even a Walmart quite stressful while driving on a travel day, and we often want to stay in a place for several days. 

Cost and security are both very important to me. We do not use the big golf courses or other amenities that are included in the cost of some high end commercial parks. Nor am I comfortable with the tight spaces found at some of the old, and often NOT less expensive, commercial parks. 

Even with the reservation fee charged on State Park reservations, I find that we average a savings of $10 or more per night. Which comes to at least $900 for the summer! We put that into our fuel budget, and get to stay at some of the prettiest, friendliest places in the country. Of course we could save even more if we boondocked, but that is not our way.

Our rig is a 35' class A.
Some state and national parks have size limits of less than that, or have only a few larger spots. Some have no size limits. The upper area of the Mossyrock Park, called the Birds-Eye area, had no size restrictions. Ours was probably the only spot with two big trees, but we were still able to get satellite below the branches.

Getting a spot in most State parks during the week is no problem.
But we have found they are usually quite full on weekends, with more local people just getting away for a few days, or camping with their friends and families.

We see many groups on weekends. 

This friendly couple was "holding down the fort" for the others in their large group, who were out on the lake.

Their group of 40 reserves the same adjacent spaces every year, months in advance. Lots of kids, lots of bikes! Unfortunately they cannot have a campfire at the center of their large circle of chairs because there a burn ban went into effect two nights ago.

So, since we are retired and camping full time in the summer, reservations are required if we want to stay for the weekends at State Parks.

We do not have a boat, nor do we fish, but we like lakes, and it really doesn't take much to amuse us. 

One evening we took a ride down a small road  had a sign that read "Dam Viewing Point".
At the end of the road was what felt like a forgotten little park. It had a moss encased information sign that told us this dam was the tallest in Washington, and that it generated 40% of Tacoma Power's electricity. 

Ah! Summer Vacation!
We also came across this group of happy looking teenagers. We noticed they were not smoking anything, and only seemed to have a 12 pack of Mountain Dew.
 But remembering our own youth, we wondered what they might be putting in it! 

Later in the week we stopped a roadside pull out from which we could see the other side of the dam. I thought this picture tells the story: big dam, perfect summer sunny day, boy fishing. 
There were several other people fishing, but he seemed to have the best seat.

While at Mossyrock, we took a 75 mile round trip Jeep ride to see the "other" side of Mt. Saint Helen.

East side of Mt. Saint Helen

 We viewed her from west side last year.

A farther ridgeline in the blast area

It was interesting to see the difference between the areas that have been replanted by the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company, vs. natural regrowth. 

Trees in the blast zone all lie in the same direction.

Before the eruption, Spirit Lake had several Boy Scout Camps and private lodges along its shores.

One man famously lost his life, when he refused to leave his lodge on the lake before the mountain blew. The white edges of the lake, in the image above, are huge floats of logs washed down since the eruption in 1980.

There is a steep trail down to the shoreline, but there is no public access to the waters of Spirit Lake now.

There was some haze from distant fires, but we were able to see Mt. Adams from the Windy Ridge Viewpoint. We could not see Mt. Hood, which can be seen on a clear day, but got a glimpse of Mt. Rainier on the drive back.

As we looked at Mt. Saint Helen, I noticed something that looked like a cloud rising from a ridge.

Using the zoom on my camera, I was able to see it better and decided it might be a volcano vent.
It was all rock, so it couldn't have been a wildfire. 

She is still active!

We did do other things while at this park, including visiting our  new friend Kay from Jojoba, where we will be camping during the Labor Day weekend, and going to the local diner for a fish fry.  

Live music was being played
We heard about the local Blueberry Festival that was held in town over the weekend, and decided to stop in. As a previous exhibitor at Art and Craft Festivals I had great sympathy for the vendors at this one. It was almost deserted. 

But, all in all it was a quiet, relaxing, long week, just living the life.

Moving on Monday.

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