I ATE THE STATE – Camping Edition!

Greetings – And happy Memorial Day!

There’s something magical about a campfire.  Something that draws you in…That pulls you into its dance… OR, maybe that was just the beer and the fact I had my fair share while sitting around the campfire with friends and family over the holiday weekend.  Enh.  Tomato / tomatoe… Campfires and camping are awesome!  And so is beer…

Campfire

Nothing like the smell of a campfire. That you still can’t get out of your clothes several days later…

In keeping with a very enduring family tradition, I joined friends and family in the wilds of Central Washington for a weekend of campfires, food-on-sticks, motorcycles, bugs and various beverage concoctions.  Throw in some very creative – and questionably comfortable – sleeping configurations, a bit of makeshift DJing and me again breaking off a front brake lever on the Honda Trail 90 and it was a pretty well-rounded affair.  (And I wasn’t even riding the Honda 90 this time… I’m clearly a motorcycle menace.)

We had planned on hitting up the awesome Icewater Creek Campground, located not too far past the Cle Elum area in Wenatchee National Forest.  It sits next to Taneum Creek and connects easily to the many motorcycle trails in the area.  It’s also very well-maintained, has decent outhouses and easily accommodates tents to trailers.  That said, it also fills up INCREDIBLY FAST on holiday weekends.  Eeesh!  We thought we’d have no trouble finding a place as we left on Friday, but that was simply not the case.  Campground fail!

After being shut down at Icewater Creek and in the nearby surrounding campground areas, we went for broke and drove further up the road.  As it was getting dark, we had no idea what we’d find – or not find – and since we were a bit of a ragtag caravan, it was getting dicey.  We continued up the rain-gutted, gravel road, only gaining in elevation, hoping desperately for a campsite to magically appear just around the corner… And it finally did!  It seriously couldn’t have come at a better time.  My nephew, Eli and I had maxed out on rehearsing our amazing duet of ‘Love Is an Open Door’ from the FROZEN soundtrack and we were both getting tired, hangry and antsy.  In a twisted coup of road trip madness, Eli even got me to sing some opera for him… We very obviously needed to get OUT of the car.

We really were very lucky to have found the spot we did.  Not only was it one of the last in the area, but it was now fully dark, the entrance to the campsite was very easy to miss on the tree-lined, unlit road and our camping posse wouldn’t easily fit into just any spot.  (Although, by this time we’d seriously begun contemplating pulling over and setting up camp on the side of the road.)  The fact we all fit, there was a fire pit already established and a source of water was close by went far beyond what we thought we’d find at that point in the evening.  SCORE!

Campsite

We’re lucky there weren’t more of us on this trip – we wouldn’t have fit!

After my brother situated his monster camper rig in the site, we all filed in after and situated ourselves for the grand setup.  Our friend, Gabe was setting up his tent and I typically also set up a tent, but I’d decided to try and trick out the Sportage for this particular adventure.  The backseat folds down and makes for a fairly large area – why couldn’t it work as a bed?  Suffice it to say there are still a few details to work out, but my plan was overall a success.  Granted, something slightly cushier than my Thermarest might be in order, but it really was fairly comfortable.  (Considering how comfortable one can actually be on any camping/backpacking expedition…)

However, before any full-on campsite trick-out could truly get underway, drinks were in order.  And some tunes… And the promise of upcoming food-on-sticks.  (Go Team Food-on-Sticks!)  It was also at this point when my 11-year nephew, Eli further illustrated the breadth of his musical interests.  We’d already been rockin’ the FROZEN soundtrack and various operatic arias on the way up and he had additionally professed his deep love of Dubstep, but it wasn’t until I put on BACK IN BLACK and he yelled out, “Now, this is what I came for!”  that I understood how diverse his musical appreciation actually was.  Throw in a conversation about the intricacies of horn lines in Earth Wind & Fire arrangements and various shout-outs to Rush songs and that kid just owns my musical heart… However, he wasn’t too pleased with my foray into salsa music – we’ll have to work on that one…

Snacks and Music

Snacks and music – Two very important items for any camping trip.

With our campsite set up, music playing, drinks in our hands – of both the adult and kid-friendly variety – and food roasting on sticks, we finally relaxed into the prospect of a few, fun-filled days in the mountains.  A few marshmallows might’ve been dropped, a brake lever might’ve seen better days and my back could’ve used a more enduring sleeping pad, but a great time was indeed had by all.  Chalk up another success in the records of Smith family camping adventures.

Some of the glorious highlights:

Dinner

Nothing like meat in the woods. As long as it doesn’t involve an animal chasing you for it.

Coolers

We had a few more of these lying around – I’m pretty sure at least one of them had actual food in it… Beer and ice take up A LOT of room.

Bacon

BACON. Need I say more?

Honda 90

Ryan on wood gathering detail. BEFORE I knocked off the brake lever.

Gear

My brother, Ryan and nephew, Eli back from the trail.

Until next time – Happy trails!

🙂

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