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Trip Report Trip Report: Northwest camping trip, 2007

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2007 Camping trip

We had been invited to spend a weekend in Seattle, including a meal at the Herb Farm, and given the costs with the extra meals, we felt that we needed to stretch out the trip a bit. Rather than flying up for a weekend--arriving Friday and departing Monday morning--we decided to make a camping trip of it to revisit some of the Northwest. The travel costs probably came out to be equal to flying to Seattle, but were spread out over a two week period of our choosing.

I have previously described a camping trip to that area (http://tinyurl.com/37dbxf), so I will try to be brief.

We left on a Sunday, thinking that this would make it easier to find a camp site. We drove past Eureka, intending to stop in the redwoods between Eureka and Crescent City. By 5 p.m. there were no sites to be had. I should have stopped earler south of Eureka, which would have been OK for our itinerary. As it was, we stayed in a Motel 8 in Crescent City, no great shakes and not cheap for what it was ($80 with tax), and ate at a fish restaurant that was surrounded by parking lots filled with RVs. This room cost more than the other six nights we were not staying with friends; and the meals at the camp site were cheaper than eating at a restaurant.

The campgrounds varied in cost and amenities. The most expensive were the state park sites ($20), but in Oregon that includes free showers. The cheapest was a free campground run by the Washington State Department of Natural resources. One Oregon National Forest campground cost $5 (actually $2.50 because we have a Golden Pass). These latter campgrounds only have pit toilets, running water out of a spigot (or an old fashioned pump in the last one), but have a well-defined campsite that will include a fire pit and a picnic table. We have an 1991 edition of a campground book, which unfortunately has not been reissued, listing all the public and private campgrounds in the West. We relied on that to find public campgrounds, but I discovered that there is an almost infallible way of finding them on the fly: almost any major state road going through a National Forest will have signs for NF campgrounds posted in that area; e.g. Rte 140 between Medford and Klamath Lake which has half a dozen campgrounds within the NF boundaries.

From Crescent City we drove to Eugene with a long detour for lunch at Crater Lake because we did not want to arrive too early at our friend’s house. The next day we took secondary roads up the Willamette Valley, which I do not recommend because it is not very interesting from a scenic point of view. We stopped overnight in Battle Ground Lake State Park in Washington. We had done so previously, and the campground is as we remembered. But the rules changed. Previously the park was not gated at night, so that an evening out on the town in Portland would not have been a problem. Now the gates are closed at 9 p.m. We had come across the same policy in the Oxbow Regional Park in 1991. Is camping in the Portland area that unsafe? From there we went to Seattle.

Except for one outing to the Glass Museum in Tacoma (it is worth a visit), our stay in Seattle was a food weekend. We stayed overnight with one friend who took us to an excellent tapas restaurant, The Harvest Vine, (http://www.harvestvine.com/). We sat at the bar, talked to the chefs, discussed various dishes and wines, tasted a couple of sweet wines compliments of the sommelier, and generally had a grand time. The next day we moved to our other friends’ house with whom we had arranged this food weekend. We went to Salumi Artisan Cured Meats (http://www.salumicuredmeats.com/) for lunch and to pick up some meats for the rest of the weekend. Unfortunately they were out of lamb prosciutto, which sounded very interesting, but the other meats were excellent. That evening we had a relatively simple meal in a French bistro. The next day we went to Pike Street market to pick up food for the evening meal. And then we went home to cook up a storm for the evening--we did a cioppino and Devil on Horseback (prunes wrapped in bacon and then grilled) for a second time--the third time turned out the best. The host has an extensive wine cellar, so we enjoyed various wines throughout the weekend. Aside from dinner, we tried to keep the meals light because the following night we went to the Herb Farm (http://tinyurl.com/2ojy3x) where we probably had the best of our three meals ($500 for two) there. (If interested in its menus and others we have collected over the years, go to: http://tinyurl.com/2u64bs). I would definitely recommend the experience, even though I am not crazy about the décor and the opening spiel. The chef is leaving, but the concept for the restaurant is not his, so one can expect a continuation of excellence.

From Seattle we went along the coast of the San Juan Strait and camped about 30 miles from Neah Bay. We visited the museum which we had seen in 1991. My impression is that it is larger than it used to be, although there was no increase in the artifacts that are exhibited. It is interesting because it contains the remains of a village that was buried in a mud slide 400 years ago, which is why the wood was preserved. But the colors, if there were any, are gone. We also took the walk to Cape Flattery to get a look at the ocean and saw a couple of bald eagles in the area. Our return trip took us to an Oregon state park, Lassen National Park where we met a friend, Lake Tahoe where we stayed at another friend’s house, and then home.

For photos, including the previous trip, go to: http://tinyurl.com/39o373

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