Drying out in S’quim

This town in northwest Washington is actually spelled ”Sequim” (our Northern California Airstream friends clued us in to the pronunciation), and it’s actually not where we’re camped; we’re at nearby Dungeness Recreation Area. But that headline is catchy and close enough to the truth. (Good thing I’m not writing this professionally, eh?)

Dungeness Spit

As sometimes I have to admit, I’m unclear how to describe where we are. The northwest region of Washington includes islands, a peninsula, a big sand spit—and all around those is the Pacific and a billion bays and rivers and the Puget Sound, with Canada to the west as well as the north.

I hope my Seattle friends here will set the record straight, but in the meantime, suffice it to say we’re at a recreation area at the edge of an especially beautiful natural area: the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge.

According to the ranger stationed at the footpath to the wildlife refuge, this is one of the world’s largest sand spits, and it protects the bay and harbor (on the right) so that salmon and steelhead trout use it as a nursery, and shorebirds and waterfowl use it for a resting spot during migration or to spend winter.

You show your national park pass (or pay $3) to hike down to the spit and walk to the end, but I’ve yet to do that because there are a million other people here doing the same, mostly tourists from or staying in Seattle. I did make my way down to the shore, but I have excellent cell signal there so I used the opportunity to catch up with people on the phone. (LOL, and I have the nerve to judge tourists on how they spend their time on vacation!)

The Perfect Campsite

Another reason I’m choosing not to spend time on the spit, or even to hike the miles of trails in the recreation area, is that I’m loving our campsite—exactly what we needed after all that wind and rain and cold in Oregon and Olympic National Park.

The sites here are large, wooded, private. We have a cleared area for a tent that’s protected from the wind and open to the sun—yes, I said sun—so we didn’t set up our tent. Although sunshine has graced us for only a bit each afternoon, sitting in it been fully rejuvenating.

I’ve pulled out nearly everything from the Airstream to dry and some things to bleach (we grew a hardy batch of mold coming up the coast, on my outside sofa, my backpack, even the inside windowsills). So, while visitors are recreationing (is that a word?) all around us, I’m cleaning and soaking in the rays in this campsite that’s exactly right for us right now.

Plus, the bushes around the clearing are roses that attract hummingbirds, and bald eagles are gathering material for nests right overhead. Sitting in the sun watching them all is as much of a balm for me as hiking a wildlife refuge.

Cliff Trail

As with all our coastal campsites, there’s a trail running parallel to the Pacific right behind us.

It’s much more crowded than the others (contrary to this picture I worked hard to get), and it doesn’t provide access to the beach because, except for the spit, there is no beach: just a sheer cliff. But the views from the trail across the bay to Vancouver Island make navigating the crowds worth it.

Here’s the picnic table where we can get just enough cell signal to talk on the phone, sometimes.

Banjo’s Day at the Brewery

Our errand day ended with a walk in downtown Port Angeles, an old maritime town with a bit of tourism and several breweries. Only one was open that day, but it looks out over the bay, so we could watch freighters and the ferry creep back and forth in front of us (not pictured because I was trying to get Banjo in the shot).

Banjo was more interested in the kajillion other dogs at the brewery, especially the retriever with the couple next to us who chatted us up about their year-long travels in their very nice Class A as they hunt for the perfect retirement home.

I’ve found that even just a few minutes of conversation with strangers makes me feel like a social human once more.

Tomorrow we drive the rig onto a ferry that goes from Port Townsend across the Puget Sound to what might be called the Peninsula, which then connects to Canada. So, we’re near the end of our Great Trek up the Pacific Coast, and we’re about to begin our Great Trek east across Canada.

A Coast Full of Life

Over these past two years on the road I’ve discovered so much I love about this county that I didn’t even know about: the beauty of Lake Superior, the vastness of North Dakota, the rich ecological diversity of Florida, how much of the desert I love (and which parts I’d rather not visit again).

The biggest surprise to me has been how alive the Pacific Coast is. As a Central East Coast girl, I’ve thought of the beach as where you lounge on the flat sand, body surf in the mild waves, walk for miles along the serene landscape. Turns out that: steep, rocky, windy, dramatic—all of this makes for a coast alive with drama and sealife that I have fallen for hard. We’ve seen sea lions, otters, seals, whales (for goodness sake), and the endlessly fascinating tidal pools just chock full of life that changes with each tide.

I’m still an East Coast girl. But now one who’s grateful for having been able to spend three months exploring the Pacific Coast where my understanding of ”the beach” has expanded with wind and rain and cold, but also with dramatic views and octopi!

4 thoughts to “Drying out in S’quim”

  1. No ferry ride from Port Angeles to Vancouver Island to visit the Butchart Gardens in high rose season?? (and your year in Portland didn’t rate mention of the international Rose Test Garden??) Victoria is totally walkable, you could leave the rig stateside for a day… imagine strolling in a proper little English village that has Northwest Native totem poles here & there. Next time, eh?

    1. Sorry, neither of us is a fan of formal gardens, but we saw plenty we did enjoy. And we will be back!

  2. Love your waxing philosophic – ours is a Great Country and I’m thrilled for you that you are having this time to explore it so thoroughly. Everyone should!

    1. Thanks, Renee! I love having this space to do that thinking; otherwise I might miss the bigger picture.