Monday, June 11, 2012

Thar She Blows

Camping 101:  When passing acres of windfarms (the largest in the country, I'm told) you should consider it fair warning that the campground will be windy.  When the park ranger tells you to park your car next to your tent to act as a windbreak, you should just pack up and go home.

We spent Friday night at Wanapum State Park, mostly awake, and wondering when our tent was going to collapse and blow away in the insanely strong winds.  The kids slept fine, as we put a small 2 person tent inside our large tent.  They were toasty warm and unaffected by the fact that the large tent was being bent in half on a regular basis by the winds.  By 5am Saturday morning, we were done pretending to sleep and decided to break camp.  If the weather improved, we'd be back for the final night of our reservation; otherwise we were headed home.

As we surveyed the campgrounds, we saw about 35% of tents didn't even survive the night.  I guess we were lucky in that respect.  Another family broke camp at the same time we did, and just threw their tent in the dumpster.  We headed to town in search of breakfast, since starting a fire was pretty much out of the question.  For a bunch of farming communities, there was remarkably little open early, and we ended up at a McDonalds.  At least we found an espresso stand that was open.

After breakfast we drove around looking at the countryside.  We ended up at a boat dock that was completely deserted, so Turtle got to play in the water and wander around.  Kendra went wading as well, but the water was freezing cold.  The air temp + crazy wind didn't help, so there was no swimming.  Later we stopped in Frenchmans Coulee and hiked about a mile up an easy trail.  There is no tough hiking with a (almost) four year old and 1 year old who isn't walking.  It was fun though.  Seeing the desert landscape, and knowing it's such a short distance from water soaked Seattle is amazing.

Our last stop was the Gingko Petrified Forest State Park.  Do you know the state gem of WA?  It's petrified wood.  I had no idea - we learned something!  This area is one of the most unique petrified forests in the world because of the variety found there.  Most of the time there are only 1-2 kinds of wood.  Here there are over 30 that have been identified, from all altitudes.  They aren't sure if an eruption brought them down into the Columbia River basin and a log jam kept them there (see also Spirit Lake after the Mt St. Helen's eruption), or if it was just an incredible diverse ecosystem to begin with.  Either way, beautiful and interesting.

By mid-afternoon the clouds had moved in, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up (!!).  I wouldn't have been surprised to see someone trying to surf on the Columbia River.  We went home.  It was a good choice, since by Sunday the kids and I were all sick.  We did make burgers outside, and even cooked up a cobbler on the firepit.  It was an early night.

Monday morning - we're all miserable.  Kendra has a fever, but lots of energy.  Darian has a higher fever and is very snuggly and wants mama all the time.  I have a fever and just want to be left alone.  We compromised and blew up the air mattress in the middle of the living room, camped out and watched movies all day.  Kendra bounced around as she need too, and Darian and I snuggled laying on the mattress.  Considering we are all sick, it was a good day.

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