Western Washington state is blessed with a phenomenal natural environment. The locals call it sea to ski. I experience this all the time. I can look east and see the Cascades and at the same time look west and see Puget Sound and on clear days – the Olympic Mountains on the Peninsula. It’s quite extraordinary.
I am preparing to get back on the road as a full-time Airstreamer at the end of the summer. I’m taking a few short camping trips to get myself back in the swing of things. I just spent part 1 of camping Sea to Ski by traveling to Ocean City State Park on the western shores of the Olympic Peninsula on the Pacific Ocean. What a treat this was for me to get back into nature as my 24 hour environment.
This park is in a lowland area next to the beach. As such, the mosquitos are plentiful. I was not expecting that! No matter, because as you get onto the dunes and then the beach, the mosquitos disappear in the constant beach breeze or wind depending on the conditions.
I had a beautiful campsite with a small “backyard” surrounded by moss-covered trees that towered over me. Bunnies came out to eat the wildflowers in my yard and it was the tonic of rejuvenation that I needed. As I opened my windows to let in the fresh air and the cool temps, I heard a whooshing noise. I thought it was a highway – having spent a lot of nights camping near highways. I was not anywhere near a highway and then realized – it’s the sound of the ocean. I hopped in my truck and drove over to the beach parking area in the park. I could have walked through the woods, but those mosquitos… I started walking the path through the vegetation through the dunes. In Florida, this would be sea grape trees and sea oats. Here, it is conifer trees, wild irises and yes, sea oats. I marveled that a conifer tree in full pine cone mode could be sitting next to the ocean!
I crested the dune and there it was – the mighty Pacific Ocean. On the Florida east coast, where I spent a lot of time at the beach, the Atlantic Ocean is pretty calm. The surf report when I was in high school was monotonous – waves are 1 to 2 feet, semi-glassy, with poor form. Here on the Pacific the waves were a minimum of 2 feet, lots of foam and churn, with great form. Relatively speaking, my couple of days there were relatively calm for the Pacific. I’ve seen it in full beast mode and it’s awesome power!
Another surprise was that you can drive on this beach, which I later did. I felt like I was in Daytona again. The beach is expansive as in several hundred yards wide. Despite it being a beautiful sunny day, there were just a few people there. Giant driftwood dots the beach, offering unique places to sit or lean to take in the view. There was a sea mist coming off the waves providing an unusual low layer of what looked like fog at the shoreline. I turned around to view what was behind me – sand, dunes, and trees – where my campsite was, and only a couple of buildings up and down the shore. In Florida it’s mostly wall-to-wall development. Complete opposite here. Then I saw them – far in the distance, the Olympic mountain range. I was experiencing true sea to ski in Washington.
I chose a campground where I could dry camp – no hookups means no electricity, water, or waste disposal at my campsite. My onboard water tank was full, my rooftop solar provided all the power I needed and my little inverter allowed me to keep my laptop and phone charged – though I rarely had a cell signal. My propane fuels my fridge and cooktop. I was completely off grid for three glorious days. I wrote, I read, I watched the bunnies. Grand solitude. And I met some interesting campers along the way – fellow midwesterners who were dry camping too.
I left on a Friday to come back to civilization and passed a steady stream of traffic going in the opposite direction. I’m sure the campground would be much busier on the weekend. I have the joy of being able to set my own schedule and miss the crowds. As I drove back I passed a space where I could see Mt. Rainier in all it’s glory on this clear day. That’s where I will be next week! Part 2 is doing the ski in sea to ski. I’m looking forward to it.