REVISITING THE PARK | Short Seattle summers steer campers to coast

REVISITING THE PARK | Short Seattle summers steer campers to coast

REVISITING THE PARK | Short Seattle summers steer campers to coast

On a good sunny day in Seattle sick-leave usage probably doubles. Seattleites have a common yearning that summer should fall on a weekend.

A few hints of sunshine have always given us hope that the plans we make for outdoor activities will not be under an umbrella.

In the ‘60s, The Attic Alehouse and the Red Onion Tavern patrons organized baseball games (rain or shine) at various remote lakes on Sundays when the bars were closed. One favorite spot was Pine Lake, which was quite the poke across Interstate 90 past Issaquah, then miles north on a gravel road, with a few signs stating 8 miles more.

We pulled off one potholed road onto a narrower one and found a guy sitting in a small clearing. He pointed to where we could park and said, “Four people, one car: $2.”

The price of gas had just shot up from 18 cents to 23 cents, so we were shellshocked. That was as much as a schooner of beer!

We parked at water’s edge, next to a cook stove that we were happy to see furnished with logs, kindling and paper.

After a day of swimming, beer and baseball, the sun slipped into the west. Accordions and other instruments began to play schottische and faster polka tunes so we followed the music to a gazebo to dance.

Camping out
During the summer of ’53, Dick (my window-diving friend), two young ladies and one other couple were the only ones from our group up for camping on the Washington coast.

On the way to a beach just north of what was not yet Ocean Shores, we stopped at a little tavern where we met some folks from the area.

After several rounds of shuffleboard and brew, one of them disappeared and came back with a smoked salmon so big it covered most of the table.

We told them of our plans to camp on the beach, and they told us about a secret spot but said, “Tell no one.” An apparent tribal leader gave us a note granting us permission if anyone questioned us.

We thanked them and headed north to a turnoff where we had to pack in our gear — what a find!

There, before us, was a mound of sand where driftwood had collected. We found some boards and branches nearby and built a lean-to and proceeded to lay out our gear.

The other couple camped alongside in their tent so we combined all of our groceries and shared the campfire.

We spent the following three days hiking, playing cards, eating and drinking beer under the bright sun. The tide came in, and the water was warm enough for quick, refreshing dips.

The night before our final day, thunder, lightning and a humongous downpour threatened to diminish our otherwise-perfect lean-to party. The heavy rain weakened our fire, and attempts to restart it with paper and cardboard caused smoke to engulf our shelter.
The other couple chose to depart.

We had planned on a huge roast for that last day’s feast but we could not get the fire going, so we did what anyone would do under such conditions. My friend Dick introduced his offering: a brand-new fifth of Johnnie Walker Black.

So with Johnnie and a few beers, we ran in between raindrops and went swimming. It didn’t even feel cold.

A while later and ravenous, we headed back to the lean-to and scavenged for food. We found a few marshmallows and some chocolate and then remembered we had three large cans of Boston baked beans. We filled a pot so full, we could hardly stir it.

As our hunger mounded, we added anything that burned, then fanned it to ready our gourmet meal. Finally, when the pot was hot to the touch, we yelled, “Beans!”

With four soupspoons the others had left behind, we ate our way all the way down to the part that had cooked hard to the bottom.

A gas of a time
Soon we’d had enough; it was time to break camp. The girls cleaned the campsite as Dick and I packed the gear out, leaving the area as we found it.

We leaped into my 1951 Oldsmobile 98 convertible and bounced to the highway, not really recalling those ruts on the way in. The speed limit of 55 mph was strictly enforced so the road east toward Aberdeen was slow and somewhat painful.

A few more miles into the drive, someone said we should make a gas stop. The car filled with laughter as we did stop for said gas.

Finally, a radio signal came through, and as we sang along, someone said, “Let’s stop and admire the scenery.”

The rain gave way to a little sun, and we laughed our way home. As we passed cars, we laughed harder.

Windows down, singing and laughing, we left a camping trip on the ocean that truly was a gas.

RICHARD CARL LEHMAN is a longtime Madison Park resident.[[In-content Ad]]