Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Camping at Dungeness Recreation Area

The summer was getting close to being over and we hadn't taken a camping trip.  The girls had been talking about camping all summer, so if we didn't go I am sure they would have been disappointed.  Finding a campsite last minute in August can be a challenge.  Going on a Tuesday and Wednesday night makes it easier.

The Dungeness Recreation Area is near Sequim, WA and is right next to the Dungeness Spit Wildlife Refuge. The campground only allows reservations for half the spots in the campground, and you have to mail it in three weeks in advance.  They do have offer the ability to check how many spots have already been reserved online.  I could see that there were plenty of reservable spots still available, plus all the first-come-first-serve spots so I figured we would be good and we were.  Most of the sites are large, flat, and have a decent amount of privacy.

In the past, when we have gone camping with the kids, we have done what I have heard is now referred to as glamping.  We rent a small cabin, or platform tent where there are no bathrooms, sinks, or kitchens, but you get a bed, a roof, and sometimes a small space heater. I find it more rustic than RV camping, but not as rustic as tent camping.

I could not find a glamping site available last minute, so I figured we might as well try real camping. The bonus being it is a lot cheaper. :)  We only own a small two person tent, but I knew my parents had a large six person tent, the only problem was it was about 25 years old.  Fortunately for us, the tent was still in good condition and we were good to go.

I was a bit worried that tent camping would be stressful and more trouble than it was worth, but I think this was the most relaxing camping trip yet.  The kids are old enough that I don't have to worry about keeping track of them every single second.  There was a playground right next to our campsite, and they would go off, make friends, and we could sit at the campsite and read or play cards.  The most stressful part was the dog, who decided on the first night, to escape the tent and do a nocturnal exploration of the campground.

I precooked most of the food so all it needed was to be wrapped in foil and warmed up on the fire.  (We did have a problem in that the first site we picked didn't have a grate over the firepit, so we ended up taking our whole site down and moving to the one next to us.)  We had teriyaki beef kabobs the first night (flank steak marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, honey, garlic and ginger), and spaghetti the next night (boil water on the fire, cook noodles, drain, mix in a jar of sauce and warm a little longer). The kids had cereal for breakfast and Floyd and I had premade breakfast scramble that we warmed up on the fire.  Easy peasy.

The campground is a short walk to the entrance of the wildlife refuge.  You have to pay a few bucks to go on the wildlife refuge and then it is about half a mile walk on a paved trail til you get to the beach.  The spit is nice.  There isn't a whole lot of sand.  During high tide it is all drift wood, during low tide you get about 30 yards from the driftwood to the water.  The spit itself is five miles long.  There is a lighthouse at the end, but we didn't visit it.  It is all very nice, EXCEPT they have a ridiculous rule that you are not allowed to run farther than half a mile along the spit.  Some little old lady stopped me while I was running and told me that I would disturb the nesting birds.  I am a nature lover, and tree hugger, but this rule does not make sense.
1) I was on the sand that would be underwater in a few hours.  If there was a nesting bird where I was running they had a way bigger problem then me.

2)  I do not think a human travelling at 6 - 7 miles per hour is really all that more startling than one traveling 3 - 4.  And I could not find any evidence saying it was when I went and read some of the studies that the US Fish and Wildlife Department used to come to the conclusion that running is an inappropriate activity on refuge's around the country.  None of the studies specifically looked at running even though they were cited as such.  They just concluded that the more activity in an area, the more effect it had on the migrating bird populations.  There was no evidence that a walker was different than a jogger.

3) They allow four wheels and trucks to be used to take the caretakers out to the lighthouse and back (I saw three vehicles pass while I was on the beach for an hour).  Gas powered vehicles travelling 10 - 15 miles an hour are definitely more intrusive than a jogger.

4) One of my favorite authors, Richard Louve, talks about how when we make nature off limits, for its own good, then people don't get to experience it, and it becomes an abstract idea that people will not be prone to really protect.  Restricting the use, especially such an innocuous use, means that less people will visit the area, and thus will have no personal stake in its overall care.

5) Clamming and crabbing are allowed.  Eating the animals living at the refuge is a lot more disruptive than running by them.

Apparently this is a newly instituted rule, and really annoyed and frustrated me (if you can't tell).

On the last day we headed to the Sequim Game Farm where you drive around and feed the animals bread from your car.  I was torn on whether to go or not, because places like this are known for not having the most ethical breeding programs, and reviewers on the internet pointed out the same thing.  But we did end up going, and it was a lot of fun. Surprisingly Dyna (our dog) didn't completely freak out when llamas and zebras stuck their head in the car though she did seem to get a bit nervous about the bears, and the wolf who was tracking her from inside its enclosure.

Taking the ferry

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