July 12, 2018 South Beach Campground, Washington

South Beach View Through the Windshield
South Beach View Through the Windshield

Return to South Beach

In 2014 I discovered this little jewel of a campground as I made my first trip around the Olympic Peninsula. At that time, when I pulled into the campground, I was a little underwhelmed to say the least. What lay in front of me was a very crowded narrow gravel strip with RV’s and tents packed in as tight as sardines, lots of dust, smoky fires, and people wandering through the tightly spaced campsites. I grabbed the only available spot right at the entrance, as far from the beach as was possible, and figured I would only be able to tolerate staying in this hectic, congested spot for a night or two.

Fifty-one days later, when they closed the campground for the season just after Labor Day, I left with a whole different attitude about this very unique camping spot. As with real estate, location means everything here. After a couple nights camped at the entrance I was fortunate enough to see a unit leaving a beachside campsite and moved myself over to the vacated site. Still packed in tight with little space between the front and rear of my motorhome and my neighbors, at least now I could draw the blinds on the driver’s side of my rig and thus sort of close out the congestion on one side of the campsite. And the view out the other side was of the beach. I was serenaded to sleep nightly by the sound of the waves crashing on the beach, drowning out  ( most of ) the noise of the other campers. Days were spent reading and walking on the beach with Jenny and Sam. While the west roasted under 90 plus degree temps that summer, here at the beach it was a pleasant 70 – 80 degrees every day and nights were just right for sleeping with temps in the 50’s.

So for quite some time I have been wanting to return here and get a respite from the summer heat.

South Beach Campsite
South Beach Campsite

After a couple nights in a campsite across the road from the beachfront sites, I was able to move into this wonderful campsite, probably the best site of the 60+ sites in the campground.

South Beach Campsite
South Beach Campsite

Nobody in front of me, nobody to the left, and only the beach to the right.

Surf Fishermen
Surf Fishermen

This is my morning view out the passenger side window, not bad for a campsite that costs me all of $7.50 a night. There are no hookups of any kind here, no water available and no dump station, but those are available about 5 miles north of here at the Klalaloch Campground. Being out in the open as this site is, satellite reception is fine and there is a very strong Verizon signal here.

A Most Unusual Day in the Campground

South Beach Early Morning
South Beach Early Morning

The early morning shot above shows me in the campsite I had when I first arrived here on Monday.  The site I coveted was directly across the road from where I was and the woman tenting there told me she was leaving on Wednesday, so on Wednesday morning I signed myself up for four nights in that spot and sat back waiting for her to vacate the site so I could move over and set up there. But there turned out to be a little fly in the ointment in the person of a production company that moved in early that morning to shoot commercials for an RV manufacturer … and they had chosen the perfect site to use for that shoot, the site I was intending to move to as soon as the woman vacated that site.

I was a little dumbfounded to learn of this from a casual conversation with a fellow camper who happened to be part of the production crew. I told her I  was a little bewildered that there were no postings of any kind that an event like this was happening and when I checked with the campground host to find out if this was for real, they had no knowledge of this either .. kind of strange, but then again, this is a campground run by the federal government, the National Park Service.

So there I was, ready to move to my ideal campsite, and I was told that it was to be used by the production company, not me, even though I had paid for the site and there was no indication anywhere that someone else had reserved that site for the day. As a younger man, I would probably have fought to move onto my paid for site regardless, but at this stage of my life, I decided to just roll with the punches and see what transpires.

In the Middle of the Action
In the Middle of the Action

So I remained on my original campsite as the production crew set up all around me as you can see in the image above.

Caterer
Caterer

Behind me a caterer had his trailer and set out a spread for breakfast and coffee breaks.

Wardrobe Motorhome
Wardrobe Motorhome

In front of the caterer was the wardrobe bus for the models, occupying the rear of this motorhome while the front of the trig was an onsite production room for the photographers.

Wardrobe Motorhome
Wardrobe Motorhome
Prop Trucks
Prop Trucks

Three rental trucks house all the various props and equipment the photographers would need for the shoot.

Unloading Props
Unloading Props
Setting Up for the Shoot
Setting Up for the Shoot

Around noon, a fifth wheel was moved onto the ( my ) site and set up for the first shoot.

Models for the Shoot
Models for the Shoot

The models moved in and the staff set out props for the shoot. Looks like a pretty nice site, wouldn’t you say?

The Shoot
The Shoot

Photographers, there were four of them involved, started doing external shots after an hour or so of interior shots.

Shooting Platform
Shooting Platform

I set up my ladder behind my motorhome and allowed the photographers to use my roof as a shooting platform.

Getting a Better Angle
Getting a Better Angle

Probably should have gotten a liability waiver from them, but fortunately, no one got hurt climbing up and down from the RV.

Lunch Break
Lunch Break

As I mentioned before, I was in the center of all the action, and that was no different as the caterer set up tables to serve lunch to the crew. Although I didn’t partake, I might note that I was invited to join them for lunch by the production managers.

Lunch Break
Lunch Break
Lunch Break
Lunch Break
Lunchtime
Lunchtime

This young woman typified the attitude all of these folks, pleasant, hard working people that genuinely appeared to enjoy what they were doing. I spent a long day , from 8 AM until 10 PM with these people, the drivers, the photographers, the caterer, the ” worker bees “, and the managers and they were all genuinely nice people. I would have to say that I have never encountered such a mixed bunch that appeared to work so well together.

Motorhomes Move In
Motorhomes Move In

After lunch they moved the fifth wheel out and moved in two motorhomes that they spent the rest of the afternoon and evening shooting.

Motorhome Reflection
Motorhome Reflection

I got a kick out of the reflection of my dowdy rig in the highly polished exterior of the $578,000 45 foot motorhome.

Motorhome Reflection
Motorhome Reflection

You certainly would not see any reflections when looking at the side of my motorhome.

At 9:30 PM, the photographers got their final sunset shots of the motorhomes and the day’s shooting was completed and the boss called it a wrap to the cheers of the hard working staff. The motorhomes were moved out and I was able to finally move onto my cherished spot. By 10:30, about an hour after my normal bedtime, I was finally set up and ready to enjoy the rest of my stay at South Beach.

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June 28, 2018 Port Townsend, Washington

Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins

Fawns, Flowers, and Whale Watching

Lounging Blacktail Bucks
Lounging Blacktail Bucks

Port Townsend has a large intown resident deer population, and some would say, a large intown deer problem. Click here and here for local news articles on these urban deer.

Blacktail Buck
Blacktail Buck

It is difficult to drive anywhere in the residential part of town without encountering these beautiful animals.

Backyard Grazing
Backyard Grazing

As a person that formerly maintained a large collection of perennials in gardens around my home and business, I can’t imagine what the folks here in Port Townsend have to put up with in trying to maintain their gorgeous landscaping.

Blacktail Mom and Twins
Blacktail Mom and Twins
Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins

As a tourist here, I enjoy being able to see and photograph these youngsters, there really are few animals as cute as these guys.

Blacktail Fawn
Blacktail Fawn
Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins

To the many serious gardeners here in Port Townsend, I am sure it’s a different story.

Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins
Blacktail Twins

These youngsters obviously can’t read that they are not supposed to be here.

Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers

And here is the reason the inner city is so popular with all these deer, just an unlimited buffet of delectable gourmet deer food.

Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers

Many gardeners in town have erected deer fencing in an effort to keep the deer out. Local ordinances limit the height of any fences to six feet, not an unsurmountable height for for some of these deer.

Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers

A drive around town reveals some very impressive landscaping. I envy the ability to grow such a wide diversity of plants in this environment. The difference in available plant selection in Zone 4 where I gardened and here in Zone 8 is huge. Don’t envy them the challenge of growing some of these flowers amongst the deer herds though.

Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers

Some wonderful dogwoods in bloom right now.

Port Townsend Flowers
Port Townsend Flowers
Tree Bark
Tree Bark

Even the bark of some of the trees is photo worthy.

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale

Whale Watching Trip on the Redhead

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale

A four hour whale watching trip out of Port Townsend was a wonderful way to enjoy a beautiful calm and sunny day ( the only one here so far ).

Orcas
Orcas

The whale watching part of the trip was actually kind of disappointing …

Orcas
Orcas

… spotting only one lone Humpback Whale and one small pod of transient Orcas or Killer Whales.

Orcas
Orcas

Regulations require all boats to remain at least 200 yards from the Orcas and 100 yards from other whales and our captain certainly didn’t come close to violating those rules. I would say we never got within 500 yards of the Orcas, thats over a quarter of a mile away, meaning you could barely discern their large dorsal fins poking out of the water and certainly could not get any kind of decent images of their activity.

Container Ship
Container Ship

But spending four hours on the calm waters of Puget Sound on a nice day was a welcome change of pace for me and there were other interesting sights to see out on the water.

Sea Lions
Sea Lions
Fort Worden Lighthouse
Fort Worden Lighthouse

The Fort Worden Lighthouse is much more scenic from the water than it is from land.

I hope to remain here in Port Townsend through the 4th of July week and then will venture farther out onto the Olympic Peninsula after the holiday week, hoping I might then be able to find a place to stay.

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June 21, 2018 Samantha ( Sam )

Sam in Colorado
Sam in Colorado

Samantha

At the relatively young age of just twelve years and ten months, Sam has left Pearl and I on our own to continue on this trip. After a week of being in obvious pain, two trips to the vet to try and find a solution for that pain, I made the decision to let her her go, to suffer no more.

Sam
Sam

Though I have been through this nine times in the past, most recently with Jenny, just a little less than two years ago, it doesn’t get any easier with experience. Sam has had breast tumors, fatty or cancerous undetermined, for the past couple of years and has also experienced back problems a couple of times in the past.

A week ago, she acted like her back was out again, not wanting to move, and in obvious pain. Medications would help and bring her out of it for a few hours each day, but the majority of her time was spent hunched up and unwilling to move. Trying to get pills down her her throat would often get her screaming in pain when forcing her mouth open. After several days of hoping to see some progress in coming out of this as she usually would do when her back went out, it became evident that this was most likely not just her back being thrown out, and perhaps was a matter of cancer spreading through her body.

I always feel guilty about these decisions, trying to determine what is best for the dog, continuing to search for a possible way to extend life, and forcing her to deal with more pain, or ending her suffering when perhaps there could be a solution to the problem. Whichever way I go, I am always afraid I may have made the wrong choice.

Sam and Jenny
Sam and Jenny

Sam and Jenny were buddies for eleven years and seemed to very much enjoy the move from the house in New Hampshire to our mobile dwelling over five years ago.

Sam and Jenny
Sam and Jenny

The two were all but inseparable and truly enjoyed exploring new sights, sounds, and smells along the road.

Sam and Jenny
Sam and Jenny

Really not a terrible life for a dog that enjoys being with their owner pretty much 24 hours a day, every day of their life.

Sam and Jenny
Sam and Jenny

Sam never knew what a dog collar or leash felt like as she was perfectly trained by Jenny ( and a little by myself ) to always obey voice or hand commands, would always walk right on my heel when we were in parking lots or truck stops and would never think to get out of the car or RV without being told it was OK to do so. She was a very intelligent dog. My only complaint was that she left Pearl on her own a little too soon, she didn’t get to finish her training of the now Six month old pup, leaving the rest up to me, I suppose.

Sam on Hummingbird Patrol
Sam on Hummingbird Patrol

Sam only had about 18 months of being top dog, actually only dog, after Jenny’s passing. With my own diagnosis of an incurable cancer last year, her presence meant a lot to me, as I went through chemo and had someone there to come back to after each session.

Sam and Merle
Sam and Merle

She was always a loyal and faithful little dog, with just one exception, when I volunteered at a Fish and Wildlife Birding Station in Salineno, Texas one winter. There, she developed an infatuation with Merle, leaving me the impression that she might choose to go live with him, until Merle and Lois adopted a large Labrador and Sam decided that Jenny and I would actually be a better home for her after all.

Sam and Pearl
Sam and Pearl

Just four short months ago, Pearl joined us while we were in Arkansas and Sam instantly adopted her as part of the family. Though at twelve definitely a senior citizen, Sam would rough house with her, watch over her, share anything but dog treats with her, and was slowly teaching her the ropes ( by example, of course ) of how to get along with their crotchety old owner.

Sam and Pearl
Sam and Pearl

A wonderful little dog that I believe did live a good life, but left way too soon. Both Pearl and I miss her terribly.

RIP, Sam.

June 20, 2018 Seabeck, Washington

Juvenile Bald Eagle
Juvenile Bald Eagle

Hood Canal for Bald Eagles

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

I visited the Hood Canal in my first year on the road and was absolutely amazed at the number of Bald Eagles gathered here to take advantage of the annual Sculpin spawn amongst the oyster beds here at the mouth of Big Beef Creek in Seabeck.

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

Unfortunately that was not the case this year. I was told that the number of eagles gathering here has been diminishing every year and I never saw more than five eagles at any one time over the four days I was here. In 2014 there would be as many as 60 eagles present at any one time, and back then I was told that I was there at a ” bad ” time, since there used to be over 100 gathered there during May and June.

( Since I don’t have any great eagle shots from this visit, you can see some of the eagle shots taken here from 2014 if you visit the following blog posts:

May 19, 2014     and   May 20, 2014  )

Bald Eagle
Attack!

Bald eagle diving down to persuade a heron to drop it’s catch.

Bald Eagle and Great Blue Heron
Bald Eagle and Great Blue Heron

There did seem to be as many Great Blue Herons here as there were in 2014, just not as many eagles, and the herons most likely were quite happy about the reduced number of eagles, so that now they could swallow their fish without the constant threat of theft from the eagles.

Bald Eagle Theft
Bald Eagle Theft

Still, on occassion, an eagle would spot a successful heron catch and swoop in to steal the fish.

Juvenile Bald Eagle Harassing Heron
Juvenile Bald Eagle Harassing Heron
Juvenile Bald Eagle with Sculpin
Juvenile Bald Eagle with Sculpin

You can just see the tail of the sculpin this immature eagle stole from one of the herons.

I again stayed at the Scenic Beach State Park in Seabeck as I did in 2014, but could only get a site for Monday through Thursday as the campground has every site reserved for Friday and Saturday. That happens to be the case for almost every weekend during the summer months, not only here but at pretty much every desirable state park here in the northwest. But since there aren’t any eagles here to photograph anyway, I won’t be disappointed that I have to move on come Friday.

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