Monday, September 20, 2010

Grasshopper Camping... The Rest of the Story

In case you're not from around here, let me give you a little geography lesson.  I live in the state of Washington (not the capital  - if you're really not from around here - but the state in the top left corner.)  The state is roughly a rectangle, with the western side along the Pacific Ocean.  With me so far?  Good.

Now, imagine a vertical (north-south) line dividing the state roughly into 1/3 on the left (west) and 2/3 on the right (east).  That would be the Cascade Mountains.  The western side, along the ocean, is WET.  We are the reason Washington is called the Evergreen State.  And that's mostly nice because summer usually looks like this.

But camping is another story.  Let me show you a couple of typical campsites.

Notice the beautiful greenery... which prevents almost all sunlight from actually reaching the campsite, and collects moisture from any mist or morning fog and causes it to drip down onto the campsite.
Notice also that the ground is a gritty, sandy dirt, packed down to the consistency of concrete.  Just try poking a tent stake into that.  Or sleeping (comfortably) on it. 

And listen to yourself saying, I told you a hundred times, no shoes in the tent! as you try to remove the wet grit from the floor of the tent, your clothes, and your sleeping bag.  

Fun times.

So imagine my joy, my rapture when I googled up the campground and saw sites that looked like this!

Let's see...  sunshine?  Check.  Shade?  Check.  Gorgeous view?  Check.  Clean water, warm enough to swim in?  Check.  Soft, luxurious, green grass - comfortable for sleeping and handy for keeping the tent clean?  Triple check!

It did not once enter my overworked pea brain that green grass is not natural in countryside that normally looks like this.


The only green spot in that photo is the corner of an orchard, kept green and growing through the wonder of irrigation.   


So the first time we camped here, we were in for a surprise.
Every campsite gets a 40 minute delugeDaily.  And that's one of the gentle sprinklers.

Oh yes, you see the campground is also kept green and lush through the wonder of irritation irrigation. 

Did you notice the little orange cones in some of the pictures?  Look to the right of Tate.

This time we came prepared.  The first order of business in setting up the camp was a grid search for sprinkler heads, reminiscent of a FOD-walk on a flight deck.  All sprinklers that could impact our de-luxe accommodations must be marked and neutralized!

Next, at about ten minutes before sprinkler-deployment, we went into a count-down sequence, moving coolers, lawn chairs, boogie boards, and tarps into position to deflect the water.

The result?  Camping success!  Dry tents, green grass, and happy campers.


Felicity said...

Ok, it still looks beautiful! Where was the campsite (in the geography lesson)??
Oh, and I know enough geography to know where Washington state is, as opposed to Washington DC - how much do I score for that?? ;-D
We once went camping just north-west of where we live - the temperatures average 36 degrees in spring and there was NO grass at all, just gravel... one of our dusties holidays yet...

melanie said...

he he ~ Such learning must count for school credit too!

Maybe you should write/market a book for "Happy Camping in Washington State"??

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Felicity - you get BIG points! When I lived in West Australia almost no one knew of Washington state. Everybody thought I lived in the capital.

And Melanie - the trip was actually a lot more educational than the boys probably realized ;D More on that later!

JulieMom said...

Hilarious!! Love it that I learned Washington is the Evergreen State. Had no idea about that before. Neat! Camping is such fun, I want to go while we're in the States. Thanks for the inspiration!

Q said...

Our camping is all on dirt rock forest floor. Two words - air. mattresses. :)

tammy said...

Oh I'd take that campsite over our "Shrek River" camping experience anyday! The scenery is absolutely breathtaking! Thanks for sharing.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Ah, yes, I have succumbed and brought an air mattress. Bliss.

Maybe it's age, but my hips ache if I sleep on the ground anymore.

Anonymous said...

Ah we have much more in common than I realized...your story was so hilarious and so incredibly typical of something that would happen to our family. I do hope you print these blogs out for posterity sake....they will be great stories for your boys to read in years to come.
I have reached the age that getting up and down off of an air mattress is painful...and doing it while 'hurrying' to the outhouse is nigh on impossible. The seasons of life :)
I love this is perfect for my kind of camping! Is there good fishing? My friends have 2 sons and then there are the dads and they all like to fish...that is important!
Can't wait to hear more.
Diane of Salem way!

Ruby said...

Aussie Ignoramous here :-) Yes, I know there is Washington DC and Washington state but hey, now you tell me they are in two different locations. Wow.
The camping looks great wherever you are.
Please forgive us Aussie, we have a lot of geography here to work out.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Ruby -

We have FIFTY states and you only have, what, seven? I bet there aren't many Americans that could name all of your states, much less map them! No worries about the Washington/Washington D.C. mix ups!

Ironically, they considered naming our state Columbia, after the river, but thought that would be too confusing with Washington D.C. (District of Columbia), so named it Washington instead.

Go figure.

Herding Grasshoppers said...


We saw lots of fish going through the fish ladder at the dam, so they're definitely out there, but...

In two summers of camping there, our fishing friends have only caught little ones that they threw back.

Don't know if it's the best time of year? Or not fishing at the right place/time of day? I'm not much of a fisher, myself.

leah said...

That is hilarious! Beautiful camping site, but I never would have thought of sprinklers going off!

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

I'd love to have seen your faces when that first one popped up! Beautiful spot to vacation though.

The dB family said...

That is positively gorgeous!! I think I could learn the water deflection techniques. I want to come too, next year :)!!

We went to DC last fall, so I do know the difference. It helps that you and another friend of mine both live in the state. I have a suspicion you live very close to each other. Does Mt. Vernon ring a bell ;o)?