Cabin Camping at Cama Beach

We’ve lived in Washington for almost 4 1/2 years now. In that time, we’ve left the Seattle area to take brief trips to Whidbey Island, Leavenworth, Bellingham, and…not a whole lot else. For people who claimed to move here to get away from the desert and the ability to do outdoorsy stuff, we’ve been remarkably urban creatures here. Blame it on business, the cost of living, Sam…the end result is that we just haven’t been all THAT active.

This Summer we’ve decided to remedy the situation. We had originally heard about Cama Beach on a friend’s blog. It was billed as a perfect, low-cost getaway for the winter months. You know…when it’s 20 degrees outside… You may have inferred that I wasn’t so excited about spending a winter weekend in the cold and rain when I could, instead, spend it on my couch in front of the fireplace. That said, we thought that it would make for a WONDERFUL 5th anniversary trip. The catch? They open reservations 9 months prior to the date of reservations at midnight – and they fill fast. We called the next morning at 6am and added a message to the queue awaiting the staff when they arrived. We received a call back letting us know that they were already booked but that they could add us to the waiting list. With a sense of disappointment, we agreed. A few months later, they called to let us know that they had a cancellation and that they could get us in – the plan was made!

Planning for the event, we had read that it was a minimum-services facility. Beds, kitchenette with a fridge and microwave, and outdoor grills, but that’s about it. We had to bring linens, cookware, etc. That said, the listings also described a situation where we had to ferry our stuff down to the cabin via a shuttle since the beach is at the base of a significant hill. We figured we’d err on the side of minimalism, bringing only what we felt to be absolutely necessary to our comfort for the weekend. Once we arrived, we realized how badly we had judged the situation as we unloaded our car next to another family (of 5) who had completely packed their suburban with gear for their weekend on the beach. Through the rest of the weekend, we would repeatedly bump up against the absence of stuff. Thus, we had to beg for mayonnaise (which Emily had forgotten), huddle for warmth in the colder-than-expected morning chill, and purchase a mug after realizing that a wine glass doesn’t make a very good coffee dispenser.

That said, our relative lack of supplies led to great opportunities to meet the neighbors as we were the only ones to use the communal grills the first night. We met a family who were playing kickball, another family with their 15-month-old, and many others. This was the thing that really surprised and delighted us – it was great to be at a camp full of other families and their kids; folks who understand the need for mid-day naptimes and early curfews (variably enforced as though they were). We even met one family who live in Issaquah and with whom we plan on setting up a visit to the local firehouse for the boys!

Emily and I tend to be active vacationers. We like to go visiting, hiking, wandering, etc. At a family camp, and with Sam, we discovered that the pace of everything slows down a great deal! After overextending the boy with a 3 mile hike to a nearby state park, we realized that we needed to take things a little easier and settled in for a relaxing rest of the day. It was sublime! Instead of feeling guilty or as if we were missing out by keeping close to the cabin, we found that our favorite time of the whole trip was an hour spent sitting on the gravel beach. As we watched Sam play with the rocks and shells, Emily and I chatted happily and the stress of our home life melted away.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a vacation without any drama at all. Some of you might notice that mid-way through the pictures, Sam starts sporting a nasty red line down his face. It’s not my fault, I swear! I was in the bedroom, opening a window and I turned around to see Sam walking along and then loose his footing. He fell forward with all the grace of a felled cow and hit the bedroom door frame with all of his weight. OUCH! Our little trooper recovered quickly, though, and after the judicious application of ice from the cooler, he was happily running around again. We’re not looking forward to explaining what happened to his daycare teacher, though – she’s protective!

You’ll note a bunch of pictures of canoes. As we drove down, our shuttle driver was excited to tell us about the war canoes on the beach. Apparently the 2012 Canoe Journey was laying over on Cama Beach for the night so we’d have a chance to look at the boats and watch them strike out in the morning. Many tribes from Washington and British Columbia participate and I’m told that the numbers of canoes will total in their hundreds by the time that they all finish their trip. For us, it was a lot of fun to look at the boats and watch them as they launched and paddled off into the distance.

As I mentioned earlier (and elsewhere), this weekend was our 5th anniversary. Choosing to spend it at a family camp, we knew that it wouldn’t be a focused, highly-romantic trip, but we still had a great time! After Sam went to bed, we opened the mini-bottle of wine that we had purchased on our honeymoon. It was great! I may have cost an arm and a leg (that left us quite breathless when we bought it) but it was definitely worth it!

So that was our camping trip to Cama Beach. Next stop, car camping with Sampa!

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