There have been many places I could have happily boondocked or dry camped. I decided not to for the dogs. I’d not traveled with Jeana and Jackson before and Mason is not so young now. Jackson had issues. I wanted power to run the heater for Mason and later the air conditioner, campgrounds often have trails or at least the grounds for walking. It was easier to stay at parks, and I had the money to pay. Oh and how I love having money! You know that dumb saying Money Can’t buy You Happiness, no of course not silly, you buy that yourself. You craft and shape and choose and make decisions that the money in your pocket will allow. Make stupid or abusive choices and you won’t find any happiness.

In the 70s boondocking was free. I don’t think it had a name then, we just did it, sleeping in the VW or out in an open field under the stars. Being close to nature did not have such a steep price tag but outside of family vacations or summer camp might be thought of derogatorily as escapism; like being a vegetarian and living off the land was a sure way to a quick end, by malnutrition, well I don’t know.  They said you had to be a little crazy to live like that.  I did back then, and adored it. Outdoor showers in a waterfall or a cool spring or soaking in hot water, watching the milky way spiral, knowing direction from the stars and weather from the birds, halos and the sounds of leaves in the wind. What happened?  Large populations moved into the cities. Little by little they started to crave adventure. The simple became unique. The price tag started to rise on the outdoors. Adventures became complex and technical. Far too many abused the landscape leaving mounds of trash, getting wasted, starting fires, landslides, destroying what they could not understand. Then rules and regulations followed by fees and fines and more fees and supervision and lists of NOs and annoying signs and more fees. Still more people came. They lined up in their motor vehicles with skis and backpacks, boats and ATVs, off-road bikes, racing bikes, in car clubs, motorcycles clubs, camping clubs, wine clubs, luxury glamcamping; families took to the outdoors for reunions and bought themselves an RV and the fees went up and up, then the economy tanked to the point where the homeless were not so broke they could not afford a car to live in or an RV to live in or a van and more people retired and wanted to travel, wanted to be free of escalating mortgages. Maybe it is really natural and normal to want to wander but now one has to pay for so much that once was free. See a pretty waterfall, pay for it, climb a mountain, pay for it. Camp out, pay for it. Want a campfire, pay for it. Hot springs, pay. You can park in a cement parking lot at a Big Box store or a Travel Center for free, lights on all night, not putting out a lawn chair or an outdoor grill. You can sleep in a rest stop or a tuck stop, sometimes a pull over spot, maybe a Camping World or REI or Safeway lot, casinos are free for the night, sometimes there are places where RVs are allowed for homeless campers and you can stay there for a few nights if you want, or in Forest Service Land, maybe $3, or BLM land, otherwise pay up and the prices might be high.

OK, that’s my rant. How expensive everything is and why I’m not free camping.

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BUT It makes me  SOOOOoooo  happy I can pay the prices. It also makes me picky. If I’m gonna pay I better enjoy it. I do not want to sleep in a blazing field of bright lights, canned noise, smoke, non-stop motor vehicles, screaming people, TVs, other people’s music, drunken revelry…  my money is limited and I want what I want which is calm, sweet, beautiful. I want to hear the wind, birds, animals scurrying and calling, I want to watch the sun rise and set, see the stars, the clouds, rain, sun, thunder, the wind, the gentle sounds of village or a harbor, a train passing is fine, footsteps, I can handle a dog barking, a cat, someone singing, the bright light of a full moon, a splash of water, the crackle of a smokeless campfire (note smokeless, not a burning pile of rubbish), or the roar of the ocean.  I do not need a TV set or outdoor electronics; a campfire program yeah sure, but turn down the lights and the all the noise at 10 pm, and campers remember don’t walk through another’s space, only takes a few steps to go around.

I clean my RV everyday.  There are 3 dogs on board and they bring in mess. They get brushed, fed twice a day, picked up after, exercised, we go on long long walks, they only bark in alarm, otherwise I teach them to be quiet, we look at the deer, the deer look at us. I spend most of my day with my dogs. They each have their riding spot when I’m driving and they each have their sleeping spot. In the morning they jump on my bed and look out the window….  where are we, where are we! We watch, we explore, they make friends everywhere. We are all happy but it’s not free. “Camping” has become expensive. I am so grateful I can afford this. I almost always feel safe in the places I choose and when I don’t I leave.

That happened on this day. I was looking for the Quinault Lodge that Ricki had mentioned. She showed me a photo of her VW camper parked in the woods and told me they allowed use of the Lodge with camping. I wasn’t sure where she meant. I stopped at the Lodge, it looked lovely but they did not have camping or RV spots. I was tired and confused so took the advice of the first person I saw, he referred me to a campground down the road, I wound up going back the way I came and then around in a circle to get there following the inne advice of my GPS.  When I got there I didn’t think I found the right place. I wanted to not be driving. Up here in one moment you are in Olympic National Park, the next, Olympic National Forest and then tribal lands.

Rules change depending on what land you’re in…  dogs ok, dogs ok on leash, no dogs not even on leash. I paid for a spot at the campground I found, I think it was tribal land, it was near the water and there were cabins in front, then a long row of parking spots all the same with partial hookups, there was only one other camper, actually two together, they seemed to be in some sort of cult, not smiling but marching hand in hand in couples while looking glassy eyed.  even the children did not smile at my dogs or at anything that I could tell. The dogs were okayed to swim off leash but the water was mucky so I opted for a hike in the rainforest. We didn’t go that far, I had a strange feeling; when I returned to my RV it was evident someone had tampered with the locks. I was told at the check-in store/office that if I left my spot (the entire campground was empty except for the strange folks at the other side) that my space would be given to anyone else that wanted it even though I paid and had a receipt.  No, they couldn’t be expected to remember that they had rented it to me for the night. I tightened up the RV shutting all the blinds and went for another walk, my cell phone went weird, it flickered and then suddenly lost its entire charge and went to battery zero! It was pretty in the rainforest but the road ahead was National Park and that meant no dogs on trails, no dogs on overlooks, no dogs left in vehicles I wasn’t sure how far we could walk on the trail before getting into different land. National Parks do not treat dogs like people (like the state of Oregon does!) they are less than people, less than wildlife, they are non-entities, they are treated as pests. I was not happy and ill at ease. I checked out the bath house and it was kinda creepy. I packed up and drove from my spot thinking I’d just drive around, maybe do the loop and return and then go to sleep if my space was still there. It doesn’t get dark for a long time. Funny thing is I went the other way and just kept driving once I started. I felt good to not be there so I kept going. . . and going until I reached the ocean. The further away from that place, the more at ease I felt.

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$7.50 for this spot with a senior pass

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Up on the overlook

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Yep, would rain for awhile, then the sun would come out and then it might rain some more. Lovely and cool, fresh air that smelled and felt good.

That night I found myself in one of my happiest places. I landed at South Beach. It was $7.50 with my senior pass. I parked on the overlook above the ocean. It was heaven, the only mar was the rather strange 2 women parking in the space next to me. They were from Texas, car camping and clueless. i listede not very patiently to their tales of near tragedy in Portland landing as they did with the hookers and did I think it would be cold…  it was raining and jacket weather when they asked fortunately I was able to convince them I was not all that friendly and they left me alone.   I did watch with disbelieve as they dined on some sort of pink and cold looking slurpee thing….  they decided to sleep in their car. The dogs ran and ran and ran on the beach. We found an overlook trail and there was no one there, no one but us. I woke around 5:30 am to see a double rainbow dropping into the sea, the colors were fantastically bright, I ran inside to get my phone, the colors were already fading, moments later it was gone. Everyone else was asleep.

We went down to the beach but Mason wasn’t happy being on the sand and wanted to check out rocks, he insisted I take this shortcut back up to the camping area so I took him back to the camper, we had breakfast then I took Jeana and Jackson back to run on the beach. Felt like I’d been on the beach all day but it was only morning when we left. The Texas girls had not yet woken.

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Mason checking out the rocks

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Flying Curls Jackson

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Jackson and Jeana on the beach just after dawn

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It’s so fun to watch my dogs have so much fun.

We stopped a lot after than. Checked out several beaches that were empty of other humans, hiked through rainforest and saw no one. It was a beautiful morning. I laughed thinking of the crowd and traffic back at Quinault and their silly no dogs rules. Jackson’s tail was back we were all feeling good.

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My own personal rainforest

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