I returned last week to a campground of my childhood, Mora, at Rialto Beach in the Olympic National Park. I have a single visual in my memory bank of camping with my family of origin. I don’t know where we were, how old I was, or even if it’s real. The story written on my heart is of my father up early, starting the percolator coffee pot over the campfire. I left my WWII army surplus mummy bag and my mother and sisters sleeping in the heavy canvas WWII army surplus tent to join him in the early morning chill before anyone else was up. (I can still call up the smell of the musty tent.)
That’s it. All I’ve got. Maybe I helped gather wood for the fire. Maybe he was making breakfast. (He never cooked, except weekend pancakes or scrambled “yeggs,” but I think he might have cooked breakfast when we camped. Or maybe I just like to “remember” that.) Decades later my mother will tell me we didn’t camp much. I don’t believe her. I don’t want to believe her. It’s my cherished memory of what we did together. Even though I have only this one picture in my head; this and erecting the challenging tent, maybe I “helped,” maybe I didn’t. I am hopeful that when my sisters and I finally go through the 10 thousand slides in the house, I will find proof. If not, as I told my mother, I am clinging to the memory, real or not.
This was my first time camping with the littlest grandsons, and my first time back to Mora. You can’t make a reservation there, so I headed up early—5:30am early—on Thursday hoping to score a site big enough for two tents. I figured if I didn’t get one, I could spend one night in a smaller one, or even in my car, and be there first thing on Friday before the family came in the afternoon.
I arrived at 9:15 and got one of the very few of the 94 sites we could fit in comfortably, and it was perfect in every way. I had just missed the only other vacant one. Had I stood in line for an Egg McMuffin in Hoquiam, where I took a bathroom break, I would have missed E-84 (which, serendipitously, is E-for-Emma’s birth year). I had left my chair on the table until the previous night’s campers finished packing up. When I returned a few minutes later, new arrivals were checking out the site. Maybe they had the Egg McMuffin; tarry not or you will lose. They came back later to ask if I would possibly accept a smaller site because there were four of them. As if.
Here is the story in pictures.
Found art/created art
It might be my new favorite, surpassing the forever, and hour closer to home, Ruby Beach.
More nature art
The very creepy and very hungry predator anemones.
Dear Second Beach, We will be back. Love.