Tornado Warning! Another Long Beach Adventure

Long Beach, Washington Christmas Lights

Long Beach Christmas Lights

It seems whenever we go to the Long Beach peninsula, it is rarely uneventful. Besides finding just fun things to do or see, weird things tend to happen to us there. Just check out our previous stories RV Adventures: The Great Wall of Poo and I’ll Take 3 Passports and What on Earth is That Smell?! and you will see what I’m talking about. This past weekend however, we would say probably THE most bizarre thing ever happened, something I would never have guessed could possibly happen.

It was supposed to be a fairly relaxing weekend. Just get away for a couple of days, take David’s mom, Sue, and just have a good time. It was supposed to be a rainy, drenching, wet weekend and we were absolutely OK with that. We even specifically planned our activities around the weather. So it poured down rain on our entire drive there – until just outside of Seaview when I noticed the ground was actually dry. It was perfect. We pulled into our campground and David and Josh were able to set up the RV in dry, even somewhat warm, weather.

We drove back into town to get dinner and it was pleasant enough weather to get out and walk a little bit. The streets were already decorated up for Christmas and the blue and white lights looked very peaceful in the dark night sky.

David & Nancy at the Cranberry Museum, Long Beach, Washington

David & Nancy at the Cranberry Museum

The next morning we woke to thunder, but by the time we got up and around it had stopped and again the weather was pleasant. We did some of the things we planned to such as visit museums, then had a warm, filling lunch at the Cottage Bakery. We had never eaten there before and enjoyed it thoroughly – especially the pastries we bought once we finished lunch. Delicious, sweet pastries that we ate until we were miserable. Well, wouldn’t you, too?

The Cottage Baker, Long Beach WA

The Cottage Bakery

Chili and Cornbread at the Cottage Bakery, Long Beach WA

Chili and Cornbread at the Cottage Bakery

The pastries at Cottage Bakery, Long Beach WA

The pastries at Cottage Bakery

We finished up in town with drinks at the Pickled Fish, a cute little restaurant and bar on top of the Adrift Hotel. We even had a view of the sunset. A quiet, beautiful day at the beach.

Nancy and Sue enjoying drinks at the Pickled Fish, Long Beach, WA

Nancy and Sue enjoying drinks at the Pickled Fish (photo by David Keaton)

The next morning started uneventful. I got on my phone and saw that my daughter had posted that she was having terrific thunderstorms in Hoquiam. “Odd,” I thought. We weren’t that far away as the crow flies. I hopped in the shower and after I got out and had just finished getting ready, my phone, Josh’s phone and Sue’s phone started buzzing. I looked at my phone feeling quite confused. It showed a weather alert from the National Weather Service, saying there was a tornado warning in our area and to take shelter immediately. We all kind of looked at each other. I figured it must be a mistake, it was meant for some other area. I quickly posted on Facebook asking if anyone else had a tornado warning. We started putting things away, figuring we would just get busy getting out of there.

Then the campground host knocked on our door and told us to get to the restrooms which are partially underground. We decided maybe that was a wise idea. Now, having watched shows on tornado-chasing, we really do know that warnings are important. But I just really couldn’t believe there was one ON THE BEACH! So I wasn’t scared, which could have been a bad thing, because then we also didn’t feel an urgency.

Josh grabbed his new boots, even though he had shoes on. “Josh, why are you taking your boots,” we asked. “I don’t want anything happening to my boots!” he responded. We explained that we would buy him more new boots if anything happened to him and he reluctantly left them.

David goofing off while we're in the "basement" restrooms

David goofing off while we’re in the “basement” restrooms

We hurried on down to the restrooms and kept an eye on the sky, thinking we would see stuff flying around if a tornado was close. Sue kept telling us to get down there, she had lived in Michigan and knew about tornados. But since we really still didn’t believe it we kept looking around for the funnel cloud. Then another couple who had left their RV showed up – with a bag of pastries from the Cottage Bakery. We laughed as we realized what they had. That’s when it hit me – what would you grab in an emergency like that? We all have our priorities, sometimes we don’t even recognize them, but boots and pastries were apparently the concern that day.

Sue in the "dungeon"

Sue in the “dungeon”

Finally, Sue went to an inner basement room, called “the dungeon” by the others but we were still dumb enough to keep looking. Then large hail started falling and that’s when David and I got a little more concerned. Josh, being Josh, wanted to go out and run around in it, basically to see if it would hurt. That’s Josh. But David told him absolutely not, it could be the front side of a tornado. So Josh sulked and went down into the basement.

Large hail, Long Beach, Washington tornado warning

Large hail

We went into the clubhouse which is over the basement and each watched from windows, with the theory we would have time to head to the basement if we saw anything. We were probably wrong, and that’s probably how a lot of people get killed during tornadoes (in other words, don’t try this at home.) But it ended up OK. Just minutes after the hail, the warning ended so we headed back to our RV. It was still pouring down and we got soaking wet just on the walk. Then poor David and Josh got even more wet as they tried to hurry and unhook the RV, while the thunder still roared, sounding like the world was cracking open.

Finally, we were done and headed on our way, stopping at the Loose Caboose Café for a breakfast we didn’t have a chance to eat earlier. That’s when the weather calmed down and it stopped raining – once we were all done and inside.

We were probably too stupid to know what kind of danger we were in, but even having a completely unusual tornado warning at the beach won’t stop us from going there again. Heck, we’re already wondering what we’re in for the next time we go!

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RV Adventures: The Great Wall of Poo


You’ll notice there are no other pictures in this story. I just wanted to portray a nice, serene setting first. You’ll soon understand why.

We headed out Thursday night to Long Beach, Washington just to relax and have some fun. Reserved a spot at the Pacific Holiday Resort (a Western Horizon resort) and found our spot about 9:00 pm.

We spent the next couple of days driving up and down the peninsula, eating out, learning about a haunted library and church, and hearing stories of bear problems (who knew there was a bear problem on the beach!)  The weather even cleared enough to ride go-karts and fly kites.

Ahhh, a nice relaxing weekend. Sunday morning we got up and got ready to go. David and Josh went out to break down camp and next thing I knew, I heard David cussing. Being the supportive wife, I just stayed inside doing what I was doing. Why get in his way if things weren’t going well? Then Josh was at the door saying in his low, monotone voice, “Mom, Dad needs some clean clothes.” Again, being the supportive wife, I didn’t bother to ask why I just gathered his clothes and handed them to Josh. I looked out the door and David was standing there with poo all over the lower part of his body. He was trying very hard to keep his voice modulated and controlled. He just said, “Can you also get me some soap and shampoo?”

That’s when he told me the gray water valve had worked its way open and the hose separated from the coupler as he was trying to put it away. He looked stunned, saying, “A great all of poo came right at me.” So now he was going to head down to the clubhouse showers. Thank goodness because I was secretly thinking, “Please don’t come in, please don’t come in.” This is why there are no pictures. Because even though I am such a supportive wife, I didn’t think it was a good idea to ask him to stand there while I took his picture because this would be an oh-so-funny story.

While he walked to the showers, escorted by Josh, I just waited in the RV at the dining table. A few minutes later I saw a maintenance man come up in a golf cart, going around to the dump site. I just quietly and slowing slid down real low in my seat, hoping he wouldn’t see me. I thought, “No way I want to deal with this!” Have I mentioned what a supportive wife I am?

A few minutes later David came back, still covered in poo, and started explaining the issue to the maintenance man. I asked why he didn’t shower and he took a deep breath and said it was closed for cleaning. The maintenance man thanked him for telling him, said a lot of people will just go off and leave it and not say anything. He said he could tell it was an accident. Ya think?!

David eventually went down to the clubhouse to take a shower. A few minutes later I walked to the clubhouse and Josh was sitting talking to the hostess. She looked at me and said, “Are YOU ok?” I said, “Oh, yeah, I just stayed out of the way.” She said, “That’s what I mean, sometimes we can bear the brunt of it, are you OK?” I repeated, “Oh, yeah” and just laughed.

When David came out of the restroom all fresh and clean, he looked at the hostess and smiled a sheepish smile. She looked relieved and said, “I’m glad you can laugh about it.” His reply? “All I can say is – I’m glad I didn’t have my mouth open!”

Categories: Keatons Out and About, RV/Camping | Tags: , | 7 Comments

Forest, Fishing, Fun – Taidnapam Park, Washington


Mother-in-law, Sue, very happy with her catch!

1-camping spot

Beautiful forested camping spots

It’s the perfect family camping spot. A lake for fishing, boating, and a swimming area, a playground, tent sites, RV sites, trails – what more could you ask for? This perfect little spot is Taidnapam (pronounced Tide-nuh-pom) Park, hidden off of Highway 12 in Washington, just west of the town of Morton. It is operated by Tacoma Public Utilities and is located on the shores of Riffe Lake.

Riffe Lake is a 23 1/2-mile lake that was created in 1968 when the Mossyrock Dam was created and flooded the towns of Riffe and Kosmos. Taidnapam Park is located at the east end of the lake and has 139 RV sites and 24 tent sites. There are also primitive sites and group camps. Shower facilities are available. Prices range from $18 to $33. A boat ramp is also available and can be used without camping at the park.

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Ready to fish on the Fishing Bridge!

But my favorite part of the park is “The Fishing Bridge,” also known as the “108 Bridge.” You can easily walk (or bike) to it from any of the camping spots. There is a section just off the parking lot that is wheelchair accessible. But wheelchairs would also not have any problems getting up the short ramp to the bridge. The bridge has a fence on both sides that is about 3 ½ feet tall, tall enough that many parents bring their children up on the bridge while they fish. There’s a picnic table nearby, as well as restrooms and the very important fish-cleaning station for all those fish you will catch!

Once up on the bridge, you just pick a spot and drop your line into the water. What you hope to catch there are called “silvers” or “land-locked salmon” but one time I caught a beautiful 14-inch small mouth bass. I was Queen of the Bridge that day! Some days you can sit there and fish all day and end up with nothing, other days within seconds of your line touching the water, you will get a hit. Some days it can be pretty crowded but since most people just drop their lines in and aren’t trying to cast out, it really isn’t too difficult to stand almost shoulder-to-shoulder to fish.


Tunnel to playground

If the kids aren’t interested in fishing, they can simply walk through a tunnel under the Champion Haul Road which runs next to the Fishing Bridge, and reach the playground. There is also a roped-off swimming area but you’ll want to go early in the summer to use it. The water gets down pretty far by the end of summer.

You don’t have to camp at the campground to use the Fishing Bridge or the playground. Then you would just pay the $5 day use fee on weekends and holidays. Weekdays there is no charge! We often just run up there for the day to try our fishing luck.

Taidnapam Park is easy to get to, not too far from the nearest town, yet far enough off the highway to feel quite remote. Cellphones still work while on the bridge but when you head back to the campground, you may lose reception.

So with all the activities you can do in one spot – fishing, swimming, boating, bicycling, hiking, camping, playing – Taidnapam Park makes the ideal family lake-and-forest getaway.

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Wheelchair accessible fishing dock

Getting there (courtesy of Taidnapam Park website: http://www.mytpu.org/tacomapower/parks-recreation/taidnapam-park.htm)
Taidnapam Park is about 110 miles south of Tacoma in Lewis County, near the town of Morton. From Tacoma, take I-5 south to Highway 12 East (Exit 68). Drive east on Highway 12 for approximately 37 miles (5 miles past Morton). Turn right on Kosmos Road, then left onto Champion Haul Road. Drive approximately four miles to the park entrance.
An alternate route from Tacoma is to take Highway 7 south to Morton. At Morton, turn left onto Highway 12 and drive 5 miles. Turn right on Kosmos Road, then left onto Champion Haul Road. Drive approximately four miles to the park entrance.

Categories: Boating/Kayaking, Fishing, Keatons Out and About, Outdoors, Parks, RV/Camping, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

History, Beauty and Fun! – Fort Worden State Park, Washington


Admiralty Inlet

IMG_1540Sitting high on a bluff overlooking the deep blue intersection of the Straits of Juan De Fuca and Admiralty Inlet sits beautiful historic Fort Worden. Built in 1897, the fort became a part of the Washington State park system in 1955 and now encompasses 434-acres. Located in the town of Port Townsend, the park has about two miles of shoreline, historic buildings replicating life in the early 1900’s, as well as local schools and businesses. Centrum is a program located on the grounds that offers ongoing classes for writers, musicians, artists and dancers. The Port Townsend School of Woodworking is also located there along with a branch of Peninsula College. Conferences and retreats are held in the conference center. With dormitories and former officer’s homes available for rent, there is plenty of room for everyone. There are actually a total of 456 bedrooms available for use!


One of the Many Batteries

Two campgrounds are also available, one up high on the bluff and one down near the beach and lighthouse.

We have stayed in the lower campground twice and loved it. There is a small berm to block the wind blowing in from the water, but a short walk, literally just a few feet, over it and you are on the beach. The camping spots are large with a lot of room between them. Of course there are restroom and shower facilities available as well. One of Josh’s favorite parts is the fact that there is a remnant of concrete military bunkers known as “batteries” right next to the campground and he always spend hours running around in it with a flashlight, meeting other kids and scaring each other.

Down by the lower campground is also where the Marine Science Center is located. It hosts exciting wildlife cruises as well as amazing hands-on activities for kids, such as day or overnight camps and classes.


Coast Artillery Museum

A visit to the Coast Artillery Museum will help you learn about the history of the site.  Fort Worden was established as one of three harbor defense posts for Puget Sound. The other two are Fort Flagler and Fort Casey. You can see models of the batteries so when you actually get out on the grounds and find them, you’ll understand better what you are looking at.


Fireplace in Commanding Officer’s House

One of my favorite buildings is the Commanding Officer’s Quarters which was built in 1904. It has been painstakingly restored and furnished in the grand style of the 1890s-1910s. The interpretive guide looked quite handsome in his period clothing and had a wealth of knowledge about the house and its history. I don’t think there was one question that I had that he couldn’t answer.

There are so many activities available in the park – boating, fishing, crabbing, hiking, biking, swimming and of course, running around the batteries. If you don’t have your own boat or bike you can rent bikes and kayaks. There is usually some sort of event, show, class, or performance going on somewhere on the grounds. In the evenings we always saw deer out grazing in the big parade grounds. Just sitting and watching the huge ships going through the straits is amazing.


Dress Displayed in Commanding Officer’s House.


Replica Barracks Room

Both times we have been there I couldn’t help but think about the families, particularly the women, who lived there a hundred years ago. Did they think it was just as beautiful as I do or was it nothing special to them? With all the batteries, beautiful buildings and facilities which seem like they would have met their every need, did they feel safe or did they feel isolated? Was it a choice assignment or just a stepping stone to something they thought was more desirable?


Officer’s Row Houses for Rent

There is so much to see and do, so much to wonder about at Fort Worden State Park, that it is well worth your time to take the family and discover all that the park’s 434 acres has to offer. Learn the history, explore the batteries. Maybe stay in one of the old houses and see if you can experience life as those families did 100 years ago!

For reservations and more information, http://www.parks.wa.gov/fortworden/default.aspx


Getting there: (from the Fort Worden website) –

From Seattle-Bainbridge Ferry to Fort Worden State Park

Depart from the ferry terminal, and drive straight (NE) on State Route (SR) 305 for approximately 13 miles. Drive through Poulsbo, and take a right onto the ramp for SR 3 to the Hood Canal Bridge – approximately 7 miles. At the lighted intersection for SR 104, take a left and remain on SR 104 for about 6 ½ miles. At the intersection of SR 19, turn right. Stay on SR 19 for 14 miles; it will merge with SR 20. Continue straight (north) on SR 20 into Port Townsend, take a left on Kearney Street, right on Blaine Street, left on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

From Canada/Northwest Washington to Fort Worden State Park

Travel south on Interstate 5 to Highway 20 (Burlington exit). Follow Highway 20 west through Oak Harbor and Coupeville to Keystone Ferry, approximately 42 miles. Take the Keystone Ferry to Port Townsend. Depart from the ferry terminal and turn left onto Water Street. At the first stop light, turn right onto Kearney Street. At the first stop sign take a right on Blaine Street. At the next stop sign, take a left on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

From Edmonds-Kingston Ferry to Fort Worden State Park

Depart from the ferry terminal and drive straight on State Route (SR) 104. Follow signs to stay on SR 104 through Port Gamble to the Hood Canal Bridge, approximately nine miles. At the lighted intersection for SR 104, turn right and remain on SR 104 for about 6.5 miles. At the intersection of SR 19, turn right. Stay on SR 19 for 14 miles; it will merge with SR 20. Continue straight (north) on SR 20 into Port Townsend. Turn left onto Kearney Street, and at the first stop sign turn right on Blaine Street. At the next stop sign, turn left on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

From Tacoma to Fort Worden State Park

Follow Highway 16 across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and follow the signs to Bremerton, approximately 27 miles, where the highway changes names to SR 3. Follow SR 3 about 25 miles to the Hood Canal Bridge. At the lighted intersection for SR 104, turn left and remain on SR 104 for about 6.5 miles. At the intersection of SR 19, turn right. Stay on SR 19 for 14 miles; it will merge with SR 20. Continue straight (north) on SR 20 into Port Townsend. Turn left onto Kearney Street, and at the first stop sign turn right on Blaine Street. At the next stop sign, turn left on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

From Olympia to Fort Worden State Park

Take US 101 northbound towards Quilcene. About 12 miles past Quilcene, bear right onto SR 20. Follow SR 20 approximately eight miles then turn left at the lighted intersection, which keeps you on SR 20. Continue straight (north) on SR 20 into Port Townsend. Turn left onto Kearney Street, and at the first stop sign turn right on Blaine Street. At the next stop sign, turn on Cherry Street, and follow signs into the park.

Categories: Historical, Keatons Out and About, Outdoors, Parks, RV/Camping, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lake Wynoochee, Washington


Lake Wynoochee (Photo by Brandy Kirkendall)

Clear lake

Beautiful Wynoochee Lake












Tucked away just 30 minutes from the town of Montesano, Washington, lies the small pristine body of water called Lake Wynoochee. Located in the southern part of the Olympic Peninsula and created when the Wynoochee Dam was built to provide a reservoir, the lake is exactly what you expect of the northwest – deep blue and surrounded by a thick forest.

We decided to go up and check out the Coho Campground and take our boat (lovingly named “Lawn Art” since it sits as a decoration on our lawn more than we would like.) We headed west to Montesano and right past the exit to the town was Devonshire Road. We headed 34 miles up the twisting narrow road, then made a left when we saw the sign for the campground. Important note: cell phone service ends about 4 miles up Devonshire.


(Photo by Brandy Kirkendall)

Pulling into the campground, there were two options for sites. Loop B can be reserved online. We didn’t have reservations so we headed into Loop A which is first-come, first-serve sites and there were plenty available. The cost was $20 a night. There are also walk-in sites for $16 a night. There are pads for RVs but no hookups. Three yurts are also available for rent. There is a campground host, but no amenities. There are normally regular restrooms but unfortunately, they were closed due to a septic failure, so there were port-a-potties and hand-washing stations set up.

The weather cooperated pretty well and while it wasn’t warm and sunny, it didn’t rain while we set up camp. Then we jumped in the truck and took Lawn Art out on the lake. So this is where I have to tell you that we rarely do anything that doesn’t involve an adventure. There is no dock on the lake. We had to back the trailer into the lake, Josh then pulled away from the ramp and had to nose up to the bank so David could jump on. That worked pretty well actually. Until we pulled away and out into the lake. All of a sudden I looked that the floor and said, “Oh, we’re taking on water!” My 9-year-old grandson, Anden, started freaking out – “We’re gonna sink, we’re gonna sink!” I told him, “No, we’re fine, you have your lifejacket on and we’ll get back to shore.” Meanwhile I was thinking, “We’re gonna sink, we’re gonna sink!” I really hate it when I have to be the adult and act calm! So we had to quickly nose back to the bank so David could jump off and run and get the truck and trailer, while we then pulled back around to the ramp. David admitted, “I think I put the plug in the wrong hole.” Yes, dear, you did.

camp spot 2

Trail to Day Use Area

Clear lake w boat

Boating on Lake Wynoochee

Since fishing on the boat was too traumatic to do again that evening, Josh and Anden went to the day use area of the park and were able to do some fishing there. The day use area has the swimming area, picnic tables, and trails where you can get to the lake away from the swimming area.

Back at camp we ate dinner and made S’mores. That always makes life better. The next day dawned sunny and clear. I was worried Anden wouldn’t want to go in the boat again, but he was fine. The lake was like glass and while we knew there had to be other boats out there, there were none in sight. We really liked the fact that this lake is a lot less populated than other lakes that we usually go to. We fished awhile and didn’t catch anything, so headed back in to meet up my daughter, Brandy, and her fiancé, Jason. After they arrived, we went back out in the boat twice, fishing, puttering around, and just plain enjoying the sun and the company. A few more boats were out in the afternoon but still nowhere near enough to feel crowded.

Another evening back at camp eating dinner and S’mores and enjoying visiting. The best part about camping at Lake Wynoochee was the time alone with family. No cell service, no internet, no TV, no interruptions. Truly rustic. If you really want to get away from it all, there are several levels at Lake Wynoochee – RVing, tenting in the campground, walk-in sites in the campground, yurts, or even places where you can take your boat to isolated spots along the shoreline.

It’s not too far away from a town yet far away enough away from it all to remember what is really important – unforgettable, precious time with family.


Brandy, Anden, Nancy (Photo by Brandy Kirkendall)

Categories: Boating/Kayaking, Fishing, Outdoors, Parks, RV/Camping, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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