Boating Adventure on Hood Canal-Guest Post by Dan Rogers of Diamond Lake, WA

Enjoy this guest blog post by Dan Rogers, of Diamond Lake, WA

A tale of warm sun. Calm winds. And, a country store, just too far away.

After a long, long winter; spring just sort of happened with little fanfare on the last day of April. This was supposed to be a consolation cruise to replace the one lost to just-plain-crazy weather six weeks before. It was supposed to be a modest accomplishment for a modest group of little boats. It turned out to be a delightful weekend of changed plans, limited goals, and new acquaintances. And, the question, “Where the hell is Lilliwaup” goes directly unanswered. That, for another time.

Twanoh State Park sits in the lower left corner of the Puget Sound complex of bays, fjords, islands, and burgeoning populations. I came from the upper right corner of the state—something like 400 miles by road.

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It’s a short, and intensely personal story. But, I was there once before. Almost ten years ago. If you don’t mind, I’ll share a bit of that story. Yeah. About ten years ago.

I was out on my first “voyage of discovery,” towing “Lady Bug” around the country. We were going puddle-to-puddle. I had stopped overnight at this heavily forested campground by Hood Canal to wait for a severely-minus, minus tide to regenerate. As the day wore on, and the ocean still continued to recede; I got a call from my sister-in-law. My brother had been in declining health for several years, at that point. Becky said, “Now is the time. You’d better come, right now!”

So, instead of launching there at Twanoh, I found myself on a cross-sound ferry, in heavy Seattle traffic, over the mountains and off to their house in the Palouse wheat country of SE Washington State. I made it, in time.

So, when I finally got back over that way, this past weekend, with my latest Frankenbot creation, “Miss Kathleen,” I had an additional purpose. And, an additional crewmember.

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And, as luck would have it. We had the place all to ourselves. Just the three of us. If you were there, you probably only saw just me and the boat. But, there was, most definitely, somebody else along for the ride.

Much of this weekend adventure was a matter of connecting the dots.

Ever since I was in kindergarten, I’ve been crossing the state for one reason or another. Along the route, there’s a collection of lakes and ponds of various caliber. The highway crosses, follows, and wanders away from these impoundments off and on for several hundred miles. There are a couple, in particular, that I have sort of managed to never put a boat in. The mission-at-hand always seems to intrude. So, finally, this trip, I managed to make amends.

Moses Lake is a shallow puddle in the middle of the Columbia Basin Reclamation Project area that has over the past half-century blossomed a once-sage and basalt desert into a bread basket for the world. Winters, it’s gray and cold. Summers, it’s hot and windy. The whole places is kinda’ featureless. But, a guy just shouldn’t keep dragging a boat and trailer on past, without at least getting things wet. Sometime, or other.

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We, even had some company at the ramp. And, we found a small cove with an old-time barn on one side, to grab a quick nap at anchor.

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Sort of, just checking the box. The rest of the place is kinda’ overbuilt and under scenic.

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So, it was soon time to get back on the trailer, and on to a place with a bit more visual drama.

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Wannapum Dam backs up a section of the Columbia River into a lake that covers the old Vantage Ferry bridge and settlement. This is downstream from venerable Grand Coulee Dam. The surrounding country supports a population of rattle snakes, rocks, and sage brush. For some reason known to the powers that be, Vantage now has a double launch ramp with really-nice docks on both sides. That ginormous parking lot sports FIFTY car-and-trailer parking spots. We shared the entire complex with one guy on an inflatable SUP.

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Apparently, somebody knows something I don’t. A really, really nice place. About as far away from anyplace one would expect people to go, as you can likely get. Anyhow, we launched and headed on up the lake a ways. Two hundred miles from home, two lakes in-and-out and it wasn’t even dark yet.

Next stop, Twanoh. We arrived about a day ahead of the Oyster Messabout, and had the place quite to ourselves. I was beginning to feel a bit like a peripatetic hermit.

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Except, for another guy, on another SUP.

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Saturday morning arrived and I was wearing two jackets and winter gloves as the sun made his appearance in the NE.

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Then, as folks began to filter in for the annual Twanoh Oyster Messabout, things got nicer, and nicer weather-wise.

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And, calmer. And, calmer.

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Until the original idea of sailing the 12-15 miles farther up the Canal to famed Lilliwaup General Store faded to a “maybe tomorrow…” Probably this should re-enforce the notion that we should watch what we wish for, we just might get it. This, the consolation round for a cruise dashed by high winds and rain certainly showed another face—with sunburn and flat, flat, flat calm. So, our stalwarts did the honorable thing.

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We moored at the otherwise-deserted pier in front of world-class Alderbrook Resort. It was a hard job. But, heck. Somebody’s gotta’ do it.

We watched the tide come in. We watched the tide go out. We rigged our boats and slept aboard.

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We watched the sun come up. We watched the sun go down.

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We used the showers and the swimming pool. We ate in the restaurant. We strolled the grounds. And we told stories.

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Lots and lots of stories.

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While the sun went up and down, and the tide…

Well, you get the idea. No white knuckles. No near-disasters. No uncomfortable nights rolling the hook out in some open roadstead. Not even any of my characteristic “one pot, two cans, save your spoon from lunch” boat-meals. Not for this gang.

Do you think we just might do it again? Yep. We just might. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll join us.

 

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