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Cape Disappointment Camping Part 2

Here is Part One from yesterday, where I actually had to search my dim memory banks about whether or not porcupines can shoot quills at you. I’ve lived in cities for far too long now.

Right. So we left off in the middle of the night, with our tent being blasted by sandy gusts of wind, dueling fog horns wailing nearby, and us hunkered down into our sleeping bag, trying to sleep amidst the din. It was a long night.

But in the morning, the air was still and there was no hint of a breeze. The sky was clear and the temperature was nearly balmy. Dave made a breakfast of scrambled eggs, dutch oven biscuits and homemade gravy. It was fricken delicious. And all the more so because we are eating outdoors, and cooking with fire. We do not screw around with camp meals, yo.

With the weather so mild, we headed for the beach again.

This time, it was lovely. Just over the top of that grassy hill is the North Head Lighthouse. If you click on that link, you’ll read that North Head is one of the windiest places in the United States. You don’t say?

The strand between North Head and the the North Jetty is known as Benson Beach. Like a lot of beaches on the Oregon and Washington coasts, it is a boneyard of bleached white driftwood.

There were dozens of shelters and forts made out of the driftwood, and various pieces of improvised playground equipment.

It really was amazing how much the beached piles of wood looked like bones. And on a calm day, we could only image storms tossing these giant former trees on to the beach.

We climbed around the piles of of driftwood for a while, then headed back to camp. After a not so great night of sleep, we were both pretty tired. I had a few books to read, and I worked on my big crochet blanket that I’ve been working on for two and a half years. I’ll be done with it when I’m in my 60s.

With the nice temperature and mild breeze, we shook the sand out of our pillows and took a luxurious nap. I’m not normally a napper, but that was a good little siesta.

Freshly rested, we took a stroll down to Mckenzie Head, one of Lewis and Clark’s camps. As we climbed the hill, we spied a great blue heron in the lagoon below us.

But what we didn’t see, was the nutria, muskrat or beaver creature, whatever it was, not far away.

You can click on the photo above for larger. Anyone know what that creature might be? Probably something I’d run away from?

So as we watched, that guy slides into the water and totally goes after the bird.

I wish I got it on video, because that muskrat critter swam right at the blue heron, defending its turf. The bird flew off squawking. It was kind of funny. We totally felt like we were watching PBS programming on this trip.

The hike up McKenzie Head was lovely.

The view at the top made the whole park come together.

All that flat green land has been created in the last 100 years or so. That ship close off the jetty is a dredger. We noticed it a couple weeks ago when we visited Waikiki beach. We saw that ship sweeping back and forth across the channel and wondered what the hell is was doing. We went home and looked it up.

If you look closely, you can see a couple people standing on the jetty. We were there a few weeks ago.

As we took in the view at McKenzie Head, we had a brief window of cellular coverage. We got the happy news that our friends Brent and Lesley had their baby boy, after an extra week of waiting. That was nice news while being away from home.

In addition to being a campsite for Lewis and Clark, McKenzie Head also had the remnants of WWII era fortifications. There were no placards or information on the structures, but it was easy enough to piece together.

This tunnel was just long enough and dark enough that I didn’t want to go in too far after being in the bright sunshine. I have pretty crappy vision in the dark. I was less concerned about wild things than creepy human things. So we opted not to explore too far.

That pit is where the gun went. It makes me want to know more about the era when this hill was used for defense. Cape Disappointment is also known as Fort CanbyFort Stevens is on the south side of the Columbia and was actually shelled by a Japanese submarine during WWII. All of this is fascinating and I can’t know enough quickly enough. I wish my brain retained all the knowledge I seek out in my fits of curiosity.

Our hike back down gave us a fabulous peek of the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.

We walked back to our site and the breeze was picking up again. We realized this was the weather pattern on the cape. Still mornings, then breezy afternoons and evenings. It was brightly sunny and perhaps still quite summery, but the breeze made the leaves clatter in such a way that I was reminded of autumn.

We got back to camp and sat in the sun, but began bundling up piece by piece as the wind increased and the sun sank lower in the sky. We started our fire and made a dinner of wild rice, tomatoes, corn and chicken in the dutch oven. We polished off a bottle of wine. We again huddled against the wind and leaned into our fire as the ocean air whipped around us. It was remarkable that Portland was getting temperatures in the 90s as we sat freezing on the coast.

Even with the chilly wind and the sand and the foghorns, we still enjoyed ourselves. They had showers but we decided to go dirty instead, knowing that our own hot shower was only 20 minutes away.

I felt pretty gross by the end of the trip. I guess I know I married the right man when he put his arms around me after two days in the woods, and said, “Why do you always smell so good?”  That honestly would have been the last way I’d describe myself. But if he’s happy, I’m happy.

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