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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Mosquitoes and Rain and Bears, oh my!

August 9, 2005
Seaquest Washington State Park, about 150 miles South of Seattle

We didn't have far to go from Portland to Seattle, but didn't want to arrive in Seattle before our motel check-in time, so we decided to find a camp ground somewhere in the middle. There were a couple of possibilities and we stopped at Seaquest first.

Seaquest, contrary to its name, is nowhere near the ocean. It's about 15 miles east of I-5, on the highway to Mount St. Helens. From the entry kiosk it looked like a nice park, so we headed into the camp ground to set up. On the way in we passed a bicyclist heading out of the tent camping area carrying all his camping gear. This should have been our first warning. We pulled into our camp site at around 4:30 PM and I started setting up while Linda wandered off to find the bathroom. When she got back she said there was a group of bicyclists leaving their camp site all complaining about the mosquitoes. Linda asked them, 'What time do the mosquitoes come out?' thinking that they would, as usual, come out at dusk. The cyclist replied, 'They're out now!' Of course I already knew that, because of the swarm buzzing around me as I set up the tent. Linda madly searched the camping gear for some bug repellant and found some years old industrial strength stuff which seemed to dissuade the little beasts even though I'm sure it was well past its expiration date.

Our first disaster averted we sat down (in the tent) to read and while away the evening hours. After a nice hot shower and a bite to eat we bedded down for a cozy nights sleep... which was interrupted at about 1:00 AM by the sound of some slobbery animal nosing around outside the tent. Linda was the first to awake, which was amazing because she can sleep through a gale on NAKIA, and promptly roused me with an urgent whisper, 'John, there's an animal outside the tent!' Being not too very awake, I listened carefully and found that whatever it was was either getting quieter or farther away. I sat for a few seconds and confirmed what I suspected - the animal gave us a slobbery sniff or two, decided we were not good to eat and moved on. I then told Linda to go back to sleep. She never follows my advice on these things so while I reacquainted myself with the inside of my eyelids she sat awake making sure the animal didn't change its mind about its dinner options.

The night went quietly by for another couple of hours until I was awakened by a loud splat somewhere near the tent. I sat up and waited and heard another, then another. It was raining, and I hadn't put the rain cover over the tent the night before. The only thing we had between our nice dry sleeping bags and the rain clouds was a layer of no-see-um netting. So I put my shoes on, not bothering with my pants, and hastily threw the rain cover over the tent while Linda slept soundly in her bag. I guess I should have made some bear noises if I wanted to get her attention.

John and Linda