Camp Watson

We got to go to adult summer camp on Hood Canal the last weekend of August. I call it summer camp because we got to sail, swim, hike. The main differences between this camp and YMCA camp as a kid are

  • Better food
  • We get to drink
  • We didn’t get to make lanyards.

Jay and Mary Ann (our neighbors and friends) are the camp counselors; John and Karen Lee were are fellow campers. I love it when we are able to get up there. The camp is our friends the Watson’s place up in Washington about a 3 1/2 – 4 hour drive from Portland. The pin doesn’t exactly point to their place, but it shows that it is on the bottom of the fish hook.

We got a late start Friday, it took an hour to get out of Beaverton over the Fremont Bridge and through Vancouver. From there we headed up I5 to Olympia and took US 101 up to the canal. Camp Watson stays open late and we got in in plenty of time for cocktails and dinner.

View from the deck
Looking north from Camp Watson
Carla and I wasted no time getting settled into our bunks and then joined the other kids for evening revels.
Carla enjoying the view and working on her needlepoint. Camp counselor Jay has the cooking duties

Like I said; better than kid camp; the drinks are great.

Karen enjoying the evening after a full day of camping activities
Fellow campers Jay and John

Jay and John went out fishing Friday; John caught a trout which made up part of our dinner. The circle of life was very evident; the trout had an itty-bitty fish in its stomach. We also had some salmon.

The fish John caught.

Saturday was a gorgeous, gorgeous day; the back (front?) wall of the cabin is a set of 4 French doors that open on a deck overlooking the water. We ate breakfast inside then just hung around relaxing for awhile. When it warmed up a bit we got to go sailing. The camp has so many boats; we started scheming how we could take the armada across the canal for a raid on a rival camp.

The Camp Watson fleet

I grew up in the desert and know nothing about sailing, but Jay and John are able-bodied sailors. John manned the tiller while Jay and I switched between manning the lines for the foresail and main sail, depending on where the wind came from. We went aboard the flag ship and set sail

Admiral Jay
Captain John manned the tiller.

I’ve learned enough commands to know to duck when we “come about”.

Camp Watson has its very own oyster and clam beds. They put down a few thousand clams a couple of years ago; they weren’t quite ready for eating, but there were other clams not far away. We had clams and hot dogs for lunch

Steamed clams

We cooked the oysters on the grill for an appetizer for dinner.

Oysters grilled in their shells.

I had cooking duty Saturday night and thought I’d try something fairly simple: tri-tip with Santa Maria rub. [Edit May 25, 2018. Here is a link to an updated version of the recipe.]
I picked up a couple of nice roasts at Costco earlier in the week and mixed up some Santa Maria rub, so it was but the work of a few minutes to get them on the grill.

Tri-tip starting out over direct heat

Camp Watson is outfitted with a classic Weber gas grill; the kind with two rows of “flavorizer bars”.  I started them over direct heat to get a sear on, then moved to the fron where they finished up. While dinner was cooking we took part in the evening social hour.

From left to right: Mary Ann, Carla, John, Jay
Enjoying the evening. A nice view of the back (front?) of the “cabin”.

After a couple of beers dinner was ready.

Mary Ann and/or Karen made a fantastic salad. Blackberry buckle was dessert.

Karen, Howard, Carla, Mary Ann

We enjoyed the sunset

Sunset at Camp Watson

When the stars came out we busted out our iPhone and iPad star gazing apps. I did get to finally see how the Big Dipper is the back half of Ursa Major, or as our resident scientist and camp counselor calls it, Weasel Major figuring it looks way more like a weasel than a bear.

Sunday morning we went up to Belfair for a walk on the north end of the canal; this is an estuary, where fresh and salt water mixes. If I learned my biology right, the salmon take their time working back up to the creeks, spending time in this tidal area lets them adapt to the change in salinity. This area features a lot of tidelands that are protected by dikes. In the next couple of years some of the dikes will be breached to allow the salmon to expand their habitat. (Did I learn that right Jay?)

Sunday afternoon I had to head back home. I timed my drive to leave just as the Dodgers were on the radio. I got to listen to a full game driving home; it was fantastic. Carla stayed a few extra days. She and Mary Ann headed up to Port Townsend where one of Jay and Mary Ann’s daughters lives. She was out of town, so the girls hiked around town.

Carla and Mary Ann
Looking down on Fort Worden in Port Townsend
The local wildlife
Yard car!
Fort Worden

Carla came back home on the train Wednesday afternoon. The Watsons stayed behind for a few extra days.


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