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Camp Journal #6: Site 1 Millersylvania State Park ~ July 2020

Millersylvania State Park is a personal favorite. Just 8 miles south of Olympia, easily accessible from the Seattle or Portland areas, it has everything~ a beautiful large lake, many walking paths, lots of greenery between and around campsites... I almost don't want to share it :) But for you, I'll do it!

Pictured: Deep Lake is great fishing from land, pier, or boat, easy trail from the campground

Millersylvania State Park was one of my first solo camp ventures, and although I had a fairly exposed campsite that first trip, I was able to angle my tent opening to look out on one of the many greenbelt areas between sites, and my neighbors were very nice. But as I explored the campground, I thought site #1 was one I really wanted to try. So when the next year I was able to reserve it for my birthday trip, and go for 3 nights rather than my customary 2, I was really looking forward to returning there and setting up camp.

Pictured: Site 1 upon arrival ~ I love the large rocks and the greenbelt, mix of sun and shade

I like to start by stretching my legs and having lunch upon arrival, as you know - especially after the 2 1/2 hour drive (traffic always abounds between Fife and Tacoma.)

I came prepared with some pre-made tunafish, added plantain chips and tollhouse cookies, and a book, to ease into the solo camp experience in a nice little patch of sun.

Pictured: Lunch before unpacking. I like to *ease* into it...

Pictured: I can pack a LOT into my little red Kia Soul!

Pictured: Site #1, all settled in, including the Wise Owl Hammock's debut.

My last touch setting up was my new Wise Owl Hammock, gift from a sweet friend, and the best gift EVER! I found I like to put a little car mat down next to it on the entry side, so I can kick off my camp uggs and recline with bare feet, but without tons of pine needles on entry and upon exit. I also like a little lightweight blanket in the bottom, and sometimes on the top. A small camp pillow, a book, a bag of chips maybe... it was hammock love from the start!

Pictured: Hammock at the ready!

I took a little stroll down to check out the lake, see if the fish were biting, and if so, what they were nibbling on. One of the great things about Millersylvania is all the paths ~ through the forest, along the lake, a series of boardwalk paths through wetlands.

Pictured: Deep Lake ~ just a small section here, it's a nice big lake!

Back at camp, I decided it was happy hour - and I'd brought some charcuterie, since it was birthday weekend. Trader Joe's supplied hummus, crackers, brie, apples, olives, and manchego; Icicle Creek supplied a great Porter; Bob Goff provided inspiring and entertaining and uplifting reading, and Mother Nature supplied a breeze in the trees, chattering squirrels, and peaceful satisfying breaths. I could feel my shoulders drop.

Pictured: I love to nosh and read when I'm camping; fireside, table, in hammock, in tent! I can read and snack ANYWHERE in the great outdoors :)

I was too full for dinner, so I moved right to making a fire, and s'mores as the sun set behind the trees and put my feet up, watching the night sky as the stars came out.

Pictured: Forgot the grahams - NOT a problem. Mother's Circus Cookies make GREAT s'mores!

After an unusual night in which a fellow camper couple somewhere in the park had an argument so verbose that I woke to flashing blue and red lights from not one, not two, but THREE police cars reflected off the tent ceiling to sort it out and keep the peace, I got up a bit on the late side. I broke out the campfire and the first pot of coffee before figuring out what to do for breakfast. A breakfast Sammy was calling me, so I threw some English muffins on the grill over the fire (GOTTA watch those closely, and have them over embers, not flames!) and some ham and eggs in the skillet, added a slice of cheddar (okay two) and McD's has NOTHING on a KathySam next to a crackling fire.

Pictured: Breakfast in the works. Everything tastes better in the outdoors! Seriously.

Pictured: The full meal deal

It was the middle of the day, not ideal for fishing, so I decided to take the paths that go through the wetlands, a combo of trail and boardwalk over water. It was a beautiful day, warm, sunny, and it was delightful to just breathe, wander, go from sunlight to dappled shade, just being aware of birds, and seeing the flora and fauna.

Pictured: Meanderhiking is wonderful at Millersylvania State Park

After that, it was hammock nap time!

Pictured: You can NOT beat hammock time for relaxing camping. The perfect snooze!

I decided on an early dinner of Chicken Piccata, to accommodate evening fishing just before dusk. I love camp cooking, and I eat well when I am out.

Pictured: Chicken Piccata, a Kathy Camp Staple. Look for it in 2-Burner Wonder Recipes!

Then it was off on foot, fishing vest on, pole in hand, to take advantage of the best time to fish ~ early evening, as dusk settles in, the fish like to surface and strike a dry fly.

Pictured: Catch and release - one of 4 for the fishing session! SO much fun!

An uneventful typically peaceful night followed, and I was pleasantly tired. That morning, as is oft the case, pancakes were calling me. 'Threw some fresh blueberries in the batter lots of good coffee, added sausage, and relaxing by a crackling fire. A perfect morning.

All jazzed from yesterday's evening fish, I set out in the middle of the day to try the pier, which had looked promising from the shore the night before. It was a BUSY sunny middle of the day, though, with boaters entering and exiting the water, a full and boisterous swimming area nearby, and other anglers already there. I did more dangling than casting, until it thinned out a bit on the dock, and caught this (tiny) beauty whose eyes were bigger than his stomach- such colors! Back it went, to swim another day.

Pictured: My one catch of the day

I did a bit more wandering as the afternoon waned, especially noticing the tiny little flowers and the occasional berry trailside. Even found a tiny crab-like spider hanging out in the middle of a little purple bloom ~ that was a surprise! Then dinner prep called.

It was the actual birthday night, and my go-to fancy feast is a nice pan-fried steak; usually I do mushrooms too, but this time I'd planned a baked potato - and totally burnt the foil-wrapped russet I tried to roast in the embers. So I saved the part I could and sliced it thin and sautéed it for a side - not too bad. I love having my candle lantern with a little citronella to keep the mosquitos at bay as the evening descends.

Pictured: Birthday steak and fixings - YUM!

Pictured: You know how I love Trader Joe's ~ their chocolate cake was the (birthday) bomb!

The next morning, I hung out by the fire with coffee and book, soaking up the last of the solo camp vibes before taking down and packing up took over. I added the last of the English muffins to the grill, and topped them with butter and marionberry jam for a camp continental breakfast... yep, one was pretty burnt, it's something that comes with campfire cooking (or at least mine, clearly!) but it's all good.

Packing up after breakfast, I felt like I'd been away for a week ~ which is how I typically feel with a few days of Solo camping. It works its magic on me. Happy birthday to me!

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