I just felt like camping on an upcoming weekend. It was April, earlier than I like to camp... because, April, BRRRR. Hopped on the WA State Parks Reservations site - this was a new campground to me, a do-able driving distance, and hey, there was an open site! But it was... a cabin?? Hmmm. Why not?! Rustic, yet heated. NICE.
I was off to the Kitsap Peninsula!
Pictured: My little cabin in the foreground at Kitsap Memorial State Park
I hopped on the ferry, which is always a fun demarcation of "the tasks and regular life are behind you, camping and unplugging are before you!" Although technically I wasn't unplugging this time, as the camping cabins at Kitsap Memorial State Park have electricity. My plan, though, since I really DO like tent camping, was to keep the experience as much like a tent camping one as possible; just with heat, which I have to say, I was looking forward to. Also was likely to find the ability to charge my phone (which is my camera when camping) and a little limitless reading light at night, niceties.
Pictured: The parking pad, my own water faucet, and picnic table and fire ring were all within easy access of the cabin.
The cabins are typical spacing of a camp site, so, fairly close, and no greenery between. For a solo experience, it's a bit close - for multiple families or friends having a together experience, it's great. There is always a "I'm in my bubble" effort you need to make when you camp, as I do, in campgrounds. Your own on-site water is a definite convenience.
Being 2021, I brought LOTS of spray disinfectant, wiped all the surfaces down, and I aired the cabin out as well upon arrival. Because I wanted a "camping" experience, I did not avail myself of the fridge (which I have to say was less than clean, with a trail of tiny ants trying to access - so JUST like in the woods, lol!) I used my ice chest as usual, and all my "living" was outside other than sleeping. The cabin was literally my "tent" in terms of function. The inside sleeps 4, and has a table and chairs; I used these to put things on. Skylights provide light during the day without need for electricity, and allow the sun to wake you as it does in a tent. The porch stored firewood, and was a covered space for one of my chairs parttime, which was nice, I admit, when there were "April showers."
Pictured - a bigger view of my site's view
What I hadn't really encountered before in a state park is the park is quite small compared to those I am used to, and the camping portion of Kitsap Memorial State Park is smaller still. Just about 30 sites and 4 cabins. The park itself seems like its focus is day use, and the camping is integrated with that. The camping cabins look out on a playing field, with a playground in the distance, and then the high waterfront shoreline and sound visible through the trees. My preference is probably a larger park with a section that is fully camping focused; it wasn't unpleasant, it was just harder to conjur my solitude. Had it been July instead of April, the day-use area would have been VERY busy, and audible, and my bubble harder to capture~ so this was a good one to experience during spring instead of summer or a holiday weekend.
I popped down to the beach to see what was what - it was a shore of stones with lots of little tidal pool vignettes to find, sturdy shoes definitely required. It is a small bit of shoreline, but I had it all to myself, so I wandered just a bit before the sun started to dip.
Back at the cabin, I settled in and got set up - faster without setting up a tent - and got going on dinner. Often my first night is a steak, as that's easy, filling and a bit of a treat. I just panfry in butter and garlic with some herbs to finish. Tonight's was accompanied by steamed baby purple potatoes; right at the end I threw some kale and garlic and grape tomatoes in the steak pan for a wilted greens accompaniment. It was getting chilly the minute the sun went down, so I started the campfire while the cooking finished.
Pictured: First Night Two Burner Steak & Potatoes
You know by now how I like to experiment with s'mores, yes, even pushing the envelope. Tonight's variety was divine, but OH quite rich! ONE was enough.
Pictured: Tonight's dessert was Trader Joe's Florentine Cookies S'mores
It was getting very, very cold - even fireside and with a jacket and hat and blanket on my lap, I was rather chilled. The minute it started spitting rain, I headed for the cabin, which I had pre-heated to 65. I am not going to lie - I did not envy the tent-campers with the combination of rain and cold, and I was very thankful for the cabin luxuries of warmth and light. Making my way to the bathrooms was a bit of a trek around some sodden areas of grass, and making sure I re-entered the right cabin :) so I looped a headlamp on the doorknob and it was quite handy to have.
As it got light the next morning, my coffee called, same as always! I decided to do a little pre-breakfast campfire-toasted bagel with my first cup, as I contemplated the view, woke up, and asked the sun to come warm my up by the fire.
Pictured: I love to hear the bubble and see the steam as I anticipate the first cup of joe.
Pictured: YUM, the smokiness of campfire-toasted bagels, and mom's homemade jam.
I'd brought ingredients for my family's special homemade pancakes, Oatmeal Pancakes, which I hadn't made for years. I was very much anticipating them, and got some bacon on to fry as well. Mmmm... coffee, bacon, pancakes, syrup... these are just the essence of camp breakfast smells. The sun came out, helping take off major chill as things fried.
VERY unfortunately, the pancakes didn't turn out - when I tried to turn, they were just doughy oatmeal buttermilk sludge. I still don't know what went wrong, but it was wildly disappointing. AND burnt the bacon while I was dealing with the non-pancakes! NOW what was I going to have for breakfast? Necessity is never more the mother of invention than in camping, and camp cookery is no exception. You have to be able to assess what you've got going on and see what you can make of it. I had leftover steamed potatoes from my steak dinner the night before; I hit upon frying them up with some slivers of onion I had, adding a few eggs and scrambling them, bacon was salvageable, and added shredded cheese and my ever-present cilantro to finish. It was delicious!
Pictured: Breakfast, saved!
I spent my day wandering among the tall old trees over by the shore, and noticing all the elements of spring. I would typically hammock or walk trails, etc, but neither of those pastimes are readily available here, so when in Rome... I pulled up a chair in the sun to put my feet up on, sat in the other, read and dozed in the breeze, still bundled up, but comfortable. It is delightful to me to relax in this way.
For lunch, I resurrected an old time favorite ~ Waldorf Salad. As was the theme for this trip, I'd forgotten the walnuts. I fished enough almonds out of my trail mix to substitute, and found the recipe is quite forgiving and still great... I'm betting pecans would rock also. I added in some crannies from the trail mix as well, and I like the tartness. Those will become standards in my Waldorf now! It's a nice crisp spring salad for lunch, and it's in my recipes section for you. Don't be afraid to rif on it, make it your own!
Pictured: Waldorf a la GoSoloCamp Kitsap!
I couldn't help wandering over to the fenced edge to see what the sound was doing throughout the day. It was a very peaceful view. Easy to breathe when solocamping.
Knowing how cold it gets, and having gone through my firewood with longer fire times in the cool temps, and with it being pre-season so no firewood available at the camp, I toodled out to a nearby convenience store to get another few bundles so I'd be fully stocked for the night and the morning.
Fire crackling nearby, I started dinner prep a bit earlier - tonight the menu was Mandarin Chicken, an easy but delicious dish (also there for you in my recipes!) and sauteed asparagus. I forgot the rice (REALLY need to pay attention to my lists!) and didn't have it in my camp pantry this trip either, because I really hadn't vetted my supplies for this pre-season trip. So I had more Waldorf to round out the plate, and it was a good dinner.
Just as I was ready to plate, an amazing sunset presented itself across the water, and all of us cabin folks and a few campers too raced across the field to the fence to take it in. Well worth turning off the burners and delaying dining to capture it's beautiful layers.
The next day, after coffee and oatmeal, I did appreciate how easy it was to pack up with no tent, and get on my way early as the rain started to come in. Back on the ferry, a bit of blue sky teased me as I bid farewell to my spontaneous cabin-camping weekend.
This was probably my only trip to Kitsap Memorial as a solocamper - I would definitely cabin camp again in another campground that offers these accommodations, such as Raser State Park up north, in the pre-and-post seasons especially~ it really expands my camping opportunities. I would come back to these cabins, too, if I were camping in community with others, especially if they came with kids that would find the play area and field the perfect camp activities. I learned a lot about my preference for larger campgrounds, how to improvise my cooking as needed... and that the ability to turn on heat, in April, for this camper, is just magic.
"Never waste any amount of time doing anything important when there is a sunset outside that you should be sitting under." ~ C. Joybell C.