Updated: Jan 5
I'd been to Fort Flagler State Park once before, and got a bit rained out. I thought when I made my reservations early this year, it wouldn't happen twice, right? And I had Site #1, a special site with a view of the sound and sunsets. Boy was I wrong.
Pictured: Across the street from site #1 is THIS, just steps away. When the sun shines, that is.
It rained on the ferry on the way over. It rained along all the roads. It rained when I stopped for fire wood. Steady drizzle to steady real big-drop rain. I thought, surely it will stop, soon. Because... I've never set-up or taken down in the rain. Last time I was here, I took down early and slept in a little nest in the car to avoid a rainy pack-up, which was a great decision, then. But, no dice... the rain kept coming, and no end in sight.
Everything was getting wet. I do have a Kelty rain tarp with poles, but I'd never set it up before. I wanted to set that up first, over the picnic table, so I could wipe it down and get the kitchen stuff and other items I am setting up where I can stage it where it's dry. Drier. Unfortunately, these are really meant to be put up by two people - the poles don't get buried, they stand based on tension from side lines and each other. And you need tension to put them up. After a solid half hour of one side going up and the other skewing/falling, I tried tying off to the nearby bushes and pulled the car up to tie to the door handle. With this set-up, I finally got a cover over the table. Not ideal - one edge was lower and collected rainwater, and every time I forgot that and came out from under it, it dumped the collected rainwater on my head or shoes. Probably the most expletives I've ever used camping belong to this day.
Pictured: Trying to balance everything and keep it, well, moist if not dry; as the rain keeps a-coming down... an exercise in frustration.
Pictured: Me, soaking wet, setting up in the rain. Not nearly as fun as it looks, even.
Pictured: Although it was raining and muddy, the only area that the tent can be placed on in the relatively small narrow Site #1 has very hard-packed ground that defies stakes.
Tents, unfortunately, don't get set up with the rainfly ON, and then comes off if it's sunny. So, as the tent was set up, the rain was coming merrily into the flat tent via the mesh top through which I normally like to view the stars at night. Guess what else I hadn't used before? The rain fly, when it was actually raining. So I slogged around the tent trying to match up the tabs and figure out what went where. I am still not sure I got it right; but I got it on, and rain sluiced all around the tent. I got the rest of the gear into the tent, and started in on dinner.
Pictured: A quick yet hearty meal after set-up
I had a few options, but the fastest was also appealing ~ I boiled up some thin spaghetti, and on the second burner, warmed up some jarred Alfredo sauce. I tossed in some tiny shrimp as I stirred the sauce into the drained pasta, and sprinkled a bit of parsley. It was a tasty respite in all the... dampness.
And then, there wasn't anything to do but go to bed... it was too wet for a a fire, and sitting in the rain didn't have appeal, anyway. A little reading in bed and I broke out the molasses cookie I got at the Chimacum Farm Market when I stopped on the way.
Pictured: My view of the rainfly (I prefer the stars, but today, I'm glad for the rainfly!)
The night was weird. There was some wind, and a high-pitched sound that woke me and made me think "tsunami" for some reason~ which made it difficult to go to sleep. The patter of rain is a nice sound, even if you wish for clear skies. Morning dawned with a smattering of rain coming and going, so I snuggled in and read for a bit until a watery sun emerged and the prospect of coffee beckoned.
Pictured: My new French press' maiden cup - and I am in LOVE with this thermal press!
And then, it's time for breakfast. I was HUNGRY, so went for eggs AND pancakes (why choose?!) Threw in a few blueberries before I flipped 'em. Two burners is plenty to create a great breakfast. Add fruit, juice, and the sun, which was coming out... and it made for a nice morning meal fireside.
After breakfast, I thought I'd take advantage of the lack of rain and take a stroll down at the beach. Fort Flagler's beach has a spit that goes way out, and a beach that is often nearly empty (at least on the rainy weekends I've been there!) which makes for some great beach walking. I chased a patch of robin's egg blue sky that along the grey beach.
Pictured: Fort Flagler State Park's beach is a great place to spy ferries far away
Back at camp, my favorite camp activity, fireside reading, and looking up occasionally and just basking in the elusive sun, and taking in the view that is the reason Site #1 is sought-after. It IS really something!
Pictured: The view from Site #1 - when the sun comes out.
The weather got weird again with a cold brisk wind in the afternoon, so I popped in the car which was nice and warm to read and wait it out, and ended up taking a nap. There was a 50% chance of rain in the evening, so looking ahead, I decided to get a jump on dinner early. I was trying a new recipe, "Sticky Chicken," which is going into the regular rotation... it's easy, with rice on the other burner, and it was delicious. You'll find it in the recipes, give it a whirl!
Pictured: Sticky Chicken over some jasmine rice, and a lot of cilantro
Before the rain came in, I saw some beautiful orange hit the sky, so I ran over by the clifftop fence to capture a gorgeous sunset. I tried an evening fire, which started to get spattered by the rain coming in... so after a quick s'more, it was bedtime again and again, the pitter patter (and occasional torrent) of rain on the rainfly overhead.
Pictured: Trader Joe's belgian waffle cookies, lavender marshmallow and dark chocolate
The morning was grey but no rain, so I debated - take down while there was no rain, or enjoy the morning and bank on the fact that it won't rain, despite the forecast. I really felt like my enjoyment had already been dampened enough, literally, so I made a fire and soaked it up, with my new french press coffee in full evidence.
About the time I needed to have some breakfast and start packing up, I realized I would have to pay for my earlier decision to relax by the fire, as the rain started to come down.
Setting up in the rain is definitely no fun. Taking down in the rain, it turns out, is worse... because you have just a ton of wet muddy gear that you know you will have to set up again at home, clean off and dry out, before finally putting away. so, I just wanted to get it down, get it in the car, and get going. I found a few flowers on the way out that were soaking up the rain, and I tried to be happy for them. But was mostly sorry for me. :)
I'd dodged the set-up-in-the-rain, take-down-in-the-rain for years - so it's not that it wasn't my turn... but am I a "fair-weather camper?" I may well be. We'll see. I think next time, I'll look at sites 3 or 4... they are under more cover, so probably the rain would have been less impactful. They are on softer ground, so my all my tent stakes would've survived. More trees to help tie out and balance my tarp-and-poles cover. And just a few yards farther down the road than the cliff-front site #1.
But will I come back to Fort Flagler, and risk rain a THIRD time? You bet.