The summer we lived in a travel trailer between homes was memorable.
We spent the first month up the Middle Fork county road outside of North Bend Washington but there’s a two-week limit on how much time you can stay in the national forest. As a result, we were under pressure to keep moving. The county Sheriff patrolled the area regularly and didn’t hesitate to tell people to move on if they exceed their limit. It was tricky to keep two paces ahead of them and we became forest outlaws for overstaying.
One day the sheriff told us to move so we had to spend a week at a hotel at the pass to burn up the prescribed amount of time before we could go back. It cost us an arm and a leg but it was nice to be able to shower and the beds were comfortable.
When we returned, we opted for a pay campground to take off the heat. Denny Creek near Snoqualmie Pass was a nice place but the caretaker was anything but. He was an older gentleman who took his job way too seriously. He would literally look at his watch when we came to pay.
After that, we camped in an undesignated area before checking into Tinkham Campground – another pay site. We lived there for almost a month before we closed on our property and left for our new home.
Tinkham was a breath of fresh air. The hosts were super friendly and didn’t run the place an internment facility. It was located halfway between North Bend and the pass. As we were still living and working near our old home, we could commute back and forth to Snoqualmie with relative ease. It was a beautiful drive.
Our spot was on the river side of the campground with our own semi-private trail to the river. Denny Creek fed into it a mile or two up the road and was known for having gold.
I spent a lot of time at the beach. We got our water there, prospected, or just played around. The leg-breaking terrain was littered with giant rocks that were difficult to walk on but someone had begun to build a trail from the tree line to the river’s edge.
I seized upon the idea and spent many hours over the following weeks adding to the trail. It was like building a patio. I would find the flattest rocks, dig shallow holes for them, lay them in, dump sand between them and pack it down. It looked pretty cool in the end.
Working on “my” trail became one of my favorite pastimes. It was symbolic to me. The flattened walkway that threaded its way to the water might save someone a broken ankle and was an invitation to enjoy the river. I hoped people would use it for months – maybe years ahead. I wondered if others would help to maintain it. I’d like to go back someday and see if it’s still there.
The great solar eclipse happened while we were at Tinkham. When the sun fell into darkness, the shadows on the ground deepened in a surreal fashion. The light dimmed, and we headed to the beach. I took my camera and my husband brought three pairs of sunglasses to watch. I teased him about it.
I couldn’t get a good shot with my camera but the multiple pairs of sunglasses my husband brought allowed us to see it clearly. Go figure.
We went prospecting at Denny Creek but had the usual bad luck in finding any gold. By that time, I was beginning to realize gold is heavy. It sinks to the bottom of the gravel and sand till it hits either bedrock or clay. You have to have the right equipment and experience to know how to get to it. Lesson learned.
We were able to stay for the rest of our time in the mountains at Tinkham because the hosts were cool. Being an older couple, they suggested we clean up the fire pits in exchange for some extra time. We spent three days cleaning up fifty or so campsites.
In mid-September, we closed on our property. Winter was approaching and we now had somewhere to go – somewhere to call home. It was time to go.
On the evening of September 17th of the year 2017, we loaded up the trailer and hitched it up to the truck in the pouring rain. We pulled out of our spot and stopped on our way out to say goodbye and thank you to our hosts.
We pulled onto I-90 knowing western Washington was now a part of our pasts, most likely for the remainder of our lives – but a new adventure awaited us ahead.