Camping: Independence Weekend

This camping trip we did not have a camp site reserved. We knew we were staying at a friends house Saturday night for the holiday but Friday was wide open. We had a list of four state parks we wanted to visit over the weekend to work on our state park Geocaching challenge.

It’s been really hot here in the greater Seattle area. The night before we left I constructed a screen with mosquito netting, rip stop fabric and magnets to place over the sunroof in the Vanagon. On hot nights it’s especially nice to get air moving through the van without the benefit of bugs.

Window Screen

Screen From Above

It worked GREAT!

Friday early afternoon we loaded up and headed out. Our destination was Kanasket-Palmer State Park for our first Geocache. When we pulled in we asked if there were any available campsites. We were prepared to camp on a forest service road that night but thought we would give it a try. Our timing could not have been better as they had just received a cancellation. Site number 23 was ours and we settled in quite quickly.

B in the Hammock

Hammock Selfie

After a cold beverage in the hammock we set out to find our first state park Geocache of the weekend.

By the Green River

It was a pretty easy and scenic walk along the green river. Most of it was shaded which helped in the hot and muggy weather.

I can se you

At the very end we had to climb a small bluff and B made the find in the salal. This is where he acquired a state park travel bug. I left a travel bug I found in Florida while on vacation. I was pretty tired, hot and sweaty so we went back to camp, I took a nap in the hammock while B went in search of other caches.

After my nap I started prepping dinner. I just started subscribing to Blue Apron and one of the meals we packed to make while camping. We had Lamb & Risotto-style Ditalini Pasta. It was an easy one pot meal and really delicious!

There was a burn ban in effect for the area so we didn’t bother to bring firewood for a campfire. We somehow forgot our camping lamp so we played cribbage and Phase Ten by LED light and headlamps.

LED Light

The next morning we packed up and headed out to Nolte State Park for our second state park Geocache. Nolte was “formerly a vacation resort known as Deep Lake Park and owned by the Nolte family, the area was donated in the early 1970s to the state of Washington by Minnie Nolte, for whom the park is named”.
The walk to this one was nice and scenic and and shaded. Down a short offshoot path we found it hidden behind a Cottonwood tree. There was another cache in the park so we decided to hit that one before moving on. It was along an interpretive trail where many of the local flora were explained.

Our next stop was Flaming Geyser State Park. There were two other caches we wanted to hit in this park aside from the state park cache, a virtual and an earth cache. Both gave us more information about the geology of the flaming geyser. The geyser is no longer lit due to the depletion of its methane source. One of the great things I love about he state parks challenge is you find out so much history about the area. This hike was a harder one and I definitely got a workout! Below some of the stairs we had to climb on the hike.


On to our friends house on Lake Lucerne in Maple Valley. There are no motorized boats allowed on the lake, just electric and man powered which I find rather nice. B took a kayak out a couple times. I did not bring a life jacket for B so stayed behind. We brought along Ladderball for people to play. B and Gary [one of our hosts] below.

B and Gary Playing Ladderball

Water balloon launchers are brought out for this day only on the lake [photo below from two years ago]. This particular launcher was a gift from the neighborhood when Lisa moved in. She originally purchased and moved in to a small home on the lake. While living there, she designed her current home. While it was under construction lived in another home she purchased. That is how she met her boyfriend Gary, who lived next door to her temporary house. Gary is a friend of B’s.

Water Baloon Launcher

Many people on the lake set off fireworks at the end of their docks. It got started early with some sort of red smoke bomb.

Red Smoke

We enjoyed others fireworks on the lake as we sat around the fire pit. Some people spent A LOT of money on fireworks!

Fireworks over the Lake

The day was full of great food and friends. We spent the night in the driveway of our friends home.

On our way home we wanted to stop at Federation Forest State Park. This park began “in the mid-1920s as the dream of Jean Caithness Greenlees, a teacher at Everett High School. Alarmed by the pace of deforestation in Washington and across the country, she initiated an effort to preserve a tract of old growth trees for use as a park. Her goal was to ensure that future generations could experience an ecosystem that was rapidly being wiped out”.

On our way home Sunday we ended up at Lake Samammish State Park for our last state park Geocache of the weekend. It was a really easy trail to walk along and we found it rather quickly. Hard to believe from the photo below we are so close to the city.

Lake Samammish State Park

On our way along the trail we came across some scat and there was evidence of a rather large animal laying in the grass earlier. Kinda scary when you are so close to the city.

I’m including Monday on this post as we did another state park cache close to home at St Edward State Park. “In the late 1920s, Bishop O’Dea of the Seattle Catholic Archdiocese [a Seattle high school, O’Dea is named after him] purchased the property with his own personal inheritance and donated it to the diocese for use as a seminary by the Sulpician Order, an educational order of priests. The seminary was named for Edward the Confessor, founder of Westminster Abbey and king of the West Saxons of England in the 11thCentury. On October 13, 1930, on the feast of Saint Edward, the cornerstone of the seminary was laid. Construction began March, 1931 and was completed by September that year. For many years, the building was operated as a boy’s school and seminary. In the fall of 1977, because of declining enrollment and changes in the education of seminarians, the Seattle Diocese sold 316 acres, including the seminary buildings to the state of Washington for use as a park. In 1978, the grounds of Saint Edward State Park were opened to the public. In 1997, the former seminary building was placed on the Washington State Heritage Register, and in 2007, it was placed on the National Historic Register”.

St Edward State Park

We found the state park cache first and hiked along the loop trail. There was another cache in an orchard which we found pretty quickly cleverly hidden in an apple.


Our last cache of the night we could not find and we searched for quite some time in the grotto area.


It’s a “charming garden alcove that was used by priests for prayer and meditation, surrounded by woods with many plant, bird and animal species, plus expansive lawns and trails leading to Lake Washington. Perfect place for intimate wedding ceremonies or memorial services”.

That makes six state park caches in four days to add to our list for the challenge.


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