February Camping & Geocaching

So sorry I have been remiss in regular posts. Been really super busy doing A LOT of camping trying to get as many state parks in as we can before the Geocaching challenge ends in June. So, this is a combined post for both February camping trips and a Geocaching day trip B and I took.


The first weekend of February we participated in a Geocaching event that had two CITO’s [stands for Cache in Trash out in the Geocaching world].  We arrived pretty late Friday night to Camano Island state park and scoped out a site.

Earliest inhabitants of Camano Island were the Kikalos and Snohomish Indians, who used the island in summer while gathering seafood and berries. The island was renamed for Jacinto Caamaño, a Spanish explorer. The first European settlers arrived in 1855 and began extensive logging operations then farmers developed the area agriculturally. The land was designated for use as a park in 1949. The initial development was accomplished in a single day by nearly 900 volunteers from Stanwood and Camano Island.

Our friend Dug soon joined us. It was rainy but not too bad. We set up our easy up and put some sides on it. We had a fire going and beer ready for card games. A propane heater under the table helped too. Gus was nice and toasty in front of the fire and kept my toes warm.

Gus Cuddles

The next morning we got up bright and early, made breakfast and headed over to Cama Beach state park for the first of two CITO events.

Cama Beach is located on the southwest shore of Camano Island, facing Saratoga Passage. You can step back in time to refurbished 1930s-era Puget Sound fishing resort complete with waterfront cedar cabins and bungalows. Maritime culture can be experienced through the Center for Wooden Boats.

We could choose between picking up garbage on the beach or pulling out ivy. We chose the first option. Before we headed out we had to sign the log for the event, which was really a log.

Ranger Tina

Ranger Tina is telling B how important it is to pick up the tiny stuff as well as the big pieces. We spent the next hour and a half on the beach combing for garbage and the occasional piece of beach glass.

Cama Beach

After the CITO we attended a Geocaching event called Great Balls of Fire where we took a class on puzzle caches. One of my favorite types of caches. It was very informative and B and I are ready to tackle some more challenging puzzle caches.

We did some geocaching and tried to find one of only a few glass balls hidden in the park but no luck. We also trolled the parking lot where we discovered a lot of trackables on peoples cars!

After a Mediterranean dinner we headed back to our camp site for a fire, beer and Zombie Dice! Super fun and easy to play.

Zombie Dice

The next morning we were off to another CITO and again picked up garbage on the beach. This time it was at Camano Island state park where we had camped. Beej is an excellent helper.

Beach Helper

We continued with our Geocaching for the day and on our way home stopped at The Collective On Tap for food and beer. We also happened to catch the last of the Super Bowl but since my beloved Seahawks were not playing it was easy to watch. I was happy with the outcome.

Gotta sneak this in – my fun new hair color. I went from turquoise to purple.

Purple Hair

The next weekend we took a day trip down the coast to the furthest SW tip of Washington State.


Cape Disappointment state park was our first stop. In 1788, English Captain John Meares missed the passage over the river bar while searching for the Columbia River and named the nearby headland Cape Disappointment. In 1792, American Captain Robert Gray successfully crossed the river bar and named the river Columbia after his ship, the Columbia Rediviva. Only a few years later, in 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition arrived at Cape Disappointment.

The Cape Disappointment Lighthouse was constructed in 1856 to warn seamen of the treacherous river bar known by then as the graveyard of the Pacific. This is the oldest functioning lighthouse on the West Coast. In 1862, it was armed with smoothbore cannons to protect the mouth of the Columbia River from enemies. The installation was expanded to become Fort Canby in 1875. The fort was named after General Edward Canby, who was killed in the Modoc Indian War. The fort continued to be improved until the end of World War II. Gun batteries still sit up top the park.

We started out hiking up a hill to get the state park cache. It was not too far and we saw evidence of old buildings and foundations through out the hike. At the top of the hill we came across this bunker.


Our state park cache was near this survey marker.


It was a windy, rainy and foggy day. We did plenty of walking around and went up to where the guns had previously been mounted. There was another bunker and a newer museum building. There was also a walkway that looks out over the Columbia River but it was so foggy we could not even see the lighthouse or it’s light. We did a virtual cache and a few others throughout the park.

Virtual Cache

We will definitely camp here at some point!

From there we went to Fort Columbia state park which has the most intact collection of historic buildings of all Washington state parks. It was built from 1896 to 1904 as one of the harbor defenses of the Columbia River and constructed on the Chinook Point promontory because of the unobstructed view of the Columbia River. It was off this point that Robert Gray anchored and named the river for his ship, Columbia Rediviva. Nearby the point was the Chinook Indian Nation village of Nose-to-ilse, and later the station camp for the Lewis and Clark expedition bivouacked on the point during the Corps of Discovery exploration.

For the duration of three wars, Fort Columbia was fully manned and operational. Declared a surplus at the end of World War II, the fort transferred to the custody of the state of Washington in 1950 and was then designated as a state park. Twelve historic wood-frame buildings and four coastal defense batteries still stand on the premises.

Fort Columbia

Fort Columbia was a quick visit and the cache was easy to find. We were cold and it was rainy so we headed in to Astoria. We did a Geocache at the site of a theater that burned in the fire of 1922. A plaque there commemorates Clark Gable’s first acting job.

Apparently Astoria also has it’s own underground like Seattle does.

Underground Astoria

Then it was off to Fort George Brewing for some beer and wood fired pizza.

Art and the various taps in the production facility.


The next weekend later we headed to Larrabee state park to camp with our VW club. Frances Larrabee deeded 20 acres to the state for $1 on October 23, 1915 for the property that is now Larrabee State Park. On Nov. 22, 1915, the property officially became the first state park in Washington. Frances and her son Charles later donated another 1,500 acres to increase the size of the park.

We had an excellent turnout. Five of us from our club, three from a local Bellingham club and some random other VW peeps. Darn good for winter time at a campground! We arrived as usual late on Friday night. In the morning we had a potluck breakfast. Around noon we all decided to explore some of the trails in the park.


This park has A LOT of Geocaches in it. The 2 mile trail to the lake has some all along the way. There are also a couple near the lookout.

Tree Roots

Really cool the way the tree roots wrap around the boulder!

Lookout Point

What started out as a four mile round trip hike turned in to at least an eight mile hike. On the way back down from the lake we took a road that is no longer open to cars. This road too also had numerous Geocaches along the way.


Fallen logs and a waterfalls were some of the features.

Dug on a Log


A friend of mine who lives nearby was meeting us at the campground and we managed to get back to our site a little after dark. Dinner was ready and my friend brought what will now be a new camping tradition, cake donuts split in half with butter and brown sugar and a ring of pineapple. Place it in some foil and toss it on the fire and you are good to go. They were a hit!


All of the hiking made me incredibly tired and I zonked out at 9:00. I even missed some excitement of a bus rolling because the parking brake was not on.

Morning brought more pineapple inside out cakes.

Pineapple Donuts

After breakfast Dug, B and I headed to the border for our next state park cache at Peace Arch state park. The Peace Arch at 67 feet tall, is jointly maintained by the United States and Canada. It was the inspiration of Sam Hill, railroad builder and industrialist who also built a replica of Stonehenge in SE WA. Construction was completed September 6, 1921. The words which are printed on the U.S. side of the Peace Arch are “Children of a Common Mother” and “Brethren Dwelling Together in Unity” is on the Canadian side. In the middle of the arch are the words “May These Gates Never Be Closed” and on the opposite side in the middle is “1814 Open One Hundred Years.”

The Arch commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in 1814 and the Rush-Bagot Agreement in 1817. Entered into by the king of England and President Monroe, these treaties provided for an unguarded United States and Canadian border from the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. Both treaties resulted from the War of 1812 with Great Britain.

Peace Arch

The cache was really easy to find and we did a virtual at the arch. The grounds and garden were nicely maintained with rocks at the base of many trees with their named painted on them. Much of the gardens had labels as well.

Our other priority for the day was Birch Bay state park. Birch Bay was named by botanist Archibald Menzies who was a member of the 1792 Vancouver expedition. Menzies was on the 1792 Vancouver expedition. Archeological evidence indicates that the bay was inhabited by Semiahmoo, Lummi, and Nooksack tribes since prehistoric times.

At the turn of the 20th century, the huge fir trees of the area were logged with oxen and horse teams. Large old-growth stumps, with spring-board marks, remain as evidence. Captain Vancouver stopped in Birch Bay during 1792 to calibrate instruments used to map their location and to brew beer, a common staple on the long voyage.

The cache here was another quick one. We did a few more in the park and then were off to Bellingham for some beer tasting. First up was Kulshan Brewing where we each got a flight. My favorites were the Transporter Porter and Kitten Mittens. Buzcocks radio on Pandora and some yummy snacks from a food truck.

Kulshan Brewing Tasters

We moved on to Aslan Brewing where Dug and B each got a flight and I stuck with one pint of their stout. I tried a sip of the ginger rye ale which was really good too. I had the roasted yam tacos and ginger rice. OMG soooo good! Dug had the poutine on waffle fries and B wanted the pork sliders. They were out of buns so he asked for them to be served on waffle fries. They hooked him up and he soon started a trend with three other people ordering them that way.

Last stop before heading home was Boundary Bay Brewing. One of the oldest breweries in Bellingham. We had a quick pint. For me, Kulshan had the best beer and Aslan had the best food. There are a couple other breweries we want to try the next time we go up.

Sorry for the large photo heavy post. Two camping trips this month and a beer scavenger hunt are on the agenda!






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