Hello, from Lake Sylvia State Park. The past couple of weeks have been exciting and taxing. Last weekend we had the Kid's Fishing Derby sponsored by the local Moose Lodge. The weather wasn't the best, but we still had about 160 participants. That's down from about 400 two years ago and 250 last year. I think the last two derbies were heavily affected by the weather. However, the rules change that only provides prizes to the top ten finishers in each of four age groups probably had an affect too. In the first year that I documented, all participants received a prize. That was a terrific benefit for the kids, but was unsupportable for the Moose Lodge and the community. The prizes are significant (new bikes, fishing gear, sporting gear, etc.), so the cost was too great to continue.
Regardless, the day was still a wonderful success and one that the Moose Lodge, Montesano, Elma and the surrounding area should continue to take pride in.
We also had some excitement following the fishing derby. I had to remind a man that his dogs needed to be on a leash and under his control at all times while in the park. He didn't respond well to my reminder, so I turned the incident over to the Park Rangers. They spoke with the man, who became abusive. The Rangers in response provided him with a further reminder in the form of a ticket. (It doesn't pay to mess with Park Rangers.)
The weekend is here now and I'm up to my neck in work preparing for new arrivals. It looks as though we'll have a full park. School is out for most, if not all, kids and families are coming to the park to get away from it all and relax. Lake Sylvia is really a beautiful place to relax, so I hope they kick back, cast their lines and eat bunches of s'mores.
Bye for now. I'll write more in a day or two. I hope to see you at the park.
It seems as though it’s been raining for days. Oh, it has! Regardless, we are still afloat.
Last evening, the sky opened up, and flooded us with rain and hale. Thor, the god of thunder, made his presence and power known. Lights were flickering and the hail was large enough that people at Starbuck’s, where I was working on my website, were expressing concern that their cars would be damaged.
Well, today we had a repeat performance. I had to wait out the storm in my Gator. When the rain let up, I had campers coming by to borrow my shovel, so they could dig drainage ditches to drain their campsites. Their tents were awash in rainwater.
Tonight I tried the new restaurant in Montesano -- The Fishin Hole, a Family Restaurant. The first thing I noticed was that I had to return twice to find a parking spot. I arrived shortly after 5:00 pm and the parking lot was full. The same condition existed at 6:00 pm. So, when I pulled in at 7:00 pm and found a parking place, I was relieved. I thought, “This must be a terrific diner.”
When I walked in a young hostess greeted me and led me to a booth right away. The restaurant is clean, spacious and nicely decorated (for a family restaurant). The menu features breakfast, lunch and dinner items.
Despite the time of day, my waitress greeted me asking whether I would like breakfast and I said it was both too late and too early for breakfast. When I asked what she’d recommended for dinner she told me the seafood fettuccine was their best dish. Regardless, I asked her to recommend between salmon or one of the steaks. She recommended the rib eye steak.
The steak came with soup or salad, mashed potatoes with gravy or rice pilaf, and steamed mixed vegetables. I chose the salad and mashed potatoes. I also asked about the merlot -- the only red wine on the very short (three selections) wine list. She said she didn’t drink wine, so she couldn’t offer me any guidance. I told her that I’d try the wine and let her know what I thought about it so she would have at least one review to share with other customers.
When my meal arrived the steak looked grey as though it had been boiled. It was not medium rare as ordered. It was overdone. The vegetables were overly steamed and limp to the point of breaking down into mush. My waitress offered me steak sauce, but I asked for English hot mustard and was not surprised when she said they didn’t have any. I told her I’d eat the steak plain, but I added salt and pepper to spice up the flavor.
Throughout the meal, my waitress was attentive as were two other waitresses that went by frequently. However, they were not intrusive. The whole place is very folksy and comfortable.
Unfortunately, there was a troubling aspect to the meal. There is a big screen TV on the major wall that is there for all to see. They had it tuned to a hunting and fishing network, and while I was there, the programs showing were hunting shows. In these shows, they graphically shot and killed coyotes, elk, mountain goats, large squirrels and other game. Of course, all the blood, gore and gratuitous trophy killing did not settle well with me.
My total bill with tip was $30. Considering the bland meal and the continuous display of gratuitous killing, I will need to be starving before I consider returning to The Fishin Hole. Even then, it will only be to try the breakfast.
By the way, the 14 Hands merlot wine was good.
I was starving at dinnertime the next day, so I went back to The Fishin Hole and ordered a breakfast entree -- eggs Benedict and orange juice. It came with hash brown potatoes. The meal was very good. I guess I should have followed my first waitresses advice and ordered breakfast. By the way, they had changed the channel on the big screen TV and were playing a Major League Baseball game -- the Cubs vs. the Pirates.
Today, the local Moose Lodge sponsored the Kid’s Fishing Derby. The kids and parents had a great time. Check out the pictures on my Photos pages.
If you want a copy of the photo of your child, send an email using the Contact page and I’ll send you an electronic copy of the photo. Please include the photo ID number. The ID number starts with DSC....
There was only one really big hitch – the septic system for the day use area became plugged. This resulted in a complete shutdown of the restrooms in the area where the Moose Lodge was judging the fishing derby and where everyone gathers for the awards ceremonies. If folks needed to use a restroom, they had to take a hike over to the restrooms by the Ranger Station. What fun!
Regardless, you can check the pictures of the park staff as they attempted to deal with the sewer system problem. Notice that upper management literally stood above the problem to oversee the work. We’re all familiar with the old saying about IT flowing downhill.
Due to a death in our family, my mother (pictured here), I was late starting my duties as park host this year. The rangers were very understanding and they arranged for a substitute to cover my first week of the month. They also worked out the transition without a hitch when I arrived.
My first days will be focused on cleaning the park and preparing for the Kid’s Fishing Derby scheduled for Saturday, June 11. I look forward to this event because the kids are such a kick to watch. They are so enthused, happy and proud to catch their fish. I highly recommend it for all families with kids.
I made it home -- a bit later than I’d planned, but in one piece.
The problem with my Minnie Winnie was in the right rear wheel. The brake cylinder for the wheel was blown and had been leaking for quite some time. Had I known of the problem I could have simply topped up brake fluid reservoir during my trip and avoided the problem altogether. However, since the RV sat in one location for three weeks, the fluid reservoir and brake line emptied completely.
To repair the problem, the Chevy dealership had to remove the dual wheels, the wheel hub and bearings to replace the brake cylinder. Four hours and $400 poorer the Minnie Winnie was ready once again for the road. By this time, 6:00 PM, I was eight hours late dropping the RV at my in-law’s home.
I need to give a very big THANK YOU once again to my in-laws, Terry and Teresa. They shuttled me between the Chevy dealership, Lake Sylvia State Park and their home. It was very comforting to have their support during this crisis.
During my stay as host at Lake Sylvia, many people commented on how lucky I was to have a hosting gig and how they wanted to become a host in the future. They thought it was great fun to vacation at the park for free.
Well, folks, be warned. It is not a vacation. There is a lot of work involved, if you take your hosting responsibilities seriously. Count on four to six hours of physical labor daily. Top that off with being on call 24 hours a day. Campers rousted me as early as 7:00 AM to buy firewood and as late as 12:30 AM to help them find their campsite. Add to that people asking special favors (helping them jumpstart their car, for example) and asking questions about the park throughout the day. A hosting gig is more like being an apartment building manager/superintendent than a vacation. To emphasize the amount of physical labor involved, I went from a starting weight of 178.5 pounds down to 167 pounds during my stay as host – more than an eleven-pound weight loss.
Still, it was great fun. I met and worked with some terrific people. The kids were a joy to watch playing. And the park is so beautiful to live in. During the middle of the week, it can be quiet and restful too.
Just remember, if you are hoping to become a host in the future, the job is not a vacation for free. If done well, it is a service that you provide to the campers, the park staff and the state of Washington. A service that you do for a minimal consideration, which is a site to park your vehicle.
Regardless, I’ll be returning to the coast to work as a host in Twin Harbors State Park in September. I hope to see you there. In addition, I hope a few of you decide to become park hosts because there appears to be many hosting opportunities available in Washington.
Goodbye for now. I’m off home to work on the Spokane Scottish Highland Games. (See photo above.) I’ll resume my blog fully next June when I hope to return to Lake Sylvia State Park.
Well, it’s been a busy week here at Lake Sylvia. I’m sorry that I haven’t had the time to update my blog until now.
On Friday, Washington imposed a countywide burn ban that affected our campers. The rangers, aides and I had to inform campers that they could no longer have campfires. Of course, that meant no more s’mores.
We had many unhappy campers. However, I was thrilled about the burn ban. As soon as the campfires ended, the air quality improved and I could breath fresh air again. Without the fires, the park was quieter, people went to bed earlier and the air was sweet with the smells of the forest. Even the animals seemed pleased with the absence of campfire smoke. They were visiting my site more often and staying longer. I practically made a pet of a rabbit that would come to my site for breakfast and lunch. While the park is always beautiful, it was awesome without the smoke from thirty-plus campfires burning day and night.
For Saturday and Sunday, I took some time off to attend my grandniece’s softball tournament. You can see her tagging a ball for a base hit in the picture above. I took hundreds of pictures on the weekend, but I won’t have time to edit and post them before I leave Montesano. Nevertheless, I’ll edit them over the next few days, put them on thumb-drives and mail them to my nieces’ and in-laws. They will be able to distribute the photos to the players and their families. Then, I’ll post some of the photos on my blog because a few of the girls were excited to have their pictures posted.
Today, I had packed to leave Lake Sylvia. I started my Minnie Winnie and inched forward to clear the leveling ramps that I had used during my stay. When I hit the brakes, my foot went to the floor, … but no brakes. Panic time! I grabbed the handbrake and got control. I realized that somehow I had lost brake fluid, master cylinder or a brake line. Regardless, it was going to be a major problem that I needed to fix before I could leave Montesano.
I was able to move the Minnie Winnie to the dump station using only my handbrake and first gear to control my speed and to stop. I dumped my tanks to reduce the vehicle’s weight and then eased the Minnie Winnie out of the park and down the hill to a Chevy dealership in Montesano. Again, I used only first gear and the handbrake.
The dealership’s service department is diagnosing the problem as I write this. I hope it doesn’t cost too much, but regardless, I need to have the brakes fixed. I’m extremely thankful that the brakes didn’t fail while I was on the road at speed. Otherwise, friends, the State Patrol would be scraping my remains off the shoulder of the highway.
Finally, since this is my last post on this site for a while, I want to thank Rangers Darrel and Missy for the giving me the opportunity to be the camp host at Lake Sylvia. Missy, I sincerely appreciated your help and our conversations. As my day-to-day contact, I could not have had a better person to work with. I hope we stay in contact in the coming weeks and months.
Darrel, you should be congratulated for managing a beautiful park so well. It is the highlight of Montesano and the surrounding community. Your park is a terrific place for locals to get away and enjoy nature. Lake Sylvia State Park is a little gem.
Briana, Alex, Taylor and Jacob, thank you for keeping the park clean and maintained. I’m sure visitors have no idea how hard you work to ensure Lake Sylvia remains a pleasant place to visit and to stay. Please know that at least I’m aware of your efforts and I’m thankful.
Goodbye for now from Lake Sylvia and Montesano.
Yeah, a day off! I started the day doing laundry at the only Laundromat in town. Picked up my email at the library next. Then I was ready for some fun.
I’d invited my in-laws, Terry and Teresa, to dinner and we settled on Rediviva in Aberdeen. The Internet ratings seemed good at 4 out of 5 stars. However, I’d be hard-pressed to give them more than 3 stars – maybe fewer.
It all started when I arrived early to ensure that all was well with our reservations and that I liked our table placement. They did not have my reservation. Rediviva relies on the Web to maintain their bookings and they’d lost their connection, so they had no idea who or how many reservations they had for the evening. Regardless, since it was only 6:00 PM, I had my choice of tables for our party.
When it came time to order, I asked whether our waitress – a well-spoken, well-dressed, seemingly knowledgeable young woman – would recommend the salmon or the steak. She recommended the steak, not because the steak was better, but because they were out of salmon. Remember, it was only 6:30 PM by this time and the menu changes daily I understand. But okay, I went with the steak. My brother-in-law had ordered the rockfish.
Ten or fifteen minutes later, our waitress returned to our table to tell Terry that they were out of rock fish and she said they could substitute salmon instead. Remember, they were out of salmon earlier, so she quickly had to backtrack and Terry settled for steak.
I asked whether we could have bread since it was mentioned and recommended in several reviews that I read about Rediviva. Our waitress informed us that they don’t have bread available on Mondays because it comes from a bakery and the bakery is closed on Sunday. In unison, we reminded her that today was Tuesday. Flustered, she replied that today was their Monday. I still have no idea what she meant by that comment.
She offered to have the kitchen make some toast for us and I said, “Great, we’ll take toast then.” However, we never received the toast that I ordered and I let the matter drop.
As the meal progressed, we had several courses and I ran out of forks, so when our main course arrived, I asked for a fork. Our waitress asked whether Teresa and I would like some more wine and I said, “Yes, please,” but Teresa declined. As our waitress walked away, I mentioned to Terry and Teresa that she’ll probably return with my wine, but will forget the fork. Sure enough, she was so intent on bumping up the bill with an alcohol sale that she went behind the bar, poured the wine and returned without a fork. When she set the wine down, I looked at her and said, “And my fork?” By this time, she was beside herself.
We also ran out of water. The water was served in a carafe that servers leave at the table. When we ran out, I moved the carafe to the edge of the table so it would be the first thing that our waitress would see, but she looked right passed it. I had to eventually wave my hand in the air to get her attention so she would refill our carafe and glasses.
The food was good, for the most part. The roasted brussel sprouts were nutty and flavorful and the steaks pepper encrusted were done medium rare as requested. However, the butter lettuce in my pear salad was limp, warm and brown at the edges. Moreover, the clam chowder was underwhelming and had an off flavor of an unusual spice for chowder.
Now that I’ve reread this review, I guess I’d have to settle on a 2-star rating for Rediviva.
First, thank you to everyone who sent me birthday greetings. I sincerely appreciate your happy thoughts and well wishes.
The day started as any other working day here at Lake Sylvia. I cleaned campsites and prepared sites for the new arrivals. Then came the evening.
At 9:30 PM, I received a complaint that someone was running his generator. Running generators are not allowed after 9:00 PM. The camper went on to say that the generator had been running “all day.” Of course, I knew that was an exaggeration, but I kept my mouth shut. When I made my 2:30 PM rounds, no generators were running.
Regardless, I walked with the complaining camper to his site and I could hear the generator that he wanted shut down. I went to the offending site and two couples were watching a movie outside on a large flat-screen TV. When I reminded them of the 9:00 PM ban on generators, they said they didn’t realize it was that late and immediately set about shutting their electronics down and turning off the generator. Problem solved. Well maybe.
At 10:30 PM, I could still hear loud noises, so I went to investigate. However, they were coming from another direction. This time it was from a site that had a large party bus. It really was an old bus that was converted into an RV. Additionally, there was a van and a large pickup truck with the oversized tires so you need a ladder to crawl into it. (Only a slight exaggeration.) The group was celebrating someone’s birthday or anniversary – I’m not sure which – and alcohol was flowing freely.
I had to crash their party and remind them that quiet time begins at 10:00 PM. They would have to wrap up their party. This time the reminder didn’t go down quite as easily as the one for the generator. Nevertheless, I hoped that nothing would develop from the matter.
Still, I started thinking about my options because I hadn’t seen a ranger drive though in the evening for several days. Nor had I seen a Montesano Police patrol. My cell phone doesn’t work at the lake and the state park’s office is closed after 4:00 PM.
However, one camper at another site had checked in wearing a military-style flak vest with SRT emblazoned on the back. He was also carrying a Glock and several ammo pouches on his belt. I figured that I’d seek his help if things got out of hand with alcohol-fueled revelers. It did cross my mind though that SRT may stand for Search and Rescue Team or Satanic, Rapist Terrorist. I wasn’t sure which.
The party settled down though and now I had to address two other sites that had taken their cue from the party bus site. The occupants of one site were singing folk songs a little loud. (They had a site very near the party bus site, so I think they were just trying to be heard.) Once reminded of the quiet time, they reduced their volume.
Another site had kids planning a board game. Being typical of excited kids, they were a little noisy. However, they quieted down as soon as I cautioned them.
By this time, it was approaching 11:30 PM and well past my bedtime, so I headed to my RV and to bed.
On Father’s Day, I managed to wrangle an invitation to the Carlson Clan’s Father’s Day picnic at their place on the river. The day was warm, the food was great and more importantly, the Carlson, Nelson and Weiss folks are the best.
Unfortunately, I was about half an hour late because of work at the park, but I caught the last of the food and was in time for the fun that followed. Check out the photos from the picnic. The kids are a charm. They make me feel young just being around them.