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.
It’s the start of the weekend and it’s training day – what a combination. We’re full again this weekend so nearly every site needed to be cleaned and prepared for new campers. Top that off with a staff BBQ (which was delicious), training and a staff meeting and you have a busy day. I worked through the morning and finished all the sites except those occupied by late departures. One o’clock PM is checkout time, but we had to meet at 12:30 PM to travel to Ocean City State Park for the training, so a handful of sites had to wait until later.
By the time we returned from the BBQ and meetings at 5:00 PM, the campsites were full, people were demanding firewood, one campsite appeared to be double-booked and another campsite had too many people for the site. There’s a limit of eight people per campsite unless they rent the larger group campsite.
For an hour or so, I was running around like a crazy man. (The staff here will probably say that that’s my normal state and my wife will probably agree.) Regardless, we took care of everyone who needed firewood and the ranger worked out a compromise with the group that was too large for the site.
The “double-booked” site turned out to be a mistake on the part of the party that arrived at the site first. They had booked a “primitive” site with a similar number to the “popular or premium” site. One was site P3 the other was site 3 with a P classification. The result? The first party had to break camp and relocate. The second party to arrive moved in without further problems. Everyone seemed satisfied with the outcome and they were even in good humors at the end.
I’d like to take a moment to comment that I think the staff at Lake Sylvia State Park work very well together. They respond immediately to problems and deficiencies. Further, they make a sincere effort to ensure that problems don’t arise.
Here’s a thought. Why do people use the word utilize rather than use? They are synonyms. Use is shorter and it has only one syllable instead of three. Is it because the speaker needs the extra time provided by the extra syllables to think of what they are saying or is it because the speaker uses utilize to appear more intelligent? My bet is on the latter.
It’s now 8:00 PM and I’ve just started to eat. People are still coming to my door for firewood. I need to clean up and go to bed, so goodbye for now.
It’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog. The library is closed on Sunday and Monday, and I drove to Spokane on Monday evening and returned on Wednesday evening. My wife had yard work for me to do. I’ve neglected the blog as a consequence.
On Sunday, I helped my niece, Amber, by cutting 1/2” off her bathroom door. She had put down new underlayment and then new vinyl flooring. Subsequently, the door no longer opened and closed without scraping the flooring.
Later on Sunday, my in-laws, Terry and Teresa, (pictured above when they were younger) had me out to their place on the river for a picnic dinner. My niece and her three children, Ella, Adelyn and Aden, joined us. After dinner, they brought out a Snickers birthday cake and we celebrated my birthday a few days early. It was a filling dinner and very relaxing. I really wanted to take a nap as we watched the sun setting. A very big thank you goes out to Terry and Teresa for dinner and the good conversation.
Monday, I was back at work. Nearly all the campers were pulling out and returning home following the warm, sunny weekend. I had a lot of work to do before I could leave for Spokane, so I left a little later than originally planned.
In Spokane on Tuesday, I did my laundry and a number of small things that needed to be done around the home. That evening, Catherine and I went to Outback for a steak dinner and another early birthday celebration. As we ordered, the waitress asked whether I wanted a “six or nine ounce.” I assumed she meant the steak because the menu listed the steak as either 6 oz. or 9 oz. and I replied, “Nine ounce, please.” However, she meant the wine. So, I ended up drinking too much. (I know. I’m a lightweight.)
On Wednesday morning, I mowed the lawn, trimmed the grass along the front curb and then packed for the trip back to Lake Sylvia State Park. Once again, I left for the trip a little later than expected.
On the way to Montesano from Spokane, I passed through Vantage. The road dives from the plateau to Columbia River and then climbs steeply as you travel to Ellensburg. The crosswinds were very strong and one of the lashings on my kayak broke loose. I had a scary few minutes until I could pull over and tie the boat down again. Fortunately, I had the boat secured at four places when I lost the bow lashing.
Today, it was business as usual. There were more sites to clean and a couple of complaints from campers asking where I had been for the last two days. They needed firewood and they had missed the park rangers’ office hours.
The good news is that the campgrounds were cleaner than the same time last week, so my work went more quickly than usual. Kudos to the rangers and aides for pitching in to keep the campgrounds and restrooms clean and stocked.
Early this morning, my mouse “friend” returned to where I’d last seen him. Fortunately, I was prepared and the mouse is now in mouse heaven.
Today should be a little slower than yesterday because all of the campsites are booked so there were only a half dozen sites to clean.
The weather is cool, but not cold, so most people are in good spirits. The anglers started their fishing very early and the scouts headed off on hikes. Kids are riding their bikes and playing in the common areas. Most adults are sitting around their fires drinking coffee or eating a late breakfast.
I cannot help but make some curious observations. People come to the great outdoors for the fresh air and then they immediately start campfires that foul the air with smoke particulates. The fires burn all day – even when it’s hot outside.
Even more curious are the folks (mostly men) who go to the bridge to fish. They are in this wonderfully scenic area. They deeply inhale the fresh air and puff up their chests. Then they take a long drag on their cigarettes. Oddly humorous.
What a crazy, busy day! Starting at 8:00 AM, I cleaned 23 campsites, but that’s not all. It’s 9:00 PM and people are still coming to me for firewood. I’m out of change and receipts. Additionally, I’m nearly out of wood.
However, what’s really crazy is that at 8:30 PM and 8:45 PM I had people arrive at the park without reservations and expecting to rent an available campsite – on a Friday night yet. I was able to accommodate one person, who road in on a Harley, in a vacant primitive campsite. The other party of two plans to sleep in their car in the overflow parking area. They decided against the other available primitive campsite despite that fact that they were visiting the folks in the neighboring group campsite.
There are vehicles everywhere around the campsites. I’m not sure how many have paid for their extra vehicles, but I’ll check them in the morning. It’s now 9:15 PM and it’s too late to do much verification.
Fortunately, I do get some chuckles out of this job. This morning, I had a young woman comment on how brazen our squirrels are. One had entered her tent and was eating her peanuts. She had to chase him out and then zip her tent. What did she expect? The animals around the park are very comfortable with people and food left out is fair game as far as they are concerned.
Another man complained good-naturedly about all the goose droppings in his campsite. His campsite is right on the lake’s shore and the geese think they own the place. Silly geese. There’s nothing I can do or care to do about his “problem.” The rangers caution people about feeding the animals, because it only encourages them to come into the campsites to beg, steal or mess the campsites.
Yesterday, I started taking out my garbage every morning after breakfast and every evening after dinner. Additionally, I now store all my food in the refrigerator or microwave. Consequently, my little mouse friend has apparently gone elsewhere for his meals. My traps are still empty.
Today, during my lunch break, I stopped by my niece’s new home to set a date and time so I can fix her door. We’re all set for Sunday.
Oops, I needed to step away for a few minutes to sell some more firewood. It’s now 9:30 PM and campers are still knocking on my door.
It looks as though I won’t be able to work on the St. Andrews Society’s website tonight as requested. I’ll need to do it tomorrow. If you’re interested, you can check their website at inlandnwscots.org.
It’s time to get ready for bed, so goodbye for now. With all the weekend visitors in the park, tomorrow is bound to be another busy day.
There’s no sign of my mouse today, but I have traps all over the RV. I’m still not sure how he got into the Minnie Winnie, but I’m sure that I’ll find the opening at some point. It’s probably under the cabin near the range and sink.
The temperatures today were in the 70’s and it was a little breezy. Regardless, several people were out kayaking and tubing this afternoon. (Note to self: Set aside some time to go kayaking!)
I spent my day catching up on what was missed while I was on my days off. I was only able to clean today’s scheduled arrivals and departure sites because it takes longer to also clean the fire pits. The pits haven’t been thoroughly cleaned in quite some time. The ash is caked at the bottom of the pits, and it takes a bit of effort to break it up and shovel it out. I can tell the pits haven’t been cleaned in a while because the caked ash is full of rusted nails, screws and bolts from lumber burnt in the pits long ago. There’s also a fair number of old, rusted bottle caps.
After cleaning two or sometimes three fire pits, I have to make a run to the ash pit to dump my load of ash. That takes additional time too.
Over the last three workdays, I’ve been able to thoroughly clean 22 of the 43 fire pits in the campsites. At this rate, it will take me the balance of my workweek to complete a cycle of the fire pits. I won’t be able to clean more than one or two pits on the weekend, because most, if not all, of the campsites will be occupied.
The ClubCar Carryall gas-powered cart that the rangers gave me is working okay, but she’s a finicky little cart. She whines for quite a while as she starts, and then she finally kicks over and lurches forward or backward. I’m concerned that the campers are irritated by the long whine, so I usually stop in an area central to my work and then work a couple of sites before I restart the cart. If I have to stop for even a moment, the cart issues the same long whine before starting again. Consequently, I use a California rolling stop at stop signs.
I’ve been eating lunch in town, Montesano, at the Organics 101 Market and I highly recommend their sandwiches. They’re made to order and large, but more importantly, they’re made with fresh, organic ingredients. Moreover, they taste wonderful. The vine-ripened tomatoes are delicious. The price is good too. At under $5.00 for a full sandwich, they’re a bargain. The price and the flavor beat anything Subway (across the street) has to offer.
My days off weren’t very restful. On Tuesday, I had to finish and upload updates to my blog that included the photos from the kid’s fishing derby. Check out my Photos pages. Importantly, I needed to do laundry. There is only one laundermat in Montesano and it’s in poor shape. Regardless, I finished my laundry.
On Wednesday, I emptied my holding tanks and filled the propane tank. Before I took care of those tasks, I went to Wal-Mart and bought additional leveling blocks so I could more easily level my RV at the campsite. That worked out very well. I also picked up a couple of folding laundry baskets to make my next laundry day a bit easier to manage.
Additionally, while looking for the Aberdeen Wal-Mart, I stumbled upon a Starbucks and had my first Frappuccino since leaving Spokane on May 30. Little indulgences are a real pleasure.
I need to get to bed now so I can start early in the morning preparing campsites for the new arrivals to Lake Sylvia. The weekend is approaching and we are bound to be full again. The weather looks to be more moderate than last weekend, but still warm and sunny. I hope to see you at Lake Sylvia camping, fishing or using the day-use facilities.
Hold everything! I have a little visitor. I mouse just poked out from my range cook top. My first stop tomorrow will be the hardware store for mousetraps. It’s too late and dark tonight, but tomorrow I’ll look for how the little critter got into my RV and then plug the opening. I’ve been very careful about not leaving the doors open. And in my preparation for this trip, I plugged all the plumbing openings with expanding foam, but I obviously missed something, because the mouse has me spooked. I’m not going to sleep well tonight.
Before going to bed, I stowed anything that might appeal to the mouse in either the refrigerator or the microwave. I doubt the mouse can open or enter either of these locations.