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Published: Sunday, August 10, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Pirates weren't part of the plan for this camping trip

  • Velellas, aka "purple sails," cover the sand at Twin Harbors Beach State Park.

    Jenny Bardsley

    Velellas, aka "purple sails," cover the sand at Twin Harbors Beach State Park.

Let's be honest, sometimes car camping feels like tailgating. When minivans are parked into slots like sardines and the campfire next door blows smoke into your face, it's annoying. Plus, I always worry about amoebas when I wash dishes at a spigot. But part of my dream is to show my children America, and tent camping is an affordable way to go.

My family has hit Washington's national parks pretty hard in recent years, so this summer we decided to explore state parks instead. I'm ecstatic because this means coin-operated showers.

In late July, we stayed at Twin Harbors Beach State Park in the southwest corner of Washington. It boasts one of the prettiest beaches I've ever seen. We found sand dollars, jellyfish, mussels and massive amounts of purple sails, or velellas.

Most of the campground was crowded, but site 267 offered pine trees, spaciousness, clean water and a short walk to the beach. Unfortunately, all that roominess wasn't enough to protect us from pirates.

Yup, you read that right: pirates.

The people in site 272 were in full pirate regalia. They started drinking at 9 in the morning and carousing around. In addition to their striped pants and eye patches, some of them wore pistols. I wasn't sure whether these guns were stage props or the real deal. It would be dumb to drink heavily and arm yourself, but smart decisions seemed to be in short supply with these buccaneers. They also left their unattended campfire roaring away.

“Cody! You know better than that!” Captain Stupid yelled every time his three-legged dog started barking. “Can't you hear me?”

Um … yeah, dude, the whole campground could hear you.

“Shut the fudge up, you dang dog!” the lady pirate would shout — only she used saltier language.

When I envisioned showing my kids America, this wasn't what I had in mind. So we escaped to the beach as much as possible.

My husband and I kicked back while our son flew his kite and our daughter buried our feet in sand. We enjoyed gorgeous weather and stellar views — until some hotshot drove his mammoth truck right next to our beach towels.

The first time this happened, I was shocked. I'd never before been to a beach that allowed cars. Most of our fellow beachgoers were on foot. But there were plenty of people driving 4x4s, belching exhaust and crunching sand dollars to dust.

I don't believe in infringing on other people's rights. But I also believe in treating nature with respect. Just because you can drive on the beach doesn't mean you should. It was sad to see one of the most beautiful places in Washington turn into a parking lot.

Pirates and plunderers? Walk the plank! Twin Harbors Beach is more beauty than you deserve.



Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at teachingmybabytoread.com.

Story tags » CampingParenting

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