I spent months last fall organizing a family trip to Glacier National Park for this summer in our tent trailer, with a side trip to Silverwood Theme Park in Idaho. We canceled that trip due to the pandemic.
My kids were disappointed but understanding. That wanted to stay safe and do their part to help flatten the curve. But together, as a family, we decided to give a short camping trip close to home a try.
This late in the season, almost everything was booked, but I managed to secure us two nights at Lake Easton State Park, just over Snoqualmie Pass. We arrived mid-week, when I hoped it wouldn’t be too busy, and popped up our tent trailer a couple of days before the Fourth of July.
The first thing we noticed about Lake Easton State Park was the noise. I-90 roared. It was so loud that you could barely hear the birds chirp. Still, our campsite (No. 20) was pretty. I booked us the end slot so that there would be nobody to our right, figuring that would help with social distancing.
Every campsite has its own mixture of people, ebbing and flowing like water in the lake. On the days we were there, the crowd was made up of a fair number with “Don’t Tread on Me” flags waving in the breeze. Lots of kids roamed the loops on bicycles, none of them wearing helmets, and some moms smoked cigarettes, one after another, in front of their toddlers.
Go ahead and call me a Karen, but seeing all of those kids tearing around the campground without wearing helmets worried me. When I was 6 years old, I fell off my bike and suffered a concussion. But I acknowledge that it’s none of my business how other people raise their children so, of course, I didn’t say anything.
What is my business is keeping my own kids safe — and that’s what really annoyed me about our camping trip.
We wore masks every time we used the public restrooms because not only was there a mask mandate in Washington, but there was also a notice from Kittitas County on the restroom door saying we were required to do so. But — except for a few other families — nobody masked up. Not only that, but many people gave us dirty looks for complying with the guidelines.
Between the noise, the gray weather and the irresponsible neighbors, I felt pretty down about Lake Easton in general. We built a campfire and made the best of it. I let my daughter strike through a whole box of matches to practice, and my son carved the perfect roasting stick for s’mores. My husband and I read books and enjoyed spending time together. But, boy, were we all glad to come home.
Next time, we’ll camp in our back yard.
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.