Gold Bar campsite makes roughing it smooth

Just because we love our Ginsu knives, mattresses and automobiles doesn’t mean we aren’t always on the lookout for better products.

We keep one eye and ear on commercials, advertisements and water-cooler chitchat, making sure we are up to date on the best buys.

It’s the same with vacation property. We own a camping lot at Lake Tyee near Concrete, but it never hurts to take a look at what’s over yonder.

I toured another private camping club called Gold Bar Nature Trails near, well, Gold Bar.

Five years ago we decided we needed a set camping spot. Married for 35 years, we’d pitched tents at a lot of spots around Idaho, Washington and Oregon. We got as far south as Utah one summer.

Our last road trip to Idaho was such a pain. Conversation ebbed and we fought over the truck radio. My husband likes oldies.

I like talk.

Air mattresses slipped out from under our sleeping bags at night. That’s annoying. Four-day-old egg salad sandwiches got smashed in the ice chest.

It rained.

When we got home, I said, “Let’s find a place where we can keep our own trailer, with a real bed, cable TV and a swimming pool.”

Voila. Tyee.

We arranged a tour, enticed friends to buy a lot next to ours, and signed on the dotted line. We were the only bidders on a used 27-foot-long trailer at a Cascade High School band booster auction. We got it parked just right — uphill on our grassy lot, screaming and flailing during the backing-up drama; figured out how to flush the potty; and plugged in a bug zapper that successfully fries intruders outside a teensy bedroom window.

It’s been a sweet retreat.

We often spend spring and summer weekends there and longer stints on my vacations. There is nothing better than being established, with plaid shirts in the trailer closet, marshmallows in the cupboard and dry firewood under a metal roof.

But it is 82 miles from home. I heard great things about Gold Bar, about half as far away as Concrete, from our permanent digs in Mill Creek.

They don’t have a lake for fishing at Gold Bar, like we do at Tyee, but they have a pretty creek my granddaughters would love to use for wading and rock tossing.

It’s got flat roadways for great bike riding.

And they have Bill Trautman, the super-nice president of the board of directors who gave me a leisurely tour.

There is a security gate, like Tyee, and the same kind of ambiance on 273 acres. Cringe at old trailers no one cares for anymore, then covet manicured lots under shady trees where tidy is the personal bylaw.

And I know where to find Sasquatch.

Those who drove U.S. 2 years ago may remember a lifesize wood statue of Big Fot outside a saw shop in Sultan. It’s found a new home on a nature trail lot.

The camping site has two swimming pools, one for kids, and I like the idea of using a pool with only adults now and then. There are adult-only areas for games and reading.

They have an active social club with bingo and card parties.

Trautman, who lives in Everett, pitches in to cook a meal, for $4.50 or $5.50, weekend mornings in the bustling clubhouse.

“A lot of people come to breakfast,” Trautman said. “They come up on weekends just to relax. That’s the main objective of the park.”

Charles and Jackie Mason were target shooting at the archery range near a baseball field the sunny day I visited. They like to ride quads, they said, and are disappointed the Reiter Pit area next door is temporarily closed for restoration.

One noticeable difference is that Gold Bar lots can include both a 10-by-12 shed and a gazebo. At Tyee, we are limited to one 8-by-10 shed.

It looked like lots of the folks at Gold Bar took advantage of the dual outbuildings to store garden gloves, fashion a reading room or set up a poker table.

Trautman’s spot is near a cute bridge in a serene part of the club. We are up on a hill at Lake Tyee with “Chippy,” a cleverly named chipmunk, frogs that hop out from under our fire pit cover and a canoe ready to be hoisted into the lake.

It was fun to check out amenities at a place closer to home where we could enjoy more weekends in the woods.

“It’s a really, really nice place,” Trautman said. “I’m sold on it.”

But I say keep your eyes, ears and options open.

Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451,

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