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| 03/10/2021 | Blog, Camping, Camping & Glamping, RV, Wenatchee Columbia River Valley, Wildlife Viewing

By Roni Freund --

My husband and I recently traded in our 20+ year old travel trailer for a brand-spanking new one, with lots of bells and whistles. They recommended we take it out and make sure everything works – so we planned a weekend at a state park a whopping 5 miles from home. 

Campfire

Being the first weekend in March in Wenatchee, it was chilly. Pete loves to spend time by a campfire so we stocked up on bundles of firewood. We bought them from the ranger, $5 a bundle. I think we bought a total of 6 over the weekend, to supplement what we brought from our home supply. It’s a good deal, just remember to bring cash. They don’t charge additional taxes that you will pay at the mini-mart, but they only take cash.

Nike on recliner

On the flip-side, my new trailer has an electric fireplace! So we compromised, spending several hours outside by the fire, then moved inside to sit in the warmth of the fireplace. The dog doesn’t really like the popping of real firewood anyway, so she was much happier in her usual spot – on the footrest of the recliner. Yes, the new trailer has recliners. They are strategically placed for a view of the flat-screen TV. We swore we would never watch TV camping, but I packed one of our favorite DVD’s – The Hunt For Red October. After all, the dealership told us to test ALL the systems!

The only thing we did not test was the air conditioning. We will wait for warmer temperatures to make sure it that works. 

Washington State Parks Centennial Shower Tokens

Another issue with early March – the state parks on the east side of the state are on “winter water” meaning you have to pack your own, or fill up at one of a few designated spigots. There’s nothing worse than having to hitch up and drive to a water spigot, so we were being particularly water conservative ....... so we drove home on Saturday morning for a shower. 

Nothing against the showers at the park, but honestly, it was cold, and the heater inside the bathroom only helped a bit.  Besides, we realized we forgot S’mores ingredients, so a quick trip home solved two problems. That being said, we did buy shower tokens, as we have started collecting – similar to the state quarters, there are shower tokens for every state park, part of a Centennial promotion when Washington State Parks turned 100 in 2013. 

We discovered this last summer and have decided we will try to collect them all!

Wenatchee Confluence State Park

This state park is at the confluence of the Wenatchee and Columbia rivers. There is a natural area around the mouth of the Wenatchee River called Horan Natural Area. We live in this town, but don’t get out and enjoy this natural area enough. 

Horan Natural Area pond

A few years ago a pair of bald eagles chose a tree here to build a nest. We saw them taking turns on the nest, presumably keeping eggs warm. We also watched several pairs of Canada geese building nests on the railroad trestle, and a pair of heron on the sandy beach. There were several species of duck in the inner waterways, including Northern shoveler, green-winged teal, and mallards. In the cat-tails we saw lots of blackbirds, singing from the treetops – one of my favorite songbirds, and an American kestrel. 

 Twice I saw hummingbirds – or it might have been the same one doing a fly-by. Tree swallows were diving around under the walking bridge, and we saw a pheasant rooster in the meadow. A mule deer also shared the path with us for a time.

We heard that a bobcat has been spotted in that meadow as well, but it didn’t make an appearance either of the times we walked through. 

We plan to get back often over the spring and summer, to watch for the bobcat and hope for a chance to spot the eaglets. 

Check out the gallery below for more of Pete's photos (Freund's Photography)

Skip the diet with S'mores

Pros and Cons of Winter Camping

PROS:

No Reservations Needed -- The state parks do not take reservations this time of year, so that’s another reason we decided to stay close to home. We were able to arrive early and ensure a space, but it wasn’t an issue. There were several spaces open all weekend. 

No Campfire Restrictions – In Eastern Washington we often have campfire restrictions in the summer and fall. No issues in March! Pete would have had a fire from sun-up to sun-down if we’d had enough firewood!

No Crowds – There were not a lot of folks in the campground, which is always nice at the dump station on Sunday. There were a few families, but no screaming kids playing in the road, no barking dogs (except ours, chatting with the neighbor’s dogs). All in all, it was very peaceful – just cold.

Skip the Diet – What’s a camping trip without S’mores? And potato chips? With all the extra clothing layers to stay warm, it’s our little secret! (I received no kickbacks for product placement in this Blog - LOL)

Cons

Cold Temps – Fortunately it didn’t get down to freezing which can be a problem if water lines or tanks freeze. However, we did make the rookie mistake of not paying attention to our propane tank levels. The new trailer carries two 7-gallon tanks, but I’d been running the furnace a lot at home in the driveway over the week while I was packing gear from the old trailer, plus bringing in supplies for the weekend. I also left it on overnight before we left home, so we didn’t leave with full tanks. Sunday morning it was 36 degrees outside, and we woke up at 6 am to 48 degrees inside. The new trailer will automatically switch to the second tank, but you must have it turned on! Lesson learned.

Winter Water – as mentioned above, you have to fill your tank at home, or at select spigots at the campground. Not a big deal, but something to be prepared for. I also like to pack a gallon of water for coffee and cooking. We’ve stayed at campgrounds with treated water that tasted salty, so it’s just better to bring a jug with you. 

Closed Campgrounds – Not all campgrounds are open in the winter. Many along the foothills of the Cascades and in higher elevations don’t open until spring, especially those where freezing temperatures can cause broken water lines. 

Electric FireplaceThe Pros outweigh the Cons, and we are glad we tested the systems before camping season. We are now ready for our next outing, and I look forward to warm weather camping. Pete will still wake up and start a fire, even if the night-time temperatures dip into the 60’s – but a campfire is his favorite thing about camping, and I won’t complain. I’ll be happy to not be at home, thinking about housework. 

For more information about campgrounds and RV Parks on the Cascade Loop, check out these links:

Camping & Glamping on the Loop

RVing on the Loop

Northern shoveler at Horan Natural Area, Wenatchee Confluence