Greetings From: Salt Creek Recreation Area, WA

Starfish, anemones and mussels found while tidepooling at Salt Creek.

Stories from eight years of living on the road in America

by Michael Boyink / mike@douglascountyherald.com

The tide pools were fascinating. The sunsets had more drama than the local movie theater.

Cruise ships, commercial vessels, and unsubmerged submarines could often be spotted in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The forests were lush and the mountainsides vibrant. 

Nature even played it’s trump card of cuteness – a baby seal.

But we couldn’t wait to leave.

“Spend a summer relaxing on the beach!” That’s what we had signed up for. 

It turned out to be a lie.

Mostly. 

The beach part was true. 

There was one-half mile of sandy shoreline on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Privately owned and attached to an RV park that we had taken “work-camping” jobs at.

Most RV parks have hosts or work-campers, who trade hours worked for a campsite.

Our funds had taken a hit from an unexpected RV roof repair. I had a large client project that would get us back in shape financially. 

By stopping down for the summer, we’d save gas money. We’d work for the campground part of the week to pay for our campsite, and I’d have time for client work the rest of the week. 

The campground also offered to employ the kids. They could earn spending money while having a summer job experience.

And we could day-trip around the Olympic Peninsula, visiting rain forests, waterfalls, and oceanfronts.

It all sounded good. 

In theory. 

So we committed to an eight-week camphosting gig.

But it was all one big giant fail.

First, the beach wasn’t enjoyable. Biting sand fleas, piles of washed-up kelp, cement-hard sand and salt water made us miss the soft, clean fresh-water beaches of Lake Michigan.

Second, there was no summer. Days were damp, drippy and overcast. Three times in eight weeks the sun burned through enough to warm things up over 70 degrees.

Third, there was little relaxing. Another host couple didn’t show up, so our work hours were increased. 

Finally, the duties weren’t as advertised. One of my jobs was to supposedly to “walk the beach each morning and clean up trash.” Instead, I was expected to be on the beach all day, find any beach-goers not wearing the campground wristband, confront them, and demand a day-use fee. 

$6 per person. 

And dog.

It was all a dirty game to make money.

The campground and its beach abutted the public (and popular) Salt Creek Recreation Area. But there were no obvious signs or fences helping public park visitors understand that the beach was private property. 

The campground owners wanted people to trespass, so they could be justified in confronting them for the day use fee.

I wouldn’t do it.  There were enough other issues –  micromanagement, shoddy repairs, sewer overflows, etc – that I didn’t care if they wanted to fire us for not being their beach hitmen.

We didn’t get fired. But it made for an awkward, uncomfortable working arrangement.

We endured the summer. I finished the client project. Our finances looked better. 

 Then, eight weeks to the day after arriving, we hitched up and left. 

One of the owners was outside sweeping as we pulled out.

She didn’t wave goodbye.

And that was OK with us.

Salt Creek Recreation Area is located 16 miles west of Port Angeles, Washington on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Learn more (including park boundaries) – at clallam.net/Parks/SaltCreek.html.

 

This baby seal showed up on the campground beach, most likely the mother left it behind to go find food.
A ship travels through the Strait of Juan de Fuca at sunset.
Low tide at Salt Creek Recreation Area near Port Angeles, WA.