Just before you reach Lake Quinalt on Hwy. 101, there is a span of road I call the 'Hall of Trees'. The pavement stretches out like an asphalt river through a dark sea of towering evergreens. Only a thread of sky lights your way from above. If I could describe the view with music, the opening of Loreena McKennitts' Dante's Prayer comes to mind. http://hardmp3ss.com/track/87/4418/44974/

Once we've navigated the hall, I know I'm close to coming 'home'. I scan what I can see of the horizon for low, lingering clouds that hug the first mile or so of coastline. This year, it was warm, bright and beautiful. Those few hours and the proceeding sunset were the best of our three day stay; it was enough.

Having camped at Kalaloch since I was a knee-high farmer myself, I knew that the morning would be damp and misty- I also knew that the chances of decent weather were still pretty good. Since our trip was rather short this year we opted not to put up all the usual shelter; keeping us from looking like a homeless tent city, we were able to see the blue of sky and not the blue of tarps and twine. How wrong was I. Mist turned into sprinkles which became showers and all that was damp was absolutely drenched within minutes. With a few odd, dome tent poles and 'just in case' tarps, we made a decent amplitheater-like shelter to hide under to keep the fire burning and our hope dry. I had never been so grateful for a Cup o'Noodles or a steaming bowl of chili.

Grandma and Grandpa, aunts and uncles, and all the cousins were confined to less than 200 sqf. of polyethylene sanctuary. It was a struggle to keep the kids at least two quarts shy of sopping. Passing the hours as best we could, having exhausted every genre of book, movie, video games and t.v. I polished off at least half a magazine worth of Fill-in's and David carved a walking stick for each of the kids. The idea being that each year we return, another symbol would be carved on the stick. When the sky briefly stopped falling, beachcoming offered up plenty things to poke and prod. We stumbled across an area riddled with the cartilage remains of mud sharks, bits and pieces of crab, kelp, razor clam shells and Spongebob's best mate, Patrick.

The next morning brought wind, a little rain, and a smattering of blue. And not unlike the childhood fable of the Three Little Pigs, our houses of straw and sticks came tumbling down. All I could do was quote the origional Merry-Miss Sunshine and say "Let's go fly a kite."

That evening David and I stole a chance to walk the beach at sunset, just the two of us. Too much cloud cover prevented a spectacular, fiery display but it did give off an interesting, steel-blue haze. As we stood knee-deep in the surf, just in front of a grouping of rocks, we watched an otter enjoying his evening dinner of crab. He would look at us looking at him and go back to munching on a claw as if he didn't mind the intrusion.

Our final morning brought more rain and by this point, staying a few more hours huddled under the one remaining canopy was not enticing to say the least: Hope was officially soaked. Within an hour everyone was packed and ready to go. I took one last look off the edge of the bluff, climbed in the car and drove away, already anticipating the next time I come 'home'.