Wednesday, August 20, 2014

to Capitol State Forest

Sunday morning we leave Cabela's and attend a church in Olympia, Airstream in tow.  The dogs catch up on their daily twenty hours of beauty sleep while we go to church.  Some nice folks ask where we are going and after telling them our destination, they caution us that (many of the city's homeless camp there during the summer months) there is a large homeless population camped there.  Interesting.  We make the short drive to Capitol State Forest where there are a few free campgrounds.  Well, free after the purchase of a Discover Pass.  

Capitol State Forest allows horses and ATVs, with separate campgrounds for each.  Margaret McKenny campground is the horse area, and since horse motors are much quieter than those of ATVs, we make camp there.  

There are three loops here.  One is for horse campers and has small horse corrals at each site, the second is for rowdy teenagers (it does not have teen corrals), and the third is for people who like the smell of horses, yet do not have one.  

We choose the third.  Our site is just big enough for us to fit and gets only enough sun to charge our battery each day, but does not provide enough solar power to run the fridge.  Small lizards bask on the dark rocks around our site, giving Otis plenty to watch and fuss over during the day.

Hubs and I play our "who can spot the nastiest garbage" game at our new site and Hubs is the winner with a cat litter box in the thorny bushes.  We also find a DVD player, a pair of sandals, and thirteen cents.

There are vault toilets and water here, and normally those two would make a free site a clear winner, but we soon find out that there is a cost to free.

The toilets are reprehensible.  That is all I can say in polite company.  The water is operated by a hand pump and comes out the most shocking color of orange.  A sign informs us that the water is non-potable, just in case we have gone blind.  

Hubs asks an unkempt-looking fellow on a bicycle where he gets water here.  

"Oh, we just drink from the creek."

While this is far from the nicest place we have stayed, it is only a few minutes from Olympia; source of clean laundry and groceries.  It also gets excellent internet and cell reception, so we can get some work done over the next few days.  


  1. I've been a fan of yours for the past couple of weeks. My wife and I are just starting our journey to full-timing and leaving the rat race of southern California; we're just a little over a year behind your process. I admire your photography and editing - a lot of talent mixed with a good dose of humor, discipline, and a healthy sense of appreciation for the little things in life.

    A quick question: as newbies (like my wife and I), how do you pick your potential campsites? Do you have a reference guide? And how did you pick up on traveler's knowledge, such as knowing about Cabela's parking lots?

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Thank you for the kind words of encouragement, Jeff! I would recommend picking up some Benchmark Atlases for the individual states you plan on spending a lot of time in. They show all of the public land (DNR, state land etc) as well as campgrounds both on those lands and private ones. From our experience, most National Forests allow free boondocking and it is easy to see where the boundaries of the forests are from the Benchmark atlas. The atlases also show where ranger stations are...definitely go to the nearest ranger station to look at their maps (to see where they allow dry camping), and sometimes the rangers can recommend a great site. Some states (like Idaho) put out an RVers guide that shows nearly every campground in the state with the price and location. Keep an eye out for those kinds of booklets at rest areas, Cabela's, public campgrounds, etc...

    As far as I know, Cabela's and Walmart are the only two big chains that allow overnight camping. Sometimes there will be many threatening "We will tow your vehicle and crush it into a cube at your expense" signs on the light poles. This is often due to city ordinances because local campgrounds have put pressure on the city not to allow free overnight camping. Just go inside and ask the manager...many times they will say overnight camping is fine and will not crush your vehicle.

    Once you get out on the road, you will learn pretty quickly what works for you. I will add a tab soon with some of these tips.

    Happy Camping!