Thursday, July 1, 2010

Remembering Honeyman State Park, the Oregon Dunes & Family Camping History

That would be me, running down a sand dune at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, a few, well, quite a few, years ago, while camping at Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park.

I was born in Eugene, Oregon. Eugene is about 50 miles east of the Pacific Ocean. So, heading west from Eugene, in about 50 miles, will take you to Florence. Florence is at the north end of the Oregon Dunes.

Just south of Florence is where you'll find Honeyman State Park.

Some of my earliest memories are of the Oregon Sand Dunes and Honeyman State Park. I may have been only 3 and I only had, at that time, one sibling, my little brother. I remember us playing on the sand dunes. I remember Uncle Lottsie and Aunt Pernie being there. Now long gone.

By the time I was 5 we had moved to Mount Vernon, Washington. I remember one of our earliest camping trips, by then I had another sibling, a sister. We headed south to Honeyman State Park. This was before a freeway made this an easy drive. Mom and dad had a tent and we rode in a 1955 Plymouth.

We got to Honeyman State Park, set up the tent, had a fun evening, went to bed, in our sleeping bags, in the tent. And the rain started. A lot of rain. The tent could not keep the rain out. It was nearing dawn. Mom and dad decided to pack it all up. And head home. All these years later I now realize the only option was to drive all the way back to Mount Vernon, because a motel was likely too expensive.

Me and my siblings, well, actually, just my brother, were sort of crying about not getting to see the sand dunes. My new sister had never seen them. So, before we hit the road, we drove to the parking lot by Lake Cleawox and tried to climb a sand dune in the rain. Me and my brother made it part way up. And then it was time to go.

I remember this as if it were yesterday, but it was a long time ago.

Upon our return to Washington, mom and dad vowed no more tent camping. And so they bought an Arrowhead trailer. That Arrowhead trailer was our home for a lot of camping trips and vacations, including going to Yellowstone and Disneyland. At some point in time the Arrowhead was replaced with a nicer trailer, but I have no memory of it.

Eventually mom and dad got a big RV, in which they traveled America after they retired. They no longer have their RV. I never progressed on my own, in camping world, past having a nice tent. My brother has had several camping trailers. I don't know if he currently does. I don't think my 2nd sister has ever had a camping device. She likely does not remember much about family vacations, in the way her older siblings fondly do.

My little sister, I doubt has ever gone camping. She certainly does not have any sort of camping device. Sadly, she totally missed out on the family vacations, with all her siblings, so she didn't inherit the camping/roadtrip gene.

However, my oldest sister, the one who was with us during that aborted tent camping at Honeyman, that sister did inherit the camping gene. She's gone from a tent, to a camper on a pickup, to a trailer, to her first RV, to the current RV, this ridiculously big thing where you push a button and the living room expands, you push another button and the bedroom expands, you push another button and the flat panel TV appears. Plus a full size tub in the bathroom.

I'm thinking that rainy tenting failure in Oregon, all those years ago, deeply imprinted on my sister's memory, and on some level she vowed, camping-wise, to never be wet again.

Honeyman State Park, and all the Oregon State Parks are very well done. However, I have not been in one for over a decade. I hope that is still the case, that the Oregon State Parks are still extremely well run, well cared for, well designed and a pleasure to camp in.

I hope some day I make it back to Oregon to find out.

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