The drive down the Columbia River Gorge from Hood River to Portland is really lovely. This powerful river is very inspirational as it roars to the sea. At Portland, we headed southwest a bit to make our way over the coastal range toward Manzanita, OR where one of our favorite campgrounds is -- Nehelam Bay State Park is a very special place. We stayed here accidentally two years ago and vowed to come back.
Our visit this time wasn't quite as nice but it was still a great spot to camp. We got there and saw, to our utter dismay, that they were full. It's a circuitous route in to the park but we decided to risk it anyway. We drove up to the gate where the sign still said, "Campground Full!" and decided to ask. No, we were told, they had room. Okay then, we got the last site available. If we stayed another night -- which we wanted to -- we'd have to move which was fine with us.
Our site for the first night was less than ideal but we made the best of it. It backed up to one of the playgrounds which meant there were kids playing (which is lovely) and whining (which is not) all day. Now, if our kids were little, we'd have been THRILLED! But, they aren't and we weren't. Still, we determined to enjoy it and enjoy it we did. The kids went to the beach with Greg. I read and relaxed. There was bike riding and reading. Ruthie and I found a great little grocery store in Manzanita, the town just north of the the state park. It was chock full of amazing treats and gourmet goodies. We feasted that night in the fog and sea air. We had a campfire and s'mores and wine by the fire. Heaven.
The next day, we relaxed all morning while also packing up our gear. Either we were leaving the campground at checkout time or we were changing sites at checkout time. Greg and I took turns going and asking the rangers if there were any availabilities and finally we got a new site.
We moved to a different loop and settled in. It was quieter and closer to the beach which was lovely. Then a family moved in next door. It was their teenage daughter's birthday so they had brought a bunch of her friends. They were noisy and had atrocious language. We ignored it when they were outside and hoped they'd all retreat to their tents early. No such luck. They went out onto the beach that night and set off fireworks (against park regulations) at about 11pm. Wow, what a racket. Oh well, we were soon back to sleep.
They say you can't go home again and it's true for campgrounds, too. You'll never have the same experience again. If you visit Nehelam Bay, I recommend that you book ahead through Reserve America. You need to book three days in advance to get the site you want. The outside of the loops near the ocean has the nicest sites.
We'll be back. It's still an amazing place!