Porter sat on the stern seat of our dinghy counting to 10 with the rhythm of the oars going in and out of the water as we rowed back from the beach. The rays of a beautiful fall sunset lit up Mt. Rainier to the east and bathed Yahtzee in an orange glow. It was a moment that I wanted to last forever; one of many during yet another great cruise to the South Puget Sound.
This was our third trip to the South Sound in the past three years. Each year we’d explored numerous parks, visited Olympia and stopped in at quirky, quaint Boston Harbor.
But we always cherish a stop in Washington’s capital city because we get a chance to spend time with our Aunt Kate who lives just minutes from the marina. This year, though, there was an added level of anticipation as my Uncle Eric and Aunt Jenny were coming out to the Pacific Northwest from Atlanta and we’d all planned to meet up for a weekend in Olympia.
By Saturday around noon our family fun had started with none other than food, of course, and because it was such a beautiful fall day, an afternoon sail. There wasn’t much breeze as Eric took Yahtzee’s helm in Budd Inlet, but we scooted along nicely with what we had and were assisted by a helpful current while watching seals pop up around us. If laughter could have translated to boatspeed, Yahtzee would have been the fastest boat out on the water that day.
Eating and laughing were actually the big themes of the weekend, though we did manage to put the food down long enough to take a great walk through Nisqually Reach Wildlife Refuge on Sunday. By Monday morning our time together had gone by all too fast and it was sad to say our goodbyes.
Over the past two summers, we’d visited all but one of the incredible marine state parks in the South Sound, so this go ’round we hit some of our favorites before making our way to Stretch Point State Park in Case Inlet.
Little more than a beach with five mooring buoys, we had the park to ourselves and sailed the dinghy to shore to explore. Shaped like a hook, the rock and sand beach was a great place to climb on driftwood, make a teeter-totter with a large log, enjoy happy hour at a picnic table and play stick ball with Porter.
After Stretch Point, our last stop in the South Sound was actually our first three years ago and is one of our favorites, Eagle Island State Park. As we approached the northwest corner of the island, what looked like rocks from a distance turned out to be a large number of harbor seals sunning themselves on the beach.
Our last day in the South Sound was spent playing at the beach as a family and capped off yet another great visit to this under-explored cruising ground. Who knows what trip four will bring, but hopefully it is as memorable as this year.