We began our journey to Washington in March and, eleven states later, we arrived at Camp Murray Beach Campground near Lakewood, WA on May 25th. At the risk of revealing a great secret, Camp Murray Beach is a hidden jewel. This military campground is operated by the National Guard Association of Washington at the Washington National Guard’s Camp Murray, adjacent to Fort Lewis. It’s a small campground, right on the shore of American Lake. Even if you don’t have a lakefront site, you can count on a view of the water.
Our oldest son, Scott, and his family live in the area. We planned to spend most of the summer here, spending time with them and having our three granddaughters stay with us on occasion. The girls’ end of the year school activities were in full swing. Within a week we were able to attend Clarissa and Sierra’s violin concert and watch Katrina’s school choir performance.
Scott and Sandra bought kayaks for the girls and we brought the kayaks out to the campground for them. This is perfect spot for kayaking. They can paddle in a channel that is between the camp lakeshore and a small island, without worrying about power boat traffic. The girls have been using our kayaks off and on for a couple of years and have become pretty good paddlers. We paddled to Shoreline Park, the swimming beach at nearby Fort Lewis, and to the public boat launch next door.
The weather was getting better with every day and we took advantage of it to paddle our kayaks around American Lake. The south end of the lake borders, Camp Murray, Fort Lewis, and the American Lake VA Medical Campus. The north end is all civilian with a couple of parks, boat launches, and some really nice (expensive) private homes. It’s fun to imagine owning some of these properties even though it will never happen.
The next weekend we were all on the lake. Scott and Sandra bought a canoe to compliment the kayaks and the Wangen armada paddled to Shoreline Park. While the girls played in the sand and swam in the very cold water, Scott, Sandra, and I paddled our respective boats around the south end of the lake. We look forward to this as being the first of many such outings.
After our long journey from Florida, it’s nice to be in one spot for an extended period of time. We walk almost every morning on a route that travels on some wooded trails along the lake, through the buildings of Camp Murray, and the Army Travel Camp of Fort Lewis. It’s just a short drive to Fort Lewis for trips to the Post Exchange and the Commissary for shopping.
As a veteran, Memorial Day has always been an important day on the calendar. This year we were able to attend the Memorial Day ceremony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. It was held at the old Camp Lewis Cemetery. There are very few recent burials here as this cemetery was established in 1917. We were able to see headstones of soldiers who had fought in the Civil War as well as those who protected settlers in the western expansion along the Oregon Trail. The ceremony, including personnel from the Army at Lewis Main and Air Force from McChord Field was moving as we rendered a salute to our fallen warriors to the sound of Taps.
All three girls have been involved in swim clubs since they were old enough to swim. We attended a dual meet at their home pool one evening. They have definitely improved since we last saw them. That weekend we traveled to Port Orchard, near Bremerton, to watch them in a league meet that lasted the entire weekend. Scott and Sandra were busy in the role of volunteer officials. We were able to see them in action as well was cheer the girls in their events. The pool area was not set up for such a large meet and people were sitting everywhere, even bringing in lawn chairs. The last event was Katrina swimming the 400-yard freestyle. What an endurance event! She swam well and kept up a good form all through the event. When she climbed out of the water she was totally exhausted – what a champ!
We celebrated Father’s Day by watching Scott serve as the day’s Worship Leader at his church. Later we gathered at our trailer for more paddling on American Lake and having the whole family together for dinner.
We are looking forward to spending more time together over the next two months.