From Utah, we made our way to Washington State for the McCord/Pope Family Campout.
The McCords are a family of six siblings and old family friends of Dave’s parents, Ike and Jo Pope. The McCords started a tradition in their youth of getting together once a year for a campout. And throughout the years, as each started families of their own, and those families had families of their own, the size of the McCord Family Campout grew and grew.
The Popes came on board through John McCord, best buddies with Ike. I had the great pleasure of meeting John one night while Dave and I visited his parents in his hometown of Chehalis, WA. Sitting next to John at the dining room table, we talked about the poetry of the Harlem Renaissance, the magic of jazz music, and visiting his grandchildren in their mother’s homeland of South Korea. John was one of the best dinner companions I’ve ever had. I could see why Ike loved him so much.
Aside from being a cool dude, he was also honest, fair and kind. When my black father-in-law and his white wife settled in Chehalis over 30 years ago, John was one of the first to befriend him and treat him as an equal when many others were not as welcoming.
Sadly, John died unexpectedly a few years ago but the legacy he helped create lives on.
It’s through that connection that we came aboard three years ago, adding to the 40+ people holding down a chunk of the RV section of the Skokomish Park at Lake Cushman, on the eastern side of the Olympic Peninsula.This is the land of the Skokomish Indian Tribe. The Skokomish or “people of the river,” are descendants of the Twana Indians from western Washington State.
Lake Cushman, a freshwater oasis surrounded by Northwest beauty, holds a special place in Dave’s heart. His family had a cabin along the lake when he was a kid so he grew up dipping in its cool water and fishing its bounty. But don’t ask his dad about it. Thirty years later, he’s still salty they sold the cabin.So for the last three years, we’ve made the trek up to Skokomish, a family-friendly campground with something for everyone. Kids can safely ride their bikes around the camp loop or use the rope swing to launch themselves out into the lake. You can kayak, do stand-up paddle, go for a hike, or my personal favorite, just chill under and amongst the trees. Our group consists of RVs of all sizes and levels of luxury, from the 24ft Winnebago to the ‘house on wheels’ motorbus. This year, Kelly’s family traded in their Coleman pop-up camper for the comfort of a 28ft trailer similar to our Keystone, much to delight of their growing family. Our friends Jared and Alicia drove out from Eden towing their sick 5th wheel with their two kids and two dogs ready to jump in.
There’s plenty of tent camping within the group too. Again, something for everyone. One campsite is designated “Camp Central,” where people gather for arts and crafts, daily potluck dinners, and evening S'mores around the campfire.
Speaking of potluck, everyone brings their A-game, with Crockpot creations, camper stove delights and marinated grill staples. For seafood night, Ike brings the salmon and Chris McCord heads over to nearby Hama Hama, returning with pounds of clams and oysters fresh from the Puget Sound. He mans the stove with two types of broths for the clams, while Yoshi roasts the oysters over an open fire.
It’s a wonderful gathering of generations young, old, and everything in between. Some folks hadn’t seen each other in one place together since the campout last year. It’s a time for people to gather and reconnect, with a helping hand from Mother Nature.
The Staircase Loop Trail in Olympic National Park:It’s a trip we look forward to, as Dave and I invite our friends along and I gather potluck recipes throughout the year. We’re even thinking about starting our own campout tradition closer to home in California. And why not? These are the kinds of traditions worth starting, worth keeping, the kind that brings people together.