Family traditions were continued, re-established and forged at Dash Point State Park over the Labor Day weekend.
“Perfect” is how Bev Brown of Auburn described the weather and the weekend on Monday morning. The grandmother has been camping at the nearly 400-acre park just north of the King and Pierce County line since her now adult children were little.
“Awesome” is what Brown’s son Bryan Daniels of Seattle called the weekend. He and wife Brittney Reed brought their daughter, Marie, 5, on her first camping trip to the park on Puget Sound. They were joined by Daniels’ sister, Lisa.
While the weekend’s sunny days and balmy nights made a spectacular send-off to summer, past years’ camping trips haven’t always been so blissful, Brown said. She recalled more than one soggy weekend spent in a tent.
“When it rained, everyone was floating in water,” Brown said.
The family’s camping tradition had faded away as children grew up. This year the family decided to revive it. Now, there’s talk of once again making it an annual event.
“It’s so close. It’s like an oasis from the city,” Bryan Daniels said as he sat under trees just starting to show the first yellow tint of autumn.
“It gets you away from the house and work,” Brown said.
While the park hasn’t changed much in the decades the family has been camping there, people have, Brown said.
“People were friendlier,” Brown said of years past. “Now you say ‘good morning’ to someone and they look at you twice.”
All five family members piled into one tent, but they said it was big enough for all of them. Though Brown was leaving on Monday, Daniels and his family were staying through Wednesday. They were outfitted with a gas stove, barbecue and camp fire. Meals consisted of what they called tin-foil dinners: steak and vegetables wrapped in aluminum and cooked over the fire.
“One thing about camping: You can completely shut off the world if you bring enough supplies,” Brown said.
“But Mom always brings too many supplies,” her son added as the family sat amid coolers, drinks and bags of corn chips. Brown said it was force of habit after raising six children.
Up the road from the Brown-Daniels encampment was campground host John Cook Jr. and girlfriend Lana Larson. The Tacoma couple has been volunteer hosting at Dash Point since July 4 and will continue through September. A host acts as a liaison between campers and rangers and helps with chores at the campground.
Dash Point’s roughly 140 campsites were completely booked over the weekend, Cook said. During the summer, the campground is popular with Canadian travelers, but over the weekend it was mostly locals, he said.
“I haven’t come across any unhappy campers,” Cook said.
Like Brown, Larson is continuing a family legacy of camping at Dash Point. She’s been doing it since the age of 9 or 10, just not in the luxurious fifth wheel RV she uses now. “When I camped, it was in a tent,” she said.
Over the weekend, she and Cook were joined by family and friends. She’s indoctrinating the next generation of Dash Pointers.
“It’s a tradition for me to pass down to my children and grandchildren,” she said.
But Dash Point also saw newcomers this weekend. Seattle residents and brothers Carlos Villa and Xavier Romero came with mother Sylvia Fierro and nephew Dante, 8, to the park for the first time.
Because Romero worked Saturday night the family arrived at the campground on Sunday. The family visited the beach and cooked hamburgers over the campfire.
Villa and Romero were striking the family’s tent while their mother, visiting from El Paso, Texas, was tending to her grandson Monday morning.
Villa said he was sad the weekend was so short but vowed to return during the fall. He relished the time he had at the campground with his family.
“I sat out until 2 a.m. taking in the night air, watching the stars,” Villa said.Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541