youtubeCamping at Fort Flagler annually has been a long-standing tradition for my husband, Brad’s side of the family. I wrote an article two years ago about our last time there when our son Nolan was only one! Last summer with our daughter, Molly, being born in June, we weren’t ready for any long camping trips for a while. With an extra year in between our visits to Flagler, we were really excited to get back with our now 3-year old son and 1-year old daughter.

We started off our trip on Friday, crashing at my parents for one night as we’ve done some for previous camping trips. Parking our trailer in the backyard is so helpful for breaking up the drive time and of course getting in the visit time. It also gave us access to a major grocery store to stock up on food for our trip. A nice option since our local grocery store is much more expensive, but the next closest store is 40 minutes from our house. So it was nice to do this errand while we were already driving by a store.

The next morning we had a bit of a late start getting on the road since the kids slept in a bit. Our kids were getting hungry and our youngest, very tired, before we neared our destination. Our kids don’t sleep well in the car, so we made the best of it and stopped for lunch and naptime around Kitsap, which allowed for some leisurely shopping while the kids napped. Once the kids were down, Brad relaxed on our bed and I masked up to do a little shopping. So nice to get some time to myself (hey, I’m a mom, it’s a rarity), and access to stores far from home.

I love our two kids so much, but since having baby #2, Molly, I have really missed the one-on-one time with our son Nolan. So when he got up early from nap, I came back to the trailer and brought him with me to do some one-on-one shopping with mommy. Nolan had fun browsing in the stores and being in a public place- something rare and missed since COVID precautions. We had fun picking out some fun surprises for him. He chose a special snack, a couple new little trucks, and his favorite, a Paw Patrol stuffed animal. After our one-on-one time, Molly was up from nap and we were ready to hit the road for camp.

New Toy Truck from Shopping Trip

The drive went well and when we arrived, the weather was perfect. We parked the truck and trailer and then hit the beach for some fun, but messy, play time. We then headed back to camp- taking advantage of our trailer’s outdoor shower to rinse the sand off the kids before toweling them off and getting them in dry clothes. Nolan then had fun helping Daddy put down the jacks and getting the trailer settled. We kicked off camping with a relaxing campfire before calling it a night.

Dad and Molly at the Beach

The next morning (which came earlier for some due to an early wake up from Molly) we donned our mud boots, grabbed our buckets and headed to the beach to look for crabs. It was so great being at the ocean again. I love living in the mountains, but being closer to the water is something I definitely miss.

Molly went along for the ride in our hiking back pack and was so interested taking in all the sites, though her favorite things to see were the birds and dogs that came by…she’ll take notice of the sea life more in years to come.

Nolan on the other hand loved watching the crabs, looking for seashells and pointing out barnacles and reminding us of the rules- “we can’t touch them or we might get an ouchie”. Though Molly was the one in the pack, Nolan was the one who really wanted to be up. He was quite unsure about the slimy slippery seaweed covered rocks and sticky muddy sand. And while he liked to see them from afar, he did not like getting squirted in the eye by a clam as we walked. Normally we would have been searching for clams too while we were out there, but red tide restricted that on this beach. But there were plenty of crabs to be had and we were excited for a great catch.

After returning to our camp site with the crabs, we enjoyed a laid-back afternoon playing and learning how to pedal Nolan’s bike! He did incredible and wanted to ride the loops around the campground again and again. My little boy is growing up so fast!

Learning to Pedal

We were then excited to welcome Brad’s parents and one of our nephews who were camping nearby during the duration of our stay. We soaked up great family time together at camp and on the beach.

Family Time on the Beach

On Tuesday, while the beach was closed for crabbing we loaded the kids up in our bike trailer and went on a bike tour around the forts. Molly and cousin Blake were too tuckered to stay awake long, but Nolan sure enjoyed exploring the forts. We stopped by one of the canons for a traditional family photo and were joined by Brad’s sister, brother-in-law and their youngest son for the rest of the day. So fun to get time all together making new memories.

Biking/Riding Near the Forts

Sleeping Cousins

Nolan Exploring the Forts

On the way back to camp, Nolan and Papa had so much fun riding the bike through one of the forts. Nolan was given a flashlight and loved being the “lightman” lighting the way through the tunnel as he rode on the back of Papa’s bike. He asked to ride through again and again until it was time to head back to camp for lunch and nap time.

Exploring with Papa

The rest of the day was spent in routine fashion: eating crab, sitting around the campfire, spending time on the beach and as Nolan says “just playing and playing and playing”. The kids loved playing with Papa in the tent that was set up for cousins to nap in. So fun for our little guy who has never camped in a tent before. They wrestled and giggled until bed time.

On our last day we loaded up and headed to William R. Hicks Park (about 1 mile west of the Hood Canal bridge) for an opportunity to go clamming on a beach without red tide. We began digging as soon as we got there and gathered plenty of clams for all. Nolan enjoyed shoveling and Molly loved sitting down on the soggy beach (lots of laundry but lots of fun).

Clamming at William R Hicks Park

As the adults finished digging clams the kids went down for nap. It was a beautiful day out so we had fun relaxing in our camp chairs while the kids slept inside the trailer. When he was ready to get up, Nolan went with Mommy and Daddy for some fun playing on the beach. The water stayed shallow so far into the ocean and it was pleasantly warm right on the edge. We gathered shells, built “castles” and dug moats. The tide was coming in quick and soon it was time to head back to the trailer. Once Molly was up we packed up, said our goodbyes to Grandma and Papa and headed for home.

We had so much fun with family and loved the beach access so close to our trailer. One more year on the books and many memories made. Until next year Fort Flagler. Have fun out there making memories of your own!

Emily Helgeson
Author: Emily HelgesonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Emily Helgeson lives with her husband and two children in Eastern Washington. They enjoy adventuring together and are learning how to use their RV to continue this lifestyle with their growing family.

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