Saxon Teuber and Nick Lipa of Seattle stay cool in the shade of their campsite on the edge of the Calawah River near Forks. (Zorina Barker/for the Peninsula Daily News)

WEST END NEIGHBOR: Keeping it simple and cool on the West End

A YOUNG BLACK dog named Poncho was lying in the shade created by the underbelly of a dusty van. Propped on the back of the van was a cardboard sign with large handwritten letters reading “Full of love, out of gas.”

The van was parked outside the 76 gas station on Forks Avenue and belonged to a passel of four people and four dogs, including Poncho. The group was fighting the heat, which was 95 degrees last Sunday in downtown Forks.

Derek Dersch, hailing from the Lansing area of Michigan, leaned against the back of the van playing his green ukulele while two of his dreadlocked companions played a banjo and ceramic wind pipe while leaning against the outside wall of the store, their dogs sprawled out in the shade.

Tara, who didn’t give her last name, was filling water bowls for the dogs.

She said they were passing through the area.

When I asked her why they had come to the West End, she said, “Because it’s not the Midwest.”

“I like to hike and here you don’t have to drive hours to get hiking,” something very different from her native area of South Bend, Ind., she said.

This self-described “transient” band was heading to Oregon to work on a marijuana farm to earn enough money to carry them through the winter and into Arizona and New Mexico.

Clearly, many people out west were trying to cope with the heat and fortunately the West End has many miles of riverbanks and lake shores.

North of Forks is Forest Service road number 29, known locally as the “A Road.” About five miles down that road is Klahanie, a Forest Service campground on the north bank of the Calawah River.

Here is where I found Nick Lipa and Saxon Teuber of Seattle, relaxing in the shade of a big spruce tree in their campsite. Teuber had a beer in his hand and they were both wearing shorts.

On the edge of their space was a small inflatable orange raft and over their fire pit was a tripod with a hook and grill for cooking. Their table was piled with cooking implements and their tent was set off in the shade. Their two ladies were gone from the campground, stocking up on supplies in Forks.

Lipa said the group had never been to the West End before and it was fishing that led them to the area. He had heard of the salmon and steelhead running in the Hoh and Sol Duc rivers.

“I caught a couple of fish, brown trout I think,” Lipa said without a hint of disappointment.

Teuber said the group was leaving on Labor Day but was just relaxing and playing by the water until then.

Driving away, I noticed that the temperature reading of my vehicle registered Klahanie at 10 degrees cooler than Forks.

Lake Pleasant is in the back yard of the village of Beaver. This lake lies less than a mile north of U.S. Highway 101 and north of Lake Pleasant Grocery.

The lake has a small park with swings, bathrooms, a public boat launch and a grassy area with picnic benches. The water gradually eases onto the pebbly shore. The temperature here was 92 degrees.

Under a pair of pop-up canopies on the grass were Starla Damon, her daughter and son-in-law, Jen and Cameron LeDuke, and their 8-month-old twins, Charlee and Rhett. Including family members in boats and floating toys on the lake, there were 16 members of this clan hanging out waterside.

Damon said she grew up in Beaver and remembers when Lake Pleasant was bordered by cedar mills. She and her family still live less than a block away.

“We come here to play with the toys that don’t fit in the pool,” Damon explained and nodded toward her family’s boat which was cruising around the lake pulling an inner tube full of kids.

Their kids like fishing for Kokanee and catching bullheads as well and frolicking in the cool water.

The large family group arrived around 11 a.m. and, as Jen said, “We’ll stay until the kids want to fall asleep.”

_________

Zorina Barker lives in the Sol Duc Valley with her husband, a logger, and two children she home-schools.

Submit items and ideas for the column to her at zorina [email protected], or phone her at 360-327-3702. West End Neighbor appears in the PDN every other Tuesday.

Her next column will be Sept. 18.

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