A Welcome Getaway
Updated: Apr 12
Sunshine against a long and winding I-90 corridor east of Seattle begs travelers from the city on vaunted Summer days. Beyond the beautiful green hillsides and the sun-kissed peaks of the Cascade mountain range lay an unusual, but beautiful spot that What Strange Beasts frequently haunt. Just north of Cle Elum sits a large open campground at the end of a lake, nestled into the east range and shielded from the outside world by surrounding hilltops.
We know the spot well, even before they had the pleasure of knowing one another. Jonathan recalls the wonderful and friendly people one might run into while there: “One day we walked out to the lake through a kind of winding forest route. It passes by a makeshift camp site, and there was a big group of people dressed up as pirates, just hanging out. They had a themed camp and everything, very inviting people, for pirates. They just threw it up for the hell of it; it was amazing! Just one of the odd groups out there.” We were happy to fit in among them with our own oddities.
Aside from the sites, the lake itself also sees its fair share of adventure, when it’s early enough in the season that the lake bed hasn’t dried up. We had the fortune of adventuring out onto it with the modestly titled “Boat with Oars”, a $20 raft that came with oars and a hand pump. Beyond its maiden voyage, however, tragedy struck when its hull snagged a 3-inch long root and punctured it, deflating any hopes or dreams of future adventures with it. We carried out an appropriate retirement ceremony for the intrepid raft by the campfire, complete with a send-off song.
In our formative time, we would first play together in front of a crowd at a group camping event that was
mired in rain for the majority of the time. Huddled under two small pop-up canopies the fledgling group jammed on our makings of new pieces here and there, amplifying the wilderness with our sound. We were right at home; the area is no stranger to musicians. From time to time, DJs or other amplified groups show up to play their own brand out into the wilds of the Washington mountains.
In a funny sort of way, the familiar spot is a great place to “get away from it all”, and at the same time find the much needed warmth of being surrounded by good people who are sharing in the same adventure as we are.
If the past year has proven anything to all of us, it’s that we can’t rely on the future for predictability, and need to be ready for whatever it throws our way. The pandemic is an incredible case in point that has come with a litany of tragic and heartbreaking situations for kith and kin the world over. Mental health should not be overlooked as often as it is; and one welcome therapy WSB has found is this old haunt, a reminder that wherever you may go, you can always find the company of compassionate strangers and adventures therein.