Take a time out at Sequim Bay State Park

Have you had enough and can't take it anymore?

Take yourself, then, to Sequim Bay State Park on Sunday, May 31, and take it easy.

Take the family, too, to take in a day that park officials plan as a thank-you to eastern Clallam County residents.

The Sequim area informally "owns" the park by virtue of proximity and by its volunteers who've worked there for decades, said David Howat, construction and maintenance supervisor, North Olympic Area, Washington State Parks.

With economic clouds and political clamor darkening people's days and deafening their ears, it's time for some fun, he said.

"We understand the times we're in," Howat explained about the motives for the park's Community Fun Day, subtitled "Rediscover Sequim Bay State Park."

"That was part of the genesis of this."

Steven Gilstrom, Sequim Bay State Park manager, said it's also a way for officials to express gratitude to park neighbors.

Local residents supported the park in calls and e-mails to legislators, perhaps saving it from closure, and helped officials plan its future and what should be done with the undeveloped Miller Peninsula Park property, he said.

And people opted to donate to state parks when they renewed their vehicle license tabs, Gilstrom said.

Everyone's invited on May 31, but eastern Clallam County residents will be especially welcome, he said.

"With the Hood Canal bridge closed, there will be fewer visitors from outside the area, and so this is a great time to stay local and 'rediscover' the local state parks," Gilstrom said.

"We want to invite our local neighbors to come out and enjoy their parks. Day use of state parks is free and a great place to bring families for some fun."

Community Fun Day also includes an opportunity to explore Ramblewood Retreat Center, one of the park's best-kept secrets.

An open house from

1-5 p.m. shows visitors the lodge with kitchen, the

three cabins and the five Adirondack three-walled, roofed shelters.

"Ramblewood will accommodate between 25 and 60 people for overnight group gatherings," said Gilstrom, adding that the retreat center often is used for family reunions and also is available for modest-size weddings, even during winter for day meetings and holiday parties.

Howat and Gilstrom told the Sequim Gazette that their only caution is that too many drivers could overcrowd the park's parking lots, so they encourage carpooling.

Perhaps better yet, they suggest people bike to the park from the east or west on the Olympic Discovery Trail.

Howat said many of the park's facilities dated to the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration programs of the Great Depression.

"The park's been here from the worst economic times to the worst economic times and all the good times in between," he said.

May 31 is also the last of the pre-vacation lull that, Hood Canal bridge open or closed, bringing out-of-towners to the park.

This, then, is a great opportunity to "throw it open to the community to come and enjoy."

You can take that straight from Howat and Gilstrom.

Jim Casey is the editor of the Sequim Gazette.

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