Life, Ron Judd writes in his introduction to his newest Washington state camping guide, simply tastes better outside.
Thanks to the Seattle Times columnist's expertise and experience with tent camping and RVing, Judd is giving outdoor enthusiasts plenty to chew on.
Judd and The Mountaineer Books group recently released "Camping Washington," and though it's technically a first edition, it's really the newer, more polished version of Judd's "Camping! Washington" most recently published by Sasquatch Books four years ago.
Since the 1990s, Judd has been critiquing and updating this camping guide, giving Northwesterners and visitors alike the skinny on more than 600 campsites big and small, from Spencer Spit State Park in the San Juan Islands to Wawawai County and Chief Timothy parks near the Snake River and Palouse.
A bit thicker than the previous edition (by 30 pages or so), Judd's "Camping Washington" pulls few punches on his opinions about the state's campgrounds. Sites are given between one-and-one-half and five stars. Just two (Crow Creek and Tillicum) are given the lowest status; campsites smaller or too primitive for a reasonable rating are mentioned but only briefly and in scant detail.
On the other end, Judd names seven campsites with the full five-star rating, with one in our own backyard: Salt Creek.
"Every so often we stumble upon one of those special outdoor places we love so much that we hesitate to ever write about it," Judd comments about Salt Creek.
"Like so many other prime waterfront campgrounds in Washington, this one takes advantage of the very qualities that made it public property in the first place - the kind of sight lines needed for heavy artillery."
"Camping Washington" lists other six top sites:
_ Cape Disappointment State Park (Long Beach Peninsula)
_ Deception Pass State Park (north end of Whidbey Island)
_ Fort Flagler State Park (Marrowstone Island)
_ Kalaloch (Pacific Coast)
_ Moran State Park (Orcas Island)
_ Scenic Beach State Park (Seabeck/Hood Canal)
Judd clearly favors the west side of the state, at least in his top reviews, and it's hard to blame him, with the luscious greenery of the Puget Sound region, the picturesque beaches of the coast, the mountainous backdrops formed by the Cascades and Olympics.
"Camping Washington" gives travelers all the pertinent information: number of sites, number of water/electrical hookups, maximum length of recreational vehicles, dates when the campgrounds are open and a contact number.
The guide also includes "best" lists for campground features such as views, showers and proximity to trails.
It also features a small color photo gallery and accompanying black-and-white photos for about a third of the listed campsites.
No wonder Judd calls Washington the Disneyland of camping.
Judd also has a publication in the works for families on the go, dubbed "Judd's Guide to Family Camping."
Judd writes the weekly "Trail Mix" column for the Seattle Times as well as "The Wrap by Ron Judd," a humor-filled take on the week's news. He's the author of two humor books - "The Roof Rack Chronicles" and "The Blue Tarp Bible" - as well as a spectator's guide to the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(The Mountaineers Books), Ron Judd
Features: Survival strategies, how to survive the elements, starting (and keeping) fires safely, getting water and food, signaling, medical emergencies, navigation, equipment, staying safe from wildlife and handling all types of weather
Available: Pacific Mist Books (Sequim), Amazon, Barnes and Noble, McGraw Hill