Mosquito War at Potholes State Park (I lost)

Moses Lake Travel Blog

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Potholes State Park

We made good time from Seattle and arrived at Potholes in about three hours. It was early evening with plenty of light to set up camp. Unpacking the tent, I discovered that the tent poles were missing. Great! A friend packed up the tent last year and I just assumed the poles were inside, but it turns out there were left in the garage. Oh well, I've slept under the stars many times before, but before I could totally voice that thought to Anne, the swarm of mosquitoes moved in. Within minutes we both had dozens of bites. We decided to hop back in the car and head into Moses Lake (about 11 miles) to Wal-Mart and buy a small tent.

Sunset at camp
Thank goodness for GPS! I only had to type in the name and I had instant directions to Wal-Mart. While were were there, I asked Anne to pick up some bug repellent. She bought an organic version and I was thinking that it probably wouldn't work that well, but didn't say anything. Anne doesn't like the idea of putting Deet on her skin, especially since she had a melanoma removed from her arm years ago. So back to camp we go. Anne had bought the tent since she needed one for her trip to California. We didn't notice at the time that she bought a "junior" tent, so we were pretty cramped. We're both short and I barely had enough room to stretch out fully. The bug spray didn't work well, as I had suspected. More mosquito bites. The little buggers were biting me right through my clothes! And they wouldn't stay away from my face.
Sunset at camp
..swarms of them! It was too buggy to sit outside and not enough lighte, so we turned in around 9:30pm.

After a very cramped night, I woke up around 6am and made breakfast of eggs, hashbrowns and bacon before waking up Anne and letting her know the food was ready. I was glad I took my small cast iron skillet....it worked quite well with the Coleman stove.

When we finished breakfast, we drove to the Columbia Wildlife Refuge. It still amazes me that the eastern part of Washington is high desert. Miles and miles of sagebrush, mesas, and small potholes of water. After driving down a dirt road for a few miles, we pulled over near some water filled potholes to do some bird watching. I managed to take a photo of an egret...it turned out fairly well considering I had a big lens and didn't use the tripod (ever time I tried to open the tripod, the egret would fly away) and I'd have to track him down).
Columbia Wildlife Refuge
There were many kinds of birds flying around the area, including red-winged blackbirds. I closed my eyes as I stood there and just listened to the beautiful music of the birds with the occasional frog in the background. It was so peaceful! It was harder trying to get photos of the smaller birds since they tended to hide in the reeds and bushes.

On our way back to camp, we stopped at the general store near the park entrance and bought better bug spray. This one had 40% deet in it. I also found a bigger tent so I could have my own space that night. I didn't really need another tent, having three of various sizes already at home, but it was cheap and I needed some comfort. Back at camp, I sprayed  myself down and decided to take a nap. Anne opted to walk to a grassy park area and paint.
Columbia Wildlife Refuge
The bug spray helped a bit, but the mosquitoes would find spots that were unprotected. After my nap, I put on my bathing suit and got in the lake to cool off. It also kept my bites from itching. The water was a little cold at first, but once I was fully wet, it felt really good. While in the water, I got to thinking that it was the first time I've been in lake swimming in Washington since I moved here 13 years ago. Most of the lakes, at least on the western side of the Cascade Mountains, are very cold year round since they are fed by snow run-off.

It was getting pretty hot in the afternoon and most of the wildlife were laying low in the heat. I was bored and jokingly said to Anne that I had half a mind to drive to Moses Lake and see a movie so I could sit in the A/C. She was game. Once again, the GPS came in handy.
This scene looks more like Arizona than Washington!
I typed in Ciname and found a movie theater near the Wal-Mart we were at the evening before. We were a bit early for the movie, so we had a very late lunch at the Golden Corral (I haven't eatten at one of those in years). The move we saw was The Hangover and it was exstremely funny. It was much better than expected for the type of movie it was.

Back at camp, we were still fighting the mosquitoes. We had picked up some mosquito sticks that we lit and put near the tents and picnic table. That seemed to help quite a bit. I must be highly allergic to the bites because I had huge welts all over where they had bitten me and the itch was maddening.. I got 17 bites on my left arm, 5 on my face & neck, 9 on my right arm, 10 on my feet, 8 on my legs, 5 on my abdomen, 20 on my back and 19 on my butt.
An egret in the refuge
That's 93 bites!! Believe it or not, only my face, arms and feet were exposed...the rest of those bites were through clothes!

Bed again at 9:30 or so. I woke up at 4am to use the bathroom and couldn't fall back to sleep. I noticed that Anne was awake, too, so we packed up camp and headed home...we had enough of the mosquitoes!

On the way home, we stopped in Vantage for breakfast. Vantage is a tiny place that has two restaurants, a hotel, a gas station, and two campgrounds...that's pretty much it. It's located near the Columbia River and the bridge that crosses it for I-90. After breakfast, we drove up the road a bit to the Genko Petrified Forest. A nice little hike up a hill to see some petrified trees.
A huge puffball.
The view was really pretty.

We were about an hour outside of Seattle and I started to crash. Anne was just as bad, so having her drive was out. We decided to pull over at a picnic area and take a quick nap. I don't think two minutes went by before we were both snoring. We slept abour 45 minutes in the car before finishing our drive home.

While Potholes was pretty, I don't think I'll ever camp there again...not unless they spray!

Note: The woman at the gas station said it was an especially bad for mosquitoes this year. The locals were encouraging the authorities to spray. They were quite concerned because a case of West Nile virus was documented a couple hours away.

wanderlustbohemian says:
Nice Pics!
Eastern Wa. and the Pan Handle of Idaho are my growing up stomping grounds. Those blood suckers though especially near water!
Posted on: Jun 15, 2009
nanie05 says:
I guess its certain weather conditions that are conducive for their production. Over here the rainy season really brings them out..and bad times are dawn and dusk!
Posted on: Jun 14, 2009
aelder2259 says:
We gave them everywhere, but not many place that are this bad. I've been to SE Asia and only got a couple of bites. This was ridiculous! Most places spray to keep them at bay.
Posted on: Jun 14, 2009
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Potholes State Park
Potholes State Park
Sunset at camp
Sunset at camp
Sunset at camp
Sunset at camp
Columbia Wildlife Refuge
Columbia Wildlife Refuge
Columbia Wildlife Refuge
Columbia Wildlife Refuge
This scene looks more like Arizona…
This scene looks more like Arizon…
An egret in the refuge
An egret in the refuge
A huge puffball.
A huge puffball.
Viewpoint on road to Othello
Viewpoint on road to Othello
A picture of Anne taking a picture…
A picture of Anne taking a pictur…
A petrified Douglas fir.
A petrified Douglas fir.
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photo by: aelder2259