That Time I Caught Crabs

No, not that kind of crabs.

As you know from the title of this blog, I like to eat. One of the things I like to eat is crab. It’s expensive, but fresh local Dungeness crab is just about the best thing to eat around here in the summer.

However, I never buy it. It’s expensive, like as said, and usually if you get it at the grocery store, it isn’t all that fresh. It can be sort of a crapshoot. Plus, I’ve always wanted to catch one myself. Crab – not “crabs.” So one of the things I determined I would do with my kids this summer is to go crabbing.

On Sunday, our family spent the day at the Kayak Point fishing pier. In 6 hours, we caught about 20 crab – unfortunately, not one of them was a keeper. They were all girl crabs or undersized. But we got bitten with the crabbing bug and learned a few things.

One thing we learned was that cat food will attract the crab better than just the chicken we were using. We caught a couple of crab with just chicken, but not many. We were watching what other people were doing though, and the setup we saw people using with a lot of success was cat food in the bait box, and chicken outside the bait box where the crab can actually eat it. The cat food attracts the crab to the trap, and the chicken keeps them in until you can pull the trap up. Theoretically.

We also discovered when we got there that although we had plenty of food, we had forgotten plates and silverware, so we had nothing with which to eat the food. So since we needed those items we decided to get some cat food too.

Two hours later just as the tide was starting to run (crabs move with the tide, apparently) we had cat food and put it in the bait box, with chicken outside on a big metal hook. We finally started to see some real success. In the next 3 hours we caught a lot of crabs – which was a fun biology lesson for the kids even if we didn’t get to keep any.

We had enough success so that the boys and I wanted to go crabbing again in the afternoon on Monday. We had to go to a fishing pier closer to home and we got skunked again, but we still had a good time. The boys don’t seem to care about actually catching anything we can keep – they just like to see and touch the crab, eat ice cream and play at the beach. They told me they are down to go crabbing pretty much any time we have a few spare hours – so I would say our first foray into crabbing was a success even if there are no crab in the fridge yet.

Happy May Day!

Summer is coming folks! We were expected to get into the 80s today – not sure we made it, but it was certainly nice and warm. I don’t know about you but I am ready for summer. In fact, just for today we pretended that it is already summer time and went to the beach. It was a blast!

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Sadly, the weather won’t last. It’s supposed to rain this weekend. But it does give me hope that we have a summer full of awesome ahead of us.

Since summer is coming, I thought I would do a post on how to get the most out of summer in the Pacific Northwest.

1) Go camping!
It’s not summer without at least one camping trip. Our family’s favorite spots are Cape Disappointment State Park down at the mouth of the Columbia, and Lake Wenatchee, just on the east side if the mountains. If you are camping at the more popular parks, now is the time to make your reservations, as spots are already filling up.

Later in the week I will post more of our family’s favorite camping destinations within a day’s drive of Seattle.

2) Road Trip!
Go somewhere awesome! Living on the West Coast there is just so much to see and do – so many natural wonders to learn about and explore! We have a trip to California planned. Our kids are good travelers so we will be brave and try to drive down. We want to spend a couple of nights at Crater Lake to learn more about volcanoes, then head for the California coast to visit all the sea creatures at the Monterey Bay aquarium. It’s an iconic road trip and educational, too.

3) Take a Beach Day!
In the Seattle area you are never farther than an hour from a beach, and while they may not be the warm, wide sand beaches of your fantasies, they are still great for building sand castles, having picnics, spending family time and enjoying nice weather when it comes to visit. Some of my favorite beaches around Seattle include:

Kayak Point Park near Marysville – this beach has a fishing pier, playground and plenty of picnic spots. It’s about an hour north of Seattle near the Tulalip reservation. A great spot for fishing, playing or spending the day. You can even camp overnight and spend the weekend!

Golden Gardens in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood – after Alki, this may be Seattle’s most popular salt water beach. Always crowded but worth it if you can find a spot – it has a nice wide sand beach, a bath house and lots of picnic spots. Arrive early or visit midweek to beat the crowds.

Maxwelton Beach on South Whidbey Island – this is the beach I grew up with. This is a west facing, sandy beach with some pebbles mixed in. There is a play area, ball field and picnic structure, plus a small general store for picking up those forgotten items. You can stay all day or just a few hours and have a great time.

Alki Beach in West Seattle – as the closest thing Seattle has to a true “beach town” experience (in that there is a town where the beach is) this is by far Seattle’s most popular and crowded beach. Fun for families, teens, large groups and small ones. Bring comfortable shoes and take a walk or run along the waterfront, and take in the iconic view of Seattle across Elliott Bay. Finish your beach day with clam chowder at Dukes, or go more upscale for drinks and dinner at Salty’s.

Picnic Point Park in Mukilteo/Edmonds – this is our family’s favorite beach. It has a nice wide sandy area great for digging and building sand castles, plenty of logs to sit and lean on, and a small grassy picnic area. No play structures, no other amenities, and we don’t miss them. We bring a picnic lunch, some towels and sand toys, and play in the sand all day.

4) Go Hiking!
Because Seattle is located between the mountains and the Sound, we also have tons of great hikes that are within an easy drive. Here are some of our family’s favorite hikes.

Iron Goat Trail – easy to drive to and located on an old railroad bed, this hike is great with kids because it is easy and flat, but also has historical significance to capture the interest of older kids and adults. The trail passes by the site of the Wellington disaster, and the trail goes through some old snow sheds and tunnels. This is one of the first hikes we ever did with our kids and it is still a favorite.

Meadowdale Beach Park – this is a beach day and a hike all in one. The beach comes at the bottom of a 1.25 mile descent through a forest, past a stream and a large grassy play field and through a tunnel. At the end of the trail, a wide sandy beach with lots of driftwood awaits. Bring a picnic lunch and sand toys, and play all day. Save some energy for the 800 foot ascent back to the parking lot. Very popular and has a tiny parking lot, so get there early.

Ebey’s Landing – this hike is in Coupeville on Whidbey Island and includes some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. It has one difficult descent, otherwise is great for kids ages 5 and up.

Mt. Pilchuck – a great choice for more experienced hikers, this rugged mountainous hike has an awesome payoff – at the top of the mountain sits an old fire lookout cabin. From there you can see some the most amazing views Washington state has to offer, and that is saying something. Be prepared for mountain hiking and take a map – unprepared and inexperienced hikers have been known to get themselves lost and in trouble on this seemingly easy hike. Also, this hike is best in the late summer when all snow has melted, and the bugs have died down.

These are some of our family’s favorite summer activities. What’s your favorite summer (or unusually warm spring day) activity?