Boutique picnic spot makes delightful destination
Story & Photos by Melanee Evans
Few activities invoke summer charm like an old-fashioned picnic in the park, and children in particular delight in the simple festivity. When I mentioned the idea of a gourmet picnic at Bradley State Scenic Park in Clatskanie to my husband and three girls, they cheered with glee and the little ones ran to pack.
I reminded them that because the Man in the Kitchen, Paul Thompson, was busy preparing our portable banquet in a basket, including paper plates, utensils, napkins, and bottle opener, they’d only have to gather a few remaining necessities.Down the stairs they came with Grandma’s tattered quilts for table or ground covering. Sunscreen, bug spray, and hats came next. Frisbee, bouncy ball, Foxtail, and Uno were tossed into the pile, and then they asked for the map.
Over the Rainier bridge, west on Highway 30 for about 25 miles, a sharp right at the Bradley State Scenic Viewpoint sign, and we were there. Easy as pie.
The moment we finally arrived, the green expanse of freshly mowed lawn, immaculate grounds, stone bench monument, and towering Douglas firs seemed to welcome us with open arms.
Sweep of grass
A few gorgeous, large picnic tables with a gray patina were placed far enough from each other in the sweep of grass for privacy. Other tables were tucked amidst the adjacent forested trail area, one overlooking the scenic view of Cathlamet, the Columbia River, and Puget Island.
The girls spread their quilts on the lawn in the sun and began arranging our picnic cuisine between the five of us. The aroma of Paul’s curry-almond bread swirled upon taking it from its package, and we quickly decided that we’d eat first, then play.
The bubbly flows
Off popped the sparkling cider cap, and minted fruit, salmon spread, egg salad, and chicken liver paté were spread on crusts of bread and enjoyed. The caramelized pineapple upside down cake became the family favorite, and we savored our final bite.
As the girls cleaned up in preparation to play games and explore the trails, I spoke with Gene Miller, the gracious caretaker host who was spraying down the sidewalks near the restrooms. We discussed his work in the park, the great variety of trees, and the best time to come.
“Midday is the busiest time in the park,” he said, “but anytime is good.”
We certainly agree.
Melanie Evans lives in Kelso with her handsome husband and their three angelic daughters.