Hello, internet! Earlier this summer my boyfriend and I decided we would take off for a week and go on a camping adventure. My only wish was that we didn’t make a lot of plans. A spontaneous road trip with all we need to live in the back of our car! Some essentials for this camping trip were books. I relearned how to use a real map, we explored a book about distant unmarked camp sites, and we read up on every camp site we passed with a camp site directory. Our phones were more or less off the entire time, except for mine, which I used as a portable camera that I could shove in my pocket. (Little iPhone needs a bath.)
The forest fires made for interesting photos.
Our first camping spot for the trip.
Our first night began off a fire road, down a spur, miles from any other living person. It was so quiet that this night we both learned the true fear of silence. We were completely and utterly alone, but also completely and utterly surrounded. At any moment an animal much more powerful, angry, or hungry than us could have walked up to our camp. It was a long night listening to every sound around our tent, eventually passing out in exhaustion.
The view of the river from our first camping spot.
The next morning I spent crafting horror stories in my notebook and drawing doodles of the things I saw in my head the night before. Around our tent were animal prints of various sizes, and what my imagination took to be a small token of the Blair Witch Project (a small woven thing made of tree bark in the shape of a doll.)
We thought about spending another night to conquer our fears, but we were mostly proud we went out there to begin with.
We packed our bags and thought we’d explore a similarly deserted spot. There are so many in the Willamette National Forest. We found one spot perched on high rocks above a crystal clear river. Another down a road along a creek.
Still feeling the fear of the night before, we continued to look for hours for a spot that had the right vibe. Eventually, after driving down a road nearly eaten alive by branches, we came across what looked like a shrine. Though there was promise of a pool at the end of it, neither of us were particularly interested in seeing who might be at the end.
A long and crushing fall down to crystal clear.
I’ll take a strong pass on this site.
Now nearing lunchtime we pulled off the side of the road into the trees down a dirt path. I peeked down the end of the road and saw a camp, maybe a mile downwards. One of our books had warned us about meth sites so we turned the car around and made sandwiches perched on the back of the trunk.
No where to be. No one to check in with. Nothing to do but what we wanted to do.
We settled in near a lake in the late afternoon, at a honesty-policy pay site. Slightly more populated but still empty of children and boom boxes. We took the time to relax, read, and cook dinner.
A place to read, sadly surround by bees.
What once were docks on what once was a lake.
Night 3 and 4:
The next two nights we stayed at one of my favorite camp sites along the deschutes river. Staying two nights in a row gave us time to hike, explore, and swim away some of the grime that had built up. We played cards and fished, watched the stars, and snacked on chips. We spied wild horses and kept our feet alert for rattle snakes. Our beer cooler saw some serious action. “It’s 11am, but could you hand me a double d blonde?”
On our way out of the deschutes
Navigating by maps.
For our fifth night we packed up all of our bags and headed for Timberline Lodge. The outside of Timberline Lodge was used for the moving The Shining as the hotel our favorite all work and no play boy goes to die. The hotel itself is not scary – it’s the ultimate cozy. Giant fireplaces around every corner, little restaurants and bars, a game room with a theater for when it snows, everything in the original old wood that makes the place smell permanently woodsy. A warm ten foot deep pool resides just outside, heated for all year use. Hikers come and drop their bags before eating lunch and continuing onwards. We hiked around for an hour or so and caught some of the sights.
Timberline Lodge: A little extra moody with the smoke (and my heavy filter)
On our little walk/hike up.
The view from above.
Returning home after camping always sends me into a mild fury, as though spring cleaning were a bug you could catch at any moment and the only cure is to throw away everything you own. Why do I need all these things I don’t use? What is wrong with me? I furiously emptied out my closet of things I hadn’t touched in years, a process that seems to happen every four months. Then we watched about four hours of Rick and Morty, because at the end of the day, there are some simple pleasures electricity affords you that you can’t get when you’re in the beauty of the forest.
Themes of the week: balance and rejuvenation.