It takes a hell of a lot of stuff for two humans to take a road trip to the mountains. Today I’m on stuff-management duty, otherwise known as packing. Sleeping bags, flashlights, shovel, saw, sun shower, camp chairs, binoculars, radio, rope, hammock, tent and stakes, mats and pads, tarp, crate, and bucket. That’s a few of the items. Plus water—LOTS of water—and a water filter. Food, of course, in bags and coolers. Ice is always the limiting factor of a camping trip. Beer, actually, is the limiting factor, but that’s what the ice is for! Clothing and footwear for five days at the campsite and a day on either side in the motel room. Not to mention reading and writing material, cards and games, the all-important maps, plus eclipse information. I’ve got a three-page checklist just for the stuff I keep in the camper and another page for the stuff I’m bringing. I know I’ll forget something, and I already can’t find something I know I’d like to have with me.
It’s a dizzying array of crap, I have to say. Who knew it was this hard to “get closer to nature?” Speaking of crap or the-call-of-nature we have to take care of our own needs. We won’t be in a developed campground so there won’t be a pit toilet. In the old days you dug a latrine. These days they frown on that what with all the impacts on well-visited sites. Veteran campers all know places where the toilet paper is still sitting, half-buried, trying to decompose. We’ve got a portable loo solution that works pretty well and we’ve used it successfully before. (Check out ‘wag-bags’ if you have not heard of them.) We’ll also have to pack out all our own trash. The campgrounds don’t have garbage bins and we only found one place in town (at the ranger station) that had a dumpster. We may have to drive home with all our refuse and debris, which I am prepared to do. It’s a small price to pay for a clean camp. We are actually bringing large heavy-duty bags to collect the existing trash that people left behind from previous visits to the spot. It’s disgusting what people leave behind and bewildering that they would do so. We figure we’ll pick up what we can, it will make our stay more pleasant, but we’ll leave the tied-off bags behind with a note for the Forest Service. Something like “you can thank us for cleaning up after the low-life assholes who were here before.”
But this is an adventure expedition and I’ve no time for negative thoughts. It could be cloudy or smoky or otherwise poor viewing. There could be a forest fire and road closures. The crush of visitors could overwhelm the infrastructure and cause foul-ups or delays. The small towns along the path could run out of gas! Lots of bad things can happen. I’ve decided this is one of those create-your-own-reality moments. I’m going to see—to visualize—a thoroughly successful outing. Easy travels, a happy camp, and great weather. The plan, such as it is, coming together just the way we want it to. That’s where I’m going to put my mental energy. I am banishing fear and doubt and putting courage and faith in their places.
We leave tomorrow and drive to Burns in our VW Eurovan camper. Thursday we are at the campsite. Friday a buddy is coming in his Eurovan. Saturday we expect one couple in their RV and another later in their VW bus. Sunday another buddy should arrive. A few other folks I know have threatened to crash the party and that would be just fine but I don’t expect them. Monday morning is the eclipse. If you think all these people coming to Oregon this weekend is a cluster-fuck, just wait until they all try to leave afterwards! We will stay one more night in the camper and then it’s back to the motel in Burns for Tuesday and home on Wednesday. (Yes, we have reservations.)
There will be no campfires on this trip. This is an extremely high fire danger time all over the West and the USFS has already issued its restrictions. I’m guessing most people will comply, one hopes that eclipse-chasers have some outdoor savvy and that the idiots will mostly stay home. One hopes.
There’s a full tank of gas in the rig. We’ll stop for ice on the way out of town tomorrow morning. Thursday we’ll make one more stop for supplies in Burns, then head for the hills. Wish us luck!