car camping and hillbilly harrasment

In an effort to escape the bustle of city life, a couple friends and I decided to take a trip to Central Oregon for some camping fun. Bobby, on medical leave recovering from a tonsillectomy and eager to make the most of his time off, orchestrated the trip from his death bed while subsisting on jello and chicken broth. As his energy was sorely lacking, and medication-induced nausea restricting his activity, the planning involved was minimal. The plan was simple, though: drive to the middle of Oregon and find a secluded lake somewhere. Easy enough.

Bobby, Nate and I set off for the high desert mountains of Central Oregon on a Sunday. After picking up camping essentials (beef jerky, beer, and a hatchet) at Fred Meyer, we headed east. After four hours of driving, we discovered the plan wasn't as easy as imagined. While driving an unpaved forest service road in an attempt to find a spot off the beaten path, we found that access to our desired body of water was restricted (posted signs stated that there was no camping allowed near the river). D'oh! Oh well, we decided to pick another road to go down and another blue spot on the map. While driving on the new road, we came upon some locals (yokels) who had just flipped their pickup while enjoying some self-described "Friday night fun" (for those not paying attention, it was Sunday when this happened). When we stopped to help, asking what happened, the driver of the vehicle stated that it was just a "typical Friday night thing." Uh, okay...whatever that means. So, we helped them push the pickup back on its tires and carried along on our merry way (hearing banjo music as we drove away).

After driving through some crowded recreation areas, including "America's finest family campground," we finally found a lake worthy of camping at. The campground wasn't ideal, as it was a typical family style campground with tents all clustered around a port-a-potty, but it allowed us to cool off in the lake while also taking a break from the driving. We decided to camp there for the night and find a better spot the next day. After taking a dip in the lake, we went to work on a campfire. While Bobby and I gathered twigs and fallen tree branches, Nate broke out his new hatchet and went to town on some logs. Within a minute, he developed a blister that fooled us all into thinking he had stigmata. Lucky for Nate, Bobby was able to stuff an entire ER into a first aid bag. Bobby quickly patched him up and we returned to the fire making. After drinking some beers around the fire and cooking some hot dogs, we called it a night.

The next day brought us a couple hours west, out of the high desert and back into the forested Cascades. This time, instead of staying at a campground, we decided to pull off of a forest service road and find a clearing where we could set up some tents. Bobby found a spot nestled in the trees, sitting right next to a creek. It was a perfect spot. However, after setting up our tents and scouring the area for fire wood, we realized that other people had been frequenting the site. The evidence was pretty clear, as the place was littered with bullet shells, a makeshift table built to a tree (clearly used by hillbillies to place their guns on and skin their kill), and carved lodge poles (presumably part of a yet to built booby trap). I'll admit that I have an irrational fear of hillbilly rednecks, so my mind may have been wandering a bit. Despite the fact, I couldn't help but to think how many city folk had previously "disappeared" just after stumbling upon this encampment. Being the manly man that I am, though, I didn't voice my concern to Bobby or Nate. Instead, we followed the same routine of the previous night, building a fire and drinking beer. There was one twist, though. While getting in touch with his inner mountain man, and desiring a side dish for our hot dogs, Nate decided to go spear fishing. With a sharply whittled tree branch, Nate took to the creek and went hunting for some fresh trout. While nothing was caught, it was testament to the fact that when taken from the civilized world, humans can indeed get by with sheer will and a bit of ingenuity. Plus it was comical to watch.

As the night wound down, and the fire waned, we decided to call it a night. While laying in my tent, trying to identify all the noises in the woods, I was startled by a huge thump on Bobby's tent behind me. After waiting quietly for some secondary noise (perhaps some reaction from Bobby or an animal rustling in the woods), I yelled to Bobby asking what that noise was. For fear of contemplating the real source of the loud thud, Bobby simply said he thought a pine cone fell on his tent. While outwardly agreeing with his reasoning, secretly inside I feared the worst: the hillbillies finally came to reclaim their hunting grounds. Shit! Yeah, maybe it was a pine cone, but surely it didn't fall from a tree...it had to have been thrown by crazed rednecks hiding in the forest. Or worse yet, the Blair witch was coming to take one of us back to her creepy mountain hideout. Luckily for me, thinking about all the possibilities was like counting sheep, and I quickly worried myself to sleep. I safely awoke in the morning with all my limbs intact.

Unfortunately, I also awoke to rain. We decided to break down camp and hit the road for some fresh morning coffee. Soon we were back in Portland. Tired, dirty, and eager to sit on a toilet (although I must admit the sense of liberation after squatting in the woods), we headed our separate ways.


Anonymous said...

Now that sounds like quite the camping adventure!

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