Sunday, May 08, 2011

Romantic Getaway to the Desert 3 - The Last Adventure (And More Rain)

After the evening's adventures were over and the sun set, we settled down to a roaring campfire of the abandoned burning logs and our broken-up plywood, dinner of tuna salad and egg salad, and beer for dessert. It was perfect.

The night was beautiful, invigoratingly cold, not the damp chill of Portland. When we went to bed, the down comforters I had brought took care of the difference between our sleeping bags' ratings and the below 32F temperatures. Only my nose, the one place not covered by clothing or blankets, got cold. Very, very cold. Any part of me that became uncovered by the blankets, when they somehow ended up on the other side of the tent (hmm...) would also become icy cold; the chill would wake me up, as did any sound of animals walking on the grass or twigs cracking overhead. You see, I was very concerned about that abandoned campsite and skillet. I awaited the return of the VAGABOND.

These concerns never visited me on my first camping trip with my boyfriend, two months after we started dating. I suppose I was convinced that with a man by my side, I was safe. The man would protect me. This time, I knew that might not be the case. Caught off guard, any man could be unable to defend himself and his lady when faced with a VAGABOND who was maybe even ARMED!!!!! So that wasn't necessarily a reflection on my man. This, however is. As I gazed at his sweetly sleeping face, from which loud snores came forth, I knew that his maleness was no guarantee that he would be my defender, not when woken in the middle of the night, not when an attack was unexpected. I knew I had to be prepared for the moments when he was waking up. So I went back to sleep hugging my flashlight.

My flashlight is a Maglite, a foot-and-a-half-long, heavy piece of metal. You see, my plan was that, if and when the VAGABOND opened the front flap of our tent, I would instantly spring up and awake and bash him in the head with my Maglite the second his leering face intruded our space. This would give my Handsome Man time to wake up, and the two of us would take things from there.

Fortunately, no vagabonds or attackers disturbed us that night.

I awoke the next morning to loud, steadily pouring rain. I dozed on and off, allowing my camping companion to sleep in, and waited what seemed like hours before I finally insisted we get up and on the road. I probably had been awake for hours, but it was only 8:30. Still, I was tired of sitting in the damp tent air.

I opened the tent flap to discover that my shoes were soaked.

"You left them outside?" Handsome Man was incredulous.

"You said no shoes in the tent!"

"I meant no wearing shoes inside the tent!"

I argued that shoe-schmutz could still get in the tent whether the shoes were on any feet or not, and also that he had to lend me his shoes so that I could get my hiking boots out of the car. He was too tired to protest very much.

"You're going out in that rain?"

As an answer, I wrestled his car keys away from where he had clipped them to his jeans, slid his shoes on my feet without tying the laces (to the sound of, "Hey! Don't put those on in the tent!"), and marched to the car. When I retrieved my hiking boots and located a change of clothes, my camping companion had finally started getting ready to pack the car and hit the road. When I returned to the tent and he saw me through the open flap, he burst into laughter at what he saw.

The picture does not do it justice. I had gone to bed wearing several shirts with a navy blue University of British Columbia hoodie over them all, plus an off-white pair of long underwear tucked into a pair of socks that were tucked into a top layer of a second, black pair of long underwear. The sparkly pink scarf I wore on my head during much of the trip was around my neck; my hair, unprotected by the scarf, was a frizzy afro, not a fashionable afro but one sticking in many directions, molded by a pillow, and clearly uncombed. I was carrying my shoes and sloppily walking toward the tent wearing a pair of oversized, untied men's shoes.

"You look," said my camping companion, "like you should be outside of my house on Recycling Day digging through the trash looking for bottles to cash in. You look like a kook!"

The rain let up and under gray, dismal clouds we took down our tent and packed the car. I gathered a handful of juniper berries as a souvenir (I know I was breaking the rules) and checked our maps and GPS for someplace to refuel the car and ourselves. The GPS reported nothing but a Texaco station in Fossil, forty-six miles and an hour's drive away. After learning the night before that Kimberly was no more than a sign in the road and the home of one rancher, I didn't want to take any chances on the names on our maps that sounded like towns, such as Spray, Kinzua, and Monument, the last of these which was closer than Fossil, but in the wrong direction. We did not want to run out of gas.

LS wrote the following comment on the previous post about the trip to the desert:



OK, add to your car.
1. Portable, foldable saw
2. Heat-resistant gloves.
3. Waterproof matches
4. Bucket (to carry water to put out the fire with)
5. Binoculars (for spying on other campers)
6. not sure, but I am sure there is more you need for your crazy adventures, :)

I have a suggestion for #6. You see, at this point in our travels, this morning at a campsite in the middle of nowhere in the high desert of Eastern Oregon, we discovered that we had forgotten to pack water. Yes, we went to the desert without water. A week previously, when I had told my father we were going to the desert, he had said, "Don't forget to bring water," and I had scoffed at this "Duh" piece of advice. And there it was. We were in the desert and about to run out of water. Just a dribble remained in our cooler. This we discovered when we were about to make instant coffee.

"I only have enough to make one instant iced coffee that we can share," reported Handsome Man. "Or should we save it so we don't run out of water?"

Love for Addiction to coffee won out over any practicality you have seen me exhibit heretofore. "We'll be in Fossil in an hour! By then, I'll get a terrible headache if I don't get some coffee. Let's have coffee!"

My traveling companion agreed.

Shortly after we'd turned onto Highway 402, Handsome Man slammed on the brakes as a little dog hurtled down the hill next to the road, under the rancher's fence, and into the road. We coasted for a bit, but saw in the rearview mirror that the dog, who had arrived on the gravel shoulder on the side of the road opposite the ranch, was unharmed but circling frantically, appearing lost and miserable. We pulled over.

The dog, a beagle, ran to us. My traveling companion picked him up, observed that he had no collar, and was shaking with anxiety.

"Poor guy. What should we do?"

I was at a loss for ideas. "Maybe he escaped from the campground. We could try going there, and then if no one there lost a dog, we could try taking him to the ranger station," I suggested, not really sure what the NPS ranger would be able to do.

We got back into the car, with me behind the wheel and Handsome Man hugging the beagle on his lap. Fortunately, on our way to the next campground, we saw a man cross the highway and walk along the gravel. We approached him with the windows down.

"Did you lose a dog?" I asked.

He had. He tried to dismissively assert that the dog wasn't lost, since we were so close to his property, while we mumbled things like, "He didn't have a collar and he seemed scared and we didn't know..." and at some point, he too, mumbled that the dog was his mother's and wasn't supposed to get out of the house.

So, a happy ending. Murphy the Beagle returned safely home.

From there, we continued to Fossil, where we bought gas and ate a delicious brunch at Big Timber Family Restaurant, which was cheap and great, before heading to the Clarno Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds and then on to Madras, where we finally bought water at a Safeway, and then on to Bend. There is not much adventure left to report. From here, the trip was eventful only in that it was fun and full of beautiful and interesting things. So, the fourth and final installment of our Romantic Getaway to the Desert will appear when I get my film developed and can provide you with an illustrated account.

1 comment:

LS said...

OK, so water is number 6. Maybe 7 would be a leash for suddenly appearing dogs? :)