Camping Along the Oregon Coast Pt 2

mountain-stream

photo: Unsplash

This is Part 2 of my Oregon camping trip. You can read Part 1 here.

“There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.” – Steven Wright

I was definitely treading the.. heck, let’s face it. I was running up & down that divide!

Luckily, a neighbor was generous enough to offer part of his catch – a salmon filet from the season.

By now Molly and I had gotten down some routines.. “best practices,” if you will –

Simplify by Being Organized

When you’re running around amuck in the woods, it’s important to be organized.. There’s enough stuff to try and figure each day. A lot of stuff you take for granted – like going to the bathroom becomes a chore.

So, it helps to color code stuff, if you can. Stuff like having bags for specific uses – dry goods in one / utensils in another – comes in handy, so you can find stuff & not spend time looking for that bottle opener when you’d rather be enjoying that riesling while it’s still crisp and nicely chilled.

When we talk about a “sanitized cockpit” in aviation, we’re not talking about keeping hand sanitizer in your flight bag. Just like having clipboards for air charts and pockets for gear, you will appreciate how simpler life is when you compartmentalize.

Keeping perishables in the cooler not only keeps them fresh and handy, but you can quickly know if you’re running low on any items. Separating this from the dry goods makes sure that ingredients are the way you need them when you do.

Keeping a Smooth Camping Environment

In a lot of ways campsites become small towns in themselves. Trust is key – at some point you leave stuff out. So, hopefully you feel safe about doing so with your neighbors.

What helps to build connections with others is sharing information. Sometimes you’re the “expert” but sooner or later you need others. This applies to all kinds of resources, but information is the most handy social currency.

Within your own “village” it’s important to have self-sufficiency, yet you need to work together. Camping creates an environment that’s intense. The last time I spent this much time in such close quarters was my time in the military on a ship in the middle of the West Pacific Ocean. You learn the need to balance between keeping to yourself and connecting with others.

Part of self-sufficiency is re-use – Those paper bags for groceries then become kindling for fires. Having a “waste not / want not” mentality translates to how that plastic container may become a much needed water jug. Even though there’s more recycling and minimizing waste today, we forget some of these ideas in our “civilized” world.

What You Learn to Appreciate

Boy, do we forget some of the things we take for granted!

Things like:

Bathrooms less than 150’ away

Running water that didn’t require pump

Showers – HOT showers!

Why did we pay for such inconvenience? To be honest this was an affordable way to be with Molly. There was no way that I could have afforded hotels for the time we spent with our limited budget. Plus, we got to know each other in ways that nothing else.

It does take a self-sufficient, capable gal – camping is definitely not for your typical girly girl. At the same time there’s a lot of guys who’d probably have a hard time keeping up with someone like that. I think I did okay. Well, at least average – if not a little above-average? (hopefully, this isn’t the same way we all think we’re above-average drivers..)

I’m still amazed that we did it – not just in the sense of surviving.. unfortunately, Molly got a sprained ankle, but that’s not too bad considering we spent so much time “out in the wild.” Hey, we didn’t get food poisoning, or any number of typical nasty camping ills like poison ivy, ticks, or snake bites.

Our relationship deepened.. something that nothing else can really take its place.

Camping Along the Oregon Coast – Part 1

The woman looked on confused. Finally she asked “what are you guys doing?”

“It’s tango,” I replied, “Argentine tango.”

Molly and I had been dancing to a Calo vals (a waltzy classic) while waiting for our clothes to finish drying. Amazingly this laundry mat even had wifi so I got caught up on emails.

Because the dryers were so loud, we simply plugged ourselves into my ipod – each sharing an earbud. So it must’ve been quite an unusual sight. Two people dancing to the beat of some silent orchestra.

This was day 7 out in the “wilderness” of the Portland coast.

We’d stretched our fresh clothes as far as possible. Heck, I was proud that we’ve been surviving on cooking by camp fires and managing to entertain ourselves.

What was really nice with staying in one campsite for a few days was not needing to break down and set up camp each day. Although we’d gotten down our routine, it was still painful to go through that same routine day after day.

Probably the most unusual part was that we had barely known each other before this trip. Sure, we had seen and danced with each other at annual tango festivals in Portland but other than a few phone calls and online chats, Molly and I went from spending no time together to nearly every waking minute. Yet somehow things clicked, and it felt very natural.

Now I have to admit that other than running around with the Marines on a few field training exercises, the most time I had spent in the woods growing up was a couple of overnight canoe trips with friends. And even with the grunts we just plopped down our packs and slept in our sleeping bags on cement slabs inside a prepared tent.

So, the first day out involved quite a learning curve. I had to learn 1) how to build a fire 2) how to set up a tent.

Building a fire wasn’t too bad. We had picked up some fat wood and firewood. Because fat wood was soaked with dried sap it burned pretty quickly and pretty hot. So, you use it to get the firewood going and thus have your base.

It was already late in the day, because most of the day had been spent on getting supplies. There wasn’t much time to find a camping spot – much less to set up a tent before nature was going to turn off the lights out.. literally.

Luckily, we found a spot right across the Columbia River, and had the same thought ”hey, why don’t we stay here? It also helped that Molly was already familiar with the tent. (Talk about anti-sexism, right? I was the helpless one!) She walked me through what we needed to do, so I mostly just followed her lead.

Further reversing roles I made myself useful by preparing a Caprese salad with the tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella, olive oil and balsamic vinegar we picked up. Some ripe avocadoes added a nice twist to this classic.

We toasted our first night in the wilderness with a nice, crisp Riesling kept chilled in the cooler. (Hey, roughing it doesn’t mean living like savages in my book..) A bright moon covered the campsite as fell sound asleep.

camping-moonlight

The next morning we woke to passing barges in the misty morning before stopping by the office and paying for our camp spot. Soon we were off again with no idea what was next.

To read more visit Part 2 of my camping trip to Oregon.