After leaving Phoenix two months ago, we find ourselves a bit exhausted from primitive camping. Lifting coolers, constant shifting of our gear from the back of the truck to the front cab to “bear proof” camp, sleeping like canned sardines in the truck bed, cooking, cleaning, chopping wood, navigating fog and rain, we sometimes wonder if it is worth the effort.
Yes, it is worth the effort. Especially when leaving the crowded coast and moving back into the woods. Driving a road that twists around old growth forest, we roll alongside Oregon’s Umpqua River and have no idea where to camp tonight. At least we be back into the boonies. And by the way, both of us have lost that ten extra pounds of “corona quarantine” weight gain!
The first National Forest Campground we find is full. Marilynn sweet-talks Earl, the campground host. “Well, we just had a cancellation,” Earl says. “But you have to make a reservation on-line.” Since we are out of cellphone range, Earl allows Marilynn to tap into his personal Wi-Fi and secure a spot for one night.
Take a deep breath of cool pine air. Sip a beer next to the fire with your feet up and shoes off before cooking that last bag of shrimp. No people within sight. Just a backyard view of the Umpqua River. Camping is worth the effort.
Load up in the morning and get back on the road to anywhere. Stop at a roadside fruit stand where a sign features “fresh eggs”. Serena tells us that the eggs are too small to sell, but she just baked some fresh rounds of sourdough bread. Better yet. “There’s a campground so far out that nobody goes to it if that’s what you’re looking for,” she says. “It’s used by hunters but not now. It’s chill.”
We arrive at “Cover Camp” which could be the best campground yet. We have all seven secluded spots to ourselves and pick the one with a private “beach” next to the clear water of Jackson Creek. With my National Forest Senior Pass, the cost is only five dollars per night.
After a few nights, we decide to stay several more nights. No cellphone, no internet, no news, no Trump fights, and no riots. No Coronavirus, no people, no masks, no beer, no…, wait a minute. No beer? That pulls me back into civilization. Thirty-six miles later, I purchase beer and ice enough for several more days. When I get back to camp about three hours later, Marilynn peeks out of the outhouse door. “Bees!” she exclaims. “I got attacked by a swarm of bees and had nowhere to go but the outhouse!” Fortunately, she was not stung.
One does not get clean simply by lying prone in a shallow creek. We be dirty and sticky. Time for a motel stay in the town of Shady Cove.
This room has a balcony on the Rogue River, across from an excellent Mexican food restaurant. Oh no, that ten pounds of quarantine fat that we lost is coming back, fast! Totally worth it for that steak topped off with a grilled hatch chili.
Better get out of town and back into the woods. After a remote, otherworldly scenic drive overtop “Bear Camp Coastal Route,” we do not care much for the next two National Forest Campgrounds.
Too many people. The campground host tells us of a place if we want to get remote. Okay. About ten miles straight up a mountain, we arrive in paradise.
We have all three campsites to ourselves at “Wildhorse” campground, free of cost. We can see the ocean from the old fire lookout tower.
After the beer and ice run out a few days later, we decide to head back to the coast for one last bite of crab. This time, we find a campsite at Eel Creek Campground. This could be the best one yet that is near the Oregon coast. Smack in the middle of sand dune country, we decide to stay a few more days.
We cop some crab and make one last stop in Oregon at a motel. Need to clean-up before our brief visit with family. Now, back on the road, we are heading towards Mt. Rainier to find somewhere to camp. And yes, we be exhausted. But it is worth it. Just wait until you see the photos on our next post!
Thank you, Abundant Universe.