Entries tagged with “travel”.

I came to Bend for a mini-break/work weekend. After the best Tom Kha soup of my life and a few solid hours of progress on chores, it seemed like time to get out and enjoy the scenery. The weather was clear and cool and perfect for a hike.

Several months ago, thanks to the @OregonExplored Instagram feed, I discovered Chush Falls. Though I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Bend and Sunriver I hadn’t done much exploring around the area outside of town. The shot of the waterfall was feral and gorgeous and I very much wanted to see it. I had planned to swing through Bend at the end of a road trip in January, but since I wasn’t able to make it then, I thought this would be the prefect opportunity to check it out.

The wilderness area where the falls are situated suffered a somewhat serious burn back in 2012 with the Pole Creek fire. Much of the hike from the forest road was still a landscape twisted, black, and barren. The path was soft, wide, and would have lent itself perfectly to a trail run if I hadn’t been feeling under the weather. Everywhere was evidence of the fire.



The hike itself was a bit of a ramble. Mostly flat, with a few short steep sections. The trail was well-marked and though counter-intuitive at times, it’s carefully maintained and easy to follow. There are a few places to ford small streams, but it’s a hop-and-a-skip in almost every case. The trek is redolent of baked mesquite and warm earth. 

Up the last bit of elevation gain you abruptly confront a sign declaring End of Trail. From this vantage, you can see the top of the falls though a screen of trees, but the view is largely obstructed. Off to the right is a vague, but relatively easy scramble down to the creek and a much more direct view of the falls.

Chush Falls


The water pouring over the rocks was absolutely clear. The falls were roaring and just as wild as promised. The spray was so intense getting closer would have left me soaked and without a clear photo, but I’m sure in hot weather it is tremendously refreshing. The effort to reward ratio on this was well in its favor.


but first… there was serious lounging to do. i had all day to kill, no money, no ideas, and a bathing suit. so. i parked myself on the deck of the pool of the hotel next to mine and sat there. for six hours.

normally this would be impossible for me since i have the attention span of a gnat and don’t especially like the hot hot heat. however, with nowhere else to go, i stayed put. forced lounging; new concept in my experience.  i was pretty religious about reapplying my sunscreen, but i did fail to adequately cover the crease between my hip and thigh. this is NOT a fun place to get a sunburn. no.

perhaps most annoying about all of this was lack of book and crappy night’s sleep prior. i was TRYING to relax, and would have given my left nut to be able to fall asleep, but it was too hot to doze. i kept having to get another towel damp and drape it over my face. not so restful.

finally i gave up and went inside where i discovered that i had access to the spa facilities. oh to have PRODUCT IN MY HAIR for the first time in days. it was bliss. bliss i tell you. not to mention using conditioner. sweetbabyjesus it was divine.

i had already decided that getting home as soon as humanly possible after the show was now my highest priority in life. i needed my bed, i needed more shirt options, i needed to be home. right the fuck now. so i decided it was time to get all my little duckies in a row so as to be able to depart from Renotown just as soon as the show was over. this included getting some gasoline, which i had not done since Lakeview.

well. the stupid gas station attendant back there in Lakeview FAILED TO REPLACE MY GAS TANK CAP. and so, in a panic, i began to scour the metro Reno area for a gas cap that will fit Klaus. this is not as easy as i expect it to be, and i spend about an hour going from Knecht’s to Autozone to Reno Salvage to Kraagen and spend at least 15 minutes on the phone with two seperate male automotively inclined loved ones who reassured me that the lack of a gas cap is unlikely to result in Klaus or i bursting into flames. but then, i found a new cap anyway. whew.

having averted this minor automotive crisis, and flushed with triumph, i made my way to the amphitheater and parked myself in line. i was first. by about 15 minutes. but after six hours by the pool, a 45 minute wait for the gate was nothing. i did discover happily that the opening act was another band of which i am very fond, but did not realize was on tour with Neko. so hooray! Crooked Fingers for the price of Neko!

the venue was lovely and nicely sized. the weather was soft and breezy. sunset perfectly timed. i scampered inside and spread my blankie on the lawn closest to the far right side of the stage (the better to see you with my one good eye!) and settled down with my bag o’ tricks to occupy myself til showtime.

and it was glorious. Neko has such a following in Portland that there would have been no way to see her in such a setting. and apart from the fact that this allowed me to be about 30 yards away from her to watch the show, it also colored the tone and timbre of the performance. it was friendly and engaged, intimate and warm like the night in which it was set. i could see the nuance of expression on her face, the comments she made under her breath at her band mates. and her voice was like warm honey. she played the songs i most wanted to hear, and when i chirped my enthusiasm for a particular song she made a gently mocking reply. i have decided we had a moment.

and then, the moment passed. the show ended. i changed into my jammies, climbed into the drivers seat, and with only a pause and admire the wash of stars with Jupiter wheeling more closely than it will for 867 years and two stops to sleep, i barreled home at one shot. and apart from the funny smell from the trash i forgot to take out before i left, it was never more welcoming than in that particular too-bright haze of morning.

waking up at Cave Lake my first thought of the day was: holybabyjesus it’s freaking cold. according to Klaus’ thermometer, it was a brisk 43° brr. yet i knew by the end of the day i’d see a 50° swing. what to wear? this question was made less complicated by the fact that i had somehow managed to pack ONLY TWO SHIRTS. as a PRODIGIOUS overpacker and a wardrobe whore of the widest stripe, i have NO idea how this happened. but it did. this is how i ended up in a turtlefur hat, mittens, and a tank top despite the chill. if you look reeeeeal close you can tell just how cold it IS!

after coming down out of the forest, i promised Klaus we’d stay on pavement for the rest of the trip. oof.

herein commenced the most boringest part of the trip. drive was decidedly unscenic, plus also construction. bleah. finally made it into Reno at about 1:30 and immediately went into a panic since i hadn’t the faintest idea how to find the hotel where i had randomly decided to stay. and the lure of the shower was IMMENSE by this point. i think, in fact, it was so powerful that it lead me to downtown Reno as if by magic. i got off the freeway by intuition, and went straight to the hotel without making one wrong turn. this is remarkable because even though i have always thought i had an excellent sense of direction, it turns out that in fact, it’s just that i’ve lived in the same town my whole life so i’ve been pretty much everywhere in it. most road trips i go on i spend more time turning around than going straight. this was a small but satisfying triumph.

i stayed on “the strip” such as it is, at Circus Circus. which was about as cheap as i could get. honestly $35 for a hotel room is pretty damn reasonable. i think i used that much hot water within the first hour of being in the room. shower… sweet sweet shower.

after having spent the $35 on my room though, i was left with a whopping $30 in cash money. eep. knowing i had an emergency credit card for gas to get home with i wasn’t totally panicking, but i was glum about my entertainment options. not a gambler anyway, i had thought to eat something yummy or have a few adult beverages, but short of batting my eyes at some generous fella wandering the streets, i didn’t think that a likely option at this point. having completely failed to bring any grooming products whatsoever i didn’t really want to expose my fragile ego to the possibility that i’m not cute enough to get offered a drink without product in my hair and concealer on my face.

so, instead i decided to just wander around Reno and see what i could see. turns out, not a whole ton. Reno’s pretty small, and so is its city center. there was a bizarre concentration of domes; 3 within a 2 block radius for no apparent reason. and many hideous signs and marquees. my favorite ugly building, hands down, was the Cal-Neva.

Having booked my hotel room sight unseen, i rea
aaaally wish i had stayed here instead. it was so awesomely hideous i could barely contain my enthusiasm for it. and more than that, they had what i consider to be the quintessential casino food deal: $8.95 prime rib dinner in the Top Deck Lounge. awww yeah. even with only $30 to my name, this seemed like a reasonable expense.

now, i feel i need to preface what i am about to say with the following; my FAVORITE restaurant in Portland is frequented by people that usually arrive on short buses from the retirement village. there is almost never a person under the age of 65 IN this place who isn’t employed as a hostess. it has the ambiance of an elks lodge with scary murals of the elderly painted on the walls. they have a policy that if you can eat their 6 pound steak and all the trimmings, you get it free. my point here is that sophistication, nice in its place, is by no means a crucial element of my enjoyment of a particular eatery. but this, oh this.

in the grand casino style, there were no windows, anywhere. i failed to realize just how oppressive this would be until i had been sitting inside for about 20 minutes and could no longer even guess at what time it was. i had left my phone to charge in the car and wasn’t wearing a watch. usually i have a pretty decent internal clock, but going inside this place totally fucked mine up, like instantly.
and then when my “dinner” arrived, it was almost comically disgusting to look at. i am deeply sorry i did not photograph the plate while i sat there, for its pallid appearance was almost archetypal. the meat was grey; even the gristle seemed pale. the vegetables, if they could indeed be classified as such, were gloriously colorless and smooshy. buh-leah.

on the way back from this, i managed to have my picture taken by an ACTUAL human, instead of the timer-race-try-to-look- casual method i had heretofore employed. it was very exciting. except i look like a total tard. ah well.

at this point i was wandering back to my hotel with plans to kill the last of the bottle of tequila i brought with me on the trip. thrilling. nothing quite like watching Law & Order all night on a tequilla buzz.

NEXT: At Long Last, Neko.

i woke up monday morning about 25 minutes after i would normally have to be at work. this feeling was awesome. i had skipped most of the features of the Newberry Caldera the day before in hopes of finding a campsite with a water view. mission accomplished, plus all the good stuff saved for the next day. delayed gratification isn’t usually my thing, but it worked this time…

my first stop was BIG OBSIDIAN FLOW: this consisted of a 3/4 mile loop trail through an alien landscape of volcanic rocks. it was not uncommon to pass rocks the size of a small datsun coupe.

it was lovely and strange to see the contrast between the adamant shine of obsidian and the downy pitted surface of the pumice. down in the crater there were no recognizable signs of life, only hard surfaces and jagged thrusting edges against the grey sky.

at the peak of the trail i could see 2 lakes, the caldera in all its glory, and the track the obsidian flow had taken when it burned its way over the landscape 937 million years ago. once again, signs telling me not to take anything away made my fingers itch.

after this brief hike i was ready for something a little more ambitious, in a manner of speaking. it was time for Paulina Peak: Klaus Goes Offroad i didn’t realize when i started up the 4 mile trail up to the summit that the vast majority of it would be gravel and graded to keep people like me from roaring up the hill at 35 mph. i tried, but the teeth rattling was too much for me. this was Klaus’ first trip of any length down an unpaved road. he took it like a champ, although it was a little nerve wracking at times.

also rather unsettling; the utter dearth of anything decent on the radio. for whatever reason this peak allowed me to recieve no less than 25 different radio stations, which would normally be AWESOME… however, my seek button usually yielded the following:

  • “The lord, he WANTS you to underSTAND (seek)
  • “Come on down to the LARGEST TRACTOR PULL IN (seek)
  • i lift up my life to the (seek)
  • when we come together to praise (seek)
  • “It’s the 1968 class reunion weekend! Another Beach Boys classic! (seek)
  • “What most people overlook is that submitting to the wisdom of Jesus (seek)
  • garbledelectioncoveragewhichiswhatiwanttohearwhenitcomesinclearlywhichitmostlydoesnt (seek)
  • “Come on down to the prayer meeting in LaPine (seek)
  • you know i live for loving my pickuptruck (seek)
  • and Jesus touches meeeeee (seek)

etc. blech.

also a source of some consternation was the realization that this rather tough climb was unlikely to reveal much in terms of a vista since the clouds were hanging so low around the peak as to obscure a view of anything other than said clouds. sigh. plus, it was ass fucking cold up there. had my hat AND mitteys on. no joke, yo.

trucking back down the hill was slightly less jarring, though just as scary as other intrepid peak seekers were wending their way up as i wound down. yipes.

next stop on my list was the Paulina Waterfall. the guide described the waterfall as “Stunning and only a short walk from the parking lot!” they really know how to sell a scenic viewpoint down on the caldera.

to be fair though, it was really lovely. and it was only a very brief stroll down to the falls. i almost felt guilty at the lack of exertion required of me for all of this scenery. wandering around a bit, i found another slightly longer trail leading down to the pool of the falls. in an effort to feel like i’d earned some of this beauty, i RAN full tilt all the way back up the hill. i almost passed out. guilt assuaged.

having exhausted myself and all of the scenic opportunities the Newberry Caldera had to offer, i got on the road again. the road, in this case, was the “Oregon Outback Scenic Byway” ooh. i had high hopes for this drive. although, to be honest, at first, it was about the least scenic driving i’d been doing thusfar. lots of lodgepole pine and red clay soil. meh.

i didn’t really have much of an agenda this day. my camping plans were in flux as it was becoming clear that nothing was taking as long as i thought it would and i was even further ahead of schedule than before. i was beginning to rethink my plan to camp for two more days. funding resources were also becoming a concern. doing math in my head i began to realize that if i followed the route the i had originally planned down through the Lassen Volcanic National Monument (more volcanoes!) i would not have enough gas money to make it home. herm… all the road signs i was seeing along the scenic byway were happy to tell me it was less than 200 miles to Reno. so i made a command decision (sounds so much more forceful than a whim…) to camp one more night and then drive straight to Reno, stay Tuesday night, enjoy the show on Wednesday and then drive home through the night. ok then.

perusing my map, i noticed a short detour from the scenic highway would lead me out to Fort Rock. i had no idea what the hell Fort Rock was, but i was curious enough to go 12 miles out of my way…

sort of amusingly, this ended up being one of the best stops i made. i climbed over every surface, ridge,  and outcropping. i wandered and poked, took 9 million pictures. was scolded by the ravens when i perched myself too close to their aerie. i contemplated the distance. sat buffeted by the wind. inspected the rocks and the lichen growing upon them.

i enjoyed pretending i was climbing something, even though, really, it was mostly walking with intermittent scrambling. rock climbers are hard core. i am fundamentally not. it was fun to pretend to be hard core for a minute.

i was, by this point, missing the pleasures of plumbing in my life. taking a sink bath at the state park just doesn’t cut it. but on the map… just a few more hours up the road, was the Summer Lake Hot Springs! Hells Yeah.

oh, to shower. oh, to immerse oneself in steaming water up to the chin.  to float around naked while staring out at the deep blue sky through the open rafters. to listen to the amusing banter between the retiree and the burning man attendees in the bath. oh these things, all of them good.

it seemed to me then, that i had not had enough of the company of my fellow man. after 3 days pretty much all on my own, i was feeling suddenly gregarious. coming into Lakeview i had a hankering for pub grub and a conversation. thus: The Eagles Nest.

this place was awesome and terrifying in a special and wonderful way. they didn’t have Heineken. just too upmarket for this place… so i went with the brew from the land of sky blue waters instead. Hamm’s, the beer refreshing. every person in the place seemed to fit some mold; the middle-aged waitress, unfettered breasts swaying when she walked, whistling through the space where her tooth used to be. the large bearded man who said to me “i run a body shop, so i know a body that’s looking like it should” (rim shot). the array of young thick-necked behatted men who all clearly wanted to say something equally provocative and just as charming, but who couldn’t get around Bubba the Body Shop owner to talk to me. they complained about it as i was leaving…

a bit at loose ends now, i had no idea where i’d camp that night. looking at my map (which ended abruptly at the Oregon border) i saw an icon for camping at Goose Lake. seemed promising. kept with my theme of having a water view each night… however, when i investigated, the campground had the ambiance of a parking lot and no water in sight. boo. so, i struck out on the highway again and decided to see what i might stumble across.

after i stumbled across the border i found myself in the Modoc National Forest. and signs tell me that six short miles away i can find the Cave Lake Campground. this, i think, sounds promising. and so Klaus and i once again, venture off road. when i finally made it up to the site, it seemed well worth the long slow crawl up the forest service road. the place was utterly deserted. lovely, down in a small vale surrounded by cliffs and trees. it was time for a campfire.

and how! after all the firewood i packed, and not enough chance to use it, i decided to go all out and have a rager. the flames were higher than my head for a bit. then i decided it was time to ease off and bring it back down to marshmellow roasting size (though i would never actually roast a marshmellow because they are gro-ess) and sit beside it with livingston awhile. as i sat there watching the sun fade and the stars come out i was struck by how lovely it was to be there all by myself, with nothing but my voice for company. and then it occurred to me this was the perfect opportunity to take naked pictures!

so that killed the last of the daylight.

then it was time to turn in. and suddenly i was TOTALLY FUCKING TERRIFIED OF BEING SO FAR OUT IN THE WOODS ALL BY MYSELF. seriously. i gave myself the hoo-doos. hard. here is a sample of my internal dialouge:

i mean i KNOW that i’m six miles from the road and no one knows i’m up here so why would i think someone was up here to bother me but i’m SIX MILES from the road and if someone does decide to attack and/or mutilate me i am SIX MILES from any possible help


unfortunately, logic was not effective in this moment. the primal need to defend myself from the encroaching forest and its possibly imaginary inhabitants was utterly undeniable. playing with my nintendo only managed to distract me for about 45 minutes. frantically, i began casting around mentally for some way to defend myself from the encroaching forest and its possibly imaginary inhabitants. lo! in the console between the seats, the most useful and wonderful item i could ever hope to find in the console between the seats: my Leatherman® multi-plier tool. awwww yeah. mess with me i’ll stab your eye out with my PLIERS!! bitch! and so, clutching my multi-tool in my triumphant fist, i slept.

thus ended the most wonderfullest vacation day i had ever had.

NEXT: The Biggest Little City in the World

ok, well, technically, the fossil beds weren’t a volcano, but merely formed as a result of a volcano’s activity, but for my purposes, it counts.

i made my way from the Sheep Rock installation of the fossil beds over to the Painted Hill portion. i hoped it would live up to its name. it did.

once again we had a low-effort, high scenery payoff scenario. i did the most strenuous hike the park had to offer, and at a WHOPPING 3/4 mile, well… you can imagine my state of exhaustion. actually, after so much time in the car, it was nice to get out and sweat a little, i just wish i’d been able to sweat a little more.

here we also see the first instance of a phenomenon which persisted throughout the trip: i only wanted to steal rocks from places that told me not to take any. why is this? i said before; not really a big fan of rocks. haven’t got much use for em. hodie LOVES rocks, but i had other souveniers in mind for her… i guess there’s nothing so tempting as what you ain’t supposed to have. even when you really don’t want it mostly.

i also tried my hand at some art photography. i have always been fascinated by photos, and really wish i was a better photographer myself, but faced with the efforts of my friend Lyza who’s work pretty much leaves me breathless, i always end up taking crap. i mean, snapshots are one thing, photographs are something else entirely. however, i was actually pretty pleased with this one: so, maybe there’s hope for me yet. though, i do think it’s crooked a bit…

after the fossil beds it was back to Prineville for Arctic Circle. where i was DELIGHTED to discover, they were selling fry sauce in a bottle. this = awesome. fed and equipped with as much fry sauce as i could justifiably purchase* i hit the road again.

now, at this point i was sort of adrift. getting so far ahead of schedule meant the place i had intended to camp the second night was really impractical. i had expected the fossil beds to take all day (nowhere close) and that i’d be ready to camp right after. as it was, i needed a new plan. so. i whipped out my trusty new Benchmark® recreation atlas (as reccommended by the Pencils) and looked over my options. turned out just south of Bend i could see the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. more scenery of volcanic origin! how could i pass that up!?!

i could not.  so i didn’t. here is a photo of the crater, just to prove it.

camping that night was the campy-est camping i did. in the sense that i had a fire (yay) and cooked over it. i made fried potatoes with bacons and onions. which i then proceeded to smother in fry sauce. hells yeah. i also sat by the fire and played the guitar. which made me feel campy too. however i was almost immediately put to silence by the people in the camp a few sites over who were also feeling musical and thus WHIPPED OUT A SET OF BAGPIPES. for reals. it was actually pretty wicked. the sound just echoed off the hillside and resonated off the lake.  then i walked down to the lakeside and watched a pinksky sunset. was very lovely. sleep thereafter.

NEXT: The Best Vacation Day EVER!

*i decided to make this a series on my vacation after i saw the length of the post for just the first day. forgive me, i ramble*

i managed a restless night’s sleep on friday last. i was ready, but trying not to let my anxiety rob me of the pleasure of anticipation… i was moderately successful.

i got to work only to discover we were totally overstaffed and the ladies did not need me there. after all the buildup and going in to work anyway they shooed me out the door with prayers, best wishes, and no small amout of eye rolling. i scuttled out of town gleefully, but with no clear sense of what i was going to do with my extra 3/4 day of freedom…

well. my whole attitude here was “act on a whim” and so that’s pretty much what i did. i had all day to get out to my first destination, which was the Sheep Rock Unit of the John Day Fossil Bed National Monument. originally, when i was planning on leaving after work, i wanted the fastest route to get there, since it is no small distance. as it was, i thought i’d take the scenic route. so, over Mt Hood i went. when i rolled into Madras, i saw the signs pointing out to the Cove Palisades and thought “what the hell, i’ve never been down there…” whim followed.

it was hot, it was really the perfect day for swimming, but though i had a suit, i didn’t have the $5 in cash to pay for the park fee. i also didn’t have patience required to listen to the 8,746 screaming children who were in evidence. so, i got back in my car and rolled out. it did however solve the mystery of just where exactly the hell lake billy chinook actually is.

next bit of excitement occurred as i drove into Prineville. before my entire concept of this little town was: Les Schwab is from there. and sure enough, as i came through the western edge of town i drove past the Les Schwab Retread Center, which, hilariously, was painted neon mint green on the outside. it gave me that same special thrill i always get at “free beef” time.  but this thrill was QUICKLY AND TOTALLY ECLIPSED when i got onto main street and saw: The Arctic Circle.

apparently, they do still exist. they have not gone the way of the dinosaur just yet. i wasn’t hungry, and couldn’t justify eating there for no reason, but i knew i’d be back through the next day and filed this information gleefully away under “opportunities for fry sauce.”

i drove east for a good while longer and noticed a high concentration of large animal roadkill. all told on this entire trip i saw: 2 deer, 1 antelope, 1 raccoon, 2 coyotes, and countless possum, squirrels, chipmunks, and unidentifiable smears in the road.  both deer and the antelope were on this one stretch between Prineville and Dayville. it’s a dangerous place to be a critter.

when i finally got to the Sheep Rock Unit i’d been in the car for about 5 hours and really needed to not be in the car for a while. i spied a little shoulder spot which looked to have creek access. i picked my way down to the water and had a little sit down. i have literally never put my feet in water that was a more perfect temperature for foot putting. i was quite pleased. slipping back into my leather flipflops and trying to climb out of the creek bed with wet feet too slippery to gain proper purchase in my shoes was a slightly frustrating if ultimately amusing experience.

i got out to the main interprative center area and looked over the museum artifacts and various fossil-related propaganda only to realize: i think geology is boring. i mean, i like looking at rocks, under the proper circumstances, but the whole “this is the product of MILLIONS OF YEARS OF VOLCANIC ACTIVITY AND SEDIMENTARY BUILDUP AND UNIMAGINABLE PRESSURE EXER- blah blah blah. i realize, this makes me a terrible person, and many of my friends who are much smarter and sciencey than me will learn of this and feel nothing but scorn, but its pretty much totally true. one thing i will say about my fossil beds experience; it is minimum effort required for fairly gratifying payoff. most of the best stuff can be seen from your car or a walk requiring less strain than carrying in the groceries. this lovely shot was taken from a parking lot across the street.

the drawback here, was that i had pretty much planned to spend an entire day poking around the monument and since i discovered that: a) i find rocks boring, and b) nothing here required much time or effort to enjoy, i realized i was about a day ahead of schedule and had no idea what to do about it. it was clearly time to smoke a cigarette.

i went out on thursday and GLEEFULLY purchased a pack of the smokes i used to like to smoke back when i periodically smoked. which was about 4 years ago. it is not as much fun as i remember. first i couldn’t get the damn thing lit until i got out of the wind. the only place i could find to get out of the wind was an outhouse. nothing quite like taking a deep breath and getting a lungful of smoke and potty-roma. eww. then i was going to finish the cigarette while driving. it’d be FUN! but instead i IMMEDIATELY burned klaus’ upholstery by carelessly leaning too far to the left with a burning tip. then i managed to ash on the inside of my car when i was trying to make it out the window and then i dropped tobacco all over the floor when i was trying to put it out inside the car without losing any burning cinders out the window into the extremely fire-prone desert. it was a serious cigarette FAIL. i didn’t even try to smoke another one. and now i have 19/20ths of a really fancy pack of smokes and no desire to smoke them. sweet. with that distractionary tactic out the window (or rather, not) i realized i had to revert to a more typical means of wasting time: it was clearly time to drink.

in order to do this, i needed to get to camp. had a few places picked out as possible campsites. i only had a vague idea of where they’d be or what the facilities would look like. when i arrived, there was smiling. i could see the John Day river from where i parked my car to sleep. i had a nice big tree to give me shade and scenery. a picnic table and fire pit rounded out the spot. $5 for a BLM site, so the price could not be beat. no running water, but i hadn’t been on the road long enough to lament that yet. what i DID lament was the realization that conditions were such as to prohibit fires. which, reeeeeeeeaally sucked. for, how was i to cook my din-din? and how was i to begin to use the 7.6 million tons of firewood i had crammed into every available space in my car?? i used the ENTIRE SPACE inside the cargo box my friend David lent me, and STILL brought more wood. i mean, i always overpack, but in this case it was harming my mpg for chrissakes. though, i will admit i like how the box makes me look EXTRA tough and outdoorsy.

there were a few families with kids, but for the most part they kept their screaming to a low roar. thanks to the tutelage of my friend Emma, i now know enough to always bring an eyemask and earplugs whenever i’m camping so i was content to ignore the din from the camp next door.

bummed out there would be no fire, i pulled out livingston and sang to myself for a while. this was apparently a signal to the attack chiuhauhas from the neighboring camp to come over and alert me of their fierce protective stance. they hopped and barked in outrage at my presumption until i told them solemnly what scary dogs they were and how i was deterred from taking any aggressive action against their families. they seemed contented with this and wandered away. i returned to my strumming and i plucked out the chords to two songs i really like and wanted to figure out how to play, and discovered a chord which led me to the first verse of a new song. it’s not a happy one, so i had to stop writing it when i started dripping tears into the soundhole. played with my nintendo for a while and fell asleep before the sun was even totally down.

NEXT: The Most Volcano Intensive Day of My Life Thusfar