The iBall Hitch Cam went directly onto my Christmas wish list after Teresa Taylor’s sister demonstrated its virtues at the Pendleton Round Up rally.
It requires a 9V battery, not included, nor is a manual—everything you need to know about its operation is described by a three-step diagram on the packaging card. (By the way, will someone please invent a device to pop open the industrial strength plastic casing that’s fused around everything these days. You need the jaws of life just to open the iBall package.)
“This is a lot different from our Airstream trips last year, on the west side,” said Ralph. He’s right: gone is the pouring rain, incessant windshield wiper noise, smell of soggy dog. Welcome to late winter camping in Central Oregon: 64 degrees, blue sky, the night sparkling with stars. (Before I sound too giddy, it was a mild winter across the state; even wet, miserable Portland got a break.)
Our destination: the town of Summer Lake, only 100 miles from our snow-covered driveway in Bend.
To rectify a massive oversight and kill time until we get back on the road, I asked Ralph, co-pilot of our DWR, to finally guest post on ‘Streaming. Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time ever, put your hands together for “The Master of History”:
Hello! I’m the other half (or quarter, if you count Ripley and Raven) of the quartet that’s featured here. I’m the one that’s the product of that celebrity math equation on the “Who is ‘Streaming?” page, and the one with the foldable fetish.
I was outside at a Utah Starbucks when a man arrived with his two chocolate labs. He left them unleashed near a table, and without a word, went inside to fetch his latte. The dogs watched him disappear, then sat politely to wait for his return. “That,” I said to my friend, “is the difference between a lab and a dachshund.” Ralston would lie down to wait. Ripley and Raven would cry, “Yay, she’s gone! Let’s play in traffic!” and I’d never see them again.
Thus the need for Invisible Fence at home and a new camping must-have: “The Rock” portable electronic fence system. It works like a charm and the concept is fiendishly simple.
What happened to Frenchglen? I recall passing through fifteen years ago to find an oasis in the desert: enchantingly upscale accommodations; a country store tastefully merchandised with fine handmade gifts and locally grown produce and cheeses; espresso. Now, the Mercantile, once beamed directly from Marin County, squats forlornly behind the Iron Curtain with its half-empty shelves of dirty gourds and stale-looking cracker boxes. And the hotel? No longer on my short list of places to honeymoon.
What goggles did I have on?
My friend Karla—a spectacular cook—sells high-end kitchen tools as a Demarle At Home instructor and host. Recently she suggested the obvious that I’d overlooked: wouldn’t Flexipans be perfect for your Airstream?
Of course! Yes! If the DWR had an oven.
I made Halloween brownie bites in a mini muffin tray at home (using a low cal version of a box mix, with applesauce instead of oil), but YOUR trailer or RV certainly has an oven and you’ll want this rubbery cookware for your galley.
The first day of fall in Bend. Ahh. Most of the tourist trade has vanished (I’m told), and the hipsters have slunk back to Portland and their PBRs. Locals are relaxing, the sky is blue, and the craft beer is flowing.
When I moved to Portland twenty years ago I had not yet heard of hefeweizen and immediately contracted OBD (Oregon Butt Disease), which manifests as fifteen sudden pounds in the posterior caused by too many 200-calorie pints. I’ve since switched to red wine and martinis but now that I’m #inbend, I’m rediscovering beer.
First stop: Oktoberfest, downtown.
I towed into Pendleton, Oregon minutes before the Westward Ho! parade and faced nowhere to park; every empty slot and lot teemed with RVs and horse trailers and teepees. Somehow I squeezed into a miracle spot in the WalMart parking lot, stuffed to the curbs with motorhomes, tents, and rednecks camped in the beds of their pickups…like spring break for hillbillies. I followed the crowd and piles of manure on Court Street to the all non-motorized parade which showcased wild west wagons and buggies, all manner of cowboy, Indians, Mexicans, sheriffs, preachers, outlaws, firemen, Oregon Trail pioneers, weird timber equipment, every rodeo princess in the Northwest, longhorns, mules, donkeys, horses, miniature ponies, and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler.
The state fair may be legend, but Minnesota’s podunk summer festivals—Detroit Lakes’ Water Carnival, the Audubon Pet Parade (which took ten minutes, beginning to end), and “Looney Daze” (sic) in Vergas—deliver superior fun with easier parking.
Lakeside communities in northwestern Minnesota—frozen into a block of ice for seven-plus months—have to cram their pent up energy into the short tourist months of summer. In Vergas, where the loon is revered as a deity, you’ll find loon ball, the worlds largest loon, and, in August, Looney Daze. (Actual slogan: “WhAt HaPpEnS In VeRgAs!…StAyS In VeRgAs!”)
Ralston’s passing, as any pet owner can attest, was difficult and bittersweet. He will never be replaced, and I miss him every day. His demise was no reason to delay restoring the Four Rs to pack capacity, however. Ripley needed a companion—preferably a non-human that could understand the byzantine games he likes to play.
When people asked if I was ready for another dog so soon, I replied, “I may never be ready for another dog. But I’m ready for a miniature dachshund!”
Down, small dog lovers; just kidding.