I accompanied BFF Patty on the shakedown cruise of her cuddly new T@B trailer at Paulina Lake, an easy 35-mile drive from our homes in SE Bend.
Not quite an Airstream (but not a white box nor hillbilly tent trailer either), the new T@Bs look to me like a next-best alternative for those, like Patty, with a Subaru Outback and a spouse on a budget who’s suspicious of used Type B motorhome engines. (If pressed, Patty will tell you that if she won the lottery, her preference would be to forego towing forever and purchase the Interstate.)
In the meantime, the T@B is an enormous step up from sleeping in a tent.
Early this spring I reached out to 1859 (the magazine named for the year Oregon became a state) and pitched the WBCCI Oregon Unit as the subject for an article.
“In an intelligent and beautiful format, 1859 explores the landscapes, the personalities, the movers and shakers, the history and the architecture that is the jewel of the Pacific Northwest,” states their website. We were thrilled (I think, mostly) to learn that the Oregon Wally Club would be featured in the July/August 2013 issue.
A real live professional photographer was assigned to attend our rally…
Every site was spoken for on the sweltering weekend we overnighted at Battle Ground Lake State Park; advance reservations were required to secure one of the cheek-to-jowl spaces.
The grounds are shady in July, but many cons outweigh this pro: the cool canopy of towering trees also blocks X-M Radio reception and prevents solar panels from charging. One dirty, coin-operated shower stall serves forty sweaty campers.
Ahhh. An unplugged weekend in the Washington drizzle. An itty bitty town. A laid-back, rural campground deep in huckleberry country. Uncoiling with friendly Airstream folk and some fine musicians.
On the first day, the clouds parted to reveal a gobsmacking, up close & personal view of Mt. Adams.
After five years of ‘streaming with the DWR we traveled again to Timberlake Campground (aka “Leroy’s Place”) in the green Gorge. The reason: party with the local Wally Club at the first rally of the Oregon Airstream season.
It was dark, dank, and bitter cold. Driving up to I-84 from Bend we could see the spring cloud pattern laid out before us like a weatherman’s graphic: blue on the right, socked in on the left.
How do you tell the quality of a diner? By its chicken fried steak, of course.
Maybe it was just the mid 80’s, when everything was better, but the finest I ever tasted was at Boz Scaggs’ Blue Light Cafe on Union Street in San Francisco. I’ve been chasing that high for three decades. (The Blue Light today, minimized and lost to new management, serves greasy, monotonous bar food paired with Jello shots.)
The award for Second Best Chicken Fried Steak went to a diner outside Grand Coulee Dam. Actual steak, with a bone, real and delicious. The coating, crispycrunchy. The gravy, oh god, the gravy: not too salty, and lumpy with pork sausage.
The fine folks of George Sutton RV towed three spanking new Airstream trailers to a recent WBCCI rally for us to paw over.
When we bought our little DWR lo these many years ago, the sales process was a simple matter: we pointed to its photo on the cover of the Design Within Reach catalog and exclaimed “we’ll take it!” I wasn’t aware of the usual drill when purchasing a new Airstream: options abound, Chinese menu style, and many features are customizable.
I was also unaware how intimately involved local dealerships are with Airstream production and innovation.
For five years I’ve been towing alone, passing myself off as some kind of RV studette. Repeatedly on the road I hear, “oh my, a woman all alone with your Airstream, crossing the country, how do you do it?” “Nothing to it,” I brag, with a smug wave of my hand.
I’m a fraud.
I’ve been cheating. For five years I’ve been using the trailer as a glorified tent, essentially car camping. I’ve never showered in it, washed dishes in the sink, or used the commode for its intended purpose. I’ve never replaced the propane tanks myself, put up the awning, or, god forbid, visited a dump station. (Sexist alert: I have my man for that.)
It was chilly and rainy at the final Oregon WBCCI Airstream rally of the season at Champoeg State Park (shocking), but the hosts made it warm and fall-tastic in the clubhouse, and during the Saturday tasting excursion the hilltop views from the vineyards in Dayton and Dundee were lit by advantageously-timed sunbreaks. (“Sunbreak”. That’s a west-of the-Cascades weather word you don’t hear growing up in California.)
At the “epicenter of Oregon Pinot Noir” thirty miles southwest of Portland, foodies can spend a delightful afternoon (or week) sampling wine, cheese, olive oil and filberts at the dozens of wineries and other manufacturers of artisanal treats.
Ralliers at wonderful, warm, windy Ana Reservoir RV Park enjoyed what the Oregon Outback had to offer: a tour of the state wildlife refuge, wildflower viewing at Fremont Park, the Paisley Mosquito Festival, splashing in the lake, collecting cattails, and evening kite flying followed by a knock-your-socks-off sunset reflected in aluminum.
An expedition to the Cowboy Dinner Tree in Silver Lake was organized, and mass quantities of meat were consumed—obscene portions served family style with sides.