Posts Tagged ‘camping’
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?
From the moment I was informed by the nice gas station character that filled the trailer tires that 38 tornadoes just had their way with my eastern destination states, the hostile spring weather has tried to run me off the road: torrential rain in Washington; fat wet snow flurries in Oregon (is the west not aware that it’s nearly Memorial Day?); fierce winds in Idaho that actually BLEW A PART off the Airstream (hopefully they’ll reattach it at The Mothership); and fog so dense in Wyoming that semi drivers on the I-80 formed a 30mph protective convoy, hazards flashing.
I didn’t see another Airstream on the road until two days into the journey—they waved to me from the other side of the freeway where I was shipwrecked with a blowout.
Laura and Kevin, the Oregon couple I interviewed for Airstream Life (“The Technomads”, Winter, 2010), own a stomp-gorgeous 2010 27′ International. I dropped by to spend a splendid morning where they were glamped at Champoeg State Park only thirty miles from Portland, where the couple enjoys taking their writing work while they take in the view. (Sometimes they tow over to the coast, for a different scene from their picture window.)
Both hightech creatives, they’ve upgunned their rig with sleek silver and chocolate upholstery, and the tastiest of household conveniences (down to the ingenious key holder by the door, magnetic spice jars, and wine rack under the bed).
Why we waited to replace a four year old battery until the day it died—the morning of a road trip—is indicative of how we roll. Ralph, not what anyone would describe as a grease monkey, struggled with the issues surrounding its replacement and we were off like a herd of turtles to The Dalles only three hours past ETD.
The Dalles, Oregon: the town that sounds awkward in any sentence.
It doesn’t fold but for Christmas I received the MyPressi TWIST Easy Elegant espresso maker, which claimed to change how and where I will enjoy my delicious espresso and espresso-based beverages, as it is “perfect for home and office”. Somehow they overlooked its most obvious application: for use in the Airstream.
Producing “perfect crema every time”—I suspect that’s the beige foam at the top of the coffee—the unit uses pressurized cartridges (the ones that make carbonated water from a seltzer bottle) in lieu of external power, and dispenses single or double shot extractions. A separate “frother” turns hot milk into a fake-steamed latte lather.
It was 21 degrees when we left Portland on New Year’s Eve day and it wasn’t much warmer at Cape Lookout State Park on the Oregon Coast, but the sky was a promising blue.
We unhitched the Airstream and drove to nearby Netarts to celebrate over steak and cocktails at the fanciest lounge we could find. “A lot of people here, are, uh…missing teeth,” Ralph observed. Somehow the evening cartwheeled into a fireball and we returned to the trailer after a wicked argument and fell asleep—back to back—by 9pm.
New Year’s day dawned clear and cold, offering a fresh start.
Later: “Donner, party of 84…” (And so on. Ha! I never tire of this joke, once told by restaurant lounge cover bands who used to call names when tables were ready.)
Returning from Bend during a holiday snowstorm on the Santiam Pass (my knuckles are still white), the subject of the ill-fated Donner party arose. What would that trip have been like without a heated, 4WD, 8 cylinder SUV with traction tires?
Well, it was unpleasant.
I fully expected the WBCCI Oregon Unit members to know how to have a good time when I met their club president at the International. Expectations fulfilled: The HiWay Haven rally in Sutherlin OR—a nonstop block party with Airstreams and the people who love them—pegged the fun meter.
A little Airstream history was thrown in between the eating and drinking; the weekend commemorated the 50th anniversary of the famous Cape Town to Cairo caravan with a special lecture and a screening of two films about Wally Byam and his followers to Africa and Mexico. Other movies on the old drive in screen included the unwatchable RV and The Long, Long Trailer, unwatchable for other reasons.
“Profond, froid et magnifique” (that’s on a plaque), Lake Louise in Banff National Park is thrilling and unspoiled. Tourist guides claim that as a protected World Heritage Site, the vistas that greet visitors today are virtually the same as those that Swiss explorers experienced more than a century ago, and I believe it. The present day village mini-mall with its high end grocery, sports shop and artsy fartsy gift store now only adds to the ambiance.
After driving through the monotonous prairie to the south, the abrupt appearance of the colossal Canadian Rockies can take your breath away.