For his birthday, my (now 7 year-old) son wanted to go camping. As he spent his birthday weekend with his mom and family, we designated this as his “re-birthday” weekend, and set off for a grand adventure….
As it is not quite June yet, many of my favorite campgrounds are out of reach due to snow on the preferred route. Seizing the opportunity, I decided to explore the northern campgrounds in Wallowa County which I had yet to visit. These had been an unacceptable option in the past, as they have no water onsite. With my camper on board, that was no longer an issue. It was a good 1.5 hour drive, so my son happened to fall asleep about half-way there.
We stopped off at the Red Hill Lookout tower because we needed a stretch, and “Cuz it’s just so cool!”
Anyway, the first destination on the list was Coyote Campground. It’s popular amongst hunters and had three pit-styled toilets. I thought it humorous that they labeled two of them “men” and “women” as they only have 1 hole anyway. It was still early in the afternoon, so we explored for a pond I had found on Google Earth (which we found, squatters included) and a geocache which eluded us. At a smaller pond, I gave the “gun safety” talk and we broke out the BB gun for the first time. Dinner was a quick combination of fire-roasted hotdogs, & chips followed by smores later. The only drawback was going to sleep to the sound of a neighboring generator, which kicked on at 9:30pm >:-P
The evening was brisk, but now that I had fashioned a new knob for my catalytic heater, I was able to keep from roasting us overnight. Morning brought that dust-caked forest smell I love so much and a perfect 60-something degree camper. I had prepared a scramble ahead of time in a zip-lock bag. An upended bag produced scrambled eggs complete with sausage, green onions, red peppers, & mushrooms. All I did was cook, top with cheese, and serve. (One of my better ideas.) A single kettle of hot water produced hot chocolate for my boy, and instant coffee for me.
We headed out in search of a good shooting spot, while on our way to see the other sights, next of which was Dougherty Campground. It was vacant, with a single stall available, and also without water. We agreed that this was very nice, and thought we might return to spend the night here. Of course nearby was another interpretive sign/photo-op that couldn’t be resisted.
Having done some research, there was a nearby pond I wanted to check out. TeePee pond isn’t really on the map, but ODFW is scheduled to put 500 trout in it the day after we get back, so I figured it warranted seeking out. I was right, this is a gorgeous little pond, and already had two parties camped out nearby, with 3 or more impromptu sites vacant. The only fish here were dead, but we got our lines wet just for the fun and practice of it.
Next, I found some barely-labeled, off-shoot spur road to shoot at. This was much more difficult than it sounds. Apparently, by now every decent location seems to be staked out by wall-tents making bases for large groups. We put lots of holes in cans, trees, stumps, & a plate, gathered up the brass, and moved on to our next pit-stop, Buckhorn Campground. As I write this, I realize I have a lot more to say about these locations, so I’ll make another post to properly review these campgrounds, pics and all.
As the name implies, the last campground was near our luncheon picnic extravaganza: Buckhorn Lookout. This “overlook” is the finest I have ever seen. I’ve been to the “Hell’s Canyon” and “Joseph Canyon” overlooks, and this takes the cake. Our view of Hell’s Canyon was spectacular. While the pictures do not do it justice, I’ve got a few good ones for those who can’t drive to the middle of nowhere. I must say the geocache was also impressive, with a good selection of swag for the trading.
After our lunch of ham & cheese cracker sandwiches, we ventured back to the Dougherty Campground to setup for the night. We opened the birthday presents and spent the afternoon playing with walkie-talkies, parachute men, mini R/C cars, and the slingshot. We also did a low-tech version of Angry Birds, much to the dismay of the paper plate pig. Cheeseburgers were roasted over the fire with peach cobbler making a stand-in for birthday cake.
As the sun was going down, so too was my rear passenger-side tire. Apparently, like my energy level, it was drained. I decided to stabilize for the night with the jacks, and leave the repair for the morning. A flat tire didn’t really bother or surprise me. The thought of trying to change it with a camper loaded was a slight concern, though. After a breakfast of blueberry pancakes and sausage, I loaded up and decided to see if a can of tire-sealant might do the trick. While it didn’t have the propellant required to fully inflate my tire, it did do the trick in holding air the remainder of the day, as I checked it at least 4 times on the way home.
We broke up the return trip with some more shooting. My son seemed more concerned with picking up and collecting the brass from my .22 than shooting his BB gun. I let him squeeze off a few rounds as well, much to his delight.
We returned home early afternoon and gave the camper a quick rinse to dispose of it’s new coat of dust before unloading it. After bathing ourselves, and throwing the laundry in, we were content with dinner and a movie to rest ourselves for the upcoming weekly routine. Enjoy the rest of the photos!