First, I’ll “set the stage.” You see, I had ordered a custom made ring back in November, and had been sitting on it all winter. In my imagination, I’d setup a lit gazebo on a snowy night, or rent a cabin by Wallowa Lake. Unfortunately, it never panned out, and circumstances caused us to have no kid-free evenings with more than 24 hours notice.
Fast forward to spring, and I’m getting rather impatient with myself. We both enjoy the outdoors, camping, & hiking, so I figured on seizing some random moment, but how would I capture it? Then it dawned on me that a friend will be at the rendezvous that does photography, so I started planning!
I went down the weekend prior, to help the club setup. Birdy was a bit concerned, not wanting me to get over committed on my latest hobby. (She didn’t know I was scouting locations for our wedding proposal.) I brought our old folding canopy to setup somewhere. It has a bum leg, so I’d need at least one tree for support.
I spent the morning helping repair targets at the site near the community of Troy, OR, running up and down the hill side. At lunch, I meandered around camp, and found a spot down by the Wenaha River that doesn’t get much use.
That afternoon, I was tasked with joining the young helpers with repairing the high-up, cliff-side targets. We were dropped off at the top of Eden Bench, and worked our way down the cliff. (The big horn sheep say, “hello.”) Anyway, it was treacherous & exhausting, but very rewarding too. Afterwards, I helped setup & stabilize the wood rounds that would receive tomahawk & knife throws all weekend.
I mentioned the idea to “Double-cut” to see if his wife would be interested. As the afternoon was getting on, I was going to head home for dinner, but prime rib steaks were on the barbeque, so they convinced me to hang around.
I went down and setup the canopy, in hopes to reserve my spot for a riverside proposal. I zip-tied the bum leg to a tree, and positioned several others to support the “twinkle lights” I hadn’t yet purchased. This was the moment I decided to actually try making it happen. I plopped down and shared a steak potluck with friends after a hard days’ work. Filled with satisfaction, I drove home that night, glimpsing some Elk on the way.
I had less than a week to finalize things. First, I went online to order ‘twinkle lights’ and settled on some LED outdoor patio lights from Walmart. They had them in stock, and would save them until Thursday when I could pick them up.
Second, I had to power them. I had all the stuff for my mobile battery pack, so I built that first (another blog post to come). Doing some math, it wouldn’t sustain the lights, inverter, and remote for as long as I needed, so I switched to a deep cycle in a rubbermaid tote. This could sustain the inverter for over 138 hours (less when lights are on) without harming the battery.
Lastly, I printed off little circles to make ‘memory bubbles’ to hang on strings under the canopy, and wrote a poem. The poem had to be witty, rhyme, and quick. (So I wouldn’t choke up and cry before it’s over.) Unfortunately, the little memories got forgotten.
Thursday night I got off work a little early, and ran to pickup TBear, groceries, and my new lights. I filled him in on my “little plan” and enlisted him to help pacify kids if the need arose. We got home, and finished packing for the big weekend.
Many had setup their camp during the week, and were already shooting on Friday morning. We ate a quick breakfast before hooking up and hitting the road by 9. Unfortunately, locating a functional ATM or open bank lobby delayed us another 30 minutes. We rolled into camp around 11, allowing us to setup camp and have lunch.
TBear and I walked up to the main tent to register, paying a nominal $25 for the whole family’s entry fee. TBear was in the age group where he could still do the ‘little kid peewee’ events, but also the ‘little trapper’ shooting sports too. To do both would be a scheduling challenge, so we signed up to shoot silhouettes that very afternoon, and the ‘rifle trail’ first thing in the morning.
I think you can (to some degree) determine the quality of a hobby, by the people who have done it a long time. In some hobbies, people mentor, offer help, loan equipment, teach, etc. We had some kind people loan or give me items of period clothing to wear, for the few points it offers. Another loaned TBear a rifle for the whole weekend!
I changed into my new ‘get-up’ and we headed for the silhouettes. I went against my better nature and wagered with my son. The best shooter would get $10 or an hour of labor. There were 3 stations of animals (beavers, bears, & turkeys) to knock over. Of 15 total, TBear got 5, I only managed 3. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling very competent.
We came back to camp, cleaned our guns, and enjoyed burgers for dinner. I needed to cut a couple sticks to roast scones on, so I took that opportunity to walk the rubbermaid down to the canopy & setup the lights. (The battery was heavier, and distance to camp was longer than I imagined.) I turned on the inverter and tested my remote control before retrieving a couple sticks.
I passed my remote to our friend, so she could go down and test it out and try her camera settings ahead of time. She turned off the inverter before returning to camp. We stayed up late around the campfire, roasting scones, singing “Ghost Chickens in the Sky,” and talking.
Saturday would be a big day (but you’ll have to stay tuned for part 2 for those juicy details) thanks for reading!