I could begin my post by continuing the outdoor-toilet-substitute-exploits theme begun last time, but I'm afraid that story may lead to my son finding it necessary to dig the visualization lobe out of his brain with a spare bicycle spoke, so I will just report here that there are very few outhouses in the Steen Mountains.
(Aah, crap - interception. This game is not going as planned.)
The Steens Mountains wilderness area has two official
(Fumble on the kick! Purdue's ball again! Aaah!)
The Steens Mountains wilderness area has two official
(A Purdue run to the two yard line!)
The Steens Mountains wilderness area has two official campgrounds up on top: one with maybe a dozen spaces around a tiny lake, and one with just four spaces around a dry wash.
We chose the latter on account
(now 20 to 3! What the hell!)
We chose the latter on account of the camo-clad bowhunters at the lake campground, who, instead of bowhunting, seemed to be content to use random campground items for beer-fueled target practice.
The Steens is dry and high, with several glacier-scooped gorges, juniper, sage, and aspen just turning yellow now.
I think this is the one that is not the Little Blitzen River Gorge (the one we hiked along), but the other one.
It's high and thus cold at night, which makes a good sleeping bag a must, and some quick-on sweats a must for those late-night outhouse trips.
(Argh! Missed pass! Yipes! Bad snap! This game is a nightmare.)
We heard something prowling around our campground the first night, but Drew had his big old camping knife with him, so even though I kept thinking about Brick Tamblin's concern about women and bears,
(What! That was an incomplete pass, not a fumble!)
I wasn't worried. In the morning, Drew says he saw some tracks that may have belonged to a bobcat. Bobcats aren't scary - they're cute with their fluffy ears.
(This game sucks.)
Monday night, all four spaces were full in our little campground, with more hopeful campers continuing to drive through, scanning for spaces late into the evening.
Tuesday night, inexplicably, we had the whole place to ourselves. We scoured the other three camp spaces for firewood (feeling a little like survivors from Cormac McCarthy's The Road),
(Aargh! Another interception!)
We started a fire, hooked the Ipod up to the truck and listened to a Tim Dorsey book (Serge Storms: my favorite serial murderer with a photographic memory for Florida history and a certain code of gentlemanly behavior, however twisted).
Wednesday morning there was frost on the tent, and the coffee water took such a long time to boil.
(Dropped ball! Dropped ball! Dropped ball!)
After three days and two nights of dry and dusty camping, we were ready for some hot water and a milkshake, so we packed up the camp and headed east.
(Finally! A Duck interception! With 39 seconds left in the half.)
East? Yes, east - first to a natural hot springs spot on the edge of the Alvord Desert (sort-of lovingly sort-of kept up by loyal users), where we lolled in a wind-screened pool of slightly slimy, sulfury and minerally spa-hot water in the middle of nowhere on the edge of an ancient dry lake bed with no one in sight. Brilliant and absurd.
(20 - 6 Purdue at half time. Ugh.)
Once the hot water had turned my face a satisfying shade of fuchsia, it was time to move on to Fields, the teeny-tiny town that is home to the legendary Fields General Store.
The Fields General Store's claim to fame seems to be burgers and shakes. And the kind of quirky homeliness found only in American deserts.
If you eat at Fields, I suggest that you take a seat away from the grill, as it is best not to watch this process too closely. It would also be best to be one of those desert individualists who don't have much use for either aesthetics or hygiene. Or those food safety "theories."
(An Oregon pick! I hope the offense takes advantage this time! Nope. Fumble.)
We ended the day with hot showers in a Bend motel up on Century Drive.
Thursday was our ann
(Duck special teams touchdown! Purdue is now only up by 7. But where's the offense?)
Thursday was our anniversary and Drew wanted to do something nice for me, so we had a milli-calorie breakfast at the Westside, and headed up past Todd Lake to one of the Broken Top trail heads. Drew's aim was to hike over to the Green Lakes, which lay between Broken Top and the South Sister.
Drew is not a natural hiker. The hiking he does, he does either for me or for meat. (You know, for hunting.)
It didn't look that far on the map, but it ended up being a 6 to 7 -mile hike one way to the lakes, which are actually nestled at the base of the South Sister. Drew and his flat feet and sore shins, still smarting from Steens hiking the day before, were tired and achy when we got to the lakes, and although the scenery was unmatchable, with very few other humans within whistling distance, he rested in the shade while knowing he had to do it all over again to get back to the truck.
Green Lakes. Just at the timber line. Inaccessible for nine-ten months out of the year, they are so high up in the Cascades.
(Duck touchdown! The score is tied! Tied! Quack, dammit, effing quack!)
On our way up, Drew marveled at trail maintenance crews, who must pack chain saws up here to clear the trails of downed trees. I could easily imagine doing that, but can't imagine doing 100-mile bicycle rides just for a workout like Drew-type people do.
Although the hike up to the lakes had been quiet as we were busy admiring the scenery, I thought Drew could use some
(Fumble! Oregon's got it!)
I thought Drew could use some distraction on the way down, so I kept him talking. I rewound our last 26 years, and stopped it every five years to see what we could remember.
(Another fumble back to Purdue. Crap.)
From 1982, we stopped at 1987 (at Travis AFB with a show-stopping-cute two-year-old), 1992 (living in Bend before the BFD experience goes sour, Dean learning how to ignore his teachers), 1997 (post BFD "divorce" and past a quick spacer job at the PDX FD and new at the VFD job, living in Tualatin close to my Hollywood Video legal dept job), 2002 (deep into Hollywood Video supervisory headaches and starting to learn what it means to have a kid who is good at an expensive and unpopular sport), and finally 2007, our 25th anniversary, which we celebrated by gaining a daughter-in-law in August.
(Purdue is on the 15 and threatening. Here comes the field goal guy...yep. Purdue up by 3.)
That and a few other random topics kept us talking all the way back to the truck. It was touch and go at times when Drew stopped to rest his aching back - I wasn't sure whether he was going to straighten back up again, but he powered through it like a soldier.
Some happy-anniversary dinner at the Pine Tavern and a soaking in the Turkish bath at McMenamins, and Drew's back on top.
(Aach! Another missed catch in the end zone! Oh well, we got a field goal out of it. Back to a tie at 23.)
I wouldn't kick him in the shins today if I were you. Well, any time, really. But those shins are more than a little sore today.
(28 seconds left. Purdue has the ball. Down to a 44 yard field goal. Its wide! Its going to overtime!)
(Crap. QB Roper's down with a knee injury. Field goal for 3. Purdue's turn.)
(Thurmond gets a pass interference. Purdue gets close. Closer. Another field goal. To OT#2.)
(Purdue goes backward in their possession, and can't hit the field goal.)
(Freshman Duck QB Harper gets sacked as well. Johnson gets some yards back and Ducks get a 1st down. Blount in the end zone! TD and its over!)
(Holy crap. I've got to go lie down.)
Camping is made better by the shower afterward. Hiking is made better by the payoff at the end of the trail. If you get a chance to hike to Green Lakes (it turns out there is a shorter trail - check your favorite Central Oregon hiking guidebook), I would definitely do it.