Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Hiking, Camping and the Usual Disasters

I know some of you probably wonder about some of my misadventures. “He’s probably making these up!” But most assuredly I am not. Take my weekend camping trip for example. What were the odds that of all the summer weekends I take off into the woods that this was going to happen:

For most of the world, about 5%; for me about 80% likelihood of something like this! I get used it. Take the hike I went on a week ago. Other than my lack of up-front knowledge that the circular route I had picked was actually an 8,000 foot elevation gain and loss for the day (that’s like walking up and down the stairway in the Empire State Building seven times), a large part of it was practically straight up and down.

But the clincher was that I got stung by a wasp on the back of my calf and we weren’t even halfway done. Not a little wasp either; some mega-steroid, weight-pumping, WWF wrestling wasp apparently. The wifey-poo pulled out a quarter inch stinger oozing with venom from my leg. Wonderful! Fortunately I have a high pain threshold…

So then this weekend comes along and its two and half days car camping just two hours from Portland during the summer. How bad can it be? Apparently bad; first of all, the valley we descended from was 106 when we drove through it. That’s not exactly optimum temperatures for a camp that has no water nearby to cool down in. Not to worry though, it was up high in the woods; the temperature would surely drop there. It did: About 10 degrees; leaving us wallowing around in the heat not wanting to do much of anything because it was “too hot.”

Having been stung the week before, I was none too happy to discover that we’d gone a little bit late in the season for this place in that the yellow jackets were out. Most of July this place is a relatively bug free zone but once August rolls around the yellow jackets seem to come out and the longer the summer goes, the crazier they get. It was common to have a dozen of them swarming around the camp table where the camp stove was. Then add to that flies and some other non-aggressive but still irritating bugs and that pretty much ruined sitting-around-the-camp-eating-crap-and-reading-time too.

I did manage to find this sign:

WTF? Do they really think people are out here running a giant pinecone cartel?

But Saturday night pretty much capped off the fun. An intense lightening storm came over about 10:30pm and lasted for over an hour. That’s a lot of lightening to go with nothing but a tent. The wind picked up from nothing and we thought for sure it might rain. With stuffy temperatures; nobody wanted to put the rainfly on the tents so instead we just sat there and waited. Fortunately, everyone fell asleep and it didn’t rain after all.

But about 2:00am we awoke to clattering and stomping. I’d taken our hamburger grease laden frying pan and moved it out from camp to the edge of the dirt road because of the swarming bees. It kept a lot of them out of camp in doing so. I’d intended to clean it well once we had morning daylight. But that seemed to attract every creature in the woods that night. I was worried perhaps a bear was out there too but in reality; I had no idea, other than a bunch of deer, what was out there.

The deer were ridiculously noisy. “Crunch,” “Crunch” they stomped for over an hour right around our camp. It was about as relaxing as having a hoard of angry zombies slowly circling and walking toward your camp. I thought the deer might as well have plopped down in our camp chairs and grabbed a soda from the cooler and had a little social party or something. You know; some antler jousting or something. I didn’t actually fall asleep until 3:30am and woke around 7:30am to a too hot tent and the wife-poo warning about an increasing amount of bees.

Needless to say; we got the heck out of there and were home by noon on Sunday. I immediately did my best Dorothy impersonation, “there’s no place like home.”

Oh, but not before we got to follow whatever-in-the-hell-this-was for about 20 miles of downhill…


52 comments:

Nessa said...

Oh, my goodness, I am first. Now everyone can follow me down hill. I look just as odd.

* * *
Please visit me at The Chrysalis Stage and Esoteric Uncovered.

Follow me on twitter and facebook

Mrsupole said...

Take that first again. Nananan

Mrsupole said...

Okay second Nessa beat me by seconds or could we say that we tied cause we have the exact same posting time. But she is in the first spot so I will seceed to her.

Yea, Nessa, but am I now third.

Mrsupole said...

And maybe I should read it before I post fourth.....not

Mrsupole said...

Pan pills and Ambien make me do this, they make me obsessive compulsive and I am in so much freaking shoulder pain. So I will read before I post another.

God bless.

Mrsupole said...

Poor baby VE, oh you poor baby, no more trips out like this next year for you in August. Isn't the fall a good time to go camping? But poor, poor baby VE, you must have a better weekend next. Look for a really cheap and quick trip to Hawaii or even just to a local island or a jaunt up to Canada. Any of those has to be better than this. Better still find a nice jacuzzi and spend two days sitting in it.

Here's hoping that next weekend is better.

God bless.

Kurt said...

I've never heard of pine cone harvesting.

Roy Scribner said...

I remember camping along the Klamath River, west of Yreka, over the 4th of July a few years ago. It was 106 degrees and absolutely miserable. It was so bad the rangers would come by in the afternoon and turn on the sprinkler system in the campground. We packed it in after a day and just went home.

lifeshighway said...

Being a Southerner getting ready to go to Oregon at the end of the week, I am very unhappy with the weather in Central Oregon in August. I know my Dad will drag me camping.

I had hoped yellow jackets were an annoying southern phenomenon. Also next time you have a greasy pan, hoist in up a tree or you could be a VE burger.

ReformingGeek said...

Why am I not surprised? Your wife is an angel.

I'm glad you're home safe and sound but it sounds like you may have a few less sane hairs on your head.

Anne said...

Your wife must be a saint putting up with you, that's all I can say.

Gladys said...

Nothing like a restful and relaxing weekend camping.

Oh and I had a gang of rampant racoons make off with my grill and my cooler last time i went tent camping. So I know your pain

The Incredible Woody said...

I'm sure that lightning storm was scary with nothing but a tent. But since you lived, wasn't it just really cool to watch?!?

Perpetual Chocoholic said...

You should have left your baby cow back on the farm and it wouldn't have gotten stung;-)

I believe the stories. I'm the Canadian version of you when it comes to luck.

lime said...

sounds like it was a vacation you needed a vacation from.

Dee said...

you and I have different ideas of camping. I need hot showers and a toilet, not a porta potty either. Tee hee! I posted some pictures of my camp.

Hey I love your sense of adventure, I'm a coward when it comes to going out into the woods where wild animals could possibly be.

ettarose said...

Aren't they the worst camping trips ever? When I lived in Arizona we always forgot how hellish hot camping in the desert was. Like it would get better just this time. I feel for you.

Jacki said...

This is why I camp in places like Marriott and the Ritz.

Quirkyloon said...

The Secret Life of VE!

hee hee

Actually, I feel your pain VE. I can't believe while you suffered so much while camping, I was sitting here relaxing, having my husband grill, watching movies, playing Bejeweled Blitz.

Life ain't fair sometimes huh? hee hee

Richard and Jean said...

Hi. I have a blog at www.picturecamping.com where I feature people's scrapbook layouts about camping, and I would love to feature any you might have. Of course I would give you credit and would link back to your site.

Thanks for considering this,

Jean B. in SC

PS: Thanks for the chuckle! I needed it.

VE said...

nessa - So that was you in that weird cart! ;) I knew it...

mrsupole - Aw...it was a valiant try for first again. It's ok, don't cry for me...I have a hot tub at home to relax in...if the weather dips below 90 that is...

kurt - Me neither. As Rosanna said "It's always something. If its not one thing it's another."

VE said...

roy - Sort of how I felt. We weren't too far from The Dalles, OR which can regularly be one of the hottest spots in Oregon. Funny how most people perceive Oregon as being green and cool while more than half of it is high desert and hot.

lifeshighway - I thought about the bear possibility; but they're quite rare so close to Portland and they aren't very big even then. Good luck on your central Oregon fun. Yeah, you'll get a lot of bees and thunderstorms now. I'll be enjoying activities over there in two weeks but we'll be based from a motel with indoor swimming pool this time.

reforminggeek - Yes, she is and as a guy pushing close to 50, I'm happy to have the hairs I do have on my head still!

VE said...

anne - She was a bit put out with the epic hike. We laugh about it now though...

gladys - Racoons, eh? We don't see them in the woods at all. They hang around the urban growth boundry here in Portland and live off the fat suburbanites...

incredible woody - True. But so many of my misadventures are that way. At the time...I really, really didn't want to be one of those people struck by lightening. I've already seen it strike and set a tree on fire right next to the highway when driving with my grandparents in Wyoming...

VE said...

perpetual chocoholic - Than you know my pain! Damn...why didn't I think of leaving my calf behind? I don't know why I always take it hiking...

lime - Yes, and I'm getting it. It's Tuesday and I didn't even get up until 9:30am. Things are like that when you never work.

dee - I don't mind my sense of adventure, I just wish I could shake my magnet for misadventure. But stupid is as stupid does I guess...

etta - I know that forgetting attribute; it's funny how we only remember the good. Probably good that we do though..

VE said...

jacki - You don't even want to know some of my hotel misadventures. I'll save them for the book...

quirkyloon - Bejewelled? I got hooked with my kids playing that thing. Ughh. Hope the BBQ was yummy...

richard and jean - Let me go take a look; I'll see if I can contribute in any way. Thanks. Oh, and by virtue of this comment, you're site is linked (well, I get around to updating it about once or twice a month so be patient)

EmmaK said...

I thought that's why people went camping - for the unpredictability of nature, the risk of being attacked my wild beasts or men wielding guns. Personally I'd rather be flayed alive than go camping. If God had meant us to go camping he wouldn't have invented bricks and central heating you know?

subtorp77 said...

heh, heh, heh...har, har-bwahahahahaahahaaa! ***sniffle***, sorry VE but the image of those pumped-up wasps on steroids-LMAO! And did you check for ticks? Glad to see I'm not the only one that's had it rough while roughing it. Next time Get some that special Army bug repellant( it keeps everything and everybody, away )-LOL!

VE said...

emmak - I swear I've had good times camping. No really. It's been awhile though. After this last one, I'm considering that flayed alive option...

subtorp77 - Fortunately we don't have any ticks in that area. The bees probably ate them all. I think a lot of people have it rough while roughing it. I just think less of them admit it. It's like etta said, you only remember the happy good parts after awhile.

Mike said...

You're such a pansie. You need to man up and not whine so much :P

Ronda Laveen said...

In my experience, happy camping trips are like happy house boating trips, urban myths.

Unfinished Rambler said...

Yikes, 8,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. I did a hike a few years ago that was 5,000 feet total elevation gain over 25 miles and that was bad enough. Of course, I'm from the East Coast. I guess y'all out there in the West are a little sturdier than us Easterners. :)

Unfinished Rambler said...

Yikes, 8,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. I did a hike a few years ago that was 5,000 feet total elevation gain over 25 miles and that was bad enough. Of course, I'm from the East Coast. I guess y'all out there in the West are a little sturdier than us Easterners. :)

Megan said...

I love camping!

VE said...

mike - I'm sending the gnomes over right now. They'll teach you the meaning of whining. ;)

VE said...

ronda - I've had them...I just can't remember when...

VE said...

unfinished rambler - True...we have higher terrain in which to hike but I hear the East Coast trails are very steep whereas the West Coast trails have gradient standards to you aren't hiking straight up all the time. I think the one we were on was developed by an East Coaster...

VE said...

megan - It's sort of like being stuck on the LA freeways except you're prepared with your food, stove, books, and a sleeping bag.

Jeff said...

Bleh... I pretty much hate camping for every reason there is.

That being said... one night my wife and I were camping in our tiny nylon tent when we heard a giant grizzly bear not more than 10 feet away from us shredding our styrofoam cooler on the picnic table and eating the contents. We were scared shitless and laid completely still for about 1/2 hour until we heard it wander away. The next morning we came out to survey the damages. That's when we saw the raccoon footprints on the picnic table.

But in my defense... I'm sure it was a huge, mean, killer raccoon!

Baino said...

See, that's why I miss camping . .all that wildlife and a billy cart derby. That contraption looks like something my son would build!

VE said...

jeff - Ha! Nice. I once thought there was a bear outside my tent to but it was a little bird. In my defense we were camped in a wooden overview that echoed. Ok, it was stupid too...

baino - Why couldn't the deer just do the billy cart derby down the road and leave me to sleep!

Mrs. R said...

I'm going to print this post out and show it to my husband the next time he asks me to go camping.

Serena said...

I am SO glad I don't camp. If there's no clean linens, no cable TV, no WiFi, and no room service, I ain't going.:-)

VE said...

mrs r - I'm glad I can help to serve as a warning to prevent future sufferers...

serena - I have to agree on the wifi part. That sucked! But it didn't prevent me from pre-writing a few things offline...

Uncivil said...

I will only go camping when it's 60 degrees or less!

VE said...

uncivil - You're in luck; that's about 9 months of the year around here...I just picked the wrong month.

Jaime said...

i hate camping. my idea of roughing it is a hotel without room service!

Janna said...

In theory, camping sounds like a fun thing.

In practice, it merely makes you appreciate air conditioning and indoor plumbing more than you ever thought possible.

VE said...

jaime - Don't they call those motels? I could give you hotel stories that would make you cry...

janna - It's true. I have had good camping experiences...I just can't recall any off the top of my head...

Maureen said...

Gad, my camping days are well behind me. Gone are the mornings waking up in an oven of a tent. I can't imagine the heat down there. I would die.

Now my idea of roughing it is no room service.

VE said...

maureen - There's no room service at home...perhaphs you're always roughing it!

Elizabeth said...

106 in Portland? That's crazy! It's not like you guys have air conditioning, do you? And I can't believe you had to follow that guy for 20 miles. Why wouldn't he just get over and let you pass?

VE said...

elizabeth - Actually, we do have air conditioning...whew!