14 August 2010

Pack It Out: The Idaho Story

We went to Idaho this weekend to see our adorable son Christian and his lovely adoptive family, and to get some serious camping in. Steve and I both love to camp, and we don't do it nearly enough. It's easy to let the daily routine take over and then all of a sudden you've camped one weekend in the last year. And when you're living in Washington, which is easily one of the most beautiful states in the union, this may as well be a capital offense.*

By what feels like freak chance and poor planning, we ended up doing no camping whatsoever. The first night, after driving all day (11+ hours) we discovered that all the campsites I'd scoped out the night before on the internets were completely full. We drove an extra sixty miles between the godforsaken tourist town of Ketchum and the campgrounds, checking hotel/motel prices ($134 at the lowest with a AAA discount) and eating a late dinner. We ended up driving out to the middle of fucking nowhere past the campgrounds and just parking off the side of the road for the night. It was late, we were totally exhausted, and we were both driven to tears at different points from the stress of having nowhere to stay legally. We slept in the car. You'll notice this as a trend.

The next day we got up, hung out at a coffeeshop for most of the morning, and in the end (after counting our remaining camping fund money and some debate) decided to get the hell out that tourist trap as soon as possible so that we'd have money left for...well, anything. We had found out last weeked that the camping around Mount Rainier was plentiful and cheap, so we figured we'd try that. It would put us closer to home so that Steve could make D&D on Sunday and so that we could enjoy taking our time on the way back. We conferred with the Hubers and met at Frenchman's Bend Hot Springs, which was awesome.

Having now met all of the Hubers, I have to say I wish we lived closer together because I love hanging out with them. I thought it would be more awkward to try to interact with their older kids, but Christian makes a great icebreaker. He's adorable. He makes funny noises, has learned to bite people, and crawls at record-breaking speed. He looks a lot like baby pictures of me. Steve and I really enjoyed our quality time with everybody.

We left Hellhole Ketchum(tm) about an hour and a half before sundown -- exactly the time of day when the sun shines directly in your eyes when you're driving west. (We were. It went down over the horizon when we got gas, just in time for my turn to drive.) We made it about halfway across the great state of Oregon before we decided to turn in for the night. We stopped at a rest stop under the darkest part we could find and slept in the car.

That brings us to today, and the final nail in our camping coffin. We woke up and started out before seven o'clock and reached the Mount Rainier area at about two. Which is when we found out that every single campground that's accessible by car was completely full up. We're not kitted out at the moment for hiking campsites, and it seems insane to keep driving around at random looking for camping spots. We came home, a day early and without any actual camping having taken place. The driving was delightful. I love long car rides and road trips and driving. I'm getting better at listening to Steve's car and anticipating its needs, even if I still mess it up regularly. We got home, deposited our stuff, took a nap, bought a fan, watched Fearless, and have generally had a pretty good night despite everything. And there's still enough money left to get both our driver's licenses renewed ($45 each in the great state of Washington) and buy me a new tattoo.

*"Capital" in this sense comes from the Latin word "capita," which means "head" (also seen in "per capita"). It's literally about execution by beheading.

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