Posts Tagged ‘Crater Lake’

The Road North

September 20, 2010

I woke up at 5 AM in the dark.  Packed my camp and drove up to a turn-out to catch a sunrise.  Ate a peanut butter sandwich and drank an energy drink.  The sunrise was still 50 minutes off.  I left.  Later, another turn-off:

I had eleven hours of driving before I reached Crater Lake.  The drive reminded me a lot of my tour through west Texas.  I saw mystical places:

And hilarious towns:

And right-wing nuttery:

And a motherfucking bald eagle:

America.

Around 5 pm, I reached Crater Lake:

A better view, kind of:

The campground was just as wet.  Hardly anyone else was staying at it.  But I was feeling bold.  And I own rain pants.  So in a rush of rugged enthusiasm, I set up my tent on the highest ground I could find.  I then set to work collecting the driest wood around.  I found a few logs hidden beneath picnic tables left by previous campers.  I found a tree protecting a cache of pine needles.  And I pulled the Yosemite newspaper out of my car.  I then hung a tarp over one of the few non-submerged firepits in the camp.  I was never a boyscout, but  I did camp a lot growing up, and I pride myself in my fire-starting skills.  My first attempt was the strongest.  It burned for 15 minutes or so.  But the large pieces never caught: it had been raining for two days there and there was just too much moisture.  And now I was out of small twigs.  Still I pushed.  I tore more paper.  Threw on a handful of pine needles.  Burned threw a box of matches.  Grabbed more from the car.  Each subsequent flame lasted for less and less time.  If at first you don’t succeed try, try again until you’re bitter and cold and frustrated and wet and it’s dark and you’re still 5 hours from Portland.  The forecast had 100% chance of rain the next day.  I was done.  I tore down the tarp, collapsed my tent, and threw it all in a pile in the back seat of my car.  I changed my socks.  I then screeched out of the campground, probably terrifying the single group of campers remaining.

Later:

16 hours of driving that day. I listened to a This American Life episode on the road about some Iraqi young men living with daily bomb blasts and dying children.  I felt bad for feeling bad about my struggles.  Fortunately, I’m friends with a law student at Lewis & Clark, and she was up studying when I got into town at 1:30.  We split some beers.  Then I curled up on her couch, with warm blankets and cats, and fell asleep.

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