When to give up

Camping usually suits me because I like to be outdoors. This wasn’t going to happen on our recent trip to Oregon. Puddles got larger and larger, though they were interesting as puddles go. The rain washed copious amounts of pollen from the evergreen trees around us and it ringed the puddles in varied patterns.

Branches sagged with rainwater. And I suppose I’d rather the pollen was stuck in puddles than airborn. Did I mention the hungry mosquitoes?

This was the campsite next to ours. We have a tiny trailer so we had some protection from the elements. But enough was enough. We called it quits after a couple of days and left early to visit friends in Vancouver, Washington. They have a nice house. Warm and dry, with hot showers. Wine in the afternoon and convivial meals. Civilization has its merits.

Feeling gratitude today for the generations that have served in our armed forces. Thank you, one and all!

Plan C

After our visit to Fort Clatsop in Oregon we decided to explore Fort Stevens State Park, an historic military reservation that guarded the mouth of the Columbia River. We followed road signs to the Columbia River, hoping to find an overlook. There was a path there somewhere but I admit that I wimped out. The rain was too heavy. Instead we followed a sign and walked down a boardwalk to a wildlife viewing bunker. It offered some shelter from the rain. But the wildlife was on a break. No sightings, no autographs.

Fort Clatsop Visitor Center

Part of our visit to Fort Clatsop, shown yesterday, included a wander through the nearby visitor center. Interpretive information leads through the journey of the Corps of Discovery and highlights what life might have held for the 31 voyagers as they moved through uncharted lands.

The Lewis and Clark expedition would surely have met a different fate without the help of Native Americans along the way. Native American dugout canoes like the one shown here aided the Corps in their travels. Impressed by the vessels, Sergeant Gass wrote:

The natives of this country ought to have the credit of making the finest canoes, perhaps in the world, both as to service and beauty; and are no less expert in working them when made.

The exhibit was enhanced by copies of the incomparable photographs of Edward S. Curtis taken in the Pacific Northwest a hundred years later. If you’re not familiar with the work of Curtis, use the link to get to know him better.

Fort Clatsop

The weather didn’t cooperate on our recent camping trip to Oregon. No beach walks or forest strolls. But we had a Plan B: Lewis and Clark National Historic Park, a collection of sites that honors the explorations of the Corps of Discovery in Oregon and Washington at the mouth of the Columbia River.

From 1804 to 1806 the 31 member expedition, led by Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, explored territories west of the Mississippi River largely unknown to white settlers. The Lewis and Clark Expedition produced early maps of the western territories as well as providing extensive scientific identification of flora and fauna. It was an epic, fascinating journey.

The Corps wintered at Fort Clatsop from December 1805 to March 1806. The original fort has vanished but a reconstruction from Clark’s journal imagines the fort as it likely was.

The Corps of Discovery spent 100 days at the fort and it rained every day but 12. We experienced the fort under authentic conditions. It was pouring rain.

Spring camping? I’m in!

You’d think a camping trip in mid-May would be a great prelude to summer, wouldn’t you? Well, I did. It seemed like a great idea in March and April. Maybe it was impatience with winter. Maybe I was dazzled by spring blossoms. I convinced myself that even if it wasn’t all that warm at least it would be dry. Yeah, sure.

Here’s a view of our welcome at Fort Stevens State Park in Oregon.