From the Blog

Tank Full Of Gas, Chapter Fourteen! Camping On The Coast, Part One

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People. This trip combined many layers of awesomeness. Decemberists’ concert. Camping. Big trees. Campfire cooking. Sand dunes. Sand in my ass. Coastal vistas. Twisty, fun roads. 520 miles.


We left work early on Thursday to make the drive to Eugene for The Decemberists show at 9pm. We wanted to beat traffic, check into our fleabag motel and get something to eat before the concert. We don’t know a thing about Eugene. I had only driven through when I moved to Portland. I had to quiz people who went to U of O to figure out a good place to eat.

9pm is normally past our bedtime. But we had plenty of time. We strolled around downtown at a leisurely pace, until we saw people lining up at the venue at 7:30. The doors opened at 8. And instead of being youthful, and standing for hours in front of the stage, craning our necks and being crushed by fellow concertgoers, we sat in the balcony where The Roommate promptly fell asleep. We are OLD.

Now. Maybe you’ve heard of The Decembrists, and the failed Russian Revolt of December 14, 1825. If you have, you are smarter than me. The concert we went to was The Decemberists which are a band from Portland, Oregon. They put on quite an entertaining show. They are my favorite band, and I have photos of them taped to the inside of my locker at school.

We got back to our fleabag motel at the impossibly late hour of 12:30 am. Old, people. We are OLD. The next morning, we drove aimlessly until we found coffee and a greasy spoon breakfast. Then we got lost trying to get out of town. We don’t know Eugene! I was navigating by the sun! But then we found route 126 west and we were off to the coast to camp.

It might not be remarkable for someone who has lived in Oregon all their lives, but it’s fascinating to me, on all our drives around the state, that nearly all the forest has either been cut down, or is in a state of growing back. I’m learning to eyeball the ages of trees by how tall they are. And it’s not hard to spot a forest that is second or third growth by how artificially consistent the trees look. All one type of tree. All uniform height. Perfectly straight spines. Perfectly perpendicular branches.


And maybe someone knows this: Why does it seem like they leave one single tree in the middle of a clear cut forest? I see this over and over again. A single tree in the middle of a gray bald patch of former forest. Variable retention? What?

Our destination was Jessie M. Honeyman State Park, near Florence. I had made reservations because this was Memorial Day weekend, perhaps because we may have learned a lesson about making reservations. Or because this was a giant, city-sized campground. Or because we were going to the sand dunes, the mid-coast mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. We didn’t know what to expect beyond the campground being at maximum capacity for the long weekend.

Pleasantly, the campsite was well forested. The sites were very tightly packed. And indeed, as the day wore on, every site was filled.


Fortunately, I have a way of maintaining my glamourousness even while camping.


Full rest rooms with hot water and showers help. We are used to pit toilets when camping. I have to say, it was mighty nice to be able to wash our hands and take showers at the end of the day. And the restrooms were totally clean and well kept. No icky bugs creeping along the walls. Because somehow creepy bugs in restrooms makes it harder to, you know, use the restroom. It’s like the creepy bugs say, “Go ahead lady. Take your pants off.”

We set up camp and went for a walk. There are 376 campsites and we wanted to see what the rest of the campground looked like. And I wanted to see the dunes. You could hear the buzzing of ATVs in the distance.


The weather was super sunny and somewhat warm, but really windy. As we got closer to the dunes, we got pelted and sand blasted. But I wanted to see the dunes!

I don’t know if you’ve been reading along, but it should be obvious, even to the casual reader, how smart and well educated I am. And so you’d agree that it was a good idea to try to climb one of the closest dunes, just to see what’s on the other side. It wasn’t that tall.


Climbing a sand dune is not like climbing a hill. It’s like climbing a sand dune. The closer to the top we got, the steeper it got, and the softer the sand became. So for every step we took, we only gained inches in elevation as our feet sank into the sand and we slid back. The Roommate huffed and puffed and made it to the top because he’s a boy. He dutifully reported that it was not worth it to climb the last seven feet. On the other side, was another, larger dune.

My shoes were already full of sand. And my ears. And my mouth. And my scalp. And as mentioned, I’m like, smart and stuff, and I sat down for a moment at what became the apex of my climb. And I was sitting for a mere few seconds on this soft, steep dune. It only took that long for an avalanche of sand to pile into the back of my jeans, right down into my ass crack. Excellent. The walk back to the campsite was most pleasant with my undies full of sand. Climb a sand dune. MY bright idea.

The attraction anywhere along this part of the coast are the dunes. We are now in the “in” season so people aren’t supposed to stage their ATVs in the campground. It didn’t stop one of our neighbors from loudly revving the engine on some vehicle over and over and over. Rawr! Rawr! Rawr! Rawr! Aren’t! We! So! Happy! To! Be! Alive! Rawr! And then, he just shut it off, which I found offensive. He loudly revved up his engine, you know, in the woods, in the middle of a highly populated campground, with many neighbors. He revved up that engine, boy he got it going real good and loud! Then he shut it off! What’s the fricken point? Was it just the noise? Is it because his penis doesn’t make enough noise by itself? So we need loud engines to make up for the lack of penis noise?

We realized, however, we were in the minority here. Us, with our dainty little car and Costco tent. We were strangers in this land of giant RVs, trailers with quads and big diesel trucks. RVing is a full on culture. We were amazed by all the huge, expensive RVs we saw. How do people get the money to buy them? This park was less for people who were there just to camp, like we were. The proximity to the dunes meant that many people spent very little time in the campground. Which was fine for us also.

We made a fire, cooked a lovely dinner of sausages, onions, potatoes, asparagus and corn on the cob. All wrapped in foil and thrown on the fire. I love cooking on camp fires. I love getting food that would taste good roasted by fire, or outright burned to a crisp. I love guessing when maybe the food might be done. It depends on the fire. Too hot? Too cold? I love unwrapping the foil and being pleasantly surprised that what’s inside it still edible. We ate dinner and huddled by the fire against the wind.

Wind in Trees at Honeyman State Park from Mile73 on Vimeo.

Before bed, we showered, and I don’t really know how to explain how much sand I still had in various places. It was amazing. How did it get there? I mean, really? All the way in there?

We went to bed early and thankfully, the wind drowned out the nearby highway, and sounds of the hundreds of other campers. However, even late into the night, we were awoken by a new neighbor trying to shimmy their giant truck and their 40 foot RV into a dark campsite.

We took revenge by waking up at 5 am and blasting Decemberists with my upgraded 100 pound subwoofer.*

*(No we didn’t.)


Tank Full Of Gas, Chapter Fourteen! Camping On The Coast, Part Two, tomorrow.


  1. Holy Crap, I thought you really blasted Decemberists! I’m thinking you would of been met with gunfire!

    You ever want to get a goodnight sleep while camping you should go to Browns Camp! You’ll sleep like a baby to the sounds of flowing trees!

  2. I love Honeyman! Please tell me you guys got to ride on the school bus dune buggies!

  3. Steve, again, you will have to talk to your brother. I was into the idea. Someone else, not so much. Come on out, bring your boys, and we’ll all go, even if we have to strap Dave in.

  4. Hey Steve – I love everything about the dunes! Except the wind, sand, and ATVs.

  5. I enjoyed your fond memories of the ATV camper, which reminded me of last weekend in South Beach State Park. Our yurt neighbors, whom I’d like to call Idaho Polygamist Clan, but really were more likely just Idaho Incestuous Clan, were very entertaining if you’re a fan of white trash as wildlife. The leader, and only male, had a stump for one arm and liked to fly a kite . . . not on the beach, but on Yurt St. They had two — not allowed — dogs at the yurt. The mom? grandma? idon’tknow who? had a full-size shovel which she used repeatedly at the yurt. Loud talking including family members calling each other ‘asshole’ rather frequently. But my favorite part was that they never unloaded their minivan, so they needed to open and shut the annoying sliding door every time they needed a new bag of doritos. And that was like every fifteen minutes.

  6. Ah. Alan, thank you. That was brilliant. I feel even better about my weekend now.

  7. Meredith says

    Camping!!! And so green!! Remember our camping, tumbleweeds and no working toilets. Yum.

  8. Love your posts, wit and humor. Keep posting, we’ll keep reading.

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