From the Blog

A Quarter Tank of $4.49 Gas: Chapter Seven

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The “Getting Back To Nature Chapter.” Also, “Fools Camping In The Rain Chapter.”

I love to camp. I love, love, love it. Nothing relaxes me more than sitting in front of a campfire and sleeping outside. I am a “car camper.” Which means I only travel as far from my car as my noodly arms can carry the cooler. I have a tent and crappy bed rolls that suck. I sleep on the ground. I estimate that gives me a Camp Authenticity Quotient of about 6 on a scale of 10. Backpackers who camp in the snow are a 10. Retirees who camp in quarter-of-a-million-dollar RVs are a 1.

We were working with a number of unknown quantities: We were going to a first-come, first-serve campground within an hour’s drive of the city. We were concerned we might not get a site. We loaded the car the night before and took off right from work. We were hoping that the forecast (rain) and the Rose Festival would keep people from wanting to go camping.

The other unknown quantity was, of course, Rain. We were as well prepared as we could hope to be. I got a footprint for my tent (I have been living in sin without one for quite some time). We borrowed a pop-up awning from a kind friend. We had a 4 bottle-sized box of Shiraz. No corkscrew needed. Pre-mother-f-ing-pared.

So if it rained, it rained. We drove west after it had been cloudy all day. There were breaks with sun, but also curtains of rain. The Coast Range is not very tall, but the low mountains squeeze a lot of moisture on their eastern flanks. Just where we were headed.

Spruce Run Map

As we drove west, the Sunset Highway became more rural and hilly. As we crested the highest elevation at 1635 ft, and tipped over to the coast side, the fog rolled in, all sun and warmth left the sky, and it started to drizzle. Awesome.

We were still a little concerned that we might not get a site. It was pretty wet by the time we twisted through the green hills, dodged a downed tree in the road (it was hanging by an electrical wire! We drove right under it! We’re bad ass!) We saw a sign for our campground, rounded a corner…and saw that the place was COMPLETELY EMPTY. No other fools are going to camp in the rain! We had the place to ourselves.

Did I mention it was raining? Sometimes hard? And other times, REALLY hard? There’s a romantic notion that since we are in the forest, the canopy of leaves and branches and nature might provide some bit of shelter from the rain. But what the leaves actually do is collect small drops of rain and consolidate them together into massive, canon ball-sized drops that always, ALWAYS, seem to find a way to hit me in the back of the neck. Gah! This causes me to instantly freeze to the core. It also causes me to be crabby. F-you, nature!

So we set up camp in the rain. There were puddles in our site and slick, silty mud that clung to shoes like paint. The awning went up. The tent went up. A fire was lit. We cooked hot sausages on sticks in the fire. We avoided drips of rain. We didn’t kill each other.

Camp site

It was the best site in the whole campground. And the swollen Nehalem River bubbled below us.

Nahelem River

All the rain causes everything to be impossibly green.

Spruce Run Creek

It’s like walking through a salad bar. Except for the giant, man-eating slugs. Seriously.

Click Here for Super Big Photo of Giant Gross Slug!

If you click on the thumbnail above, it will take you to a giant photo of this super gross slug. You can use it for your desktop at work. You’re welcome.

For the first night, it rained off and on all night. Plus, it was supposed to be in the 40s. The tent kept us mostly dry, there were only “little” pools of water in the corners. Somehow, I ended up sleeping in a puddle. But my sleeping bag and pillow were really absorbent. Awesome.

The next day, it drizzled a little in the morning, but then in cleared up for the rest of our stay. We went for a little walk to see the rest of the campground. I didn’t have anything strenuous planned. I had visions of sitting in a camp chair and finishing three books, or finishing some crochet projects. But really, all we did was sit in front of the campfire all day. And snack. It was glorious.

This was dinner Saturday night.



We cooked it on the open campfire, with only our ancient, primate intuition to guide us. We might as well wrestled the steer to the ground ourselves.

Camping intensifies everything. Food always tastes better. That’s why we had smores for breakfast. Because we were camping. And we are adults. And we are allowed to do these things.

I love camping.

An Afternoon, A Full Tank of Gas:

Chapter Six, Bend, Oregon
Chapter Five, Seattle, Washington
Chapter Four, Mt Saint Helens, Washington
Chapter Three, The Gorge and Hood River, Oregon
Chapter Two, The North Coast and Astoria, Oregon
Chapter One, Waipi’o Valley, Big Island, Hawaii


  1. Best camping in the rain weekend ever!

  2. Who would have thought the campground was not full! With the forecast of seven rays of sun for the weekend, what luck! Both of you can now claim with honor to be true Webfoots!!

  3. Meredith says

    I miss camping, but I don’t miss not having a working bathroom, in 90+ degree heat. But cooking food over camp fire, smores, and puddles!!!

  4. Nice work on dinner!! That’s the cover shot of a camping cookbook you got there!

  5. now i am jones-ing for camp food. it IS the best food in the world, by far. maybe i’ll set up my tent in the backyard… think that will count?

  6. I love camping too. I found the best dry camping is to go East. The Columbia Gorge is the best.

  7. Gah! Hi, Dave’s Mom! I’m sorry about all the swear words on here!

  8. I could have done without the picture of the super gross slug! We are lucky that in OR we tend to have less gross things than other parts of the States! H, I love your voice. I felt like I was right there!

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