Assignation with Archie
Adventures abound when camping alone in the forests above Newport, Washington! But first, a little background.
My youngest was about to graduate from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. As a mother/daughter celebration we signed up to run the Bloomsday Run the weekend before graduation. The decision was made to do this over a year before so there was no backing out for this slightly over-weight, definitely middle-aged woman. I spent four weeks prior to the race working out daily at the gym and getting myself in sort-of-shape so I wouldn’t fall flat on my keister out of energy gasping for breath. We made it in just over 2 hours–7.45 miles officially, but our GPS said we went 8.4 miles. The extra mile must have been all the weaving in and out and around the crowd to get in front of the slower people. This race is the biggest timed road race in the U.S. Over 51,000 people lined up to enjoy the lilacs and walk/run around Spokane.
So, by now you are asking, “What does this have to do with an assignation?” And well you should!
Since the graduation was the weekend after the race, and Spokane is about a 6 hour drive from home, I took Archie the Burro to stay in to save some moola on motels. After the race I got Archie battened down and headed north of Spokane looking for a nice, quiet, safe, inexpensive place to tuck in for the week between race and graduation. It turned out, this was not an easy feat!!
I had researched forest service campgrounds and found a couple of possible hideaways. It was the 7th of May and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. The forest service websites listed fabulous directions and showed the campgrounds were open. Off I went with a full tank of gas to search out the best place. Well, I learned you can’t trust the government. Not only were the directions completely off on two of the campgrounds websites, neither of them were open!! Signs said they were closed until the weekend before Memorial Day. What a bummer. I used up half my tank of gas driving in the wrong direction, thanks to the website, for absolutely nothing. I did get to drive around Hayden Lake, which is very lovely, but has little to no public access.
After many fits and starts I ended up in Newport, Washington. Right on the Idaho/Washington border in the wayyyyyy north. Kind of redneck country. Kind of Freeman country. I checked out a very scarey looking dark claustrophobic campground called No Name Lake campground, just east of Bead Lake. There was one other camper in there and it looked like some indigent living out of their car, so I passed on that one. I finally found a “host” camp spot at a fishing access/boat ramp site on Bead Lake.
I paid my fee and tucked myself in to a gorgeous spot overlooking Bead Lake. This pristine mountain lake is half wilderness and half multi-millionaire McMansions. A lot alone runs $180,000. The boat ramp is right next to some of the largest lake homes I’ve ever seen. So I felt quite safe. Think again!
All was quiet until my last morning there. I had my Vietnamese coffee brewing in my Italian Mukka espresso pot while sitting in the sun listening to the birds. There had been no vehicle traffic all morning–nobody putting their little fishing boats onto the lake–so I was quite surprised to hear voices coming from the woods! Soon a late twenties-something guy came walking into my campsite. Sans shirt. Covered with tattoos. Hoisting a very high-powered rifle with a huge scope across his shoulders. With a shaved head. Great. Then a little skinny bottle dyed-redhead woman followed. Barefoot. Nervous. Double Great.
The guy stumbled closer to my trailer and tripped a little, knocking the gun loose and almost losing his grip. Thank goodness the barrel tipped toward the ground as he recovered his stance.
I did the only thing I could do. I offered them each a cup of coffee, water, and some fruit.
Finally the story came out. They had driven up the mountain the day before driving his mom’s truck. The road was almost impassable due to the winter downfall of trees–but that didn’t stop them from driving around them. Which caused them to slide off the road and roll his Mom’s truck. They had spent the night outdoors and started hiking down the mountain that morning. She had only flip-flops on her feet. (This is where I show my age because we used to call them “thongs”.) They shredded within the first mile. She hiked the remaining two miles barefoot. I offered her a pair of socks and a pair of tennis shoes to put on her feet to warm them up, which she accepted.
After the coffee was drunk the girl pulled out a little pouch and proceeded to light up a bowl of pot. Oh wait. That was just after she pulled out a bible and was reading passages to herself to try to calm herself down.
A very interesting pair. Not your most stalwart citizens, but I didn’t believe they meant me any harm. After I requested he unload the rifle and put it in the back of my SUV, and that she stow away the pot, I gave them a ride into town to ride out the consequences of totaling his mother’s truck. I dropped them off and let out a huge sigh of relief. I had done my good Samaritan’s duty but was grateful to be heading back to my campsite.
Without my shoes.
I forgot to get them back.