Monday, September 10, 2012

more camping stories

 So we're finally home, back with the running water and electricity.

Wait. I had all that in the trailer. Here it is, My sweet little Aladdin, nestled in the shadow of the Wallowa Mountains, on Wallowa Lake. Staged perfectly by my showoff husband for maximum effect. We'd made reservations at this crappy RV place in Enterprise, Log House RV Park, certain there'd be no room at the campground so close to Labor Day Weekend. But there was. We hurried back to Enterprise where I begged for a refund and got it. I'm a pretty good beggar. At Wallowa Lake there is a tram that takes you 3500 feet straight up the mountain. The view was spectacular. I kept pointing this out to my husband as he clung to the pole in the middle of our tiny, metal gondola, knuckles white as a trout's belly, until he opened his eyes briefly and said, "You enjoy the fucking view. I'm hanging on to this pole," as though his grip would somehow protect us as we plummeted 3500 feet to our death. Once at the top of the mountain we had to walk to see the view. I was pissed. "I didn't come to exercise," I said. "I just wanted to watch." But he made me walk to the edge of the world. Actually the edge of the EagleCap Wilderness. Home of the Imnaha Wolf Pack -- more about that later -- and drank perfect clean water from a spring gurgling out of an iron cistern in the middle of nowhere. Well, clearly it was somewhere, but it was remote.

Speaking of remote. My xfamilyinlaw has had a piece of property way way up in the Wallowas since the sixties. It is a forty acre plot of mountaintop, an elk pack-camp, where my son's grandfather led pack teams to hunt elk each fall until his death. I don't think I understood my inlaws until, in 1987, I drove to the property to pick up my son after a long summer visit with his grandparents. I knew they were country people, pioneering types. I got that. But they told me: drive to Joseph, take a left and keep going. I remember I borrowed Vivian's little Escort station wagon, and when I turned off the Imnhaha Highway onto 4inch-minus rock and bounced straight uphill for nine miles, I began to understand their comittment to a certain pace of life. I finally arrived at camp with a punctured gas tank and stood among a forest of sugar pines and a hand-made lodge with four hunting cabins that are still there today.

So we drove up there to see Julie. She is so tough. She is living up there, "fixing the place up" in her words: re-chinking the cabins, cleaning out thirty years of rat shit and neglect since her father's passing. She is turning it into more than it was. People will still come to hunt game, but she is making a place for wounded warriors to heal.

"You like to help people," she said. "You can help me." I think I don't so much like to help people as it is my default means of support. She likes it, really. She has that kind spirit in her.

So we had a good visit. Her closest neighbor, a trail runner, was out for a morning run, and noticed the Imnaha wolf pack running alongside her, she on a trail, the wolves a few trees in. She bought a gun. Julie says, "I just carry my iPod in a bucket and turn it up really loud."  A bear left claw marks on her screen door. Okay.

So, we left Julie and went west. Way west. And found these guys and ate them all up. The end.


Kristiana said...

sounds wonderful.

Valerie said...

Norman Rockwell has got nothin on this.

someone said...

K: it was.
V: nope. nothin.