Monday, July 28, 2008

Elk Creek Campground

From the downtown Portland Amtrak Station we caught The Wave, a Tillamook County Transit bus that follows highway 6 through the Tillamook State forest and into the town of Tillamook. For this trip we called in ahead of time and made arrangements to be dropped off and picked up at the Elk Creek Campground, just past Mile Post 28.


Our spot was set away from the other sites, far enough to feel private.
We rested most of the day: Sam by the river reading and me on the picnic bench then later in our tent bed, watching leaves and dozing.
Sam found me in the tent,with all his softness and the light shining through the ceiling vents. Me sleepy and us all lovey.
Later we explored the pit toilets, the posted maps, and the elk creek trail it runs east along an old logging road.
I wondered if it would rain.

I laid down early, even before dark had fallen. Sam read and I drifted in and out listening to a pack of children as the circled and hollered loud loud! Louder than they had been all day.


I awoke to the same pack with the same volume as the night before.
After breakfast and lounging we wandered from our campsite and found the pack gathered on the path. Their circle opened to succumb to/include us as we approached. "Whatcha find?" I asked, "a snail", "a big one", "its dead", "it's there", they answered all at once pointing to the tangle of slug body just aside from the trail . Then the tallest announced "It was here" now pointing to the center of the path. "We put salt on it to make it die." The gut or some kind of inners sprawled like a miniature more yellow slug, with it's slug shape, gelatinous and frozen in a pool of salt. Me (shocked? maybe or just confused forgot about the fun of killing bugs and such) I mumbled something like "good job" in a totally unconvincing tone and pushed through with Sam towards our trail.

We began the same trail as yesterday intending to "make-it" it too the end. We started and stopped, started and stopped. Stopping to sit on the trail and eat (peanut m&m's , cheese, auk mak, salami, cherries.) We spotted Columbines (red like Indian paintbrush), Indian paintbrush, Siberian Miners lettuce, dock, thimble berries, Salmon Berries, wilted Tiger Lillies. Soon, sooner than the top, we turned around. The way down was speckled with kisses and fire wood collecting/dropping/recollecting.

At camp we ate. Drank tea(me), coffee(Sam), snuggled and read by the river. Then Sam at the river me at camp. Then me and Sam at camp eating.
In the evening we tried the Elk mountain trail. Steeper but shorter promising to be just 1.6 miles to the peak. We went up straight up until we found a nice lookout. About tent sized we shared the thought "we could have camped here" but no water and no fire. So instead we snuggled and chatted and enjoyed the height. Then we moved forward pushing up even steeper past the sign "elevation 1500". The sun was low and I didn't want to navigate the steep way down in the dark. We reached a height and called it good enough before, walking/skidding our way down. Around the base of the trail we collected kindling and at camp raided abandoned campsites for paper and wood.

The sun was low and we burned a showy hot fire, that faded into a still warm, but darker fire. The flames overshadowed by a too big log we angle-wedged into the pit. Our centerpiece making more smoke than flame. The pack of children had gone and left the night quiet. A family of four passed by twice: once toward the river and once back carrying firewood. They walked in duck formation: Dad(tallest), green-haired teen, steg-cut pre-teen, long curly haired child(shortest). With an evenly spaced waddle and carrying out appropriately proportioned firewood.

I was alone at camp while Sam collected water. I manipulated the fire blowing and poking. I heard drumming and realized that Sam had been gone awhile. I wrote a mental list of all the terrible reasons why Sam had not yet come back. Then I wised up enough to find the other flashlight and met him on the trail. Why was he gone? Pooping. A good excuse.

We slept quietly with much turning and shifting. Both of us achy and chilly our bodies comforted and soothed one another in their old familiar way.


We woke early to my alarm.
I had dreamt about George Clooney, on the dock, with the actor president and actor vice president. George held a gun towards and actor president and actor vice. Then actor vice held too guns to his own head one a grenade gun, then actor president held a gun to his own head, then actor vice blew the grenade gun and the three of them went down with the dock. All the while Obama stood in his suit on the shore like a paper stand-up of himself. The dream camera retreated into the sky leaving the whole scene way down birds-eye view below and I knew there was going to be a vote.

We were swift in breakfasting and packing. The walk to the road was shorter than I remembered. We spent our time at the side of the road spacing out, stretching, singing, spacing out, 45minutes and one Tillamook Transit serenade later the bus pulled in and we boarded.
The guy towards the back offered us Jelly beans. "Are you sure? there gourmet" he showed us on the package, then added "I am a chef". I asked "did you make the jelly beans?" no, he'd bought them at the mall, well actually his girlfriend did, he added "I love her".
The bus arrived fifteen minutes early, we had time for breakfast burritos before Sam had to go to work. He walked me the bus and I in my burliness took both our packs and he is his toughness went directly to work.

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