>camping decamping


Here is this vast, savage, howling mother of ours,
Nature, lying all around, with such beauty, and such affection for her children,
as the leopard; and yet we are so early weaned
from her breast to society, to that culture which is exclusively
an interaction of man on man.
~ Henry David Thoreau

Three skulls – beauty and mortality.

Livy describes Fabius Maximus’ strategy of fighting Hannibal as a war of attrition, no pitched battles, just a wearing down through a series of hassles and an ebbing of morale. That picture is not far from the process it took to get myself and my family out the door, over the mountains, and to our nearly perfect campsite this past week end. In the end, however, and to our joy, the morale came back as we immersed ourselves in a wonderful weekend of camping in nature and with good friends.

Wilco and the setting sun.

Before I was fully decamped from my urban life I was dropped off at a Wilco concert along with the other husband in the party. The sun set over the opening band and then Wilco performed a wonderful, amazing, and long set. They are truly one of the best bands anywhere at this moment.

While I lounged on the grass my wife went to the campsite with the kids and the remainder of our party to graciously unpack the car, set up the tents, et al. She is a good and beautiful woman. I arrived sometime near 11PM. Although I felt slightly guilty at not having to set up camp, I was ready for bed, exhausted from a long week and the hellish activity of getting camping in the first place. The next morning I woke to a sunny morning with views of woods and water and an increasingly bluing sky.

Lake and woods from the camp.

In short, our camp bordered a lake, the weather was beautiful, the camp was a good camp, the kids had loads of fun. The parents worked, chatted, chased the littlest one around, and cleaned wounds – of which there were a lot.

The fire pit at the center of the camp.

Of course the biggest concern was keeping the fire going, especially in the cold mornings and the cooling evenings. Fortunately we had a lot of wood to burn.

Hash browns for eight.

The food, well… it was good, yummy, feel-good camp food. I am now eating lots of salad.

One night we drove to a restaurant in the middle of a beautiful nowhere/somewhere. The place is call the Cowboy Dinner Tree Steakhouse. Follow the link to get the menu. You’ll see it says “26 – 30 oz. Top Sirloin Steak or 1 Whole Chicken” which is exactly right.

The Cowboy Dinner Tree Steakhouse.

The steakhouse is four miles south of Silver Lake, Oregon, which is itself miles from nowhere in the most beautiful country. The landscape is classic high desert sage and juniper with rolling hills and occasional geological formations.

High desert vistas.

From there we drove on dusty roads to Fort Rock, a massive and unique geological circle of rock jutting up from an ancient sea bed. We hiked inside and the kids ran around like crazy.

Jumping at Fort Rock.

As the sun began to set we headed back to the camp. The next morning we sliced up the leftover steak (yeah there was a lot) and fried it in bacon grease (my arteries are tightening as I type this) and had it with our eggs and hash browns. Oh yum!

An eagle visited us one day.

I can’t help but notice how good it is to camp, especially for the kids. It’s not merely about having fun or getting away from the everyday. There is a profound need within us to engage directly with wilderness, even in a rather controlled environment as a campground. Children grow better with nature, I am convinced.

Previous campers left us a flag.

Finally, I have to say it is both good and sad to be back in town. I am relieved to be able to sleep in a bed, to take a shower, to have Internet, etc. I am also that much more aware of how much we cling to the false security of cities and society. My goal is to find the balance, to cease the war of attrition and to be content.

2 thoughts on “>camping decamping

  1. >I loved the Thoreau quote! Your post is a great summary of the weekend. I sort of wished I had joined you guys at Wilco, since I am normally music/concert ga-ga.Oh, I wasn’t sure that the eagle would show-up very well with the shadows that were on him at the time. The shadows seem to add to it’s elusiveness.

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