Tuesday, August 11, 2009

One Year in Bend -- A Camping Trip

One year ago today, at around 7pm, I pulled up in front of our new-to-us house in Bend. It was a hot day, and I was tired, after having spent two full days behind the wheel of my 84 VW Vanagon Westfalia camper. The sky was a brilliant blue, I had passed through masses of butterflies along the shore of Klamath Lake, and after I crossed the Deschutes and headed up Newport Ave, Bend's "summer butterflies," in the form of folk and their kids on bicycles, were out flitting around, enjoying the beautiful summer evening.

I unloaded my little travel trailer, set up the inflatable mattress and plastic patio furniture which would serve me until Mrs Elliott's arrival with our household possessions, six days later. During that time, my job was to work with the painters and remodelers before the big moving trucks arrived. I got my part of the deal done, she and my son Jim and an employee got the trucks loaded and up here and unloaded as planned, and we entered into that odd space between just having stuff in the house and being truly moved in.

I'm still trying to figure out where to put some of the stuff.

The year has gone by quickly. We found that we were able to easily accommodate ourselves to the dreaded winter months that everyone warned us about, though we did need to install a forced-air furnace into this 70's house with its failed radiant heat ceilings to bring the temps above 62 degrees. I added hauling firewood and stoking the wood stove insert to heat the office downstairs to my morning duties.

With remodeling projects and getting our businesses moved, Mrs Elliott and I had been unable to explore central Oregon or do any camping, which we both enjoy, and so we set those pleasures aside for this summer. But, as has been described in tedious detail on these pages, my ankle blew out in May, derailing our plans for outdoor activities (I can't even drive yet!) until this ankle fusion heals and I can start walking again.

So camping and exploring the area will have to wait another year.

When I was a lad -- third grade? -- Mom and Dad took my two younger brothers and me up the coast to Big Sur for a week-long tent camping trip in summer. I had a great time and was heartbroken when we had to leave and go back south to Santa Barbara at the end of the trip. Since that time, I have always associated camping with the Best Times in life, and returning south to the dry stucco as marking the End of the best times.

In one sense, living here has been like camping for me. The house is a really commodious camper (considerably larger than our Westy). We've got this site along the road with nice views. The weather is always interesting (right now there are big puffy white and gray cumulus clouds drifting across a cobalt blue sky), and I don't have to regretfully count up the days before we load the camping gear back in the car to drive back home -- we're already here.

We were watching KOHD's 5 o' clock news last night (it's like a high school production, we get a kick out of those earnest kids playing newscasters) and they were doing a story about, oh I don't know, some small wildfire near Warm Springs, maybe, and Mrs Elliott turned to me and said, "Can you believe we're living here?"

I know what she means. The news from Salem is now more relevant than that from Sacramento. The needs and interests and political/economic issues are not the same as those in Cali. Here, I am interested in the health and well-being of the town. There, I had no hope that any of the towns would ever be interesting to me.

I read IHTBYB's BendBubble2 inflammatory and bleak postings because his predictions and descriptions of the back-room dealings that have helped damage Bend have been so spot-on so many times. But just as deep dark depression about the area's future threatens to suck me under, he closes with pictures of lovely lasses with large ta-tas, which I always find cheering; and with that, er, lift, I am reminded that economic cycles are inevitable, that over the long course of recorded history, we see civilizations rise to glory and sink into the sands; that one's own life is an arc beginning at birth and ending at death, with struggles and successes in the middle.

That's life, man.

Chance the Gardener: In the garden, growth has its seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.
President "Bobby": Spring and summer.
Chance the Gardener: Yes.
President "Bobby": Then fall and winter.
Chance the Gardener: Yes.
Benjamin Rand: I think what our insightful young friend is saying is that we welcome the inevitable seasons of nature, but we're upset by the seasons of our economy.

(Being There, 1979)


  1. I was going to extend congratulations on your first year's experiences in Bend, but I'm not sure "congratulations" is completely appropriate. Some combination of "congratulations" and "condolences," I guess. But I don't know of any such word. So ...

    Congratulations on "surviving" your first winter in Bend, which must have seemed like a big deal to somebody from SoCal, but trust me, it wasn't. Someday I'll tell you about the Terrible Winter of '92, when there was snow on the ground from Jan. 1 to mid-April, our firewood supply gave out, the snow was so deep in the woods that nobody could get out to cut more and we had to rely on the electric central heating in our 1950s-era house at a cost of about $400 a month. (Next year we got gas.)

    Condolences on your medical problems, which have really buggered up your summer (and winter and spring). Here's to better times ahead.

    And congratulations on not being in a position where you have to sell your Bend house.

  2. I love "Being There," but -- and excuse me if I'm being politically incorrect here, but wasn't Chance sort of a ... uh, that is ... an idiot?

    Or maybe a "holy fool," as the Russians would say.

  3. "he closes with pictures of lovely lasses with large ta-tas"

    They all have bodacious ta-tas, but a lot of 'em are downright skanky, you should excuse the expression.

  4. Chance was indeed simple, which was the point of the movie. Despite being uninformed of anything important, he nevertheless is set on track to be a personage of importance. He was a tabla rasa, and those around him projected profound wisdom into his statements. It was not his words I was pointing to, but the interpretation given them by Mr Rand, a businessman of influence.

    Nothing is permanent.

    "Skanky"?!? That's putting it mildly. I've felt the need to wash myself after looking at some of them. Others are downright cheery.

  5. Wait, what? "electric central heating"?!? I've never heard of such a thing. A big box filled with 240V heating coils and a blower to blow the heated air through the house?

    Man, I thought that electric clothes driers were stupid (they are, and we have one). But electric central heating -- that takes the cake.

    Maybe electricity was a lot cheaper vis-à-vis gas in the 50's.

  6. "A big box filled with 240V heating coils and a blower to blow the heated air through the house?"

    That was pretty much it.

    "Maybe electricity was a lot cheaper vis-à-vis gas in the 50's."

    Yep. Also they didn't even run gas mains out to our street until 1991. A wood-burning fireplace insert was our main source of heat for the first eight years we lived here. It heated the living, dining and kitchen areas really well; the rest of the house froze.

    We have a big gas fireplace in the living room now plus a small Vermont Castings gas stove in the master bedroom. Plus the central gas furnace, of course.

  7. "[Chance the gardener] was a tabla rasa, and those around him projected profound wisdom into his statements."

    Yes ... or maybe there WAS profound wisdom in his statements. Very Taoist in the way he responded simply and unquestioningly to the world, accepting things just as they are. In keeping with the "holy fool" theory, remember how at the conclusion he walked off across the water?

  8. "In keeping with the "holy fool" theory, remember how at the conclusion [Chance] walked off across the water?"

    That was a lovely moment, wasn't it? I saw the water-walking as a sign of his innocence, his purity.

    But, according to some, that ending was tacked on, an afterthought. At http://www.dareland.com/lastshot.htm I read:

    The script for Being There ends as both Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine take walks in the wood. They run into each other. She says "I was looking for you, Chance." He says "I was looking for you too." They take hands and walk off together.
    But near the end of production, somebody went up to [director Hal Ashyby] said "How's it going?"
    "Great," Hal said. "Sellers has created this character that's so amazing, I could have him walk on water and people would believe it." Hal stopped and thought. "As a matter of fact, I will have him walk on water."


------------ Facebook update page widget added 3/2012 --------------
------------ ends facebook update page widget -------------