Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Camping on the Shore of Wickiup Reservoir, Pt. 5

After settling into the new site and got over my grumbling about having to lose the sweet campsite on the sand, I sipped a Walnut City Wineworks Willamette Valley 2007 Pinot Gris (Fred Meyer's, $9.99, and considered dinner.

I was unsure how to cook steak without a BBQ. Bruce Miller sent an email suggesting steak au poivre. I looked at a few recipes online, then took it from there: Sautéed onions in butter, added a bunch of coarsely-ground black pepper, tossed in the steak which was cut into 1'' slices, three minutes, turned the steak, drizzled some Ranch dressing atop it, cooked another 3 minutes, dumped the food onto the plate, poured some coconut milk into the pan, let it gather up some flavor, then poured that over the steak. Kicked BUTT! It was delicious.

Read for a while, fell asleep, but I didn't sleep through the night. We had loaned one of the two down comforters we keep in the van to my stepson a couple weeks ago and it hadn't yet been returned. Slightly chilled, I awoke at 3 am and could not fall asleep. I read for a while, tried to doze, but don't think I accomplished much in that regard.

During the night I heard a Great Horned Owl hooting, coyotes singing, and some other critters I could not identify. When I got up, it was a chilly 35 degrees in the van and I was cold. 

After dressing in my warmest clothes and getting a hot cup of buttered green tea into me, I watched as the day grew brighter, revealing a fog-shrouded lake and listened to the automated weather service forecast for the area. 

Exposed tree roots show that these guys have their feet
underwater when the reservoir is full. Fuzzy horizontal
smear in distance is a sandbar. 
I waited for the sun to break through the mist so I could place my solar panels. This new site was much more shaded than the last so I knew I'd be spending time relocating them as the sun moved. 

On the other hand, it was so cold that morning the refrigerator hardly had to work at all, meaning that the battery was not being drawn down much. 

The forecast called for even colder nights ahead and I figured it was time to break out a new heater I picked up on sale at Fred Meyers on the way out of town. 

The van already has a heater in it, a little catalytic heater connected to the van's 2-gallon propane supply which I installed many years ago. It can provide as much as 2600 btu's. 

But the new one, a "Mr. Heater Buddy" is good for 9000 btu on the high setting. At that setting it goes through one of those little 1-lb bottles of propane in three hours, but I thought the van would warm up quickly so my two bottles of propane should last the rest of the trip, easy. 

I also brought along a 7600 btu kerosene heater. It's more economical to run than the Mr. Heater Buddy, but it's large, and takes up a fair amount of space in the van's little living quarters.

It took several hours, almost until 11 o' clock, for the fog and clouds to lift. I wandered about camp and the surroundings jacketed, be-hatted, and gloved until the sun finally broke through.

Due to lack of sleep, I found myself drowsy in the afternoon. The sun was warming the inside of the van (one thing these Vanagons have over other camper vehicles is nearly 360 degrees of windows) and I decided to take a chance at a nap.

I have been told that naps are restorative, but I am a reluctant napper. My naps are seldom successful. By some means that I have never understood, the world knows when I try to nap and will do all in its power to prevent it. The phone rings, someone knocks at the door, Mrs Elliott calls out, wondering where I am, a bird crashed into the window -- whatever it takes to totally disrupt my nap.

And I wake disoriented, slightly nauseous, feeling out of sorts.

I don't get the attraction of napping.

Though no one or no thing bothered me that day, it took me at least two hours to recover from the effects of the afternoon's nap.

The weather service told me that cold, it would be, that night -- but it that it will be brilliant, with crystal-clear skies, suitable for stargazing. Cold fronts are good like that, bringing clear, dry air. Fortunately I brought along my backpack with my lovely warm Western Mountaineering down-filled hiker's mummy bag to supplement the thinner comforter in the van. 


  1. "Bruce Miller sent an email suggesting steak au poivre."

    You'd be pretty helpless out there without your support crew back in Bend, wouldn't you?

  2. "I don't get the attraction of napping."

    Trick is to nap for only 20-30 minutes at most. Nap for an hour or two and you wake up feeling like you do first thing in the morning. Which for most guys our age ain't good.

  3. "You'd be pretty helpless out there without your support crew back in Bend, wouldn't you?"

    Goddamn right! It's like the difference between Bear Gryllis and his crew of cameramen, and Les Stroud doing it all alone.

    Well, those are actually both extremely manly men in whose presence I would feel like a total pussy.

    Actually, having email and cell service when camping is a novelty to me. The place I camp at at Wickiup is near Twin Lakes Resort and there is decent cell reception there.

    But having email and internet service was kind of fun in a pen-pal kinda way. And allowed me to look up recipes and how to rig anchors on a kayak.


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