Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Camping on the Shore of Wickiup Reservoir, Pt. 4

Well -- that was a surprise. 

After deciding that the day was so nice -- sunny, breezy, bright -- that drinking wine looked more attractive than farting about in a kayak, I wuz sitting all naked and warm in the open side door of the van, baking in sunlight, reading a book, when without warning, an Oregon State Trooper in his dark blue truck materialized almost noiselessly and slowly drove by, no more than 30 feet away.

I gave him a wave, he gave me a wave and, in his government-issue mirrored sunglasses, he just kept on driving.

I have no idea what the laws are regarding nudity in the national forests but I bet he could have ticketed me for something if he'd been in the mood. But no complaints, minding my own business, tidy campsite, no loud music . . . keep moving folks, nothing to see.

So, so far: county sheriff in a boat, then state trooper.

Last night's dinner was grilled buffalo steak -- very good -- and I was planning on grilling

a nice grain-fed New York steak from a cow. The cut was marinating in Penzy's BBQ 3000 dry rub.

But in the afternoon, a couple crew in a forestry fire truck stopped in front of the campsite. Wanting to see I'd had a campfire going, I guessed. There's a fire restriction in place right now so I knew better.

"Are you aware of the travel restrictions?" she wanted to know.

"Uh . . . maybe," I said.

"Well, you can't camp below the high water mark," (I knew that), "and you are."

I didn't know that. I had surveyed the area pretty closely and didn't see a clear high water mark behind me, and I recalled plenty of people camping under these very trees last month when the reservoir was full.

But she said the whole field behind me, and the trees around me, are under water in spring.

"And, no campfires." She looked at my little charcoal grill. "Or charcoal fires."

Duh. I should have known that. And caught red-handed.

"Aw, shucks," I tried to be charming. "This is the sweetest campsite I've ever camped in."

"Are you leaving tomorrow?"

I was staying until Monday.

"You have to move. You can go up to those sites along the road," she pointed at higher sites buried in dark evergreen forest.

That was now three people with jurisdiction over me, and while the sheriff and the trooper saw nothing to complain about, the fire fighter did. I guess her priorities were a bit different.

I moved. It only took about 20 minutes, trailer and all. The new site wasn't as open as the old, and it is more bedraggled. Amazing how a couple generations of lazy campers can trash an area. Mutilated trees, mysterious pits dug in the ground, fire circles filled more with burnt garbage than ashes, and tatters of toilet paper on the ground back in the trees demonstrated how people can't be trusted to leave an area clean enough so when the water rises in spring, the river isn't polluted with human fecal matter and rubbish.

Still, I had a nice view. It got overcast that night.

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