We stayed at Farewell Bend Campground in the Rogue-River Siskiyou National Forest for a couple of nights – to the east of Crater Lake in Oregon. National Forests are pretty basic – the youth hostels of campgrounds. No electricity hood-ups and we had to carry water in a 5 gallon jug from the faucet across the road. Worst of all, our Verizon internet do-thingy couldn’t pick up a signal and neither could our cell phone. But I’m not complaining.
We had propane to fire up the stove for hot water and our coffee (we stopped carrying an electric coffee maker after it broke) and the frig can run on propane. We pack so we can do primitive – just in case.
We did “primitive camping” many years ago when our kids were young and we were strapped for money, so I know how to make do without a lot of luxury – like flush toilets and electricity. In fact I liked camping in the state forest campground because it helped me remember that it is possible to wash my hair and take a bath with a gallon of water in a basin instead of… well 10 minutes of continually running hot water.
Our campsite by the Rogue did have running water – hundreds of gallons a minute just outside our door. Raging, churning water that averages 44 degrees F. Did you know that river water gets louder at night, about bedtime? We also had a fireplace that was built when the campground was developed during the 1930’s. Unfortunately all but one have been vandalized to the point of not being usable. They had steel grates and doors on them with the seal of the National Forest Service. Must be people wanted souvenirs. It makes me angry.
We arrived late afternoon, got set up, fixed a simple meal, cleaned up, and took a walk through the park, exploring the river at a couple of spots. I practiced water photography while J. explored rocks that float (pumice). It was a very quiet, relaxing time together.
As we strolled back, a couple who live in a nearby town and have camped on this river for years (they have a BIG motor home with a generator) flagged us down. We had stopped to say hi earlier in the evening and they thought of a list of things we should really experience close by; Rogue Gorge, Hidden Bridge, and Beckie’s (where they have the best breakfast around and ice cream). We still had an hour of light so we drove to the Rogue Gorge. The Rogue River (the one next to our campsite) is flowing through lava rock and both Rogue Gorge & Hidden Bridge are pretty impressive.
When we returned we talked a while about what we had saw, where we were, and where we were going. We did a little reminiscing about camping with the kids at House Lake. J got out the small candles and the new lantern he bought just in case we didn’t have electricity – I think he was excited about using it. I asked what time it was, because the digital clock over the sink was dark. Eight-thirty. Is it too early to go to bed? And we talked a little longer, commenting on how nice it was to just sit and talk without distractions. We talked about how people might have lived before electricity. Silence. We both have readers with batteries that hadn’t been recharged. Silence.
We really like each other, and really enjoy each other’s company but we ran out of things to talk about. Maybe it was because we had been together 24/7 for over three weeks. Maybe it was because I’m an introvert so I let him do most of the talking and he was done. We entertained ourselves for a while but a descent hour for bedtime took a long time coming.
We planned for the next night a little better. We bought a bundle of wood and had a campfire, complete with hotdogs. The hotdogs tasted sooooo good and the nights in the mountains get chilly as soon as the sun sets so the fire felt good. J even made us a cup of Irish coffee – should I call it primitive Irish coffee?
But as we were sitting by the campfire, we made a very important decision. We decided that we are too old for primitive camping. We really don’t need to know that we can live with less, we already did that. I like feeling pampered by a little luxury – like electricity and water when I turn the faucet.
Footnote: We had a great breakfast at Beckie’s before we drove to Crater Lake and had ice cream at Beckie’s on the way back. Both were really good.