Sunday 13th August – Rainy Towards Portland

Just as we went to sleep to the sound of rain, we woke up to it as well. Like the rookies we are, we’d left our chairs outside and they were inevitably soaked along with the rest of the forest. At 8am, I was up and awake so I sat in bed blogging while Dan enjoyed a slow wake up, brought on by the rain. We were both super happy we’d climbed Mount Hood yesterday because it was the last we’d see of it. Today, it was completely shrouded in cloud and rain.

We moved slowly around camp, taking down the slackline after eating cereal for brekkie. I let the car run a while to get power back to my fridge and start charging some stuff while Dan did the last bits of pack up. A bit of Googling around to plan out our day and we were off, along with most of the rest of the campsite because of the wet weather. It wasn’t pissing down, but the misty rain was enough to make anyone want a warm dry place to go to.

The rain carried on as we drove towards Portland but I didn’t mind it, I was listening to music and off in a completely different world just following Dan wherever he lead me. After an hour, we came to the town of Sandy and he pulled off when he saw a Napa Auto Parts Store. He needed a new mass air flow sensor and I asked about a new idle air control valve. We both walked out disappointed at the price, opting to get something online for a third of their offer.

Since there was a Laundromat in the shopping complex with a grocery outlet nextdoor, we drove around and put a huge load of washing on. While that was happening we wandered the isles of the Grocery Outlet with a shopping trolley that was way too big. At the checkout, I was amazed at the price of a week’s worth of groceries. I had enough to make lunch and dinner for two people for a week and it all came to $30. Ridiculous.

Dan had already put the washing in the dryer when I got back to the Laundromat so I blogged a while using their Wifi as we waited the last few minutes. We folded everything, put it in our laundry bags and we were done with our errands for the day. Fully stocked with food and clean clothes, we hit the road again. Half an hour later, we were coming in to Portland and Dan navigated us through a maze of highways and traffic to the suburbs where I was sure he was going to show me his old digs or something, but when we parked, he told me we were right next to The Life of Pi, a pizza place that had been his local when he lived in the area. We were here for the lunch time special.

Cleo guarded the Cabana while we walked to the pizza joint where we were immediately inundated with the beautiful aroma of cooking pizza dough. I knew this would be a delicious lunch. Two margarita pizzas and beers on order, we sat by the window to people watch. Minutes later, we had two piping hot pizzas in front of us and we dug in. Dan wasn’t kidding when he said this was a great place. For $5 we were eating luxury. Paired with some chilli oil to dip the crust in, we were in heaven.

Onwards to the next adventure, we drove over to the local disc golf course, another favourite past time of Dan’s when he lived in Portland. We put a couple of beers in a backpack, grabbed our two discs and were off into the forest. Being a Sunday afternoon, the course was pretty busy so we hung around at Hole 14 until there was a gap in the players and got in on the action. Turns out Hole 14 was the hardest of the course with plenty of trees to hit so it wasn’t the best start, but we eventually got warmed up.

Long story short, Dan killed me at pretty much every hole, but I did manage to put on one good show and break even with him just the once. We drank as we played, enjoying a couple of fancy brews that Dan had picked up at a local bottlo. Cleo chased a bunch of squirrels as we chased our discs, all of us enjoying the game until I kept hitting every part of the baskets that didn’t get my disc in. We’d gone through about ten holes by the time we called it quits, thinking we’d go catch an early movie.

We’d been looking for a drive-in but the closest one was miles away and we weren’t interested in that much of a drive so Dan found a normal cinema showing a movie called Dunkirk. We drove five minutes down the road and walked up to the old school theatre. We didn’t know much about the movie, only that it was set in war time with a sci-fi twist.

I snuck some beers in and Dan got a bag of popcorn so we munched and drank as we watched the previews, some of which were super scary. The Dunkirk movie was brilliant. Dan had been wrong about the sci-fi twist, it was a dramatisation of an actual WWII event set on the beach of Dunkirk in German-invaded France. It covered the events of a single day at the beach where thousands of French and British soldiers awaited evacuation from the enemy territory while air raids pummelled them. It was a brilliant film that had me on the edge of my seat the whole time and I believe every bit of hardship and incredible luck displayed. It was a relatively happy ending and we both left the theatre well aware that war had been such a different time back in the 40s.

Outside the theatre, it was still light out and being 7:30pm we were well past our time to go look for a camp. After a bit of umming and arring, we decided we didn’t feel like staying in the city, it just didn’t feel right. A quick look on freecampsites.net showed the closest forest digs was an hour away but on Google satellite I saw a spot called Idiot Creek Camp and figured we had to stop there and check it out.

Dan followed me as we climbed through the winding road of Forest Park then on to the outskirts of the city, taking the non-major highway through farmland and fields. It didn’t take long until we were on a road with trees towering over us. At the turn off to Idiot Creek Camp, there was nothing to suggest fees of any kind, only a sign that labelled this place as Idiot Creek and that we should enjoy our stay. Thanks1 There were a couple of sites right by the road plenty big enough so we pulled in and levelled up. I’d done well yet again.

It was bloody cold so we got straight on to collecting wood for a fire, knowing we might have a hard time of it thanks to the wet weather of yesterday. Dan going off in one direction, I head in the other, finding more campsites down towards the creek. I found a couple of big logs and a long tree branch which I lugged back to our fire ring. Dan had done alright too. As he built the tepee, I hacksawed away at the tree branches to give us some good lengths of wood. We had a bit of trouble, but with the addition of a tiny bit of petrol, we were right to go, we had a beautiful roaring fire to enjoy as Dan cooked a mish mash dinner to get us fed quickly. This was our latest camp for a long time and Don coined it our best late camp yet.

We ate spicy rice with sausage and asparagus by the fire, enjoying the warmth and seeing the stars for the first time in weeks in the canopy above us. Maybe the smoke haze had finally cleared because of the moisture from the rain? It wasn’t long after dinner that we were both feeling sleepy but we sat up long enough to enjoy the fire as the two big logs started burning through. When we heard an incredible racket coming from the forest nearby, I stared wide-eyed into the darkness wondering what the hell we were hearing. Dan knew immediately, it was a pack of coyotes that had just made a kill. They howled and yapped away for a good minute, obviously in a whirr of excitement that had me wanting to retreat to the van. If I’d have been alone, for sure I would have locked myself inside. It died down after a while, but it was one of the eeriest things I’d ever heard.

In the Cabana, we snuggled under the warm doona, almost unable to believe that only days ago we’d been camped by the Columbia River, sweating in the heat and being plagued by bugs. Here, there wasn’t a single mozzie to be smacked, just a quiet forest.

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