Once Upon a Time by a River

Well, I wasn’t exactly in trouble but it was close. I pulled off toward a beautiful site where it was evident that many people had camped over the years (many people in four-wheel-drive vehicles!). The road was rough, especially pulling a car. Piece of cake! Well, a steep, rough, winding, narrow, tree-lined, potholed piece of cake. Eventually I was parallel with the river.

The hitch was cocked in a strange position, but the motorhome was level and the car had all four wheels on the ground. I shoulda walked the road first but nobody ever accused me of being bright. With the door opened to the river’s magnificent song, I enjoyed nature, let the solar work wonders with my batteries, and tried to figure out just how I was going to exit without beating the bound-up hitch into submission and unhooking.

Beautiful Sights
Autumn was dawning. Motorhomes with tows, fifth wheels, truck campers, motorcycles, and cars clickety clacked across the old iron bridge above, the sound almost obliterated by the stream. Were they oblivious to the fun of hand-over-hand swinging along the steel braces that were the bridge’s underpinnings? Of course it had been a few years since I’d tried it.

Semis, log trucks, and a pickup pulling a wagonload of hay were all on the road on Friday afternoon, their drivers anticipating the weekend. They probably missed seeing this beautiful stream nestled in the mountain curve and the cottonwoods flipping leaves from green to silver and back again.

At sunset, a herd of sheep was very animated until I retrieved my new camera and telephoto lens. I hadn’t really learned to use it yet and promptly lost all the photographs I had taken since leaving Leavenworth. But the thrill was in seeing them at all. I didn’t have to have their image to feel blessed.

Next morning, a miracle! No mice! I had accepted their noisy meanderings as inevitable. The deterrent might have been the Comet that I sprinkled over the mothballs that surrounded the wheels (I cleaned it all up before I left). That’s probably why I slept so well, overcome with mothball fumes.

Sharing the Morning
As often with boondocking, during the night a motorhome snuggled in to share my river delight. A lawn chair, a grande cup of coffee and a sunrise from the bluff, it doesn’t get much better than that. The other early riser joined me. This was only their second RVing trip. Their rig was a 20-foot mini, but since size has nothing to do with RVing fun, they were having a great time.

He had often rafted on the Teiton from Rimrock Lake to Windy Point and said he thought rafters would be bobbing along any minute since it was the weekend. After chatting a while, he said they had left home without coffee cups and asked if I had extras. I gave him a few, and then asked if he would return the favor. They were on their way to Leavenworth to see The Sound of Music. I asked if they would be kind enough to call my daughter in Leavenworth and give her a message. He assured me they would call Janet and they did. My children have learned they may receive messages in most any fashion. RVers now have the advantage of advanced technology, but RVers have always found ways to communicate.

A few years ago, friend and former RVer Todd invited me to stop and visit on my way south. Still without a cell phone, I called him from an Oregon landline. The number in my address book didn’t work. I called mutual RVing friends in Texas. That number didn’t work. I called my Washington daughter and asked her to e-mail Todd for a current number and said I would call her in the morning for his reply. “Mom, I won’t be home tomorrow. I’ll ask him to send it to Tracey.”

As I traveled across California highways 299 and 44 and south on 89 through Lassen Volcanic National Park, I stopped often to call my daughter Tracey in Virginia. She was out of the office all day but I finally reached her. From Oregon to Texas to Washington to Virginia, I finally contacted Todd so we could have a lovely evening in Chico, California. RVers have truly amazing ways of finding each other.

Rolling Along
But back to the river. Night creatures buzzed not unlike what I heard from the screened porch as a child. The Dowagiac creek that flowed by our cabin was quieter than this one. It meandered through pastures and woods and eventually into the St. Joe River that took it to Lake Michigan. This river hooks up with the Naches and Yakima rivers and mingles with the Pacific Ocean via the Columbia.

What fascinates me about streams and rivers is that they just keep moving along just like RVers. Also as we do, and like I knew I would have to do to worm my way out of this place, they wind around obstacles, sometimes making new paths.

If you’re a boondocker, you might follow my lead. I used my trusty portable rake and cleaned the area, packing a huge plastic bag with trash. I noticed two things right off. It doesn’t take much intelligence to break bottles into a fire pit, and when people come looking for a site and see piles of raked debris or someone working, they back out again, really fast! Hmmmm. I later offered the trash to a National Forest Service ranger. He was effusive in his thanks. Made me want to do it again!

As I complete this column, I am back in Arizona. It will shortly be time to fire up The George and head to Quartzsite for a fill-up of moonlight campfires with old friends in the desert. I don’t know what 2007 holds but I hope we will all live it to the fullest. Happy New Year and God Bless.

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Autographed copies of Revised RVing Alaska and Canada ($16.95); Adventures with the Silver Gypsy ($14.95); Full-Time RVing: How to Make it Happen $14.95); In Pursuit of a Dream ($8), and Freedom Unlimited, The Fun and Facts of Full-timing ($9) are available through author Sharlene Minshall, Box 1040, Congress, AZ 85332-1040, www.full-time-rver.com or Amazon.com. Postage and handling are $4 for one book and $1 for each additional book.

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