We had another wonderful week camped in the forest near Sisters, Oregon. It was great only being a few miles from town and having the luxury of great cell service while still being able to stay for free in the forest. These spots happen very infrequently, making leaving that much more difficult. We had another week full of hiking, waterfalls, and swimming in alpine lakes. Mixing in a brewery or two and even visiting an outlet mall. That’s right, an outlet mall. We didn’t buy everything that Tara wanted (Eddie Bauer, Columbia and Nike were having big sales. It could have easily become a bloodbath), but the few things we did get are very special to us simply because they are new!
One of Tara’s college roommates, Becca (one of the Geek Family members), who currently lives in Portland came to visit. She came to explore the outdoors with us for a few days and be our personal photographer. That would be reason alone to have her hang out with us, it is just a plus that she’s actually pretty cool. While she was visiting we went to Smith Rock State Park. It’s a super cool rock formation jutting toward the sky, seemingly dropped in the central Oregon desert. That’s right, the Oregon desert, who knew right? We hiked around the south end of the rocks then took the trail straight toward Misery Ridge. It was very adequately named as we traversed the edge with no protection from the sun. We gained 2000 feet over the one mile hike to the top but the view up there seemed to go on forever.
As Becca headed back toward Portland we too were ready to move North. Moving day is always a bit of a gamble. Since we don’t plan too far ahead moving day usually starts with one of two things. We are either scrambling and checking online to find a free campsite in the woods or we are calling all the RV parks in the town we have chosen to stay in to see if there is an opening. This time we were going the “free campsite in the woods’” route and looking for something near Mt. Hood.
We found four potential spots online that looked okay and were happily packing up the camper. Tara usually puts everything away inside, cleans the floors, makes the bed and ties everything down in anticipation of the move. I put the chairs and table away, un-block the wheels, take down clothes lines and hammocks, and hook the trailer up. It usually goes pretty smooth up to this point.
As we get on the road, we usually throw on a podcast, Dirtbag Diaries and How we Built This are a few of our favorites. While hunting for a new camp spot sounds fun, it usually is a constant weighing of options. Is the view worth not having any cell service? Will the heat at this spot be way worse than an alpine spot? Do we want neighbors even though it’s in a central location? Is the next spot going to be better than this one? It is a constant battle and re-planning that sometimes gets exhausting. This was what we experienced this moving day. After reading several reviews for “great spots” we hit dead end after dead end. Spots were either taken up by other campers, the spot was unreachable with our truck and camper, or it was right next to a busy road (not suitable for a dog prone to roaming). It was a day filled with spotty cell service and 7 point turns, rough rocks and untrimmed branches. By 4:00 in the afternoon the 1.5 hour trip had increased to 3.5 hours.
We had enough of our “Tour de Mt. Hood” by this point and headed for a county park near the Hood River. The park was great. It’s on the Hood River, has bathrooms, and we were even able to pull in a few TV channels on the antenna. It makes us wonder if spending all that time looking for a free campsite in the woods is even worth wasting the time. But hey, as my good friend Ryan always says, “20 bucks is 20 bucks!”