Thursday, November 3, 2011

Road Babe Dispatch From Washington

I woke to the tapping of rain on the tent. Eddie had been up since 6:30, scribbling in his journal while I slept. The night before, we'd camped by a creek in Mineral Springs Washington. After setting up, I'd made hummus wraps and mac-n-cheese. Delirious from travel, we'd laughed like lovers or maniacs or both.

When I emerged from the tent, Eddie told me the rain had subsided. It was hard to believe, considering the swollen state of the creek. Shakespeare, my adorable but not so bright dog, barked at water-swirling rocks to protect us from any monsters below the surface.

We packed up and made our way through large conifers. These woods seemed familiar, like those of West Montana and the Idaho panhandle: large green spaces filled with the sound of moving water. We stopped in Yakima for supplies but forgot wood and ice. Passing signs for fresh cherries and asparagus on a winding mountain road, we spotted a storefront in the mist: Calvin's beer and sporting goods. “It just rained here,” Eddie said.

“Where's a reindeer?” I asked, passing him the herb pipe.

“Just go get the goods already.”

Inside the musty store, I found an empty counter backed with rods, reels, hooks and plastic baits in different sizes and colors. Behind that, there were picks, axes, shovels, guns and ammo. There was nobody supervising the guns. I figured they must have ice when they have beer, right?

This lumberjack type rounded the corner, a red flannel belly held up by suspenders, a knotted brown ponytail, a wide double chin and inbred crossed eyes. When he looked at me, one eye rolled to the outside corner.

“How much for a bundle?”

“Five bucks and I'll throw in some extra,” he said. “There's a good campin' spot four miles South on a gravel road on the right …”

“That's okay, we're …”

“ … or two miles North on a dirt road going left at the fork …”

“No really, we're …”

“… or one mile North on a gravel road on the left and down the river. Rain is up around here. Been washin’ out some of the best spots. If I got paid for information, I'd be a rich man.”

While he chopped the wood, I headed out to the car. “I was about to come get you,” Eddie said. “What took so long?”

We ended up in an old growth forest by Iron Creek, a primordial land sunken in mist. I swear I saw brontosaurus snacking on treetops around every corner. As soon as we set up camp, it started to pour. So, what did we do? Put on raincoats and investigate! Along the way, we discovered a raging river, an amphitheater filled with six-inch slugs, a slippery bridge and footprints from prehistoric man. We were completely isolated, having gone back to The Land Before Time.

At this point, it was really drenching, so we ran back to camp and huddled inside the tent with wine, salami, and asiago cheese puffs. Shakespeare was beyond pouting, not allowed to enter the tent but stuck under the vestibule, pushing his disgruntled face against the mesh. (Check out his sullen attitude in the pic.)

When the rain slowed, we made a small fire. A furry spider, so big his hairs glistened in the firelight, perched on the arm of my folding chair. We watched the stars come out above us as Shakespeare crept into the tent and fell asleep. 

Mittie Babette Roger is from Louisiana but lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University and authored the book It's Better to Visit the Shaman Without Questions to Ask. She travels the world volunteering to help disadvantaged children and promoting Blue Iguana Tequila to empower serious drinkers.