Sunday, June 13, 2010

4th Annual Memorial Day Campout

It has become a tradition to join my brother Dale and his family camping over Memorial Day weekend.  We always go to the same place - The Cove Palisades State Park in central Oregon.  Since Memorial Day can often times be rainy around the Portland area, we figure we have a better chance of a drier weekend if we camp on the east side of the mountains.

Max, JJ and Nancy make banana boats

This year, we were not so lucky in the "no rain" department.  We arrived on Friday, and just as we were settling in our tents that evening, it began to rain!  It rained all night, but luckily by morning the rain had stopped.  Roger, Dale, and the boys took the boat out to go fishing, and Nancy and I stayed at camp and took the dogs to the dog park.  Saturday stayed rain-free and we even got a little bit of blue sky in the afternoon.

Max and JJ roast marshmallows at the park's evening campfire program

When the men came back for lunch Saturday noon, Roger wanted a beer.  We had placed all our drinks in a separate cooler (pop, and water, but mostly beer).  Roger started looking for the cooler, but it was nowhere to be found.  We looked around our campsite, in both cars, and tried to remember when we'd last seen it.  Finally Roger glanced up into the hills near our campsite, and something caught his eye.  It was the white lid of our cooler.  He found our cooler up on the hill.   The water and pop were still inside, but there was no beer!  We couldn't believe that someone would steal a cooler full of beer.  Roger and Dale thought it was probably some kids that snuck into our campsite late at night.  The funny thing was, Bear was asleep in our tent, and we didn't hear a peep from him!

Dale and Max enjoying their lunch

We finished our lunch, and then Roger and I had to make a beer run (we could not go camping all weekend without beer!).  I persuaded Roger to visit balancing rocks while we were out and about (more about that below).

Max reading by the campfire

Max and JJ went to a campfire program Saturday night, put on by the State Park staff.  We always get the campsite that is right next to the amphitheater, so we never miss a program.  This evening's program was on how to build a fire.  I thought it was kind of interesting that they were teaching young kids how to build a fire!  Hmmmm.....  After the campfire was built, the rangers produced couple bags of the biggest marshmallows I've ever seen, and the kids had a huge marshmallow roast.  Of course, Max and JJ enjoyed this best of all!

The men and dogs take shelter from the rain 

Sunday, the guys went fishing, and Bear and I took a run up on the Tam-a-Lau trail.  I was registered for a half marathon the following week, and needed to get some running in.  I ran 7 miles, and totally wore out Bear.  The trail up on the plateau was interesting to run.  However, after making two loops, I was ready to be done!

What to do on  a rainy day?  Play cards!

That afternoon Roger took me for a boat ride around the lake.  The sky was cloudy and blah, so no good photo opportunities.  It started to rain, so we headed in.  As we were loading the boat, the sky opened up.  Back at camp,  I put Bear in the car to keep him dry (I did not want a wet, muddy dog in the tent!)  I sat in the tent and read, Nancy read the boys stories, and the men played cards under our table canopy (so glad we brought that!).

A wet campfire on Sunday night

The rain  never fully let up all night.  We had  a soggy dinner and campfire.  It rained hard all night, but luckily it let up by morning.  We woke up Monday morning, packed up our wet gear and headed for home.

A Trip to Balancing Rock

The rocks as viewed from the trail

There is a really neat area of unusual rock formations west of the Cove Palisades State Park.  It is unofficially called "Balancing Rock" by the locals.  The trail is not marked, so you have to have directions to find it.  I'd visited the area two years ago, and really wanted to go back.  So I convinced Roger to take me there while we were camping nearby.

Roger admires the large balancing rock

I'm kind of rusty in my geology, but it appears these unusual rocks formed by a softer rock layer eroding under a layer of harder rock.  I'm not sure why the erosion happened the way it did in this isolated area and nowhere else nearby.  Whatever the case, these rocks are amazing examples of nature at work.

Rock "peek-a-boo"

These rocks look very prehistoric.  I felt like I was visiting the Flinstones Bedrock City! 

I'm holding the rock up!

Roger and I walked around the two dozen or so rocks, and I, of course, snapped tons of photos.  Lucky for me, the sun came out and I was able to get some blue sky backgrounds to my photos.  It was the only time we saw blue sky all weekend.

Another example of extreme erosion

I'm glad this area  is not well known.  If it was, I think some people would destroy these natural wonders.  So I'm not disclosing any more information on the whereabouts of balancing rock.

Roger and Bear on the overlook

However, I do wonder how long it will take until erosion causes the top rocks to fall over.  When this happens, balancing rock will cease to exist.  I'm glad I got to see the place before that happens.


I loved this balsamroot bloom

I can't end a blog post without a couple of flower photos!  The balsamroot in bloom, as it always is this time of year.  However, the bloom was not as good as in previous years.  There have been years that the hillsides are a carpet of yellow.  Not this time.  I did manage to find a couple good blooms of this cheerful yellow flower.

Lupine leaves dotted with raindrops

The Monday we left, I took my camera and headed up the hill to photograph a really nice patch of flowers I'd seen on my run the other day.

Lovely purple lupine

The lupine was also blooming nicely.  I found a couple of patches of the bright purple flowers.

Although the weather wasn't as great as we hoped, and we lost a case of really good beer, it was still a successful campout.  It was good to see Dale and his family.  We always have a good time with them.  The first camping trip of the year reminds me that summer is right around the corner.  I'm ready for summer - bring it on!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Don't be shy! Please leave a comment.