“Did you take a dump in my bathroom?”
Yes, folks, that was probably the first words out of the ever-rested Morgan Menke’s mouth this morning.
Good morning to you, too, honey! Morgan has taken ownership of the outhouse here at Miner’s Lake Campground. “It’s clean. It smells good. And there are no flies.”
But, apparently not so much this morning. And she — for some reason — blames me for that. I take no ownership, for what it’s worth.
Dave fried up the leftover baked potato from our Rib Eye dinner the first night and force-fed it to Charlie. He didn’t have to work too hard at it, as Charlie will eat anything that has Lawry’s on it when we are camping. Though he pronounces it “Lories.” We had forgotten about the banana bread until this morning, tucked as it was under the bin in the cooler that holds the fragile items like tomatoes, soft cheese, etc… So we toasted several pieces of that for breakfast. –a BIG improvement over eating it sliced cold.
After the obligatory feeding of the wildlife and another visit from Mr. Fox, we started packing up to leave. Much like in year’s past, we are udderless — mostly without direction — divided in our opions of which way to go next. Not surprisingly, Morgan is the loudest dissenting voice. She desires “majestic mountains.” But really, who doesn’t? And I find that, much as I want to, I can hardly disagree with her. Secretly, I keep wondering how we ended up where we are. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very pretty. I’m having fun. No complaints. I just wonder: there aren’t really any big distinguishing features to the area…
When I ask Dave (as nonchalantly as possible — these men can be so sensitive!), “So how’d you pick this place?” He doesn’t have much of an answer other than that we’d never been here before. Fair enough.
Dave had been studying his maps last night and this morning and had earmarked the Hamilton/Wisdom/Head North for our next leg, since the one thing we knew we wanted to do for sure this year was to fly fish on a river. The Bitterroot Valley is one of “thee” places to do that. So, from Jackson, we went north to Wisdom, west over Lost Trail Pass, past a ski resort of the same name, and on up to the Bitterroot Valley. Pretty road, but then it quickly and suddenly gave way to a very, very big burn area near Sula. I’d like to have looked a lot of this stuff up online, but we seriously continue to have no cell coverage at all. It’s shocking. No Verizon (dave). No AT&T (me and the kids). I’d like to say how awesome it is to be totally unplugged — in many ways it is — but in all honesty, I’m just as bad as my kids. I’m not a texter, but a life without Google is not a life worth living. So remind me to google “Sula fire” when I get home.
[ MONTANA FIRES: Federal and state land management organizations recognized the wildfires of 2000 as historic in both extent and duration. Through late September, more than 79,700 wildfires scorched over 6.8 million acres of public and private land. This exceeds the 10-year average of 66,120 wildfires and 3.1 million acres burned annually. The number, size and intensity of these wildfires stretched land management suppression resources to the limit, threatened entire communities and caught the attention of the public and media throughout the world. The suppression effort was likely the largest peacetime mobilization of resources in our Nation’s history. The U.S. military provided valuable resources to the suppression effort.]
We stopped at a ranger station and got very little info on campgrounds. Some ranger stations are great, some not. But they all have bathrooms, so it was not a total waste of time.
North just another 20 miles made a world of difference in the scenery. We checked out a few campgrounds. One was closed for beetle damage repair. Another was oh-so-depressing. The third, up the Nez Perce Road was called, unbeknownst to us, a “group camp”, which is never good, turned out to be OK. We found a solitary site away from the the big group camp area that backed up to a little creek. Not too shabby!
We set up camp and by the time we were finished, we realized our folly. We were camping in Hell — aka a horse camp. Black flies and black ants EVERYWHERE. Morgan was wild-eyed and freaking out. It was entirely too hot to even consider moving elsewhere. We soothed our nerves (as we stomped our feet and flailed our arms) by telling ourselves it would get better as evening progressed. I remembered an ancient can of Raid in the camper that has seriously been in there since maybe before we even took possession of it more than 10 years ago. I sprayed the “Circle of Death” on the ground all around the picnic table and fire ring, which took care of the ants, more or less. The flies, not so much.
We decided to bring our chairs, books and many, many snacks down to the creek and relax and to escape the flies which were surely so bad because of the horse poop so near to our camp.
Only they weren’t any better there at all. Odd. Creepy. Makes me think there are dead bodies in the woods somewhere.
We all doused ourselves in Repel 100% feet. Who knew they even made such a thing. 100% deet? Is that even legal Who on earth would by something so toxic? Why did we buy it?
Nevermind. We used it. No one died. We were thankful to have it.
It was an idyllic afternoon, if you could get past the satanic flies.
Some of us did better than others. And after a ridiculous amount of snacking, which included but was not limited to: beer, pop, cowboy caviar, salt and vinegar chips, trail mix, cambozola, and maybe even a special K bar.
I started cooking dinner: Spaghetti with 4-cheese (provolone, cambozola, mozzarella, parmesan!) bread and arugula/tomato/mozzarella salad. Yum.
Morgan spent as little time outside the camper as possible. I must say though: aside from the flies, the site was awesome. The camper fit into this perfect little camper-sized grotto (see pic above) of trees which kept us nicely shaded. It was totally private, no one around. You could hear the babbling creek. Beautiful! Just a little Hellish at the same time.
The plans were to fish the next morning with Osprey Outfitters — meeting them at 8:30 am in Connor, MT after buying licenses, and of course, loading up our texts and emails in the 1 mile stretch of town that provides cell service!
Oooooh. So. Full. No dessert for me. No dessert. …well, maybe just one Baby Ruth… And then to bed. Once again, no headlamps were necessary as we were all in bed by dark.