johnny May 11th, 2009
…on a rainy day.
I guess we’re starting to see the ‘real’ Washington weather. Our first week in the state was pretty dry, but the past week has been rather damp or perhaps moist. In fact, you could say it has been downright soggy.
Last Sunday, we headed towards Mt. Rainier National Park from the north side. The park is still closed, but there is a lot of forestry land around the park which allows dispersed camping. We spotted at least one exceptionally nice boondocking spot on the main road into the park, but as it was a fairly well traveled road, any and all turnouts were occupied. Near the park entrance, we crossed a rather long one lane bridge across the Carbon River.
Immediately, the road turned to gravel and around the first bend, the road was constricted by a fallen tree and a couple of large boulders on the opposite side. This particular section of road was more mud, boulders and tree roots than gravel. We had around 18 inches of clearance between the jacks and the obstacles. Not too bad, but the angle of attack required getting rather close to the edge of the road. Normally, this wouldn’t be a large concern, but we’d already seen the edge of a couple roads washed away that morning.
With Jenn’s help in the form of ambiguous hand signals (does anyone know what two crooked fingers forming a ‘U’ means?), we managed to get through the constriction without any new dings or scratches. Not too far up the road, we found a somewhat obscured pullout that would be our home for the next week.
I think we had one sunny day, on Monday, followed by four rainy ones. We then figured we might as well stick around through the weekend since Washingtonians seem to enjoy camping and grabbed all the good spots on the weekends. Anyway, it seemed like a good idea to let that hairy bit of road dry out some as there was a drainage culvert right above it.
So, how did we amuse ourselves for a week when we were rained in without internet? Better than you might expect two people to do while cooped up in the back of a truck. It turned out we were able to tune in an HD channel that played nothing but older movies and we managed to tolerate the commercials fairly well. There was also a good selection of radio stations, one of which happened to play both kinds of music – jazz and blues.
One thing I made sure to pack when we left was four decks of cards, which we actually used for the first time at Patrick’s party. I don’t think Jenn and I have ever played cards together, but we played a bit of gin rummy and I taught Jenn to play UNO using two decks of cards. We’re going to have to get a real deck some day! At one point, the house rules got downright silly: we were using poker chips, two decks of cards and a made up ‘spinner’ for random number generation. The game was alternating between UNO and gin, with the winner of a hand allowed to spin for poker chips which could be spent to make up a temporary rule for the next game. Silly, yes. But, I won!
Jenn spent a lot of time being constructive as well. She’s been knitting me a pair of socks. So far, they cover about half of my foot. I think we’re going to have to get back out in the middle of nowhere before I can expect the other half. She enjoyed bragging about how all of her half-finished projects give her plenty to do during the moments when I was scrambling for something to keep me occupied. I played with my electronics kit a bit for the first time in two years and even managed to shoot a few arrows during a brief lull in the rain. Just enough rounds to ruin another arrow… 15 yards is really a bit too close for practice, but I was bored!
Somewhere in there during a lull, I climbed up on the roof and resealed an area that turned out not to be leaking. Four days of rain along with temperatures in the low forties overnight and low fifties for mid-day highs and we had some pretty awful humidity in the camper. Yep, raining from the skylight in the bathroom! Water forming on cans in the cupboards. As long as I was doing repairs, I fixed the connections on our inverter, which were not exactly up to code. The connections look much nicer now and should hold up much better, even if it is a bit harder to check the exact battery voltage now.
And then, there were video games! Yes, we’ve quite a collection of old games that we’re dragging around. After trying out a few things, Jenn settled in on a real time strategy game of some sort and I went to an old favorite – Slash’em. It’s a Nethack variant, and if you’ve never fought a nethack addiction, well, I suppose you’re like 99.999% of people. Any UNIX gamer will know Nethack, but there aren’t all that many of us! I’ve spent a lot of time playing Nethack off and on over the past 13 years and I’ve ‘won’ exactly twice. I don’t think I’ll ever ‘beat’ it.
For those keeping score on the costs of boondocking, I think we used roughly two gallons of gasoline keeping the batteries charged enough to watch TV, listen to the radio, read books, play video games and run the furnace. I’m guessing we used two gallons of propane keeping the thermostat set at 52, but that’s a bit harder to judge… I don’t actually remember when we last filled the propane.