Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Saturday morning we woke to the sound of a heavy driving rain and thunder. So of course we decided to go camping. We bought a pop-up camper about this time last year and Quinn celebrated his 1 month birthday wrapped in wool blankets as it snowed on our campfire. When I was a kid we had a decked-out van with carpet and wood paneling that we'd take camping on the Oregon coast. It was groovy. And damp. Always damp. Anyway, through the years Jim and I have finally assembled a comfortable collection of camping paraphanelia that allow us to eat and sleep well while communing with nature. But then two kids come along and a two-person tent feels like a mosh pit full of toddlers. And changing diapers in the dirt is great fun for me until I have to dig pine needles out of Pooey's bung-holio. So there have been some changes.

Last year we were driving around Missoula on a nice Saturday and as we cruised through the RV and used-car section of Broadway we were startled out of our 18-pancake breakfast coma by a vision in white and black. It was The Baja. We've all seen pop-up campers, right? They look a little like folding card tables on wheels. And when popped up they look like an adult teeter-totter. But not The Baja. Oh my holy shit The Baja is COOL! It's got huge meat tires, nickle-plating accents, a sink, stove, table and sleeps 8! When popped up it's got a queen bed on one side and a king on the other and it has a CD player! We bought it within an hour and were soon cruising around town with the behemoth behind our pickup. And now we camp like 50-year-old retirees.

Our trip this weekend was a quickie. Jim bought a Gazetteer, which is an intricately detailed map of every square inch of Montana. I'm not sure if he's shaved in a week, because I've only seen the top of his head and occassionally his eyebrows over the top of this giant map book. He picked out a spot in the Seeley-Swan valley and we were on our way in less than 2 hours. Are you slack-jawed at the thought? You should be. It takes 2 hours to prepare for a trip to Target sometimes.

The first camp spot we found was near perfect. It was next to a river, but not too close so that children would have to be tethered to trees, but close enough for nice hikes and perfect background noise. We decided to investigate the area before pulling The Baja into position, and it was then we noticed a car parked on a side road adjacent to our spot. It was a mini-truck. I loathe mini-trucks. I believe the child molester manual actually requires the purchase of late-model mini-trucks before admission to the club is granted. So when I saw this mini-truck I shivered and suggested to Jim we walk by to see if the owner was going to be camping or just fishing for the afternoon. Keep in mind, we are in the middle of fucking nowhere. Dense forest, no civilization kind-of nowhere. The closer we got to the truck the more my hackles raised. It was dark blue and loaded to the roof with shit. Belongings of indescriminate shape and origin. Thankfully, it looked to be empty of people, but still Madeleine, apparently sensing my unease, jumped into my arms as we neared the truck from the back. As we passed close by the passenger side, we had to brush against the door because of the dense brush next to the overgrown road, I nearly screamed. A man was reclined all the way back in the driver's seat and he may have been dead. Or a monster. His face was distorted and mottled, mouth wide open. He was dirty and decayed. It was a vision I won't forget for a long while. Our state has an issue with meth addiction, and this man was the face of the problem. In addition to sick and disgusting, there was something evil about him. It was a terrifying moment. I worried his eyes would pop open and he would spring from his seat and race after us and our children. But he didn't. Jim had passed by right next to his window and when we joined up again after passing his truck, we exchanged sickened looks, and immediately hightailed it back to our truck and The Baja. Jim's hand never left the bear spray at his hip the whole way back.

The rest of the weekend passed as it should have, thankfully. We drove another 20 miles up a beautiful drainage and found a gorgeous spot next to a trail head. I can't say I slept well that night, but was at least comforted by the fact that I have a healthy and capable partner with a gun and bear spray sleeping next to us. I keep checking the paper to see if a dead man was found in the Seeley-Swan over the weekend.

Camping and Hiking

Wild stuff (in order: bear print, mountain goat I never saw, elk way off in the distance, loud brave bird, another bear paw)




Blogger wordgirl said...

Wow! I mean WOW!!

5/23/2006 10:16 AM  
Blogger mama_tulip said...

Looks (and sounds) like fun, except for the scary guy in the truck. I got goose bumps just reading about it. Yuck.

5/23/2006 11:41 AM  
Anonymous stellaman said...

now that is one impressive...rig.

you're soo..sooo.. CAMPY mignon!

i love it!

5/23/2006 11:59 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

You guys are the coolest parents EVER. My dad used to take me camping. Only I got a little pup tent and he got a camper. And it was at a KOA with zilch as far as scenery. Although we did have a river running through my tent on the year we parked at the bottom of a hill. *Sigh*

5/23/2006 12:10 PM  
Blogger lildb said...

I'd recognize that beer bottle anywhere. Bridgeport IPA, non?

*flexes fingers, snaps neck in jock-like fashion, air-fives noone in particular*

okay. so I like beer.

p.s. I miss things like camping. your trip looks like it was fabulous. lucky.

5/23/2006 4:15 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Y'all, is this not normal? I thought everyone had done a little campin at some point...

lil, are you from Portland? Don't know many that would guess that from a backwards bottle, no less, who weren't from the Rose City. We moved away 2 and a half years ago, but I'm still in mourning. I finally talked the owner of our corner store into carrying Bridgeport. It's the little things, I guess.

5/23/2006 4:30 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

Oh, man! We want to get one of these, too! Fun with the family.

That thing with the guy was creepy. I have had encounters with people that I just 'knew' were not okay. It is a vibe. Glad he didn't come and get in the night! Heh.

I knew one girl name Mignon, when I was a kid. I never heard it anywhere else. Pretty.

Oh, and I sent the hubs to Kaiser for the nipping of the boys. Because my stuff had been through enough!LOL. ;)


5/23/2006 4:43 PM  
Blogger Jess Riley said...

Oh my goodness does that look like fun. Except I'd have been a little afraid of dinner. Oh, and that creepy guy!!!

J and I used to camp every summer at a cute little lake called Firefly Lake in northern Wisconsin. We'd share a bottle of wine around the campfire, listen to the loons, and then walk down to marvel at the stillness of the water under the stars. Ah, memories. :)

5/23/2006 9:35 PM  
Blogger lildb said...

But of *course* I hail from that fair and lovely city. Born 'n bred. Although if I had to move, Montana would be on the relocation short list.

I can probably call out almost every P-town micro from the back. Why, you ask? Because I am a drunk? Well, that's certainly part of it. My husband happens to be pretty fond of beer in the evenings, and we like to mix it up. My top 3 are Bridgeport Blue Heron, Deschutes Mirror Pond, and Portland Brewing's MacTarnahan's Ale. Also, I'm quite fond of Full Sail's new baby, Sessions. A wee eleven-ounce beauty, the size of the little Oly bottles. Yum!

See? I really *am* a drunk!

What quadrant of the city did you hail from? We're SE - all of our friends live in coolio NE, though.

5/23/2006 9:58 PM  
Blogger Ditsy Chick said...

Ahhhh, the good life!

5/23/2006 11:34 PM  
Blogger Arabella said...

Thank you for posting the beautiful nature-and-dinner-and-family pics, because I was quite freaked out by the description of the guy. I'm glad you two didn't take any chances, and that you had such a nice weekend after leaving that spot. Meth is supposed to be a nasty, nasty drug.

5/24/2006 8:27 AM  
Blogger Arabella said...

Oh, and I've never been camping, either! Unless you count my family's living room, with a sleeping bag.

5/24/2006 8:28 AM  
Blogger Mignon said...

I consider myself a fairly experienced person. I've traveled a fair bit and have a good education, but I have to admit something. It never occurred to me that there were people in the world that haven't been camping. I deeply apologize for this oversight and will do my best to educate myself about this sector of the population. I'd hate to be called ignorant. Really Arabella? Never sat around a campfire? Never ate stuff cooked on a stick? Never went to bed tasting bug spray and charcoal? I'd like to say I'm sorry, but that doesn't seem like quite the right sentiment for you... :)

Lildb - SouthEast REPRESENT! We lived around the corner from Stumptown coffee - just off Division. By the way - do you know the name of that vegan restaurant on Division, across from Fusion? Jim and I have been going nuts trying to remember it... What're you near?

5/24/2006 9:15 AM  
Blogger lildb said...

Oh -- um - it's, yeah, it's got a lil vegan 7-11-ish joint next door, right? Yeah, I'll think of it in a minute. It's kind of a silly name, like Wo-wo or Mo-mo or something of that nature.

We're further into the SE 'hood, a little east of Eastmoreland (we love Eastmoreland but couldn't afford it when we bought, and now we *really* wouldn't be able to afford it - housing has increased exponentially in the last year and a half. it's sad. a lot of the people we're friends with are currently trying to jump into the market and are super-frustrated with the prices/slim pickings they're running into).

p.s. I *heart* Stumptown - I just wish there were a loke one over thissa way - I'm close to Papaccino's on Woodstock, but it ain't the same, y'know?

I'll bet you used to shop at the T.J. by my house - remember Kupie Cone? the shabby burger joint on the opposite corner of Holgate? The burger people gave up and got replaced by these fun, wacky kids who started a breakfast/lunch joint called "Sunday"; they were all kitschy and cute, with homemade curtains and tablecloths, and then the asshole who owned the bldg. sold it - there's a Starbuck's there, now. *sigh*

why did you guys move, if you don't mind me asking?

5/24/2006 1:46 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

I know Pappacino's. Woodstock reminds me of The Delta - my brother lived down the street from there. MMMMMMM... meatloaf and fried chicken...

We used to live off of Milwaukie, near Powell and lusted after Eastmoreland and Sellwood, but alas, we weren't made of money. We got a good deal near Division, and by the time we moved we were totally priced out of our own neighborhood. Sadly, the market is much kinder here.

We moved so that Jim could work (for once!) and I could stay home with babies. I was sick of being an engineer, and he was sick of his doctoral program at PSU. We lived in Montana before and I said I would never come back unless it was to Missoula. And I don't regret the move, but I do miss P-town. Badly.

5/24/2006 2:18 PM  
Anonymous tif said...

Kalga Kafe
4147 SE Division St
Portland OR Map

5/24/2006 3:21 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Tif! Thank you!!!!
Now I remember we used to say "Kalgon - get me away." (Jim hated that place because they didn't sell alcohol. He was all, "How can I choke down this tofu tempeh without a freakin' beer?")

5/24/2006 3:31 PM  
Blogger Mitch said...

I have this hillarious image in my mind of you happening upon an Old Navy commercial filming and kicking all their asses, except they get campy in a studio, miles from any trees without fronds.

Speaking of houses & moving, how goes the house hunt?

5/24/2006 7:58 PM  
Blogger Esereth said...

Wow. No hook ups. I mean...no hook ups? Water? Toilets? Nothing? How do you clean things?

Yurts (in Oregon National Parks) have electricity. And heat. And beds and little wooden tables and chairs, and are close to the flushing potties. This is where I camp. I usually bring my lap top for watch Napolean Dynamite.

You are so impressive you hearty hale girl. And your luggage has SO MANY COLORS.

God that looks like fun. At least theoretically.

5/24/2006 8:31 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Mitch, funny you should ask... I was just calling Jim in to take a look at this place. Promising, but other than that, there's been nothin.

Esereth, hook ups? What are these, of which you speak? No, we both thought the pop-up was kind of cheating as it is. It has water, by the way, but before that we just brought along a couple gallons with us and rinsed off the chunks before bed. And the COLORS??? ALL of them, and I mean every blasted eye-burning scrap of that fabric, was sewn and gifted to us by my mother-in-law. As wedding presents. I mentioned to Jim that we probably shouldn't show her our camping pictures and he said, "Why? She'd probably think it was great!" No, honey, your mom wouldn't think it was great that her hand-crafted pillows/blankets/comforters/whatevers were being used as cast-off bedding for dirty, smokey, campers.

5/24/2006 8:44 PM  
Blogger Mitch said...

OH! Pretty pretty! But only 2 bedrooms?

Just for kicks, how bout giving us a blog post describing your ideal house? (minus servants and hunky pool boy(s))

5/24/2006 9:22 PM  
Blogger lildb said...

dude, I hafta go to bed, but I wanted to tell you that you are freaking hilarious. nice chattin' witcha. ;)

5/24/2006 9:27 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

Thanks Lil, but clearly you were under sleep-deprived duress, and I'll allow you to take it back once you read this in the light of day...

Mitch, thanks - the well was starting to run dry... I said I'd do a MeMe for Stella a while back, so that first. Then houses! Everyone loves to talk about and live in houses!

5/25/2006 7:06 AM  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

I like camping until nighttime and I have to sleep, then I am ready to go home. I have tried drugs (Dimetapp - give me a fucking break), alcohol and whatever else I could get my hands on but nothing works.

What is that squatting position you chose for the family pic there Mignon??

5/25/2006 10:22 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

You guys are the super cool camping family that Jeff and I want to be when we have kids. Our friends who camp with us now always bring their two and we have the best time.

The story of the meth head gave me chills. And the Baja is a super cool solution to still being able to camp with the kids.

Great post!

5/25/2006 11:06 AM  

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