Six days in the Ochocos

August 15—We are in the Ochoco mountains in central Oregon, in a campground bordering the Mill Creek wilderness area. At the moment we’re the only campers here, other than the campground host—a single woman in a VW Eurovan. It’s extraordinarily quiet, and I’m loving it.

One reason the campground is so unpopulated is that there’s not much here. There are only 12 campsites. A tiny stream runs along one side, easily crossed with a couple of hops and certainly not deep enough to swim in. A single trail leads into the wilderness area. We are surrounded by Ponderosas, with their orange-red bark and straight-arrow trunks. That’s about it. The only water comes from a well with a hand pump and there’s no electricity to attract larger motorhomes. Most of the other campers have been tenters.

The Casita camping experience is gradually coming together. This time we added two comfortable chairs and a small table and chairs for dining under our attached awning. We hung our prayer flags and laid the little red and yellow French tablecloth over the table, poured the wine and set out a few munchies. It immediately felt like home.

The days pass slowly and pleasantly. We read, hike, nap, and eat. We build campfires and watch the stars fill the sky. With no moon or light pollution in this moderately high altitude, we’re enjoying brilliant nights. I walk most mornings but there have been cougar sightings so, coward that I am, I don’t venture too far. There are also a few cows in the surrounding hills. We sometimes hear them crashing through the brush or bellowing up on the mountain. The sound carries across the narrow valley and sounds surprisingly eerie, for a cow.

Sunday evening Helen, our “host,” joined us for a glass of wine and a few hours of good conversation. She is one of five extraordinarily interesting women we’ve met since arriving back in the US, and this abundance of cool women gives me a reason to be happier here than I expected.

What we don’t have is television, radio (well, we’d have one station if we loved country-and-western), Internet, cell phones, or politics. I quite like it this way and could easily stay much longer. I am a recluse at heart. Duty calls, however. We’ll be housesitting in Portland for ten days beginning Saturday.