This year has been crazy. So many of our regular activities have been cancelled or postponed indefinitely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. My heart aches for all the school children who are struggling to adapt to a new normal, with online learning. And to the recently graduated high schoolers that missed out on all the pomp and ceremony, trying to adapt to their new adult lives in a world no one has experienced before to help guide them. And to the new mothers who have drastically reduced friend and family support during this time. And to the newborn babies that will not have a chance to meet their families for who knows how long. Amidst all of this, there can be little moments of joy. We found ours in eastern Oregon.
My brother has moved to Boston for a job nearly two years ago. He and his girlfriend had planned a National Park tour that would include a short visit home to see friends and family. The pandemic thwarted those plans, but they were still able to come over to Oregon and spend a couple days camping with us. It was so great to spend some time together and forget all the craziness in the outside world for a few days.
We camped at the Coats’ family favorite spot on BLM land, near Fort Rock. My brother-in-law’s family has been camping at this spot for decades. This is boondocking in extreme. There is no campground, no water or electricity and you have to drive for miles to get water or supplies. Don’t get hurt out there because the nearest hospital is over an hour away! Don’t even get me started on all of the things I have to beg Norman not to do because of this! Like the time he ran himself over with a go cart. Or the time he used a chainsaw to cut a log that was already thoroughly burning in the fire! I could go on. I could probably make a whole post about it!
I understand my sister’s love for this place. There is freedom to explore, a sense of connection to our ancestors and a lightness of being when you’re so close to the sky. Maybe that’s the altitude talking? There is a lot of dust. Everywhere. It gets in everything. If you camp in the desert, be prepared. I wear rain boots to keep the sand out of my shoes!
When the four of us siblings get together, Julie, Brenda, Brian and myself, the laughter is non-stop. It’s the kind of laughter that makes you cry, makes your face hurt and makes your tummy ache like you’ve done too many sit-ups. It’s the kind of laughter that just keeps going. Our husbands have had years to get used to this, but we have just met Brian’s girlfriend Julie (yes, same name as our sister), and I hope our hysterics haven’t scared her off!
We enjoyed some cocktails by the fire, a morning hike, some plinking and a cornhole tournament. After the Memorial Day fiasco, where the Coats Brothers won every game, we decided it might level the playing field to put those two on separate teams. So we played couples as teams and the “Third Wheels” was made up of Brenda and Aaron, who aren’t couples. The tournament was a blast and the Third Wheels came out champions. Until next time (insert wicked laughter here).
After only two days, it was time to say our goodbyes and go our separate ways. As everyone else headed home, Norman and I set out on our eastern Oregon Ghost Town Tour. You can read about that here.
We look forward to coming back out here for Memorial Day 2021, and hopefully Brian and Julie can join us again. Wherever you are, be safe, have fun and