How to manage a soaking wet tent and still wet chairs when the back of the Subaru is already full of the bicycles we were not able to load on the bike rack? We put the dry side of the rain fly over the bikes, pile the tent and chairs on top, close up the kitchen, and fire up the GPS. Thank goodness, just up the highway in Grant’s Pass we find a friendly and well-equipped Big 5 sporting goods store, where Sis buys new dry walking shoes, and I pick up a couple of igniters. Fortified against all ills we head on to Washington.
Lunchtime arrives, and Sis is eager to try the stove for the hot meal we did not have the night before. I’m driving, and I see a sign for “Douglas County Fairgrounds and Museum, Umpqua River Park.” “Let’s try this,” I say, exiting with care. “There are bound to be trees, picnic tables, and toilets at a county park with a fair attached, it’ll be nice by the river, and we can pick up some postcards at the museum maybe.”
So we follow the signs and find ourselves in a very large parking lot. Behind a cyclone fence we see the fairgrounds, abandoned in October. We climb the berm surrounding the parking lot and find the river, but no sign of a picnic table or a restroom. Our stomachs are rumbling, and at least the parking lot is level and the sun is shining.
The Douglas County Museum is at the far end of the vast asphalt stretch. I hike across the expanse, my need becoming more urgent at each step. Oh happiness – the museum is open and it does have a very clean restroom as well as indoor and outdoor displays of mining and farming equipment, a large collection of natural history items including a stuffed example of Oregon’s state animal (the beaver), and a charming gift shop.
Meanwhile, back at the trailer, Sis is putting together a delectable hot meal of vegetarian tacos. We set up our chairs (now nearly dry) and our little table on top of the berm where we can see the river, and despite the asphalt we feel we are finally camping in style.