Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Breaking News: Government Shutdown Almost Ruins Barter Fair!

Dear Government shutdown, must you ruin everything? No WIC for moms, no benefits for veterans, no financial security for the furloughed employees, and no camping for this family of patriotic Americans (and aspiring Americans) who just want to admire the majesty of our North Cascades National Park.

Okay, I guess I'm being a tad bit super duper selfish, but I have to say that I was genuinely bummed (though nowhere near as bummed as I am about this) that our final camping opportunity for the season, a hike and a single night in the mountains fell through. It's been a banner year for canceled camping dreams for C. and I.

So instead of sleeping under the stars tonight, I'm gonna force you guys to live vicariously through last year's camping trip with me.

Honestly, as much as I love the alternate reality of Barter Fair itself, I almost love the drive there even more. There's nothing more fun than getting up early the day before, drinking tea on rocks by the ferry, while waiting for the red-eye.

Last year we stopped by the river before entering the Cascades Pass, waded in the water and bought organic kiwis and blueberries from the "home" farm of a certain GMO-loving cereal company. Why is their "farm" so scenic,why are their berries so delicious, why? The bastards! The woes of white hippies seem to be the theme of this post.

Skagit River is magical. Whenever we're around there, we fantasize about bringing our row boat, or kayaks with us in the height of summer and going down a part of it.

The last few years I've been really drawn to rivers, seeking them out in my travels, wanting to dip into moving water. They're so different from the ocean, yet their energy has that same restlessness that's also calming. I love watching the water go by, imagining all the places it passes.

I'm still sad we didn't dip in that day and even though I doubt it'll be quite warm enough, I'll go prepared this time, carrying my towel and my next to the road necessity: the dreaded bathing suit.

I also like to imagine what the river might have been like before this beautiful 1920s monstrosity was built. On the one hand I can't help but love the absurdity of the Diablo Damn, not to mention the good clean electricity it provides us. On the other though, it has forever altered the landscape in ways that are hard to even imagine now.

We camped at our usual spot in Colonial Creek, where camping is actually free off-season. Pretty sweet, right? That night we set up camp and went on a little hike to admire the beauty of the lake and my favorite, still unconquered mountain, Sourdough. That there is not Sourdough. It's in the picture I'm in and C's not here to remind me what that other mountain is.

Diablo Lake, artificial as it may be, is beautiful.

It was on this very same lake we had one of our first camping adventures as a couple, about a thousand years ago, when the Earth was very young and we were very young and hopeful and slightly more attractive. But seriously, I recently uncovered some photos from that trip and maybe I'll do a post about it sometime.

The North Cascades are the first real mountains I ever got to see and they will never lose their mystery and specialness to me. I regularly dream about hiking a part of the PCT on their backs, but I guess easy does it and perhaps climbing Sourdough would be a good start. Next May, I swear we'll do it.

Nothing more glorious than waking up in the mountains at dawn, watching the fog recede to the hills, dipping your toes into a mountain lake, drinking coffee from a deliciously hot metal mug.

This is the last overlook on the Highway before the road begins to descend. The unnerving feeling you get close to the edge of rock-face, not matter how fenced in, never to totally go away. The little bugs of cars, the small pins of huge trees on the bottom give you a small insight on what it might be like to be a bird.

The trees at these altitudes are scraggly with the snow and the wind and the intensity of life up there. As to why this lichen is neon-colored though, I have no insight.

Oh mountains, I can't wait to see you tomorrow. I'll wave at you from the car window since unless certain hostage-taking boneheads decide to come to their senses for a moment, you will be closed for business.

Let us not linger on the absurdity of closing down what is essentially a wilderness, wide open space and also public land, owned by the public for the public. That somehow the men and women who watch over these lands are considered "non-essential" or somehow less essential than men and women know what? I'm just gonna let you complete that sentence all by your radical self. Just remember to put the blame where it belongs.

And you'll never guess where we always eventually end up...


  1. Am slightly self-conscious about always being the first one to comment on your posts, but dude, I seriously love your blog! First of all, the photos - gorgeousness!

    And the barter fair! I first heard about this during our recent trip to Seattle for the Earthship conference, and we fell in love with the idea - my friends and I have talked about what it would take to start one where we live. So awesome.


  2. ok,onhan meillä maisemat vähän matalampia ja muutenkin kuviot pienempiä. mutta kyllä olen niin kiitollinen Suomen luonnosta,jokamiehen oikeuksista ja kansallispuistoista,jotka ovat ilmaisia,siistejä ja aina auki niin yöpyville,kuin päivä patikoitsijoillekin.
    suppilovahverometsään taas menossa:-)

  3. We tried to get to some of the big trees on the Peninsula last weekend and met the same frustration. We were grateful for the independent First Nations who allowed us access to their amazing spruce and Douglas firs, as well as so much other beauty and wonder in and around Lake Quinault. I think there's a thoughtful post that needs to be written about that...if only I were as eloquent and insightful as you! :0)

  4. Game on then? Hope you two can make it out there after all... and jeez those are some gorgeous pics!

  5. "It was on this very same lake we had one of our first camping adventures as a couple, about a thousand years ago, when the Earth was very young and we were very young and hopeful and slightly more attractive".

    That is a novel-opening sentence to a novel I would most definitely read.

  6. What spectacular images! I've never seen the cascades' skies so blue, and practically cloudless.
    I could almost feel the crispness of the air, the stillness of the lake, the smell of your coffee in that tin cup.
    This white hippie was kicked out of her campground because of the shutdown.
    Our government is an embarrassment but it finally has ended and I hope you get to go to your mountain.
    Any girl in moccasins is a friend of mine.

  7. Gosh, what a wonderful, breath-taking place!! Sumptuously beautiful photographs.

  8. my heart stopped for a short second, then i realized that if you weren't actually going to b. fair, we would've heard about it. i'm glad we got a post in lieu of camping (and did you indeed go swimming? SOMEDAY i will take you to my favorite river)...but i'd be cool with no posts and just occasional whistles on the wind, sent down from you in the wilds.xo

  9. I came back again and again to this post during the week-end, that I mostly spent translating away at my computer - to dive into the majestic landscapes, the beguiling river, your happy smile and stance, the stupendous blue sky.

    And to savour your tale :o)

    By the way: yes, we would very much like to see a post one day about that earlier camping adventure, when we were all, um, even younger than we are now ;o)

  10. This post needs a post, post-script. Get it? Hoping you all were able to get up there. Your landscape photos here are magica!!! A sight I can't wait to one day see. It's so foreign to me, yet I feel as though I know it well.

  11. these photos are amazing, so magical! making me want to go back so bad, ohhh. and i've heard from friends over there about the woes of the government shutdown - no visits to the olympic national forest! how horrible,

  12. Gorgeous, Gorgeous, GORGEOUS; every last one of them. I want to be there, walking those mountains!

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