Log Entry – Sol Five

day5mapAs Mark Watney in “The Martian” would say, “I am so fucked…” For the events that transpired in the early morning hours of Sol Five, I think it is best if TK provides the narrative that he penned at the time in the Captain’s log:

Woke up to complete confusion. Cali is going apeshit trying to squeeze out of a non-existent hole in the entrance to my tent, running around in circles in the Viking Longhouse seeking an exit and whining. I hear David fumbling with his tent. I let Cali out and then David calls over asking for help. Help? With what? David says, “I can’t find my door….” What?…. “I can’t find my door.” During the night, David’s tent had blown over 90°. This meant that he was now sleeping on his entrance.

Now, from my perspective. I awakened feeling a bit groggy from the plethora of bourbon consumed the night before and I really had to go take a leak, like at that moment. After opening my eyes, I was staring at a fabric covered tent pole just inches from my face. Unlike TK’s “Viking Longhouse”, my tent is tall enough that I can normally stand up in it. I had no idea what had happened and couldn’t find a way out of my predicament. I was trapped! Furthermore, to make matters even worse, my air mattress bladder was completely deflated and my urinary bladder was about to burst. I called out a few times but TK was snoring and I got no response. I lay there for an impossibly long time until I thought I detected some movement in TK’s tent next door. I called out again in a plaintive voice, “Help…..Help…..” and Cali answered my call. After TK righted my tent allowing me passage from the entrance upon which I had slept, I glanced over at the picnic table and there they were, mocking me, the special heavy duty tent stakes that I had brought along for just such an occasion. Curses!!

This morning we were both moving rather slowly. I blame the bourbon. I don’t know if the overindulgence was due to our early arrival at the campsite that allowed more idle time, a rebellion of sorts against all the rules, rules, rules or perhaps just the excitement of getting closer to our destination with many miles now behind us. Oh well, sometimes it is best not to over analyze such matters because they happen to us all at one time or another. The truth is that we had a really great time but there was a price attached to it that we were now going to have to pay.

I wandered off to go sit on the floating dock and wait for the sunrise while TK used up the last of the camp stove fuel to brew a fresh pot of French press coffee. He kindly brought me a mug of hot coffee and we sat on the dock and sipped our coffee and watched the sunrise. We were perfectly situated to watch the sun crest over the distant mountains and swath the lake and bordering cattails in an orange mist. We were unusually silent, whether from the sheer magnitude of the sunrise or from the incomprehension that follows a bourbon night didn’t matter. Got to give us credit, late to bed, early to rise. We watched a heron catch a fish while another heron was perched in a tree above us. Both gave us angry squawks as they flew off – such indignant birds.IMAG1959

IMAG1958

We needed sustenance to tame the angry gastric gods and so we fed them with the soothing yogurt, granola and apple offerings to which they had become accustomed. After breakfast, I began searching for my reading glasses. Up until this point in the morning, I did not have a need for them but I was beginning to go through my daily ritual of rounding up all my personal belongings such as glasses, wallet, car keys, etc… I typically kept them in the net bag on the sidewall of my tent, or sometimes they would still be in the pocket of the shorts that I had worn the day before. I looked in all the usual places, tent, shorts, car, duffle bag, etc…, to no avail. I was beginning to get a bit worried because I can no longer see anything at close range without the aid of some magnification. As I was wandering around the campsite in search of my glasses, I glanced down and there they were, half-buried in the thick layer of ash and dust next to the campfire. Big relief! They probably fell out my pocket at some point during the evening when I was sitting by the fire. For what happened next, I will turn the story back over to TK:

He started to put them on and I could only utter a Noooo…. before they were on his face. He wore the biggest shit-eating grin you have ever seen and he said, “What, they seem to be working just fine!” The glasses were caked in campfire smut and, seeing this on this God-forsaken morning, already with its own peaks and valleys, the sun barely cresting the horizon, we both doubled over in laughter. High point.

After breakfast, we took hot showers in a very nice facility and then packed up The Queen Anne’s Revenge. We set sail around 9 am, only an hour later than our usual departure time. Not bad, all things considered.

Our first stop of the day was at Shoshone Falls, a large waterfall on the Snake River near Twin Falls, ID that is claimed to be 45 feet taller than Niagara Falls.  The falls are located inside a state park that requires a $3 entry fee. When we were waiting behind another car at the check-in gate, we saw a sign mentioning below normal water levels. Furthermore, I overheard the Ranger in the ticket booth talking with the driver in front of me about the water levels. It dawned on me that the severe drought that has been occurring in much of this part of the country might indeed be having a serious impact on natural wonders involving water and was unsure if it was really going to be worth the $3 admission fee. When it was our turn to pay, I asked the Ranger about the situation and he said, “What, you came here to see water? Ha Ha”. He then assured us that it was well worth it so we ponied up the cash and ventured on into the park. Boy was he right! The falls were magnificently cascading from 2 stages at the main point, then a smaller fall medially. There were 2 other smaller falls on the other side of the canyon. There were houses perched on a hill overlooking the falls. I can’t imagine living there.IMAG1962

IMAG1968We went on a short walk with Cali along a rocky trail around the lip of the canyon. There were signs posted warning folks to watch out for their dogs and others signs memorializing dogs of owners that had not heeded that advice. For real. It was a sheer drop off into a deep canyon with precious little to stop someone who might, for example, trip on a loose rock on the trail and begin to fall. But hey, we survived the great Minidoka windstorm of September 4/5, 2015 – we are invincible, bwaahaahaa! As we trudged along the trail, we witnessed a flock of canyon birds precariously perched in the sand and stone. We called them “blue footed boobies” even though they bore no resemblance. We arrived at various scenic overlooks with all-encompassing views facing back towards the falls. We bought a postcard to send IMG_2115to the bistro and set off again.

Next up, Balanced Rock in Buhl, ID. It is really off the beaten path, and GPS is not always reliable in these parts, but my trusty Navigator prevailed yet again. ’I don’t know what to say. It is rock that is precariously balanced on its last tendon connecting it to Earth. I expect that one day we will learn that the rock is no longer balanced. Good thing we have a photo from its glory days!

 

After winding our way on a small road back to the interstate, it was on to the next destination, the Wall of Pennies in Mountain Home, ID. You may be asking yourself why anyone would give a damn about visiting the outside wall of a bar that had been turned into a piece of folk art by some local artist to draw some modicum of attention to their small town.

IMAG1977Well, it’s because we had waterproof contact cement and pennies and nothing else to do with our time. When I say that I was prepared for this trip, you must believe me. Before you cast aspersions on us for defacing the artwork, rest assured that the artist himself invites others to add to the mural, at least on the wall below it. There was a plethora of pennies that previous visitors like ourselves had glued there, many of them forming crude drawings, like a bunny rabbit for instance, or spelling out messages. You are supposed to make a wish before gluing your penny to the wall. If some jerk in the future removes your penny, then they have to grant you your wish. I’m not sure how this is enforced but, with the permanent water-proof glue that I brought, it was unlikely to be removed anyway so I’ll just have to get my wishes granted in some other way. As we stood there staring at the various vacant spots to which our pennies could be affixed, I looked over at TK and he had an impish grin. “So”, I said, “Have you found a spot for your penny?” “Yes”, TK replied. “I am going to add a penis to that poor kid’s rabbit.” And so we glued both of our pennies to the rabbit forming a not-so-anatomically-correct erect penis. rabbit combinedIt was great. Go ahead and remove it, you’ll just have to grant our wishes. Ha ha ha…. We high tailed it out of there before anyone noticed, like kids running from an egging.

Returning to the car, I began backing out of the parking space on the city street. As mentioned earlier, the vessel had a rear view camera that TK continually admonished me for not using when backing up. Use the force…, he would intone in a Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi accent, every time I started to back up while swirling my head from side to side trying to find a clear visual opening a midst all of the boxes and other detritus filling the vessel. I am quite technically adept but the perspective from a rear view camera is not something that I am used to when piloting a vessel such as the behemoth that I was in command of on this expedition. I can see how this technology could be extremely useful when backing out of your driveway when there are a bunch of punk-ass kids on skateboards scuttling around in the street behind you. But as a routine means of assisting with parking, I’m just not there yet. Besides, the goddamn camera was blocked by TK’s bicycle on its rack. So there is that…. Give me a break. Still better than that chiropractor’s regime you followed every morning.

Up to this point in the day, we had not eaten since appeasing the Gods at breakfast. We were still feeling a bit off from the activities of the previous evening and were uncertain about what our stomachs could handle. However, during one fuel stop, TK purchased a bag of Chex Mix because, he said, “I was in the mood for pretzels”. Now, if someone is in the mood for pretzels, why would they not buy a bag of pretzels? I posed this question and I don’t think I ever got a satisfactory answer. THEY DIDN’T HAVE PRETZELS! I CHECKED MULTIPLE TIMES! THIS WAS THE ONLY THING IN THE ENTIRE STORE THAT CONTAINED PRETZELS. OK, so there was an explanation. Moments later we stopped at a local upscale grocery with ALL IT’S AMAZING PRETZELS and picked up some freshly ground beef, 2 thick slices of bacon, in-store made buns, and jalapenos. Back on the road, I was feeling a bit peckish at this point in the day, and craving a salty snack, so TK offered me some of the precious Chex Mix that he had been devouring as we drove along. I reached into the bag for a handful and, by chance, came up with a mother load of pretzels! “Hey!”, TK shrieked. Oh well, the next time I tried I got a handful of some kind of gross corn squares that reignited a Nebraska flashback so I guess it averaged out in the end.

Later in the afternoon, we stopped again to refuel at a truck stop kind of place in the middle of nowhere. Across the street we noticed a food truck with an outside dining canopy and picnic table. It was obvious that this was a truly authentic Mexican food truck, not one of the hipster kinds of trucks you see around Charlottesville with increasing regularity. On the back of the food truck door there was a sign written in Spanish that read “We open when we say and close when we gone”. If there was anything that would make us feel better, it would have to be a super good and authentic burrito! IMG_2132We looked over the menu that was written on a slanted board and glanced about at the other patrons who were either pigging down their food at the picnic table, or milling around smoking cigarettes and talking on their cellphone while waiting for their to-go order to be filled. At the picnic table sat an extremely large man and woman who were intently focused on eating their giant combo platters. No words were exchanged between them, nor did they even glance up from their plates for one solitary moment. Eyes fixed, lips smacking. While TK and I were still assessing what to order, the large man got up. Hmmm…, I thought to myself, I guess they’re done now so maybe we can grab a seat at the table. No such luck. He walked back to the food truck window and said that he was going for a second round. Unbelievable! By this time, I had watched the food truck folks prepare a burrito for another customer and I was astonished at its sheer massiveness. TK and I agreed that we both wanted “The Aztec” burrito that contained grilled steak, chorizo, beans, melted cheese, and grilled hot peppers and onions, but we decided that we would ask them to cut one in half so that we could share it. With no chance of getting a seat at the picnic table any time soon, we took the burritos back to the car and ate them there, with a very jealous Cali looking over our shoulders and watching us intently with every bite. OMG, it was so incredibly delicious that I was in a food coma for the next several hours. Just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately, TK burned the roof of his mouth on the first bite but, even so, I do not think it ruined his overall gustatory experience. There was one unexpected oddity in TK’s half of the burrito – a solitary pea. We pondered the meaning of the lone pea hidden inside the burrito, conjuring up stories of good fortune, like finding the baby in the King Cake at Mardi Gras, but ultimately we came to the mundane realization that it was probably just a mistaken ingredient. How it got there, God only knows…

Completely sated, we were on the road again. We decided that it was time to make a stop in Boise, ID in order to fuel up the Queen Anne’s Revenge and to fill the empty growlers. Things were looking up – thank you Mr. Aztec Burrito. Following a Google search, we selected Payette Brewing Company and easily found a parking spot right in front. IMAG1984According to the hours posted on the door, they should have been closed but it was apparent that there was a bustling crowd inside, probably a change in hours due to the holiday weekend. We went inside and tasted several of the beers that interested us and fittingly chose the Outlaw IPA. TK normally likes brown ales but their version he described as “watery”. On the other side of the parking lot was a business called the “Reuseum: Scientific, Industrial and Government Surplus”. Without going into too much detail here, suffice it to say that I am a huge geek from way back with an extensive background in electronics from a very young age. I still have an enormous box full of old radio components and television test equipment from when I was in middle school, or even earlier, that I have been carrying around over the years through multiple moves to different states. I just cannot part with it. Anyway, I digress…. Walking into the shop, my jaw immediately dropped as I was surrounded by the most fascinating array of items, any one of which would have been way cool but, all together… I had to catch my breath and steady myself and begin exploring the aisles that were crammed full of exciting bits of history. There were vacuum tubes, transistors and transformers and coils of every size imaginable, spools of multi-colored wire, motors, signal generators, control panels, flight simulators, all juxtaposed with gas masks and radiation protection suits! Holy crap, this was some kind of mecca for me and I knew immediately that there must have been a reason why we stopped there. I’d like to think that maybe the penny penis that we glued to the rabbit earlier in the day had been discovered and removed, bringing me good luck, but this was not the explicit wish that I had made so it must have simply been divine provenance. TK wrote, “David nerded out real quick, he, at some point, has used or owned half the place. He might consider this as a retirement hobby.” With some reluctance, I realized that the time had come to finally bid farewell to my garden of fantastical gizmos and rotospatospotospooters and, with a tear in my eye, we set our sights for the next campground.

Not long after leaving Boise, we crossed the state line and, by God, we were in Oregon! We soon arrived at the campground called “Farewell Bend State Park” that is situated on a major U-shaped bend on a modestly sized reservoir formed by the Snake River. It gets its name from the settlers on the Oregon Trail that passed right through there. As they continued west, leaving behind wagon wheel ruts that are still visible to this day, they bid farewell to the Snake River that had been their companion for many hundreds of miles. Our campsite sat high on a hill looking down on the river. IMAG1985IMG_2146Feeling much rejuvenated from all of the fun, laughter and exciting things that we saw during the day, we went about the usual chores of setting up camp. Even though it had been a full day, there was still plenty of daylight left. We took Cali for a walk down along the river and threw a stick for her and watched as others fished from the bank. IMAG1994TK made his way through a tall stand of marsh grass, motioning for me to follow, but I remained on the rocky shore. When asked why, David casually mentioned snakes. Taking extreme care, TK followed Cali’s lead and continued through the marsh. When he got to the other side of the stand, I called out to see what he found. His reply, “mud”. Anyway, it was great just being outside, next to a beautiful river and surrounding scenery and having the opportunity to move around and get a little exercise after being cooped up in the car. Unlike the gestapo at Lake Walcott, no one seemed to care if Cali ran around as long as she was not bothering anyone. In fact, she was a big hit with several campers who passed by, including our neighbors, who were doting all over her. The one downside of our last night of camping was that, because of all the recent wildfire activity in the area, open flames, such as fire pits or candles, were prohibited by the State for the foreseeable future. Oddly, this did not include charcoal fires, which is puzzling to me if you’ve ever seen TK light up a grill after dousing the briquettes with a combustible liquid. With the grill fire blazing, we began to prepare for dinner while sipping on the last of the Eagle Rare bourbon and listening to Parker Milsap. We fried up the bacon slices in the cast iron pan over the fire and then caramelized sliced onions in the bacon fat, while roasting the jalapeno peppers directly over the flames until charred. Lightly formed burger patties were seasoned with sea salt and black pepper and grilled to medium temp and topped with cheddar cheese, melted under an aluminum foil tent. IMAG1997After gently toasting the buns, the cheeseburgers were topped with the bacon, caramelized onions, strips of roasted and peeled jalapeno peppers, slices of fresh avocado, and topped with the remaining salsa fresca. The burgers, we dubbed as the “Farewell Bend Burger”, were delicious! With no campfire possibility, we retired early to get a good night of sleep before the final leg of the journey. Tomorrow, Portland. The future awaits.

Author: The Captain

I am a scientist and entrepreneur who enjoys music, cooking and craft beers.

One thought on “Log Entry – Sol Five”

  1. Really? The tent blew over in the middle of the night and you didn’t notice? That’s some good bourbon.

    Like

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