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A Labor of Love
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Today, I have scratches all over both of my legs, a a knash on my knee, a small rash on my thigh along with a bee sting on my backside, and a bit of pain where I fell down on these slippery rocks near the water last Saturday.

Yet, as I examine all of my “camping wounds,” I smile because this was by far the most epic and magical camping adventure I’ve had this summer or maybe in forever. This past weekend, I didn’t mind sleeping in the tent on a mat at all because the tent overlooked the river — the North Fork on the Middle Fork on the Willamette. It’s the same river we’ve camped close to all summer, and each experience has been unique. This time we camped at a location that was new for all of us about six miles further up the highway no one seems to know the name of where the old growth trees reside, such as tall, thick red cedars and fir trees, along with big leaf maples and alders. We ate and hung out right next to the river this time, closer than we’d ever been.

I took risks on this camping trip, climbing down steep hills and over rocks and tree branches to get to swimming holes, swimming in the cool, clear water against the current and almost floating down the current on an air mattress raft. Yes, I got stung by a bee and fell once, but it was worth the effort. On Friday night, our neighbors Howie and Robin arrived and camped nearby us. Peter was already parked near the highway in his mega 36-foot motorhome, and Reena was there as well. My son Stevie told me he’d make it out on Saturday, but I had no idea which place we’d camp at in the West Fir area because we’d have to find spot that wasn’t already taken. So I told him I’d leave a note at Mile Post 12 in a zip lock bag and tape it to the bottom letting him know where we were — “Drive 4.2 miles further up the highway and look for the giant Motorhome on the left.” It was easy. No one could miss the giant motorhome. In fact, I also told someone else about the “note,” so that she could join us as well.

The area we found was huge and we only hung outdoors of course, which made it easy to social distance and still visit one another. Sunnie, who found the note, visited Thursday night and Saturday, and I was thrilled when Stevie and Flower made it on Saturday. Howie and Robin brought their guitars and of course I had my rainbow ukulele, and Savoy had his flute. Savoy and I sit far enough away from Robin and HOwie to make it safe…and at night we can’t really see each other, but we can hear each other. there’s something magical and cool about that.

On Friday, we went to a swimming hole about five miles back down the highway which my boyfriend calls the “Secret Beach.” When the four of us, me and Savoy, along with Peter and Reena, got to the site, there was a makeshift handwritten sign hanging from a string across the trail which said, “Reserved for private party from September 4 through 7.” I was outraged by this — people can’t just “claim” this forest land, it belongs to all of us. These aren’t regular campgrounds that you reserve! We didn’t even see any other cars parked, so of course we still hiked down the trail to the beach — the trail on the right which is perilous filled with rocks to climb over and steep hills to navigate. I have to admit I had a difficult time, but somehow I made it to the beach which no one else was on. apparently, there were tents at the other beach. I swam in the cold water for almost an hour, feeling exhilarated and confident, unlike when I’m balancing on those crazy rocks. I’m so much more confident in the water. My boyfriend finally made me get out in case I’d catch hyperthermia or something! Going back up the trail didn’t seem as difficult for me, and when I got to the makeshift sign, I pulled a pen out of my purse and wrote, “This land was made for you and me” with a peace and love sign. I had to do it.

Savoy found a swimming hole on Saturday which was walking distance form our campsite. He had floated down the river on the air mattress raft, and then he found a trail — well, sort of a trail, but you still had to climb over branches, and the beach was super rocky.

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