Tag Archives: kayaking

Oregon Coast Camp Hosts

I spent a great many years living on the “West Coast” of British Columbia and loved it, despite the rain. The question became, after more than twenty years of living away from the coast, might I still like it? Might it be that elusive place in the world that cries “HOME” that we have been searching for?

That question stimulated us to actively seek a camp-hosting position on the Oregon Coast, a favorite holiday destination of our younger years. Recalling those long beach walks, rain/shine/or both, the joy of finding beach glass, of laughing at the antics of the sandpipers as they ‘ebbed’ and ‘flowed’ with the incoming waves, of sitting silently watching as the creatures of the tidal pools ventured out, of the sun on my face, wind in my hair, had us longing for more of the same. Lucky for us, William Tugman State Park needed “Meet and Greet Hosts” for the months of April and May. 

What a beautiful place to spend two months. W. Tugman Campground is in the southern part of the state between Reedsport on the north and Coos Bay on the south. The campground lies on the shores of beautiful Eel Lake. Even the three weeks of constant rain in April was made worthwhile by the views and reflections of Eel Lake in the misty rain, the calls of the Canada geese looking for and finding the perfect place to raise their young, salamanders swimming near the surface of the lake and finally, the sun, breaking through the clouds, highlighting the lakes details. Morning, noon, night; rain or shine, we appreciated being on the shores of Eel Lake.

With the coming of the sun we “fair weather kayakers” turned once again to the pursuit of kayaking. We had to time it just right since the sun usually didn’t break through the clouds until around 10 am and around noon, the wind would start to blow, creating white caps out on the lake. (Although….the wind did start Mikal to wondering what it would be like to “sail” in the kayaks and to order us each a sail.)

Our “hosting” duties required that we be present and available to help campers with a variety of requests, including selling firewood, yurts, bike helmets and making sure the kids wore them (required by law are in Oregon), eradicating bees nests from electrical posts, dealing with overly loud campers after 10pm at night, cleaning up after the fire department had to put out a fire in the day use area resulting from partiers dumping the rest of their hot coals and trash in the garbage can after they finished BBQ-ing, sweeping up bat guano from the floor, counters, and sink in the gazebo, litter-picking, cleaning fire pits and locking up the trash compacter (only after making sure no-one was inside it collecting cans or other such treasures….yes, it did happen). There was even an Easter Egg hunt including an Easter Bunny who arrived on the front of the local fire engine. Never a dull moment in the life of a camp host!




We Stumble into Camp Hosting at Lake Mead

We were camped at Echo Bay, on the shores of Lake Mead, 20 miles south and west of Overton and planned to stay for only a few nights. A few nights turned into a week and then into a few weeks.…of dry camping! (Having more or less mastered the basics of full-time RVing with full hookups, we were relative newcomers to DRY camping.)

Our ‘DRY’ camp site looking out over the wadi – a great place to walk and spot wildlife.

The view from our back window on those days when it was too windy to sit outside.

We put on lots of walking miles here in the Echo Bay wash.

Echo Bay Campground is actually two campgrounds – an upper and a lower. We liked the lower one and stayed there but often walked to the top one when we became hosts.

Hiking up from our campground to the upper one.

During that time, we met the couple who were taking care of maintenance at the campground. From them we learned that Echo Bay needed a camp host. We went so far as to check out the host camp site at the entrance to the campground and started dreaming of how nice it would be to live in this beautiful, peaceful setting, to have a lake close by for kayaking, lots of desert trails for hiking, AND to have a full hook-up. Dreams turned into investigations and research, phone calls, an informal interview, and before we knew it, we were signed up to be the new camp hosts starting at the beginning of February and lasting for three months! From our perspective – it was PERFECT! We couldn’t have asked for anything better.


After a month long sojourn re-uniting with friends in Indio and Mesa, we returned to start our new duties as camp hosts.

It wasn’t as quiet as before  – Echo Bay used to be a booming tourist ‘hot spot’ with snowbirds and locals alike flocking to the area to either camp or to stay at the hotel and marina. Over the years, as the level of the lake diminished, so did the number of people coming to the area so that, by the time we got there, it had the appearance of being a ghost town – the hotel was boarded up and the marina was high and dry out of the water – inaccessible to boat traffic.

The white line you see on the the mountain? Locals call it “the bathtub ring” – mineral deposits from when the lake was higher.

The marina being dismantled.

We discovered upon our return that the National parks had contracted to have the marina removed. The previous quiet which we had so enjoyed turned into the sounds of downshifting gears in the huge big dump trucks as they came down the hill beside our site to turn into the ‘collecting’ area where the marina remains were being dumped. But that was only one minor inconvenience in all of the other wonders of Echo bay…..

….constantly changing weather conditions created constantly changing landscapes….

….every evening we were treated to the pink, orange, indigo, and violet ‘abstract art’ of con trails overhead from the many flights in and out of Vegas….

….the sounds and sights of the local wildlife …..

There was a herd of wild mustangs…

..a very rare climbing, blue desert tortoise…. (inside joke… https://wp.me/p21ccR-Cv)

….the first time I heard the wild burros I thought they were some sort of alien creature outside our door!

….the strangest beetles we’d ever seen…they seemed to like our mat and would stick their heads down through the mat with their behinds pointing skyward….

….and of course, the desert bighorns – we saw a lot of them…

….the desert hiking…..

….the kayaking in crystal clear waters…..

Scouting for a place to put our kayaks in.

Our beautiful Lake Mead waterfront.

…..tourist sites to visit such as Hoover Dam and the Historic Railway Trail (https://www.nps.gov/lake/planyourvisit/hikerr.htm) to the dam…..

The awesome Hoover Dam.

Downstream from the dam. You can see a boom crossing the water. Just beyond it is where boaters/rafters/kayakers must hire an outfitter/guide company put their boats in to do the ‘Black Canyon Water Trail.”https://www.nps.gov/WaterTrails/Trail/Info/50

….and neighboring ‘Valley of Fire State Park’!

We were volunteers for the National Parks Service. We gave 32 hours a week of our combined time and in return we were privileged to spend three months in one of the most beautiful places in Nevada. The best part of the job? Meeting such a variety of like-minded people; fellow nomads, like us.


The phone was lost on Friday; we bought a new one on Sunday afternoon; and by Wednesday we had put the whole experience behind us and were happily exploring Boysen Reservoir. This reservoir stretches in a north-south direction between Shoshoni on the south end and Thermopolis on the north end with the spectacular Wind River Canyon joining them. Mike wanted to see as much of the reservoir as was possible, the roads around it, and any potential camping spots we might be able to pull our fifth wheel trailer into.

We started on the west side of the reservoir, heading in the direction of Lake Cameahwait which is very close to Boysen reservoir…you can see the reservoir when you drive into the lake. This time though, instead of turning right onto the road to Cameahwait we went straight…the road was paved for a lot of the way but eventually turned into a well graded gravel road. We stopped often and turned into every side road we saw to explore….beautiful and remote-feeling.

Eventually the gravel road (turned out it was a loop road) became pavement again. Continuing along, we drove directly past the spot where we had gone fishing and kayaking exactly 7 days prior! No sooner had we passed “THE SPOT” and noted the absence of the fishermen and their fifth wheel trailers, than my phone, the new one that is, started to ring. It was a woman asking to speak to “Michael.” I put it on speaker and it turned out to be “Heather” calling from the Verizon store in Thermopolis to tell us that she had our phone!!!! We were gob-smacked….astounded….amazed…..couldn’t believe it…..asking each other “Now What?” COINCIDENCE? I always have believed there are no coincidences but this???? Hearing it had been found when we were in almost exactly the same spot we’d lost it???

At that point, we were near the south end of the reservoir, heading around to the east side where there are a lot more campgrounds to check out. We were already half way to Thermopolis so we headed directly there, deciding to investigate all the campgrounds on the return trip.

Arriving in Thermopolis, we located the Verizon store and met Heather who turned the phone over to us. Oh how we wished that phone could talk!!! She told us that the phone had been turned in by their ‘mail lady’ whose husband had found it floating not in Lake Cameahwait but at “Tough Creek” (Boysen Reservoir). Floating….probably it had been; close….but not where we’d been fishing and kayaking. It had been turned in a few days prior and Heather said she’d kept waiting for someone to call for it. We’d checked Shoshoni, Riverton, and Lander but hadn’t considered Thermopolis! She’d finally looked up the ID# on the back of the phone and had seen it belonged to us and called us. All the way back, we conjectured about what had happened because the facts didn’t match but finally, knowing we’d never get an answer, we stopped “scenario-izing” and simply were grateful for getting the phone back. That gratitude was amplified tenfold when we were informed by Heather that we would be able to return the new iPhone we’d purchased.

A huge thank-you goes out to the Verizon staff in Riverton, Lander and Thermololis who were so helpful; to Verizon, the company; to the fisherman who found the phone and to his wife who returned it to the Verizon store!

LAKE CAMEAHWAIT SAGA – the best of days; the worst of days!

The BEST part of the day was kayaking around Lake Cameahwait (also called Bass Lake by the locals), a 55 mile drive on HWY 26/789 from Lander towards Shoshoni. It was hot and sunny – thankfully we had left Lander early in the morning around 715, arriving at the lake by 830.

The drive to the lake provided beautiful views of grass covered hills, free-ranging cattle and antelope with mountains forming the background. The road was paved and mostly straight until just before the lake.

I was out on the lake by 830. I circumnavigated it in a very leisurely manner, pausing often to snap pics of birds, dragonflies, bullrushes, and a white, fragile-looking feather floating in the water which captured my imagination.

As I paddled, I enjoyed the many views of the lake from the water.

Fishermen camping and site of shaded picnic area.

Along the way I was startled several times by a wild thrashing in the water nearby. There are a lot of wide mouth bass in this lake (hence the name Bass Lake) and apparently they sometimes school up to chase prey into the the shallows. When it gets warm they get aggressive, the biologist I was about to meet, informed me….

Arriving back at my starting point, I checked out the time to see if Michael and his Dad might be heading back for lunch. Earlier I had taken off my PFD (to apply sunscreen) and, enjoying the resultant freedom and greater air circulation, stuffed it under the elastic straps criss-crossing the bow of my kayak. I like to have my iPhone, keys and camera with me when I’m out on the water. I keep my camera in a waterproof box velcro-ed onto the surface of the kayak right in front of the cockpit within easy reach. (I have been known to stuff it down my front for faster picture snapping.)

I keep my iPhone in a plastic dry-bag made specifically for that purpose and store it in a pocket in my PFD where I can get to it quickly. I keep my keys in another pocket. Why all the detail about where I keep my “stuff” you are probably asking? Well, as you shall see, the plot thickens.

As I was bobbing peacefully in my kayak, a few meters from where I had originally started, I reached into my PFD to get my iPhone to check the time. It was almost 11 am. As I looked up to search the lake for Mike and Marvin, I saw them a little ways off. Mike gestured towards the shore signifying that it was time for a lunch break. I still had my phone in my hand and it was at that point that I lost full awareness of where my phone was. I’m guessing I stuffed it down my front and am having faint memories of thinking “I must remember it’s there otherwise it might drop out when I stand up.” (That’s happened before with my camera but thankfully, on land-I obviously I didn’t learn my lesson well enough!) I paddled towards the small sandy beach where I had ‘put in’ and ‘beached’ my boat. Clambering out, I saw a man in a red shirt with the Wyoming Game and Fish logo walk towards me. He was very pleasant, asking if I’d had a good morning paddle which started a conversation about the lake and the fish. Soon Mike and his Dad joined us in the chat until finally, hunger pangs sent us to the sheltered picnic area. I brought my keys, picked up our lunch bag from the truck and headed off, any thought of my iPhone long forgotten!

We ate lunch rapidly because of all the mosquitoes. They were TERRIBLE. At first we planned to go back out but it was so hot and we were tired. The decision was easily reached to call it a day and head for home. I gathered up our stuff and went to get my kayak ready for loading. In no time Mike had it in its rack on top of the truck, Marvin’s boat was loaded, and we were on our way, madly scratching at all the mozzie bites.

And now, the WORST part of the day started to show itself. As we were unloading Marvin’s boat back in Lander, I started digging for my keys. After pulling everything out of the tub where we keep our kayaking equipment….no keys appeared. We put everything back in its place. Then it got worse. I remembered all the pics I had taken with my camera. I had the camera but sometimes I take pics with my phone too, which made me think about my iPhone. Again….tub, purse, and bags were meticulously checked and the truck was searched….glove box, floor, crate…..no phone. We leaped back into the truck and raced the 55 miles back to the lake.

When you are in a boat on this lake, you can clearly see the road leading to the lake from many miles away. As we stopped at the boat launch, a boat was being driven at high speed towards where we were standing on the ramp. It was a fellow fisherman we’d met while we were having lunch. He and his buddies were camped at the lake in their fifth wheel trailers. He’d spotted us coming (hard to miss a bright yellow kayak perched atop a truck). Before we could even say a word, he shouted out across the water separating us that our keys were on the table but that the guy who found them AND the phone, took the phone, saying he would try to find a number to call us and would drop it off in town with the local law enforcement. We asked a few more questions but he seemed to want to go so we thanked him and headed into Riverton, thinking that must be the “town” he was referring to.

Long story short….we went to both the police and sheriff’s offices in Riverton without luck. We called and called my phone. At first, we would hear it ring 3 or 4 times before going to voice messaging but after the 6th call, no more ringing; it went straight to voice message. Whoever had it, had turned it off. We went to Verizon who listed it as “lost or stolen” which would ensure that whoever had the phone would not be able to activate it with ANY carrier. The manager there was also able to see that he had removed the sim card. With that information, Mike immediately recognized ‘the thief‘ had no intention of returning the phone. After searching on Apple’s site, Mike discovered that if we kept the phone as a device on our Apple account, no-one would be able to use that phone ever as it’s registered to us. We made the painful decision to erase all the data on the phone, changed all our passwords and accepted the fact we’d never see the phone again. Such a pity as now, an expensive piece of electronic equipment was worth nothing to anyone; even if it was sold, the unfortunate person buying it might not understand that the phone, although less than 2 years old, is virtually useless.

And so, Tilly’s “Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” ended.


We are getting more and more comfortable with our Arctic Fox. It’s easy to tow; easy to hitch especially with the new Curt hitch; easy to level with the 6 point automatic leveling system, and now that we have a routine, easy to store everything in its allocated place, safe for transport to wherever we happen to be traveling to. In other words, we love it more and more every day.

The trip from Steelhead, BC to Oroville WA was uneventful. The drive was as beautiful as I remembered from last year. We took HWY 1 to Kamloops, HWY 5 to Merritt, HWY 5A to Princeton, and HWY 3 through Hedley and Keremeos to the Osoyoos border crossing. There was no wait, not even one other car in front of us. After a brief ‘Agriculture Inspection’ where they took away my limes and lemons and asked several times if we had any pets (we don’t) we were through and on our way to Osoyoos Lake Veteran’s Memorial Park.

Last year we stayed in the parking lot at Princes which has now been taken over by new owners who have shut down their facilities. It is still possible to park there for free but we preferred this time to stay at Veteran’s Memorial Park. It is a beautiful park, well maintained with power and water hookups, as well as shower and toilet facilities, right on the shores of Osoyoos Lake. Most of the time here for us it has been very quiet with few campers. However, July and August will be fully booked as is always the case here. As a matter of fact, today, (Friday) there have been quite a number of campers arriving at the park.

View of our campsite & Arctic Fox from the water.

Boat launch.

We’ve spent our time here:
Visiting with friends;

Making a beer run!

Close enough to walk for groceries.


Great beach to take off from.

Birdwatching is so rewarding from a kayak.

The lake was like glass.

Our new ‘wheelie cart’ attracted a lot of attention & questions. Works great. Bought it on Amazon for about $40.

Birdwatcher extra-ordinaire in action.

Red necked grebe and her babe.

Hiking the Similkameen Trail which we learned is one small section of the Pacific Northwest Scenic Trail;

The Taber trailhead halfway along the trail for a shorter hike.

Mikal on the old train trestle.

Visiting a most amazing outdoor museum in Molson and driving the scenic 9 mile road with signboards explaining the historical significance of the area;

Some history!

More history of the area.

The old Molson School museum.

Visiting local eateries. We went out for brunch once to Eva’s Diner & Bakery, and to dinner twice. The first time to a Mexican restaurant called ‘Rancho Grande’ and the second time to ‘Pastimes’ a local pub/eatery well known for its burgers (elk, bison, beef, pulled pork). Both places were excellent.

The food was excellent but we were initially attracted by the colorful benches outside. All the furniture inside is of the same style.

Great food & prices. Favorite of bikers.

We ended up our visit to Oroville with a concert at the local Alpine Brewing Company. They featured a group called “Hippies on Vacation” while serving great brews and wine (which they only sold by the bottle – poor me!!).

Great venue outside on the patio – waiting for the concert to begin.

20 Miles – 2 Days Paddling the Colorado River

1st day – 1st paddle – 1st rapids

We began 10 miles up river from Moab UT.



Tilly got her initiation to running rapids at the Big Bend Rapids.


I had not told her there was any kind of rough(er) water on this paddle.


Tilly – “I AM SOAKED… a wave rolled over the cockpit! You didn’t tell me there were RAPIDS on this trip!”

Reply – fearing I might be in a bit of trouble – “What did you think it would be like?”

Tilly -“Calm and placid like the South Thompson.”

Reply – hoping to extract myself from blame – “Would you have come IF I had told you?”

Tilly -“Thankfully you didn’t tell me… I didn’t have time to worry or even be scared… that was neat! But I’m soaked”

It was only a class 2 at best … but still a confidence builder

A few days before we had decided to kayak the Colorado River and made arrangements, with Kathryn at Wild West Adventures in Moab (a most excellent choice, as she turned out to be a wealth of information and assistance), to shuttle ourselves and kayaks 10 miles up river from Moab and then the next day shuttle our truck 10 miles down river from Moab. That way we could leave our truck on the river at our end point(s) each day. Once dropped off, we could proceed at our haste or leisure… again we were unscheduled.

I have to admit, I was a tiny bit apprehensive. It had been at least two decades since I had last floated a river and/or rowed (an inflatable raft) through any type of rapids. Still being a novice kayaker I was unsure of technique for navigating rapids – even small ones. Turns out that much of what I knew about rowing a raft through rapids returned quickly and strategy with a kayak was pretty much the same. I was able to pass along a variety of hints and suggestions to Tilly that helped her navigate the river.

You have to be aware of the currents/eddies when rowing a raft, but vigilant when kayaking. I had forgotten that how powerful the current and eddies can be, so the first time the front of my kayak entered an eddy I was almost tipped over as I spun around my center of gravity. Even so after that first encounter it became a delight to circle back upriver to see Tilly following along.


Tilly ran 3-4 more sets of small rapids with hardly a hitch. UNTIL

dscn4040“I HIT A ROCK!”


Despite her scare Tilly made it through like a trooper!




Our Day one paddle was spectacular drifting along the canyon walls

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We disturbed a number of Candians (geese) and a duck or two.

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and our day 1 adventure ended as  we pulled out at the boat ramp next to Lions Park in Moab. We looked forward to the next day’s events.


2nd day – 2nd paddle – 1st mishap:

Experience Gained – Lessons [Re-] Learned.

Day 2 paddle began where day 1 left off- the boat ramp on the edge of Moab. Another 10 miles of river to explore. Plus we were going to float through the wetlands preserve. We were hoping to see a variety of wild birds, but our excitement was to come from a very different angle. It was a day for important lessons. It is said -”Good Judgement comes from Experience (lessons learned) AND Experience comes from Bad Judgement”. I need to add “Refresher Experience comes from forgotten lessons.”

The entrance to the channel through the preserve was mostly blocked by a variety of logs, branches and driftwood; making the turn from the main river channel challenging. But I did not think it more challenging than the rapids of the day before.


I counted on my athletic ability to push my was through it – and it was challenging. However I did not think about Tilly… critical to steering rapids is setting up your angles. Tilly tried to cut too sharp around a rock and hung up sideways to the current mid kayak AND over she went, dumped out. I watched and as she rolled over I paddled hard to intercept her and her kayak.  She responded perfectly, hanging on to the kayak AND putting her feet down river. Reaching the shore, she lifted the front of the kayak – draining the water from the cockpit and flipped the kayak back upright. She was back in shortly after I rafted up with her kayak. But she was soaking wet. The worst case had happened and she had handled it all magnificently


AFTER it was all over, I remembered a (forgotten) basic, most helpful and important hint left out of my variety of hints and suggestions for navigating rapids and river currents.. LEAN INTO the rock NOT away. If Tilly had known she most likely, having leaned into the rock, would have spun backwards around it. But, she did what normal people do – leaned away and the force of the water turned her over. I felt a bit guilty. Lesson 1  learned by Tilly and re-learned by me.

 We paddled through the wetlands and back into the main channel of the Colorado. I looked back at a no-longer smiling Tilly. I asked how she was doing and she said, ‘OK, but I’m shivering all over.’ We had wrung out her clothes, but she had not put on anything dry. Once again I had forgotten a BASIC outdoors lesson. Hypothermia can happen even at 50-70 degrees IF there is wind and wet.

Quickly, I spotted a beach and we paddled to it. I dug out my pair of dry pants and wind jacket from my dry bag. Tilly quickly got out of her wet clothes and into her dry fleece shirt, my pants and put the wind coat on. After 30 minutes of soaking up the sunshine Tilly was warmed up enough to continue.  Lesson 2 – specifically: get out of cold wet clothes and into dry ones, say something when you are cold and shivering AND watch your partner closely after a dunking… learned by Tilly and re-learned by me.


Lunch was served a few miles down the river. After that the wind came up and we paddled a not as much fun as the day before- uneventful slog- final section to our take-out point. We had gotten our taste of river kayaking – the Colorado River, learned (and relearned) some important lessons.

Definitely – We’ll be back!

WINTER IS COMING……in the high country of Wyoming!

Today’s expedition was to Louis Lake but when we got there, the wind was up and the temperature was only 45 degrees F (7.2 degrees C for our fellow Canadians). We were at 9,400 feet (2865 meters) altitude. It was FREEZING!!!! Well, almost. For tough Wyomingites, it was fall as usual in the Rockies and, as long as a lake isn’t frozen over, a paddle is in order. We continued to Fiddlers Lake and sat, facing the lake, watching the wind blow, the sun peaking in and out of the clouds, munching peas & carrots, raw nuts, GMO free corn chips and Michael’s homemade salsa. Even if we couldn’t paddle, life was good. But then…..two more stalwart folks showed up with their kayaks, off-loaded and prepared to launch. Oops, no….first they sat to eat their lunch, waiting to see if we were going to call their bluff. We did. We off-loaded, they launched and we shortly after.




It was a normal day in Wyoming….SPECTACULAR! We set off going counter-clockwise around the lake. Our first visual treat appeared as we glided through masses of lake grasses which threw off the most astonishing abstract patterns with the sun glinting off their surfaces.


….and water lily seed pods……


The next treat was a beaver lodge which we circled, looking for the entrance. Shortly after, as Mike was taking a few pics, he spotted a muskrat and was lucky enough to capture it in one of his photos. We moseyed our way along the shore in water no deeper than 1 foot. Absolute silence other than the calls of birds and the splashing sounds of ducks as they went about the business of finding delectable treats underwater.




As we were close to completing a full circuit of the lake, we came upon a stand of dead trees. I wouldn’t have stopped except for the tap – tap – tap of a foraging woodpecker. Sure enough there he was, working hard at his drilling job.


We docked ourselves on a couple of water logs, and started taking pics. Of course, that attracted the Clark’s Nutcrackers or Camp Robbers to you Wyoming people, curious as always to see who was invading their space and if perhaps, there might be some easy pickins’ involved.


As we paddled back to the boat launch to use the facilities, we herded some ducks. They’d been following us and, as they learned we were no threat, allowed us to come closer and closer, close enough to get some good pics of their plumage.


Stopped for a few minutes to stretch our legs and then we were off again, this time, going clockwise around the lake. The wind was gusting so we were able to practice our ‘severe weather’ paddling….NOT. It was gusting and we just sat, allowing the wind to push our kayaks while we watched the scenery. It was like ‘Nature TV’. We saw ground squirrels, chipmunks, ducks, swallows and lots of other birds. At one point, I encountered a ground squirrel who posed for me as I snapped pics.




The wind increased and so did our efforts in paddling so that we circled the lake much more quickly the second time round. By the time we returned to the boat launch, it was cooling off and we were battling the wind to get back. The wind, capricious as ever, disappeared as soon as we reached the boat launch so loading the kayaks was easy.

Driving home, we saw the yellow and orange and red of the aspen leaves changing…..telling us that indeed, WINTER IS COMING!!