I headed to Eastern Washington to go camping this past weekend. Some friends had headed over mid-week and staked out a prime spot shaded by trees and a short walk to a cold river. Just the thing after a week of record-breaking temperatures.
We went to a campground called Salmon-la-Sac on the Cle Elum River. It is in area we've been going to for 20-odd years. (always makes me feel odd/old to be able to say I've been doing something for 20 years). When we first started camping in this area, the roads weren't even paved. In the early 90's, nearby Roslyn was the filming location for Northern Exposure so we'd get to see The Brick and KBHR in person. The reader board advertising a snowmobile in the shows intro was an actual for-sale sign in Ronald the next town over.
When we started camping in the area, we wouldn't stay in the campgrounds. We just headed into the woods and found an open spot. As the area became more popular about 10 years ago, they started putting portapotties in the area and charging $10. As long as they didn't start installing picnic tables and concrete fire pits it still seemed like we were roughing it. Of course we were long past roasting hot dogs, so it wasn't so rough. Several lines have been crossed including bringing a blender for margaritas (Matt).
The area became more and more popular, and one of us would need to head up by Wednesday to get a good group spot. Then a few years ago they made it against the rules to have a camp fire outside the designated campgrounds. We figured that portapotties made them designated campsites, but a $70 ticket later, we found out we were wrong. Camping without fire is wrong, so now we're camping in sites with picnic tables, paved parking spaces and quiet hours.
It isn't quite the same, but I suppose we aren't either. Now we're keeping track of small children instead of dogs. I actually didn't bring the pooch since she would have to be on a leash the whole time, which also seems wrong. And the camping kitchen set up continues to grow. The latest addition is Andy's drip coffee maker that you put on top of the stove. I'm trying to stay retro, still using the camp stove my parents received as a wedding present 50 or so years ago.
It is a slippery slope though. I'm reading Walden again, and it seemed a perfect book for the weekend in the woods. Reading it on a Kindle kind of clashes with its message of living simply, though. Of course without cell service, I wasn't getting my Seattle Times delivered to the Kindle. Talk about roughing it.