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35: Maps and a Bug

Updated: Feb 27




Dear Friend,


Hi.


How was your week? Do you have any announcements regarding the past seven days? Did you make any spectacular decisions? Have you received happy news? Maybe you hit all green lights on your way to work, or the library finally called to tell you that they have that book you’ve been waiting for, or perhaps you found a five-dollar bill in your sock drawer? WaHoo!


It’s the little things that make life interesting as we all travel along on this journey we were born to take without a map. Troubles and joys, misunderstandings and insight, these contrasts create textures within us, like internal topography by which we can learn to better navigate whilst we grow older and hopefully wiser. I’ll sidestep the ‘wrinkled skin’ analogy for your reading enjoyment.


The rains came as we traveled into the south eastern part of Oregon, to Steens Mountain, and camped at 7400’ elevation. Up the road, at 9700’ elevation, views from the Eastern Rim of this glacial mountain stretch down to forested river valley and out to stark desert plains. The scenery goes on and on, it’s like looking into a mirror in a mirror in a mirror…







It’s like Spring has just arrived in this part of Oregon. Wild flowers dot the landscape, summer seems like a passing thought, Autumn will be here soon, the Aspen will be turning yellow. But for now, what a treat to feel such newness and life!

 












Back at camp, our rain awning was tested. (Insert the honk of an affordable, poorly-manufactured, mewly-sounding-airhorn here). After three nights, the resulting damp/dankness took some days in lower elevations to dry out.


But testing and failing is how science works; if everything we wanted to do came in a pre-wrapped, cookie-cutter, push-a-button, perfect package, well, then, we might not find as much joy in the little things. We might not know what it feels like to be really cold, hungry, elated at the warmth of the morning sunshine!



We can plan all we want but we are experiencing things as they happen because we have made the decision to be ‘out in the elements.’ As I’ve mentioned before, weather can be a tough travel companion, (so can wild fire smoke and insects).


Note: I know that it’s hard to believe, but I have never sent out invitations to meat-bees, biting flies, or mosquitos, and yet they have shown up in droves, super enthusiastic about Devouring. Entomologists agree that the males of these three very different species basically live to mate and die off afterward. They are rarely the ones doing the biting and stinging. But the females? No one trained them to be tenacious, I’ll bet they never even had to practice. Little female mosquitos never have to learn to be ‘assertive enough.’ Female midge flies are born to get what they want. And female meat bees, well, I have to say that they seem to emerge completely and immediately hysterical, coming unglued in a frenzied panic over the mere scent of sugar or meat on sale. Maybe the females come out fighting because there is a lot expected of them.


All of these biting/stinging creatures play a part in the turning of our world. And they are a reminder that fending is part of survival. It is a gift to know when to say when.


We are grateful for this time that we can be out in nature.


It’s been a balancing effort to charge camera batteries without sunshine, so Frank’s photography is an around the clock labor of artful tenacity and love. While camping at Steens Mountain, we were the only people there but we were not alone!








 

We didn’t see much large-ish wildlife on this trip. It’s somewhat disappointing but I will say that we (and any bears) are probably better off without campground encounters. It was awesome to have binoculars to see Elk and Big Horn Sheep waaaaay off in the distance, doing their thing … I always look forward to seeing wildlife, which, it seems, isn’t there - until it is.


Patience.


Nancy is from Seattle, Washington, and is a woman whom I’ve never met, a retired school teacher and currently, the receptionist at a Seattle area Senior Center. She loves to go camping with her husband and their dog. She sounds like a wonderful lady, I’m sorry that I don’t have a photo of her to share.


The reason I’m telling you about her is because she’s part of the story; she’s the understanding and loving wife of Scott, a solo motorcyclist we met at the Fields Station, Oregon.


 

Scott is not ordinary. He started riding a Honda 50 when he was 8 years old. And for 22 years, Scott raced motorcycles (Moto X and road). Enlisting in the Army at the age of 19, Scott had design/drafting experience and an interest in aviation which lead to a career with Boeing Defense where he flew unmanned helicopters before becoming an Engineer for Alaska Airlines. And in there somewhere he got married and became a Dad, was a volunteer fireman and practiced his guitars.


Scott has taken one of these two-week ‘big motorcycle trips’ a year for the past 15 years. We met him on his way to Idaho to visit his grandkids. From Seattle to Idaho and back may seem like a straight-forward trip. On a highway map it is just under 478 miles one way. But Scott isn’t traveling on paved highways. For the most part, he’s riding his KTM 890 on BACKCOUNTRY DISCOVERY ROUTES (BDR).


On these roads, roundtrip from Seattle to his destination in Idaho is about 2000 miles. He’s given himself time to visit with family.  THE FIELDS STATION (a Diner, Grocery Store, Motel and Gas Station) is on the BDR, one of the only places to get fuel, grab a delicious lunch and possibly take a break from the road and stay a night or two. Scott was there to fuel up his bike, get drinking water, and a quick lunch.


His bike weighs about 450 pounds, it includes everything he needs to live on the trail. He uses GUIA and ZUMO GPS, downloads the BDR map onto his phone and also carries an old school, paper map, tucked into a plastic sheet-protector where he can see it on his gas tank, ‘incase technology fails.’


In his saddle bags, he carries clothes, toiletries, a tent, an air mattress, a jet boil, some freeze dried food, an avalanche shovel with ax head, 6 liters of water, and a water filter. He also has a first aid kit.



Scott told us that one of his favorite things about these trips is meeting other travelers along the way, and we’re happy that our paths crossed!


Nancy and Scott live with Princess Bugalicious, ‘Bug,’ for short. She is a precious Friend! (French bulldog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix). She needed a forever home and Nancy and Scott welcomed her with open arms, their hearts still missing their beloved Wilbur, a Frenchie, who had passed away. Here are two photos that Scott shared with us. The first, Bug meets Scott for the very first time.


 

And this is a portrait of Princess Bugalicious.



Isn’t she a Smile in a Pup?!


Frank and I are grateful; the people that we meet, their stories, time to listen and share; priceless!


And we’re grateful for YOU. Thank you for being here, thank you for checking in to Tracks by the Post. As always, I welcome you to Contact Me and let me know how you’re doing. I’ll reply as soon as I can.


Frank’s nature photos of our journey are coming to his website FRANK BEVANS PHOTOGRAPHY


We wish you a happy week!


Gently Be,

Leslie and Frank

 

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