Adventuring - Steens Mountaints

Brother Boone organizes a bird hunt in the fall. I believe it was a tradition he was invited to join years ago by a good friend which morphed into a new tradition amongst new friends. I’m not much of a hunter (you may be able to tell that by the lack of actual hunting images) and for the past few years had the best intentions to join the hunt, but always bailed for various other reasons that don’t seem important anymore. 

This time around I put it on the calendar and made the effort to protect it from invading time commitments. That effort was well rewarded. 

The first leg of the trip is a 3+ hour drive from Seattle to Portland. I’ve come to savor this drive. When there aren’t time constraints and the timing is such that you don’t hit traffic in all the major cities, it’s an ideal amount of solitary time broken up with a single coffee break at my favorite truck stop along the way. I was actually quite excited about all the companionless time in the car. Boone’s location of choice is the Steen’s Mountains which happens to be tucked in the South East quadrant of Oregon and roughly 8 hours of driving from Portland. That’s 11 hours in the car each way with the addition of stops. 22 hours round trip. For a day and a half of hunting, some might be scared away. But the adventure is so often in the journey. 

The second leg is where it gets fun, and beautiful. I suggest an evening of scotch and conversation, a little rest, and some bagel sandwiches before hitting the open road the next morning. Also, look for signs that have “Donut Shop” painted on them. Or “Fresh Taxidermy”. Both make for enjoyable stops. Though some more tasty than others. Though timing on the road is almost always somewhat evasive, I would suggest trying to time it such that you end up somewhere breathtaking during the first hour of daylight and that last golden hour of light. And pull over to take it in. Every time. Even if it’s just for a minute. 

At your destination, you may not get the site you want. There may be hipsters or hillbillies that are too loud, or too quiet. That’s ok. Fun can still be had. Even when your buddy goes down with sunstroke, or your truck breaks down and you have to leave it for a month and make another trip back to retrieve it. The adventure is in the journey. Even if you have to make it twice. 

When with a group of peoples, friends even, it’s sometimes difficult to make time to do what you want to do. I don’t know why, I’m not an anthropological scholar. There’s the fear of missing out on adventure (FOMO) and then there’s the pressure to go along with the program and end up drained because the entire time was spent on keeping everyone else happy. Stop it. You’re all friends, or new friends. Be honest and kind. I’ve come to realize that caves freak me out. So when everyone gets excited about an afternoon spent underground I get nervous. A certain amount of fear in an adventure is healthy (I think). But I’ve had to learn that there are times to venture into caves and push myself and there are times when that is the last thing I want to do and to politely decline and enjoy a little time doing what I want to do. Which is usually sitting around the campsite ready or drawing with a drink in hand.

Deserts. They are so moving. The quiet. The vast open space. The flora and fauna are so resilient and even abundant in such a bleak environment. And you know you’re in the sticks when someone offers you fresh deer heart. I didn’t have the heart to accept it the first time, but a friend did. And you know what, prepared right and cooked on the fire… it was delicious. 

Speaking of camp food, always be prepared… to share. The thought of coffee is usually what wakes everyone in the morning and it’s amazing to see how different everyone is in their individual setup and preparation. But I think most importantly, it’s energizing to come together around meals whether prepared individually or by a camp cook. To share both ingredients, fuel, food and stories. Adventure may be more conducive to activities away from the campsite, but the time together solidifies and strengthens relationships. 

I'm not sure what is behind writing this random group of thoughts, but I enjoy the mental exercise. And I think that we hold memories and tradition near and dear to our hearts. Certainly photography documents these things, but Boone and I are fortunate to have family and friends that always have a few adventures on the mind. Having adventure on the brain and being open to some uncertainty and excitement is life giving.