I don’t often rant, but when I do…it’s about feeling crowded in or squeezed out.
As I have mentioned, campgrounds in the PNW have been impossible to get this summer. It’s noticeably more crowded here than my trip in 2014. Two years ago, I had no problem finding a place to park at the scenic state parks up and down the coast without a reservation, as long as it was mid-week. This year, whether it be looking for a campsite or strolling the aisles of Fred Meyer, it’s hard to tell a Tuesday morning from a Saturday afternoon. In short, it’s getting crowded out here, folks….at least in the PNW.
Maybe it’s just my perception from scanning all the Facebook groups in my newsfeed with dozens of posts per day, brimming with enthusiasm, “Thanks for the add! The wife and I just picked up the travel trailer yesterday and look forward to seeing you all out on the road real soon!” Between the trifecta of low fuel prices, improved cellular coverage, and the tiny house movement, the RV population is on the rise at a rate of around 12% according to RVIA.
I’m sad to say, but it seems like the homeless situation seems to have mushroomed as well, many living in tents, spilling out of the cities into the national forests. No longer feeling like “enchanted forests,” they seem to be more often strewn with litter, broken glass, and whole rolls of discarded toilet paper.
I read a New York Times article yesterday about how the homeless are seeking refuge in the forests of Nederland, CO, causing conflict between the outdoor enthusiasts and the forest residents, angered at being referred to as “vagrants.” I can’t help but have concern for the over-taxed BLM, particularly with political changes in the wind.
I have been boondocked in a scenic spot in the shadow of Mt Hood National Forest for three blissful days, compliments of a tip from my friend Jeanne. The forest is fairly populated, but there’s a comfortable distance between us. Unfortunately, there’s quite a bit of trash left behind. I pick up what I can, but the rest is too “marginal” to put inside my car, and there are no facilities here. I discover the previous tenant has been using the stream down the hill for an outhouse. Sometimes the “pack it out” campaign in lieu of trashcans and pit toilets backfires.
A woman and her young daughter in a van approach to ask how long I plan to stay. She so pleasantly pleads that her “church group” is coming tomorrow, and could they have my spot when I leave? She promises they won’t be here until “late tomorrow night.” I tell her no problem, I plan on leaving mid-day tomorrow. She then asks if I would mind if they pitch “a couple of tents” near my rig so they could stake out their territory before the larger group is to arrive tomorrow. I tell her sure, no problem as long as they are quiet, and please don’t build a campfire right outside my window.
I head out for a trip up Mt Hood to visit the Timberline Lodge, and do a short hike along the PCT to test out the foot. When I come back, I find at least 10 tents surrounding me, each filled with shrieking kids riding their bicycles in figure eights around my Winnie. There are two generator-running Class A rigs parked close enough to ask, “Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?” They have strung a tarp between them with Christmas lights and a church-style buffet, and have the campfires burning with at least 20 people sitting right outside my rig. The poor Winnie looks like a wallflower sitting on the outskirts of the kum-ba-yah Vacation Bible School cookout. Hoodwinked by the Church Lady!
This pisses me off to the point of my head exploding, so I walk over and ask her why she lied to me, and if this is how she represents her “church” intentions in front of her children?
This makes me “shaking mad,” so at almost 7:00pm, I move out of my idyllic forest spot into the adjacent open meadow. Then after dark, a guy pulls up and parks next to me with his radio blaring. He and his girlfriend get out their anti-gravity reclining chairs and sleeping bags for an all night viewing party to watch the meteorite shower. In the vast meadow, they choose to park right beside me. With the radio blaring. Right outside my bedroom window.