Winding our way back home...

Trip Start Oct 20, 2012
Trip End Jul 11, 2013

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Where I stayed
La Page Park
What I did
John Day & Columbia Rivers

Flag of United States  , Oregon
Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Billy wanted this to be the second to last entry before we close out The Artful Odyssey aka Gypsy Tour but I decided there was a bit more in Spokane to blog before we bring it all home. As many of you know we actually arrived back in Bigfork together on July 11th. But we're not quite finished blogging and in a number of respects.... the adventures of the Gypsy Tour continue since we are "homeless" and sold the Toy Hauler/Camper.  But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself... 


We were able to drive out of the rain as we headed east from the Oregon coast. I 84 along the Columbia River is an awesome drive, especially when passing a distraction like Multnomah Falls. The falls are beautiful, but there must be a lot of accidents in the 1/4 mile  of 60 mph traffic where everyone is craning his neck to see them. I craned and I veered. No harm, no foul.

 To drive straight through to Spokane would have been a long day, so we looked for campsites about 1/2 way. The first one was located in some guy's front yard with a 7' fence wrapped around it, no other campers, located in Rufus. We had to pass on that one - Mary would have been calling everyone Rufus. She was pretty sure Rufus owned the trailer park. The next one upriver had its own exit off of the interstate in La Page, a forest service site with about 25 slips right on the river, with a bunch of fishermen filling them up. 

At the front gate we met Ray, the camp host, of whom we now know more about than some of our own family, and we learned all of this as we checked in. He was a 'lifer" camp host and quite the congenial guy. The sites were great, Ray gave us the best one on the corner. Ray had 20 lbs. of catfish in the freezer.

We had arrived with bare cupboards, so we had Ray direct us to a burger joint. "There's a really good steakhouse back down the road about 10 miles and they probably have good Rufus."A bar in Rufus -this could be dangerous. 

No drinks for Mare.     The place was packed, probably because it was the only restaurant for 30 miles, and everyone seemed to know each other. Which one was Rufus ? From the bar we had a good view of the bigscreen behind the video poker machines, and a big event was about to happen on TLC. One of the Wallendas was about to walk a tightrope across the Grand Canyon, and TLC was dragging things out, turning a 21 minute walk into a 5 hour drama.

We had a couple of great burgers and almost left before the big event - everyone else had already given up, except for the guy sitting next to us [ we never got his name ] who travelled a lot as a professional roadie and stopped in here all the time. He told us of the epic stages he and his crew had constructed, one of which was for the Rolling Stones - 120 semis full of the stage which took 5 days to assemble and 1 1/2 days to dismantle and repack. His dream was to sell the idea of a roadie reality show, which pitted different crews against each other. Sounds a lot better than the one with the young fat girl. Our conversation sombered when we asked where he was currently traveling from - his son's funeral, who had been in an accident.

We all diverted our attention back to the TV for the event, about which everyone knows that he accomplished the 22 min feat while evoking the name of Jesus to help with every step of the 1/4 mile across the canyon. Pretty dramatic!

 Meanwhile, Ray is still sitting in his guard shack at the entrance when we return to camp. We had heard plenty of his life's story for one day so we just waved on the way in. The last segment he told of his life had us tearing up. He was a volunteer EMT on a call one night when he got slammed into while on an emergency call. After months in the hospital he was relegated to a wheelchair for years, with no insurance coverage because he was a volunteer. So he and his wife decided to retire as camp hosts and he could enjoy his favorite pastime - fishing. He told us of one campground where his wife would drop him off in his wheelchair everyday, driving down the hill past the grumpy old caretaker's house. Every afternoon when done fishing he would ride his chair up the hill to the main road and wait endlessly for his wife to pick him up. Grumpy caretaker came over to him and asked why he "sat and waited so long everyday when he just lived a little ways down the road."Ray explained that his battery on his wheelchair would die everyday at the top of the hill, to which the caretaker just grunted and went back inside. 

Ray said he never spoke to the man again, but every afternoon as he approached the hill, 300' of extension cord had been stretched out for him to charge up, and it had been put away every morning. 

As you might imagine, Mary was blubbering mess hearing this one... 
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