The Camp Out

Last Friday we set out up north in our camper to the north country, north of Ketchum and in the Saw Tooth Range where glacier peaks used to be common but now because of global warming are bare rock. In a way it is a sad commentary of how our species have seen fit to destroy ourselves this way, ironic actually because 65 million years ago dinosaurs used to roam this planet until an asteroid nailed them right in the kisser. Now we are using fossilized dinosaur waste to encourage our own downfall.

Anyway, off my soapbox and on to the camp out my wife promised me was going to be fun. The Mormon Church sponsored this event at a camp site near Lake Alturas, near the town of Stanley. We nearly didn’t go at all because we were bickering back and forth as married couples often do, but because we lost that cockatiel named Bobby, she was especially on edge, insisting no one open the door to the bird room even though Bobby was an old bird and the other remaining five are young and healthy. It almost came to blows or worse divorce court. But cooler heads prevailed and Friday morning after final packing and checking off everything we boarded the Dodge Ram 2500 with fully loaded Arctic Fox camper that weighs in at around 4,000 pounds.

I didn’t realize it until our return trip how much longer the drive is from Gooding to Hailey going do north on Idaho’s Highway Route 46. It ends at US 20. I took a right there and then continued until we got to Idaho’s Highway Route 75. I recognized that the highway going north from Gooding isn’t as straight a route as I had assumed. It meanders right and left and goes over a lovely pass with a six percent grade, which I downshifted to second.

Once we reached Hailey, I found a convenience store with gas pumps and went out and pumped gas while my wife went inside to pay. I waited and waited for the cashier to turn on the pump. She came outside and asked if he had turn it on yet, “No,” I replied a bit more brusquely than intended. She then told me, “He’s from some oriental country that nodded and smiled at her like an idiot. She slid her debit card into the pump, pulled it out and she then pushed regular.

I was going to mention to her that the truck’s engine works best on a higher-octane grade than regular, but her anxiety was already razor thin just getting this trip off the planning stages as it is. I let it slide. As it was, the price per gallon was over $4.35, and even with a half full tank it cost almost $80. The higher plus grade would have set her back probably over $100. Lovely dinosaur waste anyway.

We then moved north to Ketchum and then we were in the forests and the Wood River Valley. We travelled along, in a northerly trek. I casually asked her about a map so we could find this lake and campsite

“There really isn’t one,” my wife replied while looking at the stapled brochure the church provided.
“How are we going to find it if there is no map?” I asked not to her directly.
“I don’t know. Everyone in the church goes to this every year.”
“But this is your first time. They really should have printed up a map for you.”

She didn’t say anything, and I didn’t pursue it further. We took a pit stop for Zeus the old mutt breed dog we decided to take with us at the last moment. He can jump in and out of my Dodge Charger just fine, but the Ram sits twice as high as that car. Stephanie had to lift him inside the back portion of the club cab before we left. At this rest stop, which was a turn out on the opposite side of the highway—still on HR 75—I let Zeus out from the back seat. It took some coaxing on my part, but he finally jumped out. I placed a leash on him and down the side of the highway we walked. He did his business, while she went into the camper and did hers. When Zeus was fished, I used my one good arm and placed my hold along his ribcage and hoisted him up enough for him to grasp his forepaws onto the inside frame and muscle himself inside. Then I went inside the camper and took care of business inside the narrow confines of the camper’s WC.

Then we were off and on the road. Did I mention cellphone service? There is none once we went outside Ketchum; no WI-FI either. So, she is looking to the Google god to direct us to this lake and campsite. I’m looking for a sign, any sign that would give us a place to turn off from, and naturally we drove pass it and didn’t realize it.

So, we keep driving north and she is getting more upset with the church people, Idaho in general because they can’t maintain decent signage and me of course because it’s always my fault. Finally, I spot a motel/lodge on the side of the highway and turn in there. It looks Bates Motel-scary with ramshackle looking façade, worn and rusted neon signage that I suspected hadn’t worked in 20 years and older cars parked in front that I also think hadn’t run in as long a time.

I get out and knocked on the door. I expected an old man with thick white beard and carrying a shotgun to answer the door. Maybe he was hiding behind the doorway. A young 20 to 30ish aged woman with blonde hair, blue eyes, slender body, wearing a tank top and painted on Daisy Dukes opened the door. She gave me a curious look and a pleasant smile.

“I’m lost,” I told her. Her smile widen as if I wasn’t the first to grace her threshold with
that line. “I’m looking for Alturas Lake.”
“Oh yeah. Let’s see, you go back down that highway about seven miles and take a right.
There should be a sign but it’s hard to see.”
“Yeah, well we didn’t see it all.”
“It’s really hard to see coming up this way. Good luck,” she stated and closed the door
while I went back to my truck and got in.
“It’s seven miles away, back that way,” I told Stephanie.
“How could we miss it?”
“I certainly didn’t see no sign,” I told her. “And I was looking for it too.”

She shrugged and I placed the truck into gear and got back on the highway from where we came. Naturally the sign we turned on was a half mile too soon and we once again found ourselves feeling lost and abandoned. We drove over a washboard gravel road for a little over a mile when I found a place to turn around and go back.

About then we spotted two cars coming our way and flagged them down. The first car just kept going, but the second went pass but stopped and backed up. As luck would have it, the woman who drove the car was from the church and greeted my wife with a welcoming smile of recognition. She told us it was about a half mile further down and to the right on a paved road. We then went back and onto the highway, then found the road that led to Lake Alturas. Neither of us were confident about that woman’s sense of direction and we kept passing, stopping and going back to at least two forks on the road before we reached our destination. It was then she read that one small little sentence stating, “No Pets Allowed.”

“Seriously?” I asked with as much frustration at her as with the organizers from the church. After all, it was a last-minute decision on her part. She should have read it thoroughly the first time, especially the part about allowing pets.

“Well, maybe we can tell them he’s your service animal,” she suggested with a smile. We once had a blind female Boxer we named Princess that was over 14 and diabetic. We used to joke about putting on a pair of sunglasses and walking into a store or hotel telling them it was my service dog. Zeus has serious hi and joint issues due to arthritis. I have serious walking issues of my own due to the stroke I suffered back in 2002. I knew that wouldn’t work here either. I parked the camper in a parking space I was certain I could back out from and let my wife, who could sell ice to an Eskimo, out to talk them into just this once allowing Zeus to camp with out for three days.

She was gone a good fifteen minutes before she came back and got in. “Let’s go to the state campground. They allow dogs there, and it won’t cost very much. There are no hook-ups for RVs here anyway. It was just cabins, plus they promised us meals, but nothing is organized for that,” she suggested as I nodded and placed it in reverse and backed out, put it into drive and drove down the road to a state campground. It seemed nicer though we had some water nearby to fill the camper’s holding tank, but no electrical hook up and no dumping station when we left on Sunday.

Stephanie filled out the paperwork and I got the camper set up, pulling out the slide out, using our square to make sure our camper was as level as could be expected and getting ourselves ready for a weekend of roughing it in the woods of Central Idaho. Oh, did I mention no WI-FI or cellphone service?

Stephanie upon reflection realized that too. I guess her ulterior motive for coming out here had more to do with escaping her mother and pseudo-stepfather than any transcendental spiritual experience, and WI-FI was needed for such an experience. “Let’s go back to someplace that has internet and cellphone service.”

Personally, yes, I wanted the transcendental experience because I feel one with nature and away from civilization. But I also had received an invitation from a potential employer who wanted to see how my writing style was and I needed to write out a synopsis and outline for a romantic story idea. I too needed an internet connection to be successful, plus a deadline for Saturday, which was the next day.

I agreed to go along with her idea. WE went back to Ketchum and did some sightseeing, mostly trying to find any kind of campsite that offered hook ups including internet. I suggested at least twice to locate an RV park. “Surely they have what you desire. We toured around Sun Valley and finally she found an RV park just south of Ketchum. As luck would have it, they were booked. The nearest one was south in Bellevue. She called that business, and they had an opening and went back south, pass Hailey and into the smaller town of Bellevue. WE picked up more groceries at an Albertsons Supermarket and got our spot at 5:30 that afternoon. Once again, we set everything up, including placing our sewer hose down a drain that accepted our gray and black water, hooked up ac and potable water from a faucet into our camper from a hose. The middle-aged proprietor with graying hair and spindly legs handed her the receipt which also included the park’s WI-FI password. She was happy finally.

We ate, cooking soup on the gas stove, watched Net-Flix on our tablets and later on the furnace kicked on and she enjoyed sleeping cozy warm on the overhead compartment. It’s much more challenging for me to try and climb up that far, so I made the decision that I would convert the dining section into my bed. It worked out great for both of us. I guess our parents also came to that same conclusion that sleeping together was not nearly as fun as it was when we were younger.

I spent most of Saturday doing the synopsis and outline, then emailing everything to this video gaming company that has these types of lonely hearts or dear hearts romance themed storylines that sells hot and heavy in the orient. I never realized myself, but if my story works for this company and I can convert it into some kind of script then I’ll have something of a steady income through my writing, while awaiting royalty checks to come in for my books.

On Sunday, we took our time coming home, finally leaving the RV Park at about one in the afternoon. We drove down HR 75 and parked at a highway rest area for a couple hours and then drove home. I realized going this route south to a town called Shoshone was actually closer than heading back the way we came on Friday. By seven that evening we pulled into the long driveway and unloaded the camper.

Today I get to celebrate my 63rd birthday. No campouts are planned, maybe a barbeque instead.

Published by Jerry Schellhammer

Jerry, a published author of both published and self-published books, is devoting his time and efforts to his craft after having retired from the previous job as a janitor at Northern Quest Resort and Casino. He now calls Gooding, Idaho his home. Writing is his passion and he now has a successfully published book and another on the way to being published later this year. He has a BA in English with emphasis in professional writing from Washington State University. His website: is available for everyone to see. In it are the lists of published books available both through Amazon and Barnes & Noble in eBook and print format.

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