The only constant about Timothy Lake this year has been that there is always something going on. It’s been hard for me to write this blog, because anything that has to do with employees or customers I haven’t been writing about, and those issues are what the majority of my time is being spent on. But throughout my days other things do occur, and I have been snapping pictures as a way of trying to capture those things in the hopes I will find a few minutes to sit down and write about them to give you an idea of exactly how busy it is. What follows is the account of one week (Sunday through Sunday), and as much as I would love to say this week was anomalous, it really wasn’t. Even though I am a person who enjoys constant variety and challenges, at this point in the season I am yearning for a nice quiet week. The veterans tell me that once Labor Day passes, things really settle down and I am really hoping that is true. There is a cumulative affect that is wearing everyone down, which is pretty normal in all busy campgrounds, but is magnified this year here because it has been “such an unusual year.”
Sunday is the day I go around and see all the camp hosts and get their paperwork for the week, and for four weeks in a row something unusual has happened when I am off property at other sites. This week the something was an incident with a camper in a campground, but I wasn’t available to help because on the way back to Timothy from Harriet, this is what I ran into.
The Forest Road 57 between Harriet and Timothy is a singular road so any obstruction means you either wait for it to be cleared or turn around and drive over an hour the other way. As I was driving back this tree had randomly fallen across the road. No one hit it with their car, it wasn’t down when I drove the road less than an hour earlier. It just fell, and since the forest service had gone on Level IV no one could cut the tree except for forest service personnel. Through sheer dumb luck that truck in front of me was a Forest service truck who just happened to be traveling along the road. We do have several forest trucks in our area, but we also have lots of forest, so the odds of this were pretty slim, Not to mention this entire section of road has no cell coverage, and it would have taken a while for someone to get there.
The whole thing took roughly 20 minutes, and I helped stop traffic while it was happening. The incident reinforced to me that we are living in a wilderness out here and if I had been alone there would have been no way for me to handle it myself. Remember this particular stretch of road, because it comes into play at the end of the week as well. When I got back to the campground Lee had dealt with the customer incident, thankfully, but it will give you an idea of how busy it’s been that 8 days later neither he nor I can remember exactly what the incident was. We aren’t forgetting because it wasn’t a big deal, I specifically remember apologizing to the camp host because I wasn’t on property to help take care of it, but I cannot remember the specifics.
Probably because on Monday, I had my hands full making Thanksgiving dinner. We have had one big get together each month up here, and my plan all along was to make a huge turkey dinner for everyone because I have access to a regular size stove, and I’ve been wanting to make a turkey since we hit the road in November of 2014. Monday the lodge guests left and no one was coming in until Tuesday, so I had a rare narrow window to make and serve the dinner. Since Monday is usually a slow day I felt pretty confident about how it would go, but I didn’t take into account I would need to clean the lodge that day as well, because the lodge hosts were off. Thankfully one of the camp hosts came up and helped with both the cleaning and the prep, but it was still a pretty long day, in particular because I was obsessing about the turkey. It was a 23 pounder that Lee found at WinCo Foods, and I was obsessing about how long to cook it. The last thing I needed was for the staff to get salmonella, plus if you are going to go to all that work you want it to be right. I spent a ton of time that day checking on the turkey and even called my mom three separate times to get her advice. Thankfully it turned out really well, and almost all of the camp hosts were able to come. It was a really nice dinner and hopefully a break for everyone from the demands of the job but the prep and cleanup afterwards made for a super long day for me.
Tuesday Lee took off because his friend Brian was coming into town. Lee and Brian (we never call him that, he’s always been “Noodle”) have known each other for 22 years, and Noodle actually flew from Columbus to us just so the could spend a day and a half together. I covered for Lee on Tuesday and then ended up working part of Wednesday and Thursday that week, which actually was fine because it gave them lots of time together. The two of them can just sit and talk for hours on end and as much as possible I gave them their space and let them catch up. I did hang out a bit one day and we played this virtual reality game called Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. It’s a bit like being in an escape room, but in your own house, because one person wears the VR goggles and tries to disarm a bomb while the other people decipher the clues and tell them what wires to cut, etc. I thought it was really fun and since it was my first experience with virtual reality, made me wonder what else was out there.
We all had a really nice time and I am still amazed that he flew all the way out here for just a couple of days. But that is the level of their friendship, and as Lee’s wife I am really glad he has someone like Noodle in his life. It was also very cool of Susan (Noodle’s wife) to loan him to us. While Noodle was here, I also had the opportunity to catch up on my TV shows. They sat outside talking for hours upon hours and I got to watch Bachelor in Paradise 🙂 Lee despises that show so I never watch it when he’s in the RV, so I binge watched 4 episodes to get caught up. Yes, I know, garbage television, but hey, everyone has their secret TV pleasures, plus there is something about watching all those beautiful 20 somethings have no idea what they are doing that makes my less attractive 50 year old self feel better!
One interesting thing that happened while we were “off” was we got a new propane tank for the compound. Power will be out here for the month of September due to a new power turbine being put in the dam, so they are putting in a propane generator. Our existing tank was pretty small, and when I told the maintenance folks that we have a propane generator and it really sucks propane they rethought the size of the tank. It was pretty neat watching them bring a truck with a mini crane to remove the old one and set the new one. Since this happened right across from our site, we had a great view of the happenings.
Friday when we came back we were faced with resolving another unusual problem. I had been working some on my days off and I knew that because we had gone to Fire Restriction Level IV in the forest we needed a solution for Meditation Point. Meditation point is a small 4 site campground that has it’s own little bathroom. There is a 30 gallon tank in it that once a week someone has to go up and manually remove and drive (in a gator) back to our pit toilets where it is picked up and dumped into the sewer. If the job sounds nasty, it is. I’ve done it three times this summer myself and since it is a two person job we try and take turns doing it. With Fire Level IV though the gator is not allowed on forest trails and since wheel barreling a full waste tank out isn’t really practical we were all trying to think of another solution. Finally the head of maintenance had an interesting idea. We would take our maintenance boat to Meditation point and bring the waste tank down that way. Four of us ended up going to try this idea out and just being on the boat was lots of fun. Only a couple of staff have the license to drive the boat so it has sat here all season unused. For me it was cool getting to be on the lake (first time all summer) and see the scope of it. I see it from the perspectives of the different campgrounds, but it was nice seeing things from the lake itself. Gave me a different perspective.
The whole enterprise went surprisingly well and this little adventure was the absolute best part of my week which should tell you something 🙂 I got a phone call from the host at North Arm while we were there and he said he needed help moving a very heavy picnic table and since I had some muscle with me we took a little side trip and the guys moved the table.
After we worked the rest of the day, Lee and I decided to head down to Estacada to have dinner and pick up some things at the hardware store, and instead of taking the company truck we decided to go in our personal vehicle. Usually we take one of the work trucks and get it gassed up, but today on a whim we decided to take ours. That was both good and bad because on the way back, not far down the road from where the tree fell earlier in the week, all of a sudden our traction control light and ABS light came on. We smelled a burning smell, and Lee pulled over as soon as he could find a spot and we saw that the front left tire was barely hanging on the axle, and was totally tilted in at the top.
The good news was the next time that truck would have been driven I would have been alone going down the mountain for a doctors appointment. The bad news was we had no cell coverage, weren’t 100% sure where we were as far as distance up the mountain, and weren’t crazy about leaving the vehicle alone. We frequently see disabled cars out here in the wilderness that have been stripped, windows broken, and sometimes burned. We knew Harriet Lake campground had a landline and was somewhere close by, but I wanted to stay with the truck just in case someone tampered with it. This was not an unreasonable concern since we see trashed and stripped cars along forest roads all the time, but Lee was adamant I couldn’t stay alone, saying finally that the truck and it’s contents could be replaced, but I couldn’t. That was incredibly sweet and hard to argue with so we both started walking. It’s worth noting by the way that four different vehicles passed us by and not one slowed down and asked if we needed help. One was even pulling a camper and probably heading towards Timothy Lake and they could have let our camp host know where we were. Thankfully someone was watching out for us though because we were only 2 1/2 miles away from Harriet and it was mostly downhill. We made good time, which was a good thing, because it was almost dark by the time we arrived.
The camp host at Harriet called our head of security and it was pretty dark by the time he got to us. We went to the truck and grabbed a few things, but most of it (including Lee’s tools) we had to leave. We got back to the RV by 9:30 and at that point I called Ford roadside assistance. I have to say I was incredibly impressed by the service we received. Not only did they get a tow truck driver to come out with a flatbed, but they also paid the first $200 and negotiated the total amount down to $535. That may sound like a lot for a tow but people have routinely been paying $750 – $1K for tows up here and I could totally live with paying $335 to get it off the road on a Friday night. Lee ended up going out and being with the truck until 1:30am because it barely fit on the flatbed, but the driver also took it right to the closest Ford dealer and roadside assistance left them a message that the truck was there and why.
The next morning we called and things again went VERY smoothly. It was taken to the Surburban Auto Group in Sandy and since we had an oil change there last year we were already in the system. They confirmed that the truck was covered under warranty (we are at 94,000 miles and are good until 125,000 whew) and also told us the bearing had gone bad (defective part) and it was all covered except for our $100 deductible. Wow…this has to be the best repair experience since we have been on the road and as a cute side note you may have heard of Suburban Auto Group, because 10 years ago they had some viral commercials featuring their trunk monkeys. If you haven’t seen the commercials here’s one to get you started..and it’s pretty amazing Lee saw this back in New Hampshire before we ever hit the road and then ended up here. They were great, the tow driver was great, the camp hosts who helped us were great and seriously this whole thing could have been so much worse in many many different ways. I even have a rental car that is totally covered for some of the days and the Gresham Enterprise dealership was awesome also. One of our camp hosts was kind enough to drive me down on Saturday to get the rental car and to say thanks I bought us lunch. She turned me on to a restaurant in Boring called the Red Apple which is a combination diner and Chinese restaurant (not making that up) and I had one of the best club sandwiches I have ever had.
When these sorts of things happen it’s never pleasant, but since it is inevitable that they will when you are traveling full time on the road, you REALLY appreciate the people and businesses that help you through it. I could have been alone, we could have had to have walked many more miles, insurance might not have covered it, there could have been no rental cars…seriously things could have definitely been a ton worse. God was looking out for us, and I am grateful that things went how they did.
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