Southeastern Oregon campout!!
posted September 16, 2013 4:24 PM   RSS

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We're shooting for the Steens Mountain area next Memorial Day weekend, May 23-26, which means we'll be in a prime viewing time/place for this spectacular celestial event. We'll also likely visit a hot spring in the area at some point.
posted by Greg_Ace to Proposed (55 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I might be interested, if I could bring my spouse and child with me. The child will be 3.5 years old next summer. I would probably also have to bring my mellow, well-behaved dog. (I can't remark on the mellowness or behavior of the kid, since next summer is like eons from now developmentally, but at 2.75 he is happy and friendly and people generally like him if they like kids at all.)
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:42 PM on September 16, 2013

By the way, I'm not suggesting this as instead of a beach trip meetup, but in addition to.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:15 PM on September 16, 2013

I could maybe see doing this, and might even convince mr hippybear to join me for it.

SE Oregon is an astounding place for star field viewing. There is basically NO light pollution, and I remember driving through the SE area of Oregon at night about a decade ago and having to pull the car over and stand in deep awe at the night sky.

It might be worthwhile to do this in August during the Leonid shower. Or perhaps in late May during this potential event.
posted by hippybear at 7:25 PM on September 16, 2013

Oh wow, that sounds amazing! You've got my vote.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:44 PM on September 16, 2013

I have a vaguely stated interest in this is as well!
posted by cortex at 7:19 AM on September 17, 2013

Yes, I have an interest- and I second the Steens Mountain idea. From my faint memory, the roads are a little rougher out there (lots of gravel roads with washboarding, which makes drives take a little longer than expected and rattles your bones), gas stations are a little further away, and depending on where you drive for daytrips, it may be important to haul your own clean water. It's a desert, so it's warm by day and really quite cold at night. And very very quiet and beautiful.

The other locations sound fun too- I'm not stuck on the Steens.

I have no problems with kids, dogs, or spouses at this potential meetup!
posted by Secretariat at 8:07 AM on September 17, 2013

I'm definitely game for the house-renting version of this stargazing plan. Camping, maybe.
posted by janell at 10:03 AM on September 17, 2013

I have a general interest in the concept.
posted by Tsuga at 10:24 AM on September 17, 2013

I didn't make it to the Mt. Hood thing recently, but since both Southern and Eastern (not just southeast) Oregon have been mentioned, and if folks aren't burnt out on lake camping, y'all should check out my favorite camping spot in Southern Oregon: Squaw Lakes (not to be confused with Squaw Lake, also in the same-ish area. It's walk-in only (park at the gate and either walk/bike your stuff in, or pay $5 to get a ride with it on a 4-wheeler w/trailer), paddle boats only, 19 sites total between the two lakes (which are separated by a 1 mile hike), rope swings, lots of room between most of the sites, and two "group" sites for meet-ups. It's super quiet and ideal for floating/swimming. Here's an info page.
posted by klausman at 12:53 PM on September 17, 2013

I have always wanted to camp out where it is dark dark dark and check out the stars.
posted by vespabelle at 1:27 PM on September 17, 2013

Another possibility that for some reason just now occurred to me is a combined Washington/Oregon Mefites meetup somewhere in between/to the east of, say, Seattle and Portland.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:49 AM on September 18, 2013

Greg_Ace: Another possibility that for some reason just now occurred to me is a combined Washington/Oregon Mefites meetup somewhere in between/to the east of, say, Seattle and Portland.

So, you're suggesting a mass raiding party to lay claim to an entire campground?
posted by nickthetourist at 1:35 PM on September 20, 2013

Definitely I am down for another campout farther away.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:13 PM on September 20, 2013

a mass raiding party

Meh, sounds like work. It's supposed to be vacation, yknow? I'd rather just hang out and drink beer. But hey, if you're feeling energetic, don't let me stop you. Still, easy on the pillaging, please - too much firelight could disrupt the stargazing!
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:52 PM on September 20, 2013

nick, are you trying to tell us you want to LARP?

i'll bring my bat'leth
posted by Secretariat at 1:25 PM on September 21, 2013

If we are LARPing, I get to bring my tail and be my furry wolf, Ergon.
posted by hippybear at 12:24 PM on September 22, 2013

And I'll be a noble gasbag, Argon! I'll stand to one side and decline to react.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:42 PM on September 22, 2013

nick, are you trying to tell us you want to LARP?

Sure, but can we do a convergence of Vikings and Cyberpunk?
posted by nickthetourist at 8:21 AM on September 23, 2013

Being a viking is roleplaying? Maybe I'm doing it wrong.
posted by Secretariat at 12:00 PM on September 23, 2013

If that's your "Berserker" look, it might be time to roleplay a little more vigorously.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:45 PM on September 23, 2013

In all honesty, I've never larped a LARP in my life. I doubt I could suspend my disbelief long enough to act a character.
posted by Secretariat at 2:49 PM on September 23, 2013

I'm still sad I had to cancel out of the recent camping adventure at the last minute, so it would be great to have something next year to plan toward. One possibility that's roughly equidistant from Seattle and Portland is Cape Disappointment State Park. I've never camped there but have visited, and it's really beautiful. (Plus, next to the ocean, which would lend a bit more versimilitude to any Viking and/or pirate LARP-ing.)
posted by Kat Allison at 4:24 PM on September 23, 2013

In all honesty, I've never larped a LARP in my life. I doubt I could suspend my disbelief long enough to act a character.

It doesn't look that difficult....
posted by nickthetourist at 10:53 PM on September 23, 2013

Cape Disappointment would be great- I love Long Beach.
posted by Secretariat at 7:47 AM on September 24, 2013

My vote is for somewhere that is hot and cloudless for night time stargazing. Some place with or near hot springs would be cool too.

I'm okay with larping as long as the soundtrack is Red Fang.
posted by vespabelle at 10:35 AM on September 24, 2013

I will say, if this ends up being coastal, I likely won't be there. Just my personal preference.
posted by hippybear at 3:33 PM on September 30, 2013

Personally, I've explored the coast but not the eastern portion of the state, so "inland" would be my first preference.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:58 PM on September 30, 2013

I propose the Blue Mountains or Wallawa Lake or some place along the Upper Columbia in July.
posted by fiercekitten at 4:42 PM on October 4, 2013

My vote's for Wallowa Lake as well - but based on Weather Underground's historical records for that area, a better time would be mid-June. Once July rolls around the highs start creeping into the upper 80s/lower 90s, and camping loses all its charm for me at that point. Same goes for pretty much anywhere in far eastern Oregon, really.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:28 PM on October 5, 2013

I was thinking about this earlier and we could also try the Ochocos and John Day Fossil Monument. There's a state park with teepees near there. Clyde Holiday State Park.
posted by fiercekitten at 5:06 PM on October 5, 2013

Oh yes, I would love to go to the John Day Fossil beds. I'm planning to do this next year whether it's with metafilter or not! If I remember right (government shutdown), there's some ranger-lead tours that start early enough in the day that it would make sense to camp a night and get up in the morning and head over for the tour.
posted by Secretariat at 10:31 AM on October 6, 2013

That does sound like fun, though I'd still want to explore the further parts of Oregon as well (and let's not forget the as-yet-unrealized beach trip, too...). Are you guys interested in both the fossil beds AND somewhere else in eastern OR? Or would that be too much to attempt all in one non-rainy season?
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:52 PM on October 15, 2013

Here's an idea- once I figure out about when next year I'm thinking of going to the fossil beds, I could post it as its own separate meetup- even if nobody else is interested or if the dates don't work out, cortex and I would just go on our own. So yeah, I don't think that has to be the "official" camping meetup. That's more of a "destination" camping trip.
posted by Secretariat at 7:18 PM on October 16, 2013

One thing to watch out for is the hoard of BMW riders at the Chief Joseph rally in mid-June in John Day. They tend to fill up hotels. I think camping might be less affected since the rally has camping at the fairgrounds there.

it might be nice to have a family friendly campout and an adults-only campout. I really enjoyed our previous trip because I only had to take care of myself. (but I do like camping with my kid too.)
posted by vespabelle at 11:09 AM on October 21, 2013

I'm not a parent, so I probably don't get it- but what were we doing that was not family friendly last time? Seems like it would have been more family friendly if people had brought their kids (so kids had other kids to hang with, not just boring adults) or more parents had attended?
posted by Secretariat at 12:45 PM on October 21, 2013

oh no. it wasn't that it would have been bad for kids, just that I enjoyed not having to wrangle my own kid! And I assume other parents might like a kid-free camping trip too.

(also, if people bring kids, like rabbitrabbit, I and can bring mine and force her to babysit! bwa ha ha ha ha!!!)
posted by vespabelle at 10:08 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Okay, so, before this thread loses too much momentum, here's my conclusions so far:

1) John Day Fossil Beds and a beach/beach-house trip are both separate from whatever this might end up being.

2) Hippybear's comment regarding late-May stargazing combined with Vespabelle's mention of hot springs makes Steens Mountain look like a very good possibility.

3) On the other hand, Wallowa Lake looks gorgeous too. And nothing precludes stargazing there, though the nearest hot spring is about a 2.5 hour drive. Maybe we could plan yet another separate camping trip there.

4) On the other other hand, SW Oregon is still an attractive possibility as well.

5) I haven't heard any protests against bringing kids, so that doesn't seem to be a problem.

Let's come to some sort of conclusion, and then I can start more concrete planning and update the date/location appropriately.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:28 PM on October 26, 2013

Well, personally, I'm WAY more likely to make it to SE Oregon than SW Oregon, just because of travel time for me. In any case, I will look at what the finalized event is and try to make my life fit it accordingly.

Frankly, I can't think of a better way to spend a weekend than camping out with MeFites. Sounds like a fukin' blast!
posted by hippybear at 6:42 PM on October 28, 2013

Just name the place and date and I'll be there, probably with kid and spouse (and dog?).
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:29 AM on October 29, 2013

Okay, I'm going to look into camping options in the Steens Mountain area for the weekend of May 23-25, with an eye toward dog- and kid-friendliness. If anyone objects, speak now!
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:36 AM on October 29, 2013

I'll also non-committally look into Wallowa Lake St. Park for after the bulk of the summer heat has dissipated - possibly late August or early September.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:40 AM on October 29, 2013

Greg_Ace, is that that Memorial Day weekend?
posted by vespabelle at 1:39 PM on October 29, 2013

Oh, um...yeah. That could be a problem, huh? The reason I picked that weekend is because of the meteor shower event hippybear mentioned. We can still go there, just maybe a different weekend and miss the celestial event.

I'll add that I don't necessarily mind doing it that weekend, but I understand it could be a schedule conflict for some.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:55 PM on October 29, 2013

I'm penciling it in on my calendar!
posted by Secretariat at 7:33 PM on October 29, 2013

Well, there's two votes (counting mine) for Memorial Day weekend; who else has an opinion yea or nay?
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:57 PM on October 29, 2013

I'm fine with Memorial Day weekend. That's our 16th wedding anniversary, so it would be a special fun thing to do for that.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:38 AM on October 30, 2013

Just consulted with mr hippybear, he got all enthusiastic and thumbs-up about it. So... yeah, that sounds like a good weekend and a good location.
posted by hippybear at 5:39 PM on October 30, 2013

Okeydokey then, since a total of 10 people have responded either "yes" or "maybe", that's 50% in favor of Steens Mountain area on Memorial Day weekend and none against. It looks like it'll be roughly a 7.5-hour trip for hippybear & co., and 6-7 hours for the Portland-area folks.

I'm going to start looking into available campgrounds for the weekend leading up to Memorial Day (Monday) May 24-26; maybe even including Friday the 23rd in case anyone wants to take that day off as well - which I very well may do (any excuse to take time off...). I'll update this thread with more info in the next week or so.

BE PREPARED - Based on the area's weather history according to Weather Underground, the end of May tends to see lower 50's during the day and upper 30's at night - *possibly* even a bit of rain or snow. If this will be a deal-breaker, now's the time to speak up and lobby for a later date...which will of course mean we'd miss the meteor shower, which could also be a deal-breaker.

I don't want to discourage anyone, and I know from experience that it's absolutely possible to enjoy camping in cooler weather if you're properly prepared - dressing in layers, wool/silk or modern low-temp fabrics, keeping hands/feet/head covered, staying dry, sleeping on air mattresses to help insulate against cold ground, plenty of firewood, hot food and beverages, etc. And don't forget hot springs in the neighborhood....

Excitement and adventure and really wild things! Woo!
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:52 PM on October 30, 2013

Hm. Yeah, I have a hard enough time sleeping in a tent when I'm not also freezing. I would be more likely to attend during nice weather.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:53 AM on November 1, 2013

Honestly, I think this is something that the Steens Mountain area is prone to. It is a desert- sunny during the day, freezing cold at night. I camped there once years ago, and it was a nice 60-70s during the day and really very cold at night- like wear a sweater in your sleeping bag cold. But the next morning was just beautiful, crisp, cool, clear, and completely quiet.

I'm ok with moving the date later if it looks like it would be warmer at night- I suspect the stars are going to be amazing there even if there's nothing special going on in the sky.
posted by Secretariat at 4:58 PM on November 1, 2013

The weather is the reason I suggested mid-July instead. Anytime of year without cloud cover is good for visual astronomy but camping demands special weather. Rain and snow does not make me a happy camper.

See what I did there?
posted by fiercekitten at 9:02 AM on November 2, 2013

But by late June and continuing through mid September, that area's getting highs in the upper 80's and 90's (with some 100's sprinkled in) during the day, and at that point my opinion is screw camping and let's go find some AC and beers. And it still gets cold at night anyway. (I'm using this Weather Underground tool to see historical weather data for a town near Steens Mountain)

My thinking now is: I'll go ahead and plan this trip for May 24-26, someone else who prefers warmer weather can plan a campout somewhere else later in the summer, and people can decide which one they'd rather go to.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:08 AM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Drat, I have a Work Thing in Bend over Memorial Day weekend so I can't make it anyway. Boo! If we have another camping thing next summer I will totally be in though.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:59 AM on November 15, 2013

I hate planning so I've been letting you guys decide and I'll just show up wherever with my pants and hatchet.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:38 PM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also this time I'm bringing the melodica.

It is a real instrument.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:38 PM on November 15, 2013

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