The first year I chose a camp in the North Cascades which turned out to be a real working ranch for hunters, not families. When we arrived we decided to take a bike tour of the trails around the ranch. After our bike tires were punctured in 30 minutes by thorns on the rough trails, we decided to give our guests the experience of riding.
The ranch hadn’t had much contact with inexperienced tourists. We were taken to a trail which provided the quickest route back to camp. Unfortunately, we had to descend a cliff to reach the ranch, straight down the canyon walls. Shaken and grateful to have survived this white ride, we decided that one ride was enough for this trip. But it left my family still eager to get to a “real ranch” that was more like their vacation fantasy of comfortable rides on tamed horses.
The second year, I chose a camp in the Deschutes River area. Shortly after arriving, the hills around the camp caught fire. The shooting fire pushed all the snakes into our camp and huts. We evacuated and spent the next day sitting in a nearby river, shared with other animals seeking refuge, as the embers rained down on our heads. Once again, a shortened vacation that missed that “City Slickers” experience.
The third and final year of the camp series was aimed at correcting all past misfortunes. I chose a camp near Goldendale. Based on the accolades in the charming brochure, I felt I had made a solid choice.
Towards nightfall, after an hour of off-road driving, we arrived at a camp on Bureau of Land Management land, located in the most remote woods. I immediately realized that there had been some creative writing in the brochure. The “lodge”, built from recycled wood from other structures, mainly doors and salvaged trees, was reminiscent of hippie-commune architecture. Although it was a solid three-story structure, it was primitive and occasionally relied on power from a generator. There was also no plumbing inside, and the “fixtures” were oddly constructed Hobbits’ latrines.