Crater Lake To Stanley, Day 1 : Amusement

I’m heading down out of the campground, away from Crater Lake. The GPS on my handlebars claims I am going 35 mph. Whoo! Just for the sheer hell of it, I launch the AIM client on my phone, and send people short text messages as I glide around the curves. Mom admonishes me to be careful. Kashy sends me happy little geometric squigglies.

I stop at a turnout to adjust my seat, and take a photo of some interesting cliff erosions. Of course, now that I’m miles from the last official bathroom, my body has decided it’s time to poop. I dig some folded toilet paper out of a plastic bag and tromp out into the woods.

This marks the first of six times on the trip that I will poop outside. The official count is:

  • 1 time in the woods down a hillside.
  • 3 times in the woods at the foot of a tree.
  • 1 time in the woods in a dry creek bed.
  • 1 time in the desert, in the late evening, on flat ground between scrub bushes.

All six times, the result has actually been LESS messier than using a real toilet, because instead of being in a horizontal sitting position, I can actually squat all the way down. There has been almost nothing on the paper, every time. This makes me wonder if Americans will ever be convinced to adopt the Japanese squat toilet. (Or heck, even the bidet would be better.)

A couple minutes after I’ve done my business and walked back to the turnout, four identical Harleys come farting up, and park at the opposite end. A family dismounts and begins chatting and taking pictures. It appears to be an old married couple, their son, and their daughter-in-law. They look hip and cool in their shiny black leather. Two of the Harleys – the ones ridden by the married couple – appear brand-new.

The young woman gawks at my bicycle. The men cast furtive glances at it. As I seat myself and then pedal away, it occurs to me that the whole family could have gone on their trip in one small car for much less money. Then they could have sat and talked to each other the whole time instead of only at rest stops and campgrounds, or over headsets. But no … that wouldn’t be nearly as hip and cool as getting four fartmobiles and leather duds.

To each their own, I guess.

At the edge of the flatlands, I stop my bike to check the rear brake and the charging box, and take a picture of some sheepies for The La. (I can hear her voice now: “Eeeeeeeeee!! Sheepies!!!”) While I’m on the ground underneath the front wheel, lifting it up and spinning it to check if the charger is working, a dog begins to bark. I ignore it, and continue my checking.

When I stand up, I see a big old furry white dog come marching out from around the side of the nearby house, into the driveway. He barks a throaty bark at me, then walks a little more, then barks again. “Hey there, dawg!” I say, as I dig out my camera.

I take some sheep pictures, and the barking continues. I put the camera back in my bag, and glance up. The dog has meandered out into the road now, about forty yards away, and is sitting on his haunches barking at me.

“What’s your deal, Mister Barks-a-lot?” I say. “Huh?”

I hear a rushing noise behind me, and turn to see a big-rig moving up the road. I wave at the driver, who waves back. Then he slows down, because the dog is still in the road, barking at both of us now. The dog gets to his feet and marches self-importantly across the opposite lane, and down into the ditch. The truck begins moving again, and as it continues down the road, I squat and inspect my rear brake calipers, which I suspect are rubbing against the rim of my tire. I stretch the cable, but I don’t have the screwdriver to make the proper adjustment, so I shrug and stand up, wiping my hands on my sweatpants.

The dog has now wiggled his way under the fence beyond the ditch, and is sitting in the field there, still barking, but apparently at the world in general.

“Whatever, dawg. You just keep doin’ your thing,” I tell him.

I sit back down on the bike, and start pedaling. I expect the barking to fade into the distance, but it doesn’t. I look over my right shoulder and observe the dog, running awkwardly along behind the fence, keeping pace with me. “Watch it! You’re gonna run out of field!” I shout.

I pass out onto a low bridge, over a creek. The dog pulls up short and narrowly avoids tumbling into a bush. He is so startled he actually forgets to bark for a moment. But as I reach the end of the bridge and meet the road again, accelerating, the barking resumes.

Silly old dog. It’s funny, even among dogs that bark, you can tell the difference between the well-treated ones and the unhappy, neglected ones. This fellow is a family dog … Not afraid or angry, just outside doin’ his job.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *