January 22, 2013
Nick Dirks’ Van
Mt. Bachelor’s parking lot was empty, save for a few RV’s and vans parked in the corner of the lot. Looking for Nick’s van, I spotted it nestled between two pickup truck campers. Pulling up behind the group of campers, I parked and walked towards Nick’s van. Icicles hung from the corners of every vehicle as a result of the mid-teens temperatures the night before. Knocking on the window, I heard movement in the van, and opened the door.
“Rise and shine, it’s butt whipping time!” I said, drowning out Nick and Alex’s groans as I opened the front door and hopped into the passenger seat.
“You guys stay warm last night? It’s fucking freezing out.”
“We had the heater cranked all night, it wasn’t that bad,” Nick said from the fold down bed in the back of the van.
“Ha, how was the floor?” I asked Alex. He lay on the ground wrapped in a Poler napsack surrounded by a few empty 12 ounce beer cans and a bag of chips.
“It was fine. What time is it?”
“Uhh… Let me check..8:15,” I said checking my phone. ”It’s dumping out!”
“Yah, you guys are tripping! I’m going to go get first lift. They start running in fifteen”
“Uhghh…” Nick rolled over onto his stomach. ”We’ll see you up there.”
“Have it your way dude…” I said tracking in snow out of the open door. ”Give me a ring.”
Ass, Gas or Grass, Nobody Rides for Free. For the record these empties were from parked activities, not mobile.
Shutting the door, I grabbed my board and headed towards the lift line. They’ll be up in an hour I thought to myself.
I first met Nick snowboarding on Mt. Hood ten years ago. Nick, myself and our friend Jarad ripped around Mt. Hood Meadows like we owned the place, cutting lift lines, going out of bounds and occupying the lodge. In the winter of 2004, we went on our first road trips by ourselves together in search of snow and hand rails. When we graduated from high school, I decided to go to college, instead of focusing on snowboarding. Nick went on to be a pro shredder and has rode his board in places like Lebanon, Russia and Chile. Whenever I came back to Portland, I’d meet up and chew the fat with Nick and Jarad. During college and my stint in New York, these stories of old times, and Nick and Jarad’s current shenanigans, made me question my path. Seven years later, we are both living in our vans.
Note the icicles and empty beer holder.
The inside of #vanlife.
The Vantasy’s custom board rack. Pure Cambvibes.
An hour later, my phone rang in my pocket as I road up the lift. Sitting on my gloves, I wrangled my phone out of my breast pocket with my slow moving fingers.
“Where are you guys? It’s going off!” I laughed, tucking my phone under my goggle strap.
“We are at the bottom of Sunrise (a lift). Where are you?”
“I’m a few chairs a head of you, see you at the top.” Shutting off my phone I shoved it back into my pock and checked the zipper. I couldn’t remember the last time Nick and I took laps together. It must have been at least seven years. I hooted in anticipation.
Here are some more links,
The Vantasy Christmas.
January 9, 2013
The Washougal River Mercantile
Pulling off the Washougal River Road into the gravel parking lot, I scanned the dozen or so parked cars for a familiar face. None stood out, but then again, I hadn’t been a regular at the Washougal River Mercantile for the better part of a decade.
“Do you still come here a lot Mom?” I asked.
“All the time.” She responded from the passenger seat.
Parking in an empty place, I checked my pockets for my wallet and grabbed a handfull of change from the ash tray. I was hungry, and the Merc (as it is is called by locals), was the only option for 20 miles.
The steel bell chimed as I pushed the door open. A few members of the Fuller family (three generations work at the store) stood around the cash register and met me with a familiar smile. I said hello back and continued towards the grocery section. They layout, selection and prices, haven’t changed much since is started going there 20 years. Heading towards the deli section, I searched the heat lamps for a bacon egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. All sold out.
“A little late to the party.” I murmured as I checked my watch and headed towards the expansive beef jerky section for my protein fix.
Growing up 10 minutes away from the Merc afforded me an intimate knowledge of its offerings. Some of the more glamorous purchases over the last 20 years include but aren’t limited to; my first .22 there, a Savage Single shot bolt action, my first rated R movie there, The Rock, and my first steelhead fishing set up were all purchased at the Merc. In addition to these notable purchase are countless Charleston Chews, gallons of milks, pipe fittings, and dozens of eggs.
As a kid, it seemed liked the best store in the world with everything I wanted and nothing I didn’t. It still holds true.
Once ubiquitous in rural areas, these stores are fading to obscurity in the wake of suburban sprawl and shopping centers. It’s happening in Washougal. With the Portland Metro area constantly growing outward, places like the Merc are feeling increased pressure from chain grocery and sporting good stores.
All the beverages you need.
The hunting and fishing bragging wall. Someday I’d like to make it on here.
Grabbing my coffee and Tillamook beef jerky pack, I walked past the pluming section towards the cash registered.
While searching my pockets for rolled up dollar bills I made small talk with the clerk. She had been my baby sitter when I was 10 and hadn’t recognize me. While talking, I noticed a hand written sine taped to the cash register. The Sharpie on 8.5X11 paper read, “Gas Purchases limited to 10$.” Taking a swig of my coffee, I bid farewell and pushed the sliding door open. Walking towards the syncro, I milled the implications of the sign over.
“No gas sales over 10$? Would that even get you to Washougal?” I asked my Mom as she walked up to the Syncro. I stood with my back against the drivers side.
“It’s not good. They must be really strapped for cash.”
“Those places are going the way of the Blackberry. what a shame,” I said popping open the drivers door and jumping into the seat.
“Sure is,” she agreed.
Here are some more links,
Washougal River Mercantile (Yelp).
January 2, 2013
BC or Bust Part 2
We were a few hours out of Tofino when the wind picked up. The mellow waters of the fjord lost their shine, developing half a foot high waves that rattled the small aluminum boat and all of our supplies. Sitting on a cooler with enough food, water and beer for two nights, I bounced along as Jeremy piloted the seventeen foot aluminum boat towards the mouth of the fjord. The cold air and increasing waves kept small talk to a minimum.
“How long till we get out of here?” I yelled to Jeremy.
“Yah,” I replied nodding towards the mountains on the right.
“15 minutes. It’s going to get rough for an hour or so.”
I smiled in acknowledgment.
Twenty minutes later, our boat was cutting through five to eight foot ground swell a mile off the coast of Vancouver Island. Dressed head to toe in Gortex, frigid water covered me each time we bounced off the the top of a wave. Keeping my head down, I avoided the bulk of the spray, but this left me blind from anticipating the jolt of larger waves. Every few minutes, a wave shook the boat like a screen door, jaring me from my perch on top of a Coleman cooler. One such wave sent my Wayferes flying, eventually shattering against the gunnel.
After that, I went quite and focused on nothing, the way you do on a long run. Time stands still and speeds ahead at the same time.
A trail to hot springs.
The BC Ferries.
Jeremy and Trevor kickstarting a fire.
A grey whale off the coast of Vancouver.
Jeremy checking the weather forecast.
Equipped to rip.
Trevor at the Harbor.
Sea lion Bonanza.
With a descending whine, Jeremy eased off the throttle and the boat coasted. Looking up from my stopper, Jeremy motioned towards a stretch of ocean just off of a point. Shifting the throttle handel back into reverse, he anounced, “Thats the wave. The tide is still way to high.”
“So we made it?” I asked, signaling my relief.
“Yah we are going to camp over in the bay.”
“Awesome. I want to get the fuck off this boat. That was brutal.”
“Ahh come on” Jeremy said in his Vancouver accent. ”Last winter Pete, (Peter Devries a pro surfer from Tofino) and I made the same trip in three times the swell and howling 30 knots.”
“I don’t doubt that shit, but I’m a land lover. I feel 3 inches shorter.”
“Cry about it pro blogger (Jeremy’s nickname for me). The winds nice, lets get our camp set up. We’ll be able to surf before sunset.”
Standing up, I stretched and looked down at cooler. One larger circular dent in the green aluminium correlated with the placement and subsequent jarring of my ass during the ride.
Here are some more links,
BC or Bust Part 1 (ART),
BC or Bust (Cleanest Line).
October 16, 2012
A statue honoring the Veterans of the Korean War stood watch over a lone Dodge at the county park. Across from the empty jungle gym, unidentifiable country music from a Central Oregon radio station hummed through the ‘lowered windows. The west wind bent the top of the pine trees and wafted over-heated coolant from the front grill of the truck. A girl’s legs hung from the passenger window and a shirtless teenager slouched in the bench seat. It was late summer 2012 in The Dalles.
“Should we tell them their engine overheated?” My mom said, leading her Irish Terrier, Lucy, down the sidewalk.
“No, Mom… let them be,” I said, taking the leash from my mom’s hand and continuing along.
It’s hard to predict which moments come to identify a specific place or time, often it’s the most seemingly trivial ones that capture my imagination and spark my sense of nostalgia.
Here are some more links,
West Wind (Facebook).