It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of a long road trip: the open highway, the sense of freedom and adventure, and the anticipation of exploring new and unfamiliar places. But there is a downside, too: the road-rage-inducing traffic on those highways, the sense of claustrophobia and numbness from hours in the cramped interior of a vehicle, and the self-reproach that comes with draining your savings account to pay for gas.
Sorry if I’ve just caused you to become ill-disposed toward your upcoming camping trip. Despair not, because right under our noses are several options for those looking for a quick camping fix while eschewing the long and arduous journey. These locales may not be as exotic or dramatic as you might find by spending a few hours on the road, but they make up for it in convenience and value. Ranging from public parks to privately owned campgrounds, these options are ideal solutions for families with small children (they don’t know the difference, right?), yet offer intriguing opportunities for the less encumbered individual as well. Some of these locations even allow the enterprising urbanite to forgo the internal combustion engine altogether and bike it from the city to the site. While, the list is in no way comprehensive, hopefully it might encourage some of you road-trippers to explore the multitude of fine options available closer to home.
Riverside State Park
Bowl and Pitcher
The Bowl and Pitcher area is in many respects the epicenter of the sprawling Riverside State Park. Here is the park’s most popular access point, and here are the most unique and distinctive geological features in the park. The Spokane River is white water here, with several prominent rapids in the immediate vicinity. Add to that a surfeit of recreational activities and its proximity to downtown, and Bowl and Pitcher stands out as a real gem and one of the finest features of the city of Spokane.
The name “Bowl and Pitcher” refers to the basalt formations along this stretch of the river; one clearly resembles a pitcher, but I’m not really sure what the bowl is supposed to be. Anyway, the scenery is top notch, and the pedestrian suspension bridge over the river allows for sweeping views of the area. This bridge leads from the camping and day-use area to the network of hiking and biking trails on the other side of the river.
The camping at Bowl and Pitcher is separated into two areas. RVs will find hookups at the lower campground, where water and electricity are available at 13 sites. There are also two large group sites here that can accommodate anywhere from twenty to sixty people. The upper campground has 16 standard tent sites, one ADA site, and two additional sites with hookups. The Spokane River is within earshot of all of the sites, which are tucked nicely into a stand of Ponderosa Pines. Nearly eighty picnic tables are scattered throughout the area for day use. There is also one shelter with tables that is reservable. Not much in the way of privacy here, but with the water and the trails within such easy reach, you probably won’t be spending much time in camp anyway.
The fishing is mediocre in the river, although nice 14-18 inch rainbows are fairly common. The occasional smallmouth bass, too, can be had. If the fish refuse to cooperate, the time spent on the river is its own reward. Mergansers, herons, geese, and osprey are everywhere. Woodpeckers, tanagers, warblers, marmots, and mule deer are here also, but a bit more secretive. The basalt formations create a labyrinth of trails to explore, most with views of the river, some right along its edge. Across the footbridge lies the paved centennial trail for those looking for a gentler route. And all of this is so close: most Spokanites can be at the park in 15 minutes or less, and the Centennial trail offers easy access to bikers who don’t mind navigating a few rocky patches on the south bank on their way to the old CCC Bridge. Two of the camp sites are supposed to be reserved for those who hike or bike into the park.
Costs range from $19 for the standard tent site to $30 for the hookup sites. Bike-in sites are $14. Sites are reservable by visiting http://www.parks.wa.gov or by calling (888) 226-7688.
Riverside State Park
Nine Mile Resort
This formerly private resort is now part of Riverside State Park. Owned by Avista Corp., this area came under state management just this January under a lease agreement with the state. Located just west of the Nine Mile dam, this prime real estate on the shores of Long Lake can get crowded during holidays: on the 4th of July, people were turned away due to lack of parking. But lakeshore access is always sure to draw the crowds, and that is the big attraction here.
Big changes are in store for this area, and that is a good thing. As it stands, the campground is nothing but a field next to the water. Unless you bring your own shade, you are at the mercy of the sun. Most people do bring their own shade here, however, because the majority of the sites are RV sites. There are a total of thirty-one sites here, only five of which are tent sites. Eleven sites offer partial hookups, and the remaining fifteen have full hookups. Prices are $15, $18, and $21, respectively.
In addition to camping, the area offers four reservable kitchen shelters, twenty picnic tables, a roped-off swimming area, an espresso stand, and a sand volleyball court. But the boat launch is what brings most visitors here. Anyone can use the launch for a $5 fee; campers use it for free. The fishing here reflects the different aquatic environment, with bass being more prevalent than upriver from the dam.
Since Nine Mile Resort is such a recent acquisition, it is in a transition phase. In the near future, prices will rise to be in line with state norms and will be similar to the rates at Bowl and Pitcher. All other state park rules will be implemented as well, such as the ten-day limit on camping.
The changes coming up in the more distant future are the most intriguing. Pending funding, sometime in the next few years, the campground layout will be completely changed, taking all of the sites that are out in the open near the lake and moving them back into the currently undeveloped forest. Right now, the Centennial Trail ends near the dam, about a mile down the road. Eventually, it will be extended to join with Nine Mile Resort, creating an artery that runs the entire length of Riverside State Park. As it is, trail users can access the resort with just a brief stint on Charles and Hedin roads.
For reservations call (509) 468-2286. Eventually, visitors will make reservations by calling the same number or visiting the same website as Riverside or any other park in the state system.
Mt. Spokane State Park
Everyone is familiar with 5,883-foot Mount Spokane: it is easily visible from downtown Spokane and is the peak that is taller than anything else you can see. Even if you have ventured out to this park to hike or ski, you may have missed Bald Knob, a small, quiet campground nestled in the forested slopes of the mountain.
Water attracts people looking for recreation, and here in the Inland Northwest, that is especially true. This attraction, which crowds places like Nine Mile Resort, leaves places like Bald Knob practically deserted most of the time, since there is no water nearby aside from trickling mountain streams. But what is nearby is 100 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails that transect the 14,000 acre park. This extensive network of trails winds across the mountainsides, through stands of old-growth timber, and up to every major peak in the area. Along the trail, dense forest frequently gives way to meadows filled with wildflowers and to granite outcroppings, offering panoramic views of the Selkirks, Idaho, Canada, and the plains to the west. For all of this hiking, Bald Knob makes a great base camp.
The campground itself is tiny. Only eight spots are available, and reservations are not accepted here: it is first-come, first-serve only. But this campground rarely fills to capacity. Partly because of that water thing, but also because the sites offer no hookups of any kind, only a picnic table, a fire pit, and a spot for your tent. The elevation here limits the season: Bald Knob campground is only open from about mid-June to mid-September, depending on weather and road conditions. $17 a night will cover up to eight people. Large groups can be accommodated, too. Often, groups of twenty or larger will be directed to the Civilian Conservation Corps cabin, where they will find a pit toilet, a few fire rings and barbeque pits, and a little more privacy. This requires a flat $25 fee, plus $2 per person, per night.
Call (509) 238-4258 or visit http://www.parks.wa.gov for more information.
Liberty Lake County Park
This is a 3,000 acre county park on the southeastern shore of the lake. Thankfully, this is the quiet end of the lake, or at least the quietest. The campground is located at the inlet where Liberty Creek feeds the lake and adjacent to a series of trails that lead into some fairly wild country in the hills beyond.
There is water access here, but no boat dock, so that tends to keep the crowds and the noise of motors a little more tolerable. A beach area welcomes swimmers at their own risk, since a lifeguard is only occasionally on duty. There is also a picnic area and a playground on site. Twelve tent sites and twenty-two RV sites are available from mid-April to mid-October on a first-come, first-serve basis. Rates vary according to season. Mid-June to Labor Day, sites are $18 and $24, respectively. All other times of the year, rates are $15 and $20. For the more adventuresome, there is a rustic cabin for rent that requires a three-mile hike. There is also a $2 admission fee during peak season. Also nearby is a 350-acre ORV park with sixteen miles of trails for ATVs and motorcycles.
One feature that makes this campground stand out is the excellent network of trails that begins here. The trail starts out level, following the creek for two miles before coming to a picnic area in a picturesque grove of large cedars. After that, the trail climbs to a waterfall and nice views of the lake. Off of this trail is a spur to the aforementioned cabin, as well as other trails that lead off in every direction. You can make a seven mile loop by heading north along the ridge and back down the creek.
More information is available by calling the Spokane County Department of Parks at (509) 477-4731.
Round Lake State Park
A bit further away, but still reasonable. This state park in Idaho is only an hour’s drive and offers a more remote alternative to some of the closer parks. It is located just east of highway 95 approximately ten miles south of Sandpoint.
The campground is on 142 wooded acres surrounding a 58-acre lake. Fishing, hiking, boating, and swimming are all available. There are fifty-one sites for both tent campers and RVs, though no hookups are available and trailers longer than twenty-four feet are not allowed. Also disallowed are gasoline motors on boats in the lake, which makes for a more peaceful experience for campers and fishermen alike. There are centralized restrooms and showers, along with a dump station. For large groups of up to 25 people, there is a reservable picnic shelter. All sites are $12 per day and reservations are recommended between May and September. All other times of the year, sites are first-come, first-serve.
Call (866) 634-3246 or visit http://www.parksandrecreation.idaho.gov.
Dragoon Creek Campground
This is a state-run campground, but not a state park. It is run by the Department of Natural Resources, which is a state agency. But Dragoon Creek is not managed as part of the state park system, even though it is a formal campground. Confused? Me too. Information is hard to come by. The internet told me this much: it opened May 15 and no dogs are allowed. A call to the local DNR office yielded this scant info: camping is free at the “approximately” twenty-two sites. No reservations are accepted since there is really no one to call. Sorry, that’s all I got. It’s pretty close-a few miles south of Deer Park west of highway 395-and it’s free.
Resorts near Cheney
The countryside around Cheney is strewn with lakes, and several of those lakes offer camping opportunities. These are private campgrounds mainly, and as such they vary greatly in size, cost, quality, amenities, and atmosphere. Some have helpful, detailed websites; others have only a phone number available online. The intrepid researcher will find that several other lakes in the area southwest of Cheney have resorts on their shores, aside from the few listed here. Hopefully the following will get you started on finding a place that suits your recreational needs.
Williams Lake, just south of the Turnbull Wildlife Refuge on Cheney-Plaza Road, has a few options for campers. Klink’s Williams Lake Resort has sites ranging from basic tent sites for $16.95 to full-hookup RV sites for $24.95. Two- and four-person cabins are also available for $110 and $130, respectively, for a two-night stay. The two-person cabin has a queen-sized bed, the four-person cabin a queen-sized bed and a fold-out couch. They have power and few small appliances, but no plumbing. Showers and bathrooms are in a public building. Weekly rates are available for both campsites and cabins.
Williams Lake has no restrictions on motorized use, so speedboats and jet-skis are welcome. If you don’t have your own, you can rent powerboats as well as rowboats. If you do have your own, moorage and launch fees apply. A dedicated swimming area complete with waterslide, a camp store, and casual dining restaurant ensure that Klink’s can really only loosely be defined as “camping”; ample amenities are the draw here. Call (800) 274-1540 or visit http://www.klinksresort.com.
Bunker’s Resort is similar to Williams Lake with a long list of amenities. Cabins here are $75 and $90 per night for four and six people. These include indoor plumbing, a shower and bathroom, two or three queen-sized beds, and a kitchenette. Bedding and all kitchen utensils must be provided by the guest. Dock and launch fees are waived with a cabin rental. Campsites range from $16 to $30 for tent sites and full-hookup RV sites, with a few partial hookup options in between. Other features include a restaurant with a deck overlooking the lake, fishing dock, horseshoe pits, and both motorboat and rowboat rental. Call (800-404) 6674 or visit http://www.bunkersresort.com.
Downs Lake, a few miles southwest of Williams Lake on Martin Road, is the location for the aptly named Downs Lake Resort. Reservable partial-hookup RV sites are $21; non-reservable tent sites are $15. Boat rentals run $15 per day, and a small convenience store keeps anglers and campers well-supplied. And fishing seems to be the name of the game here. A wide variety of species assures that all types of anglers will find suitable prey and increases the likelihood that something will always be biting. Largemouth bass, rainbow trout, perch, crappie, panfish, and catfish all call the lake home. For those not crazy about fishing, a picnic area and swimming area will help keep you amused. Call (509) 235-2314.
If you are determined to leave all signs of civilization behind and get out into completely undeveloped areas, then your options are more limited. Backcountry camping is not allowed in state or county parks. You need a national forest for this. Fortunately, there are three that are approximately an hour’s drive from Spokane: Colville, Kaniksu and Coeur d’Alene. Depending on where exactly you want to go within these forests, expect additional drive times. You are allowed to camp pretty much anywhere you want on national forest land, so long as you obey all rules and regulations regarding proximity to water, roads, and trails, fire safety, bear safety, length of stay, etc. Amenities are, well, non-existent, but if you are the backpacking type, then you know that what the untouched wilderness offers cannot be found in any man-made campground.
Visit http://www.fs.fed.us and navigate to the individual forests’ sites.
Magazine Article |
I try to avoid thinking about the principles of airline flight: a long metal tube with huge mini-rockets riveted under flimsy-looking wings that propel me (and hundreds of others) on an arcing trajectory that can suffer little variance. We’re shot up into the sky; we glide (hopefully) gently down. Sure, the pilot may occasionally bank into a holding pattern or apply a surge of thrust just before landing or during take-off, but mostly, it feels far too routine, far too automated, far too like I’ve relinquished my life to a mechanized destiny.
Last summer, three friends and I flew into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.
Dozens of small airstrips provide access to the deepest drainages of this wild: for hunters and hikers, rafters and fisherman. We were going to fish. After stuffing all of our packs and rods and various gear into a small Cessna, each of us buckled in to a seat and donned a headset. The plane was cramped, but for some reason, it felt less “sealed in” than an airliner jet-I could reach out and crank the doorknob and jump (Aaaiiieee!) if I really wanted to do so. The pilot taxied down the bumpy strip of grass (each mole hill lifted us a bit off the ground) and then, with a surge of propeller, we rose over a line of pine trees.
Located in central Idaho, The Frank Church Wilderness sprawls over nearly 2.4 million acres and, except for the bumpiest road in America-The Magruder Corridor-it’s conjoined to the Bitterroot-Selway Wilderness (1.2 million more acres); together, they make a vast spread of wild about the size of an East coast state. Solitude is possible: a few years ago while hiking there, my friends and I came upon a food bag tied up a tree-a note was in a plastic sleeve, tacked to the trunk: “This is for week three of my time alone with God”). If you want to get away, there may be no better place in the lower forty-eight states.
From the air, we flew over terrain that I had previously hiked, and the brute topography became much more apparent-the rocky scree, the chisel-cut cirques, the rushing waters, scars of fires, new growth saplings like small radish shoots in a backyard garden. A realization: we were flying in minutes over miles that took days to cover on foot. We were also hitting turbulence, and the airsickness that I hadn’t really felt since my first jet flights was making me nauseated and dizzy.
We pointed out features to one another; our gracious pilot told us the names of peaks and the years of various burns; he also asked again and again if we all felt okay (“I’m holdin’ on,” was my reply); we flew past our landing strip to have a look at a raging fire’s progress. We then banked into three looping turns that brought us to the field where we’d land. “We have to fly over at least once to spook any deer or elk off the strip,” our pilot commented. A few bumps, and the plane spun to a stop. Although my brow was a bit damp and my stomach a bit on edge, we were suddenly at our destination, some twenty miles further into the wilderness than we could hike in a day.
To be honest, in spite of the trustworthy and experienced demeanor of our pilot-a friendly Wazzu grad who had fallen for the backcountry-I was afraid when I got in the small plane. My fear, though, couldn’t prevent me from what’s statistically the most dangerous type of flying. Why? What was it about fishing that compelled me to do something that I found terrifying?
Most of us interested in the outdoors have signal activities: those pursuits that so engage, so immerse us that our participation becomes obsessive, addictive, consuming. Whether climbing, kayaking, cycling, hiking or fishing, when we do these favorite pursuits, we are the verb: I am hiking; I am fishing. I know that this sounds banal, but think about it carefully. How often while doing other things (washing the dishes, watering the plants, talking to a friend) are we divided in thought, splintered in action, so absolutely unable to make that same pronouncement with absolutist union: I am scrubbing the toilet. Our beloved outdoor pursuits bring about that temporary mindfulness, that complete presence that has been so oft discussed by writers from Basho and Thoreau to Simone Weil and Robert Aitken. Perhaps that’s why we’re willing to go to such lengths-all night drives, rides in planes-to make sure not that these activities are mere parts of our lives but that our lives at least occasionally know the attentive magic of this engagement.
The fishing was great; the wilderness offered so much-wild raspberries, splendid wildflowers, plentiful deer, occasional elk, a few (thankfully) rattlesnakes, and the always intimidating piles of bear scat, plus cougar tracks and wolf howls in the night. And more: when we met the plane to fly out, my trepidation about the tiny craft was gone. I knew that I wouldn’t be suspended as mere ticketed cargo in a cylindrical rocket. If asked what I was doing, I could respond, “I am flying.”
Tod Marshall is an Assistant Professor of English at Gonzaga University. Marshall’s first collection of poetry, Dare Say, was the 2002 winner of the University of Georgia’s Contemporary Poetry Series.
Magazine Article |
In July 2004, under the influence of Oxycodone and sleep deprivation, I decided to start the magazine you now hold. I was coming off knee surgery-severed ACL and torn meniscus, if you must know-which followed the birth of my daughter just two weeks prior. After a couple days of post-op fog, immobility, and marathon Playstation 2 sessions, the first coherent thought I had was, “Man, these painkillers make me feel worse than my throbbing knee.” The second thought was, “I need to start an outdoor magazine.”
Three years later we are going strong and embarking on our fourth year of publication. Far from exhausting outdoor activities in the Inland Northwest, or Inland Empire, as I still like to call it, it feels like we’ve just scratched the surface. When I think about my favorite moments of the past three years the competition is fierce.
I remember an idyllic paddle down the Little Spokane River with close friends and family. I dumped my boat trying to reach for a golf ball.
I remember doing Spokane River Clean-up on an amazing fall day in People’s Park when the dead leaves covered the ground like a carpet of gold. My five-year-old found a condom wrapper, and didn’t even ask me to explain what it was.
I remember hiking into a natural hot springs in Idaho with my sweetheart and having the place all to ourselves on a Wednesday morning. We took digital pictures on a camera that was later stolen, and now someone has hi-res images of my pasty, naked butt.
I remember biking the Centennial Trail with some buddies to see the Fourth of July demolition derby at the Stateline Speedway. I can’t remember everything from that night but I do know it involved the Kon Tiki, shuffleboard, MGD tall-boys, The Scorpions, and getting home at 2:30AM.
The sad thing is when I look back to the list of things I’ve done there is also a long list of outdoor things I haven’t been able to do. I’m sure you’ve got a similar list. Take a second to look at it today and figure how to get going on it sooner rather than later. Our goal is to give you more things to add to it. Much thanks to all the family, friends, staff, contributors and advertisers who help us do it.
Editorial, Magazine Article |
Build a Nation (Megaforce Records)
You moved on. You acquired a mortgage. You had a girlfriend/husband try to sell you on the merits of Norah Jones and John Maher. But all along this homogeneous path you longed to capture the lightning of the time you saw your first Angry Somoans/JFA show. Well I’ve got news for you. So did the Bad Brains. For the last couple of decades the Bad Brains have been mired in a swamp filled with so much suck there was no escape-I’m talking to you, Rick Okasek. Alas, they’ve been rescued from the doldrums of the 1990s and they officially recaptured their place in the pantheon of hardcore. If you’ve spent the last twenty years searching for the I and I outtakes, this is as close as you’re ever going to come.
Heart Geometry (self-released)
Geez, I’m a sucker for fun packaging. When Fast Computers’ new disc landed in my mailbox weeks ago, it took me forever to peak inside. When I did? The delight, oh the delight. The band’s one sheet is printed (in “the ink’s running low, ma!” style) on nasty old perforated printer paper. I am already in love. What unfolds on the disc is even better. The Portland trio gets right what far more successful ’80s-flavored bands like stellastarr* and the like get so terribly wrong-this is understated, unrefined, and still fully capable of leaving an impact.
The Hair the TV the Baby and the Band (Merge)
Is Merge Records not one of the most consistently-amazing record labels currently releasing? It’s hard not to be perpetually impressed by the caliber of acts this label hosts. They’ve got it all! Frickin’ Arcade Fire, frickin’ Spoon, frickin’ M. Ward and the Rosebuds. GEEEEZ. Aside from the major players are greats like this band, arisen from five years off with a new disc of fresh tracks and clever wit.
THE LONELY H
Hair (The Control Group)
The Lonely H isn’t only the (second) best band of just-graduated teens heard in a long time, they’re also just one of the best heard of late, period (second only in the high school grad competition to the fabulous Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head). These boys, nay, these young men kick out the ’70s-flaired jams like nobody’s business, readying themselves for the big time whilst rackin’ up some serious musical credibility in the meantime. Surely the coolest thing to come from Port Angeles, WA in a very, very long time. A star on the rise.
It Won’t Be Soon Before Long (Octone)
Maroon 5 has made their career on invoking weak-in-the-knee reactions from young girls and moms alike (including my rad mama). In that, they are extremely accomplished-the new record will keep them on VH1 for weeks to come, and their upcoming arena tour is sure to be a success. That’s given, what wasn’t is that the record is good. Maroon 5 is moving into new territory, and, though not gone, at least somewhat distant are the weak love ballads, replaced with, dare it be said, Michael Jackson-inspired ’80s club hits. It’s frickin’ rad, and that’s coming from a hardcore Jackson fan who at one point in life was going to marry the man. Few can pull it off (I lookin’ at you, Justin Timberlake), but somehow, somehow, Maroon 5 is workin’ toward that.
Professionals & Convicts (self-released)
This is an oldie (reallllll oldie), but a goodie. Seattle’s Patient Patient will bring their perfect little indie-rockin’ machine to Spokane on August 11 at Caterina alongside the likes of Spokane’s heart-melting Smile Line Spark and newbies Isenheart. Patient’s made the rounds in Seattle and come out ahead. Frontman Neal Burton pushes them to the forefront-he’s one of those “too talented for his own good” types. You know the ones. Go to the show and purchase this ancient relic (released in ’05, even!).
ROBBERS ON HIGH STREET
Grand Animals (New Line)
Oh, I walked into this so sillily detached (I made that word up). New Robbers? Psh, okay, we’ll see, I said. Sure, they were good when I saw them a couple months ago, but I think I’m pretty much done with them, I thought. That was a phase, when their ability to blend carefree melody with perfect charm garnered them comparisons to Spoon, and even the Beatles. But that was then. I’m so over it. Whoops. No I’m not. We’re halfway into their first song and I’m pretty much toe-tappin’ and seat-dancing like a madwoman. Robbers may have stashed themselves away recording for a little too long, but watch out for the careful re-entry. These New Yorkers are still some of the best to come from their ever-burgeoning scene.
New High & Ord (Load)
Okay, okay, so mention anything Mika Miko related and I’m likely to double over in excited. Silver Daggers, what with Mika Miko’s Jenna Thornhill manning the mic (she’s the one NOT singing into the red telephone but often with a sax), instantly has my attention. It makes me miss LA-those perfect nights at the Smell with all the kiddos crammed in with their tight jeans and trendy ‘dos, crawling the walls to get the best view and the best picture with their old-style camera. Lucky for me with an upcoming Mika Miko tour of the states and this disc, fond memories aren’t so far away.
Young Modern (Eleven)
It’s been a good seven or eight years since Silverchair mattered at all (that’d be Neon Ballroom era). Back then they were still kids, struggling with their own identity as musicians, and young men. It seems fitting, then, that their re-emergence as major players comes in the form of an effort as strong as Young Modern. Gone are the sheepish imitations. Gone are childhood insecurities. What presents itself instead is an album created by musicians who’ve grown together, coalesced and strengthened. History will show Silverchair has always been worthy of note, and nothing has changed.
The Scenery of Farewell (Saddle Creek)
Is it possible to write unbiased reviews of one of your favorite bands? No. Cards on the table, I adore Two Gallants. The duo is absolutely incapable of not capturing my attention in any moment that I listen to or see them. There is chemistry, history, between Adam Stephens and Tyson Vogel that keeps them tight like glue and anything (read: ANYTHING) they are putting out is worth listening to. To preview Scenery just listen to “Seems Like Home To Me” on the band’s MySpace. Listen to those two voices in unison at the track’s start and tell me you’re not moved. This carries my highest recommendation, as does any other piece of the 2GS catalog.
Icky Thump (Third Man Records)
You know that relative who insists that all rap music sounds the same? Rob Base, DMX, Slick Rick, Missy Elliot? They all sound the same? Well that same relative likely insists that all White Stripes albums sound the same. In our heart of hearts we know full well White Blood Cells ain’t Get Behind Me Satan, and it definitely ain’t Icky Thump. There’s a hunk of gooey blues, and signature caterwalling, but this album also packs an exceptional sophistication. The kind of sophistication that comes from sampling the whole musical universe, and not just listening to DMX all the time.
Magazine Article, Music Reviews |
Together on Top of the World: The Remarkable Story of the First Couple to Climb the Fabled Seven Summits
Phil and Susan Ershler with Robin Simmons
Warner Books, April 2007, 289 pages.
Finally a “Seven Summits” book that is more than a check-off on someone’s “life list.” Together on Top of the World takes us up to the high places of the planet and into the personal lives of the authors. As much memoir as it is a travel adventure, Together will appeal to a wide range of readers. In his thirties when Phil Ershler met Susan Burger, he thought he was over the “big” mountains and was ready to settle down and run his business, International Mountain Guides. Ershler makes his living helping others achieve their climbing goals. Often this includes summiting the highest peak on each continent, the seven summits. In his capacity as a Himalayan climber and international mountain guide, for Phil, the seven summits were history long before the idea of doing it as a couple emerged.
Together on Top weaves a sketch of the couple’s early lives with tales of adventure in the high places of the world. For the mountain enthusiast Phil’s accounts of his early years in the Cascades and Himalaya will be the meat of this book. The weekend climber and armchair mountaineer will enjoy Sue’s descriptions of her struggles with mountaineering. The behind-the-scenes story of the give and take in a relationship between two highly talented and motivated individuals provides a model for building relationships. Keeping this aspect of the book as a background element prevents the book from becoming a self-help guide.
Sue’s desire to learn Phil’s craft and join him on some of his extended trips set the stage for their eventual success on the seven summits. Once the couple realized only Everest and Kosciuszko, the Australian “hill” remained, Sue dedicated herself to becoming fit enough for Everest. Two years of intensive training and one failed attempt on Everest later the couple made their goal. Read their story and share the joy of May 18, 2002, Everest summit day and the end of the quest.
Cheap Motels and A Hot Plate-An Economist’s Travelogue
Michael D. Yates
Monthly Review Press, 2006, 208 pages.
Reading a book written by an economist isn’t something most people want to spend their free time doing. And at first glance this book fits that model and doesn’t seem to be the exception, but it proves to be an unexpectedly entertaining, albeit unorthodox, account of an American road trip. As can be seen from the title, the author, an achieved professor of economics, quits his job, sells his belongings and sets out on a five-year journey across the country with his wife living in motels and cooking in rooms without kitchens.
Many of the places in this book-Portland, Oregon; Key West, Florida; Sedona, Arizona-are familiar-but the lens through which the author sees them isn’t. His interpretation of the amenities and luxuries of a place takes into consideration the people who make them happen. The economic gap between those who work in the service industry and those who receive the services is great and even though this isn’t big news, it is unsettling to the author who, being about as left-leaning as possible, thinks it’s far from ideal. Although this may sound like boilerplate, it does challenge one to consider the socioeconomic welfare of people who aide the convenience of our lives from those who harvest the food we eat to the clerks who sell it to us.
Yates and his wife spend short stints working what they thought would be relatively low stress jobs-in places as far ranging as Yellowstone partkto Manhattan-while trying to learn how people in the area live and understand the demographics of each place. Their experience cultivates a newfound appreciation of the low-wage worker and the difficulties they endure.
Even the most remote humanitarian with the slightest interest in travel will find this an invigoratingly fresh account of America that will make you want to get in the car and go.
Joel N. Young
Let’s Get Primitive: The Urban Girl’s Guide to Camping
Ten Speed Press, 2007, 224 pages.
In her new book, New York-based writer/filmmaker, Heather Menicucci, makes the brave assertion that even the most city-loving, stiletto-wearing, designer-bag-carrying girl can find her primitive roots and enjoy a weekend of camping in the backcountry.
Introduced to the world of camping by a good-looking Eagle Scout, Menicucci’s life was changed forever when she found a world of wonder and discovery she had never dreamed possible. Menicucci starts out by regaling readers with tales of her first camping trips and encourages urbanites to start journaling about the type of camping experience they’d like to have and then make it a reality with Menicucci’s guidelines and advice. What follows is a practical guide that will thoroughly prepare and educate even the most inexperienced urban girl in the ways of packing for a trip, having a good time camping, safety in the great outdoors and leaving nature undisturbed.
Menicucci covers all the basics-where to camp, how to pitch a tent, what to eat and how to cook it and clean up afterward, and of course, how to poop in the woods. Each step of the way is filled with fun and girly antics to make camping as feminine and fashionable as each reader wants it to be-pooping included! Let’s Get Primitive is realistic for first time campers, giving special attention to camping on a budget. Cute diagrams show how to make your own sleeping bag and crafty sidebars detail how to get around spending too much on essentials.
Let’s Get Primitive is the book lots of people have been waiting for to convince their all too girly girlfriends, friends or sisters to go camping with them. And it’s not just for first timers, Menicucci’s recipes for Cheesy Oatmeal Pepper Bowls and Tipsy Peaches will impress even the most seasoned camping veterans.
Book Reveiws, Magazine Article |
Two months ago I wrote a Road Trip column about taking quick overnight bicycle camping trips. I try to squeeze in at least one of these solo camping trips each month this time of year. As I mentioned in the Road Trip column, one-nighters are great because you can forget stuff and generally be less prepared-you’ll only suffer for one night. One-night bike camping is great with kids too; though you should be a bit more prepared for the unexpected. We are fortunate to have Riverside State Park campground just a short ride from downtown Spokane. The park has miles of walking trails, a nice little wading area to cool off, and bathrooms with showers.
Last year, my daughter Maddie and I jumped the gun a bit and went in early May. The temperature dropped to about 35 degrees that night. We were cozy and warm in our tent but then we woke up around 4 AM and started chatting. We decided to pack up and leave at 5 AM. That was a very bad idea. We had a miserably cold ride home. It was one of those situations where I felt like the worse parent in the world. But such experiences tend to deliver strong lessons. My main lesson: Wait until the low temperature is above 50 before you go bike camping with young kids. My second lesson: Don’t start “enjoying the moment” at 4 AM by encouraging your 3-year-old daughter to chat it up. Just go back to sleep.
After doing a bunch of solo bike one-nighters, I’ve gotten my routine and packing list figured out. When I’m solo, I go pretty lean: very little food, not much in the way of clothes, and minimal sleeping gear. My advice for family bike camping: Load up a bit, and prepare for the cold, but don’t over pack. It’s easy to get into the “what if” guessing game and start piling on the extras. All that extra stuff really detracts from the fun when you are laboring up Doomsday Hill. You don’t need much for a quick overnighter at Riverside State Park.
Here’s what we bring:
- Sleeping bags and sleeping pads for all
- Clothesline, clothespins, first-aid kit
- A tin mug and a spork for each person, a dish rag, small Dr. Bronner’s soap.
- Small camping burner/stove. We love the Jetboil; it’s a bit bigger than a water bottle and will boil 2 cups of water in about a minute. It’s perfect for re-hydrating foods and for hot drinks.
- Clothes, pack towel
- Tool kit, pump
All this stuff fits into two “bucket” panniers and two large panniers, with the tent and sleeping pads on top of the rear racks.
Food is a good place to keep things simple. On our last trip, we brought dehydrated refried beans, a bit of shredded cheddar cheese, corn chips, and some fruit for dinner. Before bed, we enjoyed some tea and hot cocoa. For breakfast, a quick pot of coffee, some Bumble Bars and more fruit were all we needed to get back into town. When we used to car camp, it seemed that most of my time was spent preparing for, cooking, or cleaning up huge, elaborate meals. Now our goal is to explore, wade around in the river, and just hang out.
For clothes, my wife and I keep it very simple. Basically, we have what we wear on the ride plus light sleeping clothes. We pack a bit more for our daughter who ends up wet, dirty or both. She gets an extra change of clothes, swim suit, pajamas and a rain shell (just in case). After last year’s cold camp out, we always make sure there’s a pair of wool socks, a wool beanie and gloves for everyone.
This year, Riverside State Park has also created a hike/bike-in camping policy. Riverside State Park has 16 standard campsites. If you are hiking or biking into the park, you’ll still get a spot, even without reservations or if the campground is full.
To get to Riverside State Park, you can take the Centennial Trail, but it’s much quicker and easier to take Downriver Drive to Aubrey L. White Parkway on the east side of the Spokane River. The Aubrey L. White Parkway is flatter and more direct. The posted speed limit is 20 MPH and in our experience, traffic is slow and considerate. If you decide to take the Centennial Trail, be warned, as the trail between the T.J. Meenach Bridge and Riverside State Park has several steep climbs in both directions and the trail meanders quite a bit from the river.
For Riverside State Park, you can reserve a campsite by calling (888) 226-7688 or going to http://www.camis.com/wa.
John Speare grew up and lives in Spokane. He rides his bike everywhere. Check out his blog at http://cyclingspokane.blogspot.com.
Everyday Cyclist, Magazine Article |
Some people climb for glory. Some people climb for gold. Some people climb for a living, and some people climb to live. Sylvia Oliver is one of the latter, for whom in the last eighteen years climbing has not just been a hobby, but a way of life.
She fell in love with it after a few mountaineering trips with her late husband, “an old-time mountaineer,” and continues to pursue the heights in her sport.
“There’s a lot of stress in rock climbing, but it’s good stress, as opposed to the bad kind of stress you get at work.”
Currently, Oliver partakes in what she calls “controlled-risk rock climbing,” mostly sport-climbing when the weather is nice, and climbing in the gym a few days per week in the winter.
Climbing is something that has kept her family together, even during her daughter’s teen years. “It wasn’t tough to find time together because we were always climbing together and traveling to rock climbing destinations.”
Her favorite destinations include El Portrero Chico in Mexico and Skaha near Penticton in Canada, but she adds, “the wonderful thing about Spokane and Washington state is that within a six-hour radius, you’ve got any kind of rock climbing you could want.”
Shoes: Oliver recently bought a pair of La Sportive Testarosas, “the most aggressive shoes I’ve bought so far. For women, Five Ten makes some really good shoes, but the ones I really liked, they stopped making of course, so I got these and now they’re my favorite pair of shoes.”
Harness: Petzl’s Corax model. She loves the adjustable leg loops for climbing in cooler weather with more layers, and the fact that the straps are all doubled, so “it never comes undone.”
Helmet: Also Petzl.
Ropes: “When we started climbing, the standard was 11 millimeters (for rope thickness). Now we use a 10.2 mm rope, so there’s less bulk.” Her favorite rope is a bi-colored one she picked up on sale, because half of the length is one color and half is another color, so “it’s really, really helpful to know how much rope you’ve got left.”
Belay device: A Grigri self-locking belay device by Petzl. As a climber who’s been around the proverbial block a time or two, Oliver isn’t willing to skimp on safety. “It’s easy these days to start climbing in a gym where everything’s controlled, and people just don’t understand the risks when they go outside. We’ve seen people out there using those little carabiners you put your keys on to tie their top ropes.” Rounding out the hardware is the collection of locking carabiners and quick draws that any sport climber accumulates.
Clothes: “There are so many climbing clothes; I’m old enough that I don’t even care what it looks like. I just try to be prepared for whatever kind of weather I think I might encounter.”
Accessories: “Of course we don’t go anywhere without our first aid kit,” Oliver says. Also included in the old CamelBak she carries are her cell phone, sun protection, snacks, and coffee. That’s right, coffee: Starbucks Double Shots.
She usually takes along her stick clip, too, a device used to attach a rope to the first bolt on a climb where free-climbing up to the first anchor might be too high and risky.
“You can always push yourself one hold higher,” Oliver says.
Magazine Article, What's Your Gear? |