Our second and final night at the R.V. park in Enterprise Oregon is equal parts rain and good company.
Jessica and I take refuge under our tarp with heart-warming drinks as amassing clouds begin a hesitant assault on the hills around. Earlier concerned such luxury might be incompatible with true adventure, I’m glad now to have erected the tarp. I cinch straps and mount rain covers in preparation for the full force of the vaporous phantasms seething above.
Sitting “indoors” listening to the patter of rain seems an ideal way to reflect and relax after hours of exertion for the day’s group ride.
Ryan, Thane and Phil, and probably others, are still out there somewhere. Water begins to pool on the tarp as the pace of precipitation grows. We imagine its effect on mountain trails. One effect we’re glad for, though, is washing muddy motorcycles.
A break in the rain, temporarily diminished from downpour to drizzle, is our cue to gather for the potluck dinner. Dishes of various lasagnas are laid out and grills fired to sterilize animal bits caught in crash-bars or otherwise acquired. We load our plates and squeeze in under canopies to rub elbows and top off our tanks before long rides home the next day.
We take advantage of another break in the rain for group photos (Jessica) and a run to Safeway (me) for desserts to share.
starPhoto by Jessica
Sky daemons resume their aggressions after dinner, giving popularity to our tarp. Come on in!
We watch from our shelter as the sun sinks low and hard rains utterly fail to clean the motorcycles.
Our intrepid riding companions finally pull into camp, no worse for wear. They didn’t find the dirt paths around the mountains we’d sought, no fountain of youth or holy grail, but were able to steer clear of the rain we’ve had here. Good for them but I’d enjoy a story of at least minor suffering.
Atmospheric rays emanating from the setting sun meet swirling storm clouds at 186,000 miles per second producing a pastel spectacle spread horizon to horizon. Looking up, clouds continually coalesce, churn and dissipate. By the time I can point Jessica to a peculiar shape, it’s gone. Although beautiful to behold, they’re obvious harbingers of a tempestuous night.
The last time I set up the tarp¹ it spent the night whipped into a frenzy by an impertinent wind, flapping complaints against the tent, straining at its stakes, and requiring repeated, grudging attention. With that lesson, I secure and re-secure the tarp’s moorings.
We awake to cracks of thunder and count the seconds between flash and boom on one hand. Wind and rain lash at our paper-thin shelter. I think of the tarp above the tent. If not stretched tight, rain will pool along a sagging edge, causing more sagging and pooling until the inevitable, drenching collapse. If not that, buffeting winds can work loose the ties, unleashing a cacophony of thrashing, steel-eyed polyester. Such possibilities twist around my mind until I’m forced up and out into the wet and windy darkness.
The condition of the tarp is better than expected. I tighten an edge where a little water has pooled and check the other stakes. In spite of relentless wind and rain, all is well. Peering into the darkness, I can see no one else but I expect alert ears are all around, listening, hoping in their own tent and tie-downs to sustain the night.
Rain continues steady through the morning. One strap tore free of double stitching but the tarp held. An afternoon meeting in Twin Falls, some six hours east, precludes further slumber. It also means we can’t wait out the rain. We have to pack and leave.
Rain is falling hard as we exit the RV park, bouncing audibly off the windscreen as we accelerate onto the pavement. It is hard to see. Even cracked partly open, fog clings to my visor. Only highway speeds create enough airflow to clear it.
As we ride through three hours of steady rain, the temperature gauge becomes a measure of my spirit. I see it tick up to 51 and feel happiness and relief — we must be almost through! — followed by depression when it falls back to a sorrowful 49° F.