Monday morning, July 6 – Thursday morning, July 9
The crew and I are camped at Tollgate Campground ($21 regular/ $10.50 senior pass) on Route 26 in Mt. Hood National Forest.
For those of you who like to track on a map, the crew and I leave Lazy Bend on Route 224, stop in Estacada for a few groceries, and then continue northward on 224. At Eagle Creek (not far from where Edith lives), we take 211 to Sandy, then head east on Route 26 following along the Sandy River. Zigzag is located at the confluence of the Sandy and Zigzag rivers.
I pull into the parking lot of the Zigzag Ranger District Office.
“We’re almost home!” I announce to Bridget and Reggie as I turn off the engine of the Perfect Tow Vehicle. “You’ve been such good travelers today. How about a walk-about?”
An excited scramble commences as I hook a leash to Reggie’s camo suit and another to Bridgie’s black suit. I lift their squirmy bodies down to the pavement.
We stroll the shaded perimeter of the empty parking lot for RVs.
Two women approach us from the ranger building. It’s Fran, a reader of this blog! She introduces me to the woman with her (sorry, forgot the name!) who is a new full-timer. Fran plans to become a full-time vagabonder, too, when she retires soon.
After a short chat I put the crew in the PTV and go inside the office.
I’m given a diagram of the Mt. Hood area and a list of rules for the forest. I ask about internet signal — something I’ve been without for several days. The ranger says “Mt. Hood is notorious for not having good signal.”
He suggests Green Canyons Campground or Tollgate.
“You probably won’t have signal at Green Canyons but you could drive the four miles into Zigzag and get online at the coffee shop. Tollgate might have a signal.”
I drive Salmon River Road to check Green Canyons. I find that the sites along the river are occupied and several are too short anyway, better suited for short rigs like truck campers or for people camping with tents. Back to Route 26, we go through Rhododendron and turn into Tollgate.
“This is nice.”
Now for the fun part . . . evaluating the campsites.
Hmm . . . only one other camper here. The crew senses this will be home and beg to be let out. Together we walk the best possibilities of the 15 campsites. We look down the bank at the river. How pretty! And you can get to the river from your campsite! I like it here!
The camp host tells me that 14 out of the 15 sites are reservable sites. Only one is non-reservable — site #11 — which means it’s available for 14 days, first come-first serve. It’s an interior site and not on the river.
“There are some open sites on the river that you can have. If you take one, realize that someone could reserve it for two days from now and you’d have to move.”
I state the situation calmly although it doesn’t sit well with me.
“Even though I’m here and sitting in the site, all set up, someone, say, 200 miles from here, can go online or make a phone call and grab the site right out from under me,” I reply.
I ran into the same thing at Lazy Bend.
We were lucky to grab the only first-come, first-serve RV site there. Reservations are becoming a requirement at campgrounds traditionally first come-first serve. This threatens the freedom of movement so precious to anyone who likes to live and travel according to whim, rather than by pre-arranged schedule.
I don’t want to make reservations for future camps. I’ve had enough of a life lived according to appointments!
“I know,” the host responds, ruefully shaking her head. “That’s the way it’s done now.”
I choose site #5, a reservable site.
Well, at least we’re assured of two days. This site is a pull-through, it’s on the river, and it’s the only site at Tollgate that picks up a signal for internet. I pay $21 for two nights.
By the time I finish setting up camp, I want to get in the river!
I hook the ends of the 20-foot tether to Bridget and Reggie and we make our way down the path. A cool breeze from over the water is sufficient for the crew.
Not for me, I want in!
The water is cold, of course. I manage to absorb the shock and stand in water up to my waist. I really want to go in up to my shoulders. However, I can’t force myself to do it, so I douse myself with handfuls of water.
“Don’t you want to come in the water?” I ask the crew.
The roar of the river rushing over boulders probably inhibits them from wading. Bridget lies happily on the cool sand in the shade. She serves as an anchor for the Reggie Man while he explores the riverbank and I play in the river.
A few minutes later I emerge from the river feeling like a new person!
While fixing lunch, Bridget and Reggie seem hungry. I give them each a small bowl of kibble which they gobble. They figure out that my lunch menu isn’t going to result in treats. They sniff around the campsite while I eat.
I prepare a dishpan for the dirty dishes I’ve accumulated.
Then I take Bridget and Reggie for a walk around the campground.
Tollgate has vault toilets, trash bins, and water spigots.
The rest of the day I read, wash those dirty dishes, and relax.
I’m reading Ramage: Volume 1 (The Lord Ramage Novels). As I type this I’m in Volume 3. Exciting sea battles! A daring, young commander of a British sailing vessel! I love this series!
While at Tollgate we meet a couple from Sacramento.
They recently purchased a VW vanagon from a relative and this is their first time camping with it. The woman (I’ve become hesitant about using names of people I meet) shows me how they’ve rigged up a screen for the side and back doors. The screen is attached with velcro.
Years camping with a tent has taught this couple how to camp simply. They agree that the living space is the outdoors.
Using an adapter, they converted the stove to propane. (Clicking on photos will enlarge them.)
Here’s another cooktop (below). A grill from a hibachi is used with it.
“Most of our stuff comes from yard sales,” the woman states proudly.
Reggie scampers around their dog, Shiloh.
Time to wrap up this post!
While I’d love to show you all the photos I have of this lovely location in Mt. Hood National Forest, this post is long already.
NOTE: We stay for three nights. We could have stayed one more night. Someone reserved our site for the weekend.
THANKS, RVSUE SHOPPERS!
I appreciate you shopping Amazon from my blog. Here’s a sample of items recently purchased by readers:
Instant Gazebo, 8 by 8-Feet, Blue
Pentax Papilio II 8.5×21 Binoculars
Snoozer Roll Around 4-in-1 Pet Carrier
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Nikon COOLPIX P610 Digital Camera with 60x Optical Zoom