Things are heating up here. A twist of luck enabled us to land a prime camp site surrounded by lilacs and tall leafy trees. We have free hot showers, plenty of water, canyon and mountain views, spectacular sunsets, nightly lectures and lectures from rangers and a solar physicist from NACAR.
Nearby is a nearby bumpy former potato field that Oregon State opened up as overflow camping. The field people wander into our campground to shower, seek shade and water and as I just heard one gentleman say, "feel homeless," compared to the camp dwellers. I offered cold drinks to two: an architect and chemical engineer from Grass Valley, Nevada.
The beaches at Lake Billy Chinook, once quiet, are packed. RV's squeeze off to the side of the road. Cars slowly drive into the campground, shimmering with heat. The space next to us, a handicapped site with a limit of 8 inexplicably swelled today to 11-13, possibly more. Rumor has it that the Parks Department auctioned off 14 sites for up to $3,000 for one night. Maybe we're next to one of them.
Today at the beach after kayaking, swimming and a picnic we gave our table to a San Francisco based couple who'd seen the last eclipse in Turkey. Everyone has an eclipse story even if it's just how they did or didn't score a camp site.
Relative peace remains despite the growing crowds. Sheriffs, firefighters and medics patrol the beaches and campgrounds, offering help to anyone with questions, keeping an eye out for a hint of fire or injury. Here at Crooked River campground yappy dogs are the worst threat so far.
Tomorrow morning is the big event. We're all ready and waiting.
Ellyn Oaksmith is the USA Today bestselling author of the upcoming Chasing Nirvana (Fall 2017,) 50 Acts of Kindness and other books. She lives in Seattle.
How do I find ideas?
They find me. We date for a while & if things work out, we marry. For one year. Best books for writers? Stephen King On Writing Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.