Labor Day Camping 2015

Disclaimer: I will tell you all now that the images you see and the text you read are likely, in most cases, not going to match. It’s like I have squirrels in my brain.

(As a was writing the post below I came up with this title and had to write it down before it was forgotten) I just thought of a new segment title that I am going to try and find something to write or talk about. It’s either going to be called Written in front of a dead studio audience or Recorded in front of a dead studio audience. On account of all the Dead…everything that is capturing the worlds imagination by storm right now.

(Written just 5 minutes ago) I wish there were some way to write the equivalent of this phrase that was always placed in front of the shows I loved to watch growing up like Happy Days – Recorded in front of a live studio audience…but as there isn’t any I can think of I will say this “I started writing this post about three weeks ago and just didn’t get back to it, until now.

Newberry Group Site A

Newberry Group Site A

This past Labor Day we found ourselves moving outside our traditional close to home (relatively) camping venue by staying at Newberry Group camp, roughly 40 miles south of Bend Oregon.

Newberry Group Site A

Newberry Group Site A

A couple factors played into us choosing this site:


  • We weren’t able to book Cape Perpetua on the Oregon Coast
  • This was way different than anywhere we have been to before

Our usual camping trips are often from Thursday to Monday. Monday being the holiday in question. Since we were going to be near Bend for the holiday weekend my wife looked around and saw that Weird Al Yankovic was performing in Bend on Friday night. This was fantastic news; I have never seen W.A.Y. perform before but have listened to his music for nearly 30 years and this was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Look closely and you will see a very happy dog

Look closely and you will see a very happy dog

Most of our regular campers were unable to make the trip for various reasons so my wife and I found ourselves in a campsite meant for 25+ people with her parents and our three dogs. It was a little sad at first because we are used to catching up and hanging out with so many people when we camp.  Soon enough we got over it and made the best of our completely open camp site. The dogs especially liked it because we were backed up against a forested area behind us with no one around so we could let them off-leash most of the time and let them run around.

Could this be a bear print?

Could this be a bear print?

After arriving we set up our tent and brought all our gear into it that we needed i.e. sleeping pads and bags, backpacks with clothes and toiletries and dog bed. Once that was setup we set about bringing out the gazebo and setting it up, complete with walls to provide some protection against the rain should it happen to make an appearance or to block off some any wind that should stir only adding to the brisk weather we were having. Next came out all the cooking gear i.e stoves, pots and pans etc…

Weird All in concert in Bend Oregon

Weird Al in concert in Bend Oregon

After we got all set up, it was beer-30 and we decided to take a moments rest after the dogs had been walked and fed. While coming through Bend, we stopped at a local brewery/pub and had lunch and picked up some growlers of local tasty brew. This is what we had for our first before dinner drink of the night.


20150904_185751Our only neighbors at the time were some people that were in the next group site over that had a small hotel on wheels complete with external generator (it was the loudest thing ever heard in a campground since time began) and solar panels. There were plenty of kids on bikes and adults in big trucks. It was all good. At least they made it. The cold weather and threat of precipitation I think caused many people not to venture out for this weekend.




Camp-oven made cornbread – Yummy!


Chili I made 3 days before we went camping to go with the cornbread

The nights dropped below freezing (I am pretty sure of this) but I stayed warm in our sleeping bags in nothing but skivvies and socks (my normal camping sleep wear – my apologies if that was an overshare). My wife was not as fortunate to stay as warm as I. Her internal mechanisms were a little wonky and she did not stay as warm as I even with pajamas on.

Friday we made breakfast and lunch at the camp ground and then went into Bend for some much needed camping supplies at a local Fred Meyer and then on to dinner and a walk about to see what Bend had become over the last couple decades since I had been there last. I had an uncle live in Bend and remembered going there several times while younger to visit with cousins. I recognized nothing from this visit however. I am not surprised by this at all. We went to a place called the Rat-hole for eats and drinks. The food and beer were good. Afterwords my parents-in-law went back home (campsite) and my wife and I went to find parking for the Weird Al show.

Paulina Lake - Left Side

Paulina Lake – Left

Side-note: The supplies we needed were some propane canisters for our stove and a new french-press, as our last one broke on our last camping trip over Memorial Day and we had not replaced it yet. We also picked up a super awesome purple fuzzy blanket to keep us toasty warm at the Weird Al concert since it was beginning to cool down some.

Paulina Lake - Center

Paulina Lake – Center

Paulina Lake - Right Side

Paulina Lake – Right

Parking was super easy, there was a parking lot 2 blocks away that was free to park in! This NEVER happens in Portland. We parked and walked the 3 or 4 blocks to the outdoor amphitheater where the venue was located and took our seats. Since I have had issues with my sciatic nerve my wife purchased tickets in the seated area. We were about 12 rows back from the stage and nearly in the center. These were great seats.

The show was AWESOME! There were no opening acts and Weird Al completely entertained for 2 hours non-stop. Some old stuff and some new stuff. A really good mix. Probably one of my top 5 concerts of all time! We can talk about that list later.

Who doesn't love 'smores?

Who doesn’t love ‘smores?

After the concert my wife and I turned our phones back up or on and headed for the car. My wife had received a message from her parents telling us to be careful on the way back to the campsite because it had started to fucking snow! Super. No worries. We took our time and slowly made our way back to the campsite. The last couple miles was not only dealing with snow but with fog that decided that snow wasn’t enough fun for us to drive in at night on a largely abandoned road with no cell service available. I am sure glad we had the purple blanket we bought for the concert. If we got stuck out here and couldn’t make it back to camp it was going to be a cold night. Fortunately that didn’t happen and we made it back safely.

The next morning we awoke to a white wonderland…and everything covered in two inches of snow. This made the previous night the warmest we had because the cloud cover that dumped on us kept the heat from escaping. I know, it sounds strange but the clear nights were actually colder. Down into the twenties – 25 maybe.

We also were treated to a menagerie of prints left by the critters that were out at night and in the morning before we got out of the tent.

20150905_120215The next couple days we explored the surrounding area. We visited the worlds largest obsidian flow. Does this rock look familiar or is it just me? A portion of the Deschutes River and few other places that were near enough at hand to visit.

I personally think that this particular piece bears an incredible resemblance to this fellow.

Snow Miser

Snow Miser from The Year without Santa Claus (1974)


This looks like the Snow Miser to me





20150906_140021This year has been terrible for the west coast in terms being terribly dry and terribly fire prone with record numbers of fires breaking out and the severity of them. Because of this, we could not have a fire. So the question that begged to be asked was how were we going to make our ‘smores? Ha, my mother-in-law came up with the solution to that little picklement; she brought a camp oven powered by propane. Along with ‘smores, we had fresh-made cornbread. All of it was delicious.

At night we generally all cozied up in my parents-in-law’s trailer where it was warm. We played some card games but mostly talked and drank beer and stayed warm.


Can you spot the swimmers?

We also took short walks to Paulina Lake that we were camping near and explored. The lake was beautiful. From the waters edge we could see other campers along the rim across the lake at various other sites. We even managed to find a couple people crazy bold enough to take a dip in the lake. You can see them if you expand this pic to full screen.

With the weekend gone and the next day a regular work day for my wife, we packed up everything and went home. This is truly an amazing place to go. If you get the chance to do it sometime…just go. You will not regret it.

Peace be with you!

More to come…




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