A Tale of Two Rivers
Blue River, Oregon is nothing more than a dot on a map which lies just off of Hwy 126 on the McKenzie River. There is nothing but an overpriced gas station, an under stocked convenience store, and most importantly the McKenzie River Mountain Resort, our destination. Ten POC cadets left their homes the evening of Friday 9 April with thoughts of the cabin they would enjoy for the weekend; several rooms filled with comfortable beds, a large expansive living room with couches, a TV, and a fireplace, a large kitchen filled with pots, pans, and dishes, and finally a Jacuzzi on the back patio next to a fire pit. But what we arrived at was nothing to what we expected.
Chris, the owner of the Resort, is a personable and informative man who was happy to expound on all the great things to see and do in the area. But when he showed us to our “cabin” our thoughts of grandeur were smashed. We walked into a 50’ by 50’ bunkhouse which had two bathrooms and seven bunk beds but nothing else. How would we cook our gourmet spaghetti dinner, which by the way was meatless as no ground beef was purchased? How would we play beer pong, with cups obviously filled with water? And how would we watch the epic movies we brought along with no TV? Undoubtedly, emotions were varied with each person, I was asked to emit the details at this point in time to save face of some of the cadets, but what could we do? The rest of the cabins were filled to the brim with church ladies on a retreat and we had already paid a deposit. So with no other options we entered Bunkroom C, with all calmness and quietness needed to not offend the other guests, to claim who got top bunk.
But what am I talking about? This was a POC trip and the room was filled with the smartest minds Det 685 has to offer. We do happen to run one of the best Detachments in the nation after all! We had found ourselves in the middle of nowhere with a leadership challenge, making the best of the situation in any way possible, and we were determined to do just that.
To overcome the lack of a kitchen we had to make the spaghetti dinner some other way. Luckily, one of the cadets brought along a Hot Pot which is nothing more than a plastic container with a heating element in the bottom. Meant to only boil water, we abused the pot to make the best spaghetti dinner anyone has ever had, of course a slight exaggeration on my part as I was the cook! We found a plastic table to borrow for the weekend which allowed for our specific type of games and the night carried on with the sound to the first bottle being opened and of course the night carried on till the wee hours of the morning…
As to be expected the sun rose the next morning with everyone sound asleep. If fact 0800, 0900, and 1000 also past without as much as a stir. Finally we arose, some more groggily than others, and ate breakfast while mapping out the day’s activities. First we drove 30 minutes to Clear Lake, famous for its underwater trees, and yes the lake is clear, and rented three boats. We spent the next hour-and-a-half paddling ourselves across the half mile long lake admiring the clarity of the water, the wilderness, and the bottom of the wheat thins box. Some of the time we went our separate ways, but the night before was long and many of us were still tired so we met up at the end of the lake and hooked our boats together so only one rower was needed to paddle us back to the docks. Was it irony that it ended up being me pulling the weight of three boats nearly a half mile or rather am I psychotic when it comes to physical activities? Whatever the reason we made it back with everyone still dry, a good day indeed, and headed off to the hot springs.
Chris, the Resort manager, had suggested the hot springs we visited as we would not have to pay anything there. We followed his directions, which took us along Hwy 19 and into the middle of nowhere. Several times we almost turned back as the road became gravel and the switchbacks became even tighter. But our perseverance was awarded and we arrived to a packed parking lot, an omen of things to come. After trekking an additional quarter of a mile into the woods we came upon the springs and a sign stating “clothing optional.” As I mentioned, the parking lot was packed but we were able to find a place to enjoy the warm waters of the spring. You may be able to picture what a “clothing optional” hot spring might look like, or perhaps not, but I will not go into details other than saying the steam filled air reminded me of the caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland or if you are still confused we did notice an old Volkswagen Vanagon or two in the parking lot. But no matter the situation we came too far to not enjoy ourselves.
With the night coming on we headed back to the Resort and after playing basketball with an eccentric, and short, church lady. We had dinner consisting of the best smoked tri-tip steak ever, thanks to Brett. The night wore on as nights tend to do and eventually sleep had taken us once again. This signified the last night we spent at McKenzie River Mountain Resort and the end of our epic POC trip. Like any great tale lessons can be certainly be learned, but what is the point of writing them down, we POC are great at delegating such tasks to others…