I woke up before the sun crested the ridgeline. I had to get up and go to the bathroom, but I didn’t wake my niece until the sun started coming into view and things were warmer. Once she was up, the first thing she told me was that I’d stolen Stinky and she was cold. From my perspective, she was the one who had stolen Stinky! So we got that sorted out, that we’re both kind of cover hogs and I said I’d be policing Stinky the next night so neither of us got too cold. 

We had a leisurely morning, by my standards, and I tried to figure out what she’d eat for breakfast. When I had asked her a few months before if there were any foods she wouldn’t eat, she said no. But that turned out to be not quite true. See, she likes eggs, but only in certain ways, like egg in the hole or French toast. Just a regular egg was not something she’d eat. That threw my meal planning into disarray and we picked up some peanut butter at the grocery store to supplement her breakfast. I made myself scrambled eggs in a tortilla and her a tortilla with peanut butter and another tortilla with cookie butter. We got the car all packed up and headed off to the next campsite, Canyon Transfer Camp. 

She wanted to know how long the drive would be, but I wasn’t really sure. I’ve only taken that route once since they rebuilt the road. I explained to her that the road washed out and was closed for several years, which was a novel idea for her. How could a road be left closed for years? 

We finished listening to the Hamilton musical we had started the day before on that part of the drive, and I only made her a little nervous that I might run us off the one lane road and into the river. I was expecting a comment about the road at that point, because I know that in the Crosstrek the edge of the road can look awfully close from the passenger side, even if it’s still well in the safe zone. I had thought about warning her, but decided best not to call attention to it. She only brought it up once, so I guess I must have been driving pretty well. 

I got to play a bit of my music for her as we approached the general store that opened in the last few years close to the Canyon Transfer Camp. We stopped at the store to pick up a few more snacks. I did draw the line at getting a tub of frosting, but we got some chips and squeezy cheese to supplement our food stocks. Then we arrived at the night’s campground. I was happy to see it was not very occupied. Pretty much just one group site on the far side of the campgrounds was occupied. We had the camping area near the trailhead all to ourselves. 

Once we’d selected a campsite, we walked over to the board to pay. It was a new experience for her to be at a campsite that didn’t have a host or anyone really checking on whether people pay. I mean, the forest service does check, but we probably could have gotten away without paying. I just wouldn’t do that, because I like these campgrounds and I want to support their continued existence. I also showed her the pump where we’d be refilling the water bin. I recently purchased a reusable water container. Ambrose and I used to just buy the gallon or 2.5 gallon jugs of water at the grocery store, but it makes a lot more sense for us to get a reusable one and just reuse it. The water in there had lasted for our first full day, and so it was perfect timing to refill at the pump. 

But first, it was time to set up camp. We got the chairs into the shade and then ate some lunch. After that came the tent, which was also partly shaded. We had a nice spot within a little alcove of trees. Not perfectly shady, but cool, especially with the sound of the river flowing nearby. 

Since we were both a bit cold that first night, and the forecast from my satellite communicator indicated it would be yet colder tonight, we decided the rainfly should go up. It would help us stay warmer in the night, but I didn’t put it up right away because we wanted to stay cooler through the heat of the day. 

I was reluctant to allow eating in the tent, because food in the tent can draw the attention of critters who might chew through it to get a meal. But eventually I conceded and my niece was much neater eating inside the tent than outside. Fair enough. We watched a movie she had downloaded onto her phone, and then played some games to pass the time. Near dinner time, she wanted to do something, so we walked around the campsite looking for something to do. I spied some charcoal by the fire pit and suggested drawing, because I know she’s good at that. She grabbed the charcoal and did a drawing of mountains that I quite liked. Then she suggested we walk around and try to find natural items to make pigments out of so we could art even harder. 

We walked around the campsite, picking up various flowers and grasses and dirts to experiment with. She also brought out her loaner knife at one point to cut some sage to bring home. Once we had some supplies to test with, she started experimenting with mixing pigments while I prepared dinner – this time with the proper water to rice ratio. Then I got to eating because I was hungry, and only after I had sated myself a bit did I start to play with the art. We each had large, flat rocks as canvases. I went abstract, because I am not a very good artist, while she made some really pretty drawings. Then we put them together in a little gallery and took pictures. I wonder if they’re still there now or if some new camper has come and done something with them. . . 

We lost the sun behind a ridge fairly early and retreated to the tent, now with rainfly up and everything zipped tight. I tried to teach her how to crochet and she tried to teach me how to knit. The problem with the knitting was that we had to use reversed crochet needles instead of knitting needles, which was tricky. And the problem with crocheting was that I’m not a very good teacher when it comes to trying to explain something that I know in my hands but not visually. I wasn’t sure how to explain it, and I wasn’t able to really get a hang of knitting either. But the yarn I brought did not completely go to waste, because she did use a length of it to wrap her sage harvest. The purple, velvety yarn looked very nice against the silvery green of the sage.

I also tried to show her how to play cat’s cradle, but I couldn’t quite remember how to do it. So we played games on the cell phone a bit, listened to some music, and eventually just talked as it grew dark enough outside for her to fall asleep. 

I enjoyed my eggs.

A nice, relaxed camp setup.

I can’t get enough of the scenery here. 

A nice place to set up a tent at Canyon Transfer Camp.

The Bustamante Gallery.

Now with behind the scenes materials. 

My niece enjoyed watching the prairie dogs play.

The sun disappeared sooner at this campsite.

I don’t often get pictures of small birds, but this robin posed for me nicely.

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