Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lakeland Chamber of Commerce

Tuesday’s drive to town-- the Lakeland Safeway Cowboy through a rainy windshield.

In the middle of our second night at the Fort, drops of rain spattered our tent and forced me running outside to rescue the last roll of toilet paper before it soaked through. This morning we drove into town Lakeland and circled looking for a dry and warm place to wait out this storm. We found the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce, where the nice ladies offered high speed, coffee and all the local literature our table could hold. Best of all, this has turned out to be a lively place to meet some interesting towns folk. First Deborah the cowgirl who left us with an offer visit her historic home just north of where we're camping on the famous Applegate Immigrant trail (looking forward to that). Next was a guy that manages the hang gliding festival here. He explained thermals, landing, and just about everything one would need to know to get started hanging from a kite. A Humane Society Volunteer tried to convince Melissa to adopt a very cute pitbull mix (I’m still working on her). People trickling in and out constantly. Not what I expected of a chamber of commerce. The sun seems to be breaking through now. Heading out now to the Lakeland Museum. This town keeps growing on me.

Fort Benjamin Wade

We are now on the Oregon/California border within a good days drive of home. Camped last night and the night before on Larry's land, within the very esteemed gates of 'Fort Benjamin Wade'. How we ended up here is a fluke, or as I told Larry, by serendipitous luck. On a tip from a teenage gas station attendant, headed to Lilly Lake to look for an obscure campground not even on the map. Six miles up a winding rock dirt strewn road that turned from mud to snow covered (we almost got stuck in a bank or two) we conceded defeat and made the eight point back the way we came. Half way back down, we came across a guy on a three wheel ATV surrounded by barking dogs. If there was anywhere to camp, I figured this guy would be able to tell us. We explained the situation and next thing we know we are following the ATV to a frontier village type structure of ten-foot timbers with a towering gate and a sign made of tiny cut timber lettering announcing the 'Fort'. Inside the gates was nothing more then a tall abandoned chimney, beautful woods and a wild rushing stream. Sharing wine and appetizers next to a blazing fire, Larry explained how he had gone from working in the family wireless empire to managing this 600 plus undeveloped parcel at the foot of Crane Mountain. His current project was to preserve a meadow in memorium to his recently deceased son-- a big job ahead to finish in time for a large family reunion/dedication ceremony in July. After a glass or two I found myself asking if he was hiring. ‘Surrre’ replied Larry, and explained his terms. I was a little delirious by this point but heard something to do with clearing and fencing in exchange for a place to stay and some cash. It was an offer deserving consideration.