Tuesday, June 3, 2008

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.

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