We were to travel to Eureka, Montana the last week of August for my friend Karl’s 50th surprise Virgo Barn Dance Party at his Frisky Chicken Ranch (aka Tobacco Valley Ranch). His better half Nikki had been planning it for over a year. Hoards of friends would be coming from around the country and the globe to celebrate a milestone birthday with live bands, brews from Homestead Ales, dips in Dickey Lake, and other sundried shenanigans.
But about a week ago, while we were in Maui dodging Hurricane Lane, Nikki contacted us with a heavy heart to call off the party. The smoke from the British Columbia fires as well as from the nearby Howe Ridge fire in Glacier National Park had left the air quality in Eureka “Hazardous” and “Very Unhealthy” as categorized by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. We heard stories from home about the smoke from the BC fires in Seattle as well. We decided we were going to try and go anyway, even if the party was postponed until next year we love Karl’s ranch and we hadn’t been since August of 2014. We closely monitored the air quality authorities across Washington, Idaho, and Montana. It was bad. We made the decision at the end of the week that we’d abandon our plans for a road trip to Eureka with a side trip to Silverwood Theme Park and improvise a camping trip to the pristine salty air of the Oregon Coast.
We were lucky enough to reserve the last campsites available at Fort Stevens State Park and Nehalem Bay State Park during the busy last week of summer. Our r-pod was already packed and ready to go, so Tawny and I hooked it up and drove ourselves Fort Stevens arriving in the late afternoon. We quickly set up camp, had a surprisingly good dinner at the unassuming South Jetty Dining Room and Bar and then went to catch the sunset on the beach with the skeletal remains of a 112-year-old shipwreck of the Peter Iredale.
We returned to camp, decorated our Pod with lights, built a fire, and watched the dusky shadows of bats chase emerging stars on a calm and warm summer night. Tomorrow Clara and her friend would be driving their first road trip to join us at Nehalem Bay.