Sunday, July 29, 2018

It Was A Total Zoo

Spent the week up the St. Joe River at Huckleberry Campground. We drove up on Monday with our friends Marcy and Daren.  When we arrived in the camp area almost every campsite was taken and people were everywhere. We lucked out and were able to get two sites next to each other by talking to the people who were in the sites and getting their permission to move into the site after they were all packed up.
Shade played a huge part in our weekend!

After we got all set up we found out quite a bit about what was happening and why. It turns out that there were three groups in competition for any site that became available. These groups were gathering their site grounds for the upcoming weekend and it was becoming a dog eat dog battle to secure sites.

Our campsite was a bit crowded.
Arriving as we did on Monday morning gave us a lucky break, but it also placed us right in the middle of all this land grabbing. You see, Tuesday was the campground hosts' day off and since there was no one to run herd over some of these campers, it got way out of hand.

One lady was in charge of gathering sites for forty-some friends who would be arriving on Friday.  She was ruthless and willing to get up at 6 AM to place tags on sites where the occupant's tag said that the campers staying there would be leaving that morning. She used this method to squeeze our neighbor, Steve out of a site. He arrived just after she under tagged an opening site. Steve ended up sharing our site which worked out just fine.

I like to let people be themselves. Really.
By Tuesday afternoon when the camp hosts returned, this woman had tagged almost every site except for the group site, our sites, and about five others. She needed the sites on Friday and had tagged and paid for them on Tuesday, placing chairs or a tent as holding markers.

Then, so she would not lose money on the three days she had paid each site fee, she would stop campers who were driving through looking for a place to stay and ask them how long they needed a site. If they only needed a site for less than the three days and would be leaving by Friday, she would take their money and allow them to use the site until that day. If they said they were wanting to stay longer, "No Camp For You!" She would keep the site tagged. The folks would have to move on.  She was the Campsite Nazi!

Now, of course, this was very much against the rules and when the hosts arrived they were placed in a very tough position and had to straighten it all out. Vehicles were parked, fees were paid, but the license plates didn't match up on the tags and those vehicles.

But wait there is more!

One of the other groups was made up of Coeur d'Alene Tribe members and they were all up there to hold a Pow Wow over the weekend. They had reserved the group site and many of their members had secured sites in the camp area by leaving items in the sites as markers. It turns out that the Nez Perce and Coeur d'Alene Tribes have an agreement with the BLM allowing them to have sites without paying. (Will not comment on this.) These sites were recognizable by the total lack of a person present or the presence of six to eight vehicles in each site with a million people camping there. (I may have exaggerated a bit on this.)

All was well until the Campsite Nazi removed tags from some of the tribe folks' sites and placed her tags there. On Thursday night, when the tribal folks arrived and their sites were taken, I guess all hell broke out. Now, we didn't actually hear any of this as we were in sites farther away from the group sites, but we were told that both the Tribal Police and the Sheriff were in the campground to straighten things out.

In the upriver corner of the campground was the final group. Linda spoke with their leader and found that about 28 people had been camping together for over 20 years and their gathering was set to take place over the weekend. The woman said they had a couple sites, but not enough for their entire group. The Campsite Nazi had messed up their plans, but they were rule followers and didn't feel right being so ruthless.

Spread throughout this entire mess sat about four site owners, which included our two sites. We all watched everything that took place with amazement. There was a comradery amongst this small band and we smiled and chatted regularly as a steady stream of RVs and hopeful campers pulled through, only to be disappointed.

By the end of the week, we talked to the camp hosts and found that they had gotten things a little back to normal.  A BLM employee had visited, and with the hosts' suggestions, changed some of the rules and posted the new guidelines.  We hope for everyone's sake that it all works out. The weekend should be an interesting one.

All the above took place while we watched from the protection of our two sites. The week was very hot and we spent the time when we were in camp sitting in the shade and talking. Steve, Daren and I went fishing Tuesday and Wednesday, but the fishing was slow due to the heat. We ate wonderful dinners and Linda celebrated her 60th (insert Linda cringing here) birthday on the 24th.
Route planning a Huckleberry Campground.

Backyard camping. 
On Wednesday evening we were sitting waiting while dinner cooked when four cyclists rode through the campground. These young biker riders were looking for a site, and we knew there were none available. It was a little late so we offered up the choice of our two sites as a place for them to stay. Linda and Marcy stopped them and invited them in.

Bennett, Sheri, Ellen, and Nicole.
With no open sights available they accepted. The four of them, three girls and a guy, were riding from Whitefish, Mt to Spokane, WA. We chatted and found out how they found themselves at Huckleberry. It was quite fun talking. Two were sisters and two were married;  Ellen and Nicole, Bennett and Sheri respectively. Bennett was excited to find out that his first name was our last name.

During the evening we looked at maps and gave them suggestions on their next few days of travel. Before we went to bed we handed them our card and said that if they ran into problems, that they could contact us and we would help.

Nicole, Ellen, Sheri, and Bennett.
The next morning they were off on down the road. We wished them well and hoped that they were safe on the busy sections of road they needed to ride to get to Spokane.

Friday morning arrived and we all packed up and drove home. Our camping adventure was over and I think we were glad to get home, out of the crowds and heat. We arrived home and got everything out of the camper.

Cute shirt, alluding to their bike Chamois.
My phone rang at about 5 PM, I ignored it thinking it was a telemarketer. A message popped into my message box so I listened to it. It was Bennett! I called back and found that the four cyclists were in Coeur d'Alene and were wondering if they could stay in our backyard for the night?  We said of course and they were very glad that our place was available. Guess C d'A was packed and there were no spots available anywhere.

Off for their final leg to Spokane and then Portland.
They ate dinner, swam, and hung around town until the sun went down and then rode out to the house. It was fun to see them and talk about the past few days. They took showers and set up their tents. We made suggestions for their ride into Spokane and discussed possibilities available to them in the city that they could do while waiting for their train back to Portland.

The next morning we provided coffee and sent them on their way. Such a nice foursome, they reminded me of all the college students I used to work with. I kind of miss that.

The bike route that the four cyclists followed, started with a train ride to Whitefish, Mt. They rode to Wallace, and hitched a ride to the Hiawatha Trail and rode down to Avery on the St. Joe. From there they appeared at Huckleberry and then rode on around through St. Maries to Chatcolet Lake, Idaho. Then they rode the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes to Harrison and finally followed HWY 97 along Lake Coeur d'Alene to Cd'A. They hooked up with the Centennial Trail and rode to Spokane where they caught their train at 2 AM and ended their adventure back in Portland. Oh, to be young again!

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