Free and Discount Tips: “Dispersed” of free camping on federal lands is a great way to take accommodation to zero on your budget, and buying groceries instead of eating at restaurants saves tons of cash. Although, we forgot to bring fuel for our stove….
We began our adventure when Allison picked me up in a Chevey Equinox and we headed south. The first stop: In and Out Burger. The second: Grocery Outlet (Otherwise known as: Gross Out) for $30 worth of groceries and then another $10 for some gluten free already cooked rice bowls at another long forgotten store on the outskirts of the canyons.
As Allison likes to say (and I tend to agree) arriving after dark to a new location is always exciting because the landscape will be a gorgeous surprise in the morning! After Ally coughed up the $80 for the annual National Park Pass (in America you can even buy your National Parks in bulk!) because she knew her Oregonian dirt-bag tag along was going to do no such thing, we headed to find some dispersed camping (dispersed camping is code for free accommodations) on National Forest Land which skirted the park. Although free is a good price, you get what you pay for. Initially we planned to sleep under the stars but were stopped short after finding several spiders nests below the pine needle duff that blanketed the ground. In addition we heard several sounds and saw at least one set of eyes that we were certain belonged to “large mammals” (Allison’s literal description), more on this in the morning. All these signs pointed to tent, we compromised and left the fly off so we could still embrace the illusion of cowboy camping.
One hour later through broken sleep, I wasn’t sure if I felt pings in my nerve endings from bug bites or drops of rain. As I came to I realized it was time to put on the fly, I was grateful the tent was already set up. We enjoyed a midnight Nyqil packet for good measure (one capsil each) and the pitter patter of rain combine with Allisons’ reading aloud from ‘Born to Run’ lulled me in my slumbers for the remainder of the night.
Just after sunrise (about 2-2.5 hours), when I emerged from the tent, I was surprised to find the most obvious though looked over explanation for the suspect “large mammal”. Several cows had set up shop on the perimeter of our camp and were happily chewing grass. Good thing we hadn’t been scared…