|Morning view from Site 7 - Click on it to see the full size version.
Hey, there, DFs & LBRs, how's it going? We're sitting at a picnic table here in the BLM Cottonwood Campground near Ellis about 15 miles down river from Challis. It's our little slice of Heaven here.
We had a really long day again yesterday and were draggin' when we headed down river about five o'clock. It was scorchin' hot as usual for this time of year and we did our best to try to vision an open campsite at Duane's Place. ANY campsite would do and we prayed there would be one open. This time of year, Cottonwood can fill up and stay full forever. People love the blessed shade of this majestic grove of old growth cottonwood trees hard up against the banks of The Salmon River. The river's very best swimming hole on a whole entire 150-mile stretch of river lies here at Cottonwood and it has an actual, genuine real sand beach.
The BLM won't allow advance registrations and Duane has a "wink-wink" agreement that allows him to let his Dear Friends stay all summer if they feel like it. There's no such thing as a camping time limit here like there is in all the other federal campgrounds of Idaho and America. So that's why I was praying for an open campsite here.
As I drove into the campground, I could easily see it was plumb near full. My heart began to sink and the soar in my Spirit turned sore. I started driving down the front row where the prime sites sit proudly beside the river and glee was turning rapidly to gloom. And then, suddenly, a miracle happened.
Site Number Seven was sitting vacant and wide open. I couldn't believe it. I was totally dumbfounded. I pulled into the site and thought surely someone was staying there and had perhaps forgotten to put their tag on the fee post. Nope. It was open. I actually, really pinched myself several times and even slapped myself in the face a couple of times to make sure I was dreaming. I walked back and forth across the most-coveted of all Cottonwood campsites shaking my head in disbelief, amazement and awe. Even now as I type this here half a stone's throw from the water's edge, I still can hardly believe it the following morning.
Duane came by and agreed it was a complete and total miracle that I got the place. There's no other explanation. Here's how it happened. Duane's Dear Friends Bill and Judy from Sierra Vista pulled in on July 2nd. They stayed until July 30th and left late in the day. We've known Bill and Judy for years by staying here. Site #7 is their spot and once they get into Site 7, they usually stay 4-6 weeks. They are fun people. In fact, I fully expected to see them in Site 7. Well, they left on July 30. Then, some newly-retired guy pulled in with a ba-zillion dollar brand new, off-the-lot Mercedes motorhome. No kidding, a real Mercedes. Duane said he recognized right away the couple had no clue how to camp. They admitted to Duane they had never camped and they were on their first camping trip. Duane said he was highly amused at how inept they were. I could tell some bozos had been to Site 7 by the way they trashed out the fire ring--it was disgusting.
Well, anyway, most motorhome owners know how to get up and get going each day. These people were clueless and took forever to get their act together. Since Duane doesn't enforce a checkout time, they took all day to attempt to get their act together to leave Site 7. Aside from being clueless, little did they know they were willingly driving away from one of the absolute very best campsites we have ever found in our travels around the Western United States. So...the moral of the story here is they drove away late in the afternoon just shortly before Little Yonni drove up all tired and sweaty and hot and dejected. That's how we wound up with Site 7.
Well, Yahoo! We'll take it whatever and however the circumstances evolved. What a gift and blessing this is. We're staying at least 2 nights and might talk ourselves into staying longer. Who knows? This is our last camping trip here and will be our last chance this summer to stay in Heaven, er, Cottonwood.
Well, the real nice thing about being camped in THE coveted spot on the river is being able to have my own private beach. I went swimming three times last night. One time I put on the life jacket and duck-walked across the river. When the river finally knocked me down, I was able to swim into a nice eddy on the other side and then hike up a quarter mile and float feet first back down to my camp. Ah, sweet bliss.
There is much more to report about the day yesterday but this story had first dibs on being top priority. It's one of those delicious stories that's great to tell and even greater to experience.
Oh, and get this, Duane is a Prince among camp hosts. Heck no, he's a KING! Well, anyway, with his own money and time, he decided to order and install a hot rod WIFI extender antenna. So, now I can sit right at the picnic table, coffee thermos at hand and have a hugely blazing fact WIFI signal. How sweet is that? SWEET! God Bless You, Duane!
The only fly in the ointment is that this netbook's battery runs down really fast and it is getting ready to blink off so I must go now. I have to take a folding camp chair over to the outside of the toilet and plug in the charger and let the computer sit on the chair while it pumps up its battery. Such is the life of a WIFI camper.
Have a great day & Many Cheers! jp