Outdoors

Night of the Modoc

Terror in the lava beds

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Something felt off about orange crew the moment their van pulled into our weekend group camp that evening.

Usually after grinding through a week of labor-intensive projects in rugged terrain around Lava Beds National Monument our squirrelly groups of adjudicated youth ejected themselves from the cramped conveyances with gusto. 

This time, however, nobody on orange crew so much as twitched. 

From the kitchen area where the other leaders and I were plotting a weekend excursion to various landmarks of the 1871-72 Modoc War we noticed Hippie Darryl—the leader of orange crew—turn around in his driver’s seat and sternly admonish them. 

Complete sentences were rendered inaudible, but the timbre of his voice sounded uncharacteristically grave. Finally, after about 20 minutes, Hippie Darryl and his co-leader hopped out of their vehicle to give us the lowdown.

Meanwhile, an insurrectional force comprised of orange crew, plus a sizable contingent from the other crews, proceeded to occupy tactical positions in the darkening terrain around us.

“Hand over your van keys,” boomed a disembodied voice from the shadows, “or we’ll turn this campsite into a slaughter house!”

“Drop the attitude right now,” growled Hippie Darrel, advancing alone toward the perimeter, “or we’ll haul you all back to the hoosegow.”

“Try,” snickered the disembodied voice. And that’s when the first sharp lava rock came whizzing past his head. Followed quickly by another. And another. And another.

In a hailstorm of volcanic projectiles, I dove beneath a collapsible table and fashioned a defensive barricade while Hippie Darryl and his co-leader armed themselves with cast-iron skillets and made a beeline back to their van. 

Retreating to our vehicles seemed like a good move, but as my fearless co-leader pointed out, abandoning the kitchen area would only give the mutineers carte blanche to plunder provisions.

So, during a lull in the rock throwing, other staff members and I began to trundle our food back to the vans utilizing the boulder-jumbled contours of a collapsed lava tube for cover.

Night had fallen when I scrambled down into the ravine with our final food box. Gazing awestruck at the starry dome above, my mind grew boggled by extraterrestrial light.

A series of grunts followed by a shrill beeping sound vexed me. Then, streaking through my peripheral vision came an amorphous bipedal figure that promptly dropped to all fours and took a yowling leap straight into my mouth.

Waking up sprawled in the dirt soon after, I found the food box had vanished. My body was unscathed, but the terrain looked eerily empty.  

Suddenly, familiar shouting rang through the night and beckoned me back to the melee.

“Sweet Lord,” I cringed when I saw the glow of fire and heard multiple chainsaws being revved. Up to that point, I still could have escaped.

But once Hippie Darryl came hobbling down the road holding three prisoners at bay with a brush whip I was duty-bound to assist him in fettering zip-tie manacles.

The rebellion was quelled just before sunup. But to this day, the missing bear-proof box has never been accounted for.

More Outdoors...
Escape to Blaine
Book sales and bivalves

The roads were wet and rain was threatening as the Lady of the House and I rolled out of Bellingham on an important journey of rejuvenation and discovery. 

Ever since Drayton Harbor Oyster Company moved into their new location at H Street Plaza in Blaine, we’d been plotting a sojourn to…

more »
All Aboard
An Excursion in the San Juans

The sun broke through the clouds as we pulled away from the slip in Squalicum Harbor, Jeffrey snaking the M/V David B between weather-worn fishing boats into the open waters of Bellingham Bay.

We were headed out for a four-day photography trip in the magical San Juan Islands and…

more »
#OptOutside
Action items for the environment

On Black Friday, don’t plan on cramming for Christmas at REI on the search for gifts for Cousin Eddie, Grandma Wilkinson, or your significant other. Across the country, the outdoor retailers’ front doors will be locked, giving its 13,000-plus employees the chance to #OptOutside and make a…

more »
Events
Today
Holiday Pet Food Drive

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Giving Tree

9:00am|Village Books

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Shrek the Musical

7:00pm|Burlington-Edison High School

Treasure Island

7:00pm|Sehome High School Theater

Number the Stars

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

A Christmas Carol

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Crazy for You

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am| Sunset Square

Toys for Tots

10:00am

Holiday Tea

11:00am|Willowbrook Manor

Valley Made Holiday Market

5:00pm|Maplehurst Farm

Christmas on the Docks

5:00pm|Cap Sante Marina

Wonderland Walk

5:00pm|Washington Park

Honk! The Musical

7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Darkness and Light

7:30pm|St. James Presbyterian Church

Narnia the Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Tarnation and Holiday Games

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Breakfast with Santa

9:00am|Sedro-Woolley Community Center

NSEA Work Party

9:00am

Sumas Book Club

10:00am|Sumas Library

Fairhaven Winterfest

10:00am|Historic Fairhaven

Winter Faire

10:00am|Whatcom Hills Waldorf School

Old-Fashioned Christmas Market

10:00am|Friday Harbor Brickworks

Winter Arts & Crafts Festival

10:00am|Pioneer Park Pavilion

Your Life is a Story Writers Group

10:30am| South Whatcom Library

Award-Winning Book Club

10:30am|Lynden Library

Mastering Wisteria

10:30am|Full Bloom Farm

Snow Geese of Skagit

10:30am|Christianson's Nursery

Saltadena Celebration

11:00am|Saltadena Bakery

Winter Wonderland Gift Gala

11:00am|Carnation Building

Holiday Craft Bazaars

11:30am

Holiday Maker's Market

12:00pm|Terramar Brewing and Distilling

Holiday Tea and Crafts

1:00pm|North Fork Library

Holiday Joy with Fidalgo Youth Symphony

1:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Festive Feasting Reception

1:00pm|Good Earth Pottery

Teen Art Fair

2:00pm|Blaine Library

Big Holiday reds tasting

2:00pm|eifert & Jones Wine Merchants

Shrinking the Worry Monster

2:00pm|Village Books

Birding for Kids

2:30pm

Bowman Bay Holiday

3:00pm|Bowman Bay

A Deep Dive Into Eve Deisher's Psyche

3:00pm|Museum of Northwest Art

Noel Ensemble

3:00pm|Jansen Art Center

One Meditation

4:00pm| Boulevard Park

The Nativity

6:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Holiday History Hi-Jinks

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Early Railroads of Whatcom County

7:00pm|Village Books

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Center Into Solstice

7:00pm|Cafe Blue

Winter Solstice Concert with SeaMuse

7:30pm|Firehouse Arts and Events Center

The Kelley World Tour

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library

Cidertails with Alexine Langdon

7:30pm|housand Acre Cider House

Heralding Christmas with Skagit Valley Chorale

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Tomorrow
Holiday Pet Food Drive

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Giving Tree

9:00am|Village Books

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Crazy for You

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Number the Stars

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am| Sunset Square

Christmas on the Docks

5:00pm|Cap Sante Marina

Valley Made Holiday Market

5:00pm|Maplehurst Farm

Honk! The Musical

7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Narnia the Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Winter Wonderland Gift Gala

11:00am|Carnation Building

The Nativity

6:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Heralding Christmas with Skagit Valley Chorale

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Sedro-Woolley Community Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #43

Langar in Lynden

11:00am| Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Celtic Yuletide

3:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Scarlett and Dicey

4:00pm|Village Books

Vaudevillingham

7:00pm|Cirque Lab

Monday
Holiday Pet Food Drive

10:00am|Whatcom County

Giving Tree

9:00am|Village Books

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

Miracle Pop-Up Holiday Cocktail Bar

4:00pm|Swim Club

Whatcom Flute Ensemble

3:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

MVHS Winter Concert

4:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Community Soup Kitchen

6:00pm|Little Cheerful Cafe

Avalanche Awareness with NWAC

6:00pm|REI

Poetrynight

7:00pm|Alternative Library

Guffawingham

9:00pm|Firefly Lounge

see our complete calendar »