This is a typical view from a ‘primitive’ campground on Salmon Creek Lake, just outside the tiny, mostly abandoned crossroads town of Rogerson, Southern Idaho, a very lonely place.
Primitive campgrounds are very spare– sometimes not even a level parking pad, usually a common water spigot and pit toilet. It never has electric. For these reasons, you won’t find the herds of bus-sized RVs that populate average brightly-lit commercial campgrounds that require hookups for electric, water, and sewer, as well as 75 ft. long paved pads that don’t require backing up. Luxury and primitive don’t mix. I prefer primitive.
Because of the quiet, primitive campgrounds generally have wildlife. Small groups of deer are common, so are foxes, coyotes, and raccoons. I stepped on my first snake in the West here. It was a little rattler, maybe a foot long. I jumped 2 ft in the air, and it scurried away.
I didn’t worry about it, but friends told me young snakes are more dangerous, because they shoot more venom when they bite. It made me watch my step very carefully for the rest of the trip. The biggest commotion was swallows diving and soaring on the shore. A pair of robins fussed at me, because their nests were under the picnic table shelter.
I didn’t see a structure or street light for at least 20 miles. The only sounds were the wind and the birds. Nearing sunset, the temperature dropped into the 60s. Unbelievable clean air. Time to put on a jacket and contemplate the universe.
There was not a cloud in the sky, very new moon– my best chance yet on the trip to see stars. I woke up at about 3:3o AM and stepped outside. It was astonishing.
I’d never seen the entire Milky Way before. It etched a path from horizon to horizon. It looked like a consciously built, detailed structure, and was actually unsettling, like I was in a cage, a tiny, forgotten thing in the universe. And this was still just a small portion of the Milky Way.
The earth feels so insignificant under that sky. More insignificant are it’s petty squabbles, which are the product of an ”intelligent” species that has evolved to live in the delusion that it is important under this staggering sky.
Human civilization has been around for 10,000 years. It developed the ability to destroy itself, and most living things less than 100 years ago. Difficult to conceive how it will sustain in this 5 billion year old universe. With those disturbing thoughts, I went back to sleep in the comfy van.
In the morning, after a walk through the scrub, I headed out for more Idaho.
In Rogerson, there was a convenience store with gas pumps and little diner, so I stopped in for breakfast. I had very nice chats with the proprietor/cook and a local resident who had traveled much of the world, but returned here for the peace and quiet. This was the only business for 50 miles in either direction, so there you go. The proprietor gave me a book about the spirituality of travel– she had traveled much.
As usual, the goodbyes were brief. I knew we were just passing through, and didn’t even bother giving each other our names. No point. Just living in the moment, which is a wonderful thing about living on the road.