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We camped (for real)! — August 19, 2018

We camped (for real)!

Ayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

On Saturday we woke up in our car in a casino parking lot, and we went to bed in a tent in a real, honest to goodness camp site.

It took a few tries to get there; we spent the first few hours of the day driving from campground to campground, shaking our fists at the “full” signs and the classic Broncos we saw everywhere we went.

In the midst of our search we went back in to Florence to get breakfast at the Dunes Cafe. It was completely slammed, so we ended up sitting at a four seater bar at the front of the restaurant, and had a great time joking with the one server throughout our meal. She seemed stressed out about how busy it was, but she was super nice to us, and having such a good meal lifted our spirits, and we went back to the search.

We talked to a few hosts and attendants along the way, who all sadly shook their heads, and sent us packing with sad hulk music playing us out. One actually explained that he had a bunch of empty sites, but because they were reserved and paid for in advance, he couldn’t let us stay there, even if the erstwhile tenants didn’t show up. He was nice enough to offer to let use the showers they had, though, and even though we didn’t take him up on the offer it was really nice.

We decided to keep moving south along the coast from Florence, in the assumption that at the very least we’d get away from the Broncos, and eventually we turned in to a campground near tahkenitch lake, and found four sites that didn’t have “reserved” or “occupied” markers on them! Honest to goodness, available campsites!

Which you had to pay for in advance. In cash. That we didn’t have.

Shit.

We hit the road again, going south to the next town to find an ATM. We stopped in at a gas station, but this town was so small that the gas station didn’t have an atm. They directed us to the one atm in the town, in the grocery store up the street, and we pulled out of their parking lot with cash in hand. Before going back to the sites we had found, we decided to check one more campground just outside of this town, because it looked like it was right on the beach. Sadly, all we saw of it was a “campground full” sign, before we turned back around and hightailed it to lake takeanitch.

The first spot we had scooped out earlier was already taken, but the others were still available, so we got park, paid in cash, and had our very own campsite!

It’s crazy how nice that sense of temporary ownership is after wandering for 24 hours.

We got things set up, and then set off on a 5-mile round trip hike to the beach, and sat around there for an hour, reading and dozing, before heading back to our cozy little home to heat up left over Abby’s pizza for lunch.

From there, it was a pretty standard camping experience… we lounged around, we read, we played Overcooked in the Switch, we listened to our neighbor threaten their child with “… or else I’ll beat your butt” about 84 times, we made marshmallows… you know, camping stuff!

And then, at the end of the night, we crawled in to our little tent, in an awesome nest of sleeping bags and blankets that my wife made, and we fell asleep.

We did it. We camped!

We’re camping (sort of)! — August 18, 2018

We’re camping (sort of)!

Okay, so, camping, right? There’s a few things you need for it, like, a few essential components. You need an RV or a tent or a bed in the back of a Subaru to sleep on, right? You also need some snacks or meals or something to eat. Some water is good, and logs to burn or blankets to keep warm.

You know what else you need?

A freaking campsite!

And you know what there are exactly none of in all of Florence, OR right now?

Campsites, hotels, motels, or inns. It turns out that this weekend is the annual “drive our classic Ford Broncos over the sound dunes” gathering for the Pacific Northwest Broncos Club which – while it sounds pretty cool, actually – is currently my least favorite organization on the planet.

After checking several campgrounds in person, calling more, and even getting turned away by the seediest of small town hotels, we dragged ourselves in to an Abby’s Pizzeria, defeated (so defeated that I said “screw it, gimme bread!“).

And there… there we found a blessed, pure angel bathed in golden light.

We walked up to the counter, and found a Greek pizza on the menu that sounded fantastic. After being told “no” all day long, we were so excited to be able to get something that we really wanted. We ordered, and the server said, “Oh, we are out of that.”

“We are out of that.”

“You can’t have it.”

“No.”

I think we must have both looked like we were going to cry, because she quickly said “I’m just joking, it’s a joke!”

We laughed, sad, sobbing laughs, and told her about our day. And then, rays of brilliant, ethereal light shone from behind her like a sunset over Mount Olympus, as her coworker descended from on high to say, “The Casino will let you stay overnight for free.”

The casino. Will let you stay. OVERNIGHT! For. FREE!

We ate our pizza, a most delicious and invigorating meal, and then climbed back in our poor, overloaded, overworked Subaru and drove to the Casino on the edge of town. We signed up for their “players reward” program, got our car registered with security, and were sent over to a corner of the parking lot, where we moved all of our luggage to the front seat, climbed on to the platform bed, and finally went to sleep.

We thought it’d be moon- and star-light peaking through the curtains my wife hung, instead of the neon of a casino, but you can still call it camping.

Today, we look again for a real campsite.

We’re going camping! — August 17, 2018

We’re going camping!

My wife and I have been together for nearly five years (our first date was actually five years ago next weekend) and both hypothetically like camping, but have somehow not done so together in our entire relationship. At the start of summer, we decided this was going to be the year, and bought a bunch of camping stuff, built a platform bed in the back of her Subaru, and made plans.

And then life happened, so we had to cancel those plans, and made a new plan.

And then life happened again, so we did the same thing again.

And again.

And almost had to do it again, but got my brother to take over dog sitting responsibilities that were going to keep us home this time around, and we are now in the car on the way to the Oregon coast where we will (hopefully) have a camp site in walking distance of the beach, and be able to spend two nights out there.

It feels like we’ve got everything we could possibly need in the car with us, but I’m sure there’s something we didn’t remember.

I’ll probably be posting camping themed blogs tomorrow and Sunday, and will be posting pictures on Instagram as @TroytlePower, so stay tuned to see if we actually pull this off without finding out that we forgot something essential.

Like food. Jk, we brought food.

Volunteering at the Kid’s Art Center — August 16, 2018

Volunteering at the Kid’s Art Center

This past weekend, for the second year in a row, my wife, my mom, and I (along with a few other members of our family) helped out at the kid’s art activity center at our local Art Fair. We had 5 or 6 different activities set up for kids to do with our help, starting with decorating a paper bag to hold the rest of their projects, and including making felt visors, creating journals, and taking Polaroid pictures.

It’s a cool opportunity for parents to either make some crafts with their kids or just drop them off while they browse the art fair, and it raises a bit of money for a group that supports local charities.

But that’s not why I love it… I love it because of the excitement on the kids’ faces as they make something of their very own. Everyone who comes through makes something completely unique, and getting to see them realize that they have that power is incredible.

Go make art. Go make art with strangers. Go make art with kids.

Go make art.

Even if it’s silly. Especially if it’s silly.

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Assassin’s Creed Syndicate: Best of an era — August 15, 2018

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate: Best of an era

I really, really, really, really, like the Assassin’s Creed video game series! I love that each one is set in a unique historical era and setting, I love that you get to climb all over famous monuments from that location, I love the combat that encourages combos against mobs of enemies, and I love the super weird, completely incomprehensible storyline that carries through them all. Having said that, I never play them when they come out. I typically pick these games up a year to two years after they come out, so I’m always behind and have been since the third main entry in the series.

Assassin’s Creed 3, which was set in the NE during the American Revolution burned me out, and I fell off the series for a bit, but a few years ago Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, set in the Carribean in the age of piracy, pulled me way back in! The amount of fun I had with that game convinced me to go back and play 3, but it still wasn’t great! Rogue, which was set in the NE again but carried over the sailing mechanics from IV, was a lot of fun, but super short.

Then there was Assassin’s Creed Unity. Unity is very bad. Well, it’s not very bad, it’s just that there’s way too much going on! It suffers from having an overload of stuff to do in the open world which means that as you’re trying to explore the world and experience the story there are constant distractions that don’t really net you much in terms of an improved experienced, they’re just there. Eventually, I pushed myself to finish this entry by just focusing on the story, and telling myself to ignore every other thing that popped up, which was really difficult to do. In the end, Unity wasn’t great but it was OK… I had fun with parts of the game, but I spent more time feeling like I was doing a chore than having fun. This left me hesitant to start up the Victorian-England-based Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, even though I’d heard it was a phenomenal entry into the series.

Last night, I finished up Syndicate. And you know what? It was completely awesome! It is now, I think, my favorite Assassin’s Creed game! It had a lot of quality-of-life improvements that made it a much better experience – including a grappling hook to let you quickly scale buildings – and it filled the world with side missions that actually felt like they meant something. There’s a gang system in this game, where London is divided into different neighborhoods, and doing the side quest to fight off the evil Templar Order in each one increases your gangs hold on the city, piece by piece. So, while the map is still filled with an insane amount of stuff to do, but all it feels like it’s progressing towards a final goal; eradicating the Templar’s hold over London.

In fact, the only thing that would’ve made this game a better experience for me would have been sailing! Being on a boat is what made me love Black Flag and Rogue so much, and I’m really sad that the series moved away from them for both Unity and Syndicate.

acs

And now, since I’ve been Syndicate, it’s time to start thinking about playing the next game in the series, Assassin’s Creed Origins, which is set in ancient Egypt. I’ve heard that Origins marks some pretty drastic changes for the series, which leaves Syndicate as the best of the first era of this series for me. I’m not entirely sure what to expect out of it, but I see this year-old game as a stepping stone towards Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which comes out later this year, is based in Greece, and seems to have a big focus on those good, good boats!