My trip to the Palouse started well right off the bat. At the car rental counter, somehow they decided to give me a name change from Tim to Tony. That really sets off some sort of alarm that takes 45 minutes to resolve. Tony Canfield was not getting a rental car that day. When the guy finally came back, he thanked me for my patience and gave me a free upgrade to luxury. Whoohoo. I didn't really want it but I didn't want to prolong the pain for the lady waiting behind me. I took the keys, headed to the lot, and find out it's a Chrysler 300. Whatever. So I throw everything in the trunk. Get situated. Figure out how I can connect my phone so I can listen to some sick beats. Check. Adjust mirrors. Check. Eat mini bagel. Check. Yum. Check. Start driving for about 7 seconds. Ok this thing is huge. I'll probably hit something. I own a little coupe. And I'm used to renting the tiny little economy cars. I circle around, re-park, and go back to exchange for whatever I was supposed to get in the first place. I finally get on the road to head to the Palouse and set up camp, but there's one minor problem...
Sometimes two things just don't go together and Palouse and camping don't happen to be two peas in a pod. However, while looking for a place to crash, I found an RV park that also had tent sites close to Steptoe Butte - the main attraction in the Palouse. Perfect.
When I arrived, I'm walking around trying to find the "tent sites" when the owner of the RV Park comes out. I politely ask him where the tent sites are. Anywhere you want he said. Great... which RV am I going to park myself next to?
He tells me the best spot is next to his house. Ok I think, not really sure about that but I'm considering it.
Then in a blink of an eye, the conversation starts going in different directions. Something about him being a moose whisperer. Him standing away from me to show how close he was to a moose. The time he saw a bear. Him taking a couple steps back. Bobcat. Got real close to my face. Then when he was in his 20s he and a buddy named James Bond caught a skunk in a cardboard box to let loose in the local mall, but it kung fu'd it's way out and sprayed him in the eye. His eye glowed for 3 days and he had to throw out his tennis shoes. I felt like I was in a verbal boxing match and my ass was about to go down.
Then he tells me to watch out for the tics. Whoa I thought, I better start paying more attention now. Killed 40 of 'em this week and a bunch around his house. Meanwhile he keeps trying to persuade me that the spot next to him is the best tent spot in the park. It's further away from the road, so less traffic noise he says. But in reality it's only steps further away from the road...
Still trying to help me make up my mind, he tells me there's a couple of people with dogs on the road side and they don't pick up after them. I tell him I'll go with a spot next to the road with a picnic table. He tells me that he and I can pick up and move a picnic table over to the spot next to him. But dude, in my head I'm thinking you just told me that you killed 40 tics and a bunch were near your home. I'm assuming all 40 were near your home. I didn't get the feeling that he was going around looking for tics throughout the park.
I finally duck my way out of the conversation.
After moving my car almost immediately his dog runs over to me from waaaay across the RV park (notice: sarcasm) and tries to jump in my front seat. The guy flips and starts really yelling for her to come Riiiiiiighhhhhttttttttttttt now. Riiiiiiiiighhhhhhhttt noooooow. The dog probably just wants to get away from the tics. Or his stories.
After playing some defense to keep his dog from getting in the car, I'm able to set up my tent. I stand back to admire my work and notice one of my poles looks a little too tight and is curved in a way it shouldn't be. So I try to mess with it and fix it... quickly. Sunset is quickly approaching and I don't want to be late. Well in my rushed state I start to fiddle with the pole without releasing the tension. And... snap!!! Crap. I jam the split pole in the ground and walk away.
Before leaving the RV park, I make a quick trip to the bathroom. Now I wouldn't call it dirty but it wasn't exactly clean. It was unused. And from that lack of use, it had a thick layer of dust and dirt all over. Remember we're in an RV park here and everyone else has their own personal port-a-potties. There were also spider webs in the corners of the shower. Now that's kind of hard to accomplish. So fine, it was dirty. I pick up the seat to take a leak. And the part of the seat you sit on? You know, the part that's shaped like a donut? Well that had to be picked up in two separate pieces. Duly noted.
After taking some pretty pictures and driving back after sunset I start crossing my fingers that my tent is still upright. If not, I'll be sleeping in my car, I think. All the while I'm silently cursing myself for giving up the Chrysler 300 with its roomy interior. Dammit Tony.
However the campground has this one redeeming characteristic. Since seemingly no tents have ever been on this strip of tic infested grass its like the most pristine camping site I've had. My tent is still standing because of the thick lush grass.
I was really on a high note until later that night before going to bed I had some first-hand experience with the two-piece toilet seat and trying not to fall in. And then later listening to semi trucks drive by. All. Night. Long.
The next day I really wanted to switch up my camping spot, believe it or not. And the Palouse doesn't have many options. Without finding any viable options nearby I was about to go with a B&B. Searching on Airbnb, I found Schierman Santuary. It's former farmland turned into a camping area. So if you're camping and don't want to sleep next to a bunch of RVs off the side of a busy road inhabited by tics and want an awesome, awesome, awesome spot instead then google Schierman Sanctuary or look up Schierman Springs on Airbnb. It's a sanctuary in the truest sense. You'll be serenaded by a bunch of birds all day long. Tom and James are awesome. The organic garden is awesome. Learning about the local history is awesome. There's a ton to explore on and near the property. This is my go to spot next time I'm in the Palouse.
Also, if you're like me and enjoy snapping your tent pole on the first night of a weeklong camping trip, when I got back home I had my tent pole fixed by a place called tentpoletechnologies.com. They were a breeze to work with and they replaced the broken pole at a reasonable price and were lightning quick. Highly, highly recommend them too.