The Worst Camping Trip – Part 2

I left off in my story about the worst camping trip ever…how someone shot at us. Or so we thought. It’s a funny story after the fact. It was scary when it was happening, and then when we realized what really happened it was quite embarrassing.

We were camping in Eastern Oregon for the weekend near John Day, Oregon. It was a cool place to see. The Painted Hills were amazing to see in person. The colors were vibrant and none of the photos do it justice.

We were camping at a very remote (and nearly empty) campground near the Painted Hills. On our second day there we had the “shooting” drama. It was a Saturday in June, 2009.

Since our bike ride had come to startling end, we headed back to our campground and ate dinner. I don’t remember what we grilled up. But we were done eating, hanging out at the campfire when we decided to go for a bike ride since the earlier attempted was thwarted.

It was probably around 6 or 7pm by the time we decided to attempt a bike ride. It was still really light out. My mountain bike tires were the ones that exploded on me (I didn’t have a road bike yet). Michael had his road bike and he brought his old hybrid bike too so that’s what I used.

We headed out from our campsite. It was a quiet camp ground and the surrounding areas were quiet too. We biked down the lonely highway a few miles and then turned off onto a paved logging road.

There was no traffic to be seen, just the two of us on bikes. Then it happened. Michael was a little ways ahead of me on the road when I saw him fall. I don’t remember what happened exactly, but he went down hard. I shouted his name and started pumping the pedals as hard as I could to catch up to him.

He got up from the ground, shaky, and blood was dripping down one of his arms. His elbow was scratched and his right palm was bleeding from a road rash. His left elbow was hurt. I asked if he was okay and he said he thought he was okay–but that he couldn’t bike back to the campground with his bloody hand.

I left and biked back to the campground to get the car (with the bike rack). It was uphill to get back and I was biking as hard and as fast as I could (I was a new cyclist so this was a struggle for me). My heart was racing. My mind was racing even faster–thinking of every possible scenario. Where were we? Was there a hospital nearby? Would he need stitches? Did he break a bone? I had no idea.

I got back to the campground, tossed the bike on the ground and hopped in the car. I sped down the highway and picked up Michael, who was stubbornly trying to bike back with one hand. I loaded his bike on the rack and drove us back to the campground. By this time it was pitch black out.

Night was falling, temperatures were dropping. I grabbed my first aid kit and my headlamp and I proceeded to clean out his wound on his palm. I washed it, put wound ointment on it and bandaged it the best I could.

“Did you hit your head?” I asked.


We are both helmet wearers, too. I asked him if he felt dizzy or nauseated? Did he feel sleepy? Headache? No, no. Anything else on his body hurt? His left elbow hurt but he thought he was okay. I fashioned a sling for his left arm out of a shirt I had. I had a small amount of pain medication in my first aid kit–random stuff like Advil, allergy medicine and a few leftover Oxys from a surgery I had. They made me sick so I stopped taking them but I saved them in my first aid kit. I gave Michael one and we went to bed.

I can’t say I slept well that night. It was colder than the first night we camped. I was worried about Michael. Worried about a lot of things. Dawn broke. I was slowly waking up because I had to pee but was too cold to get out of my sleeping bag to get up.

“Are you awake?”

“Yeah?” I said. I took off my eye mask.

“I’m going to say some things and I want you to listen and not freak out.”

Okay I am freaking out already. Don’t you hate it when people say that preamble? Of course I’m gonna freak out! I was wide awake now.

Michael said calmly, “I think my arm is broken. I need you to pack up the campsite and drive me back to Portland.”

I said okay and got up immediately. I loaded him into the front seat of the car and packed up the campsite in 10 minutes. We hit the road. It wasn’t even 5am yet. I had to drive us back to Portland, 4.5 hours away. This included driving over Mount Hood.

The drive home was stressful. I hadn’t really driven Michael’s car at all and that added to the stress. The bikes weren’t loaded properly on the rack and I had to stop a dozen times during the drive home to readjust them and tighten them on the rack.

There was limited cell service. Michael tried to relax as I drove us home but he was in pain. He was also calling his mom (who lives in Portland) and his dad (who lives in Texas) to tell them what happened and keep them posted. I breathed a sigh of relief when we got back to Portland.

It wasn’t smooth sailings though. Michael had to find his insurance and medical information and had to call to find out where he could go to Urgent Care. He found one nearby and I drove him there. We sat in Urgent Care for several hours.

The verdict: fractured elbow. It was wrapped (too tightly, the doctor there was a total idiot and it ended up causing Michael nerve damage in his fingers). We weren’t living together at the time. I think we’d only been dating for a few months in fact. His roommate Shoe helped a bit. Michael’s mom came over during the day when I had to go to work. Him and his mom watched the first season of Breaking Bad. πŸ™‚

I don’t remember how long he was in the cast–at least a few weeks. He healed and didn’t need surgery or anything and a month later he was out of the cast:

July 30, 2009

It was not what I would call the best camping experience I’ve ever had. In fact, I think we’re both traumatized by the whole experience and probably wouldn’t camp or visit that area ever again. πŸ˜›

QUESTION: What is your worst camping experience ever? Have you ever broken a bone?


3 Responses

  1. Wow, that is a bad camping experience! I’ve had one bad camping experience and it was when I went on a week long canoeing/kayaking trip. The first night our vehicle broke down, so we got a late start. Because of the late start we stopped for the night and camped on the side of a highway. The next day we made it to our put in site and spent the day canoeing through a marsh. It was a beautiful sunny day, however the leader couldn’t find a way out of the marsh before dark, so we had to sleep in our canoes. Some people had gotten out of the canoes and got wet when the tide came in. To top it off a cooler of the leader’s food floated off in the night. The rest of the trip was fun. I was young and the experience was a big adventure.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge