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Oregon Cup/Bob's Hole 2005
The Highway is a strange and lonesome place at 4:00 in the morning -- nothing but black past the headlights hiding the endless sage prairie and lava fields of Western Oregon. The mind plays strange tricks on the weary traveler. For example, I'm pulled up to the pump at a gas station in Ontario, OR reading my map and trying to find my next exit when an unshaved, one-armed man in an oily shirt knocks on my window.
I discreetly make sure the door is locked
"What do you want?" He asks
My mind scrambles: what's the nearest weapon? I've got a stainless steel bowl full of Bachelor Chow™© on the passenger seat; no good. There's my old Leatherman, but it's holstered behind me -- he'd be on me before I even unsnapped the case, throttling me with his remaining limb. In a cruel irony, I realize that it is I who am "unarmed".
"What kind of gas do you want?" He asks again
Ah: a simple mistake, anyone could have pulled into the full service island by accident. Relieved, I roll down the window and explain to him that I meant to go to the self-serve. There is no self-serve. Not at this station, nor any other in Oregon. For you see, he explains to me, it is illegal to pump one's own gas in Oregon.
It's worse than I thought. I unsnap the Leatherman case covertly behind my back and run my fingers across the tool spines searching for the serrated 4" blade. Not only does this strike me as questionable from a legal point of view, it might even be un-American. Though at the time I was still unawares, I find out later in my travels two critical pieces of information:
Socialists and perverts.
Nevertheless, I let him "fill 'er up" with the local petrol before I dash off to the C-store for a liter of vanilla cola, constantly looking over my shoulder.
The night is full of these little vignettes of madness and confusion.
I pull to the side of the road at the Canyon Creek put in at 11:12 AM after a grueling 14 hour drive. There is a handful of boaters assembling gear and hiking down to the creek gurgling about a hundred feet blow the bridge. The forest looks strange here, like it's having a bad hair day. I remember from the map; we're just a few miles south of Mt. Saint Helens here and the baldness pattern is still visible. Trees blasted over the hilltops like a shitty comb-over. Still holding on in the lowlands... how long has it been? I thought that happened in the 80's.
Where is everyone?
Even by 2005 standards, this is a pathetically small showing for a whitewater event. The take-out is just as bleak as the put-in. A few vans and some cars with boaters wandering in amongst them in various states of undress, but no spectators, no manufacturers displays... not even any dogs. There's nothing for me to do here.
I drive back into Portland and crash at the first cheap motel I can find. 20 minutes later I leave and check into the second, less cheap motel I can find and sleep for many hours. I skip the wildwater race to sleep.
The day of the Deschutes River Surf Off is mixed rain and sun. When I finally get to the site around 9:30, there's the crew from Alder Creek, the World Class Kayak Academy and possibly 4 or 5 other vehicles. A couple hikes up and down the slope to Beavertail and I get the news: cancelled -- the hole has changed since the day before and can't retain well enough to justify a competition for a tiny group of boaters.
The next day I find out that Bob's Hole has been cancelled as well.
That was it my friends. Bob's Hole, the oldest rodeo in the West was cancelled, and the Oregon Cup was without a doubt very sparsely attended.
~~ David Weber ~~
Shearer's Falls: holes don't come much nastier