We wake up in the surprise king-size bed. It’s already 9am. Definitely, not farm life time. Erin has probably been up for more than three hours. I’m well-rested, my back only hurts a little from the unfamiliar bed, but I would’ve been far less comfortable had I been sleeping on my sleeping pad in my current physical state. Honestly, I was nervous about that. Should I thank the Universe for giving me a bed? Maybe, but I really really really love camping. I put my camping dress on, make us coffee in the surprise full kitchen and then Brie and I head out to find Erin.
The sun does crazy things here in this valley. The surrounding mountains, their silhouettes appearing blue and green to my far away eyes. Their outlines dazzling. I don’t know how else to describe it. Gold and silver. Blue and green. We’re high up, the sky feels close. The clouds are big and move fast, dramatically changing the light moment to moment. The farm is epically in view for the first time. Two horses and a donkey are grazing about two hundred yards away and the chickens are everywhere. There must be at least a hundred just in this one area and I know there are more. The barn is huge and looks to be mostly unused, but we’ll snoop around later. We head down the golden hill to the sheep where Erin is fighting with some temporary fence. It kind of looks like she’s losing, but I’m still impressed. She’s never done anything like this and doesn’t even know the person running the farm! She heard from a friend of a friend that a farm in Southern Oregon needed someone to run it for ten days. I admire Erin’s spirit, I always have. I think I would probably assume it would be the hardest thing ever and intensely romanticize it, but otherwise pass.
The sheep are CUTE. There are a few goats, too, but I’m most excited about the dogs, especially the puppy(!!!), who live full-time with the sheep and goats. They’re super sweet and goofy and smart. Just being around them gives me a feeling of being filled back up. I knew the loss of my beloved cats would be an epic hole in my day-to-day life. No surprises there, but I depended on their love and comfort more than I could ever know while they were alive. They were old, and between the two, had every problem. I always had this fear they would die close in time together. It happened five weeks apart. I told myself I’d try to go the summer without animal babies and “enjoy” the freedom of being able to leave whenever I want for however long. I’m learning quickly this is not what I want at all and am constantly having fantasies of rescuing a stray dog, clearly uncared for and in need of a loving home, or finding kittens in a box. It’s pathetic and cliche and I don’t care.
We’re all talking and laughing at the animals, but in the back of my mind, I know I have e-mail waiting for me about Important Things. I’ve blissfully had no reception since we arrived, but I know Erin must have been using the internet to text me in the days leading up. Still, I decide to wait to ask for the access info and try to be in the moment a bit longer.
I head back up to the guest house to make breakfast burritos, Brie stays to help Erin with the fence. I eat and write a little. Brie comes in for breakfast and then we head to the little ramshackle house in the barn. Erin has more coffee for us. We sit and talk and I get the nerve to finally ask her for internet access. A part of me seriously wishes there was no chance for me to go online, I love to epically unplug, but things are different now. Something important is always happening. It’s this weird, amazing, stressful reality right now. I’m getting a lot of great opportunities. Opportunities that will soon pay me and it’s all because I’m an unlikely outdoorsperson and I’ve put out all of this energy about why it’s important and by the grace of whatever, people agree that it is actually important. It all feels alternately unreal and realer-than-real. I haven’t quite caught up with the hype.
I excuse myself and sit in the rain with one of the dogs, Delilah, and check my phone. I get a text from Vanessa, who is staying about forty-five minutes down the road, and make plans to go see her in just a bit. A cloak of nervousness that can be confused for dread envelopes me as I finally check my e-mail. What the actual fuck?! So, a couple of days ago, I did an interview for a well known local magazine and not only is there a confirmation for the accompanying photo shoot, but there are also e-mails about a modeling job for Columbia Sportswear (what?!?!?!) AND the fucking contract for [I’ll-Tell-You-Later] is FINALLY HERE. Honestly, I did not think it was coming. I have waited two months for this. The first month, I thought it was coming any minute, so I obsessively checked my e-mail and sent a conservative three e-mails checking in about it. All of which were responded to very kindly and affirmatively. Still, it didn’t come. I waited another month and basically decided it was very likely not happening and tried to make peace with it. I was in the same place as I was when the job was offered to me and it’s an okay place to be. But here it is.
All twenty-four pages of it.
Holy shit. Twenty-four pages. And at first glance, twenty-four pages in full-on legalese. Fuck. I don’t have the time, head space or strong enough internet connection to read this entire thing and I am scared. Thrilled, but scared. Shaking, even. How do I do this? I write a little blog hardly anyone reads. I run an Instagram account. I’m not a business! I send back quick e-mails to set dates and say I received things, etc. There is nothing I can do about the contract until I get back to Portland and I invoke as much resolve as I possibly can so that I can attempt to enjoy the rest of this trip.
Brie heads out of the little house and I quietly tell her about the contract and the other weird-amazing-stressful emails. I also tell her I don’t want to talk about any of it. She barely lets me get away with it, but fortunately, we’re going to go visit Vanessa and Alley in Wolf Creek, so onto the next. The ride to Wolf Creek highlights more of the beauty of the Applegate Valley and just before we reach The Land, we’re quite suddenly in a full-on forest. Oregon! It’s landscapes, like my emotions, change so fast!
Vanessa and Alley come out of this adorable, perfectly country, bright red house to greet us as we pull up. It’s so good to see them!!! Especially, Vanessa who is freshly home from an epic journey. The land is gorgeous. Well-landscaped and wild at the same time. We go into the little red house and talk and catch up. Vanessa then says, “do you want to see the land?” I thought we were seeing it…? Turns out we are just in the office and communal kitchen space. What lay outside of the “office” is unlike anything I have ever seen. I am blown away by how people are living and working like this. I’d love to detail the rest, but I’m not sure I’m allowed to. It’s a cop out, but all I can say is I am ready to pack my bags and move to Southern Oregon right now.
Our visit is short and sweet. I’m so proud of Vanessa and the things she’s done. I can’t even imagine. I’m grateful to have been able to bear witness to this intense process.
Brie and I get back to the farm and really snoop around now. We pet the horses and donkey. Why are donkeys always so sad looking? I find out that chickens are kind of terrifying. Ducks are really cute, but absolutely hate humans. We then go and attempt to help Erin get the two lambs, who’ve been rejected by their moms, up to the barn to be bottle-fed and chaos ensues. They may be adorable, but they are wild and run all over the place the second the milk is not in their face and we cannot catch them. It’s mildly traumatic, mostly hilarious. For the rest of the night, they walk around confused and screaming and run inside the houses the second a door is opened.
We think we’re going to take off tomorrow. We want to get at least one real night of camping in before we head back to Portland. Maybe somewhere near Diamond Lake after going to Crater Lake. The weather looks terrible, but it’s impossible to not be stoked. We didn’t do much today, but I’m exhausted and head to bed. The full moon shines like a spotlight through the bedroom window. I don’t even remember falling asleep.
[[ If you care about Unlikely Hikers, if you use or enjoy the content on this website, please consider making a donation so I can keep doing this! It will also help me make more frequent updates. Thank you for the consideration! ]]