For the first time ever I got to eat something recommended from a restaurant by Bon Appétit yesterday.
The four of us (me, Paul, Ursus, Izzy) headed out to the Metolius area for our third weekly trip to look for the elusive morel. I chose a spot to start where I had found them before. I wandered around for 20 minutes and hit a patch. It was not exactly the motherlode, but considering that I had not found any on the two previous trips, I decided this was a great sign. I looked around a while longer and decided that I should probably head back to the car to see if Paul was there (the dogs stay with me while he goes the opposite direction). He had headed off on the opposite side of the road. He wasn’t at the car so I gave the dogs some water, refilled my dog-water bottle, and started looking around on that side of the road. I walked in a way and suddenly realized that I didn’t have my car keys. Pockets? No. Fanny pack? No. I panicked. What if I had locked them in the car? We couldn’t find the spare key that Paul usually carries with him in the morning but headed out any way. “Just my stupid luck,” I thought. I quickly ran back to the car. Of course, trying to get back through the manzanita bushes that I had just gone through proved much harder on the way back because I couldn’t find the original game trail that I had followed in.
Oh, did I mention that there was a dead deer tossed over a very large log that was put to keep cars from going any deeper into the woods to park? Someone must have hit it and moved it there off the road as it wasn’t in any natural position. Izzy was very interested in it and here I was having to go back to it. I retrieved Izzy and put both her and Ursus on a leash. Ursus wasn’t much interested in the deer because he had seen many in his life. Ursus only likes living ones that he can chase for a while.
Back at the car I looked in the windows and was rather happy that the keys were nowhere in sight. Of course, that meant that they were probably somewhere along the route I had been walking and that could still take the whole day to find. I walked around the car and Lo! And Behold! They were there on the ground just beneath my bumper. Man was I relieved! I think I was more relieved that I wouldn’t have to listen to Paul lecturing me for the entire day and throughout the rest of my life than at actually finding the keys. Of course, I was also extremely happy that no one had stolen my car. Not that anybody would want a nearly 10-year old Scion xD with a huge dent in the bumper (plastic).
So, happy with dogs and keys, I headed back to look around. Wander here. Wander there. Nothing. At some point I gave Izzy a treat and the rule of the house is that if one dog gets something the other dog gets something (with a few exceptions). So I turned around to give Ursus a treat and right there next to me were two very black morels. I had walked right by them.
So I continued looking for quite a while but found nothing. Finally, I headed back to the car. Paul was there this time. He, as usual, had found nothing at all. So we left there to look elsewhere. We drove many miles and checked out many spots old and new. There were no morels. So I suggested that we go back to the first spot and I could look more where I had found the first batch. So we did.
We went to the opposite side of the road of where my Alfa Romero was parked (okay, it was still my little Scion with the big dent). I wandered off to the place that I KNEW they WERE.
Nope. Not really.
There was nothing. At least that I could see. I had given all of my water to the dogs and I knew they were thirsty. Paul had mentioned a river and I vaguely remembered running into it in previous years. I headed off to find it, still with my eyes to the ground looking for mushrooms. At some point, Paul appeared. So we started walking together. I had not found any morels and he had not found anything more to photograph. So we walked on toward the car – at least that is what I thought.
Suddenly, we came onto a dirt road.
“I don’t remember crossing a road,” I said.
Hmmm. I was still somehow certain that we were headed in the right direction to the car. Right then a man on a bicycle rode by. We said hello, but did not ask for directions. But we decided to take his lead and walked down the road toward wherever the man was heading. The man was on a bicycle so he had to know his way around. Right?
So, off we went down the road. The dogs were still very thirsty, but energetic and running around nonetheless. We finally hit a small dispersed campsite right next to the river. The dogs immediately headed toward the water.
“Don’t let them go down there,” Paul warned. “It’s too high and the current is too swift.” But the dogs were already down there in an eddy close to shore. They were fine but Izzy kept venturing slightly further out. I called her back and, for once, she listened!
Then, on we walked. We came across an area that had been manicured and there was a kiosk. I glanced into the kiosk but all I saw was a sign that said “Welcome to the Metolius Preserve” and a list of all the donors that made it possible.
“There’s nothing in there,” I muttered to Paul.
“What?!” he exclaimed, “You didn’t even really look.” So he headed to the kiosk to have a look for himself. I followed a bit behind. He looked to the wall opposite of the sign I had seen and there was a map saying “You Are Here.” Well, I lost that one.
There were also brochures with maps on them so we took one and pored over it. What road were we parked on? Which way would be fastest? We decided that the best way would be to go back to where we started on the road and head straight toward the sun when we got there.
And off we headed, arguing at every turn of the road. But we finally reached the spot where we had commented: “I don’t remember crossing a road.” We headed straight toward the sun. I figured that it would at least get us back to Jack Creek Road, where we were parked. However, the trajectory took us directly to the car!!!
Once in the car, Paul admitted that he had started to get concerned because he knew that dark would be falling in an hour or two. He likes to watch those survival shows on TV and, in one of them, a guy was saying that it was important to start setting up a shelter for the evening at least two hours before dark. What about food and water? Well, the Lake Creek River was right there and Paul never travelled anywhere without two tins of sardines.
“Good,” I commented. ”That means that we wouldn’t have had to eat Izzy.”
That was it for morel hunting.
So, off to Bon Appétit. The last issue had a page dedicated to a sandwich from The Suttle Lake Lodge. Now, I knew about the Lodge for years and I had always thought that it was a place that was fancy-schmancy so I never bothered (especially after hunting around the woods for morels all day). But, we had ventured there the week before to have a beer and just see what it was like. Turns out there was NOTHING fancy about it. It was a very eclectic resort with a rustic-cabin look to it and they LOVED DOGS!! Even in the dining room! However, we had eaten a large lunch and were not hungry at that time. THIS time we saved room.
And there it was. A “Fish n Chips” sandwich. A half a whole trout rolled in Kettle Chips and perfectly fried. It was actually really, really good. It was huge, however, so we were glad that we just split one instead of each getting our own. We also had a side of deep fried asparagus covered with parmesan that was, in my opinion, the best asparagus I have ever had. And I have not had asparagus that I didn’t like since that bunch as a kid that had all the sand in it…that had thrown me off of asparagus for years.
So, now we will be returning for this awesome meal every time from now on.