Author Archives: Beth Wilson, member of the Oregon State Parks Team

Ticks in the sticks … (2014)

… and in the grasses, bushes and sage brush

The ticks are out. Do I have proof? Yes. About three weeks ago a tick latched on to my husband’s inner elbow.

A western black-legged tick, one of several tick species in Oregon. Via Wikimedia Commons

A western black-legged tick, one of several tick species in Oregon. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Now through late summer is prime tick season in Oregon. Adult ticks are active and looking for a host, also called questing. They hold on to leaves and grass waiting for an unsuspecting animal or human to brush past. That’s how it happened to my husband. He spent not more than five minutes looking at trail conditions in a brushy area. About an hour later, the “ick” factor took hold when he discovered one burrowing into his skin.

What should we have done versus how we actually handled the situation? We made mistakes. He removed the tick with his fingers and tossed it on the ground. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using tweezers, but we didn’t have a set with us and decided it was better to remove it then and not to wait. We also didn’t keep the tick for identification – a misstep should my husband develop disease symptoms later. Many tick-borne diseases are transmitted by specific species so it’s important to identify the tick.

You don’t want a tick in the first place, and there are steps you can take to prevent them from selecting you. The National Pesticide Information Center has a resource page on managing ticks and preventing tick bites. The site recommends that you and your family:

  • Wear light colors so you can see ticks on your clothes.
  • Tuck your pant legs into your socks so ticks can’t find your ankles and crawl on your legs.
  • Consider using tick repellent.
  • Don’t forget to check your pets.

Will this stop us from going outdoors? No, but I will tuck my socks in my pants no matter how goofy it looks.


What will inspire you to try something new? (2012)

The dusty backpacks move out of barn storage into the daylight.

A magnet keeps a picture of a pristine, mountain lake tacked to our refrigerator. I’ve watched YouTube videos of hikers trekking to this spot. I’ve noted the miles (6-8 depending on the source, one-way) and elevation gain (3,200 feet). And sometime late this summer or early fall, my husband and I will toss our new water purifiers into our backpacks and take off.

We haven’t backpacked in years. Our packs, although good models 15 years ago, are now “retro.” We’re combing the web to compare lightweight sleeping bags, pads and tents. Half the fun is planning and that’s well under way, but what sparked the inspiration?

What will trigger you to try something new or return to a favorite pastime? Could it be a friend’s  experience, a compelling book or good memories? In my case, the impetus came from all three.

Is an adventure simmering in your subconscious? Think about it. I bet you will make it happen this summer.

If something hasn’t jumped to mind, try backpacking. It doesn’t have to be a long trip and you might not need a “true” backpack. The Brooke Creek Hike-in camp at Stub Stewart Memorial State Park is just ¼-mile walk from the welcome center. Twenty-three primitive campsites with picnic tables, community fire rings, drinking water and vault toilets are waiting for you. Plus, you have more than 20 miles of trails. If showers are really important, you can find them in the main campgrounds.

Maybe you’re in a campground rut. Your favorite campgrounds and state parks are comfortable, but try some new ones. More than 50 state parks have campgrounds and their diversity offers something for just about everybody. And this month, 13 seasonal campgrounds are opening for the summer.  Also, Oregonians are really lucky to have numerous county and federal campgrounds to explore.

So, what are you going to try first?

You’re ready for camping. How about your gear? (2012)


Propane and battery lanterns shine in even the heaviest of rain storms.

“We need mantles for the propane lantern.”

“No, we don’t. We have packages of mantles stashed in the camping boxes.”

“Are you sure? I know we used the last ones.”

This conversation happens at least three times before my family’s first camping trip of the year, and continues through the summer and fall. Don’t let it happen to you; start your prep work now. Spring Break is just a month away!


If you stay in a cabin or yurt, you don’t worry about the roof over your head. Those that “rough it” have an intense interest in their tents. Think back to your last trip. Is there a tear in the screen or a rip in the material? Mosquitoes will find that hole quicker than a heat-seeking missile. Uh, oh! When you came home from that late season coast trip, did you dry out the tent? Mildew is never an attractive wall decoration. How to clean your tent

Don’t need a tent? OK, so how’s that sleeping bag looking? Does it need to be cleaned or the zipper fixed? Don’t need a sleeping bag and are fine rolled up in a blanket, thank you very much? You’re just showing off! How to choose a sleeping bag

Cooking box

Our cooking box is filled with castoffs from our home kitchen–mismatched forks and spoons, dull and nicked knives, toxic pans (the scratched non-stick pans that may be bad for you). Now is the time to reorganize, restock and relax. Need a new can opener, corkscrew or spatula? Remove the old one from the kitchen drawer and reorganize it with the other misfit utensils in the cooking box. Restock and relax with retail therapy at your favorite thrift or kitchen store.

If you’re really ambitious, try re-seasoning the Dutch oven or removing the 6-month-old grounds from the coffee pot innards. Dutch oven re-seasoning tips & recipes

Odds & Ends box

You have a home drawer filled with things that don’t belong anywhere else, right? The odds & ends box is the same, only PORTABLE. Do I need to mention that lantern mantles are stored in this box, as well as tarps, extra tent stakes, garbage bags and ratty old towels for drying the dog?

Don’t forget the “connecting/attaching” tools–bungee cords and zip ties. A bungee cord attached to the food box and lid keeps out prying raccoon paws and zip ties work great for attaching tarps to tent frames (but not to trees or picnic tables).

Your turn. What goes into the Game box?

Chicken Foot (dominoes). Kings in the Corner (cards).   What’s your favorite game? Send us a comment (below) and share with our Go Guide readers.

Oh, we could solve the lantern mantle problem by switching to a different type of light. But then the yearly conversation would start with, “Do we have batteries for that new lantern?”