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Location: Oaksterdam, California

Friday, August 13, 2004

Camping Amongst the Sequoias

My big brother's birthday is today, Friday the 13th. I know that is a screwed up birth date but mine is actually a bit worse, September 11th, (but that is a story for another day).

So for his present I took him camping out at Samuel P. Taylor Park which also allows dogs. So I brought the dog, Roxi Blu, who was incredibly well behaved on her first camping trip. The peaceful setting under a canopy of old giants must have brought out the best behavior in each of us.

The last time my brother camped there was about 10 years ago. For me, it was about 30 years ago on my last Boy Scout campout, the time when a Girl Scout troop was fortuitously placed over in the campsite next to ours much to the mutual pleasure of all us kids. The leaders of both troops threaten expulsion to any scout, of either troop, not in their own sleeping bag by 9:30. No one got kicked out.

Although, many of us did get up at 5am to meet up…And make out.

What I remember as being kind of weird is that these Girls Scouts had all these cakes, brownies, and those square things made from Rice Krispies they wanted us to taste before the making out. Aaahh, the memories…

However, I was surprised that park fees had risen so much in the last handful of years. Nowhere in the neighborhood of inflation. Could it be the $$ squeeze caused by the Bush tax cuts? The need to make up for the cut-backs in state and federal funding? When higher fees are added onto to the taxes everyone already pays for these national treasures it makes it more difficult for the least fortunate in our society to partake in what belongs to all of us.

Sleeping outdoors, building a fire, and getting soiled by clean dirt are integral parts on the camping experience. Whether you drive, hike, or bike to your overnight resting place, the building of a fire is central to the evening's entertainment. I have always imagined that watching fire slowly burn, the glowing coals, was mankind’s first multimedia experience. Like Laserium for the last of the Neanderthals. Lightshow for the guitar player. Mood lighting for the story teller.

I prefer delving into the dying embers of a fire to construct fanciful images, much more so than laying on my back watching clouds (or connecting the dots on the Celotex tiles in the ceiling).

Somehow I feel recharged by getting away from the news and the net. Now we are all home and have collapsed in our favorite spots.