Monthly Archives: May 2016

Made It Through Another Memorial Day

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Memorial Day Weekend was a circus, but I managed to survive.

The main problem was a shortage of staff because a camp host couple made a deal with the new supervisor to arrive after Memorial Day. I don’t know how one accepts a summer job, then works it to arrive after summer’s opening weekend. The supervisor says he’ll never let it happen again.

Because of the staff shortage, over the weekend I covered three campgrounds and the parking lot. I was run ragged.

On Friday, I cleaned restrooms in the campground where I was stationed. Then I cleaned restrooms at the group campground down the road. After that, I cleaned the restrooms at my own campground. In all, I scrubbed seven pit toilets on Friday. For five of them, it was the first cleaning of the season.

When I finished cleaning restrooms, I worked at the parking lot for a few hours. I worked alone because my supervisor hadn’t called my co-worker on Thursday night to tell him to show up on Friday. The parking lot wasn’t too busy, thankfully, and when I left there, I had to check-in campers at all three campgrounds.

I didn’t take time to cook and eat a proper meal on Friday. I don’t even know where I would have found the time to cook a proper meal. It was a day of energy bars, cheese and crackers, blue corn chips, and the last of the hummus.

On Saturday morning as I was about to eat breakfast, a small silver pickup truck pulled into the campground. As I walked over (holding my bowl of food), the driver hollered out my name. Do I know this guy? I wondered. He was good looking and in my age group. We talked about campground where he could potentially stay for the weekend. Turns out he’d talked to my co-worker in the parking lot, who’d told him my name. I was enjoying the interaction with a nice and handsome man (even if my breakfast was getting cold), when two of the campers from my campground approached us.

The couple was upset about a group that had reserved the four campsites at the front of my campground. Apparently, most of those campers had arrived late, and had been loud until 4am. The guy complaining and another camper man had asked the group to be quiet, but that side of the campground stayed noisy throughout the night. I assured the irate campers I would notify my supervisor of the situation and let the loud folks know their behavior was unacceptable.

(While I spoke with the campers, the handsome man waved good-bye, jumped into his truck, and drove away, never to be seen again.)

By the time I made it to my campground to check-in the noisy folks, my supervisor had already spoken to them, so I thought everything would be ok.

After doing the check-ins at my campground, I was back to the parking lot to assist my co-worker. (The lack of staff meant there was no one to collect day-use fees at the overflow parking area at the campground where I was stationed.)

When I gave up on the parking lot (after several hours collecting fees there), I had to swing through my campground and the group campground to check-in more campers who were just arriving and make sure all the restrooms had toilet paper. I did cook myself a proper dinner that night, and I was asleep around 8:30.

It’s a good thing I went to bed early, because the man who’d complained earlier knocked on my van at 10:15. The previously noisy campers had been loud all evening, and now  that quiet hours (10pm to 6am) had kicked in, they were still loud. I apologized to the camper (although I had nothing to do with his distress), and drove 15 miles (on a dark and curvy mountain road) to wake up my supervisor.

Of course, by the time my boss and I arrived 45 minutes later, the noisy folks had calmed down a bit and the upset camper had packed up his tent and his wife and left. My supervisor and I talked with the young man who’d made the reservations for the group. He basically Eddie Haskelled (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddie_Haskell) us by saying his group of young professionals would never disrespect anyone, and they’d only been loud briefly the night before because they’d been trying to set up their tents in the dark. Then, (I found out from other campers on Sunday evening), he lied right to our faces when he said a certain group of tents (pitched on one of the sites he’d reserved) with citronella candles burning on the ground in front of them did not belong to his group.

I finally got back to my campsite around midnight, but I was so jacked up, I didn’t get to sleep for almost two hours.

The big frustration on Sunday was the situation with parking for the trail.

#1 There was no one collecting fees for overflow parking in the campground.

#2 The new supervisor didn’t know he was supposed to have self-pay envelopes available in the campground so people could pay for parking that way.

#3 The iron ranger in that campground was broken, so if people deposited envelopes of money in it, the envelopes fell out at the bottom.

#4 The new supervisor didn’t give me and my co-worker enough day use passes to get us through the weekend.

I passed through the parking lot on the way to my campground to drop off my co-worker’s paycheck, and he told me he was almost out of day passes. I gave him all I had left, and went on my way.

When I got back to the campground with the day use area, I grabbed all the self-pay envelopes I had so I could use those to collect parking payments. As I walked through the overflow parking area, I shook down everyone I saw for their $5 parking fee.

In the main parking lot, my co-worker ran out of day passes around noon. He took over talking to incoming drivers, letting them know the lot was probably full, but to take a spot if they found one, then pay us the fee up front. Since I had the numbered envelopes with tear-off receipt tags, I was responsible for collecting payments.

Around three o’clock I ran out of envelopes, so I walked back to the campground where I was stationed and hid in my van to count parking lot money. When that was finished, I walked around the campground checking-in more campers. I was so exhausted on Sunday night that my dinner was a small bag of baked pita chips. I didn’t have the energy to prepare anything else.

Thankfully, no one knocked on my van on Sunday night, and Monday was mellow. The supervisor showed up with more day passes, and fewer people visited the trail.

Now I’m in the lovely time of fewer campers and more quiet, as we move toward the 4th of July.

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I took this photo of a giant sequoia.

“5 Million Ways to Kill a C.E.O.”

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I was sitting in Panera, minding my own business.

Two women (probably in their 60s) sat at the table next to me. I wasn’t paying much attention to them. I was updating my Facebook status, when I heard one of them say transgenders, then it seemed like I couldn’t not hear them.

One of them said she didn’t want transgenders next to her daughter. Then one or the other of them started referencing scripture.

This transgender stuff, one said. What about US that have to LIVE with that? What about us that have to look at that? I’m not sure what exactly she thought she was having to look at. Did she mean the genitals of transgender folks? Why in the world would this woman be looking at the genitals of any stranger? She may not realize this, but if she is going through the world trying to look at the genitals of strangers, she is behaving inappropriately.

I don’t want to SEE that! one said. Then why, I wonder, is she craning her neck to see what’s going on in a restroom stall she’s not occupying? I don’t know where she’s been peeing, but every restroom I’ve been in since elementary school has had three walls and a door. Outside of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, I’ve never once in my (sometimes wild) life accidentally seen a stranger’s genitals. Where is this woman hanging out that genitals are just being waved in her face? And can we assume she doesn’t mind seeing the genitals of cisgender folks?

Then the women started talking about choice, something along the lines of Now that they’ve made this choice, and I just couldn’t listen anymore. I was going to lose my shit, but I didn’t know what to say to these women or how to talk to them in a way they might understand. (And please note, this all happened in California, not North Carolina.)

So I hit play on whatever Insane Clown Posse song was up on Youtube (I’d been doing research, folks…I may be many things, but I am not a Juggalo Juggalette.) I quickly decided that wasn’t really what I wanted to hear and typed in The Coup. (To learn more about The Coup, read the post I wrote about their song “Ride the Fence” here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/12/15/ride-the-fence/.) When the video for “5 Million Ways to Kill a C.E.O.” (which I’d never seen) came up, I shoved in my earbuds and gave it a listen. Oh, the blessed sanity of class struggle.

Party Music

I share the video with you today, in the event you have to block out unpalatable noise while minding your own business.

After the woman left and I was researching for this post, I found a Trans 101 page on the Sylvia Rivera Law Project website (http://srlp.org/resources/trans-101/). I wish I’d had a printed copy to hand to those women. I wonder if it would have made any difference.

Quitobaquito Pupfish

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I haven’t made it to Quitobaquito (yet), but I have seen the Quitobaquito pupfish twice. I saw it first in a pond at the Kris Eggle Visitor Center at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and a second time at the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonoyta_pupfish, the

Quitobaquito pupfish (Cyprinodon eremus) [also known as the Sonoyta pupfish] is one of the most distinct species in its genus. This pupfish ( Cyprinodon – Genus ) is restricted to the Rio Sonoyta Basin in Sonora, Mexico and south-central Arizona, named the Quitobaquito Springs. The Quitobaquito pupfish is the last remaining major population of fish at the springs. Originally, it was considered to be one of three subspecies of C. macularius, including the nominal desert pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius macularius), and the undescribed Monkey Spring pupfish (Cyprinodon sp.), but it has since been reclassified as a distinct species.[1][2]

Due to habitat changes, predation and/or competition with nonnative fishes, and possible wind drift of harmful chemicals from nearby Sonora, Mexico, the Quitobaquito pupfish population is severely reduced in other areas; however, the population at the Quitobaquito Springs remains stable…Conservation efforts for this species includes maintenance of habitats by keeping them free of nonnative aquatic species, and observing population health frequently.

According to an article in Wildlife Views from August 1995 (available as a pdf at http://www.azgfd.gov/i_e/ee/resources/field_notes/fish/quitobaquito_pupfish.pdf),

This pupfish is included on the Department’s 1988 list Threatened Native Wildlife in Arizona as an endangered species. It is also listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as endangered. Reasons for listing include habitat destruction and desiccation (including water table drawdown in Sonora, Mexico) and the potential for poisoning by wind-drifting pesticides.

Because the Quitobquito pupfish is endangered, the additional populations have been started at the visitors centers.

I definitely saw some of the pupfish at the Kris Eggle Visitor Center. I was able to get pretty close to IMG_6115that pond and see fish swimming around in there. It was more difficult to see the fish at the Cabeza Prieta Visitor Center. That pond is fenced, and there’s a fairly wide strip of land between the fence and the pond. I couldn’t get close enough to the water to say with 100% certainty that I saw a fish. But I think I did. I feel lucky to even be able to see a pond these pupfish are living in.

The aforementioned Wikipedia page says,

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This is a photo of a photo of Quitobaquito pupfish on an informational board, not a photo of actual Quitobaquito pupfish.

The Quitobaquito pupfish has a thick, chubby body with a superior mouth filled with tricuspid teeth. The scales have spine-like projections. The body colors of males and females vary. Females (and juveniles) have narrow, vertical dark bands on the sides of the body, with a disjoined lateral band. Although females (and juveniles) have silver bodies, the fins are generally colorless, with the exception of an ocellate spot on the dorsal fin, and sometimes, a dark spot on the anal fin. Mature, breeding males, however, have darker fins, attached to a light to sky-blue body. The posterior part of their caudal peduncle (tailside) is yellow or orange, and sometimes, an intense orange-red.[3]

These pupfish can handle various fluctuations of water temperatures as well; including salinity levels three times that of seawater and temperatures exceeding 95 F (35 C).[5]

The Quitobaquito pupfish are omnivores, consuming all types of aquatic insects, crustaceans, and plants.

I’m not a fish fanatic, but I am glad I’ve been able to learn about these rare creatures.

Cabeza Prieta Visitor Center

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The Cabeza Prieta Visitor Center is located at 1611 North Second Street (Highway 85) in Ajo, Arizona. The refuge’s website (http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Cabeza_Prieta/visit/plan_your_visit.html) says,

It is open Monday through Friday from 8am to 4pm. Here, refuge staff and volunteers are available to provide you with maps, brochures and checklists and let you know what’s happening on the refuge.

I visited the Cabeza Prieta Visitor Center in early May, when it was already hot outside. I spent most of my time looking at the inside exhibits, but I looked around outside a bit too.

First of all, according to https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Cabeza_Prieta/about.html,

Cabeza Prieta, Spanish for “dark (or dirty) head,” refers to a lava-topped, granite peak in a remote mountain range in the western corner of the refuge.

Secondly, the Visitors Center is just a tiny piece of what Cabeza Prieta is for and about. The IMG_6104aforementioned website says,

Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 860,000 acres, a portion of which are open to the public for wildlife related activities including wildlife watching and photography, primitive camping, limited hunting, and environmental education and interpretation.

Almost all of the refuge is designated wilderness and it is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, a national network of lands and waters set aside for the benefit of wildlife and you.

…Today, the refuge’s management priorities are primarily focused on the endangered Sonoran pronghorn, bighorn sheep and lesser long-nosed bat.

There are two main indoor exhibits at the visitor center, both in a room to the right of the entrance. When I visited, the room was dark, and I had to turn on the lights so I could have a look around.

The first attraction is a video about the refuge. When I stepped into the tiny theater, the video was not playing. A remote control sat on the bench next to me, but despite pushing the power and play buttons, I could not get the video to come on. I went through an open door to the front of the office area. No one was sitting at the main desk, but there was a bell there, so I rang it. A young woman came from the back, and I told her I wanted to watch the video but could not get it to play. She helped me, but acted mildly irritated, as if I were keeping her from her real work.

The video was informative, but I felt as if maybe it had picked up in the middle of the action. The weirdest part of the video was when some government employee guy talked about how the crust on the desert floor is a living organism while he plunged his knife into it and pulled up a piece of the crust to display to the camera. Ouch! I’m a living organism too, and I hope no one ever does that to me.

(Well, ok, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_soil_crust says

[b]iological soil crusts are communities of living organisms on the soil surface in arid– and semi-arid ecosystems

so maybe what the guy did was not quite as bad as plunging a knife into me.)

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This big cat was once alive, but now it’s dead. The sign says, “A Haven for Wildlife.” Well, this room is the opposite of a haven for wildlife. This room is more like a wildlife graveyard.

The other indoor exhibit is a display of desert creatures. The problem is that these desert creatures were once alive and now they are dead. I presume someone killed those animals so they could be displayed, then handed them over to a taxidermist to preserve them. I didn’t much like looking at animals that were once alive but now weren’t. It kind of gave me the creeps, especially the big, dark eyes of the dead pronghorn. I would rather look at photographs of desert creatures instead of their preserved remains.

I walked around a bit outside the Visitor Center. There are several trails to walk on, a few informational signs, and lots of cacti. There’s also a pond where Quitobaquito pupfish live, but that’s a story for another day.

 

 

 

I believe there is a senita cactus.

I believe this cactus is a senita.

There is also a bird hide in the back of the visitor center. Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_hide) says

[a] bird hide (or hide, also known as a blind or bird blind in North America) is a shelter, often camouflaged, that is used to observe wildlife, especially birds, at close quarters. Although hides or hunting blinds were once built chiefly as hunting aids, they are now commonly found in parks and wetlands for the use of bird watchers, ornithologists and other observers who do not want to disturb wildlife as it is being observed.

A typical bird hide resembles a garden shed, with small openings, shutters, or windows built into at least one side to enable observation.

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This is the scene viewed from the bird hide a the visitor center.

The hide at the visitor center does look like a shed, and it has sliding panels over the windows. It overlooks a small pond. I went into the bird hide and opened one of the windows and looked out, but didn’t stay long. I was hot and hungry by that time, and I’m not all that excited about birds. The bird hide overlooks a small pond, so I’m sure it is a great place to watch birds taking a drink or having a bath.

The Cabeza Prieta Visitor Center was a fine place to spend some time. I was probably there a little more than an hour. Of course, I appreciated the lack of admission fee. I don’t know if I will ever visit the actual wilderness area, but the visitor center offers much information about the Sonoran Desert.

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I took all of the photos in this post.

Review of a Book I Didn’t Like: Millions of Women Are Waiting to Meet You

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Millions of Women Are Waiting to Meet You: A Memoir
I like to read. I love to read. Books have saved my life on more than one occasion. But sometimes books fuck me up too. Case in point, Millions of Women Are Waiting to Meet You by Sean Thomas.

I’d never heard of this book until I was poking around on BookMooch, looking for books to request. I saw a listing for this book, and the premise of the true story of internet dating from a man’s point of view seemed interesting. So I mooched the book. Then I read the book. Then I wrote the following review.

This book depressed the fuck out of me. It depressed me as in I don’t want to ever wake up because them I’m going to have to get out of this bed and deal with this awful world we live in.

It all starts harmlessly enough. The author is single. The author writes for Men’s Health magazine. The author’s boss tells him to write an article about internet dating. The author researches internet dating for the article by actually dating women he meets through dating websites.

The book is written in a sort of chatty, tell-all style. Each chapter relates not only to the author’s current dating dilemma, but to the author’s history of dating, love, and sex.

I thought the book was funny. I laughed out loud many times while reading it.

It’s also easy to read. I tore through it in about twenty-four hours (including a slow work day).

But when I finished reading it, I wished I’d never picked it up.

The author wants the reader to think he’s a nice guy. He wants the reader to wonder how a guy as nice as the author can be nearly 40 years old and still single. When he starts sharing his most private thoughts, the reader comes to understand why the author is almost 40 and still single. The author is almost 40 and still single because he is a cad. (Need a quick example of his dishonorable behavior? As he is contemplating dating a Chinese woman, he writes, “At least Asian girls will do the dishes.” I suppose that was meant to be funny.)

The first hint of the author’s boorish ways is his obsession with female beauty and body parts. He mentions the beauty of every woman he wants to meet. He mentions the breasts of nearly every woman he dates. He doesn’t enjoy a particular date because the woman involved misses her homeland and is maudlin and teary throughout the evening. However, she has a great “arse,” so the author thinks he really should see her again. The obsession with physicality gets a bit ridiculous when the author rejects a woman he seems to get along well with because she’s only a few inches shorter than he is. Maybe you’re alone, you idiot, I wanted to tell him, because you’re too concerned with how women look.

He says he likes short, thin women. He enjoys feeling as if he can protect them. (I wouldn’t trust this guy to protect me from a mosquito.) Apparently, he likes to be with small women so he can feel big and strong. (He refers to his “caveman” brain way too much.) It turns out that not only does he like small women, he likes young women. When he was in his early 20s, he was sexually and romantically involved with a young woman who was only 17. Then, when he was thirty, he was sexually and romantically involved with another seventeen year-old woman child. (His math concerning this relationship was a little confusing. He claims he got together with this woman when she was 17, was with her on and off for five years, then broke up when she was twenty.) Maybe he likes to be with young women because he’s immature. Maybe he likes them so he can dominate them and push them around. I don’t know. But maybe he ends up single because his girlfriends grow up and move on when they decide they want to try new things.

As we get deeper into the author’s story, we learn he has been involved in not one, not two, but three unplanned pregnancies. Ummm, condoms? Keep it in your pants? But apparently not, because then he’s involved in a paternity kerfuffle.

He frequents prostitutes, which I don’t think is necessarily morally wrong, except he frequents prostitutes in developing countries where women have limited economic choices. Sex slavery…how enticing. What really pissed me off was the sentence where he refers to “the whore my American friend had in Kenya.” The words “whore” and “had” make it all seem so ugly. If men are going to pay for sex, they should be respectful of the sex workers (even when the sex workers aren’t around to hear what the men have to say). But I guess one of the reasons (some) men pay for sex is so they don’t have to be respectful of the women they’re fucking.

I thought the most interesting chapter in the book is the one dedicated to the author’s foray into internet porn. I knew little about internet porn. I didn’t know people stream their live sex acts so other people can watch. I didn’t realize people watch “normal” folks have sex. The author didn’t know those things either. Of course, he spends so much time viewing internet porn that he ends up in the hospital. (No joke.)

So yeah. The author is a cad. But he’s an honest cad, and he shares with the reader everything that goes on in that cad brain of his. And you know, I appreciate honesty. And I support the author’s right to live his fucked up life the way that makes him happy. (Although he doesn’t seem happy through most of this book.) I even support him writing a book about it all. I’m just sorry his book fell into my hands. And I’m sorry that it was funny and well-written enough to keep me reading it. Because if the book jacket is right and this is “a book that reveals what men really think about love, sex, and dating,” a bunch of us ugly, fat, middle age (and older) woman are doomed to be alone. But after reading this book, I’m certain that being alone is preferable to being with this guy or someone of his ilk.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Today is the anniversary of the birth of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I first learned about Emerson when I was a junior in high school. We studied American literature that year, and the only part I enjoyed was the short unit on Transcendentalism. When it comes to transcendentalists, Henry David Thoreau tends to get most of the publicity, but out of that group, Emerson was the writer I felt the deepest connection with.

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Waldo_Emerson,

Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

Emerson wrote on a number of subjects, never espousing fixed philosophical tenets, but developing certain ideas such as individuality, freedom, the ability for humankind to realize almost anything, and the relationship between the soul and the surrounding world.

A bio on Poets.org (https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/ralph-waldo-emerson) says,

Emerson’s first book, Nature (1836), is perhaps the best expression of his Transcendentalism, the belief that everything in our world—even a drop of dew—is a microcosm of the universe. His concept of the Over-Soul—a Supreme Mind that every man and woman share—allowed Transcendentalists to disregard external authority and to rely instead on direct experience. “Trust thyself,” Emerson’s motto, became the code of Margaret Fuller, Bronson Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, and W. E. Channing.

Emerson’s philosophy is characterized by its reliance on intuition as the only way to comprehend reality, and his concepts owe much to the works of Plotinus, Swedenborg, and Böhme. A believer in the “divine sufficiency of the individual,” Emerson was a steady optimist. His refusal to grant the existence of evil caused Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry James, Sr., among others, to doubt his judgment.

Wow!  A champion of individualism who believed in the reliance on intuition and was a steady optimist: now I remember why I liked the guy.

The Trail Is Closed

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I made it to California.

I made it to the general vicinity of my summer workplace

I made it through two days of boring (and dare I say, mostly useless) training.

And then I made it up the mountain.

I’m not yet stationed at my campground. I’m currently the temporary camp host at the campground next door to the parking lot for the trail. I’ll be there until the first of June, when the real camp hosts for that campground arrive (in a bus painted Ohio State colors, apparently).

When I arrived at the campground, the gate was still closed. No signs were hung on the signboards. The women’s restroom up front was locked, and none of my keys opened it. The men’s restroom was unlocked, but filthy. I had no cleaning supplies.  I had no toilet paper to stock the restrooms. I had no trash bags, and if I’d had any, I had no trashcans to put them in. On top of all of that, the crew who’d been in the campground cutting hazard trees had left tree debris everywhere. The campground looked like a war zone (or at least what I imagine a war zone in a forest would look like). I was not a happy campground host.

To make matters worse, the trail across the street was closed too. Forest Service employees were out there, cutting hazard trees. According to http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5332560.pdf ,

Tree hazards include dead or dying trees, dead parts of live trees, or unstable live trees (due to structural defects or other factors) that are within striking distance of people or property (a target). Hazard trees have the potential to cause property damage, personal injury or fatality in the event of a failure.

I can’t vouch for what happens when a tree hits the ground and no one is there to listen (but I do have two words for you, baby: sound waves). When I was there to hear, falling trees were preceded by a huge cracking sound, followed by a reverberating thud. Such noise inspires awe, at least in me, but also in every other lay person who’s been standing near me when it’s happened.

image from http://collegeguild.org/waiting-list-is-closed/

So because the trail was full of hazard trees and because Forest Service folks were in there cutting the hazard trees, the trail was closed.

I didn’t talk to too many people about the trail on Thursday. The campground’s closed gate and the sign proclaiming Sorry, We’re Closed discouraged most people from even pulling their cars into the driveway. Some folks talked to the Forest Service employee stationed at the trail’s entrance. After the Forest Service guys went home (wherever home is to those guys), some folks parked on the road side of the campground’s gate to walk across the highway and read the sign warning of a possible $5,000 fine and six months in prison for anyone caught on the trail.

I had resigned myself to fact that the campground would not be opened that day, when fairly late in the afternoon I saw two men and their motorcycles outside the gate. I walked over to talk to them, and one of the men said plaintively, Are you really closed? He seemed tired and frustrated.

I told him we were closed. I suggested some other campgrounds down the road, but he said they’d already checked and found those campgrounds closed too. I explained the campground offered no toilet paper and no trash cans. I said I hadn’t been able to clean the restrooms. The man said he had his own toilet paper, could pack out his trash, and wouldn’t be offended by the state of the restrooms, as he had worked construction and was accustomed to portable toilets. After we talked awhile and I realized they were good guys, I decided What the hell, opened the gate and told them they could stay. They ended up staying three nights. Both of them were super nice guys, and I had several pleasant conversations with both of them. It was awesome to start the season (before the season had officially started) with nice campers.

I was able to officially open the campground on Saturday morning. People started coming through the gate before 11am. I did get one set of campers (a couple and their two dogs, none of whom gave me any trouble), but most of the people coming through the gate had come for the trail. After scrubbing the two front restrooms, I posted myself near the gate with a book. As car after car pulled in, I answered the questions of the visitors.

Yes, the trail is closed.

It’s closed because their are many hazard trees on the trail. The Forest Service is in the process of cutting down the hazard trees. It’s dangerous on the trail.

The drought killed the trees. Well, the drought and the bark beetle and some kind of mold. But mostly the drought. Because of the drought, the trees’ defenses were down and they couldn’t fight off the bark beetle and the mold.

Yes, the campground is open.

Yes, the restrooms are open. These up front are wet because I just cleaned them, but you are welcome to use the ones at the back of the campground.

There are giant sequoias in the campground. (pointing) There’s one. (pointing) There are three over there. (pointing) There are four over there. You are welcome to park your car and take a look around.

I also gave a lot of people directions to the next grove of giant sequoias, about twenty miles away.

Sunday was a little slower, but otherwise the same.

The highlight of Sunday was another set of nice campers, this time a family recently moved to Tucson with a Grateful Dead dancing bear sticker on the back window of their Volvo. They asked me questions about the trees in the campground, and I got to give my talk about the differences between giant sequoias and coastal redwoods. (If you are a little–or a lot–unclear about the differences, you may want to check out my post about the two species here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/07/30/sequoias-and-redwoods-are-not-the-same-trees/.)

So now I’m on my second of two days off and will go back up the mountain in a few hours.

I don’t know what the state of the trail will be when I get back up there. Forest Service workers were  there cutting hazard trees on Sunday. (Today’s our Monday, the young man monitoring the closed entrance to the trail told me cheerfully.) Last I heard, the Forest Service was planning to have the trail closed through the end of the month. Yep, closed for Memorial Day. If that’s how it works out, guess who’s going to get to talk to hundreds of disappointed visitors during the three-day weekend.

If you guessed it’s going to be me…you are correct. If you also guessed this is a duty I am not pleased about, you’d be correct about that too.

I took this photo of two giant sequoias which grew together and fused over hundreds (maybe thousands) of years.

I took this photo of two giant sequoias which grew together and fused over hundreds (maybe thousands) of years.