Monthly Archives: July 2016

Giant RV

Standard

It was a busy Sunday in the parking lot, but the fever pitch of the late morning was mellowing a bit in the early afternoon. My co-worker had gone for the day, and I was on my own.

Bus, 3D Modeling, Motor Home, Travel, Render, TouristI saw a giant motor home approach the parking lot. By giant, I mean as big as a bus. This RV was literally the size of a Greyhound and didn’t look shiny enough to be rented. While it looked neither old nor trashy, it had dings and scratches. The people in the front were relatively young, probably in their mid-30s. The man in the passenger seat was blond and wore glasses. The driver was a woman with long, dark hair.

The little voice in my head was a bit late in whispering this is a bad idea, and I didn’t sprint over to send them down to the long, narrow overflow parking lot. The giant RV made the turn into my parking lot, and I waved them in.

My co-worker maintains we can get a bus through the parking lot, so my faith wasn’t entirely misplaced. He’s seen buses as big as Greyhounds enter, park, and later exit, so I was confident it could be done if the driver had adequate skill.

I told the driver of the giant RV I wasn’t sure if she’d find a place to park the behemoth. I told her if she did, she could pay me the $5 parking fee on the way to the trail. Then I sent her on her way, hoping she could get the huge vehicle through the lot and out again.

Some time passed, but I don’t know if it was five or ten or fifteen minutes. A man in his thirties approached me. He had blond hair and glasses. He told me he was with the RV. He said the RV could not get through because of car(s) parked in designated no parking areas. I asked him what he meant by designated no parking areas. He said a car (or maybe multiple cars) were parked on the pavement in areas not marked with lines as parking spaces. (None of the spaces in our parking lot are marked by signs saying no parking.) He said there wasn’t enough space for the motor home to get through, and they couldn’t back it up around the loop’s curves.

I told him all they could do was wait until the driver(s) of the car(s) blocking them returned. The blond man with glasses looked sad and walked back to his ride.

I wasn’t too concerned with the giant RV being temporarily stuck. I knew the people in the blocking cars would eventually return, at which time, according to the blond man, the driver of the giant RV would be able to swing it through the loop and out. My immediate concern was for the people trying to leave who were stuck behind the giant RV. My next concern was for people who arrived and wanted to park while the giant RV was stuck.

Cars parked on the exit side of the traffic jam were able to leave. Some of the drivers of those cars gave me reports on the RV as they left.

One young woman told me the RV was stuck because some asshole(s) had parked where they shouldn’t have. I told her we’d just have to wait until the asshole(s) returned to those vehicles.

Slowly, cars began to exit from the wrong way of the one-way loop. I guess the drivers stuck behind the giant RV realized breaking the rules was the only way they were going to get out. One by one, they were figuring out how to turn around so they could leave.

Thankfully, we’d hit a slow time in the flow of the parking lot. Only seven cars arrived during the time of the RV blockage. I was able to get them parked at the front of the lot, in spaces I could see from where I stood.

At some point, I received word that the driver of the giant motor home was trying to back it out.

How’s that going to work? I wondered.

I never went to the back of the lot to look at the stuck motor home. There was nothing I could do to help. I couldn’t move the offending cars. I didn’t want to give the driver of the RV bad advice that would make the situation worse. Also, I felt I was needed to keep things flowing smoothly in the front of the parking lot and get new arrivals safely parked while not adding to the logjam behind the giant RV.

Several groups of people exited the trail, and vehicles began leaving the lot. Then I saw the giant motor home approaching the exit. Success!

The driver of the giant RV stopped next to me and opened her window. We saw a spot where we’ll fit, she said to me. We’re going to make the loop again.

This time, the little voice in my head shouted Are you kidding me? NO!!! This time, the rest of me listened.

I shook my head and told her they’d be much better off in the overflow lot down the road. I was awfully glad to see them go.

Image courtesy of https://pixabay.com/en/bus-3d-modeling-motor-home-travel-1959433/.

 

Sadness and Bribery

Standard

It was the first weekend of the fire ban, and already people were unhappy about not being able to have campfires.

One guy pulled his saddest face before he even got out of his truck. He was full of questions, delivered in a sad little tone of voice, as if maybe I’d feel sorry for him and tell him he could go ahead and have a campfire anyway.

But why was there a fire ban? he wanted to know. The campfire was his favorite part of camping.

I tried to explain that California is five years into a drought. (How do people from California–as this man was–not know about California’s drought?) I tried to explain how it’s really dry in the forest and the fire danger is high.

He wanted to know how much rain we’d need before the fire ban is lifted.

I don’t know, I said. A lot.

I don’t know if he thought a small shower would make campfires ok again. He must have no idea how the fire ban works. He must not understand that the Forest Service (probably someone high up in the Forest Service) makes the fire ban decision, not me. Even if it had started raining bears and chipmunks, the Forest Service is not going to lift the fire ban on a weekend and send someone out to my campground to let me know so I can tell my campers it’s now fine to light up the fire wood.

The sad man’s friend assured me they weren’t going to break any laws. I told him I was mostly concerned with not burning down the forest.

On one side of the campground, two sites were taken by two middle age Latino bothers and their families. The first family was good-natured about the rule against campfires, although one ten-year old boy did ask, How will we make s’mores?

When I went to the other brother’s campsite, I immediately saw a jumbo bag of charcoal, a sure sign this family knew nothing about the fire ban (or was at least hoping they could claim to know nothing about it). These people obviously had plans for that big bag of charcoal, and it was my job to thwart those plans.

I told the man about the fire ban. He didn’t get rude; in fact, he stayed friendly, but I could tell he was quite disappointed.

He looked at me sadly and said, I was going to share our carne asada with you, but now we won’t have any.

Bribery! He was trying to bribe me with food. Here was a man who somehow knew how to get to me–food! Now maybe if he had said carnitas…

It was my turn to look sad, thinking of the carne asada I wouldn’t get to eat. I shook my head and said, We all have to sacrifice…

I choose the longevity of the forest over the fleeting pleasures of a meal.

Road Builder

Standard

The parking lot was intensely busy, and I was already quite grumpy. I was trying to hold it together and be polite, but it seemed like the best I could do was concentrate on not getting myself fired.

A pickup truck pulled into the the lot; several other vehicles were behind it. The pickup truck was going abnormally slow. Sure, I don’t want people driving like Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the parking lot, but folks need to keep up a brisk pace, or there’s going to be a logjam.

I could see the driver of the pickup ruck was a very old man. I thought maybe he didn’t know where to go (people are often confused by the parking lot’s one-way traffic), so I went from my regular hand motion signally this way and come on down into broad, sweeping arm gestures. The truck continued to put-put-putter in, and I was worried the old man might swerve any minute and start going the wrong way on the loop. I added to my sweeping arm gestures shouts of This way! This way! Neither the driver nor his passengers seemed to notice me until the driver’s side window was next to my head.

After determining the crew in the truck (the old man driver, a younger woman squashed in the middle, and a young man in the passenger seat) was in fact there for the trail, I gave my little speech: The trail begins across the street. You are on a one-way loop. Look for a place to park. Once you’re parked, pay the $5 parking fee on your way to the trail.

The very old man driving finally showed some animation. You’re going to charge me to park, he demanded, when I’m the one who built this road?

That’s one I’d never heard before!

I wonder if he tries that at the supermarket. You’re going to charge me for these groceries when I’m the one who built the road out there?

I wonder if he has a certificate listing all the road he’s built so he can prove himself to skeptics.

I wonder if he’s ever built a road in his life, or if this is just a ploy he uses to get into places for free.

In any case, I was surprised and stammered that my boss told me I had to charge everyone who parks in the parking lot.

Then he just sat there, his truck blocking the traffic flow. I tried to shoo him away, told him to go and park, and then just walked away from the truck to talk to the next driver in line.

I realized later I’d not seen the truck leave the parking lot, nor had I seen the old man or either of his passengers step up to pay me or my co-worker. But the parking lot was really busy, and it was conceivable the truck had left or the male passenger (of whom I hadn’t gotten a good look) had paid my co-worker while I was involved with another visitor.

Much later, I saw a truck approach the lot’s exit. I saw the old man driving that truck was the man who’d claimed to have built the road. He was dangling money out of his window. I guess he’d finally decided to pay his parking fee. I immediately became quite interested in looking in the direction opposite of the old man. He was closer to my co-worker anyway, and I figured it was my co-worker’s turn to deal with him.

My co-worker said the old guy told him, I built this road, and my co-worker thought I know who you are. As the guy paid his parking fee, he demanded to know where the money went. My co-worker said he handed over the money to his supervisor every week. From there, (shrug) he guessed the Forest Service got a cut…

The old guy must have been ready to go because he didn’t linger to share his road-building credentials. He just slowly pulled the pickup out of the lot.

 

Valid Parking

Standard

It was Saturday and the parking lot was intensely busy. By 10:30, my co-worker and I were telling people to find a place to park before they paid us the parking fee.

A car pulled in, and I approached it. A young blond woman was driving. Before I could say anything, she started talking. She had an accent my untrained ear pegged as Russian, but I don’t really know her ethnic/geographic origin.

She said, Is this valid parking?

I looked at her silently, confused, then said, What?

She said again, Is this valid parking?

I thought she meant Is this a legitimate/legal place to park?

Then I realized she was asking, Is this valet parking?

I busted out laughing.

I suppose some people do frequent establishments where they hand over their keys to a uniformed attendant who parks the car, but that’s not anyone I know. I’ve never once had a valet park my car. I’m not even sure where I’d go if I wanted to experience valet parking. (On second thought, I guess I’d try Las Vegas if I wanted to experience valet parking.) If I were on Family Feud and Steve Harvey said, Name a place where a valet parks your car, I might save the day by saying A casino, but probably I’d stand there silently and get a big fat X.

So when I realized this young woman had asked Is this valet parking? it was just about the funniest thing I’d heard all morning.

Who expects valet parking in a National Forest? At a casino, maybe. Or at a restaurant or hotel. (I guess I do have some idea of where valet parking occurs.) But at a National Forest? Is valet parking at a National Forest a thing?

A better question is, who would look at me in my dirty, stained uniform (probably with crushed mosquito remains over my left eye and ash smeared on my chin) and think I should be trusted with her/his car?

Through my laughter, I said to the young blond woman, Yeah, you give me your keys and go walk the trail, and I’ll drive your car around. (I waved my hand around, indicating I would drive her car not in the parking lot, but in the wider world of roads.)

She said, Then just tell me where to park!

I don’t blame her for being testy; I was being an asshole. But valet parking in the National Forest? That’s rich!

When the young woman walked up to pay her parking fee, I became very interested in the contents of my backpack and let my co-worker deal with her.

I think I’ll let the president of the company I work for know that what the parking lot needs is valet parking.

Spending Report June 2016

Standard

Once again, it is late in the month, and I am only just publishing my spending report for the previous month. I’ve grown tired of this project, and I’m disheartened by how much money I’ve been spending.

To further complicate things, I lost the spending report document I wrote up yesterday and saved as a Word file. I was trying to do two things at once, and managed to replace the document with a blank page. Sigh. I tried to restore the document and couldn’t figure out how to do it (even with the help of my computer guy). Sigh. So here I am, starting over…

6-1-16 Once again, I thought I’d spent nothing on the first day of the month, then remembered the auto-payment for my phone. Total spent: $34.99

6-2 through 6-5-16 Four days on the mountain with nothing to buy. Nothing spent.

6-6-16 I went to Babylon today to use the internet and get supplies. Total spent: $44.65

$17.18 to Wal-Mart for supplies

$.03 to Taco Bell for breakfast (I actually handed the cashier $2.17, but I’d just returned something at Wal-Mart and received $2.14 in cash.)

$2.09 to Dollar Tree for supplies

$6.02 to Little Caesar’s for a pizza

$6.93 to Panera for internet use and lunch

6-7-16 Today I finished up in civilization and headed back up the mountain. Total spent: 56.09

$1.89 to Panera for coffee

$35 for gas

$16.74 for groceries

$2.46 to post office

6-8 through 6-12-16 Five days on the mountain with nothing to buy. Nothing spent.

6-13-16 I tried to use the internet today, but the store I went to halfway down the mountain was closed. Total spent: $6.11

$3.11 to post office

$3 for ice

6-14-16 I had to go halfway down the mountain in the other direction to use the internet today. Because I made a 50 mile round trip, I had to get gas too. Total spent: $46.94

$35 for gas

$11.95 for lunch and tip and internet access

6-15 through 6-19-16 Five days on the mountain with nothing to buy. Nothing spent.

6-20-16 Back to Babylon today for internet and laundry and supplies. Total spent: $21.85

$11 for laundry

$.75 for water

$1.95 to Taco Bell for breakfast (The cashier gave me the senior discount. I had to decide if my frugality was greater than my vanity. Frugality won. As a friend said, to someone who’s 18, a 45 year-old person doesn’t look much older than a 55 year-old person.)

$8.15 To Panera for lunch and drink and internet access

6-21-16 More internet use and gathering supplies today in Babylon Total spent: 96.98

$1.14 to Panera for a bagel and internet use

$55 for gas

$39.75 for groceries (I was sick, so I spent extra money on juice and fresh fruit and immune support gummies.)

$1.09 to Dollar Tree for paper towels

6-22 through 6-27-16 Six days on the mountain with nothing to buy. Nothing spent.

6-28-16 Today I used the internet at the small-town mountain store, and bought ice there too. Total spent: $3.50

6-29 through 6-30-16 I closed the month out with Nothing spent.

Total spent for the month of June: $311.11

Finally, a month in which I spent a reasonable amount of money. It’s about time.

 

Trance Dance

Standard

Lou told me about trance dance not long after I pulled into  Austin.

It was held at a dance studio. The participants were blindfolded. There were a few people not blindfolded who made sure the dancers didn’t careen into the walls or each other. Music played. Dancing occurred.

Lou had never attended a trance dance, so she didn’t know if people actually achieved a trance state, but she thought I should go. I wanted us to go together, but the event only happened once while I was in town, and Lou already had plans that night. I’d either have to go alone or not go at all.

The $10 price of admission discouraged me. I’d rolled into Austin with maybe $10 in my pocket (and found a $10 bill in a letter from my friend Tea in New Mexico waiting for me at Lou’s house). By the night of trance dance, I’d picked up a few odd jobs (dog siting, house cleaning, a couple of psychology studies involving MRIs), so I had some money, but $10 was a significant amount for me at the time. I sent an email to the organizers asking for a discounted rate, but received no response.

This better be worth it, I thought on the appointed night.

IMG_6613

I took this photo of my purple Grateful Dead bandana. I traded a hemp bracelet I’d made for this bandana on Furthur lot.

It was dark when I drove to the studio and almost missed the driveway. Once inside, I removed my shoes and readied my purple Grateful Dead bandana to use as a blindfold.

All of the participants (eight? a dozen? my memory is faulty, but surely no more than twenty) went into the large open room lined with mirrors.

Ugh, mirrors. Let’s just say I don not enjoy viewing myself in mirrors. I probably would have left had being blindfolded not been a main component of the evening.

We all covered our eyes, the music started, and we were off.

Dance as if no one’s watching, indeed.

(I tried to forget that at least a few people were watching, told myself they were only watching to make sure no one got hurt.)

I was wearing a long, loose, flowing, flowered skirt. I took great delight in feeling the fabric swirl around me as I twirled. I also enjoyed grabbing handfuls of the skirt in each hand and flipping it around my knees as I kicked my legs and stomped my feet.

The music was fine, but not what I would have picked. I would have picked the Grateful Dead, had I been dancing alone. If I were picking music for a group, I would have chosen music heavier on drums, faster rhythms, a bit more upbeat. But really, the music was fine. It wasn’t the type of dance music that makes me want to rush out and do speed (The Crystal Method, anyone?), and I suppose the tempo was plenty fast enough.

I don’t know how long we danced. An hour? An hour and a half? Certainly no more than two. While I’m not sure I was ever in a trance, it became difficult to stay aware of time. The music was continuous, no break to say, This song is over; now a new one will begin.

I did pretty much stop thinking about the other people there, stopped thinking about what they might be doing, what they might be thinking of what I was doing. The world shrank down to me, my body, the music, my movement. It’s unusual for me to be in the the moment and in my body, but during trance dance, I was in both.

When the music stopped, I felt both So soon? and Finally!

The whole group then sat in a circle on the floor and had a check-in so we could talk about our feelings and any issues that had come up. I can’t remember what I said, although I think I may have mentioned that I’d enjoyed dancing with my skirt.

Would I do trance dance again? Hell yes, even for $10. But I hope the next time, Lou can be there too.

According to http://www.gerrystarnes.com/trancedance.html,

Through a combination of focused intention, breathing, use of the bandanna and movement to rhythmic music, participants can experience a trance state and be transported into an alternate modality of awareness.

The first 30 minutes includes a discussion and orientation to Trance Dance, followed by an extended dance behind the bandanna. Following the dance, the group gathers in the circle for optional sharing and to get “plugged back in” before leaving.

 

 

Fire Ban

Standard

We’ve reached the point in the season where campfires are banned. Of course, that means I was putting out a campfire the day after the ban went into effect. Even without a ban, I’d have been putting out this fire because it was left unattended. Seems like a bad idea to me, to leave a fire unattended, in a drought, while fire danger is high, but I guess it seemed reasonable to the folks from Maryland who’d started the campfire.

I was patrolling the campground for the hosts on their day off. I was driving slowly through the facility, looking for campers who needed to be checked-in. I saw the reservation tag on site #9, indicating the campers had arrived the day before, the first of the camp hosts’ two days off. The campers must have come in after I’d gone through around two o’clock. I saw a vehicle parked on the site and two tents pitched near the picnic table, but no campers. I figured everyone was still asleep, even though it was 10:30 and the sun had been up for hours.

I was about to drive off, when I noticed smoke rising from the fire ring on site #9. I couldn’t blame the people for not knowing about the fire ban, since they hadn’t officially been checked in, but I was annoyed they’d left their fire smoldering when no one was outside with it. Then I saw flames rising from the fire ring. This wasn’t the remains of a fire smouldering; this was a bonafide fire.

I parked my van and hopped out. As I approached the campsite, I called out Good morning! and Hello! I received no response.

I’m going to put out this campfire now, I called out. Still no response. That’s when I realized the campers had not simply left the campfire unattended by going into their tents. These people had left their fire unattended by totally leaving their campsite.

I had about a gallon and a half of wash water in the van, so I poured that on the fire. The wood sputtered and sizzled. The water boiled. Great clouds of dirty smoke billowed from the fire ring. But a gallon and a half of water isn’t enough to make sure a fire that’s been burning strong is dead out.

I drove my van to the camp hosts’ site, looking for a five gallon bucket I could fill with water. One of the hosts was waiting for me, pajama clad and wild haired, eyes still looking sleepy. I told her what was going on. She told me that she thought the campers–a father and his two daughters from Maryland–had gone to walk the trail. Wow! They’d left not just their campsite, but the entire campground with not just hot ashes in the fire ring, but full-on flames. How did that seem like a good idea?

I hauled about four gallons of water to site #9 and dumped it all into the fire ring. (When putting out an illicit fire, it’s good to leave everything too wet to support another fire any time soon.) The wood sputtered and sizzled more, and the new water boiled. I used a big stick to stir the soupy mess. Once I felt confident the fire wasn’t going to spring back to life or release ember or hot ash, I walked away.

I wasn’t done with my job, however. I wanted to leave a courtesy notice so the campers would know why their fire ring contained soggy logs and mud.

I grabbed a red pen to fill out the notice.

I checked the box next to Due to fire danger, please do not leave fires unattended. You must put all fires out completely. In the margin, I wrote Never leave fires unattended.

Then I checked the box next to Other and wrote in Complete ban on wood and charcoal fires. Fires NOT permitted.

Finally, near the bottom of the notice, I wrote You need fire permit to use stove with on/off switch.

I hoped all of that information would clue them in to what was going on.

As I told the other camp host sarcastically, This is where the fun begins…If you thought collecting extra vehicle fees was fun….

Now the check-in process will take longer, as we must verbalize all the new rules: No wood or charcoal fires. Stoves must have an on/off switch. Permits are required to use stoves. Smoking is only allowed inside vehicles with the doors closed and windows up.

And since some people are going to start fires anyway, camp hosts have to be alert for the sight and (mostly) smell of illicit fires. We will have to douse those fires and listen to the whining of campers: I didn’t know. We were cold. We were going to put it out after we cooked dinner. What are we supposed to do at night without a campfire to sit next to?

I’ll not share my reactions with campers, but in the privacy of my mind, I’ll be thinking: There are signs announcing the ban all over the forest. Put on your jackets and hats. You should have brought your propane stove. Get in your tent and have some sex.

IMG_6616

I took this photo.

To read stories of campers and last year’s ban on campfires, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/07/27/fire-restrictions/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/11/15/what-do-people-do/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/11/13/but-were-cold/, and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/09/18/where-theres-smoke/.

 

 

 

 

 

Sanctuary

Standard

I decided it was just too hot to sleep in my van in Babylon. Even with the back windows open and my little fan blowing on me, the heat kept me from taking my rest. I didn’t want to spend another night off the mountain.

The complicating factor was that the post office where I pick up my mail is only open from 8am to noon. If I left my campground before 5am on my first day off in order to get to the laundromat shortly after it opened at 6am, then left Babylon an hour or so before dark, I missed the post office completely. If I left Babylon before dark and drove all the way back to my campground on my first day off, I was looking at a 30 mile round trip to retrieve my mail on my second day off.

What to do?

I decided I needed to find a place in the National Forest not too far from the post office, a place where I could pull in around dark, spend the night, and hang out until the post office opened and I could get my mail.

As I drove between my campground and the post office, I paid attention to Forest Service roads, turn outs, and pull-offs. There was a place where I sometimes saw camper trailers parked that looked promising.

I also asked my co-worker for his advice. He’s lived in the area for many years and knows a lot of cool spots.

I described the sort of place I was looking for, and after thinking on it, he described the very spot I’d been scoping out. To sweeten the deal, he told me there was a creek (not visible from the road) beyond where the camper trailers parked and even pools of water. He said he thought I’d really enjoy myself there.

The next day, I was talking to one of my campers, and he told me he and his friends had gone to the same area the day before. He said it was really nice there.

It seemed the Universe was telling me to get my ass to the creek.

On my day off, I went to Babylon, did my laundry, used the internet for several hours, bought groceries and ice and gasoline, and headed back up the mountain.

I got to my new spot just before dark and was pleased to find it empty. Once I parked, I threw open the van’s side doors to let the cool evening air rush in while I ate my cold pizza dinner. I was delighted to hear the sound of the creek burbling by just a few feet away. Not since I parked next to the Rio Hondo in New Mexico had I been lulled to sleep by the sound of rushing water.

IMG_6538

The burbling creek. I hadn’t slept next to the sound of rushing water since I left New Mexico.

I walked over to the creek and looked around a bit. In the last of the light, I could see boulders on the edge of the creek, large rocks within. While there weren’t exactly waterfalls, in many places the water tumbled over and off rocks. I was excited for the warmth of the next day, when I would want to get wet.

Boulders at the edge of the creek.

Boulders at the edge of the creek.

After the interior of the van had cooled a bit, I got inside, closed and locked the doors, and hung my curtain. The mountain air coming through the open back windows was just chilly enough for me to want to snuggle under my down comforter. I slept well.

Once I’d picked up my mail in the morning, I was in no hurry to get back to my campground, so I went back to the creek.

There are a couple of reasons I don’t like to stay at my campground on my days off.

The first reason is my boss. He has no qualms about coming into my campground when he knows it’s my day off, parking his truck on my campsite, and talking to me about work-related issues or whatever dumb shit is on his mind. I have little enough patience to listen to him when I’m getting paid for it. Having to listen to him on my day off is an insult. I figure I’m better off avoiding him if possible.

The second reason I want to steer clear of my campground when I’m not working is visitors show up and want to chitchat after I tell them it’s my day off. I don’t mind answering questions if I’m there anyway. I realize people with information are few and far between in the forest, so if there’s a question to be asked, folks are going to ask it of whomever they see. However, I don’t feel as if I should have to listen to complaints about the condition of the road after I’ve said I’m the camp host, but I’m on my day off right now. (True story.) Again, I’m better off staying away and avoiding the annoyance.

IMG_6533

These trees grow on the side of the creek.

Other than trash strewn on the ground and a couple of piles of human waste (all of which I cleaned up as my own little public service), the creek was a lovely place. The water rushed by and tumbled over rocks. There were no mosquitoes or other annoying bugs. The creek was surrounded by trees, so only dappled light came through, giving my pale skin plenty of shade.

There were pools of water too, not very deep, but if I had stretched out, I probably could have submerged my whole body. However, the water was cold (at least to my standards), and I didn’t want to get all wet. I did shimmy out of my skirt and sit on a flatish rock wearing underpants and a tank top. I shrieked when my butt slipped off the not-as-flat-a-I-thought rock and my nether regions splashed into the refrigerator-cold water.

View looking up while sitting in the creek.

View looking up while sitting in the creek.

I sat in the creek for a couple of hours, mostly keeping only my legs and feet in the water. When I realized some people were parked next to my van, I rapidly splashed over to where I’d left my skirt. Of course, I slipped and sunk to my waist. Thankfully, I sustained no injuries. After pulling my skirt on, I waited until the people walked past me (I’m not sure they saw me sitting on a rock, reading a book), then left the creek and drove away.

I spent another couple of hours at the creek after an early morning run to town and stop at the post office. This time I rolled my jeans up past my knees and stayed in the shallows. I IMG_6541found a very flat rock in the middle of the creek and sat there to read my mail while dangling my feet in the water. Soaking my feet cooled my whole body. Hearing and feeling the water rush by lifted my spirits.

That creek is a sanctuary, a place to spend the night, a place to cool down when I’m hot, a place to go when I need more solitude than my campground can provide.

I won’t mention it to a single tourist.

IMG_6536

The water tumbles over and off the rocks.

I took all the photos in this post.

Book Review: Hawkes Harbor

Standard

Hawkes Harbor
I wrote the following book review in July of 2009. The review is basically one big spoiler, so if you think you may want to read the book, don’t read this post.

Really?

The woman who wrote The Outsiders wrote this mess of a novel. Ok, I am no longer under any illusion that The Outsiders is great literature. I appreciate it for what it is, but I can see its faults too. I also cut S.E. Hinton some slack with The Outsiders, as she wrote that book when she was 16. She was all grown up when she wrote Hawkes Harbor, so I don’t know what her excuse is with this one.

She’s still basically writing about the same character: handsome young man; difficult childhood; no parental figures; lives rough and takes care of himself; gruff, but with a good heart. Who is this guy she’s still obsessed with? Her father? Her brother? Her first love? Whoever he is, he was still on her mind when this book was published in 2005.

The handsome young man is in a mental hospital. He’s been shot. He has had a mental breakdown. What, oh what, has happened to him?

The story is spun out slowly, in a series of flashbacks. The young man is a criminal. A pirate of sorts. He loves the sea. Ho Hum. Then the vampire shit starts!

A vampire? Are you kidding me? I couldn’t believe it. A vampire. In 1960s New England.

It’s as if Hinton were trying to think of some gimmick to make this book popular in an early 21st century market and hit on the popularity of vampires, so decided to go that route.

But it gets even dumber. The vampire becomes human again (through some rituals never fully explained to the reader). Although the vampire originally had total control over the young man, threatened to kill him if he didn’t do what he was told, by the end of the book, the vampire becomes the young man’s best friend. Weird. Weird and corny!

As I read this book, I kept laughing aloud, because the premises of the story were so ridiculous.

I realize that the theme of this book is redemption. Redemption is a good theme. But a vampire! Give me a break. If the captor had been a military torture expert, the young man the torturer’s captive soldier, the plot may have worked, but a vampire? That’s just silly.