Monthly Archives: November 2016

La Reyna Panaderia

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I like the old-school style of this sign. I wonder if the lights are turned on at night.

When I was in San Francisco, I spent a lot of time walking around in the Mission District. The Mission is a vibrant, bustling neighborhood with great opportunities for watching people . I enjoyed getting a glimpse of folks living their lives in a metropolis. Being in the Mission made me remember how it feels to love a city.

In addition to people watching, I looked at the murals that are all over the Mission.  My Computer Guy says the Mission has been known for its mural since the 1970s, and and the SF Tourism Tips website (http://www.sftourismtips.com/mission-district-murals.html) backs him up. In previous trips to the Mission, I did see murals, but during my recent visit, I saw so many murals I had never seen before. Maybe I hadn’t been looking in the right places during previous visits. Maybe there really are more murals now. In any case, I spent much of my visit walking around the neighborhood, finding and admiring and photographing outdoor murals.

img_7158I spent an entire afternoon walking around 24th Street, ducking into alleys to take photos of the amazing murals located throughout this neighborhood. From across 24th Street, I saw La Reyna Panaderia and decided I would pay it a visit after lunch.

“Panaderia” is the Spanish word for bakery, and there was a wide selection of sweet treats available at La Reyna. I don’t know much about the pastries of the Latino world, but everything on display looked really delicious. I wanted to try everything!

I tried to joke about wanting to try everything to the woman working behind the counter, but she wasn’t having it. I don’t know if she was having a bad day or if she was just tired or if her English comprehension was limited and she didn’t understand my banter, but she didn’t seem amused by me in the least.

So this is how it works: Customers get a tray and a set of long tongs from the counter and serve themselves from the cases filled with a variety of pastries. Only a few of the pastries were labeled, so I didn’t really know what most of the varieties were. In theory, I guess I could have asked the woman working, but she did not act as if she wanted to be bothered by me. So I picked a big, soft-looking cookie that was obviously chocolate and another that  was sprinkled heavily with toasted coconut and had a red circle that looked like jelly in the middle. There was no indication of the price of anything, but my two cookies ended up costing $1.30. img_7159

While La Reyna’s sign does say “coffee shop,” I didn’t see or smell any coffee brewing. Maybe the lady behind the counter whips something up after an order is placed. I wasn’t interested in coffee, so I didn’t really look for it.

La Reyna also seemed not much like a coffee shop because there are no tables or chairs, either inside or out. It’s not a hangout kind of place. One goes in, buys one’s pastries and leaves. This is a great place for folks who like Mexican pastries, but it’s strictly a “to-go” situation.

Like many other buildings in the area, the one that houses La Reyna has murals painted on the side of it, including one of the Virgin Mary. La Reyna (also spelled “La Reina”) is the Spanish term for “The Queen.” The Queen in question might be the Virgin Mary (you know, as in “the Queen of Heaven”) which could explain why she’s painted on the side of the outside wall. However, The Queen might refer to someone else, and the Virgin Mary’s on the side of the building because she’s a popular art motif in the Latinx world.

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The words “La Reyna” written under this mural of the Virgin Mary on the side of the building housing La Reyna Panaderia indicate my idea that the bakery is names after the Queen of Heaven is correct.

My two cookies were big, and I savored them over the course of the next couple of hours. I ate a few nibbles while leaning against a tree outside of the bakery, listening to cops question a man sitting at a bus stop. I ate a few more nibbles while sitting at a bus stop bench on Mission Street and watching city people live their lives. Both cookies were delicious, flaky and crumbly.

La Reyna Panaderia is located at 3114 24th Street in San Francisco, CA.

I took all of the photos in this post.

Peace Collage

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My friend’s birthday was approaching, and I wanted to make something special for her. I sent her a hat a while back, and now she lives in the desert, so she didn’t really need another one or an infinity scarf either. I made a hemp necklace for one of her pendants two visits ago, and I didn’t know if she would like any of the necklaces I already had made. And oh, yeah, I’d traded her some bracelets for a copy of her zine a couple of years ago. She probably didn’t need any more bracelets. My last option was a collage. Yes, yes, a collage!

I wanted to make a collage with an inspiring quote on it. My friend is a peace activist, so when I found a good quote about peace from Jimi Hendrix, I decided to build the gift around his words.

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My friend took this photo of the collage I made for her. I forgot to take a photo of it before I put it in the mail.

Since I love my friend, I used many hearts in the piece. I hope this work of art conveys to her how much she means to me.

Happy birthday, my friend, happy birthday to you.

Maggie Kuhn

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In the third post about the Play Me, I’m Yours piano installation in Mesa, AZ, I mentioned one of the reasons for writing given on the piano presented by Phonetic Spit was this: I write to speak my mind, even when my voice shakes.

I knew I’d seen some variation of the quote before, but who’d said it? Audre Lorde? Alice Walker? I did a Google search and found Maggie Kuhn was the woman who gave us those words.

Who’s Maggie Kuhn? I didn’t know either, until I did a little reading up on her.

According to http://womenshistory.about.com/cs/quotes/a/maggie_kuhn.htm,

Maggie Kuhn is best known for founding the organization often called the Gray Panthers [officially known at first as the Consultation of Older and Younger Adults for Social Change], a social activist organization raising issues of justice and fairness for older Americans. She is credited with the passage of laws prohibiting forced retirement and with reform in health care and nursing home oversight.

The Wikipedia article about Kuhn tells more about the work she and the Gray Panthers did.

In 1970, although [Kuhn] was working at a job she loved with the Presbyterian Church, she was forced to retire the day she turned 65 because of the mandatory retirement law then in effect. That year, she banded together with other retirees and formed the Gray Panthers movement. Seeing all issues of injustice as inevitably linked, they refused to restrict themselves to elder rights activism, but focused also on peace, presidential elections, poverty, and civil liberties. Their first big issue was opposition to the Vietnam War.

The Gray Panthers’ motto was “Age and Youth In Action,” and many of its members were high school and college students. Kuhn believed that teens should be taken more seriously and given more responsibility by society.

Kuhn raised controversy by openly discussing the sexuality of older people, and shocked the public with her assertion that older women, who outlive men by an average of 8 years, could develop sexual relationships with younger men or each other.

I couldn’t find any information about when or where Kuhn said or wrote her famous words advising us to speak our minds, but I did find the longer quote of which these words are part. The Presbyterian Historical Society gives the longer quote as

Leave safety behind. Put your body on the line. Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind–even if your voice shakes. When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say. Well-aimed slingshots can topple giants.

I suspect Maggie Kuhn would be quite pleased to know young people remembered her sentiment and wrote it on a piano in an Arizona town for all to see.

 

Play Me, I’m Yours (Part 3)

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The last Play Me, I’m Yours piano I discovered was my favorite because it had a writing theme! This black and white piano, located on the edge of a pocket park near the Arizona Museum of Natural History, was decorated with flowers and the reasons why people write. Some reasons people gave for writing:

I write to right my wrongs. img_5874

I write because the pen is my weapon.

I write to say, “I was here.”

I write because my ancestors weren’t allowed to.

I write to honor my second chances.

I write to relieve myself from pain.

I write to speak my mind, even when my voice shakes.

While researching this post, I discovered the community group responsible for this piano was Phonetic Spit. According to their website,

Through the intersections of Literary Arts, Youth Development, and Social Justice programs, Phonetic Spit creates Brave Space to empower young and emerging adults to find, develop and publicly present their voices as agents of societal change.

img_5873I can understand how a group of young people interested in the literary arts, publicly presenting their voices, and societal change would use this opportunity to tell the world why writing is important to each of them.

According to the Street Pianos webpage dedicated to this piano (#4), the artist who did the work on it was Tomas Stanton. A Phoenix New Times article (“100 Creatives”) from 2012 called Tomas Stanton

a poet, writer, teaching artist, and community activist. He says he’s a self-taught artist dedicated to advancing the art of spoken word through fusion with theatre and dance.

Stanton is co-founder of Phoenix’s premiere youth spoken word ensemble, Phonetic img_5870Spit. He uses hip-hop pedagogy to inspire youth to boldly express themselves through poetry, dance, theatre, and graffiti. His work and teaching style is rooted in his childhood experiences of poverty and single parent household, political issues, identity, and love.

This piano’s Street Pianos webpage also says it was donated by the First United Methodist Church of Mesa and was sponsored by Two Men And A Truck.

My favorite words on this piano read, “Your Voice Matters.” This message is important to everyone who may feel silenced in the current political climate. Every voice matters. Some will say the only voices that matter come from the throats of the rich or the males or the people with light skin. This is not the true.  The truth is every voice matters. My voice matters and your voice matters. Let’s all speak our minds, even when our voices shake.

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I took all of the photos in this post.

If you missed the other posts about the Play Me, I’m Yours pianos, here’s a brief summary :

Touring internationally since 2008, Play Me, I’m Yours is an artwork by British artist Luke Jerram. Reaching over 10 million people worldwide – more than 1,500 street pianos have already been installed in over 50 cities across the globe, from London to New York, bearing the simple instruction Play Me, I’m Yours.

Located on streets, in public parks, markets and train stations the pianos are temporarily available for everyone to play and enjoy. Play Me, I’m Yours invites the public to engage with, activate and take ownership of their urban environment. Decorated by local artists and community groups, the pianos create a place of exchange and an opportunity for people to connect.

 

 

Play Me, I’m Yours (Part 2)

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The second Play Me, I’m Yours piano I encountered during my evening stroll along Main Street in Mesa, AZ was in front of the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum. This one was looked like a cloudy blue sky, and the sides shimmered in the late afternoon sun.

If you missed previous posts, http://www.streetpianos.com/ says,

Touring internationally since 2008, Play Me, I’m Yours is an artwork by British artist Luke Jerram. Reaching over 10 million people worldwide – more than 1,500 street pianos have already been installed in over 50 cities across the globe…

Sparkling side view of piano #11

Sparkling side view of piano #11

According to his website,

Luke Jerram’s multidisciplinary practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations and live arts projects. Living in the UK but working internationally for 19 years, Jerram has created a number of extraordinary art projects which have excited and inspired people around the globe.

Jerram has a set of different narratives that make up his practice which are developing in parallel with one another. He is known worldwide for his large scale public artworks.

The Street Pianos webpage dedicated to this piano (#11) says it was decorated by artists Kyllan Maney and Erin Peters and the Creative Catalyst team. It was donated by Mesa Arts Center and sponsored by Advanced Eyecare of Arizona.

Back view of piano #11

Back view of piano #11

What I didn’t know until I looked at the aforementioned webpage dedicated to this particular piano is that it was lit up at night. How cool is that! (Very cool, I think. I wish I had seen it all lit up.) The area behind the panel that reads “Play Me, I’m Yours” apparently glowed electric lavender, and a bright blue light shone from underneath.

The white and blue color scheme reminded me of clouds in a blue sky. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the serene sky imagery and the gliding birds next to the shimmery shake of the sparkles on the sides. (Are the shimmers meant to represent the stars in the night sky?)

Again, I wished I could play this piano, but I made myself content with simply striking a few keys and and enjoying the art.

I took all of the photos in this post.
Bird detail from piano #11

Bird detail from piano #11

Play Me, I’m Yours (Part 1)

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In the spring of 2016, I was exploring the public art on Main Street in Mesa, Arizona. One of the coolest things I saw was a Pepto-Bismol pink piano labeled “Play Me, I’m Yours.” What was this about? I had no idea, but loved the presence of a piano out on the street available for anyone to play. As I walked further east on Main Street, I encountered two more street pianos. Very interesting, I thought. I figured the pianos were part of downtown Mesa’s permanent sculpture collection and didn’t think much more about them until I sat down to write this post.

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Front view of piano #6

According to the Street Pianos website,

Touring internationally since 2008, Play Me, I’m Yours is an artwork by British artist Luke Jerram. Reaching over 10 million people worldwide – more than 1,500 street pianos have already been installed in over 50 cities across the globe, from London to New York, bearing the simple instruction Play Me, I’m Yours.

Located on streets, in public parks, markets and train stations the pianos are temporarily available for everyone to play and enjoy. Play Me, I’m Yours invites the public to engage with, activate and take ownership of their urban environment. Decorated by local artists and community groups, the pianos create a place of exchange and an opportunity for people to connect.

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Back view of piano #6

It’s really cool to find out the pianos I encountered are part of a global phenomenon. But wait, it gets better!

The page of the Street Pianos website dedicated to Mesa  says,

Mesa Arts Center presented Play Me, I’m Yours, from March 1 until April 9 2016, as part of the celebrations of a major milestone: 10 years at their beautiful location in Downtown Mesa, AZ.  24 playable and artistically enhanced pianos were featured, in Downtown Mesa and at other satellite locations throughout the city.

What? Those pianos were there for a limited time only, and I got to see them? How cool is that? (Very cool, I think.)

I’m going to do three blog posts about the three Play Me, I’m Yours piano I encountered in Mesa.

Today I am writing about piano #6, which was located on Main Street, east of MacDonald. According to the Street Pianos website (where you can also view videos of people playing this piano),i t was decorated by artist: Kyllan Maney  and students of the New School For The Arts and was donated by Myrna Horton.

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Left side view of piano #6

According to Kyllan Maney’s website, she

works with aspects of nature that reminds her of the feelings of tranquility, discovery, spirituality and awe that exist when looking at plants and objects closely.  The visual foundation of Kyllan’s work is rooted in scientific illustrations, religious icons, human relationships and inspiration from past and current artists. Kyllan enjoys the inventive, creative process of working with mixed media, oil painting and large scale murals.

There’s so much I like about this piano. I think its bright, eye-catching color is grand. I like the individual portraits decorating it. As I said before, I think it is so cool to see pianos out and about, available for anyone to play.

Unfortunately, I don’t know how to play the piano. Music lessons were not something my parents

Right side view of piano #6

Right side view of piano #6

could afford when I was a kid, and by the time I took a piano class in high school, it was too late. I realized I basically have no musical talent, and it was going to take way more effort than I was willing to exert to learn to play the piano (or anything else).

That evening in Mesa, I was sad I couldn’t sit down and coax a song from this instrument, but I was glad to know it was out there waiting for someone more talented than I .

I took all the photos in this post.
To read more about public art in Mesa, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/10/07/the-big-pink-chair/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/10/15/booked-for-the-day/, and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/11/14/quackers/.
Detail from piano #6 for all my Bowie homies.

Detail from piano #6

So Proud!

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My apologies for two posts in one day, but my book Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods is now live and available for purchase in the Kindle Store. I couldn’t be prouder!

Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods
Click on the image of the book’s cover to go to Amazon to find out more or to purchase. (If you shop on Amazon using this or any other of my other other affiliate links, I receive an advertising fee.)

If electronic books aren’t your style, don’t worry! The paper version will be available soon.

Thanks to everyone who’s helped make this book happen…

(Guest Post) This Is the Story of a (Kind) Girl

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Today’s guest post is from Devan, an internet friend of mine. We haven’t yet met in person, but I hope we can someday soon. Devan kindly offered the following inspirational piece to me for use during this busy time.

I had been at work since before 9 AM and it was now after 8 PM. All I really wanted to do was settle in for the night. Unfortunately, toilet paper is an unforgiving need when you’ve run out. As I made my way through the drug store near my home, I could hear an unusually loud woman talking about the price of Oreos. Then, as she must have passed the liquor aisle, she spoke about a particularly raucous night involving a cheap bottle of vodka and a hat with a feather in it. No matter where I went in the store, her voice carried. I heard every word as if she were talking to me directly. I shook my head and rolled my eyes, marveling at the inappropriate public display.

With large 9 roll pack of toilet paper under my arm and medicine for a developing headache firmly in hand, I headed to the front of the store. As I rounded the corner to the registers, I saw the loud woman and her quieter female companion had beat me there.

They were a colorful pair. The loud one was very tall and curvy. Her leggings were black and white striped and she wore a short shirt that showed her bare belly. Her hair was shoulder-length, wild, messy and frizzy. She wore a huge welcoming smile to accompany her gregarious nature and carried herself with enviable confidence. In one arm she carried a large box of tacos from the restaurant next door (it was $1 taco Tuesday), a backpack in the other.

The quiet one was shorter, had a robust figure, and wore a generously sized t-shirt and yoga pants. She had long straight unkempt hair and was very pregnant. She too kept a smile on her face. It was a bashful awkward smile, but it radiated warmth. Her eyes looked down most of the time, glancing up shyly on occasion. She was rolling a small suitcase on wheels behind her.

The cashier was a cute young girl named Ashlee with unnaturally red hair, several tattoos, and facial piercings. Because of her alternative look she often got strange glances from customers. Yet she never seemed to get frustrated with anything or anyone.

As I stood in line, I found myself growing frustrated with the 2 women in line in front of me this particular evening. They had no sense of urgency at all and had questions about everything. Ashlee, as usual, began friendly small talk while checking out their purchases. During this small talk, it was determined that the women had gotten a ride there, but didn’t have a ride home. They laughed that they were short on bus fare as well, after getting food and milk, so they would be walking home.

To my complete dismay, Ashlee enthusiastically encouraged the women to allow her to pack their backpack and suitcase in the most optimal way, to prevent having to carry anything too heavy. As I stood there aggravated and just wanting to leave, Ashlee proceeded to work their items into their bags. She carefully placed the heaviest items in the rolling suitcase and the lighter ones in the accompanying backpack. It took much longer than if she had simply put everything in the store bags and left them to deal with it, but the women glowed with gratitude. Ashlee then asked for the awkward box of tacos they were carrying and slipped them into a bag for easier transport. The women left with big smiles on their faces and, I assume, began their journey home.

As the women left the store and I approached the register, Ashlee greeted me with that same kind smile and an enthusiastic “Hey! How are you today?” My grimace quickly melted into a broad smile. I forgot all about my aggravation as we chatted and she swiftly moved me through the checkout. As I was leaving the store, as I often do, I felt appreciated and valued. Not just as a customer, but as a human being. The same feeling the two women in front of me were likely feeling as they left the store.

When I got to my car and opened the door to get in, I glanced back over my shoulder to the store exit. The elderly lady who had been behind me in line was walking out of the store with a beaming smile, her small bag in hand. I knew the smile that brightened her face was because of Ashlee. In less than 10 minutes, Ashlee had touched the lives of 4 women with her positive, kind, and compassionate nature. She had definitely changed the mood of everyone’s evening. More importantly, she made me realize how frustrated and judgmental I had been toward the 2 women in front of me. I laughed at myself the entire drive home.

I often think of the two women in front of me that day. I wish I had been more patient and kind, perhaps offering them bus fare or a ride home. I am grateful for them. I am grateful for Ashlee. I am grateful for this experience, reminding me the importance of basic kindness and the impact it can have on each person we encounter. Now, when I interact with anyone in line at the store, waiting at the DMV, in the Dr.’s office, etc., I try to remember that no matter how crazy my day may have been, someone is having a struggle that is far worse. A kind smile or gesture just might lift their day a little, just like Ashlee did for me.

Devan is a 40-something single female blogging online as Xsyntrik Nomad (xsyntriknomad.com). Committed to the dream of a simple but adventurous life, she is rarely found in one place for long. Her preferred ‘home’ is a converted van in which she can freely explore every corner of the country, with her two feline companions in tow. Devan is a positive living enthusiast who strives above all else to live a happy, kind, and inspired life. She hopes to motivate others through her writing and by sharing her journey.

October 2016 Spending Report

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Once again, I must apologize for waiting so late in the month to post this report. November has really gotten away from me, and the spending reports have really been bringing me down. I know October will turn out to be a particularly expensive month, since I went on a little visit to San Francisco and paid for a lot of restaurant food. Several of the places I bought food didn’t hand me a receipt, so I’m not positive I included all expenses this month, but I think I did.

If you are interested in how this spending report project came about, you can read this post: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/12/31/spending/. If you want to see spending reports from previous months, type “spending report” into the search bar.

10-1 through 10-2-16 I was still on the mountain with nothing to buy. Nothing spent

10-3-16 Today I went to civilization for my days off. Total spent: $251.13

$2.17 to Taco Bell for breakfast

$100 for debt repayment

70 cents for money order

$18.31 to Wal-Mart for supplies

$6.33 for groceries

$9.99 for glucosamine

$16.26 to the sporting goods store for a new Luci Light

$68.11 for gasoline

$19.51 to AutoZone for new windshield wipers

$9.75 to Panera for lunch and internet accesss

10-4-16 I picked up a few things before I went back up the mountain. Total spent: $37.83

$2.05 to Panera for coffee and internet accesss

$6.02 to Little Caesar’s for a pizza

$1.19 to Dollar Tree for 2.5 liter bottle to use with my Simple Shower

$28.57 for groceries

10-5-16 I was back on the mountain with nothing to buy. Nothing spent

10-6-16 The autopayment for my phone went through. Total spent: $34.99

10-7 through 10-9-16 I was on the mountain working, with nothing to buy. Nothing spent

10-10-16 Today I was in civilization for the days off before my last week of work. Total spent: $9.99

$3.28 to Panera for a bagel and a drink and internet access

$6.71 for groceries

10-11-16 Today I ran errands before going back up the mountain for my last week of work. Total spent: $70.35

$6.27 to Panera for coffee and breakfast and internet access

$15.02 for groceries

$1.49  for ice

$47.57 for gasoline

10-12 through 10-16-17 I was on the mountain for my last week of work with nothing to buy. Nothing Spent

10-17-16 Today I left the mountain at the end of the season. Hello civilization. Total spent: $23.51

$3.01 breakfast/lunch at Taco Bell

$20.50 gas

10-18-16 Today I visited California friends. Total spent: $15.21

$2.88 for lunch from the supermarket

$12.33 for dessert and tip (My friend bought dinner, so I treated for dessert.)

10-19-16 Today I started my visit in San Francisco. Total spent: $24.60

$7.10 for public transit

$17.50 for gasoline

10-20-16 Today I ate lunch, walked around the Mission District, and bought some cute clothes for my friend’s kids at a thrift store. Total spent: $14.21

$8.50 for lunch and tip

$5.71 for kid clothes

10-21-16 Today I did more walking in the Mission District. I ate lunch and bought a couple of little things. Total spent: $12.30

$1 for a used book by one of my favorite authors. (I read it in about 15 minutes and decided I didn’t want to keep it. I think I wasted the dollar.)

$1.30 for cookies from a Mexican bakery

$10 for lunch and tip

10-22-16 I spent most of the day in a great library, working on my blog and otherwise using the internet. In between working at the library, I had to eat. Total spent: $19

$10.50 breakfast and tip

$8.50 dinner and tip

10-23-16 Today, I only spent money on breakfast. My friend treated me to the opera and dinner! Total spent: $10

10-24-16 Today I left the Bay Area and headed to my house sitting gig. Total spent: $38.45

$8 for breakfast

$4.30 for public transit

$26.15 for groceries

10-25 through 10-28-16 I’ve been staying in the house with the dogs, working on my book. Nothing spent

10-29-16 I went to the grocery store today. Total spent: $10.57

10-30 through 10-31-16 More staying home and working on the book. Nothing spent

Total spent for the month: $572.14

 

 

 

(Guest Post) Cows & Boy Scouts

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Thank you to Blaize for allowing me to guest blog for her today.  We met Blaize while camp hosting in Sequoia National Forest this summer.  We (Jeremy & I and our 2 dogs Dakota & Crosby) traveled from Ohio to California and now are staying in Taos New Mexico.  We live in a converted school bus and are enjoying our traveling adventures!  I do not currently have a blog but I do write and the following is something from our stay in the Coconino National Forest near Flagstaff AZ. We camped there almost 2 weeks and most days we had a huge area all to ourselves…but not this day.

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Tent pitched too close to the author’s bus, viewed through the windshield.

I woke early.  The first up actually.  Don’t gasp!  It happens, regularly even since being on the road. I think I am still operating on Ohio time, or perhaps I’m more in tune out here.  Getting up closer to sunrise, going to bed early…not too long after dark. That, however, is beside the point. As I said I woke early. Usually I have my coffee and sit on our front porch, aka driver seat of the bus, and enjoy my three-sided view of the forest, scanning for wildlife in the growing morning light.  Not this morning.  This morning I have woken to the multitudes of squealing children. “Boy Scouts, why’d it have to be Boy Scouts?” I mutter in the spirit of Indiana Jones. I roll over. It appears we have been invaded by a family troop excursion.  Dozens of tents and pick-up trucks now dot my view. One in particular has set up their tent not 50 ft from the front of our bus.  Seriously? There are acres and acres of open space here.  He has set up closer to our bus than to his own group.  Camping etiquette folks: Give a camper their space!

The group arrived yesterday while we were doing “town” stuff.  I almost wish we had been here when they arrived.  Surely the barking of my dogs would’ve encouraged a respectful distance.  Maybe Crosby will pee on their tent which has so obviously been placed within his territory.  Actually that prospect is pretty likely. The thought makes me smile and consider letting him out and maybe not watching him too close for a minute.  A wave of guilt passes over me and then quickly recedes as a pack of wildings run squealing through our camp.  Boy Scouts always conjure up images of Lord of the Flies for me.  It’s unsettling.  In the woods they are downright frightening.  I’d rather camp next to a pack of wild coyotes than in the midst of a group of Boy Scouts.

Suddenly an angry low of a cow cuts through my thoughts and the melee of the boys.  If you don’t think a cow can sound angry you’ve not spent time around wild forest cows.  Out west cows roam everywhere, especially on National Forest land.  Around any given corner you can encounter a cow standing in the middle of the road.  Many of which have large horns…and attitude.  This one sounded very angry.  Not the gentle moo of a cow contentedly chomping grass, but an almost roar.  Think bear growl crossed with a moo.  This cow was seriously pissed.

Rounds of squealing Boy Scout ruckus followed the bellow, and then more angry moos.  I can visualize the wild pack of boys harassing the cow.  I can hear the cow getting angrier and angrier.  Oh this is going to end badly.  More squealing, more angry moos.  Suddenly a whistle blows long and hard.  Still squealing and angry moos continue.  Another whistle blow and the squealing abates.  Another angry moo or two.  Evidently an adult has finally stepped up to control the situation.  The whistle serving as a sort of code to call in the wildings. A dark side of me is disappointed.  The karma of a cow trampling through their camp seems almost appropriate. There are a few moments of silence and then the ruckus begins again, without angry moos. The cow must have moved on, probably as perturbed by her unexpected visitors as I am.

I pour my coffee and remind myself that the forest belongs to us all. Wildings, cows and buslife hippies alike.

Later that afternoon I breathe a sigh of relief…they are packing up.  Just a one night trip.  We have our peaceful forest back, the cows are pleased.

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The author took the photos in this post.