Tag Archives: water

Dog Water

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One of my coworkers at the mercantile is exceedingly nice. She answers every question in great detail and baby talks to every infant who enters the store. She also really loves dogs.

On one of the first days the mercantile was open, a tourist came in with a little pug dog on a leash. The little dog had just walked the trail with the tourist and was obviously hot and tired. My uber-nice coworker began exclaiming over the cuteness of the little dog and sweet talking to it. She somehow determined the dog was thirsty, which was maybe obvious by the way he was panting and dragging his tired little doggie ass.

I don’t know if the tourist said he didn’t have a bowl and/or water to give the doggie a drink, or if my coworker thought the dog needed water right now, but watering the dog became a situation. The coworker pulled a blue enamel mixing bowl from the camping supplies shelf and filled it with water from the gallon jug we workers had been using to fill our bottles.

The dog lapped up the water greedily, and the tourist seemed appreciative, but as far as I was concerned, the coworker had gone above and beyond her line of duty. It was nice of her to help a person unprepared to provide water for his dog, but I‘m sure it was the thirsty little critter she cared most about.

The coworker paid for the blue enamel mixing bowl, ant it became the official dog water bowl. Every day she comes into the mercantile, the coworker fills the bowl with water she brings from home. She even made a sign that says “Water for your dog.” The sign has a picture of her own dog on it. She sets the sign on a small easel and places it near the bowl.

It was hot one afternoon when a tourist came into the mercantile asking about water. One of us explained we hadn’t yet received the permit to sell food and beverages, so we had no water for purchase.

Where do you get the water for the dog bowl? the tourist demanded.

I fill it from my own personal bottle, the coworker told him while holding up her water jug.

Do you have any that’s cooler? the tourist asked. The water out there is really hot, and my dog’s spoiled. He wants cooler water.

I thought surely the man was joking, but the coworker dutifully trotted outside with her jug so she could put cooler water in the bowl. Presumably there was a pampered poach out there who appreciated her dedication to dogs while lapping up the cooler water.

I was surprised by the man’s nerve (although by now, nothing should surprise me). I believe if someone does a kindness—like putting water out for dogs—people should appreciate what’s offered, not ask for an upgrade. Also, if I had a prissy dog who wouldn’t drink warm water, I’d have enough water in the cooler to take care of all humans in my party and the prissy dog too. Mostly, I’m of the mind that any creature thirsty enough will drink the water provided, even if it’s warm.

Unprepared

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A Boy Scout walked into the mercantile.

I know it sounds like a joke, but that’s how it happened. It was a busy Saturday at the trail, complete with Boy Scout troops who’d just finished a week at t their nearby camp and were stopping to see the giant sequoias on their way home. Young men between the ages of 12 and 15, most wearing their uniforms in sloppy, disheveled ways, had been in and out of the mercantile all day. None of them had made a purchase.

The Boy Scout in question burst through the screen door and demanded, Do you have any water? Where’s the water?

Scouting clip artHe was 12 or 13 and had hair made greasy by heat and hormones. He wore glasses and had not taken great care when he put on his uniform. He looked rumpled and agitated.

I’m sorry. We don’t have any water, I told him

I told him the truth. The store had only been open for two weeks and the company hadn’t yet been issued the proper permits to allow us to sell food and beverages. The twelve baskets for snacks and the two coolers for beverages were empty.

You don’t have water? he said with rising concern as he ventured further into the store and checked out the coolers for himself.

I’m dying of thirst! he said with teenage theatrics.

You’re a Boy Scout, I said. Aren’t you supposed to always be prepared?

Obviously, I didn’t think this kid was literally dying of thirst.

We’ve been at camp all week, he told me. We ran out of water.

Was it possible the adults in the group were letting the kids run around in the heat with no water to drink? Did the boy mean his troop was out of cold water? No matter what was really going on, I had no water to offer him.

As the Scout walked toward the door to leave, The Man said to him, You could do what Bear Grylls does and drink your own urine.

I will never do that, the Boy Scout declared as he walked out the door.

I guess he wasn’t dying of thirst after all.

Image from http://www.picgifs.com/clip-art/scouting/clip-art-scouting-642687-690771/.

The Water Knife (A Book Review)

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The Water Knife
I first heard of the novel The Water Knife (set in the American Southwest, primarily in Phoenix, AZ from a blurb in Sunset magazine (http://www.sunset.com/). The description intrigued me, and I wanted to read the book. Thanks to a kind BookMooch (http://bookmooch.com/) member, I had my chance.

In author Paolo Bacigalupi’s Phoenix, water is precious and scarce, and society is divided according to who has it and who doesn’t. The rich have water, of course, The rich live in lavish “arcologies” where all waste water is sceientifically filtered clean and reused. The rich have plenty of water to drink, can bathe whenever they want, have their clothes cleaned regularly, and even use flush toilets. The poor have limited water resources. The poor live in squats built from salvaged materials or abandoned houses; neither type of housing has running water. The poor buy their water one gallon at a time from pumps with fluctuating prices. The poor are dusty dirty because they can rarely shower or wash their clothes. Needless to say, there are no flush toilets for the Phoenix poor.

Not every place in this distopia Southwest has the water problems Phoenix does. Things are much worse in Texas, and refugees have poured into Arizona via New Mexico. The good people of New Mexico wanted nothing to do with Texas regugees and sent them on their way, sometimes violently. Life isn’t so hard in California and Nevada, and those states want to keep it that way by limiting who crosses their borders to use their limited resources. In this world, coyotes still guide people across borders, but the borders crossed are into states with water.

The most important thing in this world are water rights, and the water knife of the title makes sure his boss gets the water rights she needs to stay wealthy and priviliged.

There’s a lot of dark action in this book: shooting, torture, murder, death. Young women (called “bangbang girls,” usually Texans) sell their bodies for money and, hopefully, the chance to wash their panties in the sink while the rich man sleeps. A man who controls a neighborhood and demands a percentage of the money the area residents earn uses hyenas as part of his enforcement plan. Dams are blown up and precious water is diverted. People are tortured for answers. This book is so dark, in fact, that I put it aside for four months after reading the first nine chapters. The book was good, but it had me on edge, knowing all the characters were facing terrible fates. When I picked it up the second time, I must have been in a better state of mind, because I was able to enjoy the story without letting the violence get to me.

The action of the novel just keeps coming. I enjoyed the suspense of not knowing what would happen next or who would doublecross whom. I did, however, figure out the story’s key mystery long before the characters did. (Of course, I had a big picture view the characters were lacking.)

I also enjoyed the characters. I was pleased to see two of the three main characters through whose eyes the story is told are women. The women aren’t damsels-in-distress women either, but strong, ass-kicking, gonna do what has to be done women. Even though the book is primarily an action/adventure/mystery story, there is also character development, which I appreciated.

The social problems the book examines are not easy to look at. What happenes when modern life as we know it breaks down? What happens when one of humankind’s most basic, most necessary resources becomes so scare people are willing to kill for it? What happens when the environment changes to the point people may no longer be able to survive on the surface of the earth? The Water Knife raises these questions and offers only bleak answers.

Still, I’m glad I read this novel. It was difficult to get through some parts of it, but those hard parts really made the story ring true. It’s a good book, but maybe not for readers who can’t handle the dark side of humanity.

Sanctuary

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The water tumbles over and off the rocks.

I took all the photos in this post.

Headwaters of the Sacramento

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Mr. Carolina and I bonded over water.

The first thing he and I did together was fill water bottles from the five gallon jug in my van. (You can read about how exactly I met Mr. Carolina here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/12/19/how-i-met-mr-carolina-and-the-boys/.) During our travels with other folks, he and I seemed to be the only ones who’d remember to fill the big water jug so everyone could stay hydrated. When I found out Mr. Carolina’s birthday is January 22, I got a kick out of the fact that we were both born under the sign of Aquarius–the water bearer–and we were the ones who thought about getting enough water so everyone could drink.

Mr. Carolina was picky about the water he drank. He wasn’t very enthusiastic about the water we encountered in Arizona, and once at a New Mexico rest area, he refused to fill the big jug because he said the water there was crap. He kept talking about the headwaters of the Sacramento River in the town of Mt. Shasta, California. Now that, he maintained, was water.

I didn’t get it. Wasn’t water, water? Wasn’t any water just about as good as any other water? Sure, some water might not taste great, but everything Mr. Carolina complained about tasted good enough to me.

After a couple of days in Las Vegas (read a little about that trip here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/11/20/the-other-las-vegas/), and dropping off Robbie and Sweet L at the Los Angeles airport and going on a mission to Laytonville, CA and running out of gas in Redding (read about that adventure here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/13/broke-down-in-redding-california/), Mr. Carolina and I headed north to Mt. Shasta.

(Sidenote: Mt. Shasta is a mountain. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Shasta,

Mount Shasta (Karuk: Úytaahkoo or “White Mountain”)[5][6] is a potentially active volcano located at the southern end of the Cascade Range in Siskiyou County, California. At an elevation of 14,179 feet (4321.8 m), it is the second highest peak in the Cascades and the fifth highest in California.

A small town near the mountain is also called Mt. Shasta. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Shasta,_California,

Mount Shasta is a city in Siskiyou County, California, at about 3,600 feet (1,100 m) above sea level on the flanks of Mount Shasta, a prominent northern California landmark. The city is less than 9 miles (14 km) southwest of the summit of its namesake volcano. As of the 2010 Census the city had a population of 3,394…)

I was glad when Mr. Carolina said he would take me to see Mt. Shasta and drink from the headwaters he’d talked so much about. I felt as if I were on some kind of spiritual journey. I needed to see that mountain, if only from a distance. (It was the end of October, and there was already snow on top of the mountain. No way was it a good idea to take the van up there. But I was happy to see the mountain even if wasn’t walking on it.) I needed to taste that water Mr. Carolina had been raving about.

When we got to Mt. Shasta the town, Mr. Carolina drove us directly to the headwaters. According to http://www.exploringnorcal.com/2011/07/sacramento-river-headwaters-mt-shasta.html,

The headwaters of the Upper Sacramento River are located at the base of Spring Hill in the Mt. Shasta City Park. You can park within about 200′ of the spring.

The website of Mt. Shasta Recreation & Parks District (http://msrec.org/) says the

26 acre Mt. Shasta City Park [is located] one mile north of downtown Mt. Shasta City…

Mt. Shasta City Park is the site for the Headwaters of California’s powerful Sacramento River.  Even in the driest years, clear, icy water rushes from the hillside feeding a picturesque pond area.

As soon as Mr. Carolina stopped the van in the parking area, we jumped out with containers.

The headwaters were as Mr. Carolina had described: water came of rock (I can no longer remember if it was a trickle or a gush), then filled a pool which became the river. We (and the other people there) stepped on large stones to collect to collect water as close as possible to the source. (I wouldn’t want to collect water downstream from where people were walking in the pool.) We collected our water and stepped back onto dry ground.

I tipped the jug to my lips and took the water into my mouth. WOW! WATER! This water was the most watery water I had ever drunk. This water was nothing but water. Or maybe it was more than water. All I know is that this was absolutely cold and absolutely delicious and absolutely refreshing and absolutely water. WOW! WATER!

Mr. Carolina was right. This water was the very best water I had ever tasted. It was possibly the very best water in the whole world. It was the only water I ever wanted to drink for the rest of my life.

I miss that water almost as much as I miss Mr. Carolina.

 

 

Water

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There’s no running water in my campground. There’s no water at the trail head parking lot. There’s no running water at the campground next to the parking lot or at the campground twenty miles up the road. There’s not water on this mountain.

I buy my own drinking water when I go to civilization; I pay thirty cents a gallon from a dispenser in front of a grocery store. There’s a big tank of water on my campsite. The company I work for trucks in that water from campgrounds along the river. It’s safe to drink and I am allowed to drink it, but I don’t like the taste, so I only use it for cleaning and putting out campfires.

Tourists are often shocked when I say there’s no water on the mountain.

Many campers aren’t too surprised that there is no water at the campground. It’s not so uncommon for a remote campground to have no potable water. However, almost everyone who visits or stays at my campground wants to know about the tank.What’s in it? I tell them it’s water for cleaning toilets and putting out fires. Then they want to know if they can use some, even just to wash their hands. I have to tell them no. It’s a complicated legal situation when water is provided to the general public, so I’m not allowed to share. Besides, if I let one group have a little to wash their hands, another group will want some to wash their dishes, and pretty soon I’d have none for cleaning toilets and putting out fires.

People at the trail head often seem flabbergasted when we can’t provide them with water.

One day in the parking lot, a woman and her adult daughter were standing a few feet from me. I overheard part of their conversation.

The mother said to the daughter, something something restroom?

The daughter said, not unless something something.

The mother said, well, I’m sure something something.

The mother looked over at me and asked if we had a water faucet. I said, no ma’am.

She said they just needed to wash their hands.

I said, No ma’am. There’s no water here. There’s no water at the campgrounds in the area.

She looked at me with a confused, pained expression on her face. She clearly did not understand how we could not provide for her liquid needs. She looked at me as if I were speaking in a foreign language. Or lying. Or lying in a foreign language.

One day as I was coming out of the parking lot restroom, a man asked me where the water fountain was. I said we didn’t have one, that there was no water. He asked if there was a faucet where he could fill his water bottle. I told him no, repeated that we had no water in the parking lot. He asked if he could get water at the campground next door. I told him the campground had no water. I told him there was no water on the mountain. He said, interesting, but he didn’t seem to believe me. I think he thought I was lying just to be rude.

My co-worker told me on a recent weekend morning a woman rode up to the parking lot on a bicycle. He said she looked tired, hot, and thirsty. She asked him for water. He told her there was not water available in the area. She went from car to car asking people for water. Someone finally gave her two bottles.

Sometimes when people ask me where they can get water, I tell them they can drive fifteen miles to the nearest general store and buy drinking water there. The way folks look at me, I know they’re thinking, you’ve got to be kidding.

I get it. Until I started living in the rural Southwest, it never occurred to me that Americans in the 21st century lived without running water. I thought everyone got their water right from the tap. Turns out it doesn’t always work that way. Lots of people have to haul water for drinking and bathing and washing dishes.

Sometimes when tourists ask about water here, I tell them how once there was water on the mountain, but now there’s not. Weird, isn’t it, I ask them, that one day there could be water and the next day nothing?

It’s a concept city people really should think on.