Monthly Archives: June 2015

Grow Up


I went to clean the fire ring on site #6 after the campers left.

In addition to a fire ring, each campsite has a sort of raised grill made from concrete and heavy bars of metal.

On the concrete of the grill on site #6, someone had used a bit of burnt, blackened wood to draw a penis (complete with testicles). I was so mad!

The campers who’d just stayed there were in their late teens or early 20s, but drawing male genitalia in a public space is very immature behavior.

And now I had to clean it up.

Actually, cleaning it wasn’t all that difficult. I sprayed toilet cleaner on it three times (ok, that might have been overkill), then splashed on some water, and the unwanted penis melted away.

Later my co-worker came over to get some information on these very same campers. I’d been on my day off when the campers arrived, so my co-worker had checked them in. She’d forgotten to put some information on the permit and wanted to get it from my reservation sheet.

I told her what they’d done, and we shared some can you believe these people commiseration.

Then I saw on the permit that she’d written the street address of the person who’d made the reservation.

I should write them a letter, I fumed. Ultimately, I decided I’d probably get in trouble for writing them a letter. It’s probably not in my job description to chastise campers for leaving easily washed off graffiti.

But if I had written a letter, this is what I’d have said:

Dear Campers of Site #6,

I found the penis drawing you left on your campsite. Ha. Ha. It was so not funny. What are you, eleven years old? You all appeared to be adults, but at least one of you has the mentality of a naughty child.

Did you think you were going to shock me? You know, I’ve seen drawings of penises before. I’ve seen photographs too. I’ve even seen penises in real life! I was not shocked.

But I was mad! Didn’t you think someone would have to clean off your drawing? Even if I didn’t care about a penis drawn on a campsite (and honestly, I’m not even scandalized), my boss wouldn’t let me leave it there. So even though it wasn’t difficult for me to clean, you were childish to leave a mess you know someone else would have to deal with.

Did you come to the woods to draw penis graffiti? Couldn’t you have done that in the city and saved yourselves some time and gasoline?

I’ve got two words for you, site #6 campers. Grow. Up.


Your Camp Host

(My biggest regret is that I didn’t take a photo of that penis drawing before I washed it away.)

Smokey Bear



I got this Smokey Bear bandana at a small-town thrift store for only $1! It was still in the plastic packaging.
(The same bandana is going for $3.99 and up on Ebay:

My friend Madame Chile had a Smokey Bear bandana. I can’t remember if it was just like this one. In any case, I coveted it. Now I can sin no more because I have my own Smokey Bear bandana.

These following two photos show the other words on the bandana, as well as the little campfire graphic:

IMG_2976     IMG_2978

Here’s some history of Smokey Bear, according to

Smokey Bear was born on August 9, 1944, when the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council agreed that a fictional bear named Smokey would be the symbol for their joint effort to promote forest fire prevention.

Artist Albert Staehle was asked to paint the first poster of Smokey Bear. It depicted a bear pouring a bucket of water on a campfire and saying “Care will prevent 9 out of 10 fires.” Smokey Bear soon became very popular as his image appeared on a variety of forest fire prevention materials. In 1947, his slogan became the familiar “Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires!”

Then in the spring of 1950, in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico, a young bear cub found himself caught in a burning forest. He took refuge in a tree, and while managing to stay alive was left badly burned. The firefighters who retrieved him were so moved by his bravery, they named him Smokey.

News about this real bear named Smokey spread across the Nation, and he was soon given a new home at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. The living symbol of Smokey Bear, he played an important role in spreading messages of wildfire prevention and forest conservation. Smokey died in 1976 and was returned to Capitan, New Mexico, where he is buried in the State Historical Park.


Working Conditions


These are two signs hanging in my campground:

IMG_3043     IMG_3051

How’s that for workplace safety awareness?

My favorite part of the plague warning sign is #1 below.


How exactly should I avoid animal fleas (other than by not camping, resting, or sleeping near animal burrow)? Should I buy a human size flea collar and fasten it around my neck? Perhaps a better idea would be two large flea collars, one fastened around each ankle. More importantly, is contracting the plague a work-related accident? Will workers’ comp cover that? How about being mauled by a bear? Will workers’ comp cover that?

If I had a shop steward to turn to, you can bet I would be asking these questions.

Happy Birthday, Emma Goldman!


Today is the anniversary of the birth of Emma Goldman. She was born in 1869 in Kaunas, Lithuania.

Emma Goldman was an anarchist, a midwife, a proponent of birth control, an advocate for free love, an antiwar activist, and a public speaker. She was a badass and a hellraiser. In honor of Emma, let’s all try to be a little bit more like her, at least for today.

 Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

What Kind of…



Questions: What kind of a person thinks it’s a good idea to carve initials into a giant sequoia? Who looks at one of the oldest living creatures on earth ( and thinks it makes sense to carve initials into it?

Answer: An idiot.

I hope no one ever looks at the grandmother of the person who did this and decides to carve initials into her forehead.



I wear a rattlesnake skin on my floppy raffia sunhat. My friend Lucky gave it to me. One day Lucking was talking about a rattlesnake that had moved into this homestead. The snake wouldn’t leave, and Lucky didn’t feel safe letting it stay, so Lucky shot and killed it. He ate the meat and used some of the skin to make cigarette lighter cases for friends. I told him how cool I thought it was that he’d used as much of the snake as possible.

The next time I saw him, he gave me a strip of the skin, and I put it on my hat.

I think the rattlesnake skin on my hat shows I’m tough, says Don’t Fuck With Me. I’m not sure if it’s more important to convey that message to other people or if it’s more important to remind myself.


I took this photo of the snakeskin on my hat. The Grateful Dead dancing bear pin is the one referred to at the end of the post We Feel for Your Situation (







Hierarchy of Homelessness


A couple of years ago, I spent the winter in Austin, Texas. One night I was downtown, on Congress Avenue, waiting for a bus. I was approached by a friendly young African American man who soon asked me where I was headed. I told him I was going to South Austin. His questioning quickly turned to whether or not I had a husband or kids. I told him I had neither, while realizing that he was being more than friendly. I didn’t get the idea that he particularly liked me or wanted to go home with me, just that he wanted to go home with somebody, the home being more important than the somebody.

I told him that I was staying with friends and I couldn’t really bring home company. (I wasn’t at all interested in the guy, but I’ve never been very good at rejecting unwanted suitors.)

Then he told me that he lived in a tent down by the river. He explained that it was very comfortable, with an air mattress and  lots of blankets. He talked quite a bit about the comfort of his tent. (Perhaps he had decided that if he couldn’t get a home for the night, he would settle for a somebody.)

He also told me that he’d been dating a woman, but it hadn’t worked out. He told me that when he dated someone, he didn’t like to act like they were homeless, he just wanted to act normal, do normal things like go out for dinner.

I told him that I understood, that I’d been homeless, that I lived in my van when I wasn’t visiting friends. Then I commented that I had lived under bridges before.

The man physically recoiled and immediately began protesting that he had never lived under no bridge. The idea of me having lived under a bridge (which is true, by the way) seemed to truly repulse him.

I guess that was his hierarchy of homelessness: those who sleep in tents next to the river are above those who sleep under the bridge.

Guess What I Did…


Guess what I did this morning before breakfast.

Go on, guess.

Ok, I’ll tell you.

This morning before breakfast, I cleaned human feces off restroom walls.

Unless you are extremely squeamish, go ahead and keep reading. I won’t get too graphic, and there are no photos. It’s really not that big of a deal, except it was my first time, and you know, the first time’s always special.

It was before 6:30 this morning when I went to clean the restrooms. It should have just been a sweep and hang (the “hang” referring to adding full rolls of toilet paper to the holder), but when I lifted the lid of the first toilet, I found evidence that someone had experienced some gastrointestinal distress in the night. Bummer. I was going to have to do a little more work than I’d expected, but no huge big deal.

So I swept the floor and put out a new roll of toilet paper. Then I collected cleaners and hauled a bucket of water from the tank on my campsite. I cleaned everything up and moved on.

One might think a camper would have only one bout of explosive diarrhea in one night. One might think that if a camper had more than one bout of explosive diarrhea in one night, the camper would try to keep the mess contained and stick to using one toilet. One would be wrong.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

When I went into the second restroom, I found signs of gastrointestinal distress on the floor, on the outside of the toilet, on the two walls closest to the toilet. Gag!

But I did my job and cleaned everything all spic and span.

If the person was sick last night, I have sincere sympathy and hope s/he gets better soon.

If the person was drunk, I hope s/he has a hell of a hangover.

Of course, this situation could be karmic retribution for something I (or someone in my party) left behind in a restroom for a camp host to clean up.

My co-worker says I’ve been initiated, and I’m a real camp host now.

(Written June 21, 2015)

It’s World Giraffe Day!


Hey Everybody! It’s World Giraffe Day!


I took this photo of Pilgrim, one of the giraffes at Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde, Arizona.


World Giraffe Day was started by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF)  to celebrate the longest-necked animal on the longest day or night (depending on which hemisphere you live!) of the year – 21 June. It’s an annual event to raise awareness and shed light on the challenges giraffes face.

Did you know that there are less than 80,000 giraffes in the wild?

To learn more about World Giraffe Day and how you can help giraffes, go here:


I took this photo of Pilgrim waiting for snacks from the people in the safari tram.

(My calendar tells me that today is also Father’s Day and the first day of summer. Shout out to dads and summertime too!)

Hi Jolly Cemetery


Welcome sign in Quartzsite, Arizona. Why are there camels on it?

Did you know there were once camels in Arizona? I didn’t know until I spent some time in Quartzsite.

According to Roadside America,

In 1856, Secretary of War Jefferson Davis  had a novel idea: transporting freight and people across the desert Southwest on camels. He eventually imported over 70 of the beasts. Along with the first batch came a Syrian caretaker, Hadji Ali. His American masters called him Hi Jolly.

The locals were so fond of him that, after he died, they spent several weeks building Hi Jolly a special pyramid tomb, made of multicolored petrified wood and quartz. It was dedicated on Jan. 4, 1903.

On my way to California, I stopped in Quartzsite and visited the Hi Jolly cemetery again. This time it wasn’t so hot, so I stayed longer. Also, this time I had a functioning camera, so I took some photos.
This is Hi Jolly's tomb.

This is Hi Jolly’s tomb.



Hi Jolly is not the only person buried in this cemetery. Many of the graves are very old, the final resting place of many Quartzsite pioneers. During my first visit I picked up a booklet with a map of the graveyard. The booklet (found in a nearby informational kiosk) also offers biographical information about many of the people buried in the cemetery. One day I hope to go back to the cemetery when I have a lot of time and a hat and a bottle of water and the booklet so I can read about the old-timers buried there.


Many of the graves in the cemetery are decorated with local stones.

Many of the graves in the cemetery are decorated with local stones.

I think that's petrified wood all around the tomb stone.

I think that’s petrified wood all around the  headstone.


What a wonderful inscription! “A wise and loyal friend.” I hope I am remembered that way.


I don’t know the story behind this one.

This is one of the old grave sites.

This is one of the old grave sites.

I'd never seen a grave with a head stone and a foot stone.

I’d never seen a grave with a headstone and a footstone.


I think this plaque set in the ground is related to the cemetery being on the National Register of Historic Places.

Also according to, to get to Hi Jolly Cemetery from
I-10 exit 17. North side, about a half-mile east on Business 10/W. Main St. Turn north at the Hi Jolly Tomb sign and drive through the flea market to get to the town cemetery and the monument.
I took all of the photos in this post.