Pack It In, Pack It Out


It was the Friday after Labor Day, and business was slow in the parking lot. My coworker had gone, and I was sitting in my chair, working on a scarf. A Forest Service Crew was on the trail felling hazard trees, and only a few visitors were parked in the lot.

I heard a vehicle coming down the road, and when I looked up, I saw it was a Forest Service SUV marked “Law Enforcement” on the side. I thought the vehicle might hold the two L-E-Os who’d pulled me over to hassle me about the cracks in my windshield, so I was glad to see it pass the parking lot’s gate.

The driver must not have gone far before turning around, because I don’t think three minutes passed before the SUV was pulling into the parking lot. I decided I wasn’t getting out of my chair to chitchat with tree cops. The SUV came in the wrong way on the one-way loop and stopped near me. At that point I got up after all to find out why the L-E-O was there.

As I approached the SUV, I looked into the open passenger side window and saw an L-E-O I’d never seen before. This guy was young too, whiskerless, blond, slight, and almost too clean and pretty to be a cop, even in a forest.

He looked at me and said, I’m here for the urn.

Surely that’s not what he said, I thought as I looked at him blankly.

I’m here for the urn, he said again. The human remains? I got a call about an urn found on the trail.

I continued to look at him blankly, and he asked, You didn’t hear about it?

I told him I hadn’t heard about it, and the L-E-O said he was surprised. I told him the Forest Service crew working on the trail had probably found the urn and used a walkie-talkie to call in and hadn’t bothered to tell me. (The Forest Service is responsible for the trail and the company I work for is responsible for the parking lot, so I understand why someone from the work crew didn’t come over and tell me about the urn.)

The L-E-O said he had to go out on the trail to retrieve the urn.

By that time, I had the giggles and put my hand over my mouth in hopes of keeping my inappropriate laughter inside. How could someone forget an urn full of human remains on an interpretive trail in a National Forest? This situation sounded like the premise of a slapstick comedy.

What are you going to do with it?  I asked. I don’t normally converse freely with cops of any sort, but I was fascinated by the abandoned urn.

Keep it in the office until someone calls to say they forgot Grandpa, was his response.

I had to cover my mouth again in an attempt to keep in my giggles.

I guess the urn’s in a Crown Royal bag, the L-E-O told me. Grandma must have had a drink…

A Crown Royal bag? That was too much! A hand over my mouth was not hiding my laughter.

The L-E-O parked the SUV and headed out on the trail. He was gone a good 40 minutes before returning to the parking lot holding a purple bag. It wasn’t a Crown Royal bag after all; this bag was purple, but bigger and made from fake velvet. He didn’t show me the urn, but told me it was a case of dumping.

Dumping? I asked, confused again.

He’d opened the urn, he told me, and it was empty. Whoever had brought the urn on the trail must have scattered the ashes, then abandoned the urn and the bag that held it.

Pack it in, pack it out! I exclaimed.

Yes, the L-E-O agreed, even in the case of Grandpa’s ashes, people need to take their trash out with them.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now I have a little travel trailer parked in a small RV park in a small desert town. I also have a minivan to travel in. When it gets too hot for me in my desert, I get in my minivan and move up in elevation to find cooler temperatures or I house sit in town in a place with air conditioning I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

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