Mendocino Nat’l Forest: Lake Visitors!

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It’s nice to have some company!

The solitude of an empty campgrounds ended yesterday when two parties arrived.

Nick and Sue, who had moved into my campsite while I was in town getting some gas—and some fire sticks (see previous post)—and a group of five old friends who had pledged to go road tripping every two months (this was their first one).

And Nick (marketing), Marco (corporate consultant), Alonso (restauranteur), Madelyn (naturalist/arborist transplant from Arkansas) and “the quiet one,” Ino (unknown), who napped throughout the evening, were all spirited—and educated—people.

The former, a young couple from San Francisco, were unaware of the way you post your claim check on the site number marker, marking it as “your spot.” I wasn’t angry; there were plenty of other sites nearby I could easily move to—and Nick had managed to get my fire started (I was somewhat humbled there)!

But, they apologized profusely and quickly moved their car and tent to a site just across the road.

Campsite returned!

Then, I noticed all of the wood I had myself salvaged from the entire campgrounds the day before, was gone! “Did you, by any chance, cannibalize my wood thinking I wouldn’t return?” I asked Madelyn as she walked by me heading to the potty (sorry, Madelyn; girls go too!).

“Oh my God, we did!” she replied with a surprising honesty (good-quality human being there).

They had done, after I had left, what I had done, collecting the scraps of campers past. But hey, I got there first!

Wood returned!

After dark, members of her group came over to my fire and invited me to come by their site for some smoky barbecue. Well, an old Texan can’t turn down an offer of smoky barbecue!

And off I went to meet the rest of the party—also from San Francisco—to commune with nature, shiver as a group and have involved, esoteric discussions on politics, patriotism, immigration (Alonso was a proud Mexican), friendships and road trips—all of which hold great interest to me.

I lucked out meeting them.

This group was well meshed but, welcoming to an old but, new face. I totally appreciate them extending the hand of friendship after spending almost two weeks without any human contact—save the lady at the General Store some 19 miles away.

They, too, were the fire experts I am not and I enjoyed the warmth of their campfire—made with their wood—some great old-fashioned conversation, and the affection of several dogs for the evening (I love dogs!).

All in their twenties and all of them thoughtful, intelligent, well-spoken and both fascinating and hilarious, their own identities were well-established and entirely positive in their personal respect for each other (even the light ribbing they exchanged between themselves was harmless).

Like many Americans, I have lately been bothered by the recent virulent and vitriolic election campaign. So much so, I have avoided talking about it entirely. But, these folks showed me we are going to be okay—and I needed that right now.

Thank you, my new friends.

Faith in humanity returned!

The group had carefully considered most facets of life in these United States that I would not think of importance to the younger generation (I am more than twice their ages). But, I was sorely mistaken in thinking this generation isn’t interested in such matters!

They care—a lot.

And although they spent the afternoon with several rifles target shooting and canoeing, these self-described “Democrats” were, in my eyes, the opposition firmly planted as middle-of-the-road moderates—and from that den of iniquity, too, the Bay area! Who woulda thunk it possible?

Lessons in Life.

Fellow old people, they are not the problem the country has today; we are!

I handed out my “TheMinivanExporer” business cards—I hope they keep in touch. I would love to see and talk with all of them again.

You know, there’s something different about the folks from northern California when compared to those of us in southern Cali. It’s difficult to describe; I might get in trouble for putting it this way but, it has something to do with “sophistication” versus “superficiality.”

As an example, my very first date in SoCal was more interested in what I did for a living (“television producer” is a big winner there!), what kind of car I drive (yeah, sports car) and where I lived, Marina del Rey (Bingo!). That relationship didn’t last very long—I really need brains!

Brainy is sexy.

Pheasants walk funny!

I saw dozens of pheasant walking down the road on the way back from the store.

Ohh, they looked delicious!

And on that same road—which does have numerous “Watch For Falling Rocks” signs—now that I’m familiar with the territory I regularly traverse in search of that ever-elusive data connection—I have noted some new rock falls that weren’t there yesterday!

This photo shows this road really does rock—as well as dip and weave—and I’m glad I wasn’t passing by that very spot when it fell!

“Minivan crushed by falling rock—San Diego driver killed! The story at 11.”

More fire!

I will share with you the initial reason and motivating factor of me becoming a journalist so many years ago: it was fires and firetrucks!

News people get to cross the yellow tape and talk with the Captain at the MCC (Mobile Command Center), usually a large carryall like a Yukon, Tahoe or similar vehicle (red, of course!) and hang around “the action.” I would report from the scene of a large fire (four or five alarms) and then head back to the newsroom just reeking of smoke.

I loved it: the fire, the military-like coordination—and bravery—of firefighters, the experience, the aftermath of smoke-filled clothing….

Only a few times did I personally witness the human tragedy that often accompanies house fires (I will spare you the sordid details on those). But, a controlled fire, such as that of a campfire, makes me feel warm and toasty inside—and not just temperature-wise.

I look forward to starting another fire tonight, this time using the “firestick” I purchased at the Stonyford General Store for a buck-fifty. Well worth the cost to not only start my own fire but, to assuage my own embarrassment from being such a poor Boy Scout just one day before!

One more night at Lett’s Lake and I’m BOTR (back on the road) in search of water, gas, coffee, food (maybe an In-N-Out burger!), paper towels—and a new destination. So, for now—because of falling rocks and concerned youth—keep looking up!

Happy trails my friends!

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