Friday, October 25, 2013

Don't Worry Be Happy!

The above video is a song my sister and I recorded a couple months ago.
I put the music to together with a slideshow from my life, and pictures of me, my sister, my nieces, nephews, and family. Thought I'd share it with you.

 Hope it brightens your day.

Have a great day,
I'll write more when I've got a longer moment.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Super Soggy Camping trip, and the Momma bear!

My nephew keeping the fire dry.


I finally rolled up my sleeves, and decided to smallify some huge pictures I took when my family and I went camping to Cleveland Reservoir at the end of August.  

It's so weird that it's now October? It seems like I was camping just a few weeks ago.
Who sped up the clock, seriously? I think the little people who live under my desk  keep on moving the clock ahead.

Sigh, shiver, burr. I can't believe I'm complaining about the cold. It's been so hot. But this cold is just so cold. Now that the green of summer is slowly fading into yellows, oranges and reds, going through this years camping pictures is making me feel nostalgic. 

I miss summer already.

Albeit, when we were camping it didn't feel like summer. 
It felt like rain---whatever season rain feels like. 

It was our one and only camping trip this year. But we got in a good five days of soggyness, fishing, hiking, and bonding around a sputtering campfire. 

The day we arrived at our camping site, it was later in the afternoon. It was chilly, and a shock to my body because down in the flat lands of the desert, where we live, the temperatures were in the 90's. 
 Despite the cold, our camping spot was beautiful, rugged, hilly, with open glens, and tall trees trees  hemming in the mountains. There was a great big lake, and miles of hills, and trees that looked like prime hiking spots.

Our camping spot had zero tables, zero outhouse, zero running water, and due to the lurking clouds above, there were hardly any brave campers except for ourselves. 
But it did have a fireplace, the only reason why I could figure out why it was a fee area. 
Luckily we got our tents up just as the rain came pouring down. 

And down.

         And Down...
                    And DOWN...
Protection from the rain

My mom and Aunt keeping dry

Rain water

It rained buckets. It rained cats and dogs, and mermaids, and seashells, and oceans, and fishes, and rivers. 

We all huddled under a canopy we put up. But pretty soon water was pooling under the canopy in great rivers. The campfire we had started when we arrived was smoking and threatening to go out, so we took turns holding an umbrella over the fire. 

Then we started digging ditches around our tents, and the canopy, trying to get the water to go elsewhere.

That was pretty much the first day.
We should have built an ark, and invited the beasties in just for company.

All night it rained, pitter, patter, hammering against the tent in torrents, never stopping. I began wishing for my soft warm bed at home.
It was really interesting. 
And cold. 
Why hadn't we payed attention to the weatherman?
I guess we thought that we were above getting rained on. 
Who knows?
Maybe it was because it was the only week we could go camping. So if we didn't go, then we wouldn't have another chance. 
So we chanced the rain.
And we braved it.
That night my sister developed a river on her pillow. 
"Row, row, row your boat," would have been a very appropriate campfire song during the wet that followed. 

If any of us happened to bump the edge of our tent---well let's just say that it just wasn't a good idea. 
The air was moist and dewy.
When we woke up in the morning, our bedding was soggyish, like someone had wet the bed. 
But that someone was mother nature.

Being acclimated to the heat of the country, I had packed tank tops, shorts, and swim gear. How nature deceives us. I should have brought scuba diving equipment so as to swim through the rivers and puddles the storm created.  I soon found out the only useful clothes I brought were my pajama pants, coat, jeans, shoes, and socks. Oh, lovely socks. You can never pack enough of those wonderful accessories when camping, specially when rain is your constant companion. 
In the morning, the ground was covered in worms. Tons, and tons of night crawlers---great big ones. It was a fest of worms. I was sure that if we didn't catch any fish, we could collect enough worms to survive on if need be. Ugg. 

:) The rest of the camping trip was spent surviving, hiking, eating, and fishing as most camping trips include. Oh, yes, and cooking over the fire, trying to start the fire, trying to collect dry logs, which was pretty impossible. I'm sure that people with big campers, and fun toys don't know the joys of camping as we do. Not that I have anything against big RV's. On the contrary. I think them very fine. But when one doesn't have such fine things, one tends to discover very creative ideas how to do things. 

Take for instance the problem of zero outhouses. 
And sleeping on the hard ground. 
Wet abodes. 
How to cook without any picnic tables. That was a tricky one. Had we known that this particular area had no camp tables, we would have brought some of our own. But we didn't, so we made do with various objects, wood, coolers, and such. 
 Oh, and the problem of no running water.  (That was really not so good either) Usually camp areas at least have that. But this spot didn't. In order to get water, we found a ranger who showed us where to drive to get some. So all in all, we were pretty well off. What the campground lacked in comforts, it made up for in beauty. It was a forsaken spot, mostly empty of people, quiet, beautiful, wild, and rugged.

During the day the rainclouds lurked, and hugged the mountains, heavy with rain. They circled the mountain over and over, dripping rain off and on. Then the sun would peak out, only to be hidden by the clouds once more. Thunder would rumble and peter out. Then would begin the cycle of rain poring down in torrents. 

Even through all this,  my mom, brother, nephew, aunt, and her son, did quite a lot of fishing. While me and my sister, Bessie, went hiking. We carried umbrellas, and ponchos just to keep ourselves from becoming as soaked as our shoes were.  In the daytime, the rain wasn't quite as cold, and it felt rather nice. 

My mom

Aunt and nephew

My brother

My sista

My nephew

My bro
 I fished some. But the explorer part of me gets very impatient when fishing. I love watching the reflections of the clouds on the water. I love the stillness. But what I don't like is lacing worms on hooks. 
And I don't like lacing on hooks. Knots have never been my strong point. 
Then there's the stinky fish marshmallows that turn your hands pink. 
And the worst part. 
And more waiting. 
It's a love hate relationship I have with fishing. 
It's always exiting to catch the fish. That's nice.
But during all the waiting, and wondering, and selecting all the different delicacies to lure the fish to the hook, there's this deep fear I have in the back of my mind. 
What if I actually catch the fish?
That's a scary what if. Because it leads to another whole what ifs?
Oh, don't get me wrong. I love the thrill when the fish actually bites. I enjoy the excitement of pulling it in.
That's the fun part.
But then there's the other part. 
The part where you have to get the fish off the hook.
That's when I wonder why? Why do we go on vacation to do so much work?
This is fun.
Uh, huh.
Was the thrill of catching the fish worth it? Was that moment of pleasure worth the cold hands, worth slimy, fishy smelling fingers afterward. 
Worth  the deep empathy I feel for the fish stuck to the end of the hook? The gutting and the cleaning of the fish. 
Those are the parts I don't like.
Oh. Not that I don't enjoy eating the fish. I really love a fried fish. 
But the in-between parts are the worst.
The parts where you get the snags. 
And when I fish, I seem to attract scores of snags. In one sitting alone, I collected too many snags to count. And with each snag I usually lost the hook, and sinkers. 

What a "drag"....:) 
Then there's the interesting objects that these snags catch. 
Sometimes they are quite interesting. My mom, most of all, has caught her share of weird snags. 
One time she came up with fish jaw bone, connected to some really gross fish guts. Another time she caught a bat caught hold of her line. Another time, she brought up a boot. I thought that only in story books do fisherman bring up boots. But now I'm a believer. You're not a real fisherman or woman unless you bring up a boot. 

So saying. I guess I'm not a real fisherwoman.
I haven't yet brought up a boot.
I'm only a halfhearted fisher. While I fish, I get bored. I like to sing to the fish, and so does my sister. And that probably scares the fish away. I also like to draw, and play with words, and look for doodads in the sand. While fishing this time around,  I went through quite a few mad-libs games, that is, until my family got sick of coming up with verbs, nouns, and adjectives. 

This particular trip, I can honestly say, I didn't catch a single fish. And it wasn't because I didn't try. The fish just didn't like me this time. My sister, who's married, bopped by to say hi, and spent a few hours fishing. And in that time she caught about four fish! 

My sista Lauriejo


And me? Well, during the whole five days, I caught snags. But I did get a fish to bite. But it slipped off the hook. 

Good thing I didn't go just for the fishing.  Ah, during the bouts of rain and sun, my sister and I hiked all over the hills, through the woods, and explored the mountains. It was wonderful. The best part of camping. We found beautiful secret places, brooks, meadows, wild things, deer, frogs, wonderful old logs, bent trees, soft, green mosses, wildflowers, and a million different kinds of mushrooms. We even found a huge mushroom bigger than my head!  I found puddles. Beautiful puddles. Depending on what time of day it was, the reflections in these puddles were fascinating.

Posted a whole pile of pictures. Below. 

Oh, and did I mention, we found a bear. 
A really scary-piggysnout sounding sort of bear. 
 We didn't find this bear when we were hiking. We found it in quite a different way. 
We found it while we were sound asleep in our tent. It was in the dead of night. 
My brother was sleeping in his safe warm van far away from our tent. 
But my sister, my mom, and myself were all packed into a soggy tent trying to sleep. 
 The rain had stopped. And all was quiet, and calm. We were tired, and sore from the previous day's adventures, with strange stories of bears and lions swirling round in our heads, planted there from our brother and nephew. 

Yes these forsaken mountains were home to bears and many other wild things. 
But despite that, we were sleeping. We were, that is, sister and myself both became aware of a strange noise outside our tent. The sound grew in volume, getting louder and louder. 

"Did you hear that?" My sister, Bessie breathed. 
I listened hard, my heart catching in my throat. 
"Snuff, gruff, snort, oof, ooof"
The sounds were deep, throaty, frightening. I sat up, my eyes growing wide.  "Oh. It sounds like a piggy."
"Sounds like a bear," Bessie breathed.
I gulped, listening to the snort-like breathing of the creature as it circled round our tent. "It is a bear!" 
We both sat petrified in place listening to the congested snort-like breathing of the bear coming closer, and closer.
"What do we do?" I wondered. 
"I don't know," Bessie moaned. 
"Mom!" I called, shaking my mom awake. "Wake up. There's a bear outside our tent!" 
My mom groaned, and suddenly became alert as we explained the frightening truth. 
The bear was going to eat us. I was sure of it. 
We all listened in silence. 
The bear sounds had gone, leaving behind a terrible silence. 
"I don't hear anything," my mom whispered.
"It's out there," my sister and I said, huddling together in fear. "We heard it. It sound exactly like a bear. Listen harder."
My mom's eyes filled with fear. She huddled with us shaking in our beds. 
I held up my cell phone. "Should I call 911?"
"By the time they got here," my sister explained, "we'd all be dead." 
"Maybe we should wake up Nate?" I offered, "He'll know what to do." 
"I don't know..." my mom whispered. "If there's really something out there we can't get to the van. And if we call out, the bear might hear us." 
We all moaned, and shivered, truly terrified.
I looked longingly at the tent door. "I really need to go to the bathroom."
"Oh dear," my mom breathed. "I don't want you going out there."
"I don't want to go out there either," I agreed. "But I have to go really bad."
"I have a cup," my mom offered. "Pee in that." 
I frowned. "No mom! I'm not going to pee in a cup!" 
Silence followed. 
My eyes grew wide. "Oh," I moaned. "I forgot I have some powerful fruity smelling lotion in my purse. Maybe the bear wants that. Oh, and I think I have a piece of taffy in there from the parade. I forgot about it. Oh dear. I'm sure that's what's the bear's after. I better toss out my purse." 
"Yeah," my mom and sister agreed. "Toss it out." 
I carefully unzipped the tent and tossed my purse out. 
Thump, went my big green purse. 
We all sat there shivering, listening for the sounds of the bear.
"Oh," I moaned. "I left my glasses in my purse. I hope I didn't smash them."  
I was in a very sour mood. My glasses I used mostly for driving, but the thought of them being smashed on account of a bear made me very irritated.  
The snorting sounds had gone. Eventually, we got tired of listening. We settled back in our sleeping bags. But I couldn't sleep. Nope. The bladder has a way of doing that to you. Especially when camping it's like I'm looking for a tree or a bush every hour. It's downright annoying. 
Not that you needed to know that. But it's true.

So there we were, in the tent, trying to sleep. I lay awake for a long time. My sister and I heard a coyote howling in the distance which added to our fears. I imaged all sorts of creeping things prowling around our tent. Then, when all had become calm once more, the snufflumpugus snorting sounds returned. 
My sister jabbed me in the ribs with her elbow. 
"Steph!" she breathed. "The bear's back. Listen!" 
I instantly sat up, tense, and afraid.
Sure enough, she was right, the bear had returned. 
"snuguff, snuff, snortsh, gahhh, gahh, oooogh,"
We listened carefully, suddenly coming to a realization that had evaded us before. This time, the sounds came evenly, much too evenly,!

Yes. It was snoring. Crude, piggy-snoutish, bearish----but it was snoring. This time the sounds were too even, unlike before, where they came at odd intervals. 
The way we were arranged in the tent,  my mom  sleeping at our feet, us sleeping at the sides of the tent, made for an interesting surround-sound of mom snoring.

My sister and I both started giggling. 
"Haha. It's momma bear. It's mom. She's snoring. Snoring. Haha!" We shook our mom awake. 
 Instantly, the sounds ceased. 
"What is it?" my mom asked. 
"We found the bear."
"It's you."
"You're snoring." 
We all laughed. 
Overjoyed that there was no bear, I gathered up my purse. (My glasses were fine, luckily) 
And I answered nature's call. 
All was again bliss. 
I didn't have to pee in a cup after all. 
No bears wandered in wait to eat us. 

 So next time you find yourself stuck in a tent with a bear prowling around your tent, make sure its not your mom snoring. 
You'll probably sleep a lot better. 
Most fears are like that. They keep us shivering in our tents, afraid to sleep, afraid to...pee...afraid to do much of anything. The keep us frozen in place. We think that the big, bad bear is going to eat us if we move. We may even give it our purse, our lotion, our checkbook, and our glasses, just to keep it away. 

But before you end up doing that, maybe you should take a brave step outside your tent, and shine our light around. 
Maybe, just maybe, the thing you're afraid of isn't really there.
And then after you've suffered all night, you suddenly discover the truth. The thing you were afraid of, the thing that was keeping you awake was just a puff of noise. Nothing more. 

Air passing through the nose, and throat.

Then is when you feel like the worlds greatest fool. 

The truth is,  the only power fear has over you is the fear you give it. Be it snores in the night, or something as simple as doing something you've never done before. 

The next time you find yourself shaking in your boots, remember this story. 
Tell yourself,  "It's only snoring. It's only snoring. I am brave! I am BRAVE!"

Found a funny bug house on a rock. Looks like a house of f of star wars. :)


                       Some of the funny-looking mushrooms we found.

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