Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A camping we will go.

Not bike camping, just family in the pop-up camper kind of camping. With the Lenz buildup on hold till I got back, we headed off to the Southern Sierras above Kernville to spend some time sitting around campfires, hiking, geocaching, and a bit of mtn biking with my son.

We were to camp at a high elevation spot that we had reservations with, Quaking Aspen. We left on a Thursday under cloudy skies and the chance of rain. Last weekend it was 100 degrees. Now it was snowing in the local mtn town of Big Bear.

The drive up into the Kern River Cyn is always dramatic, with the river having cut a chasm out of the granite rock walls. Up we went and then it began to rain, and as we gained elevation, I noticed the rain was looking more like sleet. About then, my wife looked at the thermometer built into the rear view mirror and said, "Oh...36 degrees!" Then it began to snow. We still had 1800 feet of elevation gain to go before we got to camp. Not! There was no way we were ready for camping in 30 degree temps, not to mention the nights and how cold that would be. No bike riding, no geocaching.

I turned the truck and trailer around, put it in 4 wheel high and headed back down to an uncertain weekend.

Memorial Day weekend in So Cal means you better have reservations or forget it. Too many people, not enough campgrounds, but we hoped for the best and began trying campgrounds along the river, where the temps were in the 50s and it was lightly raining. One after another were full. No room at the inn.

I was getting a bit downcast. Here we were all dressed up and no place to go. We swung into one last CG and the tale was the same. All full. We drove the CG loop to turn around and try further down the river and we met the CG host coming out to speak to us in the rain. She had just remembered there was one spot. Just one. And, it happened to be right behind me. A quick glance to see if we could fit, and we said, "sold!". We had a campsite. No Aspens, no geocaches, no high mountain riding trails, but we had a river, a campfire, and a place to call home for a bit until the weather cleared. It never did. It kept raining off and on, never hard, and the snow was clinging to the peaks above us letting us know that the original destination would remain outside our grasps for the weekend.

A few days later, as we prepared to come home, I reflected on the events of the trip. It had been great, really, and it could have been a real disaster. We had a campsite, the only one along the whole river that had any facilities to go with it. We had cool days and nice nights, we had quiet neighbors. We had pancakes. We caught exactly 3 fish one for each of us, and one was even sized nicely for the wifey's petite appetite. We read books and took as much of a bike ride as we could, my son and I, and he is just now beginning to feel his oats on a mtn bike and was practicing jumping off every rock and bump in the road. The sound of his joy and excitement at getting both wheels off the ground is still ringing in my ears.

I am thankful for it all....my family, the means we have to take a vacation, the timing of the one, open camping spot, and the 3 fish we needed to have a fresh, fish lunch. Thanks, God. It was great and I am smart enough to know that I had little to do with it.

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