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Nothing like camping conflict

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POSTED October 13, 2010 2:02 a.m.
After the afternoon on the Upper Sacramento in which I couldn’t conjure up better circumstances without being unreasonable, I became jealous that night, of the people next to me that had real hot dog skewers and tinfoil.

I didn’t bring my camping box, because there is a lot of extra stuff in there and I was in a hurry to move out. I keep a crate of camping junk in my truck, and it usually contains what I need. In it I found two John Gierach books, two spools of 10-pound test, coffee, toilet paper, plastic forks, matches, the lid to a pot that had been retired, gloves, emergency blanket, first aid kit and a salmon lure, but no tin foil or skewers for my package of pre-cooked turkey sausages.

I stayed at the river until after sunset so I gathered sticks and pine needles in the dark and made a little fire. I like big fires, though not in a malicious way, but I had no intention of sitting next to a fire by myself because I wanted to get up early to fish. The goal was to make a flame big enough to cook with, eat, read in my tent, then go to bed.

There are plenty of people that would find it claustrophobically isolated and lonely to overnight in the woods alone, but I enjoy my own company to the point where I do not always require a second or third party. Sometimes its nice to just be on my own schedule and not share.

Of course, if someone would have come along and brought tin foil, skewers or a tarp so I didn’t have to set up my tent in the back of my truck that would be been cool.

I started a small fire made up mostly of needles and small pieces of wood that would burn quickly and easily so I wouldn’t have to worry about a flare-up that charred northern California. People wouldn’t like me.

I stuck the sausage with a sharpened twig and held it over the fire. It sizzled and blistered, then fell into the fire. As that one continued to cook among the tiny coals at the bottom of the pit, I tossed another one onto the pot lid that I put on the cooking grate above the fire. Yes, I could have used the grate in the first place, but I have an impenetrable mental block when it comes to those campground cooking grates. I added some water, to prevent stick-age and I had my dinner just as the fire burnt itself out.

Dinner done and fire dead, I crawled into my tent. It was a clear and cool night, so I went without the rain flap. Through the black mesh I could see the messy organization of outer-space before I turned my headlamp on to read essays by a lady who writes the obituaries for a small Alaskan town. Its more upbeat than it sounds, and when you think about it, conflict drives plot, so bad stuff has to happen to make things interesting and how people choose to deal with conflict can be downright enlightening.

After I fell asleep, I had more conflict. The clear night was now filled with rain. It penetrated the mesh, but as soon as I shot up and leapt from my truck to put on the rain flap, the rain stopped. I put it on anyway and went back to sleep. Once I was safe and dry in dreamland a train screamed by derailing my sleep once again.

I rolled over half a dozen times before I was calm enough to fall back asleep.

Another train. I laughed.
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