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the vacation

oh yes I did just take a vacation. the thing about coming back from backpacking at Pt Reyes is that there is no buffer between forest and city. San Rafael doesn't count; the whole Marin phenomenon is something bigger than I can put my finger on here but something truly strange does happen when old hippies turn into landed gentry and it often is not pretty. at least they tend to vote blue. I mean, to the extent that that helps. in any case, the megalopolis that has crept up 101 is as jarring, if differently so, as getting off BART at 16th Street after you've been in the forest for five days and hardly spoken to anyone.



going to the forest is always different. this time I discovered that sparsely-populated campgrounds are the small towns of backpacking. when the campground is full, it's like the city: so many people that no one does more than smile and nod when passing each other on the way to the water spigot. but when only two or three parties are there, it somehow thrusts all of us into a kind of intimacy that I actually went there to avoid but I suspect the others did too as we did our best to preserve the illusion of solitude. the odd thing is that at the glen campground the rangers put three parties all at one end of the campground instead of spread out. granted we were in the only campsites that offered visual privacy but spatially we were all scrunched together. and why is it that the people with the voices that carry for miles are the ones who never stop talking? maybe we just can't hear the others

I kept telling myself to stop grousing about this and I managed fairly well at least on thursday, the day I Did Nothing. if I have any energy for picture wrangling tonight I'll get some up of the Nothing I took pictures of. that morning the one other party left early, leaving me with the place all to myself until the two parties for that evening came in, both fairly late, like after 4pm. I didn't go very far as the glen campground is fairly deep in the forest at least to the extent that you can take little side trails off into stands of douglas fir that were almost like pine tree stands in the more arid parts of the west: very little undergrowth but a nice bed of needles to walk/lie/sit around on underneath the trees. relatively good visibility given that it is a forest. I sat there for two, three, four hours maybe, getting up and taking a picture occasionally and then sitting down to see what would happen.

not much happened. I saw more wildlife on this trip than I usually do: altogether, one adult bunny, one baby bunny (very surprised to see me when it bolted out of the thicket into the middle of the trail right at my feet!), and four black-tailed deer, two at a time. the adult bunny was in the sky campground the morning I left for the glen campground. the baby bunny surprised itself and me near the end of the hike that day. that night two deer peeked out at me from behind some brush as I ate, and then they turned and disappeared into the trees. the next morning I was sitting at the campsite-provided table when I heard a clomp-clOMP. I looked and saw a deer bound out of the brush at one end of the campground, stop and look at me, walk slowly till I guess he thought my prey instinct wouldn't fire and then he ran the rest of the way out of the other end. at that moment another deer ran out of the woods to the other side of me and out the same way as the first deer. I sort of thought huh I wonder what they are running from. but no one actually sees cougars at Pt. Reyes. we just all know they are there. I didn't see one that day either. I don't know if one saw me.

I both did and did not want to leave when it came time to leave. as I've mentioned, I didn't take enough food, so I was tired and hungry and ready to get to the Mission where good cheap food waits in abundance. and of course I missed the internet and the ability to write at the keyboard. I wrote in a notebook, several pages, some of which might be useful for this or that project but it was frustrating trying to keep my thoughts to the pace of handwriting with a pencil. how did people do that? Dostoevsky--how did he write all those pages by hand without forgetting what he had begun to say at the beginning of the sentence by the time he got to the end? much less the paragraph. I just don't know.

I really want to get out to a more remote area sometime in the near future. I have to find out what is going on with my back first. I didn't think it was bothering me until I went to get groceries just now and can I say ow! I think though that this has more to do with my staying up all night last night staring at golly than with backpacking. yesterday it didn't hurt very badly at all. I'm trying to sit upright in my chair, pressing the small of my back into its "advanced lumbar support" or whatever the description said this ridge is that my kidneys are resting on.

I got no pics of animals unfortunately. digital wildlife photography is not something I've been able to do much with given the amount of delay on my camera between snapping the shutter and actually getting the exposure. I've taken some pretty pictures of various animals leaving the frame. but I didn't even get that this time. I was also very disappointed when in the early morning hours at the sky campground I crept through the campground on my way to the toilet, hoping to see more than just the rabbit, saw nothing, then saw fresh fox scat on the way back. I need to read more about how wildlife photographers do it. whenever I sit still in one place nothing turns up, but when I am getting ready to leave and don't have time sit and wait every creature in the forest emerges just ahead of or behind me. I suppose that's the murphy's law of the whole venture. I think I need to decide where I'm going to watch and just sit in one place for like, three days. somewhere a little wilder than Pt. Reyes, I think.

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