Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

Perseids FAIL

And a lot of other FAIL too, but last night also gave me the Quote of the Year.

It was an eventful day Tuesday. Packed up the car for a 2-day camping trip, my camping gear has been on a shelf in the shed since I moved here, and had not seen much use. I think my last trip was 3 years ago, also for the Perseids.

I was done an hour early, did not want to leave till noon, because the campsite was supposed to not be available till 2, and it's a 2.5-hour trip. Just as I was thinking of leaving early, with the excuse that I could stop along the way and sightsee, and have lunch, I hear sirens and see flashing red lights. A fire truck was parked in front of the house, mostly blocking my driveway. And then an ambulance parked in front of it, making it completely impossible to exit. So I sat on the carport steps to watch the adventure. There was nobody in the fire truck, so asking them to move was not happening. Two EMTs from the ambulance got out a gurney with a couple of pieces of portable equipment on it, and went inside the house next door.

Nobody came out for about 15 minutes, which was a good sign, because if 101-year-old Mary had left the planet, they would not have much work to do. Eventually they brought her out in her wheelchair, which they wrestled down the fairly narrow steps, and somehow transferred her to the gurney.

While they were doing that, her daughter came out and introduced herself, we had never met but Mary had said good things to her about me. Apparently Mary had a mild stroke, and they were taking her to the hospital for observation.

By 11:45 the firemen had packed up and driven off, but the EMTs were still wrapping up paperwork when I pulled out of my driveway at about 5 till noon. Mary's visiting nurse, who lives down the block, showed up when the ambulance arrived, but left after a minute.

I drove non-stop to the exit for the campgrounds, but was hungry and needed lunch, so I doubled back one exit to Soledad and ate at Denny's in a brand new strip mall.  Was tempted to get something at the Starbucks next door but still had half a Gatorade in the car. It was hot & sunny on the way down, I was wearing shorts and had to cover above my knees with a cloth I keep in the passenger seat for cleaning my sunglasses, because they were burning.

It's 95 miles from home to Soledad, 65 mph most of the way, except for some sections near Salinas where the state legislators are Hispanic,  which means they don't get no respect when the highway funding bills come up. That may be starting to change, because there have been some improvements. Anywho, that was an hour and a half on the road, with about 20 more to go after exiting the highway. There were lots of "Speed checked by radar" signs, but not a single speed limit sign. It's G17, an expressway, which is kind of a joke because it was one lane in each direction, and an old asphalt road which seriously needed repaving. The legal speed limit is 55, but I mostly did 40 or 45.

Signage was non-existent except for the G17 highway signs. Nothing even hinting there was a national forest nearby, which made me nervous. After 20 minutes or so, there was a Y, with a simple blue sign pointing straight ahead to "Public Camp" and a poorly paved road, and to the right to Carmel Valley, which was freshly paved, so I took it. And made a U-turn as soon as I could, because it got unpaved after 100 yards.

Back to the Public Camp road, soon it became a 35mph newly paved road, and 10 minutes or so of that and there was a sign saying I was in Los Padres National Forest, and then the check-in booth.

I told the nice lady that I expect she needed to see my senior pass & ID, but she said no, just tell her my last name, and she confirmed I was in space 20 for 2 nights.

It's now a little after 2:30, I find the site, it took some doing to back in. It also took a while to figure out where to pitch the tent, because there was no room behind the parking space where I normally go. Finally picked a spot between the picnic table and the road.

I took my time setting up because I'm old and feeble, and it was about 90° and no shade where the tent site was. I set up a beach umbrella at the picnic table, but it kept getting blown away, so I got out the camp chair and placed it in the shade of the one big oak tree, and retreated to it after each major milestone.

I remembered where all the poles went, and also why I bought 4 sturdy stakes even though the tent came with a set. Had to fold up one side of the groundcloth because it was way bigger than the tent, to avoid staking through it.

The air mattress was new in the box, I vaguely remembered that the one I'd been using for years had died during my last trip. Or maybe when it was when I used it as temporary bedding when I moved. The old rechargeable pump worked like a champ, so I didn't have to take out the new one I bought the day before.

Across the street was a group. Middle aged couple, 20-ish couple, two or three boys middle school aged. They were background noise, but I could hear pretty much everything they said.

The "camp host" came by in his golf cart to say hi and ask if I needed firewood. Nope, not planning on making a fire. Mostly read from the Nexus Kindle app, sitting in the camp chair or at the picnic table, to which I had since attached the umbrella with a bungee cord.

But it was very hot, and even though I had sprayed my head and hat with OFF, there were little flies constantly buzzing around my ears. Very annoying.

WTF of the afternoon was when the folks across the street started a huge wood fire. As if it wasn't hot enough. As if they didn't have a stove with a big propane tank. Jeez.

There were several other group camps, and I passed them all on the walk to the restrooms. We are talking solid brick building with 6 doors, all marked co-ed, the two end ones have showers (8 quarters required, buyable from the camp host). Inside, automatic fluorescent lights, flush toilet, sink, 4 rolls of TP, electric hand dryer, trash bin and signs requesting pampers be thrown away or flushed, and please don't throw used TP against the walls. Above the sink a metal mirror engraved with a wide variety of graffiti.

I had brought a small cooker with blue ice, inside were bananas, hard boiled eggs, fried chicken legs & thigh, a few bologna slices, 3 small bottles of Gatorade. There were drinking water faucets a few feet away, so I mostly drank that.

I snacked on sugar cookies and Dole diced pear cups. Dinner was chicken, a nectarine and a couple of mint milano cookies.

At about 10 pm I set up the tripod and camera, put on the fast 35mm lens, and pointed it at the sky. Many stars, and though I only had a view of maybe 1/4 of the sky, that should have been enough for the meteor shower. 

Tried to take some photos, but could not focus with the viewfinder t that angle. Switched to the 24-300 zoom, because it has a calibrate focus ring, which I set for just shy of infinity. Took a lot of bracketed shots, 30 seconds on auto, and then "bulb", using the remote, but after a long exposure, the camera locked up for about the same amount of time as the exposure, sometimes longer. At first I cycled power on the camera, but that gave me a blank, or just an error. Long story short, out of maybe 40 exposures, maybe 12 were usable. Did not find that out till I got home and loaded them into the PC.

The folks across the street had overheard me telling the camp host about the meteor shower, and they asked me for details. And it was really funny listening to the Alpha Male as the whole group was around the campfire, explaining All About Astronomy. Hate to say it, but he did a good job considering his audience.

Another long story short, I watched from 10 till midnight and from 1 till 2, and only saw 2 shooting stars. Usually Perseids yields that many a minute.

At about 10:30, a young woman from the group nearest the restrooms (4 cars' worth) came up to the group across the street and asked if they could bring their dog to help search for a missing camper. That dog barked loudly but not visiously at everyone who approached her. Pretty bronze colored short-haired puppy, looked to be part greyhound. Alpha male explained that the dog would be useless, and none of the group were prepared to help a night time rescue. He offered to help after sunrise, if they needed.

At one point I heard the Quote of the Year. The young woman explaine that her (female) friend had gone hiking near the river with another (male) friend, and other friend returned without her. Friend and dog had fallen into the gorge. Alpha female asked how they knew friend was down there. Young woman replied "We know she is down there and alive from the bloodcurdling screams."

At about 1 am I walked to the restrooms, and on the road behind them there were two sheriffs cars, an ambulance, a search and rescue truck, and a pickup truck with about half a dozen rescue crew getting out of the bed. No flashing lights, but some of them had engines running. Some young campers were hanging out with the sheriffs.

I went to bed around 2, but had to raid the car to get layers. It got cold and breezy, and my tent was well ventillated. I did not want to use the fly because I wanted to see the stars through the mesh at the center of the tent.  

Another restroom trip at 3:30, all the rescue stuff was gone. No one hanging around to ask what the result was.

Slept okay, up at 5:30 briefly, finally out of bed at 7.

Bummed about the lack of meteors, and highly annoyed by the DEET-drinking bugs in my ears (even putting in earbuds didn't help). I decided one day was enough.

Broke down the camp, had breakfast (a banana and something else which I have forgotten) while the pump was deflating the mattress. Took my time folding things up and did okay using the picnic table as a platform. The groundcover was a challenge, being 4x the width of the table, and 2x as long, but OCD kicked in and I followed the folds. Isn't that a Gpspel tune?

9:30 I was on the road.  Camp host was nowhere to be seen, he had the "OUT" sign up. Chatted with the woman at the booth, she had not heard a thing about the night's adventure, and what info I had was all news to her. And apparently also to the forest fire people down the road. She said it didn't wake her or her dogs.

Clear sunny day, but this time I was driving on the guardrail-free cliff side of the road, and did not come anywhere close to 55 mph when I got to G17. Drove for about an hour and a half, stopped in Gilroy at a truck stop Chevron, bought a cold bottle of diet Coke and cheesey poofs. Then another hour home, including a total unexpected parking lot at the Brokaw exit, which resolved into an open 3/4 ton truck spilling  some pieces of lumber. We were only stopped for about 10 minutes. There were too many trucks between me and the exit lane to get around the mess.

Home, hunted for but did not find Spook, took a nap and she appeared out of the closet, which she has mastered opening.

Uploaded the photos, caught up on FB, had dinner, watched TV, charged the little RC buggy and amused Spook with it, though after only a minute or so it runs out of charge and stops dead. She still likes it as a toy, and can lift it by a tire with her teeth.

It's midnight, I'm going to see what I can see from the front stoop. Maybe there will be shooting stars. My cousins in London reported seeing some tonight.

Plans for tomorrow:
I still have the day off so:
Denture clinic, see if they can reline
Band practice


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