Sunday, July 23, 2006

Letters to Melissa - Piney Lake (Part 1)

Dear Sweet Melissa:

David and I went camping last weekend. Camping is when you load up the car with food and shelter and blow-up mattresses (and the pump to blow them up) and toilet paper and snacks and booze (lots of booze) and flashlights and bug spray and seven layers of clothing and sunscreen and zip-up bags to sleep in and pillows and coolers filled with ice and a shovel (to bury you know what!) and a saw and a hatchet and fold-up camping chairs and hats and ten pairs of socks (they get wet!) and hiking boots and running shoes (for me, at least) and trail shoes and underwear (if you happen to do underwear) and cameras and feelings of adventure and good tidings 'cause you're going to be in the wilderness and might see Bambi and, well, lots of gas in the tank and air in the tires. But, sweetheart, that's just the beginning.

This is the second year we've gone camping (to Piney Lake north of Vail) with our friends John and Fred and Clayton and Richard and Bob (this year's "newbie") and Clayton's and Richard's two beautiful blond retrievers, Sydney and Roo (Kangaroo, if you were wondering). Honey, let me tell you that Clayton offered to leave Sydney and Roo home this time if we wanted to take you with us and we said, no, you just wouldn't enjoy such a thing and, well, you went to heaven before we went camping anyway. But, it was kind of Clayton to think of you. (I know honey. You would have gone to the ends of the earth for us. Even camping. But, your old hips just weren't up to it.)

The second part to camping is driving to the hills. We experienced (or, at least I did) a little trepidation about taking the Lincoln because once you take the turn off at Vail there's ten miles of dirt road that requires navigation and, yes, the Lincoln's air suspension aside, the possibility of bottoming out (like a boat on a sandbar) is something one does have to think about when driving a Lincoln on a dirt road in the Colorado Rockies. I'm happy to tell you that this second leg of the camping adventure was fairly uneventful; there were no incidents of bottoming out, as the dirt road had obviously been graded recently.

The third part of camping involves unloading, setting-up, erecting all the shit (sorry, but that's probably the most descriptive and universally understood word I can think of right now) from the car that you packed before you left home in Denver, some one-hundred and twenty odd miles to the east, on the other side of the Continental Divide.

David and I sat up our tent first after we sprayed OFF all over our bodies. You can see our pretty tent next to the Lincoln in the picture above. The erection of tents is a little more difficult than when I was a kid. I mean, today you've got all these fiberglass rods and metal and plastic rings and nylon sleeves and three pages of erection instructions sewn right into the tent itself that, if not followed explicitly might spell your demise from biting flies or biting bears (I'm not sure which is worse!). But, let me tell you that it took David and me only about three tries to get the damned thing set-up correctly as the picture above irrefutably proves.

Now, still on the third part of the camping experience, the next thing in the protocol is to unpack the rest of the shit: the food, the booze, the chairs, the sleeping bags, the clothes, etc., etc., etc.

Part four of the camping protocol is to join the rest of the group around the late afternoon campfire, dig out your favorite alcoholic beverage, settle yourself into your camp chair (canvas and aluminum fold-up, fold-out things that have a netted sock on the arm where you put your cup or glass or bottle) and then stare into the campfire.
The picture above does not really represent the impressiveness of the fire we usually kept going in the substantial firepit that had been left there by previous temporary residents of the campsite. But, it gives you some idea of the potential of the kind of magnificent burning we accomplished that weekend.

Not wanting to bore you, Sweet Melissa, I'll leave this missive at this point and take it up again later with tales of horses and flies and tattoos and flies and booze and flies and campfire trashtalk and flies and Bambi and flies.

Good-night, Sweetheart

P.S. One more picture. That's Piney Lake with the Gore Range in the background. This is where I would have liked to have let you run free. But, it was just too late, sweetheart. I suspect you've got even more majectic fields to explore, without my silly banter; without my maudlin missive that, by the way, is helping me to get through the ache of your loss. I know that ache will never completely go away; that it will just gradually taper off a bit day by day, year by year.

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