Happy Birthday To Me – now that I’m officially “old” (I’m sure you can guess what age I just turned), I’m hoping things will improve this year. The birthday weekend in question was spent in the “high dry mountain desert” of central California. Quite an odd landscape, wedged in between flat-as-a-pancake agricultural fields and foggy windy coast. The dry and crumbly mountains are striated sideways due to tectonic forces and the crumbly dry sandstone and conglomerate is full of old sea rocks and fossils. Today, it’s mostly full of bullet casings (shotgun, 22, 44, and more!) and mineral encrusted rocks with not a drop of water to be found.
BLM lands were a wonderful find if you want to get away from the horrible user interface and overpriced suckage that is Reserveamerica (the contractor for the state, and national park systems). Since we didn’t decide a year ago that we wanted to camp this weekend, I’m pretty sure the state, county, and federal parks systems are all packed with RV and family vacation reservations from last January. Obviously the parks don’t care about tourists, odd work schedules, last minute through hikers, budgets or basically anything that should make our taxpayer funded parks accessible and open to all. Oh, and I didn’t have $43 to dump on a patch of dirt that I’ll be driving to myself, and pitching a tent on that I brought myself, to sleep on for the night. I’m not sure what the value added is to that patch of dirt that requires an $8 reservation fee and a fee increase of $2-4 every year?
No, I have found the wonder that is the Bureau of Land Management – if only it weren’t for all the damn ranch fences, it would have been downright perfect. We went equipped with the offroad vehicle, food, tent, water, and a tarp with poles for shelter, but we never even needed it! All these wilderness management areas had campsites that were completely open and completely free of charge, including really well designed shelter with a picnic table constructed of steel – complete with short benches for cooking under the waterproof metal shelter should it be raining! What a find. Sure, there’s not much to do there aside from walk, sit, hike around on a dirt road and it’s hot and dry as hell, but at least you’re alone. That’s the point of camping, right?
We saw and heard a variety of creature while there, from shrub jays to coyotes, and a tarantula (!) as well as tons of annoying giant gnats. We basically enjoyed ourselves until we came back to foggy, freezing San Francisco and the reality that is my foot pain, ongoing and extended rehab process, neighbor who wakes me up at 2 am every day and the hellish job search. At least the BLM adventure afforded the opportunity get out in the woods – especially since I still can’t hike – and have a couple night’s peace and quiet (aside from the damn coyotes, that is – it was a full moon.)