Monday, July 26, 2010

Summer Thunderstorms in Horton Creek

July 24 2010, Horton Creek campsite.

July has been very hot, most days 100 degrees F and higher, which folks in town tell me "We're having August weather in July". The air gets gooey, there's no dry breeze to cool the sweaty, lethargic camper. But similar to the Bay Area weather pattern of hot valley air drawing fog through the Golden Gate into the east bay hills, thunder storms condense out of the mountain air and spike the lake areas over 8,000 feet, and sometimes blow down into the valleys. Today a real howler slammed out of the Sierra down the escarpments and the Crate is rockin' safe and dry and pretty comfy in the warm, wet blasts, sheltering me from sporadic sand, rain and hail. I sit against a pillow upside the peg-boarded driver's side wall and write this on my laptop. Fire trucks from the Forestry Folks and the local Fire Dept.s have been cruising around the watersheds, since dry lightning is a serious fire hazard; they are pleased for even a little moisture in the dark booming clouds. The cloud show hikes up a notch, from gorgeous to spectacular.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Free Fireworks!

As I was sitting Sunday morning MMOB in my creekside campsite and reflecting that since it was indeed the 4th of July and proper public fireworks would be exploding safely at the Bishop Airport, courtesy of the Bishop Volunteer Fire Department (suggested donation for parking close 20 bucks), that I ought to go out and enjoy it. The 20 bucks slowed me down, my fearful fantasy of crowds of strangers tailgating in giant pickup trucks with barbecues, boomboxes and teenagers stopped me cold -- I sometimes freak out in crowds, especially when I'm by myself.

VA-ROOM popppity poppity poppity -- Greg (not his real name) toured around the firepit on his dirtbike and silenced to a stop at my picnic table with a proposal: Would I drive his car to the fireworks show with himself and two of his Horton drinking buddies as passengers, who all have at least a first DUI apiece, and would all, by 9:00 PM, be too hammered to drive?

"We were wondering what to do, and then I thought of you, just sitting here on the 4th of July holiday wasting all your sobriety ..."

I said maybe OK, and he peeled out to pow-wow with his mates. At 7:00 PM he popped in again and said, "It's just you and me, babe. Those guys chickened out."

Since I am nervous about driving an automatic shift (all my cars are/were stick shift), we took a practice spin in his muscle car around the pasture roads of Round Valley. He declared me fit to chauffeur, "You didn't hit anything, let's go." I told him his beer had to be locked in the trunk, nothing open, and nothing else stashed anywhere in the car. We packed chairs and jackets, I brought water and he brought a double plastic bag full of beer cans and a paper coffee latte cup with plastic sip-top, "Hides the foam."

I drove us to Von's at the edge of town, where a road skirts the airport. We parked in a dirt lot between a smelly canal and some fenced property, and started to walk closer. Greg was cussing and jerking "These mosquitoes are killing me, ow! ow!" Welts everywhere, we trudged back to the car, where he gassed himself with repellant. He decided to stay right by the car, the bug spray and the extra beer. The lot was filling up with giant trucks full of kids. I said we should take the chairs and try to get away from the cars, but Greg decided to sulk, and sat with his beer in the middle of the lot, headlights careening around him. "You can go, go on, you just go do anything you want, I'm staying right here."

I took my chair down a side road until I found a place between a van and a large RV where I could see the sky over the airport area in the distance. I got up to fetch Greg, but he wouldn't come. I said "Please." He scowled and opened the car door. I picked up his chair and said "I'm taking this to a better place for you." He scowled worse, but I walked off with his chair. I sat alone in the dusk watching a few warm-up sparkly things. Finally I heard his footsteps come up behind me. He moved his chair away from mine, and fell into it. But I scooted up and we sat in grumpy silence while the stars came out over the White Mountains. The show was late. The RV got tired of waiting and left, and so did the van. We had a perfect, spacious, quiet view.

We both yelled at the first big bursts. Then it was fun, and gorgeous, and worth all the fuss, and lasted a long time. Hooray for the Bishop Volunteer Fire Department for truly wonderful fireworks in the desert night!

Driving home to Horton, we agreed that we had worked well as a team: I wouldn't have come without his plan and company, and he couldn't have come without my driving. God Bless America.