Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memorial Day

Yes it's a blog about Base Camp. I know that my, our, way of life, the reason I'm able to live at a place so special and share it with so many is because of the sacrifice of others. Occasionally when I have a day off I'll pick a book and get to read. Currently I'm reading We Were Soldiers Once, and Young. Seeing some of the Memorial Day pictures and a few of the words from the book it all seemed to come together.

"Another war story, you say? Not exactly, for on the more important levels this is a love story, told in our own words and by our own actions. We were the children of the 1950s and we were where we were sent because we loved our country. We were draftees, most of us, but we were proud of the opportunity to serve that country just as our fathers had served in World War II and our older brothers in Korea. We were members of an elite experimental combat division trained in the new art of airmobile warfare at the behest of John F. Kennedy.

Just before we shipped out to Vietnam the Army handed us the colors of the historic 1st Cavalry Division and we all proudly sewed on the big yellow and black shoulder patches with the horse head silhouette. We went to war because our country asked us to go, because our new president Lyndon B. Johnson, ordered us to go, but more importantly because we saw it as our duty to go. This is one kind of love.

Another and far more transcendent love came to us unbidden on the battlefields, as it does on every battlefield in every war man has ever fought. We discovered in that depressing, hellish place, where death was our constant companion, that we loved each other. We killed for each other, we died for each other, and we wept for each other. And in time we came to love each other as brothers. In battle our world shrank to the man on our left and the man on our right and the enemy all around. We held each other's lives in our hands and we learned to share our fears, our hopes, our dreams as readily as we shared what little else good came our way.

We were the children of the 1950's and John F. Kennedy's young stalwarts of the early 1960s. He told the world that Americans would "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship" in the defense of freedom. We were the down payment on that costly contract, but the man who signed it was not there when we fulfilled his promise. John F. Kennedy waited for us on a hill in Arlington National Cemetery, and in time we came by the thousands to fill those slopes with our white marble markers and to ask on the murmur of the wind if that was truly the future he had envisioned for us.

The class of 1965 came out of the old America, a nation that disappeared forever in the smoke that billowed off the jungle battlegrounds where we fought and bled. The country that sent us off to war was not there to welcome us home. It no longer existed.

Many of our countrymen came to hate the war we fought. Those who hated it the most--the professionally sensitive--were not, in the end, sensitive enough to differentiate between the war and the soldiers who had been ordered to fight it. They hated us as well, and we went to ground in the cross fire, as we had learned in the jungles.

In time our battles were forgotten, our sacrifices were discounted, and both our sanity and our suitability for life in polite American society were publicly questioned. Our young-old faces, chiseled and gaunt from the fever and the heat and the sleepless nights, now stare back at us, lost and damned strangers, frozen in yellowing snapshots packed away in cardboard boxes with our medals and ribbons.

We rebuilt our lives, found jobs or professions, married, raised families, and waited patiently for America to come to it's senses. As the years passed we searched each other out and found that the half-remembered pride of service was shared by those who had shared everything else with us. With them, and only with them, could we talk about what had really happened over there--what we had seen, what we had done, what we had survived.

We knew what Vietnam had been like, and how we looked and acted and talked and smelled. No one in America did. Hollywood got it wrong every damned time, whetting twisted political knives on the bones of our dead brothers.

So once, just this once. This is how it began, what it was really like, what it meant to us, and what we meant to each other. It was no movie. When it was over the dead did not get up and dust themselves off and walk away. The wounded did not wash away the red and go on with life, unhurt. Those who were miraculously unscratched were by no means untouched. Not one of us left Vietnam the same young man he was when he arrived.

We were soldiers once, and young."

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Bath, Thank You Heidi

Heidi is visiting with her family and she's a vet somewhere or another. We were pretty much out of room at the lodge so I have her staying in Linny's room. She told me thank you and if she could help in some way while she was here to just let her know. After watching Jax crawl down in five or six engines, shine the bottom of eight or ten vehicles, and crawl down in the rock squirrel den, to me, it was pretty apparent how she could help. Heidi gave Jax a bath. Apparently Jax has his own unique way of drying himself.

The Rock Squirrels

I've lost count but we're well over 40. All criminal elements with long unsavory histories and teaching their young the same. You'll see some of them at the Post Office or on the FBI web site. I've seen several guests feeding them by hand and now with the arrival of each new guest they test them immediately to see if they can get hand outs. It's a problem.

1. They get all the food I throw out to the critters at the three Breakfast at Tiffany's locations. They have these big vacuum cheeks that suck up all the sunflower seeds leaving little for everyone else.

2. They got up in a vehicle a couple weeks ago and chewed some sensor wires and now not long after each vehicle parks they are up inside checking it for goodies. I've been spraying Critter Begone and a couple other mixtures on engines to keep them off but I think they're building up an immunity.

3. They raid Kobae's food while he's eating it and I have to arm with squirt gun all the children staying at the lodge to blow them off the porch should they come near Kobae's food. The White-tailed antelope squirrels aren't a problem, the Colorado chipmunks are cool, and none of the birds are an issue. Just the rock squirrels.

Usually when I have a problem I just let it roll around in my head for a few days and an answer comes up but with the merger of the two largest clans, the Bloods, and the Crips, the number of problems they are causing accelerating it's become hard to wrap my head around it. I think of a solution for one part of the problem and they become a new problem somewhere else.

Then, a week ago Monday, unexpectedly the solution showed up to the entire rock squirrel problem. Jax. I've never let him chase any of the critters and he's becoming pretty good at listening to my warnings and "to be good." However whenever a rock squirrel comes in the lodge I let him at them. He hasn't caught one but he goes absolutely nuts when they come inside and he's relentless at trying to get them. So now he sits and sleeps just inside the door keeping the rock squirrels from coming in the lodge.

Last week I noticed him staring out the door and then all of a sudden he took for one of the vehicles down the driveway. He signaled (he went nuts) there was a rock squirrel inside and lifting the hood he was right so I flushed it out and Jax chased it off without me yelling at him and that's all the encouragement Jax needed. Now he sits on the porch watching the vehicles and whenever a rock squirrel shows up he charges right out to the vehicles and goes nuts. He jumps up on the hood, climbs down in the engines, disappears up in the wheel wells and refused to leave until the squirrel does. He's pretty dirty but a lot of vehicles are shined up underneath.

Even better he follows me out to feed all the critters and the white-tailed antelope squirrels don't fear him and neither do the Colorado chipmunks or the birds but the rock squirrels won't come to eat until Jax leaves and by then all the smaller creatures have gotten plenty to eat.

It's hard work keeping the yard free of rock squirrels and Jax is pretty tired at the end of each day. But today he found the den of the largest family of rock squirrels, I'd say 10 to 20 of them, and now that he knows where they live, many entertaining days lie ahead.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Little Hike

The lodge is full. The days it goes vacant, it's full again, and the day that goes vacant, full again, with some overflow being pushed over to Last Hurrah. Finally though Jax and I got up early and got us a couple hours hike in.

The Bag

Sunday, May 21, 2017

When Harry Met Sally at Base Camp

Nicholas and Keri were married a week or two ago and have invited all their friends to Base Camp to share in the celebration. After a stunning evening rainbow and the sky clearing it was time to set up for the movie. On the north side of the lodge we set up chairs, their projector, I pulled both of the side by sides up so that it was a movie theatre with seating and a drive in movie watching from the side by sides. With all that done, Harry Met Sally at Base Camp.

Sunday Evening Double Rainbow

"Tom, if you decide to put your funk on, come join us."


This is what the parking lot looked like after everybody left and went to the Wind Caves. Almost high water mark on the river.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

In Search Of

Jax and I spent a couple hours today searching for his big horn friends who we haven't seen in a couple weeks and while I did find a spear head and a scraper, no recent tracks or scat of the big horn.