Back from the wilds of Livermore, after making the arduous 50 minute drive from the badlands of Del Valle Regional Park. Annual school camping trip, maybe 50 people involved. We were packed into the Dodge minivan like, well, like 5 people with more gear and supplies per person for a 2-night camp over than Amundsen’s expedition needed to reach the South Pole. Maybe I exaggerate slightly. We had no sled dogs.
We had to make do with a water spigot that was one hundred feet from the primitive wooden picnic tables – at least! – and uphill to boot! The nearest store was a 5 minute drive away, and the flush toilets were, um, primitive. We had to haul our gear and supplies 75 or more yards from the paved parking. The built-in charcoal grills could have used a good scrubbing. Our party was limited to merely 2 choices of salsa, both medium. No cell reception at all!!
So we were roughing it.
Then, Saturday evening, I was called upon to slice tomatoes for hamburgers, using only primitive tools – the kind of cheap knives one throws into the camping gear to get them out of the knife drawer. I tested the sharpest-looking knife – an orange-coated, orange-handled kitchen knife with its own orange plastic cover – on an innocent store-bought tomato to no effect besides indenting the skin a little. Push any harder, and it’s impromptu puree.
What, in a proper roughing it state of mind, to do? In a moment that woulda made Jim Bowie proud, I scanned the landscape, and found a small rock with one flat side. Washed it off (OK, Jim Bowie might not have been proud of that – he’da probably just spit on it) and used it to sharpen that orange abomination until I was slicing some (heavy duty construction) paper-thin tomato slices.
Flush with success, I considered the next obvious step: living off the land, or perhaps, water: the reservoir has trout, bass, catfish, striped bass and, it is rumored, a sturgeon or two. With a mere plus or minus $150 investment in gear, bait, licenses and permits, I could, like an old time old-timer, catch and slay one or more of the piscine creatures, use my freshly sharpened knife to clean it, and throw it on a fire of store-bought insta-lighting charcoal and voila! Moving into Lewis and Clark territory!
But I didn’t want to show up the other dads.
Anyway, had time for reading! Woohoo!! Will review Storyhack Issue 0 and Belloc’s Europe and the Faith in the next day or two. Short and sweet: Both are excellent after the manner of their kind, and highly recommended.