August 30, Pasadena

You mean I'm supposed to get out of work on my last day here for a month by 3:00PM???

Arrrrrrggghh. But so it goes if we want to reach the campsite before dark, and I do have to leave sometime, and I'm getting very very familiar with Gary Larson's "And Then a Miracle Occurs" syndrome.

I suddenly feel like I'm back in school, with the time of the final rapidly approaching, and me with so much studying to do. But this is going to be a vacation, that is, it's supposed to be FUN! So I stop stressing right around 12:30pm as I realize that amazingly enough, I am going to get everything I believe I am supposed to get done, done.

I walk up to the ERC to meet Jon (Getty) and Chris (Connor) at 3:10pm. Hah.

We headed back to my place to pack up Jon's car with some of the wood I still had left over from the Pismo Beach Campout a couple months ago, our bags, food, etc. I think Bessie's getting used to being packed completely full, so with only 3 people along with all the stuff, she must've been thinking we were taking it easy! We manage to leave my house at around 3:40pm, and head up north, ostensibly via 210W->5N->99N->41N->145E->Millerton Lake.

Minor background: at this time, the Castaic Lake Fire had been burning for over a week, and the 5 near Castaic had been closed just this last tuesday. So we were a bit concerned, but as it turned out the 5 was open. We didn't even see the fire although the previous night it had been burning within 1/8mi. of the freeway (according to the news). However, it was rather striking; having made numerous driving trips up to the Bay Area I was used to the full green to dry yellow colors, but charred black is not something I'm used to, and it's been years since the Oakland/Berkeley Hills fire (the one major disaster in the last 6 years I actually was in the same town as and noticed!)

Now, in all fairness I must say that the directions given to Jon were rather misleading and occasionally completely incorrect -- Hwy 145 doesn't go east, and the road that does go east across from where 145 goes west does come to a stop sign, but "bearing left and going to the end" really doesn't work. We end up in the middle of nowhere, along with about 2 or 3 other people who must have received the same directions. U-Turn number one is executed, after Jon asks directions from someone who apparently has no better idea of where we want to go than we do. We go back past the stop sign, the entrance to the day use area, and realize we're really going the wrong way as we approach a small town. So, we stop again, and Jon asks for directions; I go inside as well this time and manage to get a map out of one of the guys (owner?) in the store. Not having any pride and realizing that his map makes no sense, I ask more questions until he says "oh, wait, the store is on this side of the road" and all suddenly makes sense. *smile* We get on the correct road eventually (having passed it twice, I believe), and find our campgrounds. Hooraay!

First priority is the fire, because at this point it's getting dark quickly; however, I'd forgotten that the wood we brought burns really hot, but takes a lot of heat to get going -- hotter than lighter fluid and small kindling can get. So Jon heads back to the gate to buy some firewood, easy-burning stuff, which when mixed with our wood makes for a nice, hot, and long-lasting fire. So, we finish unpacking our stuff for the night, settle down to lots and lots of hot dogs, and introduce Chris to smores (The boy had never had them!! What a shame. Those Brits just have no culture at all.)

It's a warm night, so we don't bother with the tents and just get out the sleeping bags and mattresses....for about 30 minutes. By then I'd been bit about 6 times by those nasty ants which have red heads, black bodies, and a hell of a bite. So I spread out my tent, Jon spreads out his, as ground covers, putting the bags, etc. on top of them. That works much better; it's too hot to even have the sleeping bag closed so the bug-proofing is much appreciated by all. Eventually the sugar overload from the smores wears off (breathing slows, shaking stops -- it's a pain, but on the rare occasion it's worth it), and I get to sleep...