Thursday, 17 November 2011

My Neighborhood

The local news this morning did a 30-second piece......across the river in DC....a barbershop got robbed last week.  The guy walked in....apparently swung a weapon around.....robbed the various barbers in the shop, and then robbed all the customers.  The owner hinted that he now intended to keep the door to the shop locked at all times.....so when you arrive at the front door....you have to knock, to get in.  And if they don't know you or if you act kind of strange....they won't allow you into the shop.

This is how bad the crime situation has become in DC.....robbing barbershops.  If this had some town in Tennessee....almost every barber would have pulled a 45 out from the corner of their stand, or half the customers would have pulled a 38 out from the barber sheet....on the guy.  The robber would have been dead at the doorway.

You have to admit....robbing folks in broad daylight....in a business part of DC....with plenty of witnesses....just doesn't make any sense.  But that's the DC way.

Rustic Camping

After viewing the Occupy camping deal over the past month.....I looked back at my eight-odd camping experiences....four from the Air Force years and four from my youth in Bama.  The highlight was a tent-city experience where our eight-man tent had a carpet floor, AC, couches in the back of the tent, satellite TV, and two refrigerators.  The low point is the first camping experience as a kid, which is the bulk of this blog.

As a kid, I joined up for about eighteen months with a wannabe scout troop in my local area.  We had this camping deal planned out, which naturally was to take place on a Saturday and Sunday.  I needed a tent, which my mom ended up buying via K-Mart.

This 'pup-tent' was this cheapo tent....which remember being made in Honduras.  For me in the 1970s....I thought this was rather odd to start with.  I spent an hour putting it up at the farm.  Once up and inside of it.....it had this funky smell.....like the water-proofing smell.  It was like a mildew smell but ten times worse. I lay there in the tent and wondered how I'd ever sleep for eight hours with this kind of smell.

Then I looked at this net covering on the doorway....which really wasn't made to keep snakes out.....another concern of mine.  Overall, this was minor stuff to worry about.

As the camping expedition started....we ended up meeting at Dale's house, which was pretty far out in the boonies.  We were supposed to hike a mile down the road, turn onto a dirt road for half-a-mile, and then hike another mile over some filed to reach 'ground-zero'.

The topography of the camping location was a lesson in life that has kind of always stuck with me.  I can still remember the layout, the hill, the stream, and slant.

It was a rolling valley, with a stream running through.....probably not more than three foot wide.  It was flat for fifty feet on either side of the stream, and then this gentle sloop of a hill started up and became a 10-degree hill.  At the top of the hill lay some corn field which was on a slight slant down to our hill as well.  All of this slanted nature and hill business should have been indicators of something, but I was young and naive.

Of 365 days in a year....364 probably would have been great camping days....but this wasn't one of them.  By nightfall there in July.....clouds were rolling in across the Bama plain.

We had taken some wood....made up a big fire down near the stream, with our tents a hundred feet up....on the slanted hillside.  Don't ask why.....it's just the way that we did this.  The tents were all pitched with this 10-degree slant.

As darkness came....we all drifted back to the tents.  Somewhere around 11PM.....it started raining.  I came to realize that this Honduran-made tent of mine....wasn't really water-proof....it simply didn't absorb water as much as a regular tent.  The whole tent was dripping.  Adding to the misery.....the field at the top of the hill wasn't absorbing the rain that much....so it was coming down the hill at a fairly good rate.

Then some kid came by the tent and said that folks were meeting down by some tree near the stream.  Flashlights came out.  The rain was coming down pretty good at this point.

Basically, this tornado warning had been issued for the local area.  It was determined that a better and safer location was some barn which lay about half-a-mile in some direction.  We somehow made it to the barn in the darkness, and sat back until the sun rose around 5AM.  The tornado never got closer than twenty miles to us.

It was a miserable experience.  The tent was soaking wet, and smelled worse than when I bought it.  The sleeping bag I left in the tent was soaked completely.  Other than a pack of pop-tarts.....there wasn't much of anything for breakfast.  On camping experiences, I would have given this a negative-ten rating.  The only true lesson I got out of this was to always watch the weather report before going off on a trip like this.