Happy birthday dad. This is number 89. Is there a place and a way in which you still feel 16? Or 20? I know you’re body feels old. What about that sense of you? And… thanks for being my dad. 🎂🎁🎶🚀💕🖖🏽
When I pulled in last night there was one car by a large rock to the left of the entrance. Between them and the river was one tent.
I wake up in a dream.

<<<I’m sleeping in my car with a child around 12 years old. (After waking, I think it’s Kazdyn.) We’re nestled in a grove of trees maybe 100 feet off the road. We wake up hearing a car pulling into the trees. I look and it’s now backing in between trees in a way that it won’t be visible from the road. In a few minutes another car pull off onto the shoulder of the road and turns off its lights. Two people get out and walk in the dark down to the hidden car. I’m thinking it’s a drug deal. The new arrivals don’t get into the car and there’s a low volume conversation going on.
The child in my car wakes up and asks what’s going on. I tell him and say we should just be quiet until they’re done with whatever their transacting. All of the sudden he starts thrashing around. I’m say that it’s really a good idea to stay still and quiet. He keeps thrashing. So, I try to hold him still. His feet are flailing, kicking the dashboard and the car is rocking. Not what I had in mind. I hear the two people who were outside the car saying, “Shhh. What’s that?” Then I hear them walking toward our car. Next flashlights come on. I flash on the possibility of getting shot. Then there’s the realization that this is a dream and “No thanks. Don’t need to go here.” They say something to each other and walk back to their car. I wake up.>>>
I realize I need to pee and sit up and look at the time. It’s 1:45am. There’s a light behind me. I turn around and see a pickup has pulled in about 30 feet away on the other side of the loop we’re on. There are two guys walking around with headlamps on, talking loudly enough that I can hear them talking, but can’t make out what they’re saying. 5 minutes later 2 vehicles – a pickup and a car – pull into the campground and drive over to where the first pickup has parked. Now there are 3 cars of people it’s headlamps and a camp lantern, setting up their campsite at 2am.
I notice that where there was one tent near the entrance there are now 3 glowing lights and very loud music blaring. I can’t make out the words or treble lines but the steady bass beat in very audible. Then my pickup friends start playing a competing rap/hip-hop playlist.
I actually think about rearranging our stuff and driving out to find a quieter place. We get out to pee. Our activity alerts the pickup crowd that we exist and they turn off their music. Their voices also go down a couple notches. I lay back down to see if I can sleep. Sherman comes up and gives me a light lick on the nose. I ask if he needs water. No response. I pull up the side of my quilt and he walks right in and curls up by my stomach. I pull the quilt over both our heads. We go back to sleep and wake up at 7:30.
By 8 we’re ready to walk further up Ant Canyon. The pounding bass line has resumed. The pickup folks are arising and have beer in their hands already.

We walk to three dead-ends at these cement retaining walls on the road/trail and then back. About 90 minutes. 3 miles.
I want to go visit California Hot Springs on the other side of Barker Pass now that the road has been opened. It’s about 30 miles. A beautiful drive.

Over the pass, as we’re nearing CA Hot Springs the countryside looks like Vermont. Lush green fields on hills dotted with trees surrounded by mountains. Though these mountains are much bigger than those in Vermont. This is a scene I don’t remember ever seeing in California.
We drive through California Hot Springs and don’t notice that there’s a town there. About 5 miles past the town I have a cell signal, so I stop to look at the map. There’s a Forest Service campsite about 12 miles away that sounds nice. I get coordinates and directions and off we go. The designated turn onto a county road turns out to be a private road with a NO TRESPASSING sign. So, I find an alternate route back through CA Hot Springs. This will take us through Pine Flats, through Posey, CA, and on to the campground. Oops! The road is closed for the season after Pine Flats. I turn around and on the way back go up a road that says there’s a Redwood stand campground in 3 miles. Oops! In a mile the road is closed for the season. So, our only option is to go about 100 mile out of the way into the San Joaquin Valley and back to Bakersfield, or go back over Barker’s Pass toward Kernville. I pick this option.
As I’m driving over the pass I notice a small turnoff to the right that goes into a grove of large Cedar trees. I think, maybe we’ll come back here. In a mile or so there’s a sign for a camp at a Meadow. I turn in there, but… Oops. The road is closed for the season. I park and we take a walk up the road. The meadow is lovely.
Obviously too wet for camping at this time of year. Where to next? Back down the mountain to navigate the weekend crowd? No.

We go back to the Cedar Grove, where I am now sitting in my REI chair and Sherman is laying on the grass watching trees move, birds move, chewing sticks, occasionally looking at me… He’s much happier than he is in the van! So am I!

Good night.