Summer Guide 2003

Campin’ is a family traditional

Photo by David Robert

When I was a kid, my dad used to always take us camping. We’d just go over to Uncle Rusty’s house and set up our sleeping bags on his front lawn. He lived right next to a big old house with real nice trees, so it was almost like camping in a real forest. His neighbor had some pretty mean dogs, though. We used to pretend they was bears and get them all riled up.

My brother and my little sister, Dicky and Lurleen, and me, we’d get out our plastic guns and pretend to shoot those dogs like they was bears. Dad said that wasn’t right, and that if you was gonna shoot an animal, you was gonna eat it, pretend or otherwise. I didn’t want to eat no ugly old dog, especially one that limped real bad. I thought if I ate a dog that limped, I’d catch his limping disease, and at that time I didn’t want to go through life as a cripple.

Well, the whole point of my story, now that I’ve entertained you with that interesting antidote, is how much I like to camp with my own kids these days. We don’t go any place nearly as fancy as Rusty’s. In fact, our favorite place is our own backyard. Well, I wouldn’t call it a yard as much as a dirt pit, although I’m planning on doing a bit a landscaping soon.

We grab up all the blankets in the house, toss them on the dirt, start a little fire, sit in its warming glow and hang out, tellin’ ghost stories and stuff.

The kids slowly fall asleep and when they’ve all conked out, I make sure they’ve got a little blanket covering them, just to keep any nighttime chill off, and then I nod off myself.

We usually sleep late into the morning, until the sun gets so hot. Let me tell you, though, the last time we camped out, I woke up and caught my kids doing something I wasn’t so proud of.

My dad taught me to have more respect for animals than your average gentleman off the street, so when I woke up and found my kiddies burning up little ants with a magnifying glass, I was a mite upset. They found a big ant hill and was just waitin’ around it like some huge Godzilla, fire-breathing, truck-crushing monster. I said, “It ain’t right to kill something for no reason if you ain’ten gonna eat it.”

Well, you know what little Billy Bob did? He stuck three of those ants in his mouth. <div align="right">—JIM BOB</div>

Picnicking at Galena Park
On those weeks when my unemployment checks don’t quite make it from the mailbox to my secret hideyhole under the mattress, I like to head out with the kids to that park on the foot of Mount Rose, Galena Creek. There’s all kinds of hiking trails, climbing rocks and flowers and little critters that keep the yard apes occupied while I ’cue up some pork on one of the park’s handy grills. Sometimes on Friday nights in the summer, when it’s hot enough to fry an egg on the Camaro’s hood, the rangers there at the park give out some speeches about the local wildlife and stars and such. I’ll tell you one thing, though, you better bring some mosquito repellant. Two years ago, one of them vampires picked up Tammy and carried her halfway ’cross the park ’fore Junior pegged it with a pine cone. Anyway, the park is seven miles up Mount Rose Highway from the 395 turnoff. For park hours and the topics of the Friday night nature talks, call 849-2511. <div align="right">—Jim Bob</div>

Backyard camping

Photo by David Robert

Summer Reading
My favorite part of summer is kicking back on the hammock and gently swinging between my junked F-150 and the railing on the front porch. While my buddy Eric from up at UNR—I fix his cars now and again—likes to relax his mind with the latest Stephen King or the most recent Harry Potter (The new one’s due out on June 21. I’d sure appreciate it if someone could just explain the fascination, so I could pass the information along to my young ’ens.)—I prefer stuff that’s a little more down to earth. Last summer, I re-read my favorites by Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian and Suttree, with a couple Harry Crews thrown in for good measure. This year, I’m gonna stock up on Schlitz malt liquor and check out some first-time authors. Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers and A Million Little Pieces by James Frey look appetizing, although I keep hoping the literati’s recent fascination with memoir has run its course. I still haven’t read Important Things that Don’t Matter by David Amsten, either, but I was kind of hoping to get that 390 Marauder rebuilt before the weather gets too hot. <div align="right">—Jim Bob</div>

Volunteer your kids
Kids don’t help their fellow American citizens like they used to be forced to. I remember Dad forcing me to mow the lawn at our neighbor Mrs. Hyacinth Scabbs’ house even though her grass was dead and full of dandelions in the spots where it wasn’t just plain dirt. Dad said it was patriotic to help people you didn’t like. I didn’t get nothin’ for it, neither, except for complaints from old Scabbs that I was scattering them dandelion seeds all over the place. Well I got busted up by Mrs. Scabbs and my dad when I told that old buzzard to stick her head where the sun don’t shine. From then on, dad only volunteered me to do yard work at our own house. “Dig a hole here,” he’d say, “and fill up that hole over there with the dirt outta this new one.” Well, I put my kids to better use than dad ever put me, and they hardly resent it. In the summertime, they volunteer at both the SPCA of Northern Nevada, 840 E. Fifth St., 324-7773, and at the Humane Society, 200 Kresge Lane, Sparks, 331-5770. It installs in them a love of animals, and it’s like going to the zoo without havin’ to pay. <div align="right">—Jim Bob</div>