Sunday, June 01, 2008

Hardly any politics during mountain trek

Spent the weekend camping with the family in Rocky Mountain National Park (view from the campground above). The first real weekend of summer weather. The sky blue, creeks full, and most of the trails free of snow. I barely thought about the big DNC meeting on Saturday where the fate of the Florida and Michigan delegates were being decided. I got my answer when we dropped out of the mountains into Estes Park this afternoon and saw the Sunday headlines: "Delegate count decided; rancor remains." The lede said that the Clinton camp is unhappy with the one delegate-half vote decision, as well as elimination of up to four delegates. The Clintonites, apparently, are prepared to take the fight all the way to the streets of the Mile High City. I haven't scanned the blogs since Friday, so I look forward to staying up until the wee hours to catch up.

My first thought: good thing they reached a decision. Second thought: bad thing they reached a decision. Nobody seems happy, although the Obama people seem semi-O.K. with it. So, now we await the decisions of the voters in South Dakota and Montana, who likely will side with Obama. But will probably not provide an end to this long march.

Who won Puerto Rico? Bet it was Hillary.

One more thing. For our camping trip, we left the minivan at home and jammed everything into Chris's Saturn Ion. We don't backpack anymore (bad knees!), surviving the weekend on granola and cooking on a stove so tiny it can fit in the palm of your hand. We're not "roughing it" campers, either, just a step up from that. We're car campers, which means that we assemble everything in the basement that looks like camping gear, throw it into the car and take off. No TVs or electronic devices except for the cellphone that my wife needs for work. This plan works well when you're using the minivan which also has a car-top carrier we can use for overflow.

We don't have the luxury of space in the car. We can put a small cooler or a box of food in the back seat with the kid and dog. The rest has to go in the trunk. I had to do triage as we hauled stuff from the house. Yes to the sleeping bag, yes to the roll-up ground pad, no to the gigantic inflatable mattress, no to the camp chair with the cup holder. Yes to the battery-powered lantern, no to the propane lantern and propane canisters and extra mantles. A hue and cry went out every time a tough decision was made. "Dad -- I need that huge air mattress." Says I: "Then the dog has to stay home." Pouting ensued. My wife usually likes to bring about 50 pillows but I requested a two-pillow limit. Fine, she said, I'll use yours. Which she did.

We wanted to prove that a family can go camping without the minivan or the SUV. The family can, but it's a pain in the ass. We saved money on gas, as the Saturn gets 35 mpg on the highway to less than 20 for our Dodge Caravan. We can send the savings the the Democratic Party candidates and causes of our choice. Less fuel used, less carbon in the atmosphere. And we can feel superior to all the SUVs and Hummers on the road. We can feel vastly superior to the RV users, as they are driving the dinosaurs of the open road.

But most of what I felt this weekend was gratitude for national parks and outdoor spaces. And for family. The jury's still out on the dog....

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