“Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people.”  
~Garrison Keillor

I can’t always spend Christmas with the family when I live so far away. Its the hardest time of the year being without the kids and I miss the smell of my Mama’s kitchen. So this Christmas, I figured I’d do something different and head out into the wilderness for a while. I went camping on a dry lake bed Christmas afternoon. I still have a tradition with the kids where we watch two movies back to back on Christmas Day, so my first movie was at 9:30. Sherlock Holmes wasn’t as good as I thought it might have been, but I guess I can say I got my money’s worth. My next movie was Avatar. Granted it came out a week or so before Christmas, but I held off seeing it. My kids were doing the same thing only in Tennessee. I’ve already seen Avatar once more and will likely see it a few more times. I do that with movies I like. I saw 2012 three times, but my record is the final Lord of the Rings, which I saw 8 times. Avatar is high on the list of my all time favorites. There was simply more imagination in that movie that I think I could have ever conceived. In LOTR, Peter Jackson had Tolkien’s books to work from and Tolkien was so descriptive, you honestly didn’t ever need a movie. You could visualize everything. James Cameron was operating from scratch, as far as I know, and he surpasses my wildest imagination. Yeah, I’ll be seeing that a few more times.

Then it was a race to get back across town to finish packing up and head out to my camp site. It was sort of a spiritual thing for me being out there alone, but at the same time, I didn’t count on the distraction for the need for company brought on by a campfire. That’s the only time I felt alone or like I really wanted somebody else there. As soon as my campfire was roaring (and trust me, I like a roaring fire), I felt an immediate sense of aloneness. I was cool chilling out in my tent, afterwards, but while sitting out in the open air staring at the flames as they licked and bit into the wood, you miss having another person there.

It got cold. Daaamn, it got cold. I was bundled up nice and snug, but I can tell you that you don’t want to move around much. Outside of camera gear, I think I need better winter camping gear. My little hooch kept the wind off, but I know I’ve got to get another sleeping bag. I trust the Gortex sleep system that I had in the military, so that’s my aim. I’ve been in 40 below in one of those things in the open air and was as snug as a bug in a rug. And I was a little more concerned for my laptop and camera too. I hadn’t had the foresight to check the operational temps on the laptop. My camera’s limit is right at freezing, but I wasn’t sure about the laptop. Since it was just below freezing, I kept the camera at my feet in my bag and the laptop between two pillows that I slept on. I also kept it on in sleep mode, (no pun intended, there.)

The sun came out and it warmed up quickly, but I built a fire anyway. I love a good fire. Too much since I ran out earlier than I had anticipated. My need for a big fire and the fact that the winds would kick up every now and again, consumed my firewood supply quicker than I wanted. Oh well. I’ll know better next time. All in all, it was a cool experience, and I plan to do it again. Maybe I can find a good Gortex sleeping bag on eBay or something. I will be looking. I hope everyone has a joyous and wonderful holiday. Tune in next time when I start  the year off with another self-interview!