Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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French Meadows Reservoir: Photographs

I have a hot girlfriend! She took me camping at French Meadows Reservoir last weekend. This is my hot girlfriend at French Meadows Reservoir.

The road to the reservoir, Mosquito Ridge Road, was cut into the side of a cliff. I took this picture from the moving truck while Susan was driving.

We arrived on Friday evening, just as the sun was going down. Susan handed me the dogs' leashes and proceeded to set up the tent and the entire campsite at top speed all by herself. I was a bit frustrated because I wanted to be able to help, and I felt like by sticking me with the dogs' leashes instead of getting out some rope and tying their leashes to a tree as she did on our first camping trip, Susan was implicitly assuming that I couldn't possibly be of any more use in setting up a campsite than an inanimate object like a tree would have been. (As it turned out, I was actually of less use than a tree would have been, because I failed to prevent Taco from pooping right next to the tent, as a faraway tree would have done. Susan cleaned it up and didn't mention it to me until the next day.) I think it was partly that Susan did not regard it as being as necessary as I did to restrain the dogs at all, and partly that Susan is used to doing everything herself and not expecting help. Anyway, she set up the campsite and then took the dogs off their leashes.

We brought along the new folding chairs I bought recently (because Susan's folding chairs that we used on past camping trips had fallen apart). When we're not camping, the new chairs reside on my apartment balcony. Here is Susan sitting in one of the chairs by the campfire, reading the book On Weddings by Miss Manners, while Boston stands happily between us and Susan's new truck is initiated into its first camping trip with us.

In this one you can see our tent. Susan is still reading, and Taco has joined Boston in gazing at me and wondering what I'm doing with the camera.

Using the wildflower identification book that Susan gave me for one of our lunar revolution celebrations, I quickly identified this white-flowering shrub next to our tent as a serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia, Amelanchier pallida, or Amelanchier utahensis - I'm not really sure which exact species). Serviceberries are edible, so I was a bit disappointed that it only had flowers and not berries. Then again, I probably wouldn't have been able to identify it at all without the flowers.

In the background of the picture above, you can see an old rotting log. The picture below is a closeup of that same rotting log.

And this one is a closeup of a huge carpenter ant on a different rotting log in our campsite.

Here is a boulder in our campsite, with a fern that I have not been able to identify.

Here is a plant in our campsite that I only managed to identify after we came back home where I was able to search online. This is American Trail plant (Adenocaulon bicolor), so called because its leaves are shaped like arrows and are much paler on the underside. If a person walks through an area with American trail plant on the ground, their movements will overturn some of the leaves, thus exposing the pale undersides whose arrow shapes point out which way the went to anyone following their trail.

And here is some lichen on a tree trunk in our campsite.

This plant seemed to be everywhere, but I found only this one instance of it (across the road from our campsite) with a bit of a flower on it. The others all had just leaves. I don't know what this plant is. It looks like it's in the aster family, but I can't find any photos resembling it.

On Saturday afternoon, we walked to the reservoir. Some campsites in our campground directly overlooked the reservoir, but we had picked a campsite slightly farther away and more isolated. One of the campsites we walked past on our way to the reservoir had Ceanothus growing in it, so I photographed it: the white-flowering plant is Ceanothus, but again I haven't been bale to identify the exact species.

Normally the reservoir would be full at this time of year, but it's looking rather low this year because we're in a drought.

Susan had put the dogs on their leashes for a few minutes during the walk, but took them off their leashes when we arrived at the reservoir. She hung the leashes around her neck and sat on a boulder at the shoreline, while Taco waded in the water behind her.

Boston begged Susan to throw rocks out into the water for Boston to swim after. So Susan did.

And Boston swam.

Then Susan and the dogs wandered along the shoreline to where a creek emptied into the reservoir. I lingered behind, photographing them with my zoom lens while standing on a tall tree stump.

They came back to get me.

They also looked at a canoe along the way.

Then we all went over together to the place where the creek emptied into the reservoir.

Susan used a long stick to show me how deep the water was.

Then she sat by the creek and sorted through pebbles, picking out the best ones to put in a matchbox for me. (She gives me matchboxes full of pebbles from each trip we go on.)

Periodically, she tossed a pebble in the air for Boston to leap after. Boston was thrilled.

Other times, she looked up and noticed me photographing her.

We both noticed this plant near the shoreline. Susan asked me what it was. At the time, I didn't know, but after we returned home, I researched it online and identified it as pussypaws (Calyptridium umbellatum) by its strong resemblance to this photo.

As we were leaving the reservoir, Susan noticed this rock and became instantly besotted with it. She asked me to take a picture of it, so I did. She put her cigarette lighter on it for scale.

Susan made steak and fried potatoes for dinner that night, and then we went to sleep. Or at least tried to. The ground under our tent was rather rocky, and I have trouble sleeping on anything even as hard as Susan's bed is at her duplex, so having nothing but a thin self-inflating air mattress between me and solid rocks was quite unpleasant. Susan has a very high tolerance for hard beds (she actually complains that mine at my apartment is too soft for her to sleep comfortably), but my constant tossing and turning made it impossible for her to sleep, too. The second night was even worse than the first; finally at 5:30 a.m. I decided to just get up so that at least one of us would be able to sleep. I also decided (and announced) that night that I was going to buy a much thicker, non-self-inflating air mattress when we got back home (and I have since done so), even though I remembered that on our very first camping trip together, Susan expressed disdain for people who take thick air mattresses camping. She sleeps on an underinflated one whose nozzle was chewed off by a dog so it doesn't hold air properly anymore, and she feels ashamed of not being sufficiently hardcore to just sleep directly on the ground like she used to. But I do not take any pride in subjecting myself to physical discomforts. I want a thick air mattress, and now I have one.

When I got up at 5:30 a.m., the dogs followed me out of the tent. I put them on their leashes and tied their leashes to a tree, where they remained tied for most of the next three and a half hours, until Susan got up. When she did, I thought she seemed a bit disturbed that I would dare to curtail her poor dogs' freedom like that. But when she had gotten up before sunrise the previous morning and didn't tie the dogs up, the dogs had promptly run over to the nearest campsite with a dog in it at a distressingly early hour of the morning. I couldn't imagine how I could ever survive the humiliation of having to apologize to total strangers for dogs that weren't even mine having invaded their campsite before sunrise for a second night in a row, so I was determined not to give the dogs any such chance. I did eventually take them off their leashes at 8:00 a.m., after the sun had safely risen, but they instantly ran into all the other campsites in the whole campground, and of course the local sheriff chose that exact moment to come driving around, sending me into instant terror that we would get in trouble for having loose dogs. The sheriff did not appear to notice, but as soon as I was able to lure the dogs back again (which took 15 minutes), I put them right back on their leashes and left them tied to the tree until Susan got up. At least when she's around, their bad behavior can be her responsibility and not mine. (She insists that they are basically well-behaved dogs who just behave badly occasionally. I regard them as badly behaved dogs who just behave well on rare occasions.)

Since it was very cold at 5:30 a.m., my first priority after tying the dogs to a tree was to start a fire. Although I have often helped Susan gather fuel for campfires, she has always been the one to light them. This was my first time trying to light a campfire myself. It took me forever to locate any matches; I had to ask Susan to tell me where they were, thus interrupting her sleep some more. I piled dry pine needles and pine cones in the fire pit and struck a match. It went out. I struck four or five more matches, but the most I achieved was a dull glow from a pine needle, never lasting more than one second. The matches kept going out instantly after I struck them. I thought maybe they needed to be sheltered from wind (although there was no particularly noticeable wind to contend with), but I couldn't seem to shelter them adequately. Finally, not wanting to waste Susan's entire box of matches, I went to the truck and retrieved a can of lighter fluid that I had noticed while I was trying to find the matches. I put two small drops of lighter fluid on a pinecone, lit both with a single match, and successfully achieved my first campfire! I was so proud of myself that I determinedly kept it lit for the entire three and a half hours until Susan got up. Keeping a fire lit for three and a half hours requires an amazing amount of wood. Every twenty minutes I would haul logs and branches from around our campsite and all the vacant nearby campsites (fortunately there was an extremely abundant supply of free dry wood that had already been chopped into fairly manageable sizes) and pile them up until our fire pit was full. Then I would sit down to read my book by the fire (I was reading Music for Chameleons by Truman Capote, another of the gifts Susan gave me for one of our various lunar revolution celebrations), only to find that twenty minutes later there was no wood left and the fire was reduced to a few smoldering cinders! I had not realized how high-maintenance fire is until I was the only person available to keep restocking it. But I did successfully keep it lit for the full three and a half hours.

Later on Sunday, after Susan had gotten up and taken the dogs off their leashes, I took my camera and wandered off alone to photograph a creek that separated our campsite from the (vacant) campsite next to it. There were more serviceberries growing next to the creek, covered with white flowers but no berries yet.

There were currants in the creek. When I reported this to Susan later, she replied, "Well, of course there's a current in the creek!" She knew I meant currants, not currents - the plants growing in the foreground of the photo below. These will produce edible berries too, later in the season.

Boston soon noticed my absence and followed me.

Taco noticed Boston's absence and followed her.

They both waded in the creek.

Boston snapped at passing airborne insects.

They both started grazing on the plants, which worried me because I didn't know whether the plants were bad for dogs, so I decided I'd better lead them back to our campsite.

We sat around our campsite for most of the afternoon before we went back home. As we had done all weekend, we kept moving our chairs because I wanted to stay in the shade to avoid getting sunburned, while Susan wanted to stay in the sun to get a tan. By this point in the weekend, she had already ended up with a sunburn instead. I was relieved that I hadn't. The temperatures were significantly different in the shade than in the sun, too, and Susan remarked on what oddly different temperatures we were dressed for. I decided I should take a picture of us together to show our odd juxtaposition of clothes.

And then we went home. On the way, we saw a bear standing by the side of the road. It saw us too, and scampered off. We were glad we were in the truck when we encountered it, so the dogs couldn't do anything stupid like chase after it.

In other news: Tomorrow is the last day of Susan's school year! And our first date was the day before the first day of her school year. So we have survived an entire school year together. And enjoyed it tremendously.
Tags: native plants, photographs, susan
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