Archive for October, 2008

Cuyamaca spirits rising

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Despite the Red Flag warnings, we returned last week to William Heise County Park near Julian, CA., in anticipation of the full moon lighting up the night sky, and we were not disappointed. As others may be about to winterize their trailers, we are just starting our camping season and will follow the sun, moon and seasons, somewhat like our local Native American Kumeyaay Indians did in finding the most comfortable sites to set up camp, ranging from the mountains to the desert and down again to the coast.

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This park is in the Cuyamaca Mountains. Cuyamaca is a Spanish corruption of the Kumeyaay phrase “Ekwiiyemak”, meaning roughly, “the place where it rains”. The Indians had seasonal mountain camps near streams and springs where acorns and pine nuts were plentiful. The Kumeyaay Nation lived in this and other areas of San Diego County for at least 10,000 years before the arrival of Spanish and other European settlers. San Diego County has more Native American Indian reservations than any other county in the United States. Richard Carrico, professor of American Indian Studies at San Diego State University, is the author of Strangers in a Stolen Land, (Sunbelt Publications, 3rd edition, July 31, 2008).

Shortly after we set up camp and ate dinner, the moon rose and lit up our trailer and truck.

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The stars are hard to see in the above picture, but the visual clue that this is actually night (and the reflected light is really moonlight and not sunlight) is the light coming out of the trailer windows. (By the way, the refrigerator vent is propped open to help the fan do a more efficient job… details of this can be seen here.) This and the other night images seen in this article were taken with our Nikon D40 camera set to the new feature, Auto (Flash off) Mode, useful in situations where the use of a flash is undesirable.

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Click on the image to enlarge it and see the stars. All of these night shots were also done with the camera and its heavy 18-200 mm lens supported and stabilized by the Slik heavy-duty Pro 700DX tripod.

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Sleeping under the stars…

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By the way, other than resizing, there was no image editing or manipulation in any of these images. The images were directly loaded into the iPhoto program of our MacBook Pro, resized and uploaded to this article.

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We traditionally celebrate the fall harvest season by eating apple pie. The nearby town of Julian celebrates Apple Days from September 15 to November 15. Also shown here is a pumpkin, carefully hand picked from the market (rather than the field of spikes) and maize (not to be confused with maze).

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Let us toast to the spirit of the season…

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And to the spirits of the sky and land and nature…

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And to Native Americans and all peoples of the world…

May we live in peace and harmony with a respect for life in all of its variations and life styles…

May we focus on the positive and inclusiveness

Let our spirits rise as we listen to our hearts… and Native American music.

Red Flag warning

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

I apprehensively watched the news last Tuesday morning as fires raged in Los Angeles and San Diego County on the morning of our fall camping trip to our favorite campground (William Heise County Park) in the Cuyamaca Mountains near Julian, CA. I checked on road information with Caltrans Highway Information Network (CHIN) and found that our planned route, Interstate 8, was closed to trucks and high-profile vehicles at Alpine due to a High Wind Advisory. So with no fires near Julian and an open route through Ramona, we made our way towards Julian, where fires last year caused the evacuation of the town.

Every fall, Santa Ana winds sweep dry air across Southern California, raising the fire danger and triggering Red Flag warnings. A Red Flag Warning was in effect on the day we arrived, so we were not surprised to see the “No Open Flames” signs everywhere, including one in each fire ring.

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We learned from the San Diego County ranger on duty that the “No Open Flames” here means the obvious no camp fires, charcoal fires, and candles. He said though that gas stoves were o.k., which worked for us as we had already planned on deep frying potatoes, fish and crab cakes…

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And the candles were kept inside the trailer…

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While our Safari bathed in the light of the full Hunter’s Moon

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(Highlights of night images taken here with the Nikon D40 set at the new feature, Auto (Flash off) mode will appear in my next article.)

We thoroughly enjoyed camping here Tuesday through Friday before the weekend crowd arrived. The days were spent waking to the sounds of crows and woodpeckers, taking quiet walks with the dogs (on the park roads, not trails), hiking (without the dogs), and catching up on reading, such as Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Mark Twain, Airstream Life, and Spooky Campfire Tales.

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Celebrating the fall harvest season at this campsite will continue in my next article…

About the Author

BILL, along with partner, Larry, were first-time RV'ers when they purchased their custom-ordered 23' 2007 Airstream Safari SE. Bill (a retired RN) and Larry (a retired pediatric Occupational Therapist) enjoy bringing history alive in the area of San Diego, CA.