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Wunderland.com

Thursday, July 20th, 2006
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Camping at Signature Rocks

This weekend I went backpacking (for the first time in years), with 2 of my brothers, Howard and Jeff. We went up to Shenandoah National Park, hoping to find a secret spot which Howard and his friends have been going to for years. We didn't quite get there... it really is a secret place, it seems. As we were preparing to hike out (we were stalling because it was raining when we got there but seemed to be clearing off) a Park Ranger stopped to find out what we were up to, parking our vehicle at such an unusual spot along Skyline Drive. Of course, since we'd been planning this trip for months, Howard had all the correct permits, but what really impressed the Ranger was the antiquated map Howard had, depicting the trail we were planning to seek out, which doesn't appear on more recent maps since the trail really doesn't exist anymore. "Oh, you're trying to go out there?" she asked, "Well, good luck!"

We needed luck, too. Howard had repeatedly warned us that he might have trouble finding the place alone, i.e. without any of his usual buddies, none of whom totally know the way but whose different memories of how to get there makes it easier to find the place as a group. (Jeff and I had been out here before, it that was more than 18 years ago.) To make matters worse, a forest fire had swept through this area some six years ago, just after the last time Howard had been here, and while it was cool to see how quickly a forest can become green again after a major fire, the combination of dead and live undergrowth we had to bushwhack through was pretty exhausting. Combine that with summertime heat (albeit cooler in the mountains), occasional lack of direction (although Howard did successfully find the way), and very heavy backpacks (we brought way too much stuff plus we had to carry in all the water we would use) and you end up with an exhausting march. At one point I said "A mile of this is like 5 on the C&O Canal!" and Jeff replied "More like 10! And I'd take that over this!"

But we made it, at least most of the way. We ended up camping at a different (but also cool) outcropping of boulders, which was nicknamed Signature Rocks by one of Howard's friends, since it's a key landmark on the way to the official secret spot. (But considering how dense the overgrowth has become, Signature Rocks may end up becoming the new Secret Spot...)

I don't have a good camera right now so I didn't take any pictures on this trip... instead, here's a photo of me taken during our last camping trip together at this place, in October 1987. As you can see, it's a cool spot... maybe next time we'll bring a GPS device so we can get the coordinates and thus have less trouble finding it in the future.

Anyway, this week I also went with Gina and Stacey and Renee and Alex to celebrate Gina and Renee's birthdays by riding roller coasters at King's Dominion, and that was also a lot of fun despite the heat. I sure love Volcano: The Blast Coaster... it might just be my favorite steel coaster anywhere at this time. (My favorite woodie is still The Beast.) You can read the GinohnNews this week for Gina's report on this coastering excursion.

Meanwhile, Alison is away these current couple of weeks, working as she does every summer at the Burgundy Center for Wildlife Studies, where she too has been going backpacking. Josh went down to visit her for a day yesterday, helping her do a tie-dye session, and he reports that she's having a great time at camp.

As for Kristin, she and Robin have just been working working working this week. There's just too much to do! A lot has been happening this week in the office, but I'm going to save those topics for next week.

AndyThanks for reading and have a great week!
PS: I combined my trip to the Dominion of Kings with a warehouse drop-off and pick-up run, and while I was at PMC talking to Brian, I asked how things were going with all the orders we've been getting for individual promo cards. He told me exactly what we've been worrying about: that it's a lot of extra work for them. We've been getting lots of orders for bunches of individual cards, and it's taking their team a lot longer now to fill our orders. This means it's very likely that we'll be increasing the price on the promo cards soon.


Thought Residue
"We face a future where almost anything could happen. Will we be crippled by global warming, weapons proliferation and species depletion, or liberated by space travel, world government and molecule-sized computers? We don't even want to start thinking about it. This is our peculiar form of selfishness, a studied disregard of the future. Our astonishing success as a technical civilisation has led us to complacency -- to expect that things will probably just keep getting better. But there is no reason to believe this. We might be living in the last gilded bubble of a great civilisation about to collapse into a new Dark Age, which, given our hugely amplified and widespread destructive powers, could be very dark indeed. If we want to contribute to some sort of tenable future, we have to reach a frame of mind where it comes to seem unacceptable - gauche, uncivilised - to act in disregard of our descendants." -- Brian Eno, "The Big Here and Long Now"

"I grew up in the age before microwave ovens, when vcrs where expensive and spoke only in military time. It was the golden age of arcade games, when every mall had an arcade, and every kid who could scrape up 25 cents could be a hero. I used to go to arcades like 'Time Out', and spend hours in the local People's drug, which had an aisle of arcade games and a coin changer. Back then, we listened to bands like Van Halen and Led Zeppelin, ate burgers at Roy Rogers, read Heavy Metal magazine and took buses all over town to get to 'newer' video games." -- Skipernicus, writing at his LiveJournal about a youthtime much like my own
"There are 2 things you have to do to be a Looney: Read and Play Games." -- my 9-year old nephew James Looney.

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