Camping, Anyone?

By Judy Berman

Ah, camping! Pitching a tent and communing with nature! As Memorial Day approaches, it’s a time when many begin to think about the great outdoors, the lure of the water and the call of the wild.

The last time I heard the call of the wild – it seems a lifetime ago – was when we pitched our tent in the middle of a square-dancing marathon. The strains of do-si-do still cause an involuntary shudder in our household.

Still, off we bounded with optimism in our hearts as we pitched our tent on the lake’s edge. Our eyes were bloodshot from absorbing the sights and sound that suburbia locked out.

These were some of the attractions of our camping grounds. The water was so far from our campsite that, on the return trip, I drank most of the water supply to fight off dehydration.

The bathrooms, which my children discovered a need for at 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., were so far removed from our campsite that I had to take them there by car. (This is when they were much younger.)

Low-flying helicopters buzzed the rec area during the day because some bright flyboy discovered that the showers had no shower curtains and no roof.

The dark spot on the horizon was an approaching rainstorm. The flashes of lightning looked so picturesque off in the distance across the lake. Our friend warned us about the slight shift of wind.

So we secured the tent, tied down the flaps, put most of our gear away and slipped into our sleeping bags, expecting to be lulled to sleep by the gentle patter of rainfall on our tent.

What we hadn’t anticipated was the slight shift of wind, predicted by our friend, that amounted to a gale force of 50 mph winds and rain that descended like a torrential downpour. The wind savagely whipped around our tent and uprooted some of our supporting frames.

We sought refuge in our car which really was not designed to hold two adults, two children and a St. Bernard.

When the rain stopped, we gratefully got out of our cramped quarters. Bad news. Everything, including our sleeping bags, was drenched. We packed up like thieves in the night and began our long haul home.

At 3:30 a.m., we finally arrived home. We peeled off our wet, sandy duds and tumbled into bed.

That experience still cuts through me like a knife. When anyone suggests in an upbeat, chipper tone that we go camping, I recall how our dog would bolt under the table and whine pitifully. To this day, all the rest of us still register panic in our eyes at the thought of a return to the great outdoors.

What family vacation makes you chuckle or dive for shelter? Comment below.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

* Main photo: Camping – Danielle and Jenn – Labrador Pond, Tully, NY

* camping – cooking http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Myaso_(2642493568).jpg

* Camping graphic – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Camping.png  Source: USDA Forestry Service website

Titanic: Final Destination

By Judy Berman

Do you want A Night to Remember? A night on an ill-fated cruise ship?

I’d bail on this “voyage of a lifetime.” But others apparently are eager to board the 100th anniversary 12-night Titanic Memorial Cruise. The cruise on the MS Balmoral will follow the same route as the RMS Titanic.

First of all, this heartbreaking news bulletin: Neither Jack Dawson nor Rose DeWitt Bukater will be on board to greet you. Both characters in director James Cameron’s 1997 movie, “Titanic,” were fictional. There is, however, an effort to resuscitate Jack for a sequel. More on that later in this story.

While the Balmoral is already full, chances are there might still be some seats left on the eight-night Titanic Anniversary Cruise aboard the Azamara Journey. That’s set to sail from New York on April 10, exactly 100 years to the day the Titanic departed Southampton,England.

For a mere $14,850 a person, you can book a Club World Owners Suite. Some space still remains in the less pricey Interior Stateroom, for $4,900 a person.

Why the interest? The “Titanic” movie renewed fascination with the ship’s maiden voyage. Walter Lord, author of “A Night to Remember,” also portrayed the wrenching, human toll taken. He wrote that there were only 20 lifeboats for the 2,207 passengers aboard. Of those, 1,517 passengers and crew sank along with the ship after it hit an iceberg.

No word on how many lifeboats will be available for this trip. One flaw aboard the original cruise that I’m certain will be remedied this time around will be communications. Wikipedia states that, in 1912, the wireless radio operators were “paid primarily to relay messages to and from the passengers. They were not focused on relaying ‘non-essential’ ice messages to the bridge.”  (Read: also known as “iceberg ahead.”)

The cruise has booked Titanic historians and lecturers, offers a chance to experience the same dining pleasures offered in 1912 on the Titanic, and a chance to wear period costumes.

There will be a time for reflection to honor the victims on the Atlantic Ocean. “On April 14 at ll:40 p.m., Balmoral is scheduled to arrive at the spot where Titanic struck an iceberg, and a memorial service will be held at 2:20 a.m. on April 15, to coincide with the time the massive ship went down,” according to http://failuremag.com.

The Azamara Journey also will have a memorial service.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather watch the movie and avoid a freezing trip aboard a ship.

As for a movie sequel, there’s a fake trailer of “Titanic 2: Jack’s Back” or “Titanic 2: The Surface.” Clips from various movies featuring Leonardo DiCaprio are used to update the original. With the help of modern science, Jack comes back from his watery grave only to discover that much has changed since the ship he was on went down in 1912.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

To read more Titanic facts and to see the fake movie trailer, click on:

http://www.titanic-facts.com/titanic-movie.html

A Tale of Greed, Betrayal and Gold

By Judy Berman

(as told to me by my Dad, Joseph H. Fiet III)

The desert doesn’t want to give up its secrets – or its treasures. The quest for it often ends in betrayal and, sometimes, madness.

Dad’s internal compass was all we had to go on many times when we rode thru the desert in Nevada and California. At one spot, along the Colorado River, there were signs – footprints and a few empty bottles – to indicate others had traveled this way before. In other areas, we might “turn right at the third cactus” on a dirt path. It was on these ride-alongs and at his kitchen table that we heard the stories behind these remote locations and those who searched for gold and silver.

In the 1960s, a neighbor in Boulder City learned that Dad was looking at old mines. Mojave (not his real name) asked Dad to go with him to a site where he’d looked for a mine once before. On the drive down Interstate 15 just over the California border, Mojave said a former neighbor asked if he knew how to read maps. When he said yes, the man pulled out a yellowed, weathered map, and Mojave examined it.

At the time the map was made, I-15 didn’t exist. There was only a two-lane road which is a continuation of Las Vegas Boulevard. Mojave, the neighbor, and their families, packed a lunch and set out on that road. When they got to a telephone line, they followed it near the top. Then, they got out and decided to have their picnic.

After the picnic, they walked away from the highway. At a certain point, the neighbor said: “Well, I’ve seen enough. Let’s go home.”

Mojave thought that was odd. Odder still was, the next day, the neighbor disappeared. A few days later, a moving van hauled away the family’s belongings. Mojave never heard from him again.

So, Dad and Mojave took the same trail, returning to the same spot where the man decided to go home. It was getting late. There didn’t appear to be anything worth pursuing, and they went home.

A few weeks later, Dad went back to the same spot by himself and started walking into the mountains.

“The deeper I walked, the more I could see there was a trail that had been made by a wagon or a car,” Dad said.

Finally, at the top of the mountain, Dad sees a huge hole in the wall about 25 feet up. As he didn’t have any way to get up there, he returned home. Then he told Mojave: “I think I’ve found the mine that you were not supposed to find.”

Back they went. This time, there were three cars at the base of the entrance. Somebody was in the mine now.

“We couldn’t get to talk to anybody. People are very secretive about mines,” Dad said.

Mojave concluded that when the man discovered where the mine would go, that’s when he decided they should pack up and leave for home. Then, the next morning, the man filed a claim on the mine. The people who were parked at the base were no doubt working the mine for him.

“It almost had to be a gold mine. There are other mines around it that were getting gold,” Dad said.

So they left with no way to find out exactly what was happening inside the mine.

“But, the mystery was solved,” Dad said, “on why the man ran away and never again talked to Mojave.”

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo of the Joshua tree in the Nevada desert was taken by: Chris Christensen, “Amateur Traveler”

River of Gold

 

by Judy Berman

(as told to me by my Dad, Joseph H. Fiet III)

The desert is an infinite stretch of emptiness to some. But this was the Nevada my father loved. He’d take off in his pickup truck or motorcycle and head to old mines in search of adventure.

His only companion on some of these trips was one of his trusty German shepherds. So, Dad also carried a weapon. Not just for protection against marauding wolves, poisonous snakes and other wild critters. Sometimes, the human animal was the greater danger. Once, he saw some men acting suspiciously when they were out in the desert in the predawn hours. Bodies have been buried there and never found. After that encounter, my Dad carried a rifle.

But it wasn’t a mob hit that Dad was after. It was gold. His quest was recreational. For some whose whole life was wrapped up in the pursuit of riches, the search often becomes maddening.

Dad told of a miner in the 1930s who ran across two Indians when he was looking for treasure.

“They wanted to sell him a location of a working mine for $200,” Dad said.

Now this was during the Great Depression, and $200 was a lot of money then.

They told him the mine was 3,000 feet underground by a river, like an ocean with tides. There was black sand on the banks and gold was in the black sand.

Intrigued, but suspicious, the miner asked why they were selling the mine if they were making money out of it.

The Indian said his friend had arthritis and could no longer go up and down the ladder where the gold was. He showed the miner his friend’s arthritic hand.

The miner paid $200 for the map. Then, he went to Las Vegas to consult with a geologist friend. They bought a week’s worth of supplies and went to the limestone cave.

They used a series of ladders to get there. Once they located the river, they picked up samples of black sand.

Back up at the top, the geologist suffered a heart attack. The man frantically searched for people to help. He brought them back to his friend, and that’s when the bag he was carrying fell to the ground. They saw the black sand and gold spill out.

The miner knew he needed to distract them. While they tried to revive his friend, he went back and blew up the entrance to the mine.

He was confident he could find his way back in. When he was down in the cave, he’d seen a shaft of light and knew there was another entrance.

Fortune, however, did not smile on him. The miner spent the next 30 years looking for that entrance.

This story might just be an urban legend. A great treasure found and then lost. Like Humphrey Bogart told Ward Bond about the black statuette in “The Maltese Falcon,” it’s the “stuff that dreams are made of.”

It was enough to motivate a group of people to work together to find the mine. When they do, Dad said they agreed to share equally. Like other quests for gold and silver, time will tell if they follow thru.

“I’ve never heard if they succeeded,” Dad said.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-14. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

(photo information: Dad in Nelson, Nevada)