Sycamore Canyon Sunrise

The Moon hovers over the ridge as it turns over the watch. Sunlight touches Outlook Peak at 7am, but down in the canyon we shiver in the cold and I regret crawling out of my sleeping bag.

(Especially as the new tent and cot gave me the best night’s sleep I have ever enjoyed while camping.)

Camping is pure therapy, an antidote to the tyranny of the to-do list.



I have been a happy passenger of All Nippon Airlines for two decades. They are my exclusive carrier for my transpacific commute.

Yesterday I received this little token from the ANA folks.

Safe, comfortable, friendly, and thoughtful: that’s why I fly with them.

The Chimes of Santana

The hot winds are blowing out of the Northeast again today, driving January mid-day temperatures into the high 80s. But stepping out this morning to take the kid to the school bus was a delight. The sky was a faded pink, the breezes warm and pleasant. We drove to the bus stop with the windows down, and when we parked alongside the harbor, the wind chimes from half a dozen porches made for an unusually beguiling cacophony.

He turned to me and said, “okay, I love the Santanas now.”

I was so pleased that I didn’t bother to mention that six hours hence, when the temperature at his fire-scarred hilltop school approached triple-digits, he might hold a different opinion.

Gaviota Dawn

Gaviota Beach and trestle bridge.

An early fall morning, just before dawn, and Gaviota Canyon is doing yeoman service as a wind tunnel. The Sundowner winds peculiar to this area are magnified by the narrow pass behind me and they’ve been rocking cars, pulling tent pegs, and making campfires impossible for the past 12 hours.

A fine grit pervades everything, and I wonder how long it will take me to clean up.

But two months (or more, I’ve lost track) of nonstop work, travel, and “drama, not otherwise specified” have made medicine of a couple of days plotzed in a campsite. The waves crash, the squirrels, ospreys, and Monarch butterflies go about their business, and they catch me up in their rhythm, allowing me to reset my tempo and reflect in a way I could not last weekend in a Chicago hotel room.

So I will take the grit. And as the sun rises, I start to see the path forward with unaccustomed clarity.

I reach for my boots. It is time to begin.

Pocket Gopher

In the topor of the afternoon, Mr. Gopher pops by, inviting himself to tea.

Our conversation is interrupted by the distant shriek from the osprey nest under the trestle, and Mr. Gopher decides that tea might be best taken underground. Without so much as a “good afternoon” he leaves us. 

I reach for my coffee, toast the now-deserted tunnel entrance, and marvel aloud how Camping turns “pests” into “wildlife.” Somewhere, John Muir, Edward Abbey, and perhaps even the Almighty himself may be nodding in agreement.