Patch of the Month: Saddleback

If the California desert continues to hold secrets, it is not because they are hidden, but because they are ignored. As we ease into fall, the thoughts of our Scout troop naturally turn inland and towards the desert.

October through March offers the best season to camp in the deserts. Days are comfortable, nights are chilly but not arctic, and enough animals are active during the day to make hiking more than a long walk.

One of my favorite places in the desert is Saddleback Butte State Park, a modest, Joshua Tree-girt peak located in the heart of a triangle between Palmdale, Victorville, and Edwards Air Force Base. The campsites were mostly primitive, but there were toilets and showers, making extended stays possible.

We had originally planned to go in February of this year, but cancelled at the last minute. The winter had witnessed a parade of great storms roll through the state that effectively ended the long drought, but also spewed flash floods across the desert floors. Given that Saddleback was accessible only by roads susceptible to flash flooding, and that we were driving in at night, we decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and rescheduled for March.

It was the right call. Sharing our gigantic site with another troop, we enjoyed the weekend immensely. I picked up this patch at the interpretive center at the northwest corner of the park after a short hike up from our campsite.

No doubt we will be back this way.

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Big Breakfast

Note to self:

Next time, before ordering a breakfast, check the calorie counts FIRST.

This California Omelette at Chicago’s Yolk tipped the charts at 2,000 calories, which I didn’t realize until later. Good thing I walked five miles today.

I’m looking forward to returning to the land of lower-calorie, lower fat breakfasts.

Godspeed, Thomas

I am a nostalgist at the best of times, and at the worst the combination of music, moment and memory turn me into a weeping ninny.

A fair chunk of Tom Petty’s oeuvre does that to me, “Free Falling” more than most. My teen years were passed in the San Fernando Valley, and the song brings the worst of those years back in a painful rush. I never said so aloud, but Petty for me was like that cool older brother I never had, the guy who made me feel like everything was going to be okay because I shouldn’t take it too seriously, anyway. 

In “Free Falling,” I heard Tom telling me that, yeah, I had hurt people, that it was wrong, that it didn’t make be a “bad boy” for breaking a heart, but that my true struggle was going to be learning to live with the hurt I had caused without daring to try and rationalize, minimalize, or forget it. That’s what the bad boys did, and that was anything but cool. 

Was that what he wrote the song to try and provoke? I don’t know. That’s what the song meant to me. I can only hope that my expropriation of his music for my own emotional purposes wouldn’t have bothered Tom. 

I think about meeting him on some other level of being and asking him about it. I hear him saying “no, man, if I can sing and you can heal, I’ve done my job. Mission accomplished.”

The Rebbe once said “music is the pen of the soul.” Mine will always carry an autograph of Tom Petty.

Keep playin’, big brother. Lots of healing to be done where you’re going. 

See you.