this one time at scout camp

 The Magnificent Seven – Vin (Steve McQueen): “It’s like a fellow I once knew in El Paso. One day, he just took all his clothes off and jumped in a mess of cactus. I asked him that same question, ‘Why?'”


Sitting around the cabin one night at Scout Camp, ten boys cramped into a tiny space in the woods, swapping stories by flashlight, telling truths and risking dares, we began to play a game.  It was a simple game that required only three things: bug spray, a lighter, and nerves.   Whichever scout’s turn it was would line the palm of their hand with a small amount of bug spray and then spark it aglow.  It wasn’t a natural fire, burning fluorescent blue in the dim light, and it was fascinating to watch the chemicals burn for a few seconds before the heat started to get uncomfortable.  Then a quick slap of the hands or a brush against a pant leg and the flames were extinguished.  It was simple as that, and then it was the next scout’s turn.

Round and round we went.  Each taking up the dare and risking the challenge.  Each pushing the limits and seeing how long they could last before fear, and pain, settled in and they frantically slapped away the small flames.  We were young, and fire held a powerful sway over us, and eventually the dares escalated.  It was inevitable.

So it was, the we lit one poor scout’s feet on fire.  Yes, feet.  He stood there for as long as he could and we all watched in awe of his bravery and resolve until it dawned on him that it might be trickier to put out those particular flames.  (Later he would say it was when he felt the bug spray flames dripping between his toes that he finally gave in to panic.)  He took off in a flash, out the cabin doors and dashing for the lake, for relief, for some sort of freedom from our temporary insanity.

Luckily he wasn’t hurt and he didn’t set the forest on fire in the process, but I will never forget the look on his face the moment before he sprinted out of the cabin, the image of his blue glowing feet disappearing into the darkness, or the sound of the remaining nine of us bursting into laughter so fierce we brought ourselves to tears.

Why, you ask?  Why would we do such a foolish thing and laugh about it?


Vin: “He said, ‘It seemed to be a good idea at the time.'”


Word Count: 447

This is my second contribution to Yeah Write.  I’m hoping you all got a laugh out of it.

TAGGED again

KnowledgeKnut tagged me!  We are back in the schoolyard again.  And I’m okay with it.  I always liked tag.  In the scouts we played a slightly nastier version of the game called “Ditch-em.”  In the polite versions of that game those who weren’t “it” just completely disappeared making it impossible to be found and tagged.  In the less polite versions of the game we set up tricks and traps for those chasing us.

A visual representation of the current game:


For some reason I feel like Uncle Sam is pointing in my direction…  Anyone else feel that way?  Hmm, either Uncle Sam or maybe Smokey the Bear.  Speaking of scouts I can’t remember how many times we almost burned down something…  but, that’s another story altogether.  Let’s get on with the game, shall we?  We shall…


  1. Post these rules
  2. Post a photo of yourself (if you want to) and eleven random facts about yourself
  3. Answer the questions given to you in the tagger’s post.
  4. Create eleven new questions and tag new people to answer them.
  5. Go to their blog/twitter and let them know they have been tagged.

– 2 – Eleven random facts about me:
1. I’m feeling a bit odd today.
3. Did I mention the scouts?  Yeah, I’m an eagle.
5. I definitely think rules are meant to be stretched to the limits.
7. I only almost accidentally burned down my house once.  It involved fireworks.  I was in junior high.
9. I’ve posted a few pictures of me in some of the previous games of tag I was pulled into.  If you are feeling less lazy than me, you can search for them and, er, um, check me out.
11. It’s not that I’m lazy so much as that I’m not getting a lot of sleep these days.  The little prince isn’t yet on any sort of discernible schedule.

– 3 – Questions from KnowledgeKnut and my answers:

1.  If you could spend time with someone who inspired(s) you, who would that be?
My maternal grandfather.  (Mom, I’m not just saying that to see if I can get you to cry.)

2.  Why?
He was an amazing man… and if half of the memories I have of him, and half of the stories I’ve heard about him are true at all, he was more than an amazing man.  I never got to spend much time with him when I was old enough to appreciate the wisdom and experiences I could get from him.  I’d love to have that opportunity now.

3.  If you could be the opposite sex for one week, what would you do?
I plead the fifth.

4.  What is your dream car?
I’m not really a car guy.  If had the money I’d probably buy a corvette…

5. What is something you’ve always wanted to say to someone but never had the nerve?
I’m sure there have been things, but I don’t remember them.  For the most part I try to speak my mind.

6.  When you forgive someone, can you forget?

7.  If you could be any Royal (dead or alive), who would you be?
Me.  The Jester of the Matticus Kingdom.  Duh!

8.  Why?
Because being the Jester is total awesomesauce.

9. Your favorite movie has became your reality, what is the movie and what part are you playing?
Too many choices…. too many…. too… *beep* sorry, you have fried the Jester’s brain (nice going there wiseguy), please bear with us as we try to get things up and running again…. *beep*

If they ever make the Dark Tower series into a movie (or 7… or 14…).  I would be Roland Deschain of Gilead. 

10. Your goal is to become famous, how do you plan to do that?
With the wordiness of my wordy words, of course.

11.  When you are gone (dead) what is the one thing that you want to remembered for?
My wordy words.  Didn’t we just cover that?

– 4 – Questions and people I’m tagging:
1. Coke or Pepsi?
2. Why?
3. Mac or PC?
4. Why?
5. Tastes Great or Less Filling?
6. Why?
7. Why is the answer to life, the universe and everything “42?”
8. Pen or pencil?
9. Why?
10. Manual or automatic?
11. Why?

(Thanks to my brilliant wife who helped me come up with this list of questions.  She is AMAZING.)

You’ve been tagged:
1. Jon
2. Jen
3. MerBear
4. Steph
5. Tony
6. (Aunt) Princess Rosebud
7. The Imaginator
8. The Scribbler
9. Mr. Atheist
10. Matrone Bell
11. Rara
12. Jenn
13. The Foodie Farmer

Each of these wonderful bloggers has guest blogged for me in the last couple of weeks, picking up the slack around the kingdom while my efforts have been focussed elsewhere.  And how do I repay them?  I tag them, of course!  Don’t you wish you had guest blogged for me too??!!

Of course you do!

RIP Eureka Dunes


We are gathered here today, at the foot of the Last Chance Mountains, to pay our respects to Eureka Dunes.  You were once majestic: soaring out of the valley floor.  You were once magical: mystery and adventure waited within your depths.  You enchanted us in our youth, challenged us in early adulthood, and inspired us later in life to try and stand the test of time right alongside you.  Time finally caught up with you, as it must for all of us eventually.

Though future generations will miss out on getting to enjoy all the experiences you had to offer: the educational opportunities, the frivolities you pandered in abundance, the chances to test their mettle, to grow and become more than they were when they first step foot upon your sandy reaches, we are not here to mourn you.  Rather, this is a celebration of your existence.

We will keep you alive in our hearts and minds by remembering what you meant to us, what you did for us, and what we learned from you.  Anyone who had the privilege of visiting with you at least once will have their own stories to tell, and I will encourage them to share those stories in a few moments in the comment section below.  This, however, is my story.  This is how you will always be alive for me.

My first impression of you, as we dropped into the valley and we could see you far off in the distance is that you weren’t as impressive as I had thought you would be.  The buzz words had been “tallest sand dunes in CA” and possibly “the tallest in North America.”  I had built you up in my mind and then I was unimpressed.  But, we kept driving, and driving, and driving and as we grew closer you jutted out of the valley floor to tower above everything else.  The ridges and peaks of the Last Chance Mountains still dwarfed you, but they are mountains and dwarf everything by comparison.  We arrived, set up camp, and then we were unleashed upon you.

We took our modified skateboards, with the trucks and wheels removed, and the bottoms sanded and waxes and went crawling and sprawling over the expanse of the dunes.  We walked for what seemed like forever, climbing to the peaks of the nearest ones, and sitting on our boards to slide down into the bowls and valleys usually losing control and tumbling off to slide and roll the majority of the way down.  We laughed, dusted ourselves off and continued on in search of the highest peaks, the steepest slopes, and every second of fun we could squeeze out of those moments.

Bruised, battered, weary and jubilant we returned to camp before the sun set so we could replenish our energy through food.  We sat around our little fires to keep warm and we relived the days activities, our shouts of laughter echoing back and forth off the valley walls.  We were giants among giants.  We had tested ourselves against the dunes and we had survived.

As the moon and stars came out to play and our fires sputtered out, I figured we would be headed to bed to rest up in preparation of a full day of time on the dunes the next day.  I was wrong.  Following the older scouts lead, we donned our warmest gear (boy scouts after all – we had come prepared), fired up a few lanterns, grabbed our flashlights and boards and headed back out into the dunes, into the darkness, into the night. 

The slightest breeze can send the dunes shifting, the fine sand swirling around, moving, reforming.  During the day you could see plumes of sand being sent skyward off the tallest ridges.  At night, when we could no longer rely on our sight, we could feel the ground shifting underneath our feet.  It was then when we could really understand that the dunes were alive.  It was then the magic of the dunes came out to play with us.  I was enthralled.  I was ensnared.  I was cold, and tired, and filthy, and in love.  Through the caress of the icy sand, on those moonlit nights, lost in their depth and wrapped in the adventure it offered, I knew the dunes loved me too.

I returned to their embrace every year after that while I remained a boy scout.  I went from following the elder scouts’ leads to running my own course, to be followed in return by new generations of scouts.  We explored every valley.  We climbed every peak.  We hiked around the whole expanse.  We learned and laughed and were shaped into the men we would become as we tested ourselves against the elements and the dunes.

Times have changed, as they will always do, and while the wind has yet to blow the dunes into oblivion the rules and laws have changed.  People are no longer allowed to set foot upon them so they may be preserved for future generations to see, unspoiled by our impact of trespassing across them.  I am sad that I will not get to unleash my children to roam their slopes but I will tell them my stories, I will see the shine of magic in their eyes when I do, and I will know you live yet.

That is my story of the Eureka Dunes.  Please, now, if you will, I would be honored if you would share yours…