Into the Wild (Of Sorts)

Though in previous years I've always said that I tend to love the great
outdoors more than the great outdoors loves me, I'm working on
reversing that. Yes, I get poison ivy and bug bites at the drop of a
hat. But with more exposure and more time out among the trees and the
dirt and the elements and the bugs and the wild deer who do a seesawing
jump while they flee, I'm not minding as much (and, interestingly, not
getting as much p.i., bites and so forth).

The last two weekends have taken me in part, and in whole, outdoors and in almost all aspects I had a wonderful time.

From the Fells walking area near where Sunspiral (who showed me around) lives:

We also came across these incredible mushrooms growing out of a
still-standing, but very dead tree. The biggest were the size of dinner
plates, and were almost unreal, with a shiny, solid quality. It was as
if Disney had drawn mushrooms and they'd come to like. I don't know
enough to know what they're called:

None of it was deep wild; you could walk for a fair bit of time but
never really get lost — there are service roads, reservoirs and
evidence of people everywhere — but it was a good way to rejuvenate
and get away from the concrete, the exhaust and the only occasional
glimpses of trees and sun.

This past weekend I went up with Mikecap
and some of his family and friends to just outside New Hyde Park, NY.
It was car camping, which has its pluses, but it was actual
sleeping-outside camping. We left the rainfly off the tent the first
night and could stare up at the stars through the netting. There was a
lot of food roasted over the fire pit (fires are much harder to get
going than you'd think, but here's a secret: Save your bacon grease and
soak paper towels in it to get things going next time!) and s'mores
consumed, alcohol drunk and Movie Game played. We were amongst numerous
other car campers, which again took away most of the "get away from it
all" feeling, but it was better than nothing. At least we didn't have
to personally carry all of our supplies in — that would be a real

We spent part of Saturday outside of the campsite, and walked the
grounds of the Vanderbilt Mansion, which has some incredible old-growth
trees and lots of twisted, delightful vines.


The best part was something I couldn't even take pictures of: A large
empty meadow comprises the entrance of the camping grounds, and after
dark we took our blankets and drove out there to stare at the
constellations. It's not deep dark, despite the remote location, but
Mike saw shooting stars, we all pointed out satellites and the Big
Dipper and North Star — and once or twice swore we were seeing shadows
of deers passing in the distance. Then we got a surprise. There were
fireflies, so many of them that their little winking lights spotted
against the dark dark trees and — as someone noted — it felt like
being in Yankee Stadium with everyone taking pictures. Just dozens and
dozens of little flashes, over an over again, of little beetles looking
for their mates in the darkness.

Of course, this is just a warm-up. Next weekend: The Rocky Mountains, and hut-to-hut hiking at 10,000 feet.