Home News Arky Road Trip: Amble mountain paths that encircle Camp Albert Pike

Arky Road Trip: Amble mountain paths that encircle Camp Albert Pike

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THE GOOD EARTH. Back before the Mother’s Day Night Tornado of 2015 I had a large, splendid oak tree in my back yard. Therefore, I had a large, well-fed population of backyard squirrels. Every year when winter’s approach killed off other vegetation in my patio landscaping, I would find some thriving knee-high oaks. I called them ‘survivors,’ and I believed they had sprung from the big oak’s acorns which had been ‘planted’ by some of those squirrels. I cut the saplings down every winter, but next fall there would more.

But now — sadly — the big oak is gone. I still have survivor oaks that are knee-high, and believe it or not, their leaves are STILL green.

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ANIMAL CRACKERS. I was always grateful that the Pacific Ocean was so large because it put vast distances between us and some scarifying creatures like the Yellow-bellied Sea Snake, a very poisonous serpent generally found farther south and much farther west than our coast.

But now three sea snakes have recently washed ashore in Southern California, including at two beaches where I used to go to look at Beach Bunnies back before the Civil War when I was in the Navy.

Perfessers at the Script Institute just up the coast from San Diego say the sea snakes aren’t likely to bite anyone, and in fact, there has never been a death attributable to a sea snake bite.

To that I say: “Yeah, but there’s always a first.”

The rare appearance of the sea snakes and to a couple of species of warm-water sharks is due to global warming, the perfessers say.

These perfessers are NOT the same perfessers who say you can see the Comet Catalina early in the morning. The latter are known as Yellow-bellied Perfessers who wouldn’t know a comet from a sea snake.

I went out again during the weekend hoping to get a glimpse of Comet Catalina. I sat out in a patio chair and shivered in the arctic air for about 15 minutes before dawn, Saturday. I had my trusty pair of Hong Kong binoculars, and I trained them on the area in the sky where the Yellow-bellied Perfessers promised I could easily find Comet Catalina.

If I wasn’t smart enough to come in from the cold I’d still be out there searching in vain for Catalina. I’d be frozen to the patio chair.

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ARKY ROAD TRIP. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy cross-state drive to be a great Arky Road Trip. Saturday, the Navigator and I took one that I’ve taken many times before. Great in any season.

We drove up past Camp Albert Pike and dawdled down those narrow, rough, winding roads through the blue mountains of Montgomery County.

For much of the way we had the Little Missouri splashing along on one side parallel with us. And for much of the way we were tip-toeing along ridges with deep chasms running parallel on our OTHER side.

”Don’t look, I’ll tell you what’s there,” the Navigator would say, not wanting my attention to drift away from the narrow path.

Our plan was to follow the roads which circle around and eventually deliver the traveler back to Shady Lake waaaay up above Athens. But due to a lack of roadsigns, we somehow took a wrong turn and circled around, surprising ourselves by returning to Camp Albert. There was a plus — we took frequent stops to inhale the pure mountain air and to listen to the silence. We also had some photo stops. But after awhile, every picture of a purple mountaintop in the distance looked just like the one taken 10 minutes earlier.

The US Forestry Service hasn’t just abandoned Camp Albert, they have also abandoned the backroads. Rough. You need a pickup with good ground-clearance; and slow down if you meet another traveler (on our whole 4-hour drive in the mountains, we met only one other vehicle; we did see a surprising number of cold weather campers, however).

Also, the government is saving money by not maintaining or replacing the occasional sign which directs drivers to civilization. That’s how we missed the road to Shady Lake. We did find one road sign, but it so rusted we couldn’t read it.

“This all looks so familiar,” I told the Navigator just before we drove up (from another direction) on the famous low-water bridge at Camp Albert.

Another thing. I surprised at the scarcity of wildlife. We saw a few birds and squirrels, but no deer or wild turkeys or bear or mountain lions.

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THINGS I LEARNED from reading email: A youthful figure is what you get when you ask a woman her age.

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HE SAID: “The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything.” OSCAR WILDE, Irish playwright

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SHE SAID: “You come into the world alone and you go out of the world alone yet it seems to me you are more alone while living than even going and coming.” EMILY CARR, Canadian artist

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SWEET DREAMS, Baby