Category Archives: The Great Outdoors
We’ve been doing this camping trip since as long as I can remember to celebrate Sam’s birthday. This year the birthday boy was in Chicago celebrating his 21st year on this planet with his girlfriend and was unable to make the trip. It’s been a bumpy year and hard to get away but once your there and sitting around the campfire listenening to John talk about UFOs, eating chili verde, coooking up pound after pound of bacon and watching everyone grow up amonst the big trees you realize that it’s worth it.
As we manuver around curves in the roads visited only once a year we pull into our campsite that at this point seems like home. Everyone knows what to bring and where to set up their tents. Some faces are missing because of lifes responsibilities. I’m feeling those commitments and pressures even more this year but know this trip is important. I don’t know what else to say, but there’s a feeling when the wind blows through our campsite and everyone who is busying themselves with backgammon, bow and arrow making, tidying up, playing music, or relaxing, and we all look at the trees together and feel happy.
As we get ready our camping gear to make our annual journey to Sequoia I just realized there wasn’t a posting from last years trip. That’s not to say the event wasn’t documented nor exciting. There was Dave’s giant fires, rolling a giant log into our campsite, ukuleles galore, birthdays, haircuts,U.B.S- unconfirmed bear sightings, paella night, 6″ of snow, a speeding ticket (me) and culminated with stitches at an emergency room in Bakersfield, that would be Ollie.
Back to packing…Thank the gods we have a paramedic with us again this year.
Yeah, we’re back. As always it’s shocking being home after 6 weeks on the north shore of Kauai. There was a great swell this weekend here in southern California. “Epic conditions” as they say. I just didn’t go out. Too jet- lagged, too much to do to get the boys ready for their first day of school, and too much to get ready for a trip to New York tomorrow. But the biggest reason I didn’t go out this weekend was because of where we surf on Kauai. We usually go out at Tunnels. It’s a long paddle out to one of the prettiest breaks in the world. Waves were small but fun. I took Theo and Ollie out to get a taste of the break and get tossed around on the reef a bit. Paddling in at sunset on our last day we had the sun going down on our right over the NaPali cliffs and a double rainbow on our left. Back on shore there’s always that feeling after a nice surf session. Your arms are tired, you all have big stupid goofey smiles on your faces, take inventory on your reef cuts and you can’t wait to walk back home and rinse off with the garden hose.
For the past few years Debbie and I have not hiked the Kalalau Trail. We’ve been happy just swinging in the hammock under the shade of a palm tree reading, swimming, snorkeling and surfing. The memories I have of the trail are those of extraordinary beauty. Â Mud, lush foliage and usually a baby or toddler strapped to my back. It’s hard to enjoy the trails’ beauty when you are doing it with a 25lb. kid asleep on your back or better yet a toddler who says, “I wanna walk now Daddy.” So you take him out of the backpack and let him walk a few yards then he says, “I’m tired of walking.” It kinda ruins the flow. This is the first year where all our boys have been up for the trail on their own two feet. So packed with water, tangerines and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches we started our journey.
It’s only 2 miles to the first beach but it’s a slippery, muddy, wet ascent through the Napali coast. Henry took off ahead of everyone trying to set a worlds’ record or more likely because he was embarrassed of me dressed in my really short Patagonia Stand-Up short pants. Ollie, Simon and I enjoyed the scenery at a much slower pace. We talked about Acapulco cliff diving, sky diving and how people fall off of cliffs. After arriving at our destination at Hanakapia Beach for a swim, stack some rocks and torture the tadpole population we headed back. Most of the conversation on the way back was done by Simon who talked about a restaurant we all went to (in his dreams) where they serve energy gum, give you rifles when you sit down, ride horses that you later eat and have marshmallows for dessert. Happy Trails!
I walk down to the beach just as the sun was coming up and I see a snake on my path. What do I do? I think, not poisonous, definitely not a Coral or King snake. Try to remember the limerick red next to yellow it’s mellow- black next to red- you are dead. Something like that, only problem is what if I screwed the limerick up- then what. Anyways, I’ve established that this snake is not poisonous, I think. My brother, Steve Wilson, Carl Bocchino and I had a snake club back in elementary school. We knew our snakes. I put my bag to get my camera out. I’m thinking this guy would make a nice picture. He’s red and brown and kind of long and snakey. Now, (here’s where you think I may be stupid) I want to move him into better light. I go to grab him right behind the head and he turns and bites me on the right thumb. I recoil, curse , look at 2 small bleeding puncture wounds on my finger and the snake slithers away. My friend John was bit by a baby rattlesnake last year and is lucky to be alive. This is where the mind starts to stray, fear creeps in, self-doubt (our snake club was a long time ago and wasn’t a very good club at that) escalates. I got a family who I love and who loves me. This is day 3 of a 10 day shoot, models are going to start showing up soon and you just got yourself bit by a snake you bonehead. This is what I do. I get my camera out and start shooting the sunrise. The f stops and shutter speeds create a mantra to get me back on track, iso 100 f 5.6@ 125, iso 100 f 5.6@ 125, iso 100 f 5.6@ 125, iso 100 f 5.6@ 125, iso 100 f 5.6@ 125….
The rest of the crew starts making their way to the beach. The snake is gone. There’s just this cat who wants to be pet. I tell him to go have some fun with the snake.
I ask a groundskeeper if he’s ever seen snakes around here before and he says, “Oh yes man, the red and brown kind, the are good snakes.” I nonchalantly inform the art director and the producer that I got bit by a snake. They think I’m joking. We check the internet to see if we can pin down exactly what kind of snake bit me. Google snakes, Florida keys.
Here’s what we find out http://www.jaxzoo.org/animals/biofacts/CornSnake.asp Red Rat snakes are also known as corn snakes. The name red rat snake is believed to have originated from the similarity of the markings on the belly to the checkered pattern of Indian corn kernels. Oh yeah, they are not poisonous. I’m off the hook. It’s back to work. I look at the schedule. We got a lot of shots it’s blazing hot but a least I don’t have snake venom coursing through my system.
Packing the van at the end of the day I hear a rustling sound in the leaves under a large tree. Arboreal roots are gently swaying, calling to me. Dozens of lizards are dancing in the now fading sun. The way the light is hitting the scene is eerie. I lay down in the leaves. My vantage point become serpentine…Someone yells if you get bit by another snake Debbie is going to kill you.
Our alarm clock has been the sound of Ollie saying, “I’m going to the beach!” The reef in the early morning is a magical landscape. You can practically walk on the water. It’s a little miracle.
When I was growing up in Ft. Lauderdale we pretty much got to roam wild. Shoes were for school. Was sunblock even invented?Â The territory between the Commercial Blvd. bridge to the north and the Sunrise bridge to the south was where we were allowed to pedal our Raleigh Choppers and other banana seated vehicles. To the west, Federal Highway was our boundary and to the east, well… The Atlantic Ocean.
Back home in Santa Monica, our kids don’t have the same freedoms as we did.Â Their boundaries are smaller for sure. We also live in a different world. Our world has become a strange terrain where explorations are often done in front of a computer.
I’ve been outside on the sidewalk watering our parkway plantings, spraying the kids as they go zooming by on their bikes and scooters and cars have stopped their cars, rolled down their windows and told me,” your kids should put some clothes on!”
Here on Kauai every summer we feel fortunate to be able to give our kids a small taste of the freedom we took for granted when we were kids. “Hey guys, make your beds, brush your teeth and put your sunblock on!”