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Back to Hi-Desert Roundup, 2010

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After an 8-hour drive from the Sacramento area, and a stop in Bakersfield to pick up my son Matthew, my friend Robert Kipperman, my son Matthew and I arrived at Hi-Desert base camp on Friday, May 28, 2010 around 2:30 in the afternoon, with plenty of time to set up camp before pertaining to event issues, such as completing the safety check and registration process.

Photo:  Friday afternoon and we've just finished setting up camp, and the strong wind has already blown one lawn chair over.  Robert clowns for the camera, perhaps to illustrate just how strong the wind is, as Matthew watches.  

We camped in about the same place where we've camped in previous years, at a nice flat spot about 100 yards south of the registration area, which could be considered "downtown" Hi-Desert Roundup base camp.  The place where we camped was near enough to be close to porta-potties, registration and the Ruff Rock Run Caf, but far enough to offer us privacy.  Unlike the majority of the folks who camp in motorhomes at CA4WDC events, we're tent campers, as I simply don't have enough time to justify investing in a motorhome.  So it's nice to put enough distance between the motorhomes and our camp so we don't get lulled to sleep every night by the sweet sound of a generator purring away.

Despite the fact that I drove my full size, Ford F-250 truck to the event, it was packed with all of our gear, and a lot of firewood.  We love a camp fire, so the week before the event, I'd taken a trip to the Sierras for some free firewood, and the back of the truck was half full of firewood.  We could only put valuable gear, such as cameras, radio equipment and computers in the back seat - the majority of the space in the back seat was reserved for one of us to ride in - so the majority of our gear had to ride in the bed of the truck.  Before Robert and I left my place, we tied everything down tightly, and after loading Matthew's gear in Bakersfield, we checked it again, as we didn't want to loose any gear on the way to the event.  

Photo:  Our three tents appear to be set in a neat row, thanks to the distortion effects of the telephoto lens.  It's sundown, and the wind continues to blow, but now for long.

Photo:  As soon as our camp is set up, we open up the bar, and our camp always features a full-service bar.  In this photo, Matthew enjoys a Mudslide, along with his scrambled eggs and potatoes.  My Margarita is on the table, next to my breakfast burrito.

Setting up camp was a chore, but the three of us worked together as a team, unloading the truck, stacking the firewood, setting up the bar, and setting up the tents.  As a regular occurrence at Hi-Desert Roundup, the wind came up in the afternoon, making setting up each tent a three-man job per tent.  At times, the wind gusted to about 35 mph, making setting up the tents difficult, as the tents wanted to act as a sail in the wind.  Working together, we set up all three tents, one by one.  Then, it was a matter of arranging sleeping bags and personal gear, and doing the final set up of camp.  It took us about an hour to set up our camp.  Then, it was over to safety check and registration to get ready for Saturday's trail run.

Photo:  Matthew and Eric (me) Rench, pose near base camp, at Hi-Desert Roundup, 2010.

Photo:  Robert and Matthew entertain a friendly visitor, Amanda May, as she relaxes at our camp.  I gave up my chair to the young lady, which is the price of enjoying female company.

Despite lots of experience and planning, something always goes wrong, and this year, it was the camping lanterns. I have two Coleman lanterns, fired by white gas, that I've had for years, and keep in good condition.  Only a few days before the event, I got out the lanterns, cleaned them, oiled the plunger, filled them with white gas, and test fired them.  They operated flawlessly.  Fast forward to Friday night at Hi-Desert Roundup - despite lots of pumping, and doing exactly what I did at home, I couldn't get either of the darn lanterns to light!  I brought along two lanterns for a contingency plan, as they can be temperamental, and I figured under the worse case scenario that I could get at least one of them to light.  In this case, neither would light.  We thought maybe the gusty wind had something to do with it, so I got in the cab of the truck, out of the wind, and attempted to light the lanterns, but neither of them would light, despite pumping, oiling the plunger, adjusting the plunger, and cleaning out the burners again that old the mantles in place.  After an hour, I gave up and resigned to the fact that our camp would only be lit by flashlight and fire light only.

Photo:  Every night, we enjoyed a cheery camp fire.  Thanks to the lanterns that wouldn't light, our camp was dark, and only lit by the fire.  I replaced the gas lanterns with propane lanterns after this trip.

Late Friday night the wind died and didn't return for the entire weekend.  Wow!  That's almost unheard of, but I'm not offering any complaints.  The weather this weekend was some of the best that I've every experienced at Hi-Desert Roundup, as it was mostly wind-free, with high temps only in the upper 80's, and the lows in the mid 50's.

As an aside, when I got home, I placed the gas lanterns in storage and purchased two propane lanterns.  I'll never fight with a gas lantern again.


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