Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

McGregor Co.

By Frank Watson
Gazette Columnist 

The Lazy Days of Summer

 

July 19, 2018 | View PDF



We had a cold, wet spring. I don’t know whether to blame global warming or Donald Trump, but it sure was hard on my garden. I didn’t think my corn was ever going to come up. I am glad warm weather has finally arrived.

I became aware of the arrival of summer this week as I was sitting at an outside table in a small strip mall slurping a huckleberry milkshake and watching the traffic go by. It seemed almost every vehicle was either pulling a boat or an RV; some were pulling both. I was raised on a farm, so I was introduced to backing up a trailer at an early age, but I don’t think I could back a two trailer rig. Most vacationers can’t even back one trailer. I used to meet with a group of friends every week for breakfast. One of our favorite venues was to take a pickup camper to a local boat launch and enjoy the show as we ate our eggs and sausage. I became convinced that pulling a boat onto the ramp gave most people an instant lobotomy. They do crazy things. I went fishing on the Snake River a few years ago and was preparing to launch my own boat when a guy ran up to my window and cautioned me to be careful because there was a boat in the water. I didn’t see anything. He explained that his buddy was going after a wrecker. They had backed the boat down the ramp and kept on going. Now boat, trailer and truck were all submerged. I confirmed his story on my depth finder as I backed over the submerged rig.

Back at the strip mall, a couple were trying to find a parking space for an RV trailer about the size of the house where my Dad raised eight kids. I don’t wonder they had trouble parking it. They had made two or three loops through the lot when they stopped and the woman got out, shook her finger and had words for the driver. I couldn’t hear the exchange, but he evidently did. He kept circling the lot, weaving around the cars until the woman reappeared, got in the truck and they drove off.

I noticed that those pulling fishing boats keep their distance from those pulling jet skis. The two are mortal enemies. I frequently see them out on the river. When a jet ski goes by, fishermen try to impress them with a vocabulary of four letter words and they respond with rude hand gestures. I tend to side with the fishermen. I was fishing with my wife a while ago when a game warden zipped up on his jet ski. I try to get along with law enforcement; they have a difficult job, but this guy was a jerk, and his mode of transportation made him even more obnoxious. He couldn’t find that I was doing anything wrong but seized the opportunity to practice his lecture techniques. I reached my limit, and told him to get out of my face. When he huffed and puffed, I recall trying out a few of my own four letter words. I think I even recommend a parking spot for his jet ski.

My wife and I went camping on our honeymoon. We had a pup tent, a cast iron skillet and a sports car. We were the smallest rig in the overflow campground in Rocky Mountain National Park, but we were young and didn’t know any better. I don’t think there were any fees. We didn’t have any money, so I would have remembered if there was. That’s not the case any more. You need reservations to get into Yellowstone. When I first went there, you could still feed the bears. I remember walking up to Old Faithful and trying to see what was inside. Now, the crowd must stay behind a fence and watch the eruption from a grandstand. As we continue to overpopulate the planet, more and more of our natural wonders will be paved over. As our tax dollars are increasingly allocated to social welfare programs, our parks and campgrounds become sources of revenue. One of my favorite places on the planet was what is now Steamboat Rock State Park. Today’s campers need a reservation and a checkbook.

(Frank Watson is a retired Air Force Colonel and a long time resident of Eastern Washington. He has been a free lance columnist for more than 18 years.)

 
 

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