Clark's Eye on Books

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How we spent our Fourth of July :-)

Alan and I had a wonderful weekend. Alan's daughter Leah's sweetheart's family owns property at the top of one of the mountains that overlook Andrew's Air Force Base, where the space shuttle comes down when it can't touch down in Florida, and John invited us to come help them celebrate the Fourth. turns out that celebrating Italian style is ONE big party!

Well, John won't usually let the crew bring their guns to family parties where everyone is going to drink, but we weren't having fireworks since the whole place had burned down a couple of years ago during one of the awful wildfires. They lost their cabin then and have a trailer on the property now. Anyway, the crew brought an arsenal of guns for target practice. While I passed on the chance to shoot some huge shotguns, I got to do target practice with a 22, and I hit the paper, even though I didn't quit hit the target on the paper. One of the party attendees brought his three dogs, another brought two, and Gracie and Leah brought 5 turtles, four of them way oversized red-ears that had overgrown their habitat at the school.

When the cabin burned, John decided to build up the pond, which is a pretty scuzzy thing right now, but he has a friend who mines gypsum (used for cement) who's brought his caterpillar track earth mover and is digging out the pond for its gypsum. Anyway the pond has more frogs than it could ever possibly need and hundreds of very fat pollywogs waiting to be frogs. The new turtles will take care of some of them, but the guys were talking about eating frog legs before (my comment, "Who forgot to bring the groceries?) and grabbed the red corded pole to show us how to catch them. (Leah said she wanted to try frog legs.) The kid caught one right off the bat, and after a traumatic attempt to humanely kill the frog, we just put it on ice. Well, frog hunting was ON! You have to understand these are brazen, big frogs with attitude! They sit in the middle of the pond looking at you, just out of reach of the pole. One in particular took pride in ignoring us so we decided we needed to move him closer to the shore so that our kid with the pole could run the lure by him. Armed with gypsum rocks, we started throwing rocks at the middle of the pond side of him to get him to head toward the shore. He sat right there and glared at us, not budging, ignoring the rocks. Finally, I launched a rock that was meant to land just west of him and whomp, smacked him right on the head. He decided to head underwater then and sure enough, headed in toward shore. He was one bone headed frog. The kid actually drug the line right over his head and he not only didn't go for the bait but he still didn't dive underwater. When we left, they still had only caught one frog. This is the pond...

Anyway, this was our crew at that point:

The day before we spent most of our time tearing up and around the mountain on the cutest little jeep-like vehicles, gas powered, four-wheel drive golf carts with roll bars, cool as can be! they run on what is essentially a large lawn mower engine with a torque converter. They drive over ANYTHING. We got locked in one of the gates and just made ourselves a path around it, right over an embankment. The things are so cute they are almost like pets, even though they are machines.

In this picture you might have noticed the barbecue trailer, right behind the ranger. Besides the frog legs, suckling pig and an entire lamb were on the menu for today. No simple hamburgers and hot dogs for this crew. Benny, one of the guys, owned a deli and he brought the real things. In fact, there is quite a story connected with the suckling pig.

One of the dogs left with us by the guy who owns the barbecue trailer is a puppy, the child of two other dogs he also left at the party. In fact, every time he showed up it seemed that he left another dog, then disappeared again. Anyway this is a sweet puppy but she's a food sneaker. She also had spent the day before bullying a pint sized miniature dachshund that also was attending, making the tiny dog's life miserable.
Below, pictures of the suckling pig:

As you can see, that pig had a face that only a mother pig could love, but it smelled like food to the puppy, so she waited until the men turned their backs and grabbed it by a foot, causing that face to fall right down on her where she could see it. When it leered up at her it scared the crap out of the pup and she ran screaming, high pitch wails, and the tiny dachshund saw this as the opportunity to even the score. That midget dachshund fell right in behind that puppy as if she had staged the whole thing and chased the MUCH bigger puppy around the camp three times before one of us rescued the panicked pup. You never heard such wails!! Cocky as can be the mini dachshund strutted the rest of the time, KING of the camp. we did see the puppy trying to sniff noses later in an effort to make friends.

Coming up we came through one of the Antelope Valley "high desert" power projects, the windmill fields, and we had to come right through them to get to the mountain. They are beautiful and erie, gigantic, graceful--see below:

We also were in luck and passed the wild mustang herd, all black or dark brown.

Going up the mountain we looked down on the site:

It was a wonderful Fourth!

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