Cuyamaca spirits rising

Despite the Red Flag warnings, we returned last week to William Heise County Park near Julian, CA., in anticipation of the full moon lighting up the night sky, and we were not disappointed. As others may be about to winterize their trailers, we are just starting our camping season and will follow the sun, moon and seasons, somewhat like our local Native American Kumeyaay Indians did in finding the most comfortable sites to set up camp, ranging from the mountains to the desert and down again to the coast.


This park is in the Cuyamaca Mountains. Cuyamaca is a Spanish corruption of the Kumeyaay phrase “Ekwiiyemak”, meaning roughly, “the place where it rains”. The Indians had seasonal mountain camps near streams and springs where acorns and pine nuts were plentiful. The Kumeyaay Nation lived in this and other areas of San Diego County for at least 10,000 years before the arrival of Spanish and other European settlers. San Diego County has more Native American Indian reservations than any other county in the United States. Richard Carrico, professor of American Indian Studies at San Diego State University, is the author of Strangers in a Stolen Land, (Sunbelt Publications, 3rd edition, July 31, 2008).

Shortly after we set up camp and ate dinner, the moon rose and lit up our trailer and truck.


The stars are hard to see in the above picture, but the visual clue that this is actually night (and the reflected light is really moonlight and not sunlight) is the light coming out of the trailer windows. (By the way, the refrigerator vent is propped open to help the fan do a more efficient job… details of this can be seen here.) This and the other night images seen in this article were taken with our Nikon D40 camera set to the new feature, Auto (Flash off) Mode, useful in situations where the use of a flash is undesirable.


Click on the image to enlarge it and see the stars. All of these night shots were also done with the camera and its heavy 18-200 mm lens supported and stabilized by the Slik heavy-duty Pro 700DX tripod.


Sleeping under the stars…


By the way, other than resizing, there was no image editing or manipulation in any of these images. The images were directly loaded into the iPhoto program of our MacBook Pro, resized and uploaded to this article.


We traditionally celebrate the fall harvest season by eating apple pie. The nearby town of Julian celebrates Apple Days from September 15 to November 15. Also shown here is a pumpkin, carefully hand picked from the market (rather than the field of spikes) and maize (not to be confused with maze).


Let us toast to the spirit of the season…


And to the spirits of the sky and land and nature…


And to Native Americans and all peoples of the world…

May we live in peace and harmony with a respect for life in all of its variations and life styles…

May we focus on the positive and inclusiveness

Let our spirits rise as we listen to our hearts… and Native American music.

Traveling and Pet Safety

Our pets are our family. We love them and want them near us, but many pet owners are not aware of the potential consequences of not restraining pets while traveling. There are reports that the American Automobile Association indicates that tens of thousands of accidents are caused each year by dogs in front seats.

Christina Selter, founder of Bark BuckleUp, a pet safety educational program similar to “Click it or Ticket”, is on a nation-wide campaign promoting pet safety in vehicles. “Be Smart. Ride Safe”, she said at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show (hear her message in her own words).

In 2006 we carefully researched which tow vehicle would best meet our needs upon ordering our Airstream Safari. One of those needs was to have a tow vehicle that would easily accommodate two dog carriers on top of a folding back seat. We continue to be very happy with our choice of the Ford Super Duty F-250 (despite the rising price of diesel fuel). Our dog carriers (Vari Kennels) rest on the folded back seats and are secured with a ratcheted strap to bolts in the back of the crew cab.


Our dogs are safe, and seem to be comfortable, and enjoy the view, while we can keep an eye on them.


Carriers work well for our small dogs (Corgi and Pug), but for larger dogs, a pet harness might work better. Either way, they will be out of harm’s way by keeping them in the back seat. (Airbags can kill or injure a loved one.)


There are many good reasons why pets should be restrained while traveling in vehicles:

  • Unrestrained pets can distract the driver, jump in driver’s lap, block driver’s vision, or get in or around pedals.
  • Unrestrained pets can easily fall off the seat while you are braking or turning, sustain an injury and distract you.
  • Unrestrained pets could get you a ticket depending where you drive.
  • If you have an accident, your pet can become a projectile with a force of up to eight times its regular weight, risking injury to the pet and all others in the vehicle. Your pet could also be ejected through a window.
  • If you have an accident, your dog might interfere or bite the emergency responders, run out of the vehicle into more traffic and possibly cause another accident, get killed or run away. (If your dog caused a second accident, your insurance rates might go up.)

So, as Christina Selter says, “Be Smart. Ride Safe.”