Stargazer Rock Campout 2008
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August 8, 2008 : This year, the eighth annual Stargazer Rock Campout will go down as the one where most people did not camp at Stargazer Rock.

Yesterday I left home about 10:30, accompanied by my grandson, Mikie Liddle, and my younger daughter’s nephew, Jim Neely. We arrived at Stargazer Rock, a trip of about 62 miles, at 12:30 and got our camp set up. No one was there, so I got my favorite spot, under the trees, and next to a big open area which has a large fire ring.

Jim set up his tent on the other side of the open area, and dug out the dirt and ashes from the campfire area, and rearranged the rock ring. We also unloaded a bunch of firewood I had brought from home.

Late in the afternoon a man drove in towing a small trailer. He came over and informed us that a 4-wheel drive organization was having a big rally there this weekend, and there would be over 100 rigs there by Saturday night. He also stated it was a Christian organization, very quiet, and would be setting up on the other side of the big camping area that is Stargazer Rock. Since tearing down, hitching up, moving and setting up would be a major pain in the butt, we decided to stay put.

Then the president of the organization came along and gave us additional information, including the fact that they were taking over the campfire area that we had claimed, setting up a big tent nearby, and having a band 20 feet from my trailer. “But you’re welcome to stay,” he lied, after giving us four or five reasons to not want to stay.

We are expecting another seven people, and I did not think that it would be possible to enjoy a quiet camping trip surrounded by 300 people and a band, so we spent the night, then packed up this morning and moved to another location, on the Rock Creek Road, about two miles from the Dinkey Creek Road. This is an area where I have camped before, but is not nearly as nice as Stargazer. So we left camp and set up our new camp filled with negative feelings toward a so-called Christian group that felt it had the right to come in and take over a place where someone else had already set up camp.

Now we’re putting that behind us, and enjoying our time at the place I named Cedar Rock Camp some years ago. Mikie and I took a short hike up a nearby 4-wheel drive road, not without some complaining on his part. Actually he rode his bike part way, and he and I pushed it the rest of the way up the hill, then he had a great, but bumpy, thrill ride back down.

Jim has been doing his thing, shooting cans with his BB gun, fixing his own meals, and is now setting up his telescope. Speaking of which, we had a good look at Jupiter and its moons, and at our moon, through the scope last night at Stargazer. We also saw several good meteors, including one that lasted close to five seconds, and grew brighter before it burned out. Tonight we will have to drive to an open area about a mile or two away for stargazing.

August 10: Friday night’s stargazing was pretty good. Mikie saw a number of meteors, and I saw two, one very long-lasting and bright. We also got a good look at Jupiter again. We had a fairly quiet day, with some bike riding and a small amount of walking around. Mikie is bored without constant activity, and needless to say, grandpa’s explanation of how I was never bored when I was his age did no good. It might even be true, at least as far as I can recall.

We had a large influx of people Saturday, with daughter Jennifer arriving at 9:30, followed by daughter Teri, grandson Johnny and his wife of two months, Brittany, and their “baby,” Faith, a little rat dog of indeterminate breed.

Also joining us before long were friends of Teri – Michelle Maynard and daughters Michaela, and Melissa (age 7 and 8); Scott, who rode his Triumph motorcycle through the potholes of Rock Creek Road, and Eric. We had a lot of good visiting, several games of catch between Mikie and whoever he could recruit, more bike riding, card games, and of course, eating.

Johnny and Brittany had to go to work at 5:30, so were the first to leave, at about 3:30. Scott, Teri and Mikie left about 5 or so, and Eric hung in until 9:30. Jennifer and Melissa and daughters had set up tents as soon as they arrived, and spent the night.

This morning, Jennifer and I walked down the side road next to our camp to the old Dinkey Creek Mill site, or officially the Pine Logging Company Mill. Since my last visit, perhaps four or five years ago, they have been restoring the area as a historic site. They have removed the junky appliances left behind when the camp shut down about 1980, done some repair work on buildings, moved some of the buildings and I think removed others, and done some major restoration on the store and office. It looks like work has been stopped for a year or so, probably due to lack of money, since there was a sign saying they hoped to open the area for tours by 2005. Hopefully work will be resumed, since a great deal of improvement has been made, and it will show how a logging camp operated from 1937 to 1980. (2020 Update: No further restoration has taken place, but the area is open to the public, and easily accessible from Dinkey Creek Road at the U.S. Forest Service's Dinkey Mill Work Center.)

The walk to the mill site is at least 1.5 miles, almost all downhill, so Jennifer and I were pretty tired by the time we walked back up. On Friday night Mikie had ridden down the road about a half mile, with me riding part way, and walking part way, so I already knew what the uphill trip was going to be like.

Michelle and her daughters left right after we returned, heading to Dinkey Creek (about three miles away) for fishing and swimming, before heading home. Jennifer left around 12:30, leaving the place to Jim and me, and we are doing what we do best, loafing around, reading, resting, and occasionally going for a short walk. We will spend the night, and head home as soon as we get packed up and ready in the morning.

August 16: As usual it’s taken a few days to finish this report after getting home. We were on the road by 9:15 Monday, and got back to Fresno well before noon. Loading and unloading the trailer is a bit more of a hassle than it used to be. I moved in June, but the trailer is still stored at my old place, so I have to haul everything back and forth. I took most of the stuff home Monday, and picked up the rest on Tuesday, but still have to finish cleaning the trailer. When it’s six miles away it requires more effort and planning than when I could walk out the door and work for a short time every so often until I finished the job. When I sell the old place, the trailer will have to go into storage, which will make the task even more difficult, although I have done it before and can do it again.



Rough Rider Mikie

The whole gang (click here for names)

Jim knows how to relax
Michaela, Michelle & Melissa Brittany, Johnny & Faith

Log walking, an important camp activity

Home Sweet Home Dead snag near the camp Trash burner at the mill site
Another view of the burner Residential cabin The company store
Inside the store Ice cream anyone? The office

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Updated September 13, 2020