Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Footsteps on the gravel in our campsite wake me.
THWACK! Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.
It is 6:37am. We are at the BLM’s Tuttle Creek Campground a few miles and a thousand feet or so up from Lone Pine toward Mt Whitney Portal. Last night when we climbed into bed, it was raining and windy. Naked, listening to the rain on the roof of the van, looking out at the stars, smelling the wet sagebrush, hearing the creek nearby, full belly content after a wonderful meal at the Still Life Cafe in Independence, we realized we’d forgotten to pay the $5 for the campsite.
Which explains the THWACK–a ticket most likely lay under our windshield wiper. I get dressed to investigate and find an envelope on the windshield. No ticket. Whew.
It is already warm–in the high 60s– and I am sure the fish are up too so I wake the Big Monkey and the small boy. We mosey over to the creek, and then I leave them to fish while I go back to pack up when I hear the boy whoop and see him start running toward me: “Good news! Come see!” It is indeed a keeper of a trout! We ooh and ahh and take photos, then I return to then van. It’s in the mid-70s now at 730 and “Mom! Good news! Dad’s got another fish!” We put this fish in the bucket of creek water next to the first. It is now in the 80s at 8am, and this time, the van is packed when I am called again–another fish!
I remind the Big Monkey how to clean a fish (sharp knife from the anus up). I get out the salt, pepper, and corn muffin mix; the iron skillet sizzles with butter and olive oil. I sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper, inside and out,, dip the fish in a simple batter of one egg with corn muffin mix, lay the fish in.
To quote Ray Carver, I have found a new path to the waterfall, and I am having trout for breakfast. Must be time to head home and land myself a great job!