In 1993 I was living in the Sacramento State dormitories. Eduardo was living in Rocklin, going to school, and working. Paco was still living in Redding. We decided we needed to go camping. Eduardo has been preaching the beauty of Yosemite National Park, for a long time, so we decided that’s where we’d go. It was fall, the leaves would be changing and would be an awesome opportunity to take some pictures, and just hang out, the three of us. Like old times.

I had gone to Rocklin on Friday and picked up Eduardo. He was going to stay with me at the dorms that night, we’d leave with Paco when he arrived from Redding Saturday morning.

I lived in the dorms as I mentioned. They gave us dining cards to use for eating. The cards had various amounts of “credit” stored on them. Each meal required a certain number of credits. If you didn’t use all your credits on meals, they had a student store where you could spend them. The student store had sodas, chips, microwaveable foods, and all sorts of snacks. I never ate breakfast, and rarely at lunch in the dorms. I also had the extra meal credit plan. The combination of these two things allowed me a TON of extra meal credits. I volunteered to use some of them to get us some snack foods to take with us. Eduardo said he’d help me pick some stuff out. We headed to the student store. On the way Eduardo proceeded to bust out one of his patented “gimp” walks. It was Eduardo walking like a car had struck him, or suffered some other gait altering accident. THe walk was accompanied by some “gimp talk” as well. Usually it’s very funny, but in this incident there happen to be a girl with a disability in front of us, unbeknownst to Eduardo. I gave him a scowl, and he kept walking the walk.

Dude, knock it off that girl has trouble walking…” I said whipserd to Eduardo.

He froze. Eduardo walked around for the next 45 minutes like a dog who had gotten caught peeing on the rug. “Man, I feel bad” he kept saying.

We got to the store, got a few six packs of soda, a box of cereal, some chips, and a few other “health” foods. We put them in bags, and went back to the dorms, to get some sleep and wait for Paco to arrive in the morning.

Paco arrived at about 11 O’clock the next day. He brought a tent, some wood, a sleeping bag for him, one for Eduardo, and an ice chest. We planned to get other food for dinner once we got to Yosemite.

The drive to Yosemite was a little longer than we’d planned. We planned on about 3 hours to get there, it took more like 5 or 6. It started to rain about an hour outside the park, we tried our best to keep everything covered up, and dry. Things still got a little wet though.

Paco had reserved us a campsite at Crane Flat ahead of time, we went directly to the campground, to get set up.

The sky was still looking a little ominous when we found our site, so we decided setting our tent was priority number one. Paco forgot to bring all the tent poles. There was supposed to be 3 poles. We only had 2. With a little creativity we managed to get the tent set up, and large enough to hold all three of our sleeping bags. The next order of business was to get some hotdogs or something to eat. These required us going down to Yosemite Village, to the store to buy some food. When we got there we looked at the clock, it was about 5:54. The store was closing at 6. We convinced the lady at the door to let us in, we knew exactly what we needed, and would be very quick.

We hadn’t made a list or anything. We thought we knew what we needed. Time was scarce, so we just grabbed the essentials. Hot Dogs, buns, some milk, and some mustard. (I have vague memories of us buying some wood too. I think the wood Paco brought was wet from the rain on the way over.) We took a quick mental check, and nobody could think of anything else we needed, so we purchased our stuff and headed off for a night of camping bliss.

We got back to the camp and realized we’d forgotten some things like, utensils, bowls for the cereal, plates, napkins, more condiments for the hotdogs, etc. We figured we’d make do somehow, and get some more stuff in the morning if our experience was that awful. We made a fire, and cooked the hotdogs. We cooked the wieners over an open flame, which turned them a very nasty black color.

Jokingly we referred to the wieners as “Clarence’s” in honor of the Clarence Thomas trial that was going on around that time. The Clarence’s provided minimal nutritional value, and even less in good taste, but combined with chips from the student store they did fill our stomachs. We spent the rest that evening sitting around the fire, eating junk food, and discussing life. About 10:00 we decided we should call it a night, and get some sleep.

Sleeping in that tent was close quarters for 3 of us. Most “4-man” tents fit 2 people comfortably. A broken “4-man” tent fits 3 snuggly. We got into the tent danced our ways around each other, and tried to get into position to sleep. It was then that Paco realized he needed to take a “treatment”

Paco had really bad asthma, which required him to take saline solution and medicated treatments out of a machine. The machine had to be hooked up to a power source in order to work. Paco said he had an adapter that would allow him to run it off the car battery, but for some reason it wasn’t working. This meant he would need to drive to Yosemite Village and find someplace with a power outlet. Needless to say he didn’t want go by himself. I offered to go with him. We drove down near the village and found a laundry facility with an electrical outlet. Paco hooked up his machine, and took care of his asthma. We got back in his truck, to start the long climb up the hill back to our campground.

5 minutes outside the village we noticed red lights flashing behind us.

“I think we’re being pulled over,” Paco said

“Why? Are you speeding?” I asked

“Not even.” he replied. “I’m going like 15 miles an hour.”

Regardless, we were being pulled over by park police.

We came to a stop on the side of the road, police spotlight blasting through Paco’s rear window. In my side mirror I could see 2 officers approaching our vehicle, one on each side.

Officer #1 came to Paco’s window to gather information.

“I pulled you over because you swerved over the lanes back there. You been drinking tonight?” (the lanes were barely wide enough to fit one car, it was hard NOT to)

“No.” Paco said.

The officer checked Paco’s eyes with a penlight, and easily concluded he hadn’t been drinking.

“We’ve been having some trouble with drinking and driving in the park” the officer informed us, “we’re just trying to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand.”

While this was going down on the driver’s side. Officer #2 was checking out the truck bed, and vehicle in general with his flashlight. While Officer #1 was telling Paco about the drinking and driving situation in the park, officer #2 had started checking the cab of the truck, on my side for anything suspicious. As the last words of “we’re just trying to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand” left officer #1’s lips, I heard,

THERE’S A GUN!! GET OUT OF THE VEHICLE!!! WITH YOUR HANDS UP” leave the mouth of officer #2.

Several thoughts went through my head at this point.
1) Officer #2 is on crack. He’s seeing things.
2) Paco brought a gun?
3) WTF?
4) Gun? Did he say GUN?
5) We’re going to get shot.
6) We’re definitely getting arrested.
7) This isn’t good.
8) WTF?
9) PACO BROUGHT A GUN?

“PUT YOUR HANDS ON THE BACK OF THE TRUCK WHERE WE CAN SEE THEM.” Officer #2 said. (I think someone had a gun drawn on us) Paco and I put our hands on the tailgate, and spread our legs, so we could receive the pat down. The cops found nothing on us. (We were wearing pajamas) Officer #2 went into the cab, pulled back the seat, grabbed something, and returned to us. When he got closer I could see he was caring some sort of rifle in his hands.

I was looking at Paco with a concerned look on my face. Paco gave me a very confused look in return. Then it hit what the officer was carrying.

“OH, That’s my brother’s BB gun!” Paco said. “He left it back there a few weeks ago.”

The officer examined the rifle a little and discerned it was a BB gun.

“You’re not supposed to have firearms of any kind in the park. An officer was shot not too long ago on a stop in the park, and we’re very strict about firearms in the park now” He said. “Do us a favor, please keep it out of site, and make sure you don’t bring it in the park anymore.”

“NO PROBLEM” we said, as we got back in the truck and took off.

When we arrived back at the campsite is was after 11PM. Just as we were about to open the tent flap and get back inside, Eduardo’s head appeared.

“MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMEEEEHHHHHHH” He said.

“What’s the matter?” We asked laughing at the noise the he emitted.

“Listen” He said

We all hushed and listened.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZMMMMMMMMMMMMMMPF

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZMMMMMMMMMMMMMPFFF
“What the hell is that?” someone asked.

“It’s snorey mouth.” Eduardo said. “I’m so pissed, he’s keeping me up.”

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMFF
We laughed about it and all got in the tent. The tent walls wouldn’t keep out the noise.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMPFFFFFFFFFF

Eduardo was seething. He was really tired, and the noise was reverberating in his skull.

He finally snapped. He jumped out of the tent.

“BE QUIET. COULDJA BE QUIET PLEEEEASE!!!” He screamed, hurling a rock in the direction of the noise.

There was silence.

Eduardo returned to his sleeping bag, While Paco and I laughed.

He just laid his head back down when…

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZPFFFFF

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMPFFFFFF

Eduardo’s head shot off the pillow and he leapt out of the tent. Paco and I followed out of the tent, to see what he’d do. This time he went straight to the source. The noise was coming from a small travel trailer. (The kind that folds open, so it’s a metal bottom, and a tent-like top.) Eduardo ran to the edge of the contraption, inches from where the noise was emerging.

“MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMEHHHHHH WILL YOU SHUT UP!!!! MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMEEHHH MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMEEHHHHH!!!!” He screamed from the depths of his soul.

Paco and I were in hysterics.

Satisfied that his tirade served its purpose, Eduardo returned to the tent.

The noise continued throughout the night but somehow we managed to get by.

During the night many odd things occurred. Things that only happen to severely sleep deprived individuals. At one point I was lying there, unable to sleep and started singing “secret agent man….se-cret….a-geeent maaan.” Very quietly. Eduardo hadn’t been asleep either, and bust out with “Hey that’s Agent Orange…my dad saw them live once.” In the grand scheme of things it was a very meaningless, but for the time and conditions, it was priceless.

Paco has eczema and sometimes at night he scratches it. He scratches it, totally unaware he’s even doing it. It’s subconscious. Normally, it’s not a problem. I’ve stayed the night in the same room as him a lot of times, and it never really kept me awake. We were in such tight quarters however, the scratching practically echoed off the walls. Couple that with the fact Snorey mouth was still at it and sleep was even more difficult.

After one particularly violent scratching episode Either Eduardo or I uttered the phrase

“DRAW BLOOD PACO, DRAW BLOOD.”

Paco wasn’t asleep. He shot back with a “SHUT UP, I CAN’T HELP IT.”

We felt bad, but by this point in the evening, we were tired, hungry, annoyed snorey mouth wouldn’t shut up, our sleeping bags were damp/wet from the rain, we smelt like burnt Clarence’s, and we were cramped in a broken tent. In other words, we were all on edge.

At some point Eduardo uttered the phrase “We should be seeing the Orb right now…”

The Orb was playing a concert that night, and we had forgone the event in favor of our current situation. In retrospect, we probably made a bad decision.

The morning came quicker than we’d hoped and we all woke up sleepy, and sore. We ate cereal out of Styrofoam cups, because we had no bowls. When “Breakfast” was over we left, to spend the day photographing the area, before we returned home.

The day was beautiful. The rain and clouds had passed on, and the sun came out. Paco and I were able to push our bad evening aside and concentrate on photographs. We were lucky it was a nice day; it’s probably the only thing that salvaged our moods. Eduardo was not so lucky. The extreme lack of sleep, and various disturbances during the night left him in a foul mood. To make matters worse, he was coming down with a cold. He spent the entire day pining to go home.

“Are we going home soon? When are we going home? I want to go home? I don’t feel good? How much longer are you guys taking pictures for? We should’ve seen the Orb.”

A few times he ventured out of the truck to look at the scenery, mostly he just stayed in the truck, nodding in and out of consciousness, and complaining.

When Paco and I had taken all the photos we wanted, we left for home. On our way home we got pulled over AGAIN.

“I pulled you over because you crossed over the center lines…” the officer said, “You been drinkin’?”

Paco answered, “no”

The cop examined Paco’s paperwork, and let us off. I offered him some funnion’s I was eating. He made some a snide remark, and declined.

The trip ended, and we all went home to our respective residences. Paco and I had taken a lot of good pictures, which helped ease the pain the trip had inflicted on us. Eduardo had nothing to show from the trip other than a head full of mucus, a missed concert, and poor night’s sleep.

Would I do it again?

Totally.