02July2000 #0027.html

El Rancho Cima

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Dear Paul and Kate, Melanie and Jared Wright, Bridget, Rob, Ben and Sarah, Sara, Heather and Nate Pace, Audrey, Rachel, and Matt via hardcopy,

cc: file, Tony Hafen, Pauline Nelson via mail, Sara and Des Penny, Claude and Katherine Warner, Lloyd and Luana Warner, Diane Cluff, Maxine Shirts via mail.

Welcome to "Thoughtlets." This is a weekly review of an idea, belief, thought, or words that will hopefully be of some benefit to you, my children, with an electronic copy to on-line extended family members. Any of you can ask me not to clutter your mail box at any time.

"This week was dominated by my participation in the annual scout campout with Matt. This year we went El Rancho Cima Rivercamp. I was suprised to learn from my word search of Thoughtlets to have only referred to El Rancho Cima twice before (../9929.html and 9951.html). In the second reference I mentioned numerous campouts at El Rancho Cima. So let me start by prying into my memory and describing some of the things I remember from previous trips to the Texas Hill Country.

I expect one of Roice's first scout campouts was at El Rancho Cima, and his first campout would have been the summer of 1985, right after we moved into 1307 Emerald Green. This was in the heyday of Landmark Graphics, just when we were starting to make sales, and I do not remember which and how many campouts I went on. I know it was a summer ritual to get Roice, Ben, and Paul ready for scout camp, and I remember going with them many different times. In those days we would always stay at Iron Wheel Mesa. The reasons included it was up from the river, had more breeze, and had a beautiful view of the rest of the camp. It is hot in Texas, and summer camps can be uncomfortable because it often seems there is not anything in Texas nature that does not either stick (like thorns and cacti), sting (like mosquitoes or fire ants), or bite (like racoons [0026.html] or rattlesnakes). In those days I was in better shape and weighted less than I do now. It was still hard to climb up appetite hill for dinner each evening. I remember sitting with Roice for half a day to do observations for his Environmental Science merit badge. It was hard for him to sit that long. It was boring for him. I recalled my own observations to get the same merit badge when I was a youth. There was 5 acres down off of the Midvalley Road by where Charlie Garfield lived which was protected land. We went through this property several times as a scout group counting the number of rabbits, noting changes in vegetation, temperature, rainfall, etc. As Roice and I sat in that clearing during different times of the day, I recall wondering if this was where my environmental bent originated.

I recall taking my first portable PC out to El Rancho Cima, and using the free time to type in all of the words in the indexes, concordance, and dictionary as included in my 1979 edition of the scriptures. These were the days when I was traveling to China a lot, and spending a lot of time away from home. Since I do not drink, carouse, go to bars, watch TV, or even go out to eat at fancy restaurants alone, there was a lot of time for thinking on these trips. Starting on a flight from Calgary to Houston on the 12th of December in 1985, I had forced myself to exercise the latent language portion of my mind, and had started on the third most important work of my life: Prime Words. To me, the most important work of my life is to be a good husband and companion. Maybe this is why the failure of my marriage to Marti was so devastating to me. I am committed to see my marriage to Andrea be a wonderful experience for both of us and for anyone else who wishes to be involved in any way with us. In case, I haven't told the 10+4 of you recently, the next most important work of my life is being as good of a father as I possibly can, within what sometimes appears to me as my overwhelming limitations and weaknesses, to each of you. Hopefully each of you already know that. I remember that trip to El Rancho Cima because I had just come back from China, and while in China had learned that the President of Landmark had given a significant promotion to his mistress. I felt like his choices and activities reflected on me and somehow compromised my integrity. I remember agreeing to meet with him, if he drove out to El Rancho Cima, and to reconsider the resignation I had written out when I was in China. He did drive out to the Hill Country, we had a good discussion, and after compromises were made on both sides, I agreed to stay at Landmark.

Scout Camp has always been really good therapy for me. I love the outdoors. Because of the number of times I've camped there, whenever I hear the words Scout Camp, I think of El Rancho Cima. I can still see Ben's grin after completing the `Death March' at camp. Five miles up and down hills, mostly in the dark, from 7:00 to 10 or 10:30 PM. I remember getting the call from Gary Jones when Paul took a shortcut back to the top of Ironwheel Mesa from their repelling, slipped, fell 15 feet, knocked himself out, and was taken in to the hospital to be checked out. I remember like it was yesterday the last campout I went to with Rob at El Rancho Cima. We camped down low, in a part of the camp I had never camped at before. I had my guitar and wrote:

`El Rancho Cima 1995, 11 June 1995, H. Roice Nelson, Jr. 1. Running through the meadows, Like deer that have just been startled. Scouts from suburban ghettos, Learn to be unhaltered. C. Minds floating free, Like clouds in the sky. Lives full of glee, As scouts find with their eye. 2. Swimming in the river, Like salmon going home. Pulling out a sliver, While around the camp they roam. 3. Cotts around the campfire, Pillow fights just for fun. Thunderstorms and lightening fire, Kids on the run. 4. An ancient oyster bed, In layers of rock. Planting ideas in a young head, That help them take stock. 5. An overnight hike, To the toilet bowl. Camfire skits, Near that great swimming hole. 6. Turning over rocks, To find a scorpion. Lots of dirty socks, But life keeps going on. C. Minds floating free, Like clouds in the sky. Lives full of glee, As scouts find with their eye.'

One of the things I most remember about that campout was the beautiful Red Cardinals which would come into camp and sing to me. Maybe it was because I was playing the guitar. Maybe it is because I did my very best to immitate them. We talked back and forth, repeating each other's song for hours on end at that particular campout. When I got home, there was a Red Cardinal over on Baker Road one morning when I went for a run around the block, I started to `talk' to him, he followed me home, and we talked for a half-hour or so, to the amazement of everyone who was here. As I write these words, it reminds me of a story Dad told me several times about my Mom. They had just moved out to the farm, when one morning Dad came in from changing the irrigating water, to find Mom whistling to a pheasant, and have it `talking' back to her. Sometimes I wonder how much of what we do is hereditary.

Matt had a good week at El Rancho Cima. He said he liked Horseshoe Bend better than River Camp. Matt, I really enjoyed being with you for the four days I was able to be there. It was especially fun to go to the Environmental Science Merit Badge class with you. As I mentioned at the first of this Thoughtlet, this badge brought back good memories for me. Matt also worked on the Rowing, Camping, and Archery merit badges. For those not here, Matt fell down playing capture the flag after dark on Monday evening, and he has big abrasions on his hand, elbow, and knee. It is almost a week later, and they are getting better. He wants me to put pictures when the Thoughtlet is posted on the web. Matt, I was glad I was there and you came and slept with me Monday after you were hurt and couldn't get to sleep. One particularly touching moment was as we were walking from the `kitchen' over to the tent, Matt was leaning his head on my chest, and he looked up with big puppy-dog eyes and said `You know Roice, you're all right, even if you are too old and too fat.' When I got home on Thursday evening I answered an e-mail from Heather and told her about this. Heather, I loved your response:

`I couldn't stop laughing when I read the line about what Matt said to you. I'm in the computer lab-everything's quiet-and then I start laughing and had to cover my mouth and hide my huge smile. I miss him SOO bad. But, now I know where he got his bluntness from-yours truly. It cracks me up to think that he said that. It also makes me feel comforted that you would take what he said for what it's worth and not get offended by it - (At least not too bad).'

As is normal on any extended camping trip, there were a couple of trials. On Thursday morning Nathan Salt was running around without shoes on, kicked a rock accidently, and knocked his little toe nail off. I carried him to his first class, and he was able to make the rest on his own. On Wednesday morning at 3:30 AM Jeff Jurinak woke me up and asked me to take him into San Marcos to the hospital. When he did the swim test Tuesday morning he lost all of his color, got dizzy, and had to sit down for about a half hour to recover from too much effort. He was having chest pains, which kept him awake. I got dressed, woke Brother Floyd Lunt up, our Scoutmaster now, and we gave Jeff a blessing. Then I took him into San Marcos and we found the Central Texas Medical Center. They hooked him up, and tested him for 36 hours. After a stress test on Thursday morning, he was released to go back to camp, with no identified problems. Good news. I led Brother Reynolds Cahoon to the hospital on my way back to Houston. Reynolds drove Jeff back to El Rancho Cima.

It was hard to leave El Rancho Cima before camp was over. I had carved a sea-dragon, which I gave to Audrey, and a spoon - 3-D-fork, which I gave to Matt. I was talking to one of the staff one day and he told me what high quality scouts were at camp during our week (It was basically an all Mormon scout camp). He also mentioned that many of the leaders seemed unhappy, and when he talked to them, they didn't respond and didn't seem to want to be at camp. I explained how callings work, and that many of the leaders are not campers and unlike me, would not choose to be at camp, if not assigned. I consider his comments a useful insight, and something church leaders should address in regards to issuing scouting callings. We had a General Authority from the Seventy talk to us Monday evening, and maybe he is the one to pass this comment on to?

The reason I came back Thursday afternoon was to be able to go to Paul's and to Melanie's last open houses on Friday and Saturday night respectively. I stopped and got Rob and Rachel and Emily Holleman joined us to all go see Titan A. E. It was my second time (0026.html), and I enjoyed it as much as the first time. We got home about 8:00, and after packing and putting stuff together I got to bed about 11:00 PM. Andrea and I got up about 5:00 and left for the airport at 6:00. We flew American to Dallas and then to Vegas. I forgot we checked a box full of gifts for Paul and Kate, and we caught an earlier flight. However, we ended up sitting on the tarmac for an hour, and only got to Vegas a half hour before our box. I went and got the rental car while Andrea waited for the checked baggage, then I couldn't find Andrea and the box. We finally got it together and left Las Vegas at 3:00 PM Friday. I called Porter's and told them we would not be there to take my Mom out to dinner until 5:00 PM. Stopping by the bookstore, we made it just a few minutes late.

We ate at Hunan's, then went to Paul and Kate's Open House in the Relief Society House in Washington. What a pretty little building and grounds. We had Hafens, Nelsons, and Shirts visit, in addition to the Jone's friends from their ward. Mom, I think you got too tired, and yet I think you enjoyed yourself. Am I right? I was so busy talking to everyone I didn't stop to eat any of the goodies. Oh well! Uncle Willis and Aunt Shirley (Dad's youngest sister) have just turned in their papers to go on a mission. Aunt Lola, Grandpa Hafen's oldest sister, died and was buried on Monday of this week. It was very nice to see and talk to family and to friends. I did stop at Larson's and bought a big strawberry malt on the way back to the Open House after dropping Mom off at Porter's. Good malts. Brian has this wierd mentor/friend that is `just like me and Brian.' It was good to talk to him about important stuff, like multi- dimensional power units, electric cars, and the like. I was wiped out by the time we went to Kate's house, looked through Paul and Kate's pictures, and said our good-byes. We stayed with Uncle Lloyd and Aunt Luana. It was nice to talk to their son and my cousin Mike, who was visiting from Arizona, about his work with environmental consulting. I wish I was better at keeping up with everyone in the family. Maybe someday I will figure out how to make Thoughtlets more generally applicable and bi-directional.

Andrea and I got up at 4:15 AM MST, and left for Vegas at 5:30 AM MST for a 7:05 AM PST American flight to Houston. We got there just in time, and slept, read from the Book of Mormon, or worked on a project for the SEG until we got to Houston. After checking in with the kids at home, we drove straight to Vidor. As we approached where we were suppose to turn, I mentioned how there were these big pick-ups breathing down my back. The second one was driven by Melanie, and Jared was driving pointing out to her who was driving so slow in front of them. It is really interesting to have the roles reversed.

The Open House was very nice. We got all of the tables set up outside, then it rained and we moved the chairs and serving table in the garage. Most of the Open House was inside, and it moved back outside after the rain stopped and as things were winding down. Jared, you have a neat family. Your Grandfather was inspired to buy the 30 acres and to set up a united order compound for descendents. In many ways, what you already have and take for granted is what I have been striving to define through Walden 3-D, the Barker Project, the Columbus Project, and the Shirts' Canyon Project we talked about on the way to Paul's wedding at the Timpanogas Temple and reception at the pioneer amphitheather (0023.html). It was fun to meet and talk to people who have been church pioneers for several generations in Vidor. You can tell a lot about people from the fruits of their work, and all of the fruit I say Saturday night was good fruit. What wonderful Bar-B-Que Jared's Dad makes. Even though my ear still hurts, and I was very tired, it was about a perfect evening. We got back to our house at about 11:40 PM CST. Andrea and I were both tired.

So all in all, it has been a wonderful week. There is nothing in the world better than supporting children who have elected to have a temple marriage or to go to Scout Camp. After a week like this I am full of optimism and hope for the next generation. And frankly, a lot of that belief and good feeling comes from results of taking scout's to El Rancho Cima."

I'm interested in sharing weekly a "thoughtlet" (little statements of big thoughts which mean a lot to me) with you because I know how important the written word can be. I am concerned about how easy it is to drift and forget our roots and our potential among all of distractions of daily life. To download any of these thoughtlets go to http://www.walden3d.com/thoughtlets or e-mail me at rnelson@walden3d.com.

With all my love,
(H. Roice Nelson, Jr.)

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Copyright © 2000 H. Roice Nelson, Jr.