July 11, 2008
From the mountains ... to the oceans white with foam
Posted by Gordon Smith

Earlier this week, I noted that I was spending some time at Camp Steiner in the High Uintas. I returned home for one day, then got on a plane for Laguna Niguel, California, where I am participating in the Kauffman Summer Legal Institute.

Looking back on Camp Steiner -- it was much more pleasant than I expected. The mud was confined to a few patches, and even though we were told that it would rain every afternoon, I didn't see a drop in two days. Gorgeous blue skies and clear, starry nights. More mosquitoes than I expected for a place that got so cold at night, but we were able to fend most of them off with Deep Woods Off.

I set up my tent on a patch of ground at the top of a slope, so I could look out in the morning and see  distant mountains over the treetops. The scouts were invariably still asleep, so I would reignite the fire from the night before to provide a warm spot in camp. Most of my days were spent hiking around the camp while my boys were in merit badge classes.

The only negatives were the silly skits performed by the camp staff -- an inexplicably standard part of every Scout Camp I have attended -- and the food. I was horrified to learn that our Scoutmaster had packed all of the food for the week in ice. Which meant that we had frozen eggs, frozen milk, frozen everything! I have never seen anyone peel the shells off frozen eggs, then thaw the eggs to make French toast. But it seemed to work.

After less than a day at home, I took at short flight to John Wayne Airport with my wife, where we rented a car and drove south to the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel for the Kauffman SLI. This was a trip down memory lane for us: my first summer associate position was at a small firm in Newport Beach, and we passed briefly by Newport Center Drive on our way. That was 20 years ago (!), and I confess that I don't remember many of the details of this place.

Along the way, I was reminded by a billboard of the strangely fascinating Pageant of the Masters. Had we been thinking ahead, we would have purchased tickets for last night's show. But tonight is booked, and we return home to the nest tomorrow.

I have never been much of a beach person. We walked along the beach yesterday, and we enjoyed seeing the sun sink into the Pacific Ocean last night, but I am perfectly happy to have these experiences only occasionally. Call me crazy, but I much prefer prairies and mountains.

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