Redwood Diaries II

Dates: September 25-27, 2015
Campsite: Standish Hickey State Recreational Area
Crew: Your Author, Jude
Photographs: Flickr: Camping with Jude


4:55pm Saturday
Awake at 5:30, on the road by 7:00, Ukiah by 8:45, camp by 11:00. If you would have told me those were my milestones for today, I’d have slept longer. Once again, we are damn near by ourselves here. Only 2 other sites occupied, and we can neither see nor hear them. But we’ve met them, at the swimming hole. We took two trips there today.

When we arrived, it was LEGO building time. A long tradition between Jude and I. He sits patiently for the X hour drive with a fresh unopened LEGO box on his lap. Only when we get to the campsite is he allowed to tear into it. He builds LEGO while I build our campsite. Well, this time we had 4, and 2 of them were mine. So there we were, 2 boys snapping together precision plastic parts, drinking our drinks, snacking on prosciutto and cheese-it’s, listening to Andrew Bayer.

We took a walk about to the watering hole and to charge the Luci lights. We hid them out in the middle of a meadow in full sun. We just have to remember to fetch them on the walk back. No sooner had Jude eyeballed the swimming hole than he suggested we head back, get some lunch and get our suits on. So we had a short walk about.

Followed by a mean game of battleship. He insisted we play a game of battleship before we went swimming. It’s odd, but when he was younger, he aged at the campsite and became a little bit more of a man. Now today, when he’s naturally transitioning up into manhood, here at camp in all the nicest ways he seems to regress and act a bit younger than his 12 years.

Good lord the Green Car is sofa king happy right now. For years she’s been relegated to the step child second fiddle commuter car. She’s like Levee. Once the center of attention; the alpha. But then came a spunkier funner cat named Jeep that put in a corner as a punchline. Well ok her eating habits helped do that. But like Levee, The Green Car perhaps thought her best days were behind her; that her road tripping days were over. Certainly never to go camping again. She’s the car that got me & my shit to Black Rock City 4 times, took us to Carp and back dozens of times, I think she’s even been to Phoenix. At 148k miles, she thought she was done. And yet here she is: Under the redwoods, having swallowed everything we stuffed into her, engine purring the whole way, getting great mileage, with not so much as a hiccup. Yea, I personify my cars. So what? Just realized she and Jude are the same age. The Green Car might be going thru puberty soon.

The host here at this campsite, she looks like Jeffery Tambor. And I don’t mean a lady-fied Jeffrey Tambor in Transparent. I’m talking the Tambor bloodline is strong and this woman is his 1st cousin. I can’t look at her too long without busting out a HEY NOWWW! That is all.

There are a variety of phrases that if heard whilst camping, you’re either in good experienced hands, or up shits creek.
“Oh I can easily get those coals started right back up in the morning”
“There should be toilet paper already in there”
“This will totally be enough wood to last us”
“We’ll be fine, there’s no way raccoons can get the lid of that cooler open”
“Flavorer almond milk is totally just as good as the chemically Coffee Mate stuff”
“I would like to get home Sunday before sundown”

We dined on pineapple hotdogs and 2 different kinds of beans. Everything came together when the fire goes up smoothly. I know it’s cheating to use those wee fire starter logs. I do. But dammit if a whole segment of the evening isn’t taken up by tenting & tending kindling, tearing & rolling up the cardboard wood box, then washing the soot from your hands, I’m ok. Fire & forget.

Looks like Jude got tired early. He was in he tent in his bag all quiet and having a council with the LEGO guys. It was only dinner that got him out. Maybe it was the (sudden) onset of dusk here in this redwood valley. Again, he’s a little kid today. I’m sure a darkened headphoned screening of Mad Max will put some hair on his chest.

Fire starter is the bomb. You can take that Eagle Scout badge and shove it up your juxie. Or start YOUR morning fire with it. Instead, I’m having Jude light the bag here and here and moving on to coffee, thankyouverymuch.
Pop tarts over a camp grill is something every school aged child should (a) watch their hungover father prepare and (b) try at least once in their lives. Once, ha.

Mad Max went over quite well last night. He was incredibly focused on the whole, pausing every so often to ask questions about Millers dystopian universe, me having to go back in time to discuss the 1979 Mad Max to explain Hardy’s Max’s flashbacks and hallucinations. I think those are about the most salient connection the current Max has with the previous movies: his wife & child from the 1st movie. Also the wind-up music box from Road Warrior. There may be more.

He seemed to get and perhaps appreciate MY pausing every so often to point out the use of practical effects over CG. He’s there one that noticed that the fingers on Furiosa’s mechanical arm were twitching in same unison as the fingers on her natural arm. My son, as of tonight, may have a life-long crush on Charleze Theron.

The best thing about camping with the Green Car is not having to play a blasted game of Tetris in order to pack the camp up. With the jeep, even with the big cargo box and just 2 people camping, it took a patient hour out of the day to not only get everything in, but to do it in a way so that you could access some subset of it en route. With the Volvo, she just swallows everything on one layer without having so stack. I know the smaller cars are the way to go the closer we get to Max Max style fuel situations, but I am now even more convinced that a family like ours must have as a requirement a vehicle with gobs of cargo space.


(the following camp diary entry, at some time after 10pm)

Jude is asleep, fast in the cocoon of mommy’s north face mummy. It’s well into the 30s tonight. And I’m wondering how to spin to the world how wonderful a cold jack & ice is whilst huddled around a fire your son legitimately helped build.

He’s done exceptionally. So much so that in the quiet of night, I overflow with fatherly pride. Absolutely none of the mischievous button-pushing I’ve come to accept back in town.  He’s taken everything in stride and at face value. Bravery in the company of trust.  But really, never let me get more then 30ft from him from the moment we staked our claim.

It was only after the sun long gone down & the novelty of a carte blanche bag of marshmallows had worn off that it began to set in for him.

Starting with specific queries into what mommy & Charlie were doing right then. The prescient segue onto the heavy notion that THIS was not home. And home was where he’d rather be. The notion of have no fear: daddy is here was somehow not so slam dunk. It was only mommy’s bag, our tent, and the want & promise of 4 books of Dr Seuss by flashlight that allowed him to accept a day of camping’s beautiful end game.

So here I am: a full 3 score of miles away from a single bar of signal, listening to the sounds of Lost Coast surf, and the ebbing cracks and stickles of that very same campfire.

I am so full of the life right now. A feeling of release, having fulfilled a dream I’ve had as long as I’ve felt a man. A cacophony of favoirites.

a fathers lesson lost

The unavoidable pang of regret when a father looks back on the rearing of his son and feels much more could have been done if only the child were less of an individual.

The interests of the mentor subverted by the will of the ward, however unintentional.

There are core values I have planned, and expect to instill in jude. Some of these are values I wish were more surface & documentable in my every day. But all are in my mental agenda for Right & Wrong.

My concern – the WHY in writing this – is that these values will be lost on Jude as he ascends into his own self.

And on the heels of this is the desire to confront my father and at once excuse myself for missing his lessons, as well as request a review (by him) of myself as a man to see which of his lessons stuck… Which if any are visible today.

staring at the sea


something washed over jude as he was once again lead down linden towards the beach.  he’d been a rockstar all day, letting us cook our fixins for a belated turkeyday.  so with bird in oven, 2 families strolled down to the water where jude settled into his ritualistic meditation of staring at the sea, followed by running up & down her shores.

jump to a set pf photographs from this weekend

jinx, you owe me a cough

back on the 18th of february, i posted here how jude’s cough had seemingly dried up and was seeming to enter a period of relative health. Great health, in fact, when factored against the invasion of General Malaise and his army of Boogies. well, i dont consider myself to be a superstitious father, but i swear to (your) bloody god that no sooner did i post that entry did he get struck down once again. all too breif a wander out into the clearing, i suppose, before the thicket of coughs and snot and irritability were to consume him once again? dramatic? whoa: i got it too, and was staring down the business-end of the 4th sinus infection in 6 months. dramatic. oh sure.

we wanted to solidify a tradition amidst us Alexanders. on or around the concert of valentines day and the presidents day long weekend, we would journey to yosemite national park and stay at the wonderful tenaya lodge.

so, we packed up the famn damily and left tiburon on sunday morning february 20th. he was a pleasant and healthy little monkey during the waking moments of the stops we had to make on the way out of town.

the ride up to the hotel (in fishcamp, ca) was a pleasant one, despite the fact that the winding roads caused him to gain consciousness a little earlier then mom & dad would have liked. and it was that same winding road the caused the little conscious man to crank. and it was that SAME winding road, 2.3 miles from the hotel, to evacuate the contents of his stomach all over himself and the carseat.

we know winding roads have this effect on him, but we had to get to the hotel. and by the time we parked, negotiated the 1-2 feet of snow on the ground, changed him, cleaned the carseat and sat down to wait for our room, he was a cranking imp of pooh. his temperature was up, he didnt want to sit still, wouldnt eat a thing, and basically would start frothing at the mouth crying if you so much as smiled at him. and he was coughing.

but since anna and i are horribly selfish parents, we decided to stay the course of: “our son has never seen snow so lets bundle him up and toss him down the slope!” he was animated enough, in so far as he was interested in what the hell this cold white stuff is. but lying just underneath the surface was the same boogychild from damian omen 3. we accepted that he was coming down with something, and decided to let him take it easy. on came the motrin to keep the fever down. we brought him into the indoor pool to help bring his core down and to cheer him up. his hotel-arranged babysitter that night mentioned that it might be the altitude, which we’d not yet thought of. all this went down the 20th of february. the post about how healthy he was and how the cough was gone? that was on the 18th. what jinx?

this episode lasted over 2 weeks. and at the risk of coaxing a jinx back into the fold, here we are at march 8th and he seems to be out of the woods again. last weekend was about as famous a healthy weekend as we’ve seen in months: appetite, spunk, charm, long fuses, sound slumbers, etc. all of which might be due to yet another round of antibiotics.

he went into doctor dow on the 25th, where it was discovered that in addition to the old time bunker The Cough, jude also had an ear infection. thus the antibiotics. this time he was prescribed 10-days of CEFTIN and a new better/faster/stronger version of pulmicort-style stuff for the nebuliser. all of which seemed to have done the trick because again, here we are almost 3 weeks later and we have our jude back.

i however have to beleive that there is some other factor involved. what is he alergic to? mold? do we have a mold issue in our apartment? sure seems like it would be a breeding ground for the stuff down in that damp dark basement. with this suspicion in mind, doctor dow recommended jude be tested for as full a spectrum of alergy tests as can be done to a 22 month old. now, i just had the scratch-test done with 48 different points. it doesnt hurt, but it is IRR-IT-TAY-TING! you cannot itch it, or risk ruining the results completely. how on (your) gods green bloody earth are we going to get him to sit still for the same?

has anyone any advice to offer with regards to having a scratch-test done on such a young child?

cousins debut & cough drop

ok, thats ONE string of words that has never before been uttered together in the english language. I suppsed none of y’all landed here after a google search now did you?

first, the cough: ITS GONE!

thats right. the past few weeks have been wonderful for baby jude. he’s not so much as made a hiccup that wasnt a direct result chuggin too much hooch out of his sippy. there is another elements of the spectrum of conditions that has seemed to taken roost elsewhere:

no more runny nose. he would *always* have these 2 moss-coloured snakes running down his upper lip. and he had this built in hanky-radar where he’d sense you were going to come at him to pipe it off. between his nose and my sinus infection(s), we’d go thru cubes of kleenex faster than logic thru a Red State.

so, we’re more or less out of the ‘guarded’ stage and well into the acceptance phase of: this is how living with a normal healthy child is supposed be. he’s not due for another dose of Doctor Dow until on or around his 24th month i think, june 2005. lets hope thats the next time…

and on another brilliant note, my cousin Andy Alexander and his beautiful wife Rachael gave birth to two outstandingly healthy babies: William Griffith and Calle Joanna. 6lbs/9oz and 7lbs/2oz respectively. The mighty Isabel now has siblings and Andy has a boy! Their family almost doubled.

I cannot wait for the next trip up to Wah Wah Taysee and No#9, when we’re all there, and the wee ones can once again rule the Alexander Islands.

the cough remains the same

the coughing has become something that we’ve just acclimated to. it does seem like the frequency of the individual coughing ‘fits’ have decreased. however, the intensity of the fits have become more gripping, more physically demanding of the lil dood. they are wetter in nature then they’ve ever been, with us finally making visual confirmation of how productive we know these coughs to be. case in point, we’ve always seen him chewing something after the coughing fits. but this past weekend (1/29) i saw him expel a fair amount of phlegm at the end of one of his fits.

and we have feedback – finally – concerning when they occur more often then others. the coughing fits occur more often when/if we let him run around at will, where he is panting and making lots of vocalisations and laughing. it is during these times that he is hit with the high-intensity fits that make his whole face turn red and his eyes sink into their orbits. no shit. this association is too strong to not emphasise. however, this association does nothing to explain why some fits occur during his sleep. again though, not as often overall.

i would mention here that if there has been ‘progress’ made with regards to his treatment, it is that he seems to have less fits at night, which seem to be of less intensity. Jude’s course of treatment – the course of the condition – has spanned 4 months now. Those same 4 months have also seen his locomotion increase across the boards: frequency, intensity, duration, etc. so, a correlation between the occurance of the fits during his heightened physical activity and the intensity of those physical activities must be mentioned here.

currently, jude has completed a 2nd run of augmentin in as many months, with no quantifiable results to speak of. He has been seen quite regularly by Dr Dow (MV Pediatrics) over the past 4 weeks, during which it has been revealed that he has a persistent ear infection. the 2nd round of augmentin didnt touch the ear infection either – so we may be facing at least some resistance to this antibiotic.

so jude is now on a different antibiotic called omnicef, of which he takes 4ml once daily. hopefully, this will take care of the ear infection as well as whatever is brewing in his lungs. we are continuing the daily use of pulmacort via the nebuliser (which we now own outright). there are times in the morning where Jude – i swear – comes to expect the 7-minute ritual of TeleTubbies & Nebuliser.

some questions i need to remember to ask DR Dow:
o Is there *any* evidence of wheezing in Judes chest?
o Are there *any* definitive tests that can be performed to verify Jude as an asthmatic?

As always, stay tuned…

coughy drama

Jude is still coughing. Perhaps not as often as he was prior to his regimine of Augmentin and nebuliser*. But not a whole hellova lot less either. The coughing comes in horrible fits, with him rasping out 5 or 6 trio’s of wet-sounding hacks, with the last trio ending in what can only be described as a full-body gag. By this time, he is red in the face and watering from the eyes. He is short of breath. Ever seen a small child gasping for breath? It breaks OUR hearts too.

These fits almost always occur after he has been running around unhindered, like on a playground or open turf. But they also happen in the middle of the night, and when they do, are usually more severe. These fits almost always end with him lungeing for the sippy.cup anna or i try to have on hand for him these days. We now call it the “coughy cup.” We just KNOW its been a productive cough because he ends up chewing & swallowing after the gag at the end of the coughing fit. “Would you like some coughy with that phlegm, sir?”

He just finished his 10-day cycle on the augmentin. He never missed a dose. Simply put, he f’ing LOVED taking his medication. The nebuliser is a wee different story.

The nebuliser, if you dont already know, is a devices that uses compressed air to turn a liquid medication into a mist that is then inhaled by the patient. Most often it seems, the medication is a steroid of some sort, and is most commonly prescribed to those with asthma who need to bring the medication straight to the lungs.

The device consists of a compressor feeding a tube where at the end there is a contraption that ‘nebulises’ the air and channels it out into a stream. We pour the contents of .5ml capsules of “The Goods” into the contraption, close it up, fire the compressor and do our best to keep the stream of mist flowing straight into Jude’s nostrils. To keep him from TOTALLY bugging out, we give him a pacifier and an episode of The Teletubbies. It takes about 6-7 minutes for one of the capsules to be completely used.

now, we’ve been giving him the nebuliser for almost a week now, once a day in the mornings. Again, there has been tragically little progress in his coughing. We’re not sure how long we are supposed to be giving this treatment to our lil man. We will most certainly be making another appointment with Dr Dow before we leave for Orange County for the holidays.

This time last year, Jude was a wreck and mess with ear infections. He managed to rack up 6 discreet ear infections, sometimes with simultaneous infections in both ears, or more often back to back no more then 2 weeks apart. Dr Dow once confided in me that 5 was the most he had seen in one season for a child (then) Jude’s age. So, 6 was way more then average. But this season, he’s had NONE. This could be due to at least two factors: An increase in the width/development of his ear canals [a] or [b] A lack of chronic colds which cause and/or exacerbate ear infections.

Personally, i feel Jude to be a FAR healthier child once he left the infectious environment of The Kids Place in Corte Madera. Despite their Gestapo-like efforts to keep their daycare healthy, Jude was sicker there then Dr Dow has ever seen from a daycare center. “Daycare Crud” is simply a fact of life for children his age. Contageous? Yes. Manageable? Completely. To have a child spend a stretch of 6 continuous months leapfrogging from one cold to the next? Unacceptible. So while the season IS young, Jude has not had a single cold at his current daycare.

This cough is something unique. No runny nose or other symptoms to report. It has now been almost 3 months since he’s had what Anna and i would consider a ‘chronic’ and ‘productive’ cough.

facefulla augmentin

so, can we talk for a bit here about how good Jude is with a syringe? aw hell, i knew that would come out wrong. lemme rephrase that:

can we talk for a bit here about how easily we are able to administer meds to Jude via oral plunger?

he’s no stranger to the 1.875ml plunger that comes with the infants motrin. i mean, we must have 13 of them lying around the house. when we must hit him up with the juice – you know, for teething or after a particularly nasty collision with planet earth – when he sees the plunger coming, he stops whatever he’s doing and opens wide. ok, nice as that is, it gets better. he sucks the plunger in. swiftly. we dont even touch the plunger anymore, we just stick the rig in his mouth and he does the rest. every time. its really is a joy.

but recently, crazy doctor dow prescribed for him the antibiotic augmentin. 4ml twice daily. its to take care of a persistent cough he’s had that has finally gone on long enough.

ok, this junk tastes like ass and has a thick consistency of elmers glue. how the hell am i going to get this up him twice daily? there’s no WAY he’ll take it stand-alone orally. so, i’ve been cutting it with an ounce of applejuice and mixing it all up into a more viscous solution. but now there’s far more to administer. so, here comes the proverbial big guns.

i broke out the old 10cc plunger we used when we were trying to jumpstart him on the boob when he was in his first weeks. it’s much larger, about the width of a nickle. and when this thing is packed with the aforementioned solution, it looks like something out of doctor strangelove. but when our hero see’s it coming, all he see’s is yummy goodness to suck up. the mixture ends up being 2 whole big plungers full. and he just drinks it up, sucking the plunger as he goes.

but, note to self: keep the plunger super squeaky clean before every admistration of medicine. because if that plunger should happen to stick, and he keeps on sucking, and it finally gives-way, Jude’ll (joodle?) have a facefulla augmentin.