Breathe, breathe in the air. Above all though, don't forget to breathe. Sometimes, in this busy world, it seems that many of us don't even take the time to breathe properly. In a world of constant change, it's nice to slip out of the main stream and inhabit a place where things pretty much remain […]
Breathe, breathe in the air. Above all though, don't forget to breathe.
Sometimes, in this busy world, it seems that many of us don't even take the time to breathe properly. In a world of constant change, it's nice to slip out of the main stream and inhabit a place where things pretty much remain the same or at least where change seems to come haltingly slowly.
For me that place is a little cabin at the top of Coyote Trail, just outside of Historic Scott State Park.
I can't remember how long it had been, perhaps nine or ten years, since my last trip to the cabin to meet up with my friends Verlyn, Vince, and Jack Regehr. Verlyn and Vince are brothers and Jack is their cousin.
Anyway, it had been too long since my last appearance at this annual star party gathering, which is always planned for the weekend closest to when the Perseid Meteor Shower is firing away most rapidly.
'Things don't change much here,' commented Verlyn, whom I met on Biking Across Kansas sometime in the early 2000s, a couple of times over weekend. Of course, he admitted that a few things had changed: like the new, improved windows at the cabin (owned by Chuck Bonner and Barbara Shelton of the Keystone Gallery). These days, there is a sign at nearby Monument Rocks, prohibiting climbing on the rocks and also limiting visitation to the hours between sunrise and sunset. We used to go out there to watch the stars fall and also climbed up one or two of the chalk rocks, back in the early 2000s. On the other hand, a lot of things remain the same here: the rough road leading up Coyote Trail to the cabin is a reminder to slow down, both literally and metaphorically, as that is what the weekend is all about: There's still no running water at the cabin, but the outhouse works just fine. We carry in water. However, there is still electricity. The back porch continues to provide an excellent view of the rugged terrain that rises up to the flat corn and other fields that surround the park. This porch also serves as our viewing platform for the meteorite shower.
Almost every year, the conversation wanders to the prospect that a cougar still roams through the area. Verlyn and Vince possibly spotted one, although never verified, when they were the first ones to arrive at the cabin in 2001. This year there was also the possibility that a mouse had been spotted in the cabin, although Vince said he has never seen one.
The weekend follows about the same format every year. On Friday night everyone arrives (although sometimes Verlyn appears a day earlier) and after we all pick a favorite or two from the buffet everyone brings to the table and refrigerator at the cabin (this year, we ended up with ten bags of chips), we head out to the back porch and keep our eyes peeled for the celestial fireworks. Then, it's left to seeing who will stay up the longest, as we gradually fade away, one by one, especially when the action slows down. On Saturday, we wake up, eat breakfast and then head into the park for a hike up to the Steele monument or, sometimes, the entire six or seven mile hiking/biking/equestrian trail that winds its way through the park. In the afternoon, it's time for swimming (this year, swimming was pre-empted by an algae bloom at Lake Scott). Sometime late in the afternoon, it's time for showers and then into Scott City for supper at El Dos de Oros (a new tradition began three years ago), followed by a trip to Monument Rocks, which is a lot busier than it used to be (we saw around a dozen people during our hour or so visit just before sunset). Then, it's the back to the cabin for the last night of the show, as we sit in chairs on the back porch, listen to some Pink Floyd or simply the sound of the outdoors, and converse or sit quietly, until one, or all, of us spot a meteorite with a tail careening across the sky.
In a world of constant change and motion, it's good for the soul to inhabit a peaceful, laid-back space where you know just what to expect. That's what the annual August star party at the cabin just outside of Historic Scott State Park is all about.