An old fogey’s run through the woods |

An old fogey’s run through the woods

From the “You know you’re getting old” file:

– Today’s incoming college freshman were born in 1988, when movie theaters were showing Die Hard, Big, The Naked Gun and Rain Man.

– Those freshmen would be shocked to learn that MTV used to air only music videos.

– The class of 2010 has never known life without Barney videos.

– That those born in ’88 witnessed the Bush family’s presidential dynasty, as a President Bush has been in the White House 10 out of the past 18 years (to date).

– The incoming class of 2010 has never known a world without the Internet, cell phones, Prozac, Lexus, or laptop computers.

Those factoids supplied by TWENTYSOMETHING Inc., which this week released its annual list of “Fascinating Freshman Factoids,” culled not only for amusement, but my guess is also for marketers who may be a little out of touch with this cohort of consumers.

. . .

Speaking of aging, in my effort to not become old and fat, I run. And in doing so I have about a half dozen different routes I take along with my big dumb dog.

One of our routes is in the woods above downtown Truckee and below Tahoe Donner. There are some great trails, basically old logging roads, where we rarely see other people. The paths are either narrow with manzanita and pines or pretty washed out and rocky. Great for running and mountain biking.

So it came as something of a surprise earlier this week when I thought I spotted tracks from a vehicle. Lo and behold, a quarter mile or so later my thoughts were confirmed. There in the middle of a narrow section of trail lay a tire ” good tread, newish looking rim and smack dab in the middle of a the path.

I hopped the obstacle and continued running. After traversing a really washed-out downhill section of the trail, dog and I came across an extinguished campfire and the tell-tale signs of a teen party. I can say that with some authority, as I was just exiting my teenhood, oh, round about 1988. And, well, I partied.

There next to the fire ring was an empty bottle of Capt. Morgan’s spiced rum, a crushed empty liter bottle of Coke, a couple of empty cases of beer and a few broken beer bottles.

Ah, I thought, the mysterious lone tire explained.

. . .

Now that I am officially “old,” this vignette in the middle of the woods bugged the hell out of me. Not only was it an eyesore, but back in the day when we packed in our party materials, we packed them out. We were conscientious young hedonists … um, consumers.

While journalism style forbids me from calling them “kids,” I’ll do so anyway, that’s because I’m sure those kids would call me old. They’d think I’m old for bitching about their partying out in the woods.

Well, no and yes.

As one becomes old, one more often than not becomes a homeowner. And this particular little campfire ” an illegal one at that ” was just a raging wildfire downhill from my house ” and hundreds of others.

But whether young or old, the thing that really got my aging anger rising was that but a few feet away from the empty rum bottle, broken glass and fire ring was an empty red plastic five-gallon gas container.

I guess it could go 50-50 either way whether that thing was filled with fuel to start a fire or water to put one out.

. . .

Yeah, I’m old. I’m married, have a 14-month-old son, a big dumb dog and own a home. And I’m sure my boy will in the future do dumb things, as I did that one time.

I just hope his misadventure doesn’t involve rum, five gallons of gas and a campfire out in tinder-dry woods.

Do you know where your kid was last weekend? If not and either his, her or your car appears to have been four-wheeled through the brush, I do.

I also know where to find your spare tire.

Jamie Bate is the editor of the Sierra Sun. Reach him at

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