Smoke Signals

July/Aug 2011


Captain - Staff Writer

The North American Frontiersmen 2011 Nationals



In just one day here in the Rockies the weather turned from a blustery, cold and wet spring to a hot and smoke filled summer. The fires raging down in New Mexico and Arizona have sent enough smoke up here that we canít see the mountains that normally fill the horizon. I have noticed that with the smoke and heat the deer have left the alfalfa fields for the high back country. For several days now there hasnít been a deer seen in the flats by anyone I know. I kindía miss them but it does save the many that get picked off on the highway, especially because the tourists are already flocking in.

Howdy Davis and I made the trip (over a thousand miles) out to California for the NAF national rendezvous. It was a great driveówe took highway 6 which is little traveled and goes through some of the most deserted but beautiful country that can be imagined. By driving straight through we made the trip in about 20 hours. That was good, but once there we had forgotten how to navigate California and so had to call Mark Hatfield, the booshway, for directions. Iím afraid I must have been a pain the elbow because each time I could only remember a fraction of what heíd said and had to repeat the process of ask and follow more than Iíd like (him too, Iíll bet).

At last we reached the gate to the ranch property where the rendezvous was being held. Lovely countryóthere was a black tailed buck just over the fence from us, and more buzzards soaring around than in a duster movie. But. . . the problems werenít over. The gate was locked and things on the other side of it looked pretty muddy. Oh well. . . . once more in the breach, a call to Mark. It didnít take him long to show up (itís a pretty good road to get to the ranch). He had called the ranch owner (a lovely ladyófor some reason I was reminded of the TV series Big Valley). Entry was put off for the day to see if things didnít dry out a tad (it had been raining for several days before we got there).

Howdy and I went back to town to get a motel room for the night. There are three of them along the main drag. Each of them were being run by people whose accents were just too heavy for me to decipher well. But we were able to make out that their prices were such that elsewhere we could have had an entire suite for that much! We decided to try another town but on the way out of Hollister we spotted what looked like a nice little motel across the road from us. With a show of NASCAR driving skills we finally got over there. The rooms were clean, the beds firm, and the price much more reasonable that the others.




So there we camped for the night. The next morning when we met the NAF gang at Jerryís (local eatery with good food and coffee) we learned that evidently the place weíd chosen for the night was the local "hot-sheets" motel. Oh well, aside from some slamming doors in the middle of the night it was a good sleeping spot.

After coffee with really friendly locals, we headed for rendezvous. It had dried out enough to get us part of the way to the camp but was still soft enough that the owner had us park at the ranch headquarters and hauled us and our gear across some great hunting country (lots of deer and javelina) with some ATV looking things with pickup type beds on them. (Two days later we got to go out and bring our own vehicles in closer to camp).

What hospitality! The Three Pines party were just great. They did things up right and made us feel at home. There was a Saturday night pot-luck dinner that was not only filling, but really tasty. Two traders showed up and they had some nice wares and were not above making some trades. Even the weather cooperated. The days hovered right in the mid seventies and at night it got colder than hell! But that helped us to get up early so that we didnít miss the early morning spectaculars. Fog rolled in at about daybreak and imparted to everything visible am ethereal, gauzy look. As soon as the sun broke above the surrounding hills the fog grabbed its skirts and fled to somewhere else. Really great to watch.

Despite having in attendance only the local NAF members, plus Howdy and I, it was pure fun. There were some walk-ins (including the Chief Factor who was on his way to Washington state and already behind schedule) and that population helped to make up for the fact that even members who were within easy driving distance didnít support the camp. As a result the income from attendees and walk-ins werenít enough to cover the expenses. Wherever the next nationals are held, I hope there are enough people serious about supporting the NAF that they will make the effort to attend. I know that although I felt bad about the lack of NAF members there, Mark and his party must have felt even worse. From experience I know that to go to all the trouble and work that it takes to put on an event and not have much of a response is pure depressing. You end up not wanting to ever do it again. Poor bull, guys.

In the meanwhile, summer is here! That makes it an ideal time to get out and practice our skills. Perhaps some of you can even write about how the camps and whatever skills were required and how they were done and how it all turned out.

Respectfully Yr Hmbl, Obít Etc.  

Bill Cunningham




Treasurer - Newsletter Scribe









  • Our balance for the NAF account stands $1602.37 as of this issue.
  • We are paying $4.95 a month for the Smoke Signals web site.
  • I have the duties of Secretary - Treasurer, which will entail updating the roster, receiving funds, making reimbursements etc.
       NAF Secretary-Treasurer
       Patrick Quilter
       639 Thalia St
       Laguna Beach, CA, 92651

 Y'r Sv't  Pat Quilter




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