You may have read yesterday's post about the last time we went to our 4th of July camping trip.

As I said, this camping trip has a long tradition behind it, so here are some photos from my previous excursion in 2008.

My first dog, Diva, was still with me and in prime form, as you will see. She was a mighty and wonderful friend, and I still miss her. We had many adventures. She is the dog in my tattoo, which our logo is based on.

Again, we arrived at the break of dawn, after driving all night:

I went with my friends Skillet (driving) and Jet Fuel (shoulder at right). I had my Subaru Forrester, so we got great gas mileage and had all wheel drive. :)

When we arrived, we were very tired:

Except Diva. Diva was never tired.

So we went on some walks:

After a long day of adventures that I didn't photograph, the sun set:

Or maybe that was the sun rising... it's hard to tell and these photos are from a while ago.

There were many places for Diva to run, and it was still very cool.

And boy, did she love to run!

Did you know dalmatians were coach dogs? They would run between the feet of horses drawing coaches and keep wolves from attacking the horses. That's why they're excellent runners, very agile, and a little crazypants in the headspace.

However, isn't she beautiful? There never was a more beautiful dog than Diva.

I adopted her from the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in Seattle in 1998. She was a challenging dog, because she was very dog aggressive and also had a ton of energy that constantly had to be burned off. I think that explains why I was about 20 lbs thinner in these photos...

Look at whozza good sitter? DIVA IS SUCH A GOOD SITTER! Good sit!

After a day or two out in the scrubs on the side of the lake, Jet, Skillet, Diva, and I went out onto the dry lake bed. It is a vast expanse of nothingness, forever.


There were also some very interesting characters:

Including me... I'm kind of a character, I guess:

Diva and I went for lots of walks out on the playa, too.

The playa is not a good place for dogs 90% of the time. I can't recommend bringing dogs out because you have to pay constant attention to them. Dogs are important and they have special needs, but most of the people who go out there get all out of their heads and can't take care of another creature (or themselves).

Diva and I had gone to the playa several times before, and we went a few times after this (she died in 2011). We had a groove. We had a method. We had a jive. I set up very complicated swamp cooling systems in camp to keep her cool in the heat of the day, and always kept her very close with me. I personally don't like fireworks all that much, so it was no trouble to retreat to our camp at night, where it was quiet and calm.

Russ and I are bringing out Roxy and Sadie tomorrow, but we have reserved a hotel room in town for Saturday night. We are going to take it very easy and see how the dogs do, being very mindful of their states of mind and health.

On with the photos...

From our morning excursion, a mighty paw:

Here is my tattoo before I added the Joshua Tree, and when it was all not-blurry. I've had this tattoo since 2007.

Some friends brought a bouncy castle, which created a surreal scene:

It was a great trip.

If you want to read my last post about Diva while she was alive, it's here. Warning: it's really sad.

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