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Weekend at the Border
February 16, 2007

It has been a little over 2 months since my last report, so I will try to catch all of you up on what is going on down at "Camp Vigilance" in California's Wild Wild West on the border of California and Mexico.

Last November in a nutshell we worked on the camp, and did a log of scouting for additional areas to setup lookouts for illegal border crossers. We had about 50 people who attended the monthly muster from all over California.

Last December was also very much like November, we continued to build up the camp facilities and scout in the badlands for illegal crossers.

In January, the only thing I remember was how COLD it really was, it got down to 11 degrees at 0130 Saturday morning when the power pole transformer went out and we lost all of our power. Early that morning SDGE arrived with 2 trucks, and within 4 hours we were running again full power. Over the weekend we setup new spotting sites and trained many new people on how to do what we do, it was very COLD most all of the weekend, with snow on some of the hillsides.

So, the February muster notes are now here...

It began on Thursday at 1400 I drove over to COSTCO to get the fixings for the Friday night's dinner of ham, rolls, potato salad, green beans, desert and drinks (soda & water). After filling up my basket I proceeded to the checkout and the lady at the check stand made a comment like "It looks like you are cooking for a army", I said that was close, but actually I was cooking for the Minutemen this weekend! She then asked who are they? I about fell over, darn another person who has never heard of us. so I proceeded to give her the fast version of what we do and why, she was surprised that our government was not doing this..Dah! Lady, where have you been for the last few years, on Mars! Some people just live inside their own small confined world (Scary!)

So, after that experience I made my trip over to Smart & Final to get the desert and cooking pans, all went fine and I arrived back home to unload and find room in the fridge for all the food. I had a dilemma trying to figure out actually what to cook for the weekend, we were expecting 40-50 people down, and wanted to make sure that everyone was satisfied with the Friday night dinner so they would not be hungry all night on watches. Over the past week MJ (The best wife & partner in the world) and we looked at making beef stew, and a couple of other things, but wanted to keep down the costs just in case we did not have a full crowd, so we decided to make the spiraled ham dinner.

Friday, 0800- after morning coffee and reviewing of the hundred or so emails we started up the cooking process at home. We cooked all 4 eight pound hams, and then removed the meat from the bone and put that into large plastic food bags that went into our dual hot/cold Coleman chest. What a great ice chest, we had it when we had our 41' sail boat, and used it all of the time to either heat or cool our food items, highly recommended to anyone, and it runs off of a car lighter. Around noon I was all packed up and the truck had all of the food and camping equipment loaded into it and I was ready to go. About 2 hours before I had the jitters, which I usually get just prior to leaving for camp, I think it is the anxiety of going to camp muster and actually doing something to help prevent this terrible invasion that is taking place in our country. A little after noon I did my hugs & kisses and jumped into the truck and headed down to the 15 freeway. It was now 12:15 and I hit the 15 going south, traffic around the 215 & 15 was heavy, so I made it over to the left lane and pressed the go fast pedal to start making some time. As I made myself past Temecula and into north San Diego the traffic cleared up and the temp was in the mid to high 70's and not a cloud in the sky, (Great weather for a muster).

Around 1300 I was making my way onto the 8 eastbound for my last long leg of the trip, few travelers on the road, mainly 5th wheelers, and Rv'rs going east to campgrounds in the San Diego area or the high desert area. As I climbed the 8 freeway up and down its grades the wind started picking up from the north. I then came over the summit at the elevation of 4180' and the wind just about blew the truck over! So I decided to take the remainder of the trip in a slower speed and arrive safely instead of chancing the wind & road. As I made my trek to the turnoff it was nearing the 1400 time frame, and I had to get to the camp soon to get setup for dinner and camping. I made my way down the two-lane roads to highway 94 to our campground turnoff and onto the bumpy pothole riddled road that lead into camp.

At 1415 I arrived at the front gate, noticing that someone had painted it white since last muster. I then cleared my access with Eric, who was standing gate duty for the time and made my way to HQ. I pulled the truck into the area near the Stagecoach house and went over to check-in and pay my camping & food fees for the weekend. As I walked to the HQ trailer I noticed that camp looked like someone had cleaned up all of the leaves and made it livable for us ahead of time! Wow I was surprised! I was thinking to myself, thanks to whoever did that! After greeting with everyone in HQ, I went over to the truck and unloaded it into the Inn so that I could start cooking for dinner tonight. I met a few people inside, and we organized a small group to assist in getting setup for dinner, we plugged in the fridge after we cleaned out the (unidentified materials growing inside!) and put inside some drinks and things that I needed for dinner in it to stay cool. I sat down for a cup of coffee and to chat with all of my fellow "MM" and meet some new people.

It was now a little after 1500 and I needed to get my tent set up and the truck unloaded, so a few of us pitched in together to collectively set up each others tents, that went great and within an hour we had 3 tents and camps set up and ready to go, now it was time for me to head back to the Inn to get started cooking dinner for the night.

I got all of my equipment arranged, cans opened, fire lit on the stove, hams unloaded from the ice chest, drinks our and the table set for everyone to dig in at 1657, I remember that because I had to keep asking what time it was (Since I had left my watch at home).

So as 1700 rolled on people started lining up at the table, and filling the plates with ham, green beans, potato salad, rolls & butter and deserts. As the hour went on, more and more people arrived and everyone seemed to be very happy with the choice of the ham dinner, it sure beats driving 8 miles to the Indian casino for dinner just to get insulted there and then drive back. It also helps keep everyone in camp and builds a tighter unit of people. We all sit around the fireplace, or in the makeshift dinning hall and scarf down the food like we have not eaten for days on end! It is amazing what healthy appetites 40 people in the high desert can muster up for a meal!

Around 1900 our leaders took control of the meeting and out lined the events for the night and Saturday. Time came to volunteer for camp security watch, and offsite outings at some of the areas where we have been scouting for possible new locations for surveillance areas for us. The times were set for the night's operations, and the new people hung back for the normal indoctrination by our leader. After this I did the clean up of the dinner and had to get off of my feet, as the new boots that MJ bought me for Xmas were killing my feet. I forgot to put on another pair of socks, and get some insole supports for the new boots; so standing on the hard cement floor took its toll on me.

2200-I had decided to not go out this night, and save the remainder of my energy for Saturday's fence building/repair and brush clearing and trash pickup event. Our night ops groups made their way out to the designated areas for evening and early morning operations. As the night progressed so did the winds, with the night temps falling into the low 50's, it was very windy at camp, not as windy as a couple of months ago, but enough to be a bother for those of us in tents, and enough to keep you awake most of the night waiting for the tent to blow down (again!)

0545-As the night came and went and the sun started to rise; I made it over to HQ for a cup of coffee and to get breakfast going for the crews. Friday night we decided to offer breakfast, since I had so much extra ham, we asked on of the leaders on Friday night to stop and get 2 flats of eggs and some milk for Saturday. So I fired up the camp stove and cooked ham and eggs for everyone in camp.

0800- 70-75 deg and light 2-3 mph wind and clear- we had our morning meeting, stories were told of the previous evening's operations, and what was on the agenda for the day. We were going out to one of our regular sighting areas and clear some brush from the fence area that was on private property and pickup the trash along the US side of the border that is left there by the illegal border crossers and repair the areas of barbed wire fencing that is in need of repair. We divided up into teams and I took the fence repair team about 6 of us. We got our tools and the roll of wire and loaded it into the trucks. Everyone had water and drinks, and we made our way to the front gate to line up to caravan over to the designated site for ops today. There must have been over 15 cars & trucks in the caravan, and a really nice new BLUE frontload tractor that had joined the group today! (Now talk about working smart, a TRACTOR! GREAT)

We made our way to our designated area and proceeded to analyze the situation, our scouts were sent up on the high areas to keep a watch for people not in our group, and people on the Mexico side of the fence. I took the fence repair team with ma and we walked the entire length of fence looking for breach areas that would need repair. Three of the members were young college students, one who was in Iraq and the other two who were friends of one of our members, and another who wrote for the UCI newspaper.

0930- We walked the length of the fence (or lack there of it) and to my surprise the 3 college students were really shocked by the type of fence that protected the border here in our area. We returned back to the main gathering location and loaded up with supplies and materials to fix the broken fences. These 3 college guys really jumped in and worked like really dedicated people, taking on the hard areas to reach along the fence line and picking up on how to patch up the areas that have been cut very fast. The reporter was taking notes and pictures as best he could while still working alongside all of us, their questions were coming a hundred miles an hour, and you could see how discussed they were with the failure of their governments attempt to fence our borders!

Around 1100 we ran out of materials, and started to create a re-enforced fence barrier using dead brush & branches from the local fence line that was being cleared for better visibility for our groups and the BP. Talk about a deterrent to anybody crossing! This stuff will stop them in there tracks, and they will have to go around to another area!

Around 1330 we decided to pull the work detail up and pack it in for the day, the guy with the BLUE tractor had created a an acre parking area adjacent to our current one within a couple of hours, WOW what a difference! The team that had collected trash had a pickup full of black plastic bags with trash from the desert area left behind by the illegal border crossers. Arriving back at camp around 14:40 we all took a little well needed rest for refreshments and snacks. Stories were being told of the great accomplishments of the day, and how great everyone felt about the fence repair and area cleanup project went. It was the overall feeling that today's events will definitely deter many people from crossing into our monitored areas, or at least it will take them a lot longer and incur a larger risk and make lots of noise in doing so!

1600- The dinner crew was preparing a feast of pulled BBQ beef and backed new potatoes with fruit salad and deserts... And they call this camping! Camping never was like this!

After dinner we all gathered for the evening meeting and to get our marching orders for night operations, the group leader called up Greg I. To present him with an award for starting the CA group as one of the original founders, it was very moving to hear his story, then as I was fading from lack of energy I heard my name called..Ken..Ken come up here..I looked around maybe it was Ken #2, no they wanted me... So as I started to get up the worst Charlie horse hit my right leg I ever had and I could hardly stand, let alone stand up and walk. I managed to hobble up to the front and our leader presented me with an award on recognition of valuable contributions to MCDC, CA. ME! For what, I just do what everyone else does. Well it hit me, this was the first thing I can ever remember getting something for just doing the right thing and what was expected to do.. Very very nice, and I did choke up..So thanks to all of you for the award, I will hang it in my office with pride and show it to everyone!

2030- Our evening meeting broke up and those people who were going out on site security took their posts and those who were going out on field operations got prepared for the hours in the dark, and cold temps of the evening. Around 2300 I decided to turn in, and call it a day. Making my way to the tent (this time again with out the flashlight!) and then locating it in the dark, made my sleeping bags up to crawl into to spend the night. As I tried for hours to sleep, earplugs in sock hat on and the Charlie horses still attacking my leg, I finally fell asleep. Waking up around 0600 I proceeded to roll up all of the camping gear, and then made my way over to HQ for some coffee and rolls. As people came into the center we were sharing stories from the night before, and what transcribed out in the field. I decided to do some clean up work around the HQ and made myself busy for a couple of hours, then packed up the truck with all of the camping gear and said my goodbyes for the weekend. 1100 rolled around and I found myself rolling down to the front gate and onto the access road that lead to the highway. Riding over the bumpy road I found myself looking into the bushes and occasionally stopping to see if I could hear someone in the bushes. Pulling out onto the main highway I made my way to the 8 west knowing that it would be another long 3 weeks until the next muster, and that I just had to wait...

1300 arriving home, I pulled the truck into the garage, and kissed the wife and headed for the shower and some aspirin & coffee. Looking forward to a nice restful evening with my wife and the comfort and safety of the house we live in, I dosed off for a short 20 minute "Power nap" (Right..) After dinner we sat and talked about what was done at muster this weekend, and I shared everything I could remember about the trip, as evening came I called it an early night and made my way to bed, stopping at the computer to look over some of the previous months I wrote about. I noticed very clearly how much progress our CA MCDC team has made, and all of the effort from all of the good people in the group who make the effort to come down to the border each month..

As I covered up with the nice clean flannel sheets I found that I was grateful to belong to such a great bunch of people, people who actually are making a difference in our futures, and our children's futures and our grand children's futures and dosed off to sleep.

More next month from the borders in California...


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